A common myth surrounding the process of writing a research paper is that the little details don’t matter as much as the big picture. This means every aspect of the process of preparing this academic paper requires equal importance, if not more. This involves the proposal of your research paper as well.
Before you can even focus on working on your research paper, you need to make sure your academic research proposal is approved. Without approval on this proposal, you can’t proceed to work on the main document. Think of the whole research paper writing process as an obstacle course, and writing the proposal is the first hurdle you cross.
Now, if you’re curious about how to prepare the research paper proposal, then check out the following pointers below.
1. Conduct some initial research on your topic
Once you’ve selected several potential topics, carry out a literature search and in-depth reading. This will let you become familiar with each potential topic, but it will also provide you with a better idea of whether there’s really a requirement for more research on that topic.
Flip through academic journals in your field for recent resources on your topic, and try figuring out if there are peer-reviewed articles and/or book chapters dealing with the subject. Consider whether these sources are updated, thorough, and methodologically sound.
2. Limit the focus after you have the general topic
After you and your professor or mentor agree on a topic, it’s time you turn the topic at hand more specific. Go through some more in-depth reading and find the aspects of your topic that call for a closer evaluation.
The focus may keep getting limited and evolve as you keep researching and writing the actual paper earnest, but that comes later. It’s easier to start with a topic that’s broad than to start writing and later discover that you don’t have sufficient materials to work with.
3. Structure your proposal as per the guidelines
Your university department may present guidelines for how to structure the content of your proposal, like what to incorporate in the proposal and how to order it. Follow the guidelines provided by your university department, or check with your professor and see what they suggest. The required elements of a research proposal may consist of-
- · Title
- Introductory section
- Literature review
- Scope and limitations
4. Prepare a basic introduction to your topic
A pertinent introduction should attract your readers’ interest and offer appropriate context for deciphering the rest of your proposal.
Your introduction should sum up the general context and scope of your topic. It must address the previous literature available on the topic and address the types of evidence as well. Sum up the specific questions and issues you wish to touch upon in your proposal.
5. Elaborate your major research objectives and aims
This part of your proposal should describe, in finer detail, which elements of the problem you plan to explore.
In a few concise paragraphs, you can discuss the major goals of your research. Think about what questions you’re hoping to answer or if you have any particular expectations about what you’ll find. Also, consider how you believe your research will bridge a gap or make an actual contribution to your field.
6. Emphasise the previous literature on your topic
The literature review presents the scope to show your familiarity with the existing research materials on the subject and to show that your research paper will be a unique contribution. There’s no need to incorporate an exhaustive list of all previous publications on your topic but touch upon most of the major texts by other scholars.
You should carefully consider how previous researchers have approached similar topics. Also, discuss the major established hypotheses, theories, and research trends connected with your topic.
7. Describe your methodology
The methodology part is vital for your proposal. This is the part where you’ll explain how you decide to perform the research and emphasise the major issues and questions of your research paper. The types of methodology you’ll adopt will depend on your particular topic and discipline.
Highlight any limitations you’re anticipating. For instance, you can say that you expect to have difficulty finding large sample sizes, which may make your results less significant statistically or tougher to replicate than they would be if you had a greater sample size.
8. Prepare the title page of your proposal
A title page consists of the title of your proposal, your name, and the institution you’re studying in. On this page, present a “running head” at the top left corner. The running head will feature on all pages of the document and needs to be a shortened version of the title.
Incorporate the page number at the top right corner. The page number should be there on every page of the proposal. For instance, presented below is a snapshot of how a title page of the research proposal should look like.
9. List keywords related to your topic
Select 4-5 keywords that are connected with the main ideas of your paper, indicating what the topic is about. These keywords are made up of phrases that the readers may use to search for your papers. Selecting the proper keywords will make sure that your proposal shows up in search engines for readers who could benefit from it.
For example, if your proposal is about cardiovascular diseases, you might use phrases like blood, arrhythmia, circulatory system, etc. Also, your keywords can be single words or phrases of 2-4 words.
10. Define the timeline if your program requires it
Some disciplines may need you to present a timeline for completing the different aspects of your paper. This is possibly crucial for research papers that involve designing and performing experiments or carrying out field research.
Consult with your professor about following a realistic timeline for your research paper. Also, remember that your timeline may change as you continue to work on your paper—this isn’t supposed to be a hard and fast schedule for finishing your academic research.
11. Put together a list of your sources
Like most research papers, your proposal will also need a complete bibliography. Use a proper citation style for your discipline and/or follow the specific guidelines recommended for your program.
Based on your topic or your program’s requirements, you may also have to present detailed appendices or other supplemental information, like sample data collection forms, or diagrams, etc.
You may think writing your research paper is overwhelming, but before you can get to that part, you need to get the research proposal right. The tips and ideas shared here will help you accomplish that. A well-defined proposal for your research proposal will make the next steps easier.
Anne P Gill is a visiting faculty for a distinguished academic institution. Burlington has pursued his PhD in History from Curtin University. She has moderated several academic conventions and seminars in his field. He’s also an online assignment help expert and helps students when they approach with the request, “Can you write my essay?”