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Parts of a proposal

Proposals for sponsored activities generally follow a similar format, although there are
variations depending upon whether the proposer is seeking support for a research grant, a
training grant, or a conference or curriculum development project. The following outline
covers the primary components of a research proposal. Your proposal will be a variation
on this basic theme.
1. Title Page: Most sponsoring agencies specify the format for the title page, and
some provide special forms to summarize basic administrative and fiscal data for
the project. Titles should be comprehensive enough to indicate the nature of the
proposed work, but also be brief.
2. Abstract: The funder may use the abstract to make preliminary decisions about
the proposal. An effective summary states the problem addressed by the applicant,
identifies the solution, and specifies the objectives and methods of the project.
This summary should also outline funding requirements and describe the
applicants expertise.
3. Table of Contents: Very brief proposals with few sections ordinarily do not need
a table of contents; the guiding consideration in this is the reader's convenience.
Long and detailed proposals may require, in addition to a table of contents, a list
of illustrations (or figures) and a list of tables. If all of these are included, they
should follow the order mentioned, and each should be numbered with lower-case
Roman numerals. The table of contents should list all major parts and divisions
(including the abstract, even though it precedes the table of contents).
4. Introduction (including Statement of Problem, Purpose of Research, and
Significance of Research): The introduction of a proposal should begin with a
capsule statement of what is being proposed and then should proceed to introduce
the subject to a stranger. It should give enough background to enable an informed
layman to place your particular research problem in a context of common
knowledge and should show how its solution will advance the field or be
important for some other work. The statement describes the significance of the
problem(s), referring to appropriate studies or statistics.
5. Background (including Literature Survey): Be sure to (1) make clear what the
research problem is and exactly what has been accomplished; (2) to give evidence
of your own competence in the field; and (3) to show why the previous work
needs to be continued. The literature review should be selective and critical.
Discussions of work done by others should therefore lead the reader to a clear
impression of how you will be building upon what has already been done and how
your work differs from theirs.
6. Description of Proposed Research (including Method or Approach): The
comprehensive explanation of the proposed research is addressed not to laymen
but to other specialists in your field. This section is the heart of the proposal and is
the primary concern of the technical reviewers. Remember as you lay out the
research design to (1) be realistic about what can be accomplished. (2) be explicit
about any assumptions or hypotheses the research method rests upon. (3) be clear

about the focus of the research. (4) be as detailed as possible about the schedule of
the proposed work. (5) be specific about the means of evaluating the data or the
conclusions. (6) be certain that the connection between the research objectives
and the research method is evident. (7) spell out preliminary work developing an
analytical method or laying groundwork as Phase 1. At the end of that phase you
will be able to report that you have accomplished something and are ready to
undertake Phase 2.
7. Description of Relevant Institutional Resources: In general this section details
the resources available to the proposed project and, if possible, shows why the
sponsor should select this University and this investigator for this particular
research. Some relevant points may be the institution's demonstrated competence
in the pertinent research area, its abundance of experts in related areas that may
indirectly benefit the project, its supportive services that will directly benefit the
project, and its unique or unusual research facilities or instruments available to the
8. List of References: The style of the bibliographical item itself depends on the
disciplinary field. The main consideration is consistency; whatever style is chosen
should be followed scrupulously throughout.
9. Personnel: This section usually consists of two parts: an explanation of the
proposed personnel arrangements and the biographical data sheets for each of the
main contributors to the project. The explanation should specify how many
persons at what percentage of time and in what academic categories will be
participating in the project. If the program is complex and involves people from
other departments or colleges, the organization of the staff and the lines of
responsibility should be made clear. Any student participation, paid or unpaid,
should be mentioned, and the nature of the proposed contribution detailed. If any
persons must be hired for the project, say so, and explain why, unless the need for
persons not already available within the University is self-evident.
10. Budget: Sponsors customarily specify how budgets should be presented and what
costs are allowable. The budget delineates the costs to be met by the funding
source, including personnel, non-personnel, administrative, and overhead
expenses. The budget also specifies items paid for by other funding sources.
Includes justifications for requested expenditures.
What is a research proposal?
A plan that details reasoned, rigorous and systematic inquiry into a topic to justify the
need for study and to gain a clearer understanding of the area (Schneider et al., 2007, p.
The proposal gives an indication of your intention for the research, justifying why you
are proposing the research, and aims to persuade the reader of the value, feasibility and
validity of your research.

You are persuading the reader that the research

is important to your area of practice
has been informed by previous research
has clear aims and objectives
is scientifically reliable and valid, i.e., rigorous
is possible and that you can do it!

Before you start your proposal

Think about your thesis:

What is your research question/problem/hypothesis?

What is your thesis (argument)?
What are the ethical issues to be considered?
What is the framework for your thesis (quantitative/qualitative)?
What types/kind of data will be collected?
How will the data be collected?
How will the data be analysed

Research proposal format

It is suggested that you follow this format in developing your research proposal.

The introduction outlines the topic, problem area or issue and gives a brief background (it
could include why this topic is of interest to you personally).
It includes Includes research problem/question/aim of the study/purpose of
study/significance of the proposed study (to your area of practice, research, education).

Literature Review
A literature review is vital in establishing what is already known about the topic and
therefore what the gaps are in our knowledge. Literature needs to be summarised and
critiqued. Your proposed study needs to be established in the context of other studies e.g.,

other studies that have explored the question from a different perspective, or used a
different design.

