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Research Proposal Example/Sample

Detailed Walkthrough + Free Proposal Template

If you’re getting started crafting your research proposal and are looking for a few examples of research proposals , you’ve come to the right place.

In this video, we walk you through two successful (approved) research proposals , one for a Master’s-level project, and one for a PhD-level dissertation. We also start off by unpacking our free research proposal template and discussing the four core sections of a research proposal, so that you have a clear understanding of the basics before diving into the actual proposals.

  • Research proposal example/sample – Master’s-level (PDF/Word)
  • Research proposal example/sample – PhD-level (PDF/Word)
  • Proposal template (Fully editable) 

If you’re working on a research proposal for a dissertation or thesis, you may also find the following useful:

  • Research Proposal Bootcamp : Learn how to write a research proposal as efficiently and effectively as possible
  • 1:1 Proposal Coaching : Get hands-on help with your research proposal

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

FAQ: Research Proposal Example

Research proposal example: frequently asked questions, are the sample proposals real.

Yes. The proposals are real and were approved by the respective universities.

Can I copy one of these proposals for my own research?

As we discuss in the video, every research proposal will be slightly different, depending on the university’s unique requirements, as well as the nature of the research itself. Therefore, you’ll need to tailor your research proposal to suit your specific context.

You can learn more about the basics of writing a research proposal here .

How do I get the research proposal template?

You can access our free proposal template here .

Is the proposal template really free?

Yes. There is no cost for the proposal template and you are free to use it as a foundation for your research proposal.

Where can I learn more about proposal writing?

For self-directed learners, our Research Proposal Bootcamp is a great starting point.

For students that want hands-on guidance, our private coaching service is recommended.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Research Proposal Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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Example of a literature review

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How to Write Research Proposal For Scholarship Applications? With Examples September 22, 2023 by Digital Vaults Editorial Team

If you’re lucky enough to have the chance to apply for a scholarship, it’s essential to consider that you will likely need to write a study proposal. While this can feel daunting, it’s not that difficult, so long as you know where to start and what you hope to achieve!

Why is a Research Proposal for a Scholarship Important?

Before we go any further, it’s worth considering why you’re putting effort into the study proposal. Indeed, knowing the value or weighting of a task often makes it much easier to stick to!

So, what’s the importance of a research proposal? A good research proposal demonstrates why your project and approach would fit the requirements well.

Invariably, an organization costs much money to provide a funded scholarship . As such, your study proposal allows you to demonstrate the value you’ll bring to the business. In other words, it’s a way of showing the scholarship provider that you are a valuable asset to their work.

As such, your study proposal drastically boosts the strength and appeal of your scholarship application. Remember: going for a scholarship is hugely competitive. As a result, making your application stand out is essential. This is where your study proposal can help.

So, don’t leave things to chance if you want to boost your study proposal.

research proposal sample scholarship

Key Things to Include In Your Study Proposal Scholarship

By now, we’ve looked at what a study proposal is and why it is essential for your application. But what are some critical things you should include in your study proposal?

Generally, the key things you will need to include in your study proposal include the following points.

#1 Introductory Information

The most obvious thing your study proposal should include is introductory information. Indeed, introductory information (e.g., the title of your research proposal, the primary goals you’re hoping to achieve, etc.) is critical. This shows the reviewer of the study proposal how the research might relate to the company’s goals.

#2 Your Background

You need more than just the topics you intend to study for your scholarship. In your study proposal, you should also cover why you’re a good fit for the role – in other words, what is your background? What is your understanding of the topic, and how does this relate to your proposed topic? Considering this will directly influence your application, demonstrating that you are qualified and knowledgeable to approach the subject.

#3 Key Questions

As well as introducing the topic, it’s vital to ensure that your study proposal addresses any key questions relating to your topic. In other words, what problems are you addressing? How will looking at these issues help solve and improve social or economic aspects?

#4 Time Frames

As well as answering the critical questions of your study, your study proposal should indicate expected timelines and deadlines for the work. This helps ensure that the research proposal reviewer can see when you’ll aim to deliver the work and whether this comfortably meets the timeframe for the scholarship.

When planning your time frames, it’s essential to consider that a full-time study offer will usually have a four-year timeline to completion. This includes writing up your research in the third year. Meanwhile, for part-time study, you will likely have around six years to study and two more years to write up your results.

Make sure your proposed time frames fit into this comfortably. This ensures you’ve demonstrated that you will be a good candidate for the scholarship. After all, why would a business want to accept a scholarship applicant who couldn’t complete the study on time?

Steps to Write a Study Proposal Scholarship

At this point, we have outlined some of the main things you need to know about what is included in a study proposal. However, that doesn’t directly help with writing the scholarship. The following outline should help create an effective, reliable, and valuable study proposal.

Make a Summary of Key Points

Before you begin writing your scholarship study proposal, summarize the key points we mentioned before. These key points need to be included in your study proposal. Outlining them is very important to ensure a clear focus on how the study proposal should look.

Start with your Cover Page

A cover page is a surprisingly important part of your research proposal. Indeed, the cover page provides a simple introduction to the proposal, shows that you can work professionally, and shows an additional level of determination above the bare minimum. Remember: the institution will use your study proposal to assess whether you’re a responsible, hard-working fit for the scholarship.

Create an Introduction

Don’t try to jump immediately into the body of the study proposal. Take things one step at a time by starting with the introduction.

Your introduction needs to cover all of the basics of your study research. As such, it should outline the main points, such as the title of your project and the main research problem. However, it should also briefly hint at your experience and inspiration for the project. However, be brief here, as this will be addressed further in the later sections.

It’s essential to ensure the introduction also covers your main research objectives. Failing to express these could result in your application holding less merit and strength than others.

As a key tip: keep the title of your research proposal simple. Your chosen title should be simultaneously informative and straightforward to understand. This will help the reader understand quickly the exact niche you will focus on and how this could benefit the institution’s goals.

Complete a Literature Review

Once you’ve outlined the main points behind your research proposal and introduced the concept, you can begin your literature review.

A literature review offers a straightforward yet highly effective way to show the current understanding surrounding the topic. With this thought in mind, try to go relatively in-depth with your analysis here. Of course, this only requires a partial analysis of the topic. You don’t have an unlimited word count to work with (yet), and you’ll want to leave some of that for the main body of your research!

However, presenting a thorough, well-researched overview of the available literature should be enough. Try to find research from within your country and internationally to present diverse viewpoints. You don’t need to expand on these, but summarize the key findings of each of the addressed studies. You could also mention their strengths and weaknesses.

Once you have done so, completing the literature review becomes very easy! The literature review should highlight any well-established knowledge. It should also highlight where knowledge is lacking or missing and how this relates to what you will address in your research.

Present the Research Methodology

Once you have determined what you intend to research and how this relates to the literature review, you can outline your methodology. Summarizing the key things you intend to address makes this much more accessible.

While you won’t necessarily need to present every little detail, your research methodology should be thorough enough to cover all the main points. Try to dedicate half a page to a full page on this section. Make sure you also mention the strengths and weaknesses of your methodology. Be sure also to explain why you can’t address the weaknesses directly.

In the methodology section, adding a timeline can be incredibly helpful. This will demonstrate how you intend to complete the research.

It also shows when you will complete each section and so on. In addition, dividing your work into stages can make it easier to stick to the schedule if you achieve the scholarship. So, this is well worth paying attention to.

Don’t be overly ambitious; set realistic deadlines you can meet rather than speedy deadlines you’ll struggle to keep up with. Missing deadlines look terrible on your research and can be disheartening. This will make a vicious cycle where you only get more and more behind.

Outline Funding Requirements

Unfortunately, conducting thorough research isn’t free! With this thought in mind, you’ll need to outline funding requirements for the research. In other words, how much will you need for the scholarship?

Be sure to calculate this section very carefully. If you ask for less funding, the scholarship institution will likely look for someone else who can do the work more affordably. However, you may need to ask for more to make ends meet. Indeed, getting more funding can often be very hard once a price has been agreed upon for the scholarship. So, the importance of calculating this carefully is vital.

Bibliography

Throughout your research proposal, including a diverse range of references can back up your application and show how much work you’ve done towards it. However, it’s essential to remember that you’ll need to include a bibliography at the end of your research to give full credit to any authors you’ve referenced.

Be sure to check which referencing style your institution expects before getting started. If your institution expects a specific referencing style to be used, now’s the perfect time to demonstrate your skills and how you could bring value to the project.

How Long Should my Research Proposal Be?

You may now be wondering how long your research proposal should be. Well, this entirely depends on how you write, how much you must cover in the proposal, etc. However, your research proposal should be between 2500 and 3500 words.

As such, a specific aim for your research paper will be around five to seven pages. However, this final figure will depend on how you write and the font or formatting you choose.

If you still need to hit the 2500 words mark, take the opportunity to expand your proposal further. Remember, a lot is riding on this! But, you should be good if your research paper is already at 2500 words or more.

If you go over 3500 words, remember that the reader may begin to lose interest. Condensing an excessively long study proposal can make it much easier for the reader to take in.

Final Thoughts

If you have been wondering about how to write a study proposal for a scholarship , there are several vital things in this regard that you should consider. Fortunately, there are numerous ways you can boost your results by writing a study proposal for a scholarship. Today’s essential tips may have helped here.

After all, while no simple solution will immediately create the perfect study proposal for your scholarship, you can take many excellent steps. These help you find suitable options to boost your application.

Good luck – but with an excellent study proposal, you won’t need it so much anyway!

You can find full list of documents required for scholarship here.

Related Posts:

NTU Research Scholarship 2024-2025: Full Research Funding in Singapore

University of South Florida

Research and Scholarship

College of Arts and Sciences

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Proposal tools, proposal samples, proposal narrative samples.

  • NSF BCS Human-Environment and Geographical Sciences Program

Complete Proposal Samples

  • NSF Proposal (Biological Sciences - DBI)
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Cover Page Samples

Biographical sketches.

See NSF Biographical Sketches .

NSF implemented a revised version of the Biographical Sketch format for consistency with the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) ( NSF 23-1 ). The requirement to use the revised format is effective for proposals submitted or due on or after January 30, 2023. 

The revised format is now available in SciENcv and on the NSF Policy Office website . As a reminder, the mandate to use SciENcv only for preparation of these senior personnel documents (to include Current & Pending Support) will go into effect for new proposals submitted or due on or after October 23, 2023. 

NSF recommends both Mac and Windows users open and fill in the blank PDF document using Adobe Acrobat Reader for an optimized experience. The completed and saved PDF can then be uploaded via Research.gov or Grants.gov. 

NSF Fillable PDF - Effective for proposals submitted or due on or after January 30, 2023

SciENcv Frequently Asked Questions and Tutorials  

  • UsingSciENcv: NSF Biographical Sketch SciENcv tutorial
  • SciENcv Help Manual with Screenshots & step-by-step sections  
  • How to access SciENcv? 

