How to make a research proposal?

By Riya Jain & Abhinash on August 21, 2022

A research proposal is prepared to convey an idea to potential funders or research supervisors. It details an action plan to implement the idea and explains its feasibility. It justifies a plan to accomplish and how to achieve it. Most importantly it conveys the benefits and significance of the idea. It must therefore be written in an impactful form.

Importance of a research proposal

Research proposals form a major part of the Bachelor’s, Masters & PhD programs. Even those who are pursuing postdoctoral programs are required to write fellowship or grant proposals to raise funds. A research proposal proves that the researcher is genuinely interested in completing the research. A research proposal should define:

  • the researcher’s focus,
  • possible pitfalls of the study,
  • a preliminary literature survey,
  • and a strategy to finish the study.

A basic structure of a research proposal can be as below:

Introduce the reader to the topic, state the research problem and questions, and provide a research context.


Establish the facts around the topic with relevant facts. Focus on the problem and seek to reveal why it is happening. To justify the significance explain why it is necessary to work on this study.

Background and significance

Explore existing studies on the topic. Help the reader to understand how the current study will be different from the already known details.

Review of existing research

Specify the main aim and its supporting objectives as pointers. Research questions should be addressed in the research, in an intriguing fashion.

Aim and research questions

Describes the research methods to be used in the study. The research method reduces the ambiguity of the study by providing specific details of the tools and processes employed to achieve research goals.

Research methods

Identify how the study would enhance, expand, or change existing information in this field. Explain the practical application of the study and its relevance thus, motivate the reader to understand the need for the study.

Implications of the study

Anticipate the results and the arguments which will provide the reader with a vague idea the study will address. This will again help in assuring the validity and significance of the project along with depicting potential implications and outcomes of the study.


Avoid these common mistakes in the proposal

While writing a research proposal avoid blind research and include details that are not in the scope of the topic. This makes a proposal read vague and the reader loses interest. Keep the writing crisp and create arguments. Use the proper citation to cite facts, statistical data and concepts. Proper citation of other authors’ work can make the identified research gaps worthy of studying. A research proposal is a form of persuasive writing i.e. the goal of the proposal is to present the information in a way that the reader gets convinced and agrees with. However, not including valid reasons as to why the study is essential or can contribute to existing knowledge results in its non-acceptance.

  • Be coherent, clear and concise.
  • Take plenty of time looking for existing studies.
  • Have clarity while writing the proposal.
  • Present in form of a preliminary outline of work.
  • Acknowledge fellow authors of their work.
  • Have a clear statement of research questions and ideas.
  • The scope of the proposal should be realistic and reasonable.