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Elements and stages of a research proposal writing process

The format you use to write a research proposal may differ depending on your course, but they all answer three questions. The writer must describe in detail what they are planning to investigate. They must provide a convincing statement of why they feel the research will be important and the research methods they will use.

To answer these three questions, your research proposal can range between 1500 words to 3500 words. This word variation might not matter as long as your research proposal serves its purpose. To write a proposal that wins, follow these steps.

A general overview of a research proposal

A research proposal meets two important needs that the writer aims to achieve. It offers justification for a proposed study and workable ways in which the research will be carried out. Each research field has its unique rules for research and the proposal must prove that it will meet these needs.

The writer uses detailed literature to provide details that will persuade the concerned parties to accept the proposal and give the go-ahead to the envisaged project. Rationalism is a requirement for a proposal, although the writer must not ignore a detailed research methodology for the proposed project.

Every detail in a research proposal must follow the set rules, protocols, and ethics. The reader must be convinced that the benefits from the project will be useful to the student, the professor, and both current and future students.

Elements contained in a research proposal

Whether you are planning on buying research paper or writing it from scratch, these main elements must be included in your research proposal.

A cover page

This is the title of your research proposal and it contains the title you have proposed for your project. It also contains your name, the name of your supervisor, your university, and your department. You may want to find out if your department requires any unique formatting. Although this is not a mandatory requirement, some students write their abstracts on the cover page.


The introduction forms the first part of the proposal and you must make sure it explains the content of the entire proposal in detail. Give an introduction to your chosen topic followed by a brief background of the context. Give an outline to your statement and question.

You may create a rough outline to help guide you to write the introduction. The outline can have information such as the persons or stakeholders interested in this kind of research. Write the extent to which the topic is already studied. Discuss the missing links in what is already known and any new insights that can be useful. Discuss why you feel it is important you do the research.

The length of your introduction will depend on the length of your entire proposal. If the proposal is longer, add more details to the introduction and explain further the project goals, background, context, and importance.

Literature review

The person reading your proposal might want to investigate if you are well familiar with this kind of research and if you understand what needs to be done. You will eliminate their doubt by providing a literature review. Give a comparison of the theories that exist, any hot debates on the subject, possible or existing controversies, and methods that have been used before.

Criticize any weakness or strength to the various approaches used in previous or current studies and convince the reader how your proposed research will fit in. This part shows the strategies you will use in your research to build on what has already been done.

It also includes the challenges you will likely face and probably what challenges others went through as they researched on this topic.

The research design you will use

At this juncture, revisit your research goals and describe the methods you shall use for research. Discus the research type in terms of quantitative, qualitative, experimental, descriptive, etc., state your sample size, areas of concentration, method of selection, and where to do sampling.

Still, under research, discuss the methods you will use for your research and these are tools, procedures, analysis, data entry, etc. State the approximate time you will use, your means for accessing your sources, and any foreseen and unforeseen hindrances that might arise.

Some proposals require you give a detailed timeline for your entire research process. If this is a requirement, you must then break down the timelines in a table and state each phase, number of days, and activities in detail. Your research must never have indefinite timelines but every date given should have a specific deadline.

Research budget

Another sensitive issue to consider in your proposal is the budget if you are writing to a funding body. You must let them know your proposed budget in detail. Do not give the total budget but let the total come from broken-down item details.

You may first give the total budget and immediately follow with its justification. To justify means to give strong reasons why you feel that is the right amount that will help you complete your research without any hindrances. Also, give details on how you did your calculations to arrive at that budget. These can include detail like the cost of transport, any materials required or if you need someone to assist you.

End with a reference list

You must have used various resources during your proposal writing process and like any other type of literature, you should give credit to your sources. Your research proposal should have a detailed reference list and follow the right citation method.

Your supervisor might ask you to include a bibliography but it aims to show you understand the skills of research writing. Choose the correct citation format and if you don’t understand it well, you can go online and use a citation generator to help make your proposal look professionally written.

Revise, proofread

It is possible to make grammar mistakes while writing and these can make your proposal look unprofessional. Even if you have followed the structure of the letter, a smooth grammar flow is also important. Read your draft and redraft it if necessary. Correct any errors and make use of editing tools to help you detect any further errors. After thoroughly proofreading, run your proposal through a plagiarism checker to confirm it is 100 percent original.

Why is a research proposal important?

A research proposal is very important because it serves as a vehicle for persuading someone to accept your application, give the green light to a dissertation, or approve for funding. Its importance cannot be underrated and that is why you can hear someone say, “I better pay someone to write my research paper than make a mistake that might make it become rejected.” When a research proposal is written following its strict rules, it should sufficiently meet the following goals.

Show you understand the context

A supervisor, instructor, funding body, or administrator will reject your proposal if they realize or suspect you do not know about the research topic you want to indulge yourself in.

What proves beyond any reasonable doubt that you understand the topic well is your proposal. You prove to them you have knowledge about the current status of the subject and that you have a strong academic background to help support your ideas.

Prove your research is relevant

You might be researching a topic that is already overtaken by technology and need. Your proposed topic might also not be useful to your field of study or there might not be anyone interested in such kind of research. You might have a different view altogether and your proposal will help make sense of your topic and show it is an important choice you made.

It helps prove your project is feasible

There could be constraints within your course that can make a proposed topic practically impossible. They can also be constraints in funding or institutional principles. Your research proposal will help prove that it is a feasible project.

Show your approach is ethical

No funding body or institution will approve an unethical research project. The institutions are very strict with research ethics with go in line with research methodologies. Your proposal helps prove you have chosen the right research tools, procedures, and right data collection and analysis procedures.

Stages in the research writing process

Whether you go to a professional writing service or seek guidance from your professor, any expert will tell you that the strategies or formulas used to develop successful research are many. The structure can be the same but every writer chooses their unique formula to follow.

Before you write a research proposal, you must first understand the process of research so that you will know the details to include. These are the same details that will guide you when writing your research proposal. First, identify the problem that needs a solution.

Next, prepare your research questions and draft your objectives and hypothesis. There are many designs you can use for your research but choose the most relevant one. Your next stage will be to choose your sample design while considering your sources.

Draft your method for data collection and follow with the data entry, processing, and analysis. Your final stage is writing your research report to state what you observed, the outcomes, and recommendations. The report covers every detail of what you observed and how that helped answer your research question.

It covers the importance of the research, your comments, and what gaps you feel require further investigations. Your research report must answer every question that you included in your research proposal. Some of the funding bodies may ask for a copy of your finding but even if they don’t ask, it is good you let them know the research was a success and what you found out.