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Academic Writing Tips: How to Handle a Proposal for Research Paper Writing

Before you can start writing an important research paper, such as an MA thesis or a PhD dissertation, you’re required to write a proposal for a research paper. The document is also required during the admission process at some graduate schools. If you intend to conduct an independent research and you’re trying to get it funded, you also have to write a research proposal before you tackle the main project.

This proposal is a coherent summary of the research you propose doing. It sets the main questions and issues you intend to tackle. It will also outline the area or areas of study where your research belongs to, referring to the current accumulation of knowledge and recent research regarding the issue. Finally, your proposal will provide convincing arguments regarding the uniqueness and necessity of your proposed research.

Okay. Now you know what a research proposal is. The only question is: how do you write it?

That’s what we’re here for today! This guide will take you through the process of research proposal writing.


As any other student, you have many questions about this project. You’ve never written such a paper before, and the only thing you know is that it’s not the same as the standard research papers you have experience with. It’s an entirely new, more complex project and you don’t know how to handle it.

Relax. We’re here to answer your questions.

  • What’s the purpose of a research proposal?

When you’re about to start working on a serious research project, such as a PhD dissertation, you have to demonstrate that you have the capacity to communicate complex ideas in a critical, unique, and clear manner. In addition, the research proposal will help you match your interests regarding the research with your mentor or supervisor.

  • How long should it be?

The research proposal is definitely longer than a usual essay, but it’s shorter than the actual research project that will follow. If you’re looking for a direct answer, research proposals usually take 2,500 – 3,000 words. However, the word count will ultimately depend on your topic, as well as on the requirements of your school.

  • Why do I need a mentor?

It’s nearly impossible for a graduate student to know everything there is to know about the topic, and convey their ideas for research through a well-written and well-formatted proposal. The mentor provides proper guidance through the process. Yes; this means that your mentor will probably ask you to revise certain aspects of your working version. However, that collaboration will lead you towards a better proposal and a better overall research.


Usually, the research paper proposal is consisted of the following chapters:

Title This will be just a proposal for a title of the research paper at this stage. Further on, you’ll be able to revise the title if your proposal gets accepted.
Abstract Here, you’ll provide a brief and straightforward statement of the intended research. It may take one or few sentences for you to set out the problem you intend to address.
Research Context What’s the current situation in the area of study your research belongs to? What’s the state of knowledge on your topic? What do recent debates focus on?
Research Questions In this chapter, you will set out the main research questions that you’ll tackle during the process of development. It’s important to make one or two main questions a priority, and then derive several secondary research questions.
Methodology Will you conduct library research or will you engage in field work? Will you interview people or use surveys? In this part of the research proposal, you should clearly explain what methods you’ll use.
Significance of Research Why should the mentor or organization invest their time to help you conduct this research? How will the academic community benefit from it? In this part of the research proposal, you should shed light on the way your research will add to the current state of knowledge in the relevant field of study.
Bibliography Finally, you’ll provide well-formatted citations of the most important works tackling your topic. Don’t forget to handle the formatting in accordance with Chicago, Harvard, APA, or MLA style, depending on the instructions provided by your university.


We’ll be honest: this won’t be easy. The proposal is the first stage of the most important research project you’ve ever worked on. However, you’ve come this far with your studies, so the one thing you can be sure of is that you can do it!

This is the strategy that will help you handle the project step by step:

  1. Make Sure You Know Enough
  2. Before you can start researching and writing, you have to understand the current literature related to your topic. Google Scholar is a great place to start. However, it’s also important for you to explore the library of your university. You’ll find plenty of works you can learn from.

    Before you start the reading process, you’ll have a general idea of the topic you want to tackle. During the reading, you’ll form a more specific idea that will provide unique value to the area of study. Don’t forget to take notes while you read!

  3. Make Your Outline
  4. Craft a template that will follow the format proposed by your college or university. Then, discuss it with your mentor and ask if you should include something else in your project.

  5. Keep the Communication with Your Mentor Alive
  6. The mentor won’t keep chasing you, asking questions about your project and offering their assistance. You’re the one who needs to initiate contact, so find out what their working hours are and contact the mentor whenever you need advice or assistance.

  7. Get Assistance When You Need It

So you have a problem: you cannot complete the research proposal no matter how hard you try. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a research proposal generator. You have to come up with a unique project! If you need help with that, you can always rely on a professional writer or editor. A good academic writing service will assist with the completion of a high-quality proposal. You can pay a cheap price and still get a great proposal ready by the deadline.