See 2023 NSF Policy Office Webinar Series: NSF Bio Sketch & Current & Pending (Other) Support SciENcv & NSF Formats

Current & Pending Support Descriptions

See NSF Current & Pending Support

See NSF Current and Pending (Other) Support Video Tutorial

NSF implemented a revised version of the Current and Pending (Other) Support format for consistency with the Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) ( NSF 23-1 ). The requirement to use the revised formats is effective for proposals submitted or due on or after January 30, 2023. 

The revised format is now available in SciENcv and on the NSF Policy Office website . As a reminder, the mandate to use SciENcv only for preparation of these senior personnel documents (to include the Biosketch) will go into effect for new proposals submitted or due on or after October 23, 2023. 

Facilities & Equipment Descriptions

  • NSF-USF Facilities, Equipment, & Resources
  • Facilities & Equipment Description 1
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Data Management Plans

Data Management and Open Access Storage (at USF) blurb :

A long term (indefinite) data preservation plan will be used to store the data beyond the life of the project, using Digital Commons Data, a USF Libraries supported, accessible, data management repository.

Digital Commons Data adheres to FAIR principles of Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse. All data is "archived in perpetuity for long-term availability, with Data Archiving and​ Networked Services" ( https://www.elsevier.com/solutions/digital-commons/data ). To support open data, all published datasets will have a clear license and a DOI for ease of citation.

Digital Commons Data is a module of Digital Commons, an institutional repository system used by the USF Libraries. In use since 2007, the USF Libraries has supported persistent access and preservation to scholarly works and datasets created at USF with Digital Commons. The datasets created as a result of this project align with key library research collections, notably the Florida Environment and Natural History Collections Initiative ( https://lib.usf.edu/library-administration/innovative-research-collections/ ).

See our guide on how to use the repository: https://guides.lib.usf.edu/dcd

  • NSF DMP (Biological Sciences - DBI)
  • NSF DMP (Geosciences - DEB)
  • NSF DMP (Physical Sciences - DUE - IUSE)
  • NSF DMP (Social Sciences - HRD - Core Research)

NSF CAREER Post-Doctoral Mentoring Plans

  • NSF CAREER Post-Doctoral Mentoring Plan

Graphics & Captions

  • Samples that demonstrate how graphics and captions propel proposals forward.

USF CAS Core Facilities Descriptions & Available Equipment

  • CAS Core Facilities Descriptions & Available Equipment

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 21, 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

Receive feedback on language, structure, and formatting

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See an example

research proposal sample scholarship

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
  • Example research proposal #2: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

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As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

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Undergraduate Research & Scholarships

Haas scholars program, proposal format, haas scholars program: guidelines for your project proposal.

Please review these guidelines and policies before beginning to write your Haas Scholars proposal.  We recommended using this research proposal worksheet to prepare your proposal. For more suggestions on how to approach each section, visit the proposal-writing resources page on the OURS website and/or attend a “How to Write a Proposal” workshop (times/dates here ). You may also review a video recording of the Research Proposal Workshop linked here . Note: you will need to be signed into you BMail account (@berkeley.edu) in order to access the linked resources above.

Your proposal should contain the following five sections:

  • Research Statement (Project Summary)
  • Background and Rationale
  • Research Plan (Methodologies and Timeline)
  • Qualifications and Affiliations
  • Bibliography

Note : You will need to number any supplementary materials (graphics, images, charts) that you refer to in your application and upload them as a single PDF.

Research Statement (Project Summary) (max. 1,000 characters, approx. 175 words)

Provide an overview of your project, addressing the following questions:

  • What specific question does your research ask. and why is it important?
  • How will your project potentially contribute new knowledge to the field?

A good research statement acts as an abstract of your project – it is your sales pitch. It should:

  • Provide a hook or snapshot of your specific topic
  • Introduce a hypothesis or intervention in the field, stating your research question
  • Briefly contextualize your proposal in current conversations in the field
  • Describe the potential impact or implication(s) of the project
  • Make a claim about how this project is relevant
  • Convince the reader that this project is exciting, innovative, and meaningful!

Background and Rationale (max. 4,000 characters, approx. 750 words)

Contextualize your research project within existing literature and make a case for why this research matters. Although you may use in-text citations to refer to sources that have informed your research, full citations of these sources should be included in the bibliography section. Be sure to address the following questions:

  • What is already known about the research topic you will be working on?
  • How does your project align with or depart from the existing scholarship?
  • How will this research contribute to the wider field?

This section builds on the project overview you provided in the Research Statement section. In it, you will situate your research project within existing literature. This is where you will cite the sources included in the bibliography!

  • Situate your research question within the broader field, summarizing the key findings of scholarship that shaped your thinking
  • Indicate how your project will contribute new knowledge
  • Identify questions your research will answer

Research Plan (Methodologies and Timeline) (max. 3,000 characters, approx. 500 words)

Describe your research plan. Provide an account of the methodologies that will inform your process and outline the timeline of your project. Be sure to address the following questions:

  • Describe your summer research plan in chronological order, using either a week-by-week timeline or phases approach. Each week/phase should specify goals, action items, and methods.
  • How are your chosen research methods appropriate for addressing these issues?
  • Are there constraints or anticipated challenges associated with any particular elements of your research process?

This section details the how, when, where, and what of your project, describing how you will tackle the research objectives. It should identify the components of this research and your organizational approach. Be clear about the nature of your research (e.g., bibliographic, labwork, experiments, interviews, documentation). Describe your project as a process that can be broken down into rational, discrete phases:

  • What will your first step be?  What is entailed in this step? What will your questioning look like? How long will it take?
  • How does step 1 prepare you for step 2? How does step 2 prepare you for step 3? etc.
  • Are there benchmarks that will define your process?

Qualifications and Affiliations (max. 1,200 characters, approx. 200 words)

Describe your qualifications to conduct this research. Reference not only any relevant coursework and germane research experience but also personal experiences that make the project meaningful to you. If your research requires an external affiliation or permission to access particular resources, provide evidence that you have secured these. Be sure to address the following:

  • What academic and personal experiences have prepared you to carry out this research project?
  • Does your project depend on access to people and/or institutions or particular resources (i.e., interviewing subjects, partnering with institutions, traveling to archives or museums)? If so, please describe the affiliations, permissions, and agreements you have established.

In this section, you are convincing the committee that you are prepared to undertake this research. You are providing a personal statement about why this research matters to you. Here’s what to include:  

  • A narrative account of what you learned
  • Previous research experience
  • Planned training in the coming semester or early summer
  • Any external affiliations secured (archives, labs, community groups)
  • Relevant leadership or extracurricular activities
  • Demonstration of passion for the proposed project

Bibliography (max. 4,000 characters)

Provide a short bibliography that has informed your thinking. Include full citations of any sources you mentioned elsewhere in this proposal.

  • Ten most important sources
  • e.g., Chicago, MLA, APA, etc.

Previously Successful Research Proposals

To view examples of research proposals, you can visit the SURF L&S Resources page linked here .

Note: The proposals will be listed by Major(s), Fellow, and Title of Project. To access the files linked, you must be logged into a valid UC Berkeley email address.

How to write a research proposal

What is a research proposal.

A research proposal should present your idea or question and expected outcomes with clarity and definition – the what.

It should also make a case for why your question is significant and what value it will bring to your discipline – the why. 

What it shouldn't do is answer the question – that's what your research will do.

Why is it important?

Research proposals are significant because Another reason why it formally outlines your intended research. Which means you need to provide details on how you will go about your research, including:

  • your approach and methodology
  • timeline and feasibility
  • all other considerations needed to progress your research, such as resources.

Think of it as a tool that will help you clarify your idea and make conducting your research easier.

How long should it be?

Usually no more than 2000 words, but check the requirements of your degree, and your supervisor or research coordinator.

Presenting your idea clearly and concisely demonstrates that you can write this way – an attribute of a potential research candidate that is valued by assessors.

What should it include?

Project title.

Your title should clearly indicate what your proposed research is about.

Research supervisor

State the name, department and faculty or school of the academic who has agreed to supervise you. Rest assured, your research supervisor will work with you to refine your research proposal ahead of submission to ensure it meets the needs of your discipline.

Proposed mode of research

Describe your proposed mode of research. Which may be closely linked to your discipline, and is where you will describe the style or format of your research, e.g. data, field research, composition, written work, social performance and mixed media etc. 

This is not required for research in the sciences, but your research supervisor will be able to guide you on discipline-specific requirements.

Aims and objectives

What are you trying to achieve with your research? What is the purpose? This section should reference why you're applying for a research degree. Are you addressing a gap in the current research? Do you want to look at a theory more closely and test it out? Is there something you're trying to prove or disprove? To help you clarify this, think about the potential outcome of your research if you were successful – that is your aim. Make sure that this is a focused statement.

Your objectives will be your aim broken down – the steps to achieving the intended outcome. They are the smaller proof points that will underpin your research's purpose. Be logical in the order of how you present these so that each succeeds the previous, i.e. if you need to achieve 'a' before 'b' before 'c', then make sure you order your objectives a, b, c.

A concise summary of what your research is about. It outlines the key aspects of what you will investigate as well as the expected outcomes. It briefly covers the what, why and how of your research. 

A good way to evaluate if you have written a strong synopsis, is to get somebody to read it without reading the rest of your research proposal. Would they know what your research is about?

Now that you have your question clarified, it is time to explain the why. Here, you need to demonstrate an understanding of the current research climate in your area of interest.

Providing context around your research topic through a literature review will show the assessor that you understand current dialogue around your research, and what is published.

Demonstrate you have a strong understanding of the key topics, significant studies and notable researchers in your area of research and how these have contributed to the current landscape.

Expected research contribution

In this section, you should consider the following:

  • Why is your research question or hypothesis worth asking?
  • How is the current research lacking or falling short?
  • What impact will your research have on the discipline?
  • Will you be extending an area of knowledge, applying it to new contexts, solving a problem, testing a theory, or challenging an existing one?
  • Establish why your research is important by convincing your audience there is a gap.
  • What will be the outcome of your research contribution?
  • Demonstrate both your current level of knowledge and how the pursuit of your question or hypothesis will create a new understanding and generate new information.
  • Show how your research is innovative and original.

Draw links between your research and the faculty or school you are applying at, and explain why you have chosen your supervisor, and what research have they or their school done to reinforce and support your own work. Cite these reasons to demonstrate how your research will benefit and contribute to the current body of knowledge.

Proposed methodology

Provide an overview of the methodology and techniques you will use to conduct your research. Cover what materials and equipment you will use, what theoretical frameworks will you draw on, and how will you collect data.

Highlight why you have chosen this particular methodology, but also why others may not have been as suitable. You need to demonstrate that you have put thought into your approach and why it's the most appropriate way to carry out your research. 

It should also highlight potential limitations you anticipate, feasibility within time and other constraints, ethical considerations and how you will address these, as well as general resources.

