Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

The goal of a research proposal is twofold: to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews. They must provide persuasive evidence that a need exists for the proposed study. In addition to providing a rationale, a proposal describes detailed methodology for conducting the research consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field and a statement on anticipated outcomes and benefits derived from the study's completion.

Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005.

How to Approach Writing a Research Proposal

Your professor may assign the task of writing a research proposal for the following reasons:

  • Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study;
  • Learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to determine that the research problem has not been adequately addressed or has been answered ineffectively and, in so doing, become better at locating pertinent scholarship related to your topic;
  • Improve your general research and writing skills;
  • Practice identifying the logical steps that must be taken to accomplish one's research goals;
  • Critically review, examine, and consider the use of different methods for gathering and analyzing data related to the research problem; and,
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of conducting scholarly research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a completed research study, with sufficient information that allows readers to assess the validity and usefulness of your proposed study. The only elements missing from a research proposal are the findings of the study and your analysis of those findings. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your proposal is coherent, clear, and compelling.

Regardless of the research problem you are investigating and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions:

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to investigate.
  • Why do you want to do the research? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthy of in-depth study. A successful research proposal must answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to conduct the research? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having difficulty formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here for strategies in developing a problem to study.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise . A research proposal must be focused and not be "all over the map" or diverge into unrelated tangents without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review . Proposals should be grounded in foundational research that lays a foundation for understanding the development and scope of the the topic and its relevance.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual scope of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.]. As with any research paper, your proposed study must inform the reader how and in what ways the study will frame the problem.
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research . This is critical. In many workplace settings, the research proposal is a formal document intended to argue for why a study should be funded.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar . Although a research proposal does not represent a completed research study, there is still an expectation that it is well-written and follows the style and rules of good academic writing.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues . Your proposal should focus on only a few key research questions in order to support the argument that the research needs to be conducted. Minor issues, even if valid, can be mentioned but they should not dominate the overall narrative.

Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal.  The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sanford, Keith. Information for Students: Writing a Research Proposal. Baylor University; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing most college-level academic papers, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. The text of proposals generally vary in length between ten and thirty-five pages, followed by the list of references. However, before you begin, read the assignment carefully and, if anything seems unclear, ask your professor whether there are any specific requirements for organizing and writing the proposal.

A good place to begin is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What do I want to study?
  • Why is the topic important?
  • How is it significant within the subject areas covered in my class?
  • What problems will it help solve?
  • How does it build upon [and hopefully go beyond] research already conducted on the topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?

In general, a compelling research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and demonstrate your enthusiasm for conducting the study. Approach it with the intention of leaving your readers feeling like, "Wow, that's an exciting idea and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!"

Most proposals should include the following sections:

I.  Introduction

In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write a doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea based on a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and to be excited about the study's possible outcomes. Note that most proposals do not include an abstract [summary] before the introduction.

Think about your introduction as a narrative written in two to four paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions :

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that research problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Answer the "So What?" question by explaining why this is important research, what is its significance, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

II.  Background and Significance

This is where you explain the scope and context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important. It can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. Approach writing this section with the thought that you can’t assume your readers will know as much about the research problem as you do. Note that this section is not an essay going over everything you have learned about the topic; instead, you must choose what is most relevant in explaining the aims of your research.

To that end, while there are no prescribed rules for establishing the significance of your proposed study, you should attempt to address some or all of the following:

  • State the research problem and give a more detailed explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction. This is particularly important if the problem is complex or multifaceted .
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing; be sure to answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care?].
  • Describe the major issues or problems examined by your research. This can be in the form of questions to be addressed. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain the methods you plan to use for conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Describe the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you plan to study, but what aspects of the research problem will be excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts, theories, or terms.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation . The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while at the same time, demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methodological approaches they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, when stated, their recommendations. Also pay attention to any suggestions for further research.

Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your proposed study in relation to the arguments put forth by other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically or chronologically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you review more studies. How do you know you've covered the key conceptual categories underlying the research literature? Generally, you can have confidence that all of the significant conceptual categories have been identified if you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations that are being made.

NOTE: Do not shy away from challenging the conclusions made in prior research as a basis for supporting the need for your proposal. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. Highlighting the problematic conclusions strengthens your proposal. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

To help frame your proposal's review of prior research, consider the "five C’s" of writing a literature review:

  • Cite , so as to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  • Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
  • Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: describe what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate among scholars?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, and methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, argues, etc.].
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, synthesize, or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature?

IV.  Research Design and Methods

This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that you have a plan worth pursuing . The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and proposed methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used, but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself [i.e., the trustworthiness by which you can generalize from your study to other people, places, events, and/or periods of time].

When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following:

  • Specify the research process you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results obtained in relation to the research problem. Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e.g., coding text from interviews to find statements about the need to change school curriculum; running a regression to determine if there is a relationship between campaign advertising on social media sites and election outcomes in Europe ].
  • Keep in mind that the methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is a deliberate argument as to why techniques for gathering information add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to be performed does not demonstrate that, collectively, they effectively address the research problem. Be sure you clearly explain this.
  • Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to address them. No method applied to research in the social and behavioral sciences is perfect, so you need to describe where you believe challenges may exist in obtaining data or accessing information. It's always better to acknowledge this than to have it brought up by your professor!

