What is a research proposal?
Your proposal serves as an outline of your overall plan and goals. It is also a means of persuading the staff of your university that your plan and goals are worthy of consideration and implementation. This step should not be taken lightly.
Why do you need to do a proposal?
Writing a research proposal might seem like a pointless, redundant task, but it serves a key purpose. Your proposal serves as an outline for your project; it gives your professors a general idea of what you want to accomplish. Secondly, have to clearly illustrate what knowledge gap you are are trying to fill in your discipline. Perhaps there is some aspect of theoretical physics that you want to expand upon, or maybe there is some important historical event that you believe you can shed some light on. Finally, the main goal is to persuade others to support your endeavor by showing that you can logically put together a well organized plan. Your research might cost your institution money, and like all people, your professors want their money to be well spent. That is why your text has to be well written and thought out.
Research Proposal Format and Structure
Every educational institution has its own formatting requirements; follow their rules, no matter how stupid you think they might be. We here at EduBirdie have created a general outline of what your format should look like based on our experience.
Every work should have a good title, whether it be a poem, novel, or an academic work. Your title is the first thing your professors see when they examine your work. Your title must be relevant to the content of your proposal. If your intention is to study the role African American musicians played in the development of Jazz in the 20s and 30s, ensure that your title is appropriate and specific to that topic. Your title should not be vague and opaque. For example, do not make your title: African Americans in Music During the 20th Century. Doesn’t that seem a little cloudy? What kind of music are you talking about? What decade? A better title would be: The Role of African American Musicians During the American Jazz Age or African American Musicians and the Development of Jazz in the Great Depression. These titles specify the type of music and the era to be studied.
Your introduction presents the problem that you want to study. Here you want to briefly state your topic, the methods and materials you want to use in your research, and the importance of your research. Here you do not want to go into too much detail; instead, be concise, giving an overview of what will be in your proposal.
Significance - Why Should Anyone Care?
This, in my opinion, is one of the most important parts of research proposal writing. Indeed, why should your professors care? If your research is going to address some topic that has been studied to death, they are not very likely to grant you approval. Your professors want you to do something that is original and unique, because they want you to expand and build upon previous accomplishments. If your work does not accomplish this, there is a very good chance that your professors will reject your proposal.
Review of the Literature
In your proposal, you will have to conduct an overview of all studies and research related to your project. You must be able to relate your ideas to these prior studies, and state clearly how you can expand upon this knowledge or fill in any gaps that exist in your discipline. This part of your text is “information dense,” meaning that a lot of data is going to be written about in this section. Do not overload the reader with information. Communicate in a way that is clear and understandable. No matter how brilliant you think your ideas are, if they are not understood, they serve no purpose.
Here you must state the methods you will use to accomplish your results. Primarily, your research methods should be valid and appropriate for the problem you seek to resolve. If you have any new methods that you have developed to gather information, you should state them and defend your reasoning for applying them. Clearly state how you will interpret your results, and be prepared to address how you will use your methods to overcome any potential barriers you might encounter.
Potential Implications of Your Research
If your research is going to build upon or expand the existing knowledge in your discipline, that means your project will have implications on the future of your discipline. Show how the results of your work will have an effect on your academic field and other related sciences, and how you believe future researchers can expand upon your work.
It’s time to wrap up you thoughts. To me, writing a conclusion is the most difficult part of writing, because you need to find a way to come down off of your ideas and muses. What I do is simply re-emphasize the reasons for why my ideas are important and why they should be followed up upon.
Bibliography and Citation
In your proposal you are going to have to cite the work of previous researchers, especially in your literature review section. Have footnotes and a bibliography that corresponds to those footnotes. There are different citation formats out there (APA, MLA, Chicago), and your institution might have its own formatting requirements. Whatever the formatting demands of your institutions might be, follow them to the letter.
My Tips for Writing
Writing a proposal can be quite a chore if writing is not your specialty, but completing this task is not beyond your abilities. You just have to commit yourself to finishing. Let me share with you some tips on writing that can help you.
Choose a Topic
Before you begin writing your proposal, you must choose a topic. As stated earlier, choose a topic to study that fills in some gap of knowledge that exists, and furthermore, make sure that it is possible to fill in this knowledge gap.
All good writers do what we call ‘pre-writing’ before they begin any project, whether it is fiction, research, or an article. When I want to write, I brainstorm the topic that interests me, and I put down every word, sentence, or idea that comes to my mind on a piece of paper, no matter how great or insignificant they might be. Do this without stopping for as long as you feel necessary. After a while, you will see a lot of interesting and coherent thoughts and ideas on your paper!
In order to fill in this existing gap of knowledge, you are going to have to do a lot of reading. Find whatever data you need to support the findings or conclusions you come to. Read through scientific journals, study primary accounts of historical events, and don’t be afraid to take advice from others who have been where you are.
When reading, take annotations and notes. This will help you to understand what information is important and what information isn’t. Also, this helps you to keep your thoughts and research organized.
You should create a research proposal outline. An outline is like the foundation and framework of a house, and the words are the bricks and wood that are built around it. Writing an outline will help you to stay organized and avoid running down “rabbit trails” - unnecessary content that detracts from your main idea. It keeps you focused and on task.
When the American science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein was asked what the secret to writing was, he replied, “Just write.” That is what you must do. Type just a little bit every day until you are finished. Eventually you will be done, and you will have a finished proposal ready to be presented to your committee.
Mind Your Audience
This advice goes for any kind of writing. Write for your audience. Ensure that the language you are using in your proposal is appropriate. Do not use colloquialisms or slang unless they are directly related to the subject of your study.
You should also write so that people can understand you rather than to be exclusive. Do not use jargon or research methods that your professors are unfamiliar with. Do that and your readers will take you as arrogant, not brilliant. Clearly define and explain new methods and jargon in the footnotes or text.
Writing does not have to be an arduous task. If you follow EduBirdie’s advice you’ll have a pretty high chance to learn how to write a research proposal, and success is guaranteed.
If these pointers are still not enough, contact EduBirdie’s customer service agents via live chat. They can direct you to a writer who can help you with your task. Our writers specialize in all kinds of disciplines, and they can assist you with completing any assignment. Find out more by visiting EduBirdie.com!
The writers, editors, and project managers of EduBirdie sincerely wish you the best of luck with your studies. Contact us anytime if you find yourself stuck in academic muck. We’ll give you a good push!