How to Write a Research Paper Proposal

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Scholars and scientists write research proposals to get funding for their original research. These succinct proposals explain in depth why the project is worth pursuing and funding. For students, the goal of a research proposal is to convince your teacher or mentor that you have an original project that is worth researching. There is no one way to write a research proposal, but most proposals have similar criteria.

1 Determine Your Research Topic

Your topic should be original and relevant to the class for which you are writing the paper. It should interest you and be appropriate for the specific assignment your teacher has given you. Review several sources of information about your topic and choose an angle that has not been written about.

2 Write a Strong Introduction

Your introduction should state your research topic or issue and explain why you are interested in it. If you are writing about a social problem, explain why it is problematic and warrants a deeper examination.Explain why your research is important to you and the larger world. For example, if you are writing about the problem of homelessness in your community, explain why you care about it and describe how your research will help solve this problem or contribute new ideas to the current discussion of homelessness.

3 Discuss Current Research on Your Topic

Describe the sources you have used to research your topic to give an overview of current perspectives. Explain how other researchers have approached this topic, the questions they have asked and the strategies they have used to conduct their research.

4 Differentiate Your Perspective

Your proposal should explain how your research will explore a new angle or contribute to the existing research. For example, if most of the research you have uncovered on homelessness pertains to major cities, you could write about how researching homelessness in your small town will expand the current scope of research on this topic to help small communities deal with the problem. You could also discuss how your research will expand the current conversation or refute another perspective.

5 Explain How You Will Conduct Your Research

Describe in detail how you will conduct your research, including the kinds of sources you will use and the steps you will take to complete the research. Include library research, interviews, surveys and any other methods you will use to gather information. Explain why you will use each of these methods and how it will contribute to your overall results. For example, adding interviews may help you get an expert's perspective on questions that interest you but have not been asked by other researchers.

6 Conclude and Add a Bibliography

Write a conclusion to your proposal that reiterates your reasons for doing the research and what you hope to achieve. Leave your reader with a sense of your project's importance. End with a list of the sources you have cited in your proposal, and be sure to format them according to the style your teacher has recommended.

Megan Martin has more than 10 years of experience writing for trade publications and corporate newsletters as well as literary journals. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Iowa and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.