V.  Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, doesn't mean you can skip talking about the analytical process and potential implications . The purpose of this section is to argue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation. Depending on the aims and objectives of your study, describe how the anticipated results will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policy making. Note that such discussions may have either substantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential new understanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing] significance.   When thinking about the potential implications of your study, ask the following questions:

  • What might the results mean in regards to challenging the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions that support the study?
  • What suggestions for subsequent research could arise from the potential outcomes of the study?
  • What will the results mean to practitioners in the natural settings of their workplace, organization, or community?
  • Will the results influence programs, methods, and/or forms of intervention?
  • How might the results contribute to the solution of social, economic, or other types of problems?
  • Will the results influence policy decisions?
  • In what way do individuals or groups benefit should your study be pursued?
  • What will be improved or changed as a result of the proposed research?
  • How will the results of the study be implemented and what innovations or transformative insights could emerge from the process of implementation?

NOTE:   This section should not delve into idle speculation, opinion, or be formulated on the basis of unclear evidence . The purpose is to reflect upon gaps or understudied areas of the current literature and describe how your proposed research contributes to a new understanding of the research problem should the study be implemented as designed.

ANOTHER NOTE : This section is also where you describe any potential limitations to your proposed study. While it is impossible to highlight all potential limitations because the study has yet to be conducted, you still must tell the reader where and in what form impediments may arise and how you plan to address them.

VI.  Conclusion

The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief summary of the entire study . This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why the research problem is worth investigating, why your research study is unique, and how it should advance existing knowledge.

Someone reading this section should come away with an understanding of:

  • Why the study should be done;
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempts to answer;
  • The decision for why the research design and methods used where chosen over other options;
  • The potential implications emerging from your proposed study of the research problem; and
  • A sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship about the research problem.

VII.  Citations

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used . In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so consult with your professor about which one is preferred.

  • References -- a list of only the sources you actually used in creating your proposal.
  • Bibliography -- a list of everything you used in creating your proposal, along with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem.

In either case, this section should testify to the fact that you did enough preparatory work to ensure the project will complement and not just duplicate the efforts of other researchers. It demonstrates to the reader that you have a thorough understanding of prior research on the topic.

Most proposal formats have you start a new page and use the heading "References" or "Bibliography" centered at the top of the page. Cited works should always use a standard format that follows the writing style advised by the discipline of your course [e.g., education=APA; history=Chicago] or that is preferred by your professor. This section normally does not count towards the total page length of your research proposal.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal. Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; Heath, M. Teresa Pereira and Caroline Tynan. “Crafting a Research Proposal.” The Marketing Review 10 (Summer 2010): 147-168; Jones, Mark. “Writing a Research Proposal.” In MasterClass in Geography Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning . Graham Butt, editor. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), pp. 113-127; Juni, Muhamad Hanafiah. “Writing a Research Proposal.” International Journal of Public Health and Clinical Sciences 1 (September/October 2014): 229-240; Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005; Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Punch, Keith and Wayne McGowan. "Developing and Writing a Research Proposal." In From Postgraduate to Social Scientist: A Guide to Key Skills . Nigel Gilbert, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), 59-81; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences , Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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How to write a research proposal

research proposal study area

What is a research proposal?

What is the purpose of a research proposal , how long should a research proposal be, what should be included in a research proposal, 1. the title page, 2. introduction, 3. literature review, 4. research design, 5. implications, 6. reference list, frequently asked questions about writing a research proposal, related articles.

If you’re in higher education, the term “research proposal” is something you’re likely to be familiar with. But what is it, exactly? You’ll normally come across the need to prepare a research proposal when you’re looking to secure Ph.D. funding.

When you’re trying to find someone to fund your Ph.D. research, a research proposal is essentially your “pitch.”

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research.

You’ll need to set out the issues that are central to the topic area and how you intend to address them with your research. To do this, you’ll need to give the following:

  • an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls
  • an overview of how much is currently known about the topic
  • a literature review that covers the recent scholarly debate or conversation around the topic

➡️  What is a literature review? Learn more in our guide.

Essentially, you are trying to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into.

It is the opportunity for you to demonstrate that you have the aptitude for this level of research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas:

It also helps you to find the right supervisor to oversee your research. When you’re writing your research proposal, you should always have this in the back of your mind.

This is the document that potential supervisors will use in determining the legitimacy of your research and, consequently, whether they will invest in you or not. It is therefore incredibly important that you spend some time on getting it right.

Tip: While there may not always be length requirements for research proposals, you should strive to cover everything you need to in a concise way.

If your research proposal is for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, it may only be a few pages long. For a Ph.D., a proposal could be a pretty long document that spans a few dozen pages.

➡️ Research proposals are similar to grant proposals. Learn how to write a grant proposal in our guide.

When you’re writing your proposal, keep in mind its purpose and why you’re writing it. It, therefore, needs to clearly explain the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. You need to then explain what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

Generally, your structure should look something like this:

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Research Design
  • Implications

If you follow this structure, you’ll have a comprehensive and coherent proposal that looks and feels professional, without missing out on anything important. We’ll take a deep dive into each of these areas one by one next.

