What is research proposal and its contents?

What is a research proposal and its contents?


Title Page

  1. Abstract – An abstract that encapsulates the proposal in 120 to 250 words.
  2. Introduction – The introduction is where you will compose a synthesis of current literature pertinent to your project. The sources for this section should be authoritative and no more than five years old (classic references are an exception to this rule). Students always ask what the minimum number of references for the proposal. An exact answer is difficult, but 18 references is the minimum acceptable. An “A” paper would have closer to 30 references. Give evidence that you are well read in your topic.


What is the purpose of a research proposal?


The introduction will also contain the problem/purpose statement (the terms are interchangeable). You will also list the hypothesis statement if the paper is quantitative, or the research question if it is qualitative.

  1. Method Section – Here you will describe how you plan to conduct the study. This section requires a description of the participants for your study and how they will be selected and enlisted. It will also include the way in which you will reach them (e.g., interviews, surveys, focus groups). Also discuss the nature of the instrument or interview you are developing, and how you plan to refine the instrument before administering it. Describe how the interview or survey is administered. For instance a description of the administration of interviews might include that you plan to do them in subject’s homes and you plan for them to last 90 minutes.


What is the format of a proposal?


  1. Results – Describe how the data you plan to collect will be organized and analyzed. You might even give sample tables (if the study is quantitative) showing how the data will be reported. For a qualitative study describe such things as how you will encode the data, categorize it and so forth.
  2. Discussion – this section is not yet necessary because there is nothing to discuss yet.
  3. References – list the references you plan to use utilize in the literature review or other parts of the study. No annotations are necessary.
  4. Instrument – Include a first draft of the interview questions or survey as an appendix.
  5. Timeline – Include a time line for completing the study as an appendix.