A work plan is a critical component of your research proposal because it indicates the feasibility of completion within the timeframe and supports you in achieving your objectives throughout your degree.

Consider the milestones you aim to achieve at each stage of your research. A PhD or master's degree by research can take two to four years of full-time study to complete. It might be helpful to offer year one in detail and the following years in broader terms. Ultimately you have to show that your research is likely to be both original and finished – and that you understand the time involved.

Provide details of the resources you will need to carry out your research project. Consider equipment, fieldwork expenses, travel and a proposed budget, to indicate how realistic your research proposal is in terms of financial requirements and whether any adjustments are needed.

Bibliography

Provide a list of references that you've made throughout your research proposal. 

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The goal of a research proposal is twofold: to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews. They must provide persuasive evidence that a need exists for the proposed study. In addition to providing a rationale, a proposal describes detailed methodology for conducting the research consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field and a statement on anticipated outcomes and benefits derived from the study's completion.

Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005.

How to Approach Writing a Research Proposal

Your professor may assign the task of writing a research proposal for the following reasons:

  • Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study;
  • Learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to determine that the research problem has not been adequately addressed or has been answered ineffectively and, in so doing, become better at locating pertinent scholarship related to your topic;
  • Improve your general research and writing skills;
  • Practice identifying the logical steps that must be taken to accomplish one's research goals;
  • Critically review, examine, and consider the use of different methods for gathering and analyzing data related to the research problem; and,
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of conducting scholarly research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a completed research study, with sufficient information that allows readers to assess the validity and usefulness of your proposed study. The only elements missing from a research proposal are the findings of the study and your analysis of those findings. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your proposal is coherent, clear, and compelling.

Regardless of the research problem you are investigating and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions:

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to investigate.
  • Why do you want to do the research? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthy of in-depth study. A successful research proposal must answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to conduct the research? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having difficulty formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here for strategies in developing a problem to study.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise . A research proposal must be focused and not be "all over the map" or diverge into unrelated tangents without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review . Proposals should be grounded in foundational research that lays a foundation for understanding the development and scope of the the topic and its relevance.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual scope of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.]. As with any research paper, your proposed study must inform the reader how and in what ways the study will frame the problem.
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research . This is critical. In many workplace settings, the research proposal is a formal document intended to argue for why a study should be funded.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar . Although a research proposal does not represent a completed research study, there is still an expectation that it is well-written and follows the style and rules of good academic writing.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues . Your proposal should focus on only a few key research questions in order to support the argument that the research needs to be conducted. Minor issues, even if valid, can be mentioned but they should not dominate the overall narrative.

Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal.  The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sanford, Keith. Information for Students: Writing a Research Proposal. Baylor University; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing most college-level academic papers, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. The text of proposals generally vary in length between ten and thirty-five pages, followed by the list of references. However, before you begin, read the assignment carefully and, if anything seems unclear, ask your professor whether there are any specific requirements for organizing and writing the proposal.

A good place to begin is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What do I want to study?
  • Why is the topic important?
  • How is it significant within the subject areas covered in my class?
  • What problems will it help solve?
  • How does it build upon [and hopefully go beyond] research already conducted on the topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?

In general, a compelling research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and demonstrate your enthusiasm for conducting the study. Approach it with the intention of leaving your readers feeling like, "Wow, that's an exciting idea and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!"

Most proposals should include the following sections:

I.  Introduction

In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write a doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea based on a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and to be excited about the study's possible outcomes. Note that most proposals do not include an abstract [summary] before the introduction.

Think about your introduction as a narrative written in two to four paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions :

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that research problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Answer the "So What?" question by explaining why this is important research, what is its significance, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

II.  Background and Significance

This is where you explain the scope and context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important. It can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. Approach writing this section with the thought that you can’t assume your readers will know as much about the research problem as you do. Note that this section is not an essay going over everything you have learned about the topic; instead, you must choose what is most relevant in explaining the aims of your research.

To that end, while there are no prescribed rules for establishing the significance of your proposed study, you should attempt to address some or all of the following:

  • State the research problem and give a more detailed explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction. This is particularly important if the problem is complex or multifaceted .
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing; be sure to answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care?].
  • Describe the major issues or problems examined by your research. This can be in the form of questions to be addressed. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain the methods you plan to use for conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Describe the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you plan to study, but what aspects of the research problem will be excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts, theories, or terms.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation . The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while at the same time, demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methodological approaches they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, when stated, their recommendations. Also pay attention to any suggestions for further research.

Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your proposed study in relation to the arguments put forth by other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically or chronologically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you review more studies. How do you know you've covered the key conceptual categories underlying the research literature? Generally, you can have confidence that all of the significant conceptual categories have been identified if you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations that are being made.

NOTE: Do not shy away from challenging the conclusions made in prior research as a basis for supporting the need for your proposal. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. Highlighting the problematic conclusions strengthens your proposal. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

To help frame your proposal's review of prior research, consider the "five C’s" of writing a literature review:

  • Cite , so as to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  • Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
  • Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: describe what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate among scholars?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, and methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, argues, etc.].
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, synthesize, or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature?

IV.  Research Design and Methods

This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that you have a plan worth pursuing . The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and proposed methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used, but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself [i.e., the trustworthiness by which you can generalize from your study to other people, places, events, and/or periods of time].

When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following:

  • Specify the research process you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results obtained in relation to the research problem. Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e.g., coding text from interviews to find statements about the need to change school curriculum; running a regression to determine if there is a relationship between campaign advertising on social media sites and election outcomes in Europe ].
  • Keep in mind that the methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is a deliberate argument as to why techniques for gathering information add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to be performed does not demonstrate that, collectively, they effectively address the research problem. Be sure you clearly explain this.
  • Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to address them. No method applied to research in the social and behavioral sciences is perfect, so you need to describe where you believe challenges may exist in obtaining data or accessing information. It's always better to acknowledge this than to have it brought up by your professor!

V.  Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, doesn't mean you can skip talking about the analytical process and potential implications . The purpose of this section is to argue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation. Depending on the aims and objectives of your study, describe how the anticipated results will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policy making. Note that such discussions may have either substantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential new understanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing] significance.   When thinking about the potential implications of your study, ask the following questions:

  • What might the results mean in regards to challenging the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions that support the study?
  • What suggestions for subsequent research could arise from the potential outcomes of the study?
  • What will the results mean to practitioners in the natural settings of their workplace, organization, or community?
  • Will the results influence programs, methods, and/or forms of intervention?
  • How might the results contribute to the solution of social, economic, or other types of problems?
  • Will the results influence policy decisions?
  • In what way do individuals or groups benefit should your study be pursued?
  • What will be improved or changed as a result of the proposed research?
  • How will the results of the study be implemented and what innovations or transformative insights could emerge from the process of implementation?

NOTE:   This section should not delve into idle speculation, opinion, or be formulated on the basis of unclear evidence . The purpose is to reflect upon gaps or understudied areas of the current literature and describe how your proposed research contributes to a new understanding of the research problem should the study be implemented as designed.

ANOTHER NOTE : This section is also where you describe any potential limitations to your proposed study. While it is impossible to highlight all potential limitations because the study has yet to be conducted, you still must tell the reader where and in what form impediments may arise and how you plan to address them.

VI.  Conclusion

The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief summary of the entire study . This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why the research problem is worth investigating, why your research study is unique, and how it should advance existing knowledge.

Someone reading this section should come away with an understanding of:

  • Why the study should be done;
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempts to answer;
  • The decision for why the research design and methods used where chosen over other options;
  • The potential implications emerging from your proposed study of the research problem; and
  • A sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship about the research problem.

VII.  Citations

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used . In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so consult with your professor about which one is preferred.

  • References -- a list of only the sources you actually used in creating your proposal.
  • Bibliography -- a list of everything you used in creating your proposal, along with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem.

In either case, this section should testify to the fact that you did enough preparatory work to ensure the project will complement and not just duplicate the efforts of other researchers. It demonstrates to the reader that you have a thorough understanding of prior research on the topic.

Most proposal formats have you start a new page and use the heading "References" or "Bibliography" centered at the top of the page. Cited works should always use a standard format that follows the writing style advised by the discipline of your course [e.g., education=APA; history=Chicago] or that is preferred by your professor. This section normally does not count towards the total page length of your research proposal.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal. Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; Heath, M. Teresa Pereira and Caroline Tynan. “Crafting a Research Proposal.” The Marketing Review 10 (Summer 2010): 147-168; Jones, Mark. “Writing a Research Proposal.” In MasterClass in Geography Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning . Graham Butt, editor. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), pp. 113-127; Juni, Muhamad Hanafiah. “Writing a Research Proposal.” International Journal of Public Health and Clinical Sciences 1 (September/October 2014): 229-240; Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005; Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Punch, Keith and Wayne McGowan. "Developing and Writing a Research Proposal." In From Postgraduate to Social Scientist: A Guide to Key Skills . Nigel Gilbert, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), 59-81; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences , Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on 30 October 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on 13 June 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organised and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, frequently asked questions.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

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Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: ‘A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management’
  • Example research proposal #2: ‘ Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use’

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesise prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasise again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement.

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the ‘Cite this Scribbr article’ button to automatically add the citation to our free Reference Generator.

McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, June 13). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved 2 April 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/the-research-process/research-proposal-explained/

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17 Research Proposal Examples

research proposal example sections definition and purpose, explained below

A research proposal systematically and transparently outlines a proposed research project.

The purpose of a research proposal is to demonstrate a project’s viability and the researcher’s preparedness to conduct an academic study. It serves as a roadmap for the researcher.

The process holds value both externally (for accountability purposes and often as a requirement for a grant application) and intrinsic value (for helping the researcher to clarify the mechanics, purpose, and potential signficance of the study).

Key sections of a research proposal include: the title, abstract, introduction, literature review, research design and methods, timeline, budget, outcomes and implications, references, and appendix. Each is briefly explained below.

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Research Proposal Sample Structure

Title: The title should present a concise and descriptive statement that clearly conveys the core idea of the research projects. Make it as specific as possible. The reader should immediately be able to grasp the core idea of the intended research project. Often, the title is left too vague and does not help give an understanding of what exactly the study looks at.

Abstract: Abstracts are usually around 250-300 words and provide an overview of what is to follow – including the research problem , objectives, methods, expected outcomes, and significance of the study. Use it as a roadmap and ensure that, if the abstract is the only thing someone reads, they’ll get a good fly-by of what will be discussed in the peice.

Introduction: Introductions are all about contextualization. They often set the background information with a statement of the problem. At the end of the introduction, the reader should understand what the rationale for the study truly is. I like to see the research questions or hypotheses included in the introduction and I like to get a good understanding of what the significance of the research will be. It’s often easiest to write the introduction last

Literature Review: The literature review dives deep into the existing literature on the topic, demosntrating your thorough understanding of the existing literature including themes, strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in the literature. It serves both to demonstrate your knowledge of the field and, to demonstrate how the proposed study will fit alongside the literature on the topic. A good literature review concludes by clearly demonstrating how your research will contribute something new and innovative to the conversation in the literature.