Design of the study

This is the plan for undertaking the research, informed by a philosophical position.
Outline the features of the design, state how it is appropriate to your research, and justify
your choice of design. Discuss advantages and disadvantages of the design you have

Include who the participants will be, what you will collect the data with, and how you
will do this. Also state where you will collect the data and when this will be.
This section also address issues of rigour/truth value, e.g., validity and reliability in a
quantitative study; or issues of credibility, transferability, dependability and
confirmability for a qualitative study.

Reflect on any ethical issues that may arise from the proposed research. Discuss who will
approve the research. Focus on potential benefits, risks/harm, storage of data, informed
consent, confidentiality, anonymity, privacy, right to withdraw from the study, and
communication of research findings.

Data analysis
Describe how you will analyse the data to make meaning of it, and outline advantages
and disadvantages of your particular approach to analysis.

Helps you plan the study. It can be attached in table form.

Include an outline of all proposed expenses associated with undertaking the study in
terms of resources and materials.

Borbasis, S., & Jackson, D. (2008). Navigating the maze of research: Enhancing nursing
and midwifery practice (3rd ed.). Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier.
Schneider, Z., Whitehead, D., Elliot, D., LoBiondo-Wood, G., & Haber, J. (2007).
Nursing and midwifery research: Methods and appraisal for evidence-based practice
(3rd ed.). Chatswood, Australia: Elsevier.
Nursing research, open access nursing research and review articles. (2012). Retrieved

Psychology: Research Proposals and Report

Consider writing an annotated bibliography for articles read
early in the
assignment process (before writing the proposal or report).
Writing an
annotated bibliography essentially consists of taking a few
minutes to
summarize an article you just read, specifically mentioning
aspects that
potentially pertain to your research proposal or report.
Writing an annotated
bibliography can save time and energy when writing a
literature review. An
annotated bibliography is an effective way to keep track of
findings and to
learn what further research can be done to develop that
research area.


Keep in mind that writing a research proposal completes the

first few steps
of writing a research report. The proposal outlines an
introduction that
references previous findings and the question that inspired
the hypothesis, as
well as a methodology for an experiment.These are the first
few sections of a
complete research report.
However, when actually completing the research, you may
changes that lead to alternative methods, and it will be
necessary to rewrite
your methodology section to accurately describe your
research process.

Organizing a Proposal or Research

A research proposal and research report are similarly
organized. A proposal
can transform into a report upon completion of the results
and discussion
sections, but the report needs to portray the actual methods
completed if
different from the proposals ideas.

Introduction and Literature Review

This section includes a description of the current issue at
hand and references
existing research about this issue.The section needs to
include a rationale for
the researcha discussion of why the topic matters and is
worthy of research.
In addition, it includes questions for which you will seek
responses throughout

your research (whether you just propose the experiment or

actually complete
it). Questions need to be mirrored in the discussion section,
where responses
to those questions will be provided.
Finally, you must include a hypothesisa theory-based
prediction that could
possibly be disproved by your research. For example, the
theory might be that
three year-old children are self-sacrificing. Your prediction
might be that threeyear-old children will give up their toys when approached by
other children.
This kind of prediction could lead you to a specific
hypothesis related to your
chosen research methods.

The methods section describes how the study is to be
conducted. This section
is to the point and steps-based.

(for Report only)
The results section of a report should include the following
Responses to research questions.
Statistical analysis.
Data illustrations.
Summary of results interpretation.

(for Report only)
The discussion addresses the questions from the
introduction; it provides

responses to those questions based on the experimental

findings. The
discussion section also:
Explains the meaning of the data described in the results
Addresses the question So what is next? and how the
advance the field of psychology in general.
Notes any limitations to the research. Was the sample size
too small
to yield effective results? Was the sample truly random, or
did a
selective sampling impact the research results?

Research Proposal Summary

There is not a set organization for the summary of a
research proposal, but
the following elements are generally included:
A restatement of why the research question is important.
A description of how the proposed methods are different
from ones
that have been used before. (What exactly makes the
proposed study
A description of any potential limitations of the proposed
followed by a defense of their use. (Given the limitations,
why is this
study still worth pursuing?)
A discussion of the implications of the findings of the
proposed study,
whatever they may be.

Prompts for Writing Consultations

Is the thesis clear?

Does the introduction effectively address the study as a

whole, without
addressing the results and discussion? Sometimes an
includes an actual outline of whats covered throughout the
statement that begins this report describes....
Is it clear that the writer has done enough background
reading on the
Does the literature review address previous research results
show why the research is worth pursuing at this point?
Is it clear
the writer did what he or she did in the study?
Does the introduction include specific, clearly identifiable
questions to
be addressed in the research?
Do the questions in the introduction appear again in the
results and
discussion sections? The results section should provide
results for those questions, and the discussion section
should further
analyze the meaning of those results. If the introduction
are not brought up again,the writer should consider whether
are necessary to include at all, or need to be attended to
more in the
results and discussion sections.
The report should be predictable after the introduction in that
it should

follow the pattern described throughout this guide. Is this the

Are all the elements of the
sections complete?
Is there sufficient evidence provided throughout the report?
Does the
writer show readers the reasoning/results of the research?
Are soucres cited correctly according to APA style?
Does this paper follow the professors expectations for