How to Write an Undergraduate Research Proposal Template

As strange as it may sound, many students don’t get the meaning and importance of a research proposal. Writing a good research proposal does not only involve carrying out research but also astonishing the proposal jury with your skills. In most cases, writing a weak one means that you won’t be able to write a proper research paper.

What is a Research Proposal?

A research paper proposal is a summary of your research paper, or a sketch of what you will research. It summarizes all the questions you want to answer, knowledge in the subject area, and the methodology you want to use to complete your research.

A research proposal gives you the chance to show that you can communicate difficult ideas analytically, clearly, and briefly. A proposal is a request for support for your research, extension projects, or instructions and should be able to answer the following questions;

  • How much time will it take, and how much will the research cost?
  • What do you want to do, and how do you plan on doing it?
  • How is the project proposal related to the sponsors’ concern?
  • What impact will the project have on your state, university, students, discipline, nation, or other interested parties?
  • Is there anything that has been done in the area of your project? Why should you be the one to do the project?
  • How will the findings be valued?

Depending on the nature of the proposed project and the supporting agency to which you are submitting your research project proposal, there will be some questions that will be emphasized more.

Types of Research Paper Proposal

Writing a research paper proposal doesn’t have to be a complicated task. Still, it is an essential skill that will help you productively pitch your research projects to benefit your institution. There are various types of research paper proposals, including:

Formally Solicited Research Paper Proposal

This type of proposal is written in reply to an approved request for a research proposal. A funding agency may provide a written Request for Proposal (RFP).

The RFP usually contains the client’s wants and might sometimes include the directions for preparing the research paper proposal. Keep in mind that a Request for Proposal is entirely different from a project request form.

Formally-solicited proposals need a more structured approach. You will have to give your feedback directly to the subjects of all key details that the client wants. A formally solicited research proposal must be channeled via the University proposal routing process before it is submitted to the funding agency.

Informally-Solicited Research Paper Proposals

Informally solicited proposals are similar to formally solicited proposals. The only difference is that the information isn’t based on a particular document, which makes them even tougher to deal with.

Even though you are given a rough starting point, you need to do more research. The main difference between the formal and the informally solicited proposal is the lack of information. The formally solicited proposal requests have objectives, set details, and even potential methodologies, while the informal solicited research paper project proposals can be based on just a conversation.

Unsolicited Research Proposals

Unsolicited proposals are usually sent to potential funding agencies or clients without their requests. This type of research paper proposal must be persuasive since the client has not planned or even budgeted for the project.

The downside of an unsolicited research proposal is that you run a risk that the prospective client won’t even try to read the proposal since they didn’t ask for it in the first place. To write an effective unsolicited proposal, you must consider the clients’ specific needs, environment, and concerns.

Continuation and Renewal Project Proposals

A continuation proposal requests the previously approved funds for the next stage of the research project. Usually, the funding agency or the sponsor requires a progress report and budget prior to releasing the additional fund.

Continuation proposals are sometimes not considered as proposals because you will not be pitching your project. Instead, you will be just reminding your sponsors of the project they approved, give them a report on the progress, justify any charges and ask for authorization to continue with the project.

A renewal proposal is a request for extra support from a research project where the project and the funding period are nearly ending. This type of proposal is similar to new proposals and must be channeled and approved in the same way.

An effective renewal proposal should try to compare the project you want to be renewed with other ongoing projects; this places its value in the setting of other ongoing efforts.

Supplemental Proposals

A supplemental proposal is written when you want to ask for additional resources for a project. The primary purpose of writing a supplemental proposal is to confirm the extra resources, and create an up-to-date approximation of what the research project will take to complete. The requested additional resources would be included in the current budget period and might consist of an expansion of the new project‘s approval range.

Research Proposal Template

The primary purpose of your proposal is to convince your supervisor that your project is valuable and that you are competent. Your proposal should be written with flexibility to accommodate modifications as the project progresses. The following are various things that must be included:

  1. A title
  2. An introduction that summarises the topic and question for study and a brief literature review and hypothetical outline
  3. An all-inclusive approach describing the research methods, the data to be collected, and how you obtained access to data sources
  4. A correct calendar for accomplishment, displaying significant indicators, and the time they will be accomplished
  5. Argument of logistics as well as ethical considerations
  6. Limitations of the proposed research
  7. A bibliography that contains a list of references to major articles as well as texts discussed in your research paper proposal

How Long Should Your Research Paper Proposal Be?

