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Research proposal template Abstract An abstract is an…

Research proposal template



An abstract is an outline/brief summary of the paper and the whole project. An abstract must be fully self-contained and make sense by itself, without further reference to outside source or to the actual paper. Add the keywords used for this proposal (Basically use words that collectively describe your research)



The first part of the proposal is the initial pitch for the project, so make sure it concisely explains what you want to execute and why. It should:

• Introduce the topic

• Give background and context

• Outline the problem statement and research question(s)

Some important questions to guide the introduction might include:

• Who has an interest in the topic (e.g. scientists, practitioners, policymakers, particular members of society)?

• How much is already known about the problem?

• What is missing from current knowledge?

• What new insights will your research contribute?

• Why is this research worth doing?

You might include separate sections with more detailed information on the background and context, problem statement, aims and objectives, and importance of the research.


Literature review

It’s important to show that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review convinces the 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.

In this section, aim to demonstrate exactly how your project will contribute to conversations in the field. Provide a short summary of the 3 research articlesreviewed:

• Compare and contrast: what are the main theories, methods, outcomes, debates and controversies?

• Be critical: what are the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches?

• Show how your research fits in: how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize the work of others?

• Add an integrated review (table) to highlight this section


Research design and methods

Following the literature review, it’s a good idea to restate your main objectives, bringing the focus back to your own project. The research design or methodology section should describe the overall approach and practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.


Methodology in a research proposal

Research type • Will you do qualitative , quantitative research or a mixed methods study?


• Will you collect original data or work with primary or secondary sources?


• Is your research design descriptive, correlational, or experimental?


Population and sample • Exactly who will you study (e.g. high school students in New York; seniors in the dementia unit)?


• How will you select subjects or sources (e.g. random sampling, case studies)?What is your sample size?


• When and where will you collect the data?


Research methods • What tools and procedures will you use (e.g. surveys, interviews, observations, experiments) to collect and analyze data?


• Describe the intervention/treatment plan (i.e what is activity used,  # of sessions/ duration,..)


• Why are these the best methods to answer your research questions?


Practicalities • How much time will you need to collect the data?


• How will you gain access to participants or sources?


• Do you foresee any potential obstacles, and how will you address them? Any ethical considerations?


Make sure not to simply note a list of methods. Aim to make an argument for why this is the most appropriate, valid and reliable approach to answering your questions.


Research schedule

Include a detailed timeline of the project, explaining exactly what you will execute at each stage and how long it will take.

(Use the Gantt chart or the Person-loading chart to illustrate this). Do NOT name these charts in the proposal, simply use “table 1”



If you are applying for research funding, you will probably also have to include a detailed budget that shows how much each part of the project will cost. Provide a table to illustrate this. (research staff, other hire, resources,…)

Cost: exactly how much money do you need? From the start to the end of the research project


Conclusion/ Implications and contribution to knowledge

To conclude your proposal on a strong note, you can explore the potential implications of the research for theory or practice, and emphasize again what you aim to contribute to existing knowledge on the topic. For example, your results might have implications for:

• Improving processes in a specific location or field

• Informing policy objectives

• Strengthening a theory or model

• Challenging popular or scientific assumptions

• Creating a basis for further research



Your research proposal must include proper citations for every source you have used, and full publication details should always be included in the reference list.

In some cases, you might be asked to include a bibliography. This is a list of all the sources you consulted in preparing the proposal, even ones you did not cite in the text, and sometimes also other relevant sources that you plan to read. The aim is to show the full range of literature that will support your research project.