What is a Research Proposal? - Components & Examples

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  • 0:01 What is a Research Proposal?
  • 1:25 Components of a Proposal
  • 3:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Brianna Whiting

Brianna has a masters of education in educational leadership, a DBA business management, and a BS in animal science.

Expert Contributor
Joseph Shinn

Joe has a PhD in Economics from Temple University and has been teaching college-level courses for 10 years.

In this lesson, we will look at what it takes to write a research proposal. We'll look at questions to ask before beginning and the components that need to be included.

What is a Research Proposal?

There you are. You have a great idea that your company would benefit from, but there is just one problem. Your great idea requires funding, and it is up to you to convince your company why they should grant you the money needed. In order to do this, you immediately decide to write a research proposal.

So, let's take a look at what a research proposal is. When someone is interested in obtaining support for research, they often write a research proposal. These proposals are intended to convince people that your ideas and projects are important. They strive to explain how you can satisfactorily complete the project. A research proposal needs to let people know why the project is a good and/or needed idea and that you understand what information and studies are already out there. Keep in mind that the way the proposal is written is also important, as grammar, structure, and content can make a difference in whether or not the proposal is accepted or rejected.

While conducting a proposal, several questions need to be answered so that those you hope will support your research, understand the significance and reason behind your work.

The following are some important questions to answer:

  • What are you going to do?
  • How much money do you need to complete your project?
  • How long will it take?
  • Why do you feel the project will help or benefit the sponsors?
  • Why are you the one for the job?
  • What are your qualifications?
  • What will you do with the results?

Components of a Proposal

Let's now take a look at some of the important components of a research proposal.

1.) Title

A title should be thorough enough that it lets the reader know what the project is, but brief enough that it is not overwhelming or too complex to understand. It should grab the reader's attention and convince them to read more.

2.) Abstract

In the abstract, the writer gives a short summary that contains the problem the research will look to solve. It will outline the solution by explaining the method, procedures, and instruments that will be used.

3.) Table of Contents

This section lets the reader know the main components of the proposal, and the order in which they are presented. For example, it would outline that the methods section begins on page 18, and the budget section starts on page 21.

4.) Introduction

Perhaps the most important part of an introduction is your statement of the problem, your purpose, and the significance. For example, what is your project, why is it important, and what will the results be used for? Your introduction is also a place to include any necessary background information, so that your reader is prepared to learn about your project. For example, are there key terms and definitions that need to be explained?

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Additional Activities

Components of a Proposal

For each of the descriptions below, identify which component of the research proposal applies (title, abstract, table of contents, introduction, literature review, method, discussion, budget).

  • If you will need to incur any expenses, you will discuss them in this section.
  • To show that your research project differs from other work that has been completed, you will note the differences in this section.
  • An overall summary of your paper will be discussed in this section.
  • In this section, you will map out your project, including all of the steps that you will take in researching and writing your paper.
  • In this section, you will describe the purpose of the paper and/or the problem you will be solving.

Practice Proposal

You have decided that you want to write a research paper that studies the impacts of Medicaid law on children with disabilities. To complete this study, you will need to pay for data that is needed for your analysis. For this assignment, write a proposal to be submitted to get funding for this research. Your proposal should include each of the components of the research proposal (title, abstract, table of contents, introduction, literature review, method, discussion, budget).

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