Research Design and Methods: This section needs to clearly demonstrate how the data will be gathered and analyzed in a systematic and academically sound manner. Here, you need to demonstrate that the conclusions of your research will be both valid and reliable. Common points discussed in the research design and methods section include highlighting the research paradigm, methodologies, intended population or sample to be studied, data collection techniques, and data analysis procedures . Toward the end of this section, you are encouraged to also address ethical considerations and limitations of the research process , but also to explain why you chose your research design and how you are mitigating the identified risks and limitations.

Timeline: Provide an outline of the anticipated timeline for the study. Break it down into its various stages (including data collection, data analysis, and report writing). The goal of this section is firstly to establish a reasonable breakdown of steps for you to follow and secondly to demonstrate to the assessors that your project is practicable and feasible.

Budget: Estimate the costs associated with the research project and include evidence for your estimations. Typical costs include staffing costs, equipment, travel, and data collection tools. When applying for a scholarship, the budget should demonstrate that you are being responsible with your expensive and that your funding application is reasonable.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: A discussion of the anticipated findings or results of the research, as well as the potential contributions to the existing knowledge, theory, or practice in the field. This section should also address the potential impact of the research on relevant stakeholders and any broader implications for policy or practice.

References: A complete list of all the sources cited in the research proposal, formatted according to the required citation style. This demonstrates the researcher’s familiarity with the relevant literature and ensures proper attribution of ideas and information.

Appendices (if applicable): Any additional materials, such as questionnaires, interview guides, or consent forms, that provide further information or support for the research proposal. These materials should be included as appendices at the end of the document.

Research Proposal Examples

Research proposals often extend anywhere between 2,000 and 15,000 words in length. The following snippets are samples designed to briefly demonstrate what might be discussed in each section.

1. Education Studies Research Proposals

See some real sample pieces:

  • Assessment of the perceptions of teachers towards a new grading system
  • Does ICT use in secondary classrooms help or hinder student learning?
  • Digital technologies in focus project
  • Urban Middle School Teachers’ Experiences of the Implementation of
  • Restorative Justice Practices
  • Experiences of students of color in service learning

Consider this hypothetical education research proposal:

The Impact of Game-Based Learning on Student Engagement and Academic Performance in Middle School Mathematics

Abstract: The proposed study will explore multiplayer game-based learning techniques in middle school mathematics curricula and their effects on student engagement. The study aims to contribute to the current literature on game-based learning by examining the effects of multiplayer gaming in learning.

Introduction: Digital game-based learning has long been shunned within mathematics education for fears that it may distract students or lower the academic integrity of the classrooms. However, there is emerging evidence that digital games in math have emerging benefits not only for engagement but also academic skill development. Contributing to this discourse, this study seeks to explore the potential benefits of multiplayer digital game-based learning by examining its impact on middle school students’ engagement and academic performance in a mathematics class.

Literature Review: The literature review has identified gaps in the current knowledge, namely, while game-based learning has been extensively explored, the role of multiplayer games in supporting learning has not been studied.

Research Design and Methods: This study will employ a mixed-methods research design based upon action research in the classroom. A quasi-experimental pre-test/post-test control group design will first be used to compare the academic performance and engagement of middle school students exposed to game-based learning techniques with those in a control group receiving instruction without the aid of technology. Students will also be observed and interviewed in regard to the effect of communication and collaboration during gameplay on their learning.

Timeline: The study will take place across the second term of the school year with a pre-test taking place on the first day of the term and the post-test taking place on Wednesday in Week 10.

Budget: The key budgetary requirements will be the technologies required, including the subscription cost for the identified games and computers.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: It is expected that the findings will contribute to the current literature on game-based learning and inform educational practices, providing educators and policymakers with insights into how to better support student achievement in mathematics.

2. Psychology Research Proposals

See some real examples:

  • A situational analysis of shared leadership in a self-managing team
  • The effect of musical preference on running performance
  • Relationship between self-esteem and disordered eating amongst adolescent females

Consider this hypothetical psychology research proposal:

The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Stress Reduction in College Students

Abstract: This research proposal examines the impact of mindfulness-based interventions on stress reduction among college students, using a pre-test/post-test experimental design with both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods .

Introduction: College students face heightened stress levels during exam weeks. This can affect both mental health and test performance. This study explores the potential benefits of mindfulness-based interventions such as meditation as a way to mediate stress levels in the weeks leading up to exam time.

Literature Review: Existing research on mindfulness-based meditation has shown the ability for mindfulness to increase metacognition, decrease anxiety levels, and decrease stress. Existing literature has looked at workplace, high school and general college-level applications. This study will contribute to the corpus of literature by exploring the effects of mindfulness directly in the context of exam weeks.

Research Design and Methods: Participants ( n= 234 ) will be randomly assigned to either an experimental group, receiving 5 days per week of 10-minute mindfulness-based interventions, or a control group, receiving no intervention. Data will be collected through self-report questionnaires, measuring stress levels, semi-structured interviews exploring participants’ experiences, and students’ test scores.

Timeline: The study will begin three weeks before the students’ exam week and conclude after each student’s final exam. Data collection will occur at the beginning (pre-test of self-reported stress levels) and end (post-test) of the three weeks.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: The study aims to provide evidence supporting the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing stress among college students in the lead up to exams, with potential implications for mental health support and stress management programs on college campuses.

3. Sociology Research Proposals

  • Understanding emerging social movements: A case study of ‘Jersey in Transition’
  • The interaction of health, education and employment in Western China
  • Can we preserve lower-income affordable neighbourhoods in the face of rising costs?

Consider this hypothetical sociology research proposal:

The Impact of Social Media Usage on Interpersonal Relationships among Young Adults

Abstract: This research proposal investigates the effects of social media usage on interpersonal relationships among young adults, using a longitudinal mixed-methods approach with ongoing semi-structured interviews to collect qualitative data.

Introduction: Social media platforms have become a key medium for the development of interpersonal relationships, particularly for young adults. This study examines the potential positive and negative effects of social media usage on young adults’ relationships and development over time.

Literature Review: A preliminary review of relevant literature has demonstrated that social media usage is central to development of a personal identity and relationships with others with similar subcultural interests. However, it has also been accompanied by data on mental health deline and deteriorating off-screen relationships. The literature is to-date lacking important longitudinal data on these topics.

Research Design and Methods: Participants ( n = 454 ) will be young adults aged 18-24. Ongoing self-report surveys will assess participants’ social media usage, relationship satisfaction, and communication patterns. A subset of participants will be selected for longitudinal in-depth interviews starting at age 18 and continuing for 5 years.

Timeline: The study will be conducted over a period of five years, including recruitment, data collection, analysis, and report writing.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: This study aims to provide insights into the complex relationship between social media usage and interpersonal relationships among young adults, potentially informing social policies and mental health support related to social media use.

4. Nursing Research Proposals

  • Does Orthopaedic Pre-assessment clinic prepare the patient for admission to hospital?
  • Nurses’ perceptions and experiences of providing psychological care to burns patients
  • Registered psychiatric nurse’s practice with mentally ill parents and their children

Consider this hypothetical nursing research proposal:

The Influence of Nurse-Patient Communication on Patient Satisfaction and Health Outcomes following Emergency Cesarians

Abstract: This research will examines the impact of effective nurse-patient communication on patient satisfaction and health outcomes for women following c-sections, utilizing a mixed-methods approach with patient surveys and semi-structured interviews.

Introduction: It has long been known that effective communication between nurses and patients is crucial for quality care. However, additional complications arise following emergency c-sections due to the interaction between new mother’s changing roles and recovery from surgery.

Literature Review: A review of the literature demonstrates the importance of nurse-patient communication, its impact on patient satisfaction, and potential links to health outcomes. However, communication between nurses and new mothers is less examined, and the specific experiences of those who have given birth via emergency c-section are to date unexamined.

Research Design and Methods: Participants will be patients in a hospital setting who have recently had an emergency c-section. A self-report survey will assess their satisfaction with nurse-patient communication and perceived health outcomes. A subset of participants will be selected for in-depth interviews to explore their experiences and perceptions of the communication with their nurses.

Timeline: The study will be conducted over a period of six months, including rolling recruitment, data collection, analysis, and report writing within the hospital.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: This study aims to provide evidence for the significance of nurse-patient communication in supporting new mothers who have had an emergency c-section. Recommendations will be presented for supporting nurses and midwives in improving outcomes for new mothers who had complications during birth.

5. Social Work Research Proposals

  • Experiences of negotiating employment and caring responsibilities of fathers post-divorce
  • Exploring kinship care in the north region of British Columbia

Consider this hypothetical social work research proposal:

The Role of a Family-Centered Intervention in Preventing Homelessness Among At-Risk Youthin a working-class town in Northern England

Abstract: This research proposal investigates the effectiveness of a family-centered intervention provided by a local council area in preventing homelessness among at-risk youth. This case study will use a mixed-methods approach with program evaluation data and semi-structured interviews to collect quantitative and qualitative data .

Introduction: Homelessness among youth remains a significant social issue. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of family-centered interventions in addressing this problem and identify factors that contribute to successful prevention strategies.

Literature Review: A review of the literature has demonstrated several key factors contributing to youth homelessness including lack of parental support, lack of social support, and low levels of family involvement. It also demonstrates the important role of family-centered interventions in addressing this issue. Drawing on current evidence, this study explores the effectiveness of one such intervention in preventing homelessness among at-risk youth in a working-class town in Northern England.

Research Design and Methods: The study will evaluate a new family-centered intervention program targeting at-risk youth and their families. Quantitative data on program outcomes, including housing stability and family functioning, will be collected through program records and evaluation reports. Semi-structured interviews with program staff, participants, and relevant stakeholders will provide qualitative insights into the factors contributing to program success or failure.

Timeline: The study will be conducted over a period of six months, including recruitment, data collection, analysis, and report writing.

Budget: Expenses include access to program evaluation data, interview materials, data analysis software, and any related travel costs for in-person interviews.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: This study aims to provide evidence for the effectiveness of family-centered interventions in preventing youth homelessness, potentially informing the expansion of or necessary changes to social work practices in Northern England.

Research Proposal Template

Get your Detailed Template for Writing your Research Proposal Here (With AI Prompts!)

This is a template for a 2500-word research proposal. You may find it difficult to squeeze everything into this wordcount, but it’s a common wordcount for Honors and MA-level dissertations.

Your research proposal is where you really get going with your study. I’d strongly recommend working closely with your teacher in developing a research proposal that’s consistent with the requirements and culture of your institution, as in my experience it varies considerably. The above template is from my own courses that walk students through research proposals in a British School of Education.

