Research Proposals

The research proposal is a detailed plan that describes your research question and explains why it is meaningful, what you expect the answer to be, how you plan to answer the question, and what you plan to do once you have found the answer. In general, the sections of a research proposal include:

  1. Introduction/background

  2. Objectives

  3. Methods

  4. Data collection

  5. Data analysis

  6. Ethical considerations

  7. Limitations

  8. Significance

  9. Plans for dissemination of findings

  10. References

The proposal is the precursor to the end result, namely your presentation or manuscript. The more effort and detail you put into preparing the proposal, the less you will be required to do when you complete your research and prepare your final product. If you approach the proposal in this manner while you have the time and motivation, your overall experience will be much more pleasant.


Proposal Template

As you begin to gather information for your research proposal, look for a template on your institution’s intranet (under research resources or the Institutional Review Board. Templates are also available on the internet (view an annotated sample research protocol template here). Templates help you describe your research project, while insuring that you include the key components required for review. The research proposal will also help you identify key considerations and discussions (statistical support, ethics review, etc.) that need to take place before starting the project.