The title page might vary slightly per your area of study but, as a general point, your title page should contain the following:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • The name of your institution and your particular department

Tip: Keep in mind any departmental or institutional guidelines for a research proposal title page. Also, your supervisor may ask for specific details to be added to the page.

The introduction is crucial   to your research proposal as it is your first opportunity to hook the reader in. A good introduction section will introduce your project and its relevance to the field of study.

You’ll want to use this space to demonstrate that you have carefully thought about how to present your project as interesting, original, and important research. A good place to start is by introducing the context of your research problem.

Think about answering these questions:

  • What is it you want to research and why?
  • How does this research relate to the respective field?
  • How much is already known about this area?
  • Who might find this research interesting?
  • What are the key questions you aim to answer with your research?
  • What will the findings of this project add to the topic area?

Your introduction aims to set yourself off on a great footing and illustrate to the reader that you are an expert in your field and that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge and theory.

The literature review section answers the question who else is talking about your proposed research topic.

You want to demonstrate that your research will contribute to conversations around the topic and that it will sit happily amongst experts in the field.

➡️ Read more about how to write a literature review .

There are lots of ways you can find relevant information for your literature review, including:

  • Research relevant academic sources such as books and journals to find similar conversations around the topic.
  • Read through abstracts and bibliographies of your academic sources to look for relevance and further additional resources without delving too deep into articles that are possibly not relevant to you.
  • Watch out for heavily-cited works . This should help you to identify authoritative work that you need to read and document.
  • Look for any research gaps , trends and patterns, common themes, debates, and contradictions.
  • Consider any seminal studies on the topic area as it is likely anticipated that you will address these in your research proposal.

This is where you get down to the real meat of your research proposal. It should be a discussion about the overall approach you plan on taking, and the practical steps you’ll follow in answering the research questions you’ve posed.

So what should you discuss here? Some of the key things you will need to discuss at this point are:

  • What form will your research take? Is it qualitative/quantitative/mixed? Will your research be primary or secondary?
  • What sources will you use? Who or what will you be studying as part of your research.
  • Document your research method. How are you practically going to carry out your research? What tools will you need? What procedures will you use?
  • Any practicality issues you foresee. Do you think there will be any obstacles to your anticipated timescale? What resources will you require in carrying out your research?

Your research design should also discuss the potential implications of your research. For example, are you looking to confirm an existing theory or develop a new one?

If you intend to create a basis for further research, you should describe this here.

It is important to explain fully what you want the outcome of your research to look like and what you want to achieve by it. This will help those reading your research proposal to decide if it’s something the field  needs  and  wants,  and ultimately whether they will support you with it.

When you reach the end of your research proposal, you’ll have to compile a list of references for everything you’ve cited above. Ideally, you should keep track of everything from the beginning. Otherwise, this could be a mammoth and pretty laborious task to do.

Consider using a reference manager like Paperpile to format and organize your citations. Paperpile allows you to organize and save your citations for later use and cite them in thousands of citation styles directly in Google Docs, Microsoft Word, or LaTeX.

Paperpile reference manager

Your project may also require you to have a timeline, depending on the budget you are requesting. If you need one, you should include it here and explain both the timeline and the budget you need, documenting what should be done at each stage of the research and how much of the budget this will use.

This is the final step, but not one to be missed. You should make sure that you edit and proofread your document so that you can be sure there are no mistakes.

A good idea is to have another person proofread the document for you so that you get a fresh pair of eyes on it. You can even have a professional proofreader do this for you.

This is an important document and you don’t want spelling or grammatical mistakes to get in the way of you and your reader.

➡️ Working on a research proposal for a thesis? Take a look at our guide on how to come up with a topic for your thesis .

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. Generally, your research proposal will have a title page, introduction, literature review section, a section about research design and explaining the implications of your research, and a reference list.

A good research proposal is concise and coherent. It has a clear purpose, clearly explains the relevance of your research and its context with other discussions on the topic. A good research proposal explains what approach you will take and why it is feasible.

You need a research proposal to persuade your institution that you and your project are worth investing their time and money into. It is your opportunity to demonstrate your aptitude for this level or research by showing that you can articulate complex ideas clearly, concisely, and critically.

A research proposal is essentially your "pitch" when you're trying to find someone to fund your PhD. It is a clear and concise summary of your proposed research. It gives an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls, it elaborates how much is currently known about the topic, and it highlights any recent debate or conversation around the topic by other academics.

The general answer is: as long as it needs to be to cover everything. The length of your research proposal depends on the requirements from the institution that you are applying to. Make sure to carefully read all the instructions given, and if this specific information is not provided, you can always ask.

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How to Write a Research Proposal

As part of the application for admission onto our MJur, MPhil and PhD programmes, you must prepare a research proposal outlining your proposed area of study.

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What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. It sets out the central issues or questions that you intend to address. It outlines the general area of study within which your research falls, referring to the current state of knowledge and any recent debates on the topic. It also demonstrates the originality of your proposed research.

