While studying in college or university, you’ll come across plenty of captivating yet little-researched topics in your major subject. One day, time will come to draw up a research paper regarding one of such topics in order to finish a subject with flying colors. However, there’s but one obstacle on your way to enriching grey literature with your manuscript. Which one, exactly?

You have to prove to your supervisor or the submission committee your topic is worth theirs and yours time spent.

Of course it’s worth every minute! Still you have to provide persuasive evidence it’s the way you say, which usually stands in a form of a research proposal. In addition, the exercise serves to the following goals:

  • Evaluate your critical thinking, imitativeness and research abilities
  • Put persuasive writing skills to test
  • Check whether you can stand up to your point of view and prove you’re right in a question, providing credible evidence
  • Evaluate your ability to conduct a comprehensive academic research in a major subject
  • Test your commitment to the chosen academia path

5 questions to ask yourself prior to writing a proposal

Why is that I want to research this topic and not any other?

What exactly do I plan to accomplish?

How exactly am I going to do it?

What background sources, pieces of evidence, quotes and stylistic means am I going to use?

Why my supervisor might be interested in aiding me in the first place?

All the questions must have crystal clear answers. The truth is that you must have a desire  to fuel research into a topic, because otherwise your lack of determination will stick out through your entire text. Staying focused and motivated is absolutely key, and no supervisor could deny assistance, if there’s a spark in your eyes telling you are the man for the job. Speaking of a supervisor…

Your research should be interesting for her, too. A supervisor might normally ask you to choose another topic if you can’t pick her attention and demonstrate that this theme is the one to go. That’s why your research proposal has to be informative, descriptive and persuasive altogether. Here’s how to do it right.

Will a research help solve any particular problem?

What is the shortcut to succeed in writing a research? Your paper has to solve a specific problem. If it does, you’re on the winning path and chances are high a supervisor will agree to assist. Keeping your research practical is the cornerstone ingredient which tells average papers from legendary. Ready to roll up your sleeves?

Standard research proposals are papers counting in 10-20 pages depending on a chosen course, subject and local university requirements. As you see, a proposal is some serious text, and you’d better treat it with all due respect. The constituent parts are as follows.


Your introduction is a short 3-5 paragraph narrative which answers a bunch of crucial questions.

  • What is the focal research problem?
  • What is the thesis statement of a research?
  • How your topic reflects the problem?
  • What methodology and reference sources are to be used?
  • How research outcomes will benefit either readers or academia in general?

There’re two things Introduction has to convey: 1) the research is about to make the difference and 2) you’re the person to be in the vanguard of this research.

Background overview

You’ve chosen to dwell on a particular topic for a reason. Now give it some time to explain why exactly the problem under research is significant and – most preferably – game changing for a subject field. It’s like you did in Introduction, yet now a greater detail to the issue is due. Following steps must be taken:

  • Present a detailed explanation of the research problem has to be highlighted
  • Introduce rationale
  • Give overview of all major problems and issues regarding a research has to be given
  • Explain how you are to conduct a research A to Z
  • State the limits and boundaries of your research to make it more specific and target-oriented
  • Explain key concepts and terms, if necessary

Literature review

Chances are researchers before you already took actions to solve the problem, or at least they tried. That’s why you have to show that your paper contains original approaches to problem solving, as well as authentic content and methodology to succeed. When drawing up your Literature Review, apply the so-called “Five C’s” method.

  • Cite: Quote only those reference sources which are relevant to your research
  • Compare: Different reference sources might give different views on a problem, so take time to compare them and analyze which suits your research most
  • Contrast (optional): There’re might be quite controversial opinions on a problem given in different textbooks, so you’re about to study key areas of disagreement and find the golden middle
  • Critique (optional): You’re never to rely on words of various academia masterminds, you always have the right to disagree and prove their opinion isn’t fully justified
  • Connect: After all the steps above, seek to imply relevant quotes and pieces of evidence to your own research, backing it up with suitable base of facts and citations


By today, you’ve already chosen a topic, reference sources and supporting quotes, so now it’s high time to present supposed methods you’re about to use in order to conduct a research. Note that not all methods are suitable for a topic, so look through them attentively and decide on the right options. In future, a supervisor might ask you to opt for other methods rather than chosen, in case she feels they’re more appropriate for the task. Methodology can always be reconsidered in favor of more suitable approaches, which is the fact knowledge of which might appears in the process of doing a research.

Implications, Conclusion, Citations

These are the last three larger chapters of your research proposal. The first seeks to highlight all the major impacts your research will probably bring into academia. The second simply restates the importance of the research and provides a brief paper summary. And the third simply depicts citations used in an alphabetical order, stating the quite, author and any other information required by college paper referencing regulations. Given you haven’t fully done a research yet, these three chapters can normally be short and sketchy. Those are chapters going before them which are of outmost importance in a proposal.

As you can see, research proposal isn’t a walk in a park. It’s a crucial written work, especially if you’re applying for a grant which will bring you money for doing a research. It’s the real world now, so everything regarding research writing activates has to be impeccable.

Is there anything you’d like to add to the tutorial? Please hit up the comments below!

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