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Chris Drew (PhD)

Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

  • Chris Drew (PhD) https://helpfulprofessor.com/author/chris-drew-phd/ 5 Top Tips for Succeeding at University
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8 thoughts on “17 Research Proposal Examples”

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Very excellent research proposals

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Dear Sir, I need some help to write an educational research proposal. Thank you.

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Hi Levi, use the site search bar to ask a question and I’ll likely have a guide already written for your specific question. Thanks for reading!

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Examples

Scholarship Proposal

research proposal sample scholarship

There is no doubt that education is costly, particularly now, the costs of most institutions continue to climb year after year. Because of such, many business owners, schools, and companies want to offer scholarships . However, they are not aware of where to start and how to write a winning scholarship proposal. It will be impossible to determine what distinguishes all scholarship applications. Each will provide a unique glimpse into the author’s history and future ambitions. Also, the distinct style utilized by the author.

To give you more idea about scholarship proposal, here are sample templates and tips that can help:

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6+ Scholarship Proposal Examples

1. university scholarship proposal template.

University Scholarship Proposal Template

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Size: 46 KB

2. Scholarship Project Proposal Format

Scholarship Project Proposal Format

Size: 395 KB

3. Undergraduate Scholarship Proposal

Undergraduate Scholarship Proposal

Size: 12 KB

4. Graduate Scholarship Proposal

Graduate Scholarship Proposal

Size: 414 KB

5. Sample Scholarship Proposal

Sample Scholarship Proposal

Size: 477 KB

6. Rural Scholarship Proposal for Dental Students

Rural Scholarship Proposal for Dental Students

Size: 536 KB

7. Scholarship Committee Proposal

Scholarship Committee Proposal

Size: 276 KB

What Is a Scholarship Proposal? 

A scholarship proposa l is a written paper that asks donors to include a financial budget, financing, or expenditure. This plan paper must be correct and concise since the investors would use it to determine whether or not to approve the fund offer. A competent academic proposal plan should include the project’s priorities, information about the agency, and the amount needed.

Scholarship review boards have a variety of information to consider before determining who should get a scholarship. In certain circumstances, the decision is created based on intellectual merit or economic considerations.

How to Write a Scholarship Proposal?

Many company owners are inexperienced when it comes to drafting a scholarship proposal. Although you haven’t learned the process in school, it does not means that it should be a difficult job. In fact, you can do some research about it. By that, you can have an idea of the factors that you will need to consider during the process.

To make your proposal as quick and reliable as possible, follow these steps.

Step 1: Project Summary 

In the project summary , make sure to include a one-page overview of the plan, outlining the initiative’s intent, priorities, and anticipated effects. After that, prepare the conclusion. Don’t forget to read everything before you proceed. 

Step 2: Table of Contents 

The table of contents is also one of the proposal’s final bits. For short plans, there is no need for a table of contents. You can only set aside two or three pages for this section. However, you can add another sheet, depending on your proposal. 

Step 3: Project Narrative 

The highlight of the scholarship proposal’s is the project plot, which usually includes the following elements:  

  • Background Information  
  • Objectives  
  • Activities  
  • Timeline of Activities  
  • Evaluation Plan

Step 4: Budget Requirements 

Make a list of the project’s financial conditions. Group line items accordingly and make sure to include all the information needed. Present the budget for next year if you are doing a multi-year project.

How to ask for a scholarship?

Many people are confused about where to ask for a scholarship. Actually, it’s easy. You can only send an email to the school’s admissions office to seek further scholarship funds. But make sure to personalize the message to avoid making a negative impact on the letter’s recipient. It’s critical to make a great first impression, whether they’re from the admissions office or another  business .

Can you negotiate a scholarship offer?

There is no danger of trying to discuss your scholarship bid, regardless of how you go about it. Since you asked for more funding, a college would not revoke your admission or remove the money they have provided.

What is the procedure for requesting a tuition reduction?

To inquire about additional  financial assistance  and tuition discounts, contact your school’s financial assistance office or bursar office and ask for their preferred method. They can assist with this concern. So, don’t hesitate to ask them.

Although seeking a scholarship may seem easy, drafting a scholarship application is a difficult task. As a result, you must remember the steps above. There are also scholarship proposal templates available to make your job easier, smoother, and more successful. Download them now!

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What Is a Research Proposal?

Reference books.

  • Writing the Research Paper
  • Presenting the Research Paper

When applying for a research grant or scholarship, or, just before you start a major research project, you may be asked to write a preliminary document that includes basic information about your future research. This is the information that is usually needed in your proposal:

  • The topic and goal of the research project.
  • The kind of result expected from the research.
  • The theory or framework in which the research will be done and presented.
  • What kind of methods will be used (statistical, empirical, etc.).
  • Short reference on the preliminary scholarship and why your research project is needed; how will it continue/justify/disprove the previous scholarship.
  • How much will the research project cost; how will it be budgeted (what for the money will be spent).
  • Why is it you who can do this research and not somebody else.

Most agencies that offer scholarships or grants provide information about the required format of the proposal. It may include filling out templates, types of information they need, suggested/maximum length of the proposal, etc.

Research proposal formats vary depending on the size of the planned research, the number of participants, the discipline, the characteristics of the research, etc. The following outline assumes an individual researcher. This is just a SAMPLE; several other ways are equally good and can be successful. If possible, discuss your research proposal with an expert in writing, a professor, your colleague, another student who already wrote successful proposals, etc.

Author, author's affiliation

Introduction:

  • Explain the topic and why you chose it. If possible explain your goal/outcome of the research . How much time you need to complete the research?

Previous scholarship:

  • Give a brief summary of previous scholarship and explain why your topic and goals are important.
  • Relate your planned research to previous scholarship. What will your research add to our knowledge of the topic.

Specific issues to be investigated:

  • Break down the main topic into smaller research questions. List them one by one and explain why these questions need to be investigated. Relate them to previous scholarship.
  • Include your hypothesis into the descriptions of the detailed research issues if you have one. Explain why it is important to justify your hypothesis.

Methodology:

  • This part depends of the methods conducted in the research process. List the methods; explain how the results will be presented; how they will be assessed.
  • Explain what kind of results will justify or  disprove your hypothesis. 
  • Explain how much money you need.
  • Explain the details of the budget (how much you want to spend for what).

Conclusion:

  • Describe why your research is important.

References:

  • List the sources you have used for writing the research proposal, including a few main citations of the preliminary scholarship.

research proposal sample scholarship

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Research Proposal for CSC Scholarship Application: Research Proposal for Chinese Scholarships

Writing a research proposal for scholarship.

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You need an impressively written Research Proposal for CSC Scholarship application submission purposes. There are over 200 Chinese Universities that opened admissions for international students and all of them ask for one common thing from scholarship candidates, and that is a well-written research proposal! In this article, we will guide you on how to write an impressive research proposal for your Chinese Scholarship Application Submission.

The research proposal is known as a clear and concise summary of your intended research work. It consists up of the central objectives or primary questions that you wish to address. It describes the field of study within which your work lies, and refers to the current condition of literature, or any recent studies or debates in the field. It highlights the originality of your ideas and work.

Research proposal for Chinese Scholarships:

A research proposal provides you with an opportunity to showcase your abilities for a graduate-level research work and convince the admission authority for your selection, such as it gives you a chance to demonstrate that you have the skills to communicate your ideas effectively, and critically.

How to write a research proposal for a Scholarship?

This is one of the most crucial parts of your application. An outstanding research proposal will:

  • Examine if you’re a suitable candidate for graduate-level research work
  • Determine if your research is original and up-to-date
  • Evaluate if your proposed area of study can be supported or not
  • Select the ideal supervisor for you

Your research proposal may differ depending upon the field of your study. Usually, a research proposal for arts or social sciences will have different requirements as compared to a research proposal for engineering or health sciences.

Your proposal may differ from the actual work you’ll undertake during the timeframe of your degree. In any case, you’re required to have a comprehension of the complications related to conducting research, and the importance of designing research in order to address particular questions.

Research proposal outline

A successful research proposal must:

  • Define your proposed topic
  • Showcase that you have a grasp on your area of research
  • Demonstrate that you’ve developed original research questions
  • Indicate that you know how to conduct good research
  • Look professional
  • Make sure that your proposal is legible and clear
  • Have no spelling grammatical mistakes
  • Define quality, and not quantity

However, a research proposal can consist up of 1000 to 3000 words.

Writing an Outline of Research Proposal for CSC Scholarship:

No matter if you’re applying for an MPhil program study or a Ph.D. program research , your research proposal should generally incorporate the following sections:

This is only a title for your proposed research. In case you’re admitted, you may be able to change, or revise your research title.

This portion must consist up of a 100-word statement of your proposed research. It may include the problem you’re trying to examine or the primary questions that you want to address.

  • Research Context

In this portion, describe the background against which you intend to conduct your proposed research. Include a comprehensive overview of the area of study. Summarize current literature in the field or any recent debates.

This will provide you with the ability to communicate concisely, yet clearly.

  • Research Questions

This portion must contain your central objective and the questions around which you’re going to conduct your research. Before you start writing your research proposal, take some time out to reflect on certain critical questions that you’re keen to answer.

A lot of research proposals are broad. This is why it is necessary to narrow down your proposal by completing your homework in the form of reflecting on your key questions.

Also, ensure that your research is feasible (such as; you’re able to complete in the given timeframe).

Furthermore, you may prioritize a couple of primary questions and then derive a couple more secondary questions.

You must also highlight the strategy you’ll utilize to answer the research questions (For example; Is your research empirical? Or theoretical?)

  • · Research Methods

This portion must outline and explain the methods you’ve used to carry out your research. Your research methods may incorporate fieldwork, visiting certain libraries or bookstores, sampling, or interviews.

The majority of the research is usually library-based. In case your research is library-based, you should describe the location (Westlaw library, etc.) of your key resources (such as journal articles or law reports).

In case you’re planning to gather empirical data or conduct fieldwork, you must give appropriate details regarding this (such as where are you going to conduct your research? Who will you interview? How many interviews are you looking forward to conducting? Will you face any complications? etc.)

This portion must also include the ways by which you’re going to analyze the findings of your research.

  • Significance of Research

This portion must express the originality of your ideas, and ultimately your research work. This is why you must describe why exactly is your research work significant (such as by describing the way in which your work adds to or develops the already available literature in the field or by pointing out why is this the time to carry out your suggested research)

  • Bibliography

This portion must include a brief bibliography recognizing the most significant works regarding your research.

How long should a research proposal be?

A well-written research proposal must address the following questions:

  • What do you plan to achieve?
  • Why do you want to achieve it?
  • How are you going to achieve it?

Generally, a research proposal consists up of approximately 2500 words, however, there are no upper or lower limits to this particular range.

While preparing a research proposal format , determine what is it that you actually want to learn more about. Whatever you want to research must be viable as a project, and must lead to the development of new information, or understanding.

What is the research proposal for?

