Guide: How to Write a Research Proposal
When required to write a research proposal for the first time, students often wonder why they cannot simply choose a topic they feel interested in, and work on it. The answer is simple: a research proposal paper is what allows your tutors/instructors understand, whether your topic is even worth starting to work on. A research proposal is an outline of your future study, answering such questions as what you are going to study, how you are planning to do it, and what is the reason for it. Research proposals are usually written for such types of academic papers as dissertations, courseworks, term papers, research papers, capstone projects, etc. If you convince your instructor in the worthwhileness of your future study with your research proposal, you will be given green light to conduct the actual research.
A research proposal can be considered a demo-version, but it still has some peculiarities that you should be aware of when starting to work on one.
- Writing a research proposal is a serious assignment, so do not underestimate it believing that writing it is not worth too much effort. Do not make this mistake, because it is the research proposal that the future of your coursework/dissertation/term paper etc. depends on.
- Think of the research proposal as of a persuasive essay; the goal is the same, but the form is different. Instead of introducing pro and contra arguments, you should rather show that you are ready to dig into the chosen area of research; that you are able to navigate in the chosen area of your academic interest; that you have developed methodology that suits your subject and research goals perfectly, and so on.
- Treat writing a research proposal as writing a “real” research paper. Regardless of how complicated your topic is, try to express your thoughts in simple language, using special terms only when it is absolutely necessary. Mind your writing style: your language should be neutral and official, and your sentences--easy to read. Remember that overusing passive verbs makes a text harder to comprehend. You can make your text more reader-friendly by dividing your research proposal into semantic parts marked with subheadings, and using sentences of medium length (such that do not take a whole paragraph to write, but are not too short either).
- Since you have not yet conducted the actual research (including empirically obtained data such as experiment results, observations, results and discussions, and so on) your research proposal will not have any respective sections. Most likely, it will consist of an introduction, abstract, methodology, and a literature review. If you feel like you need to do it, you can mention the anticipated results of your future.
Now, here are the actual steps for writing a research proposal.
- On a title page, mention the actual title of your research proposal, your own name, course, educational institution, professor’s name, and so on; this information depends on the formatting style you are writing your research proposal in.
- Write an abstract up to 350 words in it. The abstract must include the answers to such questions as the goal of your research, the assumptions you seek to prove or disprove (your hypothesis), and the methods you believe are suitable for researching this particular subject. You can also express our expectations about the possible findings here.
- In the introduction, provide the context of your future research: why the topic is important and for whom (including your personal reasons for researching it), its level of scrutiny, the main problems researchers usually run into when working with it, and the main opinions existing within the topic of your choice. You might also want to introduce the main terms you will be using.
- Write a literature review, explaining how the authors of the sources you will be using managed to research the topic, what contribution they made, and what ideas you will be using to support your research. This step is your chance to show your instructor that you have got yourself well-acquainted with .
- Explain your methodology. Methodology all about how you are actually going to research your topic, which tools you will use for this purpose, what you will pay attention to during the research, and so on.
- Edit and proofread your research proposal. After you make sure there are no mistakes (factual, grammar, formatting, and so on) you can submit the proposal to your instructor.
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