Research Proposal Writing Strategy


The following list of tips gives instructions on how to write productively and develop a research proposal in limited time.

Clarifying basic notions

To begin with, a student should clearly understand the meaning of a research proposal. Its goal is to represent the existing issue and suggest resolutions to improve the current situation. What is more, it should also put forward the practical approach to work on the problem. The requirements for a paper are guided by standards of the chosen discipline. Therefore, the elements, which are supposed to be included in a research proposal, are more precise and accurately formulated in comparison to the general project proposal. The writing process of the above-mentioned writing assignment demands to dig deeper, that is why you will need to cover much literature. The literature reviews you are going to present should give irrefutable evidence that the solution to the undertaken problem is vital. Apart from logical justification, an author should also conclude the methodological approaches in detail. Finally, some information on the expected outcomes and advantages should be gained from the research accomplishment.

Step-by-step Approach to Compose a Research Proposal

The motivation of a professor to assign you to such type of an academic assignment is as follows:

  • Hone your skills to organize and undertake a fully-fledged research project;
  • Practice making comprehensive reviews of the scientific publications to make sure that the question is not yet investigated enough. In some other cases, it may be researched but in an unproductive way not giving the clear answer;
  • Enhance your general abilities to compose a scientific text;
  • Developing an exact plan for your research, making a schedule of the main steps to be taken;
  • Critically evaluate the existing scientific data;
  • Applying various methodological approaches for the effectiveness of a research;
  • Forming a mature outlook on the scholarly activities, their impact, and outcomes.

All in all, the piece of writing should demonstrate all the initial components of the completed research paper. You should eliminate the actual continuity of the chosen subject, so that the target reader could immediately evaluate the relevance and effectiveness of your research. The thoughts that should be omitted in a research proposal are findings and summary based on them. Moreover, it is essential to make the paper informative, coherent, and absorbing.

It does not matter what subject you explore and the investigation methods you use, all research proposals have the following aspects in common:

  1. What final results are you going to achieve? Explain the information in a direct manner, be concise in the suggestions you make.
  2. What is your motivation? Apart from showing the structure and goals of your research, you should write a brief outline of the literature you have covered with evidence why the paper is estimable.
  3. What would be your strategy? The idea might be extremely interesting and catching, however, there may be ways to develop it in the scientific writing. Therefore, ensure yourself that it is adequate and accomplishable.

The Mistakes You May Make

  • Either being laconic or speaking about different things in general without concretization.
  • No citations from the literature you have used to get the theoretical background on the subject.
  • No limitations of the contextual boundaries, for example, people, place, or time.
  • No clear argumentation to defend your point of view.
  • Being unfocused and often going off track to describe some unrelated things.
  • Poor grammar, spelling mistakes.
  • Too much focus on the least important issues.

About Style and Structure of Writing

The research proposal structure does not differ much from the other scientific works on social sciences. On average, they consist of ten and up to twenty five pages. Before you start writing, be careful while reading the paper instructions. If there are any dubious moments, consult your instructor to eliminate the follow-up problems.

A couple of questions you should ask yourself at the very stage of research:

  • What is the thing I am interested in and could I develop it into a research paper?
  • Why is this very topic meaningful?
  • What is its value within the whole area of science studied?
  • What will be the final resolution?
  • What are the prospects of developing a paper?
  • How to schedule everything properly according to deadlines and to assign it in time?

As a whole, a captivating research paper should show all your competence and knowledge gained throughout the years of studying. It also demonstrates your curiosity and involvement to push scientific issues further.

The following information presents the most common structure of a research paper:

1. Introduction

In most cases, research proposals are written by scholars aiming at getting a grant for their project. If you want to climb the career ladder and accordingly obtain a new status in the scientific world, writing such a piece of written work is essential. Only after this step is accomplished, you could continue work on your dissertation. Perhaps, this research paper will serve some other purposes for somebody else, but the structure would not differ at all. An introduction makes a reader acquainted with your idea, proves its relevance, and suggests some improvement to the problem. In other words, it makes the concept clear for your reader and sets the background for the ensuing data. The introduction serves as a mechanism to light the spark of interest and to persuade. Nevertheless, the foreword sounds promising for the future outcome, it should not duplicate the summary. Be careful not to transform the lead-in part into the conclusion.