The proposal is the most important document that you submit as part of the application process. It gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the aptitude for graduate level research, for example, by demonstrating that you have the ability to communicate complex ideas clearly, concisely and critically. The proposal also helps us to match your research interest with an appropriate supervisor.

What should you include in the proposal?

Regardless of whether you are applying for the MJur, MPhil or PhD programmes, your research proposal should normally include the following information:

This is just a tentative title for your intended research. You will be able to revise your title during the course of your research if you are accepted for admission.

Examples of the thesis titles of some of our current and recent research students can be seen on our Current Projects page .

2. Abstract

The proposal should include a concise statement of your intended research of no more than 100 words. This may be a couple of sentences setting out the problem that you want to examine or the central question that you wish to address.

3. Research Context

You should explain the broad background against which you will conduct your research. You should include a brief overview of the general area of study within which your proposed research falls, summarising the current state of knowledge and recent debates on the topic. This will allow you to demonstrate a familiarity with the relevant field as well as the ability to communicate clearly and concisely.

4. Research Questions

The proposal should set out the central aims and questions that will guide your research. Before writing your proposal, you should take time to reflect on the key questions that you are seeking to answer. Many research proposals are too broad, so reflecting on your key research questions is a good way to make sure that your project is sufficiently narrow and feasible (i.e. one that is likely to be completed with the normal period for a MJur, MPhil or PhD degree).

You might find it helpful to prioritize one or two main questions, from which you can then derive a number of secondary research questions. The proposal should also explain your intended approach to answering the questions: will your approach be empirical, doctrinal or theoretical etc?

5. Research Methods

The proposal should outline your research methods, explaining how you are going to conduct your research. Your methods may include visiting particular libraries or archives, field work or interviews.

Most research is library-based. If your proposed research is library-based, you should explain where your key resources (e.g. law reports, journal articles) are located (in the Law School’s library, Westlaw etc). If you plan to conduct field work or collect empirical data, you should provide details about this (e.g. if you plan interviews, who will you interview? How many interviews will you conduct? Will there be problems of access?). This section should also explain how you are going to analyse your research findings.

6. Significance of Research

The proposal should demonstrate the originality of your intended research. You should therefore explain why your research is important (for example, by explaining how your research builds on and adds to the current state of knowledge in the field or by setting out reasons why it is timely to research your proposed topic).

7. Bibliography

The proposal should include a short bibliography identifying the most relevant works for your topic.

How long should the proposal be?

The proposal should usually be around 2,500 words. It is important to bear in mind that specific funding bodies might have different word limits.

Can the School comment on my draft proposal?

We recognise that you are likely still developing your research topic. We therefore recommend that you contact a member of our staff with appropriate expertise to discuss your proposed research. If there is a good fit between your proposed research and our research strengths, we will give you advice on a draft of your research proposal before you make a formal application. For details of our staff and there areas of expertise please visit our staff pages . 

Read a sample proposal from a successful application  

Learn more about Birmingham's doctoral research programmes in Law:


Birmingham Law School is home to a broad range of internationally excellent and world-leading legal academics, with a thriving postgraduate research community. The perfect place for your postgraduate study.

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What (Exactly) Is A Research Proposal?

A simple explainer with examples + free template.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020 (Updated April 2023)

Whether you’re nearing the end of your degree and your dissertation is on the horizon, or you’re planning to apply for a PhD program, chances are you’ll need to craft a convincing research proposal . If you’re on this page, you’re probably unsure exactly what the research proposal is all about. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Overview: Research Proposal Basics

  • What a research proposal is
  • What a research proposal needs to cover
  • How to structure your research proposal
  • Example /sample proposals
  • Proposal writing FAQs
  • Key takeaways & additional resources

What is a research proposal?

Simply put, a research proposal is a structured, formal document that explains what you plan to research (your research topic), why it’s worth researching (your justification), and how  you plan to investigate it (your methodology). 

The purpose of the research proposal (its job, so to speak) is to convince  your research supervisor, committee or university that your research is  suitable  (for the requirements of the degree program) and  manageable  (given the time and resource constraints you will face). 

The most important word here is “ convince ” – in other words, your research proposal needs to  sell  your research idea (to whoever is going to approve it). If it doesn’t convince them (of its suitability and manageability), you’ll need to revise and resubmit . This will cost you valuable time, which will either delay the start of your research or eat into its time allowance (which is bad news). 

A research proposal is a  formal document that explains what you plan to research , why it's worth researching and how you'll do it.

What goes into a research proposal?

A good dissertation or thesis proposal needs to cover the “ what “, “ why ” and” how ” of the proposed study. Let’s look at each of these attributes in a little more detail:

Your proposal needs to clearly articulate your research topic . This needs to be specific and unambiguous . Your research topic should make it clear exactly what you plan to research and in what context. Here’s an example of a well-articulated research topic:

An investigation into the factors which impact female Generation Y consumer’s likelihood to promote a specific makeup brand to their peers: a British context

As you can see, this topic is extremely clear. From this one line we can see exactly:

  • What’s being investigated – factors that make people promote or advocate for a brand of a specific makeup brand
  • Who it involves – female Gen-Y consumers
  • In what context – the United Kingdom

So, make sure that your research proposal provides a detailed explanation of your research topic . If possible, also briefly outline your research aims and objectives , and perhaps even your research questions (although in some cases you’ll only develop these at a later stage). Needless to say, don’t start writing your proposal until you have a clear topic in mind , or you’ll end up waffling and your research proposal will suffer as a result of this.