Various factors will determine the length of your research paper proposal. For instance, a master’s theory proposal can be just a few pages, whereas a research proposal for a doctorate theses and research funding can be very long and comprehensive. Because you will write the proposal before you begin your research, it should look like a shorter version of your thesis.

How to Write a Research Proposal

Step 1: Come Up With a Title

Before you begin writing down the research proposal, check with your supervisors to see if there is any specific formatting required. The title of your proposal will depend on the type of research you are doing; regardless, you must be descriptive and brief.

Your proposal title should give the readers a clue about what to anticipate from your proposal and be fascinated enough to read the rest of it. To make your proposal come up during searches for your research topic, you must make it precise and clear.

For instance, you can go for a short and informative title like, “The Effects of Alcohol to the Brain.” Avoid using expressions like “A review of the…” or “An investigation of …”

  • The next thing to do is to create your title page. Your supervisor might be specific on the type of format they want for the title page, and if there are no specific instructions, you can apply the APA style for your title page.
  • Include a running head in the higher left corner that will appear on all the document pages, which should be a brief version of the title.
  • In the right corner of the paper, include the page number, which should appear on all pages of the research proposal.

Your research proposals, just like your thesis, must have a title page that includes;

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your name
  • The name of your supervisor
  • Name of the institution and department

Step 2: Summarize the Proposal in an Abstract

If your research proposal is very long, you will have to include an abstract page as well as a table of contents to assist the reader in navigating the proposal. The abstract should consist of your proposed solution and the objectives.

Step 3: Write Your Introduction

This is the first pitch for your project; make sure it adequately explains what you want to do, and how you plan to accomplish it. The introduction should contain the purpose as well as the importance of the research. The introduction should also offer the needed background for the study. In the introduction, you can highlight how the research will contribute to the current knowledge in your field and to the general scientific improvement.

The introduction should have a background that shows the research problem and explain why it needs to progress. The following questions will help you come up with a good introduction for your research proposal.

  • Who is interested in the topic?
  • What part of the problem is known?
  • What is missing from the existing knowledge?
  • What new understandings will your research add?

Step 4: Create a Strong Literature Review

This part will help you show your readers and the supervisors that you are conversant with the past and existing research in your subject area, and show how your research will make a significant contribution towards it. In this part, you must:

  • Be critical and show the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches
  • Match and differentiate the main arguments, methods, debates, and controversies
  • Show how your research fits in

Step 5: Describe the Proposed Research Design and Methods

After the literature review, you will now bring your full attention to your research project’s main objectives. This section is the core of your proposal paper and it should describe the general approach and practical steps you will take to answer all your research questions. Make sure you don’t just list the methods you used, but aim to make an argument for why it is a suitable, reliable, and a valid approach to answering your questions.

In this section, you should show that you know different methods and explain why your method is the most effective way to tackle your research question. Be honest about what you plan to accomplish, be clear about your emphasis, and be explicit about everything your research is based on.

Step 6: Implications and Contributions to Knowledge

Finalize your proposal with a robust note. You can do this by exploring the possible implications of your research theory or practice. Again, emphasize on what your research will add to the current or existing knowledge on the subject.

Step 7: List References or Bibliography

Your research proposal must include a proper reference of all the sources you used. The reference page should be separate and include all the references.

Your references should help identify the problem and form the research hypothesis. If you cannot come up with citations, you can use several online APA citation generators.

Some supervisors might be specific and ask you to add a bibliography. A bibliography is simply a list of all the sources you referred to in formulating your research proposal, including those you did not mention in the content.

The primary purpose of including the references and the bibliography is to display the full range of literature that will support your research project.

Step 8: Provide a Timeline

An excellent research proposal can take up to six months to finalize. Therefore, it’s important that you avoid the last-minute rush. Additionally, you should include a comprehensive schedule of the project and clearly explain what you will do at every phase.

Step 9: Project a Budget

A budget is significant, especially if you are applying for research funding. You should include a budget that will indicate the projected costs and specify items being paid for by the funding source. Before writing everything down, check and confirm the type of costs that the funding source is willing to pay and only include the appropriate items in your budget.

Final Word

You need to put a lot of time and energy to create a perfect research proposal, and it can be very frustrating if it is rejected or returned for revision. 

For this reason, you may want to use this comprehensive guide to help you ace your research proposal. Alternatively, you can consider ordering a custom written research paper proposal at DoMyPaperNow.

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