Consider your introduction to be a narration that consists of three main parts to answer such questions:

  • What is the core issue to be resolved?
  • To what research topic is it closely related?
  • What methodology would be the most suitable?
  • What new could be discovered in the result?

2. Throwbacks and Noteworthiness

While background information could be inserted into the introduction, we suggest it to be present in your research paper separately. It works for organization and clarity of the written work.

It’s the perfect chance to give an interpretation of the context and talk more about its significance. Imagine that a reader could be aware of the seriousness of the matter in the same way as you do. Provoke an interesting giving an idea of the general features and the fascinating details.

It is not an easy task to make this part coherent and absorbing. That is why we have created a list of things you should keep in mind while completing this very part of the writing:

  • Be as concise as you can to state a problem of your research and then describe its objective. The reason to say it again is to broaden an outlook on the issue and make the writing more composite.
  • Give explanations of your decision to undertake the research. Additionally, you could justify its importance for a larger number of people.
  • Share how you are planning to achieve the desired results. Explain the route you take and which sources you have selected to use.
  • Tell about the outlines of the work. Compartmentalize structural pieces of the writing and do not doubt to mention things which you have omitted.
  • Create a mini-dictionary with definitions of key terms, which are vital to perceive the concept of the research.

3. Review of Literature

This section resembles the background part, but it puts an emphasis on a balanced and well-considered study of already existing studies devoted to the problem. Digging deeper, you should structure the gained knowledge about the issue in a certain kind of systematics that could be advantageous for your argumentation. There is a probability that you will need to cover some distant subjects, not directly related to the topic of the paper, to get an extensive insight. The aim of this very section is to prove that despite some exploratory works exist, yours is up-to-the-minute and stands out from the crowd.

It is necessary to carry out the investigation of the strategies other researchers have used and of the questions they mastered. Their findings may be very helpful and viable for your work. Working in the same field, you may discover some negating findings, so do not be scared to restate the facts. Make an evaluation of the previous works and tell what elements do they lack and what could be improved. To make a qualitative literature review, you should get more detailed information on the approach to be applied to it.

As a matter of a fact, a literature review is brief yet informative. It is indispensable to rephrase it in a pattern that would be easy-to-read. Demonstrate how the piece of information is related to the research. Think of categorizing the data according to the central factor to be described in a dissertation or some another type of academic paper. At first, this task may seem impossible to be turned into reality, but if you devote a great deal of time to become acquainted with all the relevant sources, you’ll get an insight of the concept they reveal. What could help you to assure oneself on the correctness of such a classification? Provided that you notice the repetition of key elements you’ve underlined, you can become convinced of accurateness of your findings.

There is a nice rule of five “Cs” on framing a literature review:

  1. Cite, place the emphasis on the essential academic works, which are appropriate -for dealing with the central problem of your research.
  2. Compare existing theories, findings, methods applied, and argumentations in the literature. What is the common belief among the majority of authors? How do scholars substantiate their findings?
  3. Contrast diverse presumptions, arguments, and ideas which disagree on some points or are extremely different. Make the controversy striking, so that it shows biases and the lack of research information on the problem discussed.
  4. Critique: show the argumentation you find is well-developed and sensible. As already an expert on the question, you could suggest the literature that is more reliable. Moreover, you have a chance to comment on methodology.
  5. Connect: match literature with the problem you work on, synthesize, and show some other sides of the issue apart from the things have been revealed by other authors.