Need a helping hand?

research proposal study area

As we touched on earlier, it’s not good enough to simply propose a research topic – you need to justify why your topic is original . In other words, what makes it  unique ? What gap in the current literature does it fill? If it’s simply a rehash of the existing research, it’s probably not going to get approval – it needs to be fresh.

But,  originality  alone is not enough. Once you’ve ticked that box, you also need to justify why your proposed topic is  important . In other words, what value will it add to the world if you achieve your research aims?

As an example, let’s look at the sample research topic we mentioned earlier (factors impacting brand advocacy). In this case, if the research could uncover relevant factors, these findings would be very useful to marketers in the cosmetics industry, and would, therefore, have commercial value . That is a clear justification for the research.

So, when you’re crafting your research proposal, remember that it’s not enough for a topic to simply be unique. It needs to be useful and value-creating – and you need to convey that value in your proposal. If you’re struggling to find a research topic that makes the cut, watch  our video covering how to find a research topic .

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

It’s all good and well to have a great topic that’s original and valuable, but you’re not going to convince anyone to approve it without discussing the practicalities – in other words:

  • How will you actually undertake your research (i.e., your methodology)?
  • Is your research methodology appropriate given your research aims?
  • Is your approach manageable given your constraints (time, money, etc.)?

While it’s generally not expected that you’ll have a fully fleshed-out methodology at the proposal stage, you’ll likely still need to provide a high-level overview of your research methodology . Here are some important questions you’ll need to address in your research proposal:

  • Will you take a qualitative , quantitative or mixed -method approach?
  • What sampling strategy will you adopt?
  • How will you collect your data (e.g., interviews, surveys, etc)?
  • How will you analyse your data (e.g., descriptive and inferential statistics , content analysis, discourse analysis, etc, .)?
  • What potential limitations will your methodology carry?

So, be sure to give some thought to the practicalities of your research and have at least a basic methodological plan before you start writing up your proposal. If this all sounds rather intimidating, the video below provides a good introduction to research methodology and the key choices you’ll need to make.

How To Structure A Research Proposal

Now that we’ve covered the key points that need to be addressed in a proposal, you may be wondering, “ But how is a research proposal structured? “.

While the exact structure and format required for a research proposal differs from university to university, there are four “essential ingredients” that commonly make up the structure of a research proposal:

  • A rich introduction and background to the proposed research
  • An initial literature review covering the existing research
  • An overview of the proposed research methodology
  • A discussion regarding the practicalities (project plans, timelines, etc.)

In the video below, we unpack each of these four sections, step by step.

Research Proposal Examples/Samples

In the video below, we provide a detailed walkthrough of two successful research proposals (Master’s and PhD-level), as well as our popular free proposal template.

Proposal Writing FAQs

How long should a research proposal be.

This varies tremendously, depending on the university, the field of study (e.g., social sciences vs natural sciences), and the level of the degree (e.g. undergraduate, Masters or PhD) – so it’s always best to check with your university what their specific requirements are before you start planning your proposal.

As a rough guide, a formal research proposal at Masters-level often ranges between 2000-3000 words, while a PhD-level proposal can be far more detailed, ranging from 5000-8000 words. In some cases, a rough outline of the topic is all that’s needed, while in other cases, universities expect a very detailed proposal that essentially forms the first three chapters of the dissertation or thesis.

The takeaway – be sure to check with your institution before you start writing.

How do I choose a topic for my research proposal?

Finding a good research topic is a process that involves multiple steps. We cover the topic ideation process in this video post.

How do I write a literature review for my proposal?

While you typically won’t need a comprehensive literature review at the proposal stage, you still need to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the key literature and are able to synthesise it. We explain the literature review process here.

How do I create a timeline and budget for my proposal?

We explain how to craft a project plan/timeline and budget in Research Proposal Bootcamp .

Which referencing format should I use in my research proposal?

The expectations and requirements regarding formatting and referencing vary from institution to institution. Therefore, you’ll need to check this information with your university.

What common proposal writing mistakes do I need to look out for?

We’ve create a video post about some of the most common mistakes students make when writing a proposal – you can access that here . If you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary:

  • The research topic is too broad (or just poorly articulated).
  • The research aims, objectives and questions don’t align.
  • The research topic is not well justified.
  • The study has a weak theoretical foundation.
  • The research design is not well articulated well enough.
  • Poor writing and sloppy presentation.
  • Poor project planning and risk management.
  • Not following the university’s specific criteria.

Key Takeaways & Additional Resources

As you write up your research proposal, remember the all-important core purpose:  to convince . Your research proposal needs to sell your study in terms of suitability and viability. So, focus on crafting a convincing narrative to ensure a strong proposal.

At the same time, pay close attention to your university’s requirements. While we’ve covered the essentials here, every institution has its own set of expectations and it’s essential that you follow these to maximise your chances of approval.