A research proposal is for: (1) Potential supervisors, (2) Admission tutors, or (3) Financial lenders, since it helps them determine the standard and originality of your thoughts, your ideas, your skills, and the feasibility of your research work.

Please, keep in mind that Ph.D. programs in the U.K. are prepared in such a way that they’re required to complete in: (1) Three years (if you’re a full-time student), or (2) Six years (if you’re a part-time student).

Carefully determine the scope of your research work, and prepare yourself to explain how you’ll be able to accomplish the objectives of your research within the given timeframe.

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Research Proposal

Research Proposal Example

Ph.D Research Proposal Format, Outline, and Sample

Ph.D Research Proposal Format, Outline, and Sample

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Writing a Research Proposal

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Is it Peer-Reviewed?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism [linked guide]
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper

The goal of a research proposal is to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting the research are governed by standards within the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, so guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews. They must provide persuasive evidence that a need exists for the proposed study. In addition to providing a rationale, a proposal describes detailed methodology for conducting the research consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field and a statement on anticipated outcomes and/or benefits derived from the study's completion.

Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005.

How to Approach Writing a Research Proposal

Your professor may assign the task of writing a research proposal for the following reasons:

  • Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study;
  • Learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to ensure a research problem has not already been answered [or you may determine the problem has been answered ineffectively] and, in so doing, become better at locating scholarship related to your topic;
  • Improve your general research and writing skills;
  • Practice identifying the logical steps that must be taken to accomplish one's research goals;
  • Critically review, examine, and consider the use of different methods for gathering and analyzing data related to the research problem; and,
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of doing scholarly research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a completed research study, with sufficient information that allows readers to assess the validity and usefulness of your proposed study. The only elements missing from a research proposal are the findings of the study and your analysis of those results. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your writing is coherent, clear, and compelling.

Regardless of the research problem you are investigating and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions:

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to research.
  • Why do you want to do it? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthy of study. Be sure to answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to do it? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having trouble formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here .

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise; being "all over the map" without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual boundaries of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.].
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research.
  • Failure to stay focused on the research problem; going off on unrelated tangents.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues.

Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal .  The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sanford, Keith. Information for Students: Writing a Research Proposal . Baylor University; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal . International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books . The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal . University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing a regular academic paper, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. Proposals vary between ten and twenty-five pages in length. However, before you begin, read the assignment carefully and, if anything seems unclear, ask your professor whether there are any specific requirements for organizing and writing the proposal.

A good place to begin is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What do I want to study?
  • Why is the topic important?
  • How is it significant within the subject areas covered in my class?
  • What problems will it help solve?
  • How does it build upon [and hopefully go beyond] research already conducted on the topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?

In general, a compelling research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and demonstrate your enthusiasm for conducting the study. Approach it with the intention of leaving your readers feeling like--"Wow, that's an exciting idea and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!"

In general your proposal should include the following sections:

I.  Introduction

In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write a doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea or a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and be excited about the study's possible outcomes. Note that most proposals do not include an abstract [summary] before the introduction.

Think about your introduction as a narrative written in one to three paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions :

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Why is this important research, what is its significance, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

II.  Background and Significance

This section can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. This is where you explain the context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important. Approach writing this section with the thought that you can’t assume your readers will know as much about the research problem as you do. Note that this section is not an essay going over everything you have learned about the topic; instead, you must choose what is relevant to help explain the goals for your study.

To that end, while there are no hard and fast rules, you should attempt to address some or all of the following key points:

  • State the research problem and give a more detailed explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction. This is particularly important if the problem is complex or multifaceted .
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing. Answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care].
  • Describe the major issues or problems to be addressed by your research. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain how you plan to go about conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you will study, but what is excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts or terms.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation . The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, where stated, their recommendations. Do not be afraid to challenge the conclusions of prior research. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your study in relation to that of other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you read more studies. How do you know you've covered the key conceptual categories underlying the research literature? Generally, you can have confidence that all of the significant conceptual categories have been identified if you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations that are being made.

To help frame your proposal's literature review, here are the "five C’s" of writing a literature review:

  • Cite , so as to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  • Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
  • Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, argues, etc.] .
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, synthesize, or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature?

IV.  Research Design and Methods

This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that it is worth pursuing . The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself [i.e., the trustworthiness by which you can generalize from your study to other people, places, events, and/or periods of time].

When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following:

  • Specify the research operations you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results of these operations in relation to the research problem. Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e.g., coding text from interviews to find statements about the need to change school curriculum; running a regression to determine if there is a relationship between campaign advertising on social media sites and election outcomes in Europe ].
  • Keep in mind that a methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is an argument as to why these tasks add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to be performed does not demonstrate that, collectively, they effectively address the research problem. Be sure you explain this.
  • Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to address them. No method is perfect so you need to describe where you believe challenges may exist in obtaining data or accessing information. It's always better to acknowledge this than to have it brought up by your reader.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal . Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; Heath, M. Teresa Pereira and Caroline Tynan. “Crafting a Research Proposal.” The Marketing Review 10 (Summer 2010): 147-168; Jones, Mark. “Writing a Research Proposal.” In MasterClass in Geography Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning . Graham Butt, editor. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), pp. 113-127; Juni, Muhamad Hanafiah. “Writing a Research Proposal.” International Journal of Public Health and Clinical Sciences 1 (September/October 2014): 229-240; Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005; Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal . The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Punch, Keith and Wayne McGowan. "Developing and Writing a Research Proposal." In From Postgraduate to Social Scientist: A Guide to Key Skills . Nigel Gilbert, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), 59-81; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal . International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books . The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal . University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Scholarshipfellow

Research Proposal Sample for CSC Scholarship

November 8, 2018

Introduction.

Research Proposal for CSC Scholarship  is a mandatory requirement for the Chinese Scholarship. Chinese Government Scholarship expects you to hand in a full account of the study or research proposal .

Any other relevant information and previous research projects or study that are important when writing a research proposal for the CSC scholarship is also essential.

However, the information provided should be relevant and significant in the decision-making process for scholarship awarding board members.

The research proposal is the first step towards your first research design . So it is advised to write it properly as per your area of expertise and interest.

The primary aim of the research proposal for CSC scholarship is to make sure that the applicants have done adequate research on their area of interest. They will be able to provide a comprehensive description of the topic of their choice.

It is significant to note that the research proposal for the CSC scholarship is not a fixed plan. There is no room to forecast answers earlier or stick to a quarrel automatically since the investigation can have an avoidable change or even go against someone’s initial prospects.

There is no set or secure formula for writing a proposal due to slight differences. An example is theoretical civilizations globally and that of China tends to have slight differences.

The research proposals should be able to persuade the technical public members of your ability to establish a problem as well as a systematic approach to solve the issue within a truthful time frame and using reasonable methods.

It is also a good idea to mention in your research proposal that you will abide by the college rules and regulations while your study there.

Words Limit:

The research proposal for the CSC scholarship should have over 800 words for Master’s degree applicants and over 1500 words for doctoral degree students. It should not exceed 30 pages.

The proposal portray a proper design that includes line spacing and the font used.  It should also include page numbers and the table of contents. Having excellent legibility is an added advantage as the recipients may have bulk study proposals to go through.

How To Write Research proposal for CSC Scholarship

Research proposal title page.

The title page of your CSC scholarship research proposal should have individual information such as designation, your campus position, moot name if it is valid, your work, rave, year of birth, email address and telephone number.

The title of your research report or planned dissertation should then follow. It is important to note that at this stage the claim is only a working title.

All the information on the title page should be handled with caution and the relevance and association with one another should be carefully considered.

The heading should be brief, descriptive and accurate. It should also be comprehensive and be able to clearly indicate the subject of investigation. And also it should clearly state the time frame within which you are able to complete your project.

It should have the names of your supervisors, where you hope to carry out your research and other academics as well as whom you plan to work with if applicable.

Abstract of your Research topic

The statement of the research topic should not exceed one page. Here, you are supposed to quickly stretch on exploration material which you must identify. Further, your focus should be based on the recent, new and related pieces of the topic.

Furthermore, it is vital to remember that clarity is the, most imperative element of the research proposal for CSC scholarship .  You should be able to give an exact and short indication of the present state of study which is personally connected to the exploration project.

The offer should be able to bring out a reasonable and clear debate of the agenda of notions or academic scope that can back the examination.

The research proposals should show how thoroughly you are acquainted with the thoughts that you are trading with as well as your ability to grasp their running inferences.

How and from where you will begin your research?

Your research proposal for CSC scholarship should have an immediate impression of your work on the given topic.  You can attach the relevant copies of the magazines to the research project.

Research Work Objective

You should be able to give a short and precise skeleton that speculates on what you intend to achieve. It can also be non-academic and possibly be based on the political or social aspect. The proposal should show why research is essential.

For the purpose of justifying your CSC scholarship research plan, you need to outline the practical or theoretical meaning of the significance of the topic.

The defense may be a possible life where you are expected to explain combative areas or provide new abstract apparitions or of rational nature where you expect to have an addition to the existing body of knowledge.

Research Project Outline

The project outline is a vital element of the research proposal for a CSC scholarship.  You should be able to give a full material about your research in the given time frame.

Anyone who reads your plan should be able to understand your sources, the excellence of sign you are to consult and the investigative strategies you will employ. Also, they should be able to understand the schedule you are due to follow.

Moreover, suitable and relevant research techniques should be defined so as to ensure a successful collection of adequate experimental data for the success of a research project on a research proposal for SCS scholarship.

You should explain and describe the future methods of data collection, arithmetic techniques to be used, documentary or poetry analysis to be followed, and the joysticks you will introduce among others.

Tentative Timetable for your Research

The timetable should be in a table form if possible. Your projected timetable should include the phases of the complete study schedule in your research proposal of CSC scholarship and the time needed for each step.

Selective Research and Bibliography

Here, you are supposed to tilt everything cited in the CSC scholarship research proposal document outline in a theoretical manner as well as other imperative works which will help in raising the research.

Attachments with Research Proposal

You are supposed to provide a list of pamphlets that are attached to your offer.

Research Proposal Editing Work

It is important to go through your research proposal once you are done with the abstract work. It is essential to making sure there is no misprint or existence of orthographic or linguistic mistakes.

You should make sure the title, the happy and the intellectual aspects of your offer correspond to each other. Lastly, given the chance, let someone from your moot community check out your proposal to make sure your project proposal conforms to the laid out academic ethics.

List of headings in Research proposal of CSC Scholarship Application:

List of headings in research proposal:.

  • Table of contents that is based on the decimal system
  • Literature and research review
  • The objective of the study research methodology
  • General topic introduction
  • Data collection methods, analysis, and evaluation
  • Problem statement
  • Explanation of the research project
  • Bibliography
  • Expected results and study output.
  • Three recommendation letters with social researchers
  • Home academy report outlining the need for maintenance and faculty growth of an applicant
  • C.V which focuses on the scientific background, conference participation, publications, research projects participation, teaching experiences, published papers and co-operation.
  • Correspondence with a legal agreement and scientific supervisor on supervision in China. There should be evidence on the use of kitchen supplies, equipment among other things.

