How to Write a Lab Proposal

A researcher writing at a table in a laboratory.
... Photokanok/iStock/Getty Images

A well-written lab proposal will introduce research plans to an audience; sometimes this audience is a teacher who will be grading lab work, while at other times it is a group who will provide funding or support for the proposed research. Lab proposals should briefly explain the qualifications of those conducting the research, the hypothesis that will be tested and how it is relevant to other lab work, the experimental methods that will be used, and how the results will be analyzed.

1 An Intriguing Introduction

Begin any lab proposal with a strong introduction that piques the reader's interest in your project. Explain your hypothesis and its relevance in today's world. What do you hope to achieve with your proposed experiment and how will it affect the current body of knowledge on the subject? Cite related literature to provide background information and be sure to correlate in-text citations with a reference list at the end of your proposal. Conclude this section with a concise statement of what you hope to accomplish in the lab.

2 Description of Methods

Continue the proposal with a description of the experiment you would like to perform. Describe the equipment required and the methods of testing you intend to use. Explain the timeline for your proposed work and highlight any achievements you expect during the process. Then, give a thorough explanation of the outcomes you expect and how these outcomes would benefit the field in which you are studying. The body of your proposal should explain what you are doing, how you plan to do it and when it will be done.

3 Qualifications and Conclusion

A good lab proposal will describe the qualifications of the person conducting the lab work. Include any courses or preparatory work that you and your colleagues have done to prepare for the experiment you are proposing. Also include how the ability to conduct your work will help you achieve future goals and how you intend to distribute the results of your work. If you plan to publish your findings, describe your intended method of publication. Finish your proposal with a strong conclusion that reiterates the main parts of your plan and their significance.

4 General Tips

Written work that is grammatically correct and free of factual errors will be received well by the intended audience. Pay close attention to the requirements for the proposal and follow them explicitly; such instructions are issued by the teacher or organization requesting the proposal. Use clear and consistent formatting so that the document is easy to read. Subheadings help organize your work and make it easy for the reader to refer back to sections of the proposal when questions arise. If possible, include a letter of support from someone already employed in the lab who is familiar with your work.

Sarah Cairoli began her writing career in 2002, as a reporter for the "High Country Independent Press" in Belgrade, Mont. She then spent two years writing and editing for an online publishing company, and earned her master's degree in English from Northern Arizona University. Cairoli also writes for "Bozeman Magazine."