By the way, we’ve got plenty more resources to help you fast-track your research proposal. Here are some of our most popular resources to get you started:

  • Proposal Writing 101 : A Introductory Webinar
  • Research Proposal Bootcamp : The Ultimate Online Course
  • Template : A basic template to help you craft your proposal

If you’re looking for 1-on-1 support with your research proposal, be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the proposal development process (and the entire research journey), step by step.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling short course, Research Proposal Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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Myrna Pereira

I truly enjoyed this video, as it was eye-opening to what I have to do in the preparation of preparing a Research proposal.

I would be interested in getting some coaching.


I real appreciate on your elaboration on how to develop research proposal,the video explains each steps clearly.

masebo joseph

Thank you for the video. It really assisted me and my niece. I am a PhD candidate and she is an undergraduate student. It is at times, very difficult to guide a family member but with this video, my job is done.

In view of the above, I welcome more coaching.

Zakia Ghafoor

Wonderful guidelines, thanks

Annie Malupande

This is very helpful. Would love to continue even as I prepare for starting my masters next year.


Thanks for the work done, the text was helpful to me

Ahsanullah Mangal

Bundle of thanks to you for the research proposal guide it was really good and useful if it is possible please send me the sample of research proposal

Derek Jansen

You’re most welcome. We don’t have any research proposals that we can share (the students own the intellectual property), but you might find our research proposal template useful:

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Thanks alot. It was an eye opener that came timely enough before my imminent proposal defense. Thanks, again


thank you very much your lesson is very interested may God be with you


I am an undergraduate student (First Degree) preparing to write my project,this video and explanation had shed more light to me thanks for your efforts keep it up.

Synthia Atieno

Very useful. I am grateful.

belina nambeya

this is a very a good guidance on research proposal, for sure i have learnt something

Wonderful guidelines for writing a research proposal, I am a student of m.phil( education), this guideline is suitable for me. Thanks

You’re welcome 🙂


Thank you, this was so helpful.

Amitash Degan

A really great and insightful video. It opened my eyes as to how to write a research paper. I would like to receive more guidance for writing my research paper from your esteemed faculty.

Glaudia Njuguna

Thank you, great insights

Thank you, great insights, thank you so much, feeling edified


Wow thank you, great insights, thanks a lot

Roseline Soetan

Thank you. This is a great insight. I am a student preparing for a PhD program. I am requested to write my Research Proposal as part of what I am required to submit before my unconditional admission. I am grateful having listened to this video which will go a long way in helping me to actually choose a topic of interest and not just any topic as well as to narrow down the topic and be specific about it. I indeed need more of this especially as am trying to choose a topic suitable for a DBA am about embarking on. Thank you once more. The video is indeed helpful.


Have learnt a lot just at the right time. Thank you so much.

laramato ikayo

thank you very much ,because have learn a lot things concerning research proposal and be blessed u for your time that you providing to help us

Cheruiyot M Kipyegon

Hi. For my MSc medical education research, please evaluate this topic for me: Training Needs Assessment of Faculty in Medical Training Institutions in Kericho and Bomet Counties


I have really learnt a lot based on research proposal and it’s formulation

Arega Berlie

Thank you. I learn much from the proposal since it is applied


Your effort is much appreciated – you have good articulation.

You have good articulation.

Douglas Eliaba

I do applaud your simplified method of explaining the subject matter, which indeed has broaden my understanding of the subject matter. Definitely this would enable me writing a sellable research proposal.


This really helping


Great! I liked your tutoring on how to find a research topic and how to write a research proposal. Precise and concise. Thank you very much. Will certainly share this with my students. Research made simple indeed.

Alice Kuyayama

Thank you very much. I an now assist my students effectively.

Thank you very much. I can now assist my students effectively.

Abdurahman Bayoh

I need any research proposal


Thank you for these videos. I will need chapter by chapter assistance in writing my MSc dissertation


Very helpfull

faith wugah

the videos are very good and straight forward


thanks so much for this wonderful presentations, i really enjoyed it to the fullest wish to learn more from you

Bernie E. Balmeo

Thank you very much. I learned a lot from your lecture.

Ishmael kwame Appiah

I really enjoy the in-depth knowledge on research proposal you have given. me. You have indeed broaden my understanding and skills. Thank you

David Mweemba

interesting session this has equipped me with knowledge as i head for exams in an hour’s time, am sure i get A++

Andrea Eccleston

This article was most informative and easy to understand. I now have a good idea of how to write my research proposal.

Thank you very much.

Georgina Ngufan

Wow, this literature is very resourceful and interesting to read. I enjoyed it and I intend reading it every now then.


Thank you for the clarity

Mondika Solomon

Thank you. Very helpful.


Thank you very much for this essential piece. I need 1o1 coaching, unfortunately, your service is not available in my country. Anyways, a very important eye-opener. I really enjoyed it. A thumb up to Gradcoach

Md Moneruszzaman Kayes

What is JAM? Please explain.


Thank you so much for these videos. They are extremely helpful! God bless!

azeem kakar

very very wonderful…

Koang Kuany Bol Nyot

thank you for the video but i need a written example

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11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the steps in developing a research proposal.
  • Choose a topic and formulate a research question and working thesis.
  • Develop a research proposal.

