Research Proposals

Over the next few weeks, this page will be devoted to focusing on various aspects of academic writing, in particular on publishing research results. There will be a mix of input screens dealing with standard formats and conventions, followed by activities showing the language of academic writing (phrases for analyzing results, for example, or for defining scope). Another aspect will be highlighting the language areas typical of academic writing, such as passives, sentence adverbials, and modals. Today, we begin with the elements of a standard research proposal (NB: the standards and language used in these contributions focus on articles submitted to trade journals in the US using the Harvard referencing system).


Elements of a Research Proposal

The purpose of a research proposal is to outline a strategy for conducting an original study in your chosen field. If you publish your paper, you will be expected to pass a peer review, whereby other experts in the field determine the extent to which your study draws on the relevant theoretical issues and draws scientifically sound conclusions. To do so, your paper must provide a valid research strategy choosing methods appropriate to the topic. This must also show where you anticipate problems and how you expect to overcome them. Finally, you should show how you will analyze your findings.

A common research proposal format has the following structure:

Scope of the Research
Research Strategy
Anticipated Problems
Timetable & Budget

Briefly, your research proposal should show what you intend to do (and what you cannot do), how you plan to underpin this with data, and how this data will be sifted and incorporated into your conclusions.