How to Write a Research Paper Proposal: Cutting Corners


Writing a research paper proposal is a serious task which must be thoroughly approached and worked out on different levels. Only carefully designed and well-reasoned proposal will overcome common pitfalls that often become reasons for declining research papers.


  • Design
  • It is quite common that improper design of the proposal ruins the whole impression of the applicant. For that reason you especially need to consult with your advisor on length, layout, format, table of contents and page numbers. It is highly possible that the board will question the validity of the candidate who forgets to number the pages or to include a table of contents.


  • Be concise, speak up to the point
  • Remember that there is a great danger of being “all over the map” without a clear sense of purpose, otherwise the board may get the impression that the problems to be investigated are more complex than you realize. Give special care to the formulation of the title, which should be brief, accurate, descriptive and comprehensive, in ten words clearly indicating the subject of the investigation.


  • Stay focused on the research question.

    Don’t go off the boundaries of your subject, otherwise you will be accused that your research plan has not been carefully designed.


  • Thought-out literature review
  • At this point you need to show that you have performed great preliminary work, got acquainted with different sources on your subject and understand how your research fit in the framework of the whole study in general.


  • History
  • If you have any works on this topic, summarize their most important impact on the topic.

    Don’t forget to attach copies of your own publications that might be seen in relation to your research project. Such recommendations often speak in favor of an applicant, if the level of their investigation is sufficient.


  • Convincing project outline
  • While preparing the main part of your proposal, make sure you provide reasonable arguments and support it with solid facts and data. Don’t give the board the opportunity to doubt that new or useful information won’t result from the project, which can happen if your basic hypothetical results and predictions aren’t adequately thought out and appear unsound.


  • Necessity
  • Your main task while presenting the proposal is to convince in the significance and absolute necessity of your work. So, be lively and polite, show enthusiasm and confidence in the research. Be honest, provide information about potential weaknesses or problems such as monetary needs or areas where the research might run into obstacles.