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4. The Structure of Research and Methodology

This section matters a lot as you have to be quite persuasive and organize every sentence consistently. The fact is that the research is not presented yet, and you should ensure the target audience that it is to come and the result is worth it. With this intention, convince the audience that it will definitely bring outcome with the methods you select. Make it clear that the methods you have opted for are the right ones, and they deal with the problem at its very heart. The analysis should be concrete with reference to the specific parts of the research.

Besides, present the design of the entire study. That requires an accurate guiding idea on the whole structure and examples from the literature review. Apart from the methods of research, you should also shed light on the methods of gathering data. Be as much detailed as you can while describing all those approaches, strategies, and verification tests you are going to implement.

What you should know to write about the methodologies of the study:

  • Cover the research operations to be applied and the way you will analyze the results obtained. It is necessary to highlight how the techniques are related to the study problem in general. A writer would not pay maximum attention to the aims he or she would like to achieve, but how will they spend time moving to it.
  • Methodology is not only about listing, it is about the precise argumentation why this very combination will bring the best results. A simple enumeration could never be promising. Do not omit this vital part as it should demonstrate many good qualities of the further research.
  • Acknowledgment of the hidden hazards and possible fails is momentous as well. Do not convince a reader that it is going to be carried out without any flaws. Researching does not mean having no oversight, it could be challenging, it struggles for revealing some things and finding the explanation. Sometimes, the process could be very difficult and even reach a deadlock

5. Preceding Suppositions and Inferences

Even though there is no need to undertake the examination of the problem, analytical process and prospective inferences could not be left behind.

The task of this part is to predict which way would this research broaden the knowledge about the subject in the whole sphere of science. Determine the aims and objectives of the study. In addition, estimate the future development of the issue. It is a nice point to project the influence of the outcomes and the way it makes changes. Remember, there are three ways to lead such a discussion: substantive (a new approach, attitude, and procedure), theoretical (new perception, interpretation), methodological (an innovative way of inspecting, evaluating) importance.

This is the list of questions, which could help you to decide on the implications of the research:

  • What are the new theoretical notions that could be figured out from the results?
  • What suggestions could be made for the further studies?
  • What outcomes will bring using the practical results in the real life?
  • Is there a possibility that the result would change the forms and methods of examining the subject?
  • Will the outcomes have an impact on the related spheres?
  • Could some policies be modified according to the issue?
  • Which advantages society gains from the results of the study?

6. Summary

As a final step of composing the research paper proposal, you should briefly summarize the whole paper. One more time highlight the importance of conducting this very study and how it works for improving the current situation. Following the main body, the section should consist of two paragraphs. To some extent, it restates the facts mentioned in the introduction. Compile the final message in a persuasive way, so that a reader would be sure of helpfulness and significance of the research.

These are the key elements you should call the readers’ attention to:

  • The purpose and strong reasoning why you have undertaken this very research.
  • What is the goal you move towards to and which problems will you solve on your way.
  • Explanation of the methodology you opted for.
  • Expected contribution that your work will bring to the sphere of science.
  • A general description of the contribution within the whole scientific area.

7. Citations

Almost every kind of scientific writing requires citations. You cannot skip this point in research proposal as well. There are two possible options for performing this task.

You should better agree upon the choice with your professor.

  • References – an enumeration of the primary scholarly papers, articles, and textbooks you have examined.
  • Bibliography – a broader list of resources you have not only covered to get some information but also cited relevant ones.


Whatever choices are made, this very part of the writing process demonstrates your level of involvement and whether you have done enough to understand the problem in-depth. Besides, you should show that you are not only retyping undeniable truths the major figures in the world of science have been working for, but you are hammering away to make your own contribution. Considering some organization moments, you should begin a new page with the title “Bibliography” or “References” aligning it in the center of the page. If you use a citation, do not forget about formatting standards within the discipline of science. It may be APA if the paper is on education or Chicago for works on history. Again, do not hesitate to consult with the professor. One more thing to remember is that citations are not counted to the number of pages of the writing.

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