Writing a good research paper takes time, thought, and effort. Although this assignment is challenging, it is manageable. Focusing on one step at a time will help you develop a thoughtful, informative, well-supported research paper.

Your first step is to choose a topic and then to develop research questions, a working thesis, and a written research proposal. Set aside adequate time for this part of the process. Fully exploring ideas will help you build a solid foundation for your paper.

Choosing a Topic

When you choose a topic for a research paper, you are making a major commitment. Your choice will help determine whether you enjoy the lengthy process of research and writing—and whether your final paper fulfills the assignment requirements. If you choose your topic hastily, you may later find it difficult to work with your topic. By taking your time and choosing carefully, you can ensure that this assignment is not only challenging but also rewarding.

Writers understand the importance of choosing a topic that fulfills the assignment requirements and fits the assignment’s purpose and audience. (For more information about purpose and audience, see Chapter 6 “Writing Paragraphs: Separating Ideas and Shaping Content” .) Choosing a topic that interests you is also crucial. You instructor may provide a list of suggested topics or ask that you develop a topic on your own. In either case, try to identify topics that genuinely interest you.

After identifying potential topic ideas, you will need to evaluate your ideas and choose one topic to pursue. Will you be able to find enough information about the topic? Can you develop a paper about this topic that presents and supports your original ideas? Is the topic too broad or too narrow for the scope of the assignment? If so, can you modify it so it is more manageable? You will ask these questions during this preliminary phase of the research process.

Identifying Potential Topics

Sometimes, your instructor may provide a list of suggested topics. If so, you may benefit from identifying several possibilities before committing to one idea. It is important to know how to narrow down your ideas into a concise, manageable thesis. You may also use the list as a starting point to help you identify additional, related topics. Discussing your ideas with your instructor will help ensure that you choose a manageable topic that fits the requirements of the assignment.

In this chapter, you will follow a writer named Jorge, who is studying health care administration, as he prepares a research paper. You will also plan, research, and draft your own research paper.

Jorge was assigned to write a research paper on health and the media for an introductory course in health care. Although a general topic was selected for the students, Jorge had to decide which specific issues interested him. He brainstormed a list of possibilities.

If you are writing a research paper for a specialized course, look back through your notes and course activities. Identify reading assignments and class discussions that especially engaged you. Doing so can help you identify topics to pursue.

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) in the news
  • Sexual education programs
  • Hollywood and eating disorders
  • Americans’ access to public health information
  • Media portrayal of health care reform bill
  • Depictions of drugs on television
  • The effect of the Internet on mental health
  • Popularized diets (such as low-carbohydrate diets)
  • Fear of pandemics (bird flu, HINI, SARS)
  • Electronic entertainment and obesity
  • Advertisements for prescription drugs
  • Public education and disease prevention

Set a timer for five minutes. Use brainstorming or idea mapping to create a list of topics you would be interested in researching for a paper about the influence of the Internet on social networking. Do you closely follow the media coverage of a particular website, such as Twitter? Would you like to learn more about a certain industry, such as online dating? Which social networking sites do you and your friends use? List as many ideas related to this topic as you can.

Narrowing Your Topic

Once you have a list of potential topics, you will need to choose one as the focus of your essay. You will also need to narrow your topic. Most writers find that the topics they listed during brainstorming or idea mapping are broad—too broad for the scope of the assignment. Working with an overly broad topic, such as sexual education programs or popularized diets, can be frustrating and overwhelming. Each topic has so many facets that it would be impossible to cover them all in a college research paper. However, more specific choices, such as the pros and cons of sexual education in kids’ television programs or the physical effects of the South Beach diet, are specific enough to write about without being too narrow to sustain an entire research paper.

A good research paper provides focused, in-depth information and analysis. If your topic is too broad, you will find it difficult to do more than skim the surface when you research it and write about it. Narrowing your focus is essential to making your topic manageable. To narrow your focus, explore your topic in writing, conduct preliminary research, and discuss both the topic and the research with others.

Exploring Your Topic in Writing

“How am I supposed to narrow my topic when I haven’t even begun researching yet?” In fact, you may already know more than you realize. Review your list and identify your top two or three topics. Set aside some time to explore each one through freewriting. (For more information about freewriting, see Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” .) Simply taking the time to focus on your topic may yield fresh angles.

Jorge knew that he was especially interested in the topic of diet fads, but he also knew that it was much too broad for his assignment. He used freewriting to explore his thoughts so he could narrow his topic. Read Jorge’s ideas.

Conducting Preliminary Research

Another way writers may focus a topic is to conduct preliminary research . Like freewriting, exploratory reading can help you identify interesting angles. Surfing the web and browsing through newspaper and magazine articles are good ways to start. Find out what people are saying about your topic on blogs and online discussion groups. Discussing your topic with others can also inspire you. Talk about your ideas with your classmates, your friends, or your instructor.

Jorge’s freewriting exercise helped him realize that the assigned topic of health and the media intersected with a few of his interests—diet, nutrition, and obesity. Preliminary online research and discussions with his classmates strengthened his impression that many people are confused or misled by media coverage of these subjects.

