How to Write a Sample Topic Proposal

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Whether you are in college or in the work place, the sample topic proposal is your chance to convince your professor, supervisor, or funding agency and that you have an appealing and important topic to research. It should create some reasonable confidence in the reader that you will be able to complete the research required to answer the question. The quality of your proposal often determines whether it is accepted or not.

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1 Write a working title

Write a working title. Write something that will enable the reader to visualize the topic. This helps you focus your topic and thoughts. The title may change later, as more information about the topic is uncovered.

2 Write a tentative thesis statement

Write a tentative thesis statement. This is the central theme of your paper and helps you to focus your research. Explain what you expect your research will uncover. List the question that you will answer through your research.

3 Explain the topic interests

Explain why the topic interests you and describe any experience you have with the subject. Describe any research you have already conducted on this or related topics. List any classes you have taken on the subject or any reading you have already done in the field.

4 Explain it

Explain why it is important to research this topic. Identify the implications of doing the research. Explain how the research will add to the existing body of knowledge.

5 Describe if you will use library research

Describe if you will use library research, internet research, interviews, or observations with your investigation.

6 Explain you

Explain how will you collect and analyze the data you collect. Discuss the types of sources you plan to consult and the methods you will use to collect and analyze the information you assembled.

7 Identify the target audience for your results

Identify the target audience for your results. Based on your target audience, you will determine the style of writing that is appropriate to use and what theories and experiments to apply.

8 Make a preliminary bibliography

Make a preliminary bibliography. This is your initial search for source material. It should contain at least ten primary and secondary sources. The intent is to convince the reader that you have conducted sufficient background research.

  • Make sure that you thoroughly understand all of the details of your sample topic proposal. You should be able to answer any detailed question about your proposal.
  • Have a third party read and copy-edit your work.
  • 1 “Manual for Writers of Term Papers, 6th Edition”; Kate L. Turabian; 1996
  • 2 “The Business Writer’s Handbook, 8th Edition”; Gerald J. Alred, Charles T. Brusaw, and Walter E. Oliu; 2006
  • 3 “The Elements of Style, 4th Edition with index”; William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White; 1999

A former U.S. Army historian, Walter Zapotoczny has been writing since 1990. His articles have appeared in “World War II History” magazine and the “World Book Encyclopedia.” Zapotoczny received the Military Writers Society of America's 2010 Bronze Medal for historical fiction. He holds a Master of Arts in history from American Military University.