Steps To Write Effective Research Proposal

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When you’re in college and getting into academic writing, you might not identify all of the types of tasks you’re given. You understand what an essay is and how to respond to readings, but your mind may go blank when your professor mentions a research proposal.

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. At its most basic, a research proposal is a short piece of writing that describes exactly what you’ll be covering in a larger research study. This article will help you to pen a research proposal confidently.

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Research Proposal: Definition

A research proposal is a brief description and a comprehensive approach to the study you have done or will do for your class. A proposal usually expresses specific suggestions or ideas. In short, a research proposal defines what you intend to examine, why it is significant, and how you intend to conduct the research.

Writing a proposal allows you to exhibit the depth of your expertise in a specific topic and your ability to convey complicated ideas succinctly. Usually, writing entails multiple phases, including brainstorming, topic selection, drafting, and revision.

The format of a research proposal varies from subject to subject. However, most proposals should include at least the following elements:

  • The cover page
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Research design 
  • Bibliography

The names and divisions of the sections may vary, but the overall goals remain almost the same.

How To Find A Research Proposal Topic?

You can find a research proposal topic based on your field of study. Here’s what you can do to find a topic –

  • Read several articles about recent discoveries and innovations
  • Go through blogs related to your study 
  • You can ask for suggestions from your friends, professors, or professional writers 

Additional tips for finding a relevant topic

Ensure the topic you’ll be writing about interests you so you can write about it easily. Always examine the things you believe in. Think about what you’re enthusiastic about and ask yourself these questions before you start writing:

  • What do I want to learn?
  • What is the significance of the subject?
  • What is its significance in relation to the topics covered in my class?
  • What issues would it assist in resolving?
  • How does it build on (and hopefully go beyond) previous research on the subject?
  • What exactly should I aim to do, and can I complete it in the time allotted?

Research Proposal Template

The template for the research proposal is not universal. In other words, there is no single template that would suit every type of research proposal paper. However, most of the templates would contain the following elements:

Research Paper Title:

The title must express what your proposal is about in a clear and concise way.


This section must include what you want to address in your paper. For instance, you may write a question that is central to your paper. Please remember to maintain a word count of 100 words.


In this section, you can provide your proposal’s brief context/background. This may include debates or discussions on the topic.

Research Question:

Include a question that reflects the objective of the proposal. Narrow your question to two distinct aspects during the writing phase. You should explain how you aim to answer the question and inform the reader of your conclusion.

Research Method:

The research proposal should demonstrate how you carried out your research. Describe your significant resources (where you got your information) and how you gathered your data. Detail about the interviews and its result (if conducted). Furthermore, explain how you arrived at your conclusions.

Importance of the research:

Explain the significance of your research work adequately. It is good to add a brief explanation of why your research is unique and how it contributes to the field of study. Furthermore, you may also include your reasons as to why your research is essential.


Finally, make a list of the most relevant texts that contributed to your research. You may be requested to do so in the research paper format specified by your instructor (APA, MLA, etc.). You can develop an annotated bibliography in which you explain how each source aided your research.

Research Proposal Outline

The outline for the research proposal is based on the template provided above. Drafting an outline is usually done before commencing the writing process since it offers a good structure for your paper. Thus, ensure you write an outline first. You can use the outline template given below to simplify your paper.



  • Importance of the paper


  • Previous debates/studies
  • Background information

Research Question

  • What is the relationship between your research question and the greater field of study?
  • What is your response to this question’s argument/claim?
  • Is there another point of view?


  • How did you gather the information?
  • What approach/method did you employ?
  • Were there any participants?
  • What relevance does this have to your study?
  • What outcomes did you anticipate?

Significance and Conclusion

  • How did the data/information gather to support or refute your hypothesis?
  • What makes your research proposal interesting? 


  • Include your sources

What Are The Types Of Research Paper Formats?

There are multiple research paper formats depending on the style guide you choose. The most common formats include MLA, APA, and Chicago, which provide formatting guidelines along with citations. You can set the proper format such as page layout, font style and size, heading type, and reference page format using one of the formats.

Guidelines For APA style formatting

  • Employ a standard font – 12 pt Times New Roman or 11 pt Arial
  • Apply double-line spacing
  • Set 1-inch page margins
  • Insert running head on each page if you are submitting it for publication
  • Include an indentation of ½ inch on every new paragraph

Guidelines For Chicago Style Formatting (Also Known As Turabian style)

  • Employ a standard 12 pt Times New Roman font
  • Apply double-line spacing
  • Include an indentation of ½ inch on every new paragraph
  • Set 1-inch or larger margins
  • Place the page numbers in the top right or bottom center.

Guidelines For MLA Style Formatting

  • Employ 12 pt Times New Roman font style
  • Apply double-line spacing
  • Set 1-inch page margins
  • Include an indentation of ½ inch on every new paragraph
  • Capitalize all the headings 


Research proposals necessitate a great deal of attention. You will most likely suffer if you have zero knowledge of this paper and get your proposal rejected in the worst-case scenario. Thus, to avoid such circumstances, it is best that you get some basic knowledge about the paper. This article will help you acquire a basic idea of research proposal writing and its format. 

It is always good to practice this type of writing and have the patience to succeed in composing these papers. 

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