5 Things to Know About Research Proposals

A decently written proposal is much more important than students often think it is. Once you receive a new assignment to complete, try to track the time you will spend on the actual writing. You will probably find out that those are googling and reading that take more time.

First, you search for literature. After that, you have to scan it for relevance and read the important sources. Then, the methodological literature comes, and you’re just at a loss because of the bunch of terms you can’t operate properly.

However, if you perform all those steps diligently, the actual research will be much easier since you will

  • already know the background to the topic;
  • be well-versed with the terminology;
  • have a step-by-step plan of how to conduct the study.

However, except for reading a lot, there are also a few more things for any student to be aware of.

Do Not Exaggerate

Research proposals can be a part of a course that you will complete before writing your diploma paper. It means that you can compose an impressive proposal, receive a good grade, and forget about it, but not for a long time.

As the new academic term or year comes, you will be asked to go through your proposal and start drafting the final paper or a dissertation according to the plan. Are you really able to find those 300 people for your questionnaire? Or complete that hell of an SPSS test? Are you able to work with that software? Can you at least access it to master it?

Many students do not consider such details. So, in the end, they have to weasel their way out. Some opt to address EssayWritingService – the coursework writing service according to numerous students. Others have to buy expensive software or spend more time learning complex types of analysis than actually completing the research.

So, be reasonable when you’re promising to do something in the proposal. If your professor trusts you too much and doesn’t comment on some extremely complicated plans, they will expect the respective results. It’s better to do moderately complex work than promise pie in the sky and write some nonsense in the end.

No Need for Actual Research

This point is probably of utmost importance as not all students understand that the proposal is just a plan for future study. The deepest level of research you can conduct on the proposal stage is to read a lot of literature and find what scholars have omitted – the literature gap. That’s all.

So, do not write something saying that during the study, you found some significant results – you didn’t. There has been no study so far. All that is required of you is to

  • find the problem;
  • make sure that it hasn’t been addressed by the previous studies;
  • provide evidence for all the facts you mention;
  • compose research questions;
  • explain how you’re going to address them.

And don’t forget to write in the future tense when you’re not talking about someone else’s study. Your is only being planned to be conducted.

Additional Documents

You might need supporting documents that are usually placed in the appendices. For instance, if you’re going to analyze some articles in Results, a literature matrix won’t hurt. As your professor checks and approves it, you will have a solid basis for the final work.

If primary research is to be conducted, you’re going to need to compose an ethics form, a consent form, information for participants, as well as a questionnaire or/and interview questions. With these files being completed, you won’t have to bother much about the extra details when it comes to real research.


As mentioned above, proposals are not about research as it is. So, forget about such chapters as Results and Discussion. What to include?

  1. Introduction (background, problem statement, research question(s), outline of the future paper)
  2. Literature Review
  3. Methodology (research design, data collection tools, sample/search strategy, data analysis, ethical considerations)
  4. Expected Outcomes (optional)
  5. Gantt Chart
  6. Appendices (optional)

Sometimes, instructions presuppose writing an abstract and other stuff unusual for proposals. So, use the structure above only when you don’t have specific guidelines from your university.

Gantt Chart

This chart is something you may not pay much attention to first. Often, students complete it at the very last minute by putting random dates. Yet, you are the first person a Gantt chart will benefit (if you plan it thoroughly, of course). 

Sometimes, it is allowed to have a simpler format – just a table with dates and parts of the research planned step-by-step. The chart version is more illustrative, though. So, to keep up with the interim deadlines, meetings, drafts, approvals from the university, and so on, work on this element hard. It’s worth it.


The universal tips listed above won’t hurt your writing and will help you compose a proposal that can definitely get a pass. Yet, you should always check the instructions your college or university prepared for the students. They can be tiresome and long enough to fall asleep, but the better you’re aware of the details listed in them, the easier your research will be. Good luck!