Research Proposal Example for College Composition II

Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson you'll find a sample research proposal to help see what a research proposal should look like. At the end, there's an explanation of what makes a good research proposal.

The Research Proposal

You will frequently perform research in your chosen field. Most of the time to perform this research you will need to first submit a research proposal to get approval to perform this research. The research proposal should include:

  • An explanation of what you will be researching
  • Why this research is important
  • Your thesis statement (or hypothesis)
  • A preliminary literature review, or explanation of what information is currently available on this topic
  • How you will conduct the research

An example of a research proposal is given below. This research proposal is proposing the research of why unhealthy foods are preferred over healthy foods.

Why Unhealthy Foods are Preferred Proposal


We are told to eat healthy to live long and healthy lives, yet when we try to change our diets into healthy diets we tend to discover that we don't enjoy the 'healthy' food as much. Should our bodies (including our taste buds) prefer healthy food over unhealthy food? Why do we like sweet, salty, and fatty foods? Eating is a primal instinct which leads us to eat things which are high in calories, because we need calories to survive. Food is also more than just nutrition and flavor, it is also an emotional process, so if our brain connects certain foods to comfort or happy memories then we will enjoy eating it more. We crave 'unhealthy foods' because food choices are affected by more than simply the nutrient needs of our bodies, but also by our evolutionary past, our environment and genetics, and our brain chemistry.

In this research paper, I will use scientific papers to explain how food affects our emotions. Also, I will explain the nutrition behind high calorie foods and how the importance of high calorie foods has changed through history. This research is important to help us understand why many humans prefer eating unhealthy foods. As we better understand the psychology behind unhealthy eating habits, we can better understand how to change those habits.

Literature Review

Historically, humans have eaten what was available to them, and faced scarcity when food was unavailable, thus the human body evolved to crave foods which give us the most calories. As recent as one hundred years ago, obesity was not an issue because the over consumption of calories wasn't an option - food was never as abundant as it is today (Mitchell et al. 2011). The human body knows it needs calories to survive, so the body craves foods with many calories. Today, the body still is evolved to crave calorie-dense food, and since these foods are now plentiful, many people eat them in excess, which is unhealthy because of how the body stores those calories.

In Western culture, we don't simply eat what food is available, we have the opportunities to choose what we eat based on our mood, environment, and cravings (Feeney et al, 2010). The complex nature of food choices makes eating mean much more than simply getting nutrition, it is also about our emotions. Meiselman showed that food choices are based upon the situation (1996).


This research will be accomplished by performing a systematic review of the current scientific literature. This review will be summarized and the findings explained in three sections:

  • The changes in food availability in the last one hundred years
  • The effects of genetics and the environment on food choices
  • The effects of sugar, fat, and salt on brain chemistry


By examining the changes in eating habits over the last hundred years, how genetics and environment affect food choices, and the effects of 'unhealthy' foods on brain chemistry, we can better understand the psychology behind why humans tend to eat unhealthy. This will help scientists and nutritionists better know how to change bad eating behaviors.

This research is necessary today because obesity has become an epidemic with over a third of Americans are currently obese (Ogden, 2015). This research will help answer a question that many dieters tend to ask themselves 'why do I like unhealthy food so much' by helping understand that food choices are affected by much more than will power and flavor.


Feeney E, O'Brian S, Scannell A, Markey A, Gibney ER. (2011) 'Genetic Variation in Taste Perception: Does it have a Role in Healthy Eating?' Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 70, 135-143

Meiselman HL. (1996) 'The Contextual Basis for Food Acceptance, Food Choice and Food Intake: the Food, the Situation and the Individual' Food Choice, Acceptance, and Consumption, 239-263

Mitchell N, Catenacci V, Wyatt HR, Hill JO. (2011) 'Obesity: Overview of an Epidemic' Psychiatric Clinic North American Journal, 34 (4)

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