Comprehensive Guide to Research Paper Proposal Writing

Once in college and other higher learning institutes, you are already familiar with most academic assignments such as essays, thesis, and related papers. However, have you written or even heard of a research paper proposal before? Well, to some, it can be common, while to some, it can sound like a new idea. Whichever the case, your professor might ask you to write a research paper proposal, and should this happen, don’t worry. Keep reading to know what you will do while writing a research proposal.

The research proposal definition

Before we discuss more on a research paper proposal and research paper proposal example apa, let us explain first what a research proposal means.

Well, a student writes a research proposal after choosing a topic, then explains and justifies why the topic is significant and why they need to carry out such research. Since the research proposal is an academic document, a student must ensure they understand the target audience well and include every single detail, from research methods, benefits of the research, challenges, and other ideas we will discuss later in this article. The purpose of this document is to convince the panel that your topic is crucial so that they can give a student the okay to start the research. Besides, a student can as well write a research paper proposal when they want to secure funding from funding agencies.

Writing a research proposal: the structure

When you are ready to write your research proposal, the question is, how will you start? And what content will you include in each section? Well, let’s highlight the appropriate structure and the relevant content you should include in the research proposal.

  1. The introduction

Every academic paper should have an intro, and so is the research proposal. However, before the introduction, you must have a topic, and understanding how to write a topic proposal for a research paper is the first step towards writing a successful research proposal. In the introduction section of your research proposal, you simply introduce your topic and highlight the questions and problems you intend to answer after carrying out the research.

Note: in some instances, you might need to add the abstract and table of content just before the introduction.

  1. Background significance

Here, you simply explain the significance of your research and its relationship with your field of study and what previous researchers have done on the same. For instance, do you need to challenge previous research, strengthen it, or compliment it?

Also, you answer the reader the questions highlighted in the introduction and explain approaches you will use while doing the research. For a better understanding, you can check an APA research proposal example and see how to arrange such ideas.

  1. Literature review

Here, you explain the sources you intend to use and how you will use them while doing your research, such as scholarly articles, books, and related materials.

  1. Research design, methods, and schedule

This section explains the type of research you want to do. For instance, is it quantitative or qualitative research? Also, determine if you are using data from other researchers or if you intend to collect new and original data. One more thing, explain the tools you will use during data collection. Other relevant information to include under this section include:

  • Research proposal timeline
  • The budget
  • Any challenges to can foresee and how you will handle them.
  1. Suppositions and implications

One thing for sure is that you cannot determine the results before you do the research. But the, once you decide to work on a given research project, you must understand how your efforts will contribute to your area of specialization. So, under this section, include the following:

  • The existing problems your research can help to fix
  • How your efforts will challenge existing research in the same field
  • How your research can be used for academic purposes
  • Ways in which your research will lay the foundation for future projects

Simply put, this section is all about stating the results you anticipate after the research

  1. Conclusion

Like any other academic paper, the conclusion section is where you wrap all the ideas and concepts you have included in your paper. The same applies when writing a research proposal.

  1. Bibliography

Here, you will list the list of sources and the authors based on the required citation style.


If you always find it challenging to write a research proposal, reading through a proposal for research paper example could be the best approach to understanding how to go about such papers.

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