25 thoughts on “Research Proposal Sample for CSC Scholarship”

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Thank you for your essential writing to help the scholars….

good direction by writer.plz mention ur cell no.

I want to study csc scholarship 2018. How can I fill online application form.Please advice me .

Follow the procedures mention in CSC scholarships

I have indeed come to love the sight. I want to apply for Dalian University CSC SCHOLARSHIP. Can I be couched as to how I should go about it.

Kindly follow the step by step procedures for CSC scholarshi p and follow the instructions given by the dalian university

Can I get a study plan, for master programme scholarship in construction projects management?

the sample of study plan is available and you can edit it according to your field.

AOA Sir…Research proposal is mandatory only for phd degree or for both master & phd….? waiting for your comment..

Both for masters and PhD

Can you upload a sample a Research proposal

check out Research proposal sample here

If the university one is applying to provides a HINT about the research proposal, does one has to go strictly by the hint or add more that they think is necessary?

i thank you very much for your initiative to help students in their application.i am from Cameroon(the English part).i am applying for Chinese government scholarship through the ministry oh higher education.we are to select three desired universities and write it down on the application form.i am unable to see any university in china with master program in marketing with English as the language of instruction.this is because i am a holder of the bachelor of business administration in marketing.please help me and locate for me such university.thank you

There are 243 chinese universities in or website , where you can find whether the program they offer is in english medium or not.

please explain what are the available post doctoral scholarships for Indian students in sosciology. how we have to prepare the proposal?

CSC Scholarship is also available to Indian Students. You can follow the procedure and check out the research proposal sample.

Thanks sir for providing such useful guideline. Sir i need your personal contact, if u can, kindly provide me, email me plz

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please sir, am Idenyi David madu from Nigeria, I want to apply for CSC for Master’s program in Computer Science

[email protected]

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TranSenz: MEXT Scholarship and Visa Information for Moving to Japan

Sample mext scholarship field of study and research program plan with analysis.

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What does a successful Field of Study and Research Program Plan look like? Check out this example!

You can find his story below, followed by his Field of Study and Research Program Plan. I have also included my own section-by-section commentary on the FSRPP. Thank you James!

Creating the Field of Study and Research Program Plan: James’ Story

Introduction.

I am a 2021-2022 MEXT scholarship recipient from the United States currently attending Nagoya University’s Graduate School of International Development. This article includes my Field of Study and Research Program Plan (FSRPP) and my advice for future applicants.

Most of the advice below is in Travis’ books and website, which I relied on during the application process. Hopefully, my FSRPP can be a practical example of a successful application!

Choosing a Field of Study

When choosing your field of study, you must consider your experience and goals. Selected candidates are qualified to study in their field but need further education to reach their goals.

Key Point: Great example of finding a degree program when there isn’t an exact match in the field name.

To separate yourself from the competition, you should discuss more than a degree in your application. This can be an internship, work experience, a thesis, or something else. For me, it was one year as an intern at a think-tank that specialized in U.S.- Mexico relations. This experience exposed me to international relations and improved my research skills.

Key Point: You must show why you need more education in Japan in order to accomplish your goals!

At this point, my narrative connects my past, present, and future to international development and the MEXT scholarship.

Choosing a Research Topic

Choosing a research topic was the most challenging part of the application for me. My approach was to find the intersection of all the work I had already done:

  • Since my goal was to work in government, my research would be on government international development projects.  
  • Since I wanted to understand Japan’s approach to international development, I chose Japanese and U.S. projects.  
  • Since I studied Mexico, I chose to research international development projects in Mexico.

My final proposal was to do a case study comparing USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) projects in Mexico. After research, I found projects by the United States and Japan suitable for the study.

University Placement

Remember that after passing your interview, you will have to be accepted by a Japanese university. My understanding is that applicants who pass the interview almost always find a school. But, I was rejected by one of the two schools I applied to.

Commentary: Mentioning a specific university in your application as a target is risky, since it can hurt your chances with other universities.

Additionally, I prioritized Nagoya University, even mentioning them in my application. This was a risky move I felt was worth it because Nagoya was my first choice, but I would not do it if I were to apply again.

Key Point: Your FSRPP is not final and it should change later. After all, that’s part of the point of your studies and working with your advisor!

Unless you are a PhD applicant, MEXT is looking for someone who will be a great researcher when they graduate. It is important that your FSRP shows effort and consistency. So enrolling in a Japanese class, learning basic research protocols in your field, and being able to answer questions about your background is more important than having a revolutionary topic.

Writing the FSRPP itself, I used Travis’ articles and books religiously. I would recommend following his advice once you have chosen your topic. In particular, his book, How to Write a Scholarship-Winning Field of Study and Research Program Plan , is worth buying if you are able. I followed his advice down to the details. The fact that you are reading this blog right now is a great sign for you!

James’ Field of Study and Research Program Plan

Here is James’ research proposal. After each section, I have added my comments in italics about the strong and weak points. Of course, this was a successful research proposal , so I don’t mean to be critical, but even the best research proposal has room for improvement and I know you want your proposal to be the best it can be. If James had brought this proposal to me for a review through my coaching service, these are some of the suggestions I would have made. (Although compared to most of my reviews, I had very few weak points to highlight or suggestions to make!)

1. Past and present field of study

I graduated Summa Cum Laude from Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University with a B.A. in Sustainability with an international development track, a minor in Spanish, and a certificate in Latin American Studies. As an undergraduate, I studied sustainable development in Latin America. My thesis, supervised by Dr. Marco Janssen, researched the impact Latin American coffee cooperatives have on community economic development through the lens of dependency theory. My research with Dr. Janssen led me to Kenichi Ohno and Izumi Ohno’s 1998 article, Japanese Views on Economic Development: Diverse Paths to the Market, which inspired me to study Japanese development theory. I am currently involved with Spanish language day to day research activities and research projects that involve Latin America and economic development through my work at the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute.

TranSenz Commentary

Strong Points:

  • Every detail about his undergraduate study and current work is directly related to his research proposal.  
  • He describes his thesis topic concisely while displaying knowledge/experience in the theories used in the field of study he is applying for.  
  • He gives a clear example of how his previous research led to his interest in Japan.  
  • He demonstrates his proficiency in conducting research in a foreign language, which also helps reviewers see that he can adapt to new cultures and work outside of his own linguistic background.

Weak Points:

  • He does not describe what problem he wants to address in his future research or why it is significant. Although he covers this later in the FSRPP, I typically recommend bringing it up in the Past and Present Field of Study section so that the reviewers, particularly at the embassy level, will have a clear understanding of the potential impact from the very beginning.  
  • I would have suggested mentioning a specific research project related to his proposed field in Japan in the reference to the Wilson Center, to give a little more continuity and strengthen the overall impact.

2-1. Research Theme

JICA and USAID in Mexico: The impact of development theory on the Mexican automotive industry This study investigates how ideological differences between Japanese and American approaches to international development impact United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) initiatives through the example of workforce development projects in the Mexican automotive sector by way of a document review and in‐depth surveys in order to fill the knowledge gap concerning the Japanese development theory in the United States.

  • The title clearly shows the field of study and the specific focus area, which would attract the attention of reviewers.  
  • The theme paragraph builds well on the title to explain his field and specific research target/sample data, as well as the methods that he will use.
  • The title doesn’t quite make it clear that he will be comparing the ideologies of the two organizations and their impacts, so I would have suggested rewording it to include the word “comparison” or “comparative” in there.  
  • The title could have been more specific about workforce development projects being the focus.  
  • He mentions he wants to research how differences “impact. . . initiatives”, but I would have suggested being more clear about whether he is analyzing the difference in the agencies’ choices in which initiatives to pursue or the difference in the effectiveness (or both). That would help reviewers better understand how the data collection he describes could answer his research question. He actually answers this in the next section, but I would have recommended moving it forward to this part.  
  • When describing the research methods (document review and surveys), I would have suggested being more specific about the target data for each. As with the comment above, he mentions this in the next section, but I think the level of detail in that section would have been more appropriate here.  
  • He does not explain how he will analyze the identified data sources or how the information will answer his question. This could be addressed by briefly mentioning the analysis method or the results he expected from each source.  
  • I would have suggested describing the expected outcomes and importance at the end of this section.

Most of the issues I identified as “weak points” could have been solved by essentially moving some of the details from the first paragraph of his “research goals” section to this paragraph, so it’s not really a “weakness” of the plan as a whole, just a matter of order of content.

2-2. Research Plan

Research goals.

The purpose of this study is to contribute to better understanding how ideological differences between the Japanese and American development communities impact their development agency’s projects. The main research question is as follows: Which development theories are implemented in USAID and JICA’s projects and how do theoretical differences affect the methods and outcomes for each organization? To answer this question, this study will investigate USAID and JICA projects in the el Bajio region of Mexico, where each agency is supporting the automotive industry. This study will analyze documents from USAID, JICA, and the Mexican Agency for International Cooperation for Development (ANEXCID) and conduct a survey of relevant actors using novel mobile phone research methods developed by Elisa Maffioli (2020).

The November 2020 creation of the Japan US Brazil Exchange (JUSBE) and February 2021 meeting of the “Quad” leaders, which resulted in public health cooperation, demonstrate the momentum for soft power cooperation between Japan and the United States. However, there is little academic material on the potential challenges and benefits of such cooperation, as Ohno & Ohno identified in 2014. This study will contribute to filling this research gap by comparing Japanese and American development projects in the field. Along with the academic benefit, this research will be of benefit to policy makers who wish that the growing Japan United States soft power alliance is not hindered by differences in theory and approach.

Although I have more “weak point” comments than “strong point” comments for this section, I want to be clear that I thought the first paragraph was quite good. It was significantly better than most of the research proposals I see in its specificity. Strong Points:

  • He makes the importance of his research clear in the first sentence and explains it in terms of the benefits to Japan and his home country of the US.  
  • He states his specific research subject and makes it clear why it is the ideal research sample for his research in a concise manner.  
  • He describes his data sources for the research.  
  • The final two sentences of the second paragraph clearly show the academic and practical significance of his research.
  • His research question is actually two questions, so I would have rephrased it to focus on the latter part.  
  • Building on my comments on the previous section that recommended moving some of the details from this paragraph to the “Research Theme”, I would have suggested more details here about his data sources, such as the types of documents he will analyze (policy white papers? specific project implementation documents?) and who he will interview (aid officials? automotive factory owners? managers? workers?) and how he will use that information to answer his research question.  
  • The second paragraph could benefit from a stronger opening. The current first sentence does not seem to be connected to the subject of the previous paragraph, so a better transition is required. This could be accomplished by combining the first two sentences and rewording them so that the context (increasing soft power cooperation between the US and Japan) comes first. Irrelevant details, like the dates and the confusing reference to the “Quad” leaders, which is not explained, could be eliminated for a more streamlined and clear description.

