Academic Writing Tutorials: How To Write A Paper Proposal

What is a research proposal and what is its main purpose?

A research proposal is usually written and submitted before starting to work on your paper. It gives your professor or instructor a possibility to review your topic, possible angle your paper will take and methods you will use and make necessary corrections. The reaction you will receive from the instructor will help you to make the best of your project and avoid a lot of mistakes. More than that, while writing a proposal, you will be able to organize your thoughts, focus on a narrow aspects and take a closer look at the material you have. In general, a proposal is a very important part of your work and you shall never skip it or pay not enough attention to it.

What shall I include in my proposal?

For somebody it seems very hard to squeeze as much material as there is in a paper proposal, which is usually quite small. Of course, if you have enough material to write a 10 page paper, it seems almost impossible to fit everything in one or two pages. And you shouldn't! It is not necessary to mention everything, you will have a possibility for that while writing the actual paper. There are a few things that need to be specified and you can leave out everything else:

  • Confirmation, justifying and explanation of your topic, reasons for choosing this exact topic.
  • Research question you are going to use.
  • Your answer to the set research question or your thesis statement.
  • Short overview of the steps you are going to take to prove your statement.
  • Preliminary sources you will use.

It is expected that you did not start the work on the paper yet, so there is no need to add everything that is going to be there – you have a lot to find out later.

Structure of a proposal

You will most likely not find anything unusual in the possible outline for your proposal, but still pay attention to it to make sure you will not let anything out.

  1. Introduction.
  2. Statement of purpose or intentions of your paper.
  3. Plan of actions – what measures you are going to take and methods you are going to use.
  4. Efficiency – how real is the proposal and if it will work.
  5. Expected outcome.
  6. Work that is already done
  7. Conclusion.
  8. Reference page.