contents of research proposal

For most students or beginning researchers, writing a research proposal seems to be an uphill task. Some cannot even tell its importance. Clearly put, one’s research project is only as good as one’s proposal. A good research project risks rejection simply because of a poorly written proposal. How well you write a research proposal will not only determine the success of your research project but also impresses your thesis committee about your potential as a researcher. A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile project and the necessary competence to complete it.
Generally, all research proposals follow a similar format with all the key elements involved in the research process. The information should be sufficient for the readers to evaluate the proposed study. This paper focuses on the general contents of research proposal.


It should appeal and give meaning to the reader and should also be concise and descriptive, clearly showing the independent and dependent variables. A catchy title is important as it captures the reader’s interest.


This should be a brief summary of approximately 300 words. It should include the problem statement, the rationale for the study, the method and the main findings. When describing the method, you may include the design, procedures and any instruments that will be used.


The introduction provides the context and the background for your research problem. Perhaps the biggest problem in proposal writing is how to frame the research problem. You should try to place your research problem in a current “new” area or an old area that is still viable. The significance of your research should be sound and should provide a strong motivation. Also, include the research approach in this chapter.

Literature review

This chapter should show a deep understanding of the topic of interest. It should connect with the research problem and questions. Also, make sure to cite relevant sources which are up-to-date. Journals and well known sites should be used as a source of literature materials. Use subheadings to bring flow and coherence to your review. Also, consider your audience. Do not bore them but rather engage them.


This chapter provides your work-plan and the activities necessary to complete your project. It consists of the research strategy, study population, sampling method, data collection methods, data processing and data analysis. This will be used to determine how valid and reliable your results are. You are required to end this chapter with the limitations likely to be faced and suggest ways to overcome them.


This is the last section of your document. It has the heading References. All the sources cited in the research proposal, including in-text citations, should be written in this section. The most common formatting style in the social sciences is the APA (American Psychological Association). Other formats include MLA and Chicago formatting styles. Make sure you use information ethically, without any trace of plagiarism, by crediting all data to the source.