Existing Research

It is generally accepted that the East now promotes a unique developmental philosophy, defined by active government support for long term, “real” targets, such as employment and output, while the West continues to argue for limited government intervention while watching macroeconomic targets (Ohno & Ohno, 1998). Tsuyoshi Kikuchi’s work on JICA and the European Union development projects in Tunisia concludes that the different approaches taken complemented each other and positively impacted their recipients. Kikuchi’s conclusion states that each ideology covers for the other’s weakness and that coordinated partnership between Japan and the West is the best path forward for development. To test his conclusion, further research that includes different donor countries, sectors, and recipient countries is necessary.

  • He describes the state of research into his field in a concise and understandable manner, giving two relevant references that set the overall state of understanding and one specific reference that is similar to what he intends to study, but also leaves a clear need for his research. Probably one of the most common problems I see with FSRPP drafts is too much information about the research background or existing research. This is an excellent example of how to summarize that information quickly and clearly so that he can focus on the important part: his research proposal.  
  • It is fine to mention a theory as being “generally accepted” in the field when something is, in fact, generally accepted and that makes it difficult to find a specific citation for it. (In this case, since he has a citation to go with it, though, it would be better to remove the “generally accepted” comment and include this sentence as a reference to Ohno and Ohno’s research).  
  • The concluding sentence clearly shows the research gap he intends to fill, showing the importance of his research.
  • The reference to Kikuchi should have had a citation.

Methodology

This study will approach the problem through qualitative research by analysis of primary and secondary sources and survey of relevant actors in order to best identify each agency’s motivations, methods, and outcomes. The first step will be the analysis of Spanish and English primary and secondary sources, such as USAID, JICA, and ANEXCID documents, scholarly literature, and local news reports. This information will be used to create a survey that will be disseminated to USAID, JICA, and ANEXCID officials, and workers for companies receiving the aid using phone based research methods. The goal will be to identify the international development theories being applied to each project and how the theories impact methods used. In 2020, Elisa Maffioli published research on phone based research during a pandemic which demonstrates that mobile phone surveys and interviews are cheap, timely, and reliable sources of information. This method will obtain reliable data from Japan, so that I can study Japanese development ideology, react to unpredictable health and travel conditions, and comply with MEXT regulations. The foremost limit of this method, finding a representative sample, will not be an issue for this study because it targets a specific sample of respondents. However, to obtain access to these stakeholders, it will require compliance from government agencies and businesses. Through the Wilson Center, I have developed connections with El Gran Bajio, an non government organization dedicated to promoting industry in the region. I also have a strong network of academic and political figures throughout Mexico through work.

  • He has a clearly defined list of sources for his documentary research.  
  • He has dropped another reference to his ability to conduct research in multiple languages relevant to his topic as well as how his existing connections give him unique access to the research target population, which strengthens his case for why he is the best candidate to conduct this research.  
  • Since the phone research method he describes might not be well known and its effectiveness could be questioned by someone who was not familiar with it, explaining that it is an established method is a good idea. If you are using a method that might not be well known in your research (consider that your reviewers will include bureaucrats at the embassy level who will not have academic expertise in your area), a brief explanation like this can be useful to assuage concerns.
  • He should have explained what data he intended to gather from the primary and secondary sources. It is not clear how the documentary research will allow him to create a survey.  
  • He does not explain how his survey will allow him to identify international development theories. He mentions that it is intended to be a qualitative survey, so that means it would include open-ended questions, but it is not clear what kinds of questions he plans to ask. It would have been better to explain what data he would collect through the survey and how he would then analyze it to identify international development theories and methods.  
  • Although he mentions that he plans to identify outcomes, there is no methodology step that collects data on them.

This struck me as one of the weakest area of his research proposal because of the lack of description of the data he would collect and how he would analyze it. But on the other hand, that is where his academic advisor in Japan could provide the most help. The important thing is that he has a clear research problem that he wants to address, a target population, and an approach.

Research Plan

I will begin as a research student, during which time, I will prepare for university examinations and familiarize myself with “the Japanese approach” to international development and the relation between international development theory and practice. In my first semester, I will write a focused literature review, including academic materials from my time as a research student, government documents from JICA, USAID, and ANEXID, and take a class on research methods in order to prepare to write and disseminate a survey. My second semester, I will create a document that identifies key conclusions and unanswered questions from the initial literature review. This document will be used to write the survey. Participants in this survey will be identified during this semester, and the survey itself will be disseminated before the start of my third semester. My third semester will be spent collecting and integrating survey responses into a completed thesis draft. My fourth semester will be spent revising and editing my thesis in order to prepare it for publication. After graduation, I will consult with my advisor to determine the appropriate journal to submit my work for publication, such as Kokusai Mondai, the Journal of International Development, or another international development journal. Before leaving for Japan, I intend to continue taking Japanese classes at the Japan America Society of Washington D.C. and volunteering with Global Launch at Arizona State University in order to increase my understanding of Japanese culture, increase my network in Japan, and improve my Japanese language abilities. Upon arriving in Japan, I plan to be deeply involved in my community through language exchange, participating in both English and Japanese speaking groups. I also hope to use my network in the United States to publish news and blog articles on Japanese international development practices. For more information, please see the attached research timeline, which gives the example of if I were to be placed at Nagoya University for the fall 2022 semester.

  • He explains every step of his research in order in an easy-to-understand progression.  
  • His plans to disseminate his research demonstrate an awareness of the scholarly journals in his field.  
  • He mentions a specific way that he wants to get involved in the local community in Japan and also how he plans to share his experience with a wider audience.
  • The opening sentence, which sets the tone for the section, contains a weak reference to becoming familiar with the Japanese approach to international development without any substantive action. It would have been better to have more concrete actions, such as starting the literature review during that time.  
  • His research plan still lacks any indication of how he will analyze his data to solve his research question, which could lead a reviewer to suspect that he doesn’t know how to answer the question.  
  • The description of the research steps could have been more concise. Since he already mentioned the documentary sources for his literature review earlier, there is no need to repeat it here. The following sentences could also be combined and shortened without losing any meaning, which would give him more space to describe meaningful steps in his research and analysis.  
  • I would not recommend spending time/space in the FSRPP talking about language self-study and networking prior to departing for Japan unless it is specifically related to the research proposal. For example, it would be worth mentioning if he was going to visit the automotive factories described earlier, but otherwise, this space would be better spent on relevant content.  
  • Mentioning one specific university in the Field of Study and Research Program Plan is very risky . Unless you already have a connection with a professor there who has essentially agreed to accept you and you do not plan to apply anywhere else, I recommend against planning for a specific university in this document. It would hurt your chances of being accepted elsewhere since other universities would see it as an indication that they are not your first choice.

Attachment: Research Timeline

James attached a one-page research timeline formatted in an easy-to-read table. This is optional and it should never present information that is essential to understanding the research proposal, since it is outside of the 2-page limit, but can serve as an easy reference for reviewers if done well. In this case, I don’t think the table is particularly necessary, given the straightforward nature of his research, which is explained sufficiently in the document itself, and the weaknesses of the table (described below) might do more harm than good.

The following timeline is formatted for a 2 year course of study, with a semester as a student at a Japanese language school and as a research student. To demonstrate the specific classes and organizations I will be involved in, Nagoya University will be used in this example, However, this timeline can be altered as the university I am placed in desires.

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James’ research timeline, as shown in his FSRPP

  • Mentioning that this is just an example and that he is flexible is a good start.  
  • Overall, his research plan is quite straightforward and this table reinforces it. For applicants with more research steps, such as series of experiments, it would need to be more complex.  
  • Mentioning his intent to volunteer as a language tutor is a good touch.  
  • He only mentions classes that are specifically related to his research progression, which is good. There is no need to clutter up the timeline by mentioning every class that you want to take.  
  • Including his publication goals, future career goal that relates to his studies, and to improving relations between Japan and his home country, is a strong ending.
  • The table contains spelling errors and a lack of understanding of how the MEXT Scholarship works, both of which could put off a reviewer even if the rest of the document was perfect. His reference to language study in Summer 2022 was meant to refer to the semester of language study under the MEXT Scholarship, but in this example, it appears to be something he was going to do on his own. That could actually disqualify him from the scholarship if he were to come on his own, so it is important to mention that it is part of the scholarship program.  
  • The table should only really contain research steps during the MEXT-sponsored studies. As mentioned above, if he planned to conduct research-related activities prior to coming to Japan, that would be worth mentioning, but otherwise, mentioning activities before the start of the scholarship could be confusing.  
  • During the research student semester, it is expected that students would be attending courses (the credits would transfer later) and conducting their research, so it is important to avoid the perception that you would only be studying for the entrance exam.  
  • There were some unnecessary details, such as the contents of his literature review (just stating “Complete literature review” would be sufficient), and mentioning when he would graduate.

Thank you very much to James for sharing this FSRPP! Remember, this was a successful application , so even though I have highlighted some weak points in my commentary above, the strong points certainly outweighed them. As you know by now, I offer coaching reviews of Field of Study and Research Program Plans and no matter how excellent a plan is when I first receive it, I will always look for ways to improve it! (Normally, I would go into a lot more detail about potential improvements and recommendations.)

Overall, I think the greatest strengths of this proposal were:

  • He identified a research problem that had clear applicability to Japan and USA national interest and to cooperation between the two.  
  • He identified a research gap and clearly and concisely explained the state of the research field and why his research was necessary.  
  • He had a very specific and relevant research topic, showing his preparedness.  
  • He leveraged his experience and connection to position himself as the best candidate for this research.

On the other hand, the most significant weakness was a lack of detail about his data and analysis, but there was enough in this proposal to intrigue reviewers so that he could get to the next stage, the interview, where he could explain in more detail. And, as I mentioned before, those are areas that his advisor in Japan could help most with after his selection, so the weaknesses could be overcome.

If you are interested in a review of your Field of Study and Research Program Plan, you can contact me through the link at the top of the page. If you are interested in sharing your research proposal for a similar article in the future (after your application is successful, if you prefer), particularly if your research is in another field (STEM, business, arts, etc.) there are thousands of readers who would appreciate it, so please let me know in the comments below and I will get back to you right away.

Special Thanks

Special thanks to James Chabin, who made this article possible by generously sharing his successful Field of Study and Research Program Plan. You can find out more about James on his Twitter feed.

Thanks also to my supporters on Patreon , who help keep this site running through their generous contributions, especially to my newest Samurai-level patron, Alvin S, Daimyo-level supporter Alessia M, and to everyone who has been supporting the sight for months or years. I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your continued support! If this site has helped you in your application process and you want to “pay it forward” to keep the site running to help future applicants, every contribution helps!

Let me know in the comments below!

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