Research Proposal


A research proposal is similar in a number of ways to a project proposal; however, a research proposal lays the foundation for a project that addresses an academic or scientific need. The forms and procedures for academic or scientific research are well defined by the field of study, so guidelines for research proposals are generally more exacting than less formal project proposals.

Research proposals include extensive literature reviews and must offer convincing support for the need to undertake the research being proposed. Doctoral dissertations begin with a research proposal that must be approved by a panel of experts (usually professors) before the actual research can begin. In addition to providing a rationale for the proposed research, the proposal must describe a detailed methodology for conducting the research--a methodology consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field.

The links below offer explanations and examples of research proposals.


Writing Guides

The Elements of a Proposal

Frank Pajares, University Of Kentucky

Writing a Research Proposal in the Social Sciences

University of Southern California Library

Dissertation Proposal Workshop

Professor Chris M. Gold, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Writing and Presenting Your Thesis or Dissertation

S. Joseph Levine, Ph.D., Michigan State University

The Proposal in Qualitative Research

Anthony W. Heath, PhD, Division of Behavioral Sciences, McNeal Family Practice Residency

How To Write A Dissertation: or Bedtime Reading For People Who Do Not Have Time To Sleep

Douglas E. Comer, Purdue University

Writing Theses and Dissertations

Claremont Graduate University Writing Center

Dissertation Proposal Writing Tutorial

Elys Ben Salem, University of Kansas

How to Write a Research Proposal

Resources for Proposal Writers

The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison



APA-Style Proposal #1: Intercessory Prayer and Task Performance (PDF)

Douglas Degelman, Ph.D., and Martin Lorenzo Harris, Ph.D.
Vanguard University of Southern California

APA-Style Proposal #2: Infants' Perceived Gender and Adolescents' Ratings (PDF)

Douglas Degelman, Ph.D., and Martin Lorenzo Harris, Ph.D.
Vanguard University of Southern California

Dissertation Proposals

University of Maryland, Department of Computer Science