Jorge decided to focus his paper on a topic that had garnered a great deal of media attention—low-carbohydrate diets. He wanted to find out whether low-carbohydrate diets were as effective as their proponents claimed.

Writing at Work

At work, you may need to research a topic quickly to find general information. This information can be useful in understanding trends in a given industry or generating competition. For example, a company may research a competitor’s prices and use the information when pricing their own product. You may find it useful to skim a variety of reliable sources and take notes on your findings.

The reliability of online sources varies greatly. In this exploratory phase of your research, you do not need to evaluate sources as closely as you will later. However, use common sense as you refine your paper topic. If you read a fascinating blog comment that gives you a new idea for your paper, be sure to check out other, more reliable sources as well to make sure the idea is worth pursuing.

Review the list of topics you created in Note 11.18 “Exercise 1” and identify two or three topics you would like to explore further. For each of these topics, spend five to ten minutes writing about the topic without stopping. Then review your writing to identify possible areas of focus.

Set aside time to conduct preliminary research about your potential topics. Then choose a topic to pursue for your research paper.


Please share your topic list with a classmate. Select one or two topics on his or her list that you would like to learn more about and return it to him or her. Discuss why you found the topics interesting, and learn which of your topics your classmate selected and why.

A Plan for Research

Your freewriting and preliminary research have helped you choose a focused, manageable topic for your research paper. To work with your topic successfully, you will need to determine what exactly you want to learn about it—and later, what you want to say about it. Before you begin conducting in-depth research, you will further define your focus by developing a research question , a working thesis, and a research proposal.

Formulating a Research Question

In forming a research question, you are setting a goal for your research. Your main research question should be substantial enough to form the guiding principle of your paper—but focused enough to guide your research. A strong research question requires you not only to find information but also to put together different pieces of information, interpret and analyze them, and figure out what you think. As you consider potential research questions, ask yourself whether they would be too hard or too easy to answer.

To determine your research question, review the freewriting you completed earlier. Skim through books, articles, and websites and list the questions you have. (You may wish to use the 5WH strategy to help you formulate questions. See Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” for more information about 5WH questions.) Include simple, factual questions and more complex questions that would require analysis and interpretation. Determine your main question—the primary focus of your paper—and several subquestions that you will need to research to answer your main question.

Here are the research questions Jorge will use to focus his research. Notice that his main research question has no obvious, straightforward answer. Jorge will need to research his subquestions, which address narrower topics, to answer his main question.

Using the topic you selected in Note 11.24 “Exercise 2” , write your main research question and at least four to five subquestions. Check that your main research question is appropriately complex for your assignment.

Constructing a Working ThesIs

A working thesis concisely states a writer’s initial answer to the main research question. It does not merely state a fact or present a subjective opinion. Instead, it expresses a debatable idea or claim that you hope to prove through additional research. Your working thesis is called a working thesis for a reason—it is subject to change. As you learn more about your topic, you may change your thinking in light of your research findings. Let your working thesis serve as a guide to your research, but do not be afraid to modify it based on what you learn.

Jorge began his research with a strong point of view based on his preliminary writing and research. Read his working thesis statement, which presents the point he will argue. Notice how it states Jorge’s tentative answer to his research question.

One way to determine your working thesis is to consider how you would complete sentences such as I believe or My opinion is . However, keep in mind that academic writing generally does not use first-person pronouns. These statements are useful starting points, but formal research papers use an objective voice.

Write a working thesis statement that presents your preliminary answer to the research question you wrote in Note 11.27 “Exercise 3” . Check that your working thesis statement presents an idea or claim that could be supported or refuted by evidence from research.

Creating a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a brief document—no more than one typed page—that summarizes the preliminary work you have completed. Your purpose in writing it is to formalize your plan for research and present it to your instructor for feedback. In your research proposal, you will present your main research question, related subquestions, and working thesis. You will also briefly discuss the value of researching this topic and indicate how you plan to gather information.

When Jorge began drafting his research proposal, he realized that he had already created most of the pieces he needed. However, he knew he also had to explain how his research would be relevant to other future health care professionals. In addition, he wanted to form a general plan for doing the research and identifying potentially useful sources. Read Jorge’s research proposal.

Read Jorge's research proposal

Before you begin a new project at work, you may have to develop a project summary document that states the purpose of the project, explains why it would be a wise use of company resources, and briefly outlines the steps involved in completing the project. This type of document is similar to a research proposal. Both documents define and limit a project, explain its value, discuss how to proceed, and identify what resources you will use.

Writing Your Own Research Proposal

Now you may write your own research proposal, if you have not done so already. Follow the guidelines provided in this lesson.

Key Takeaways

  • Developing a research proposal involves the following preliminary steps: identifying potential ideas, choosing ideas to explore further, choosing and narrowing a topic, formulating a research question, and developing a working thesis.
  • A good topic for a research paper interests the writer and fulfills the requirements of the assignment.
  • Defining and narrowing a topic helps writers conduct focused, in-depth research.
  • Writers conduct preliminary research to identify possible topics and research questions and to develop a working thesis.
  • A good research question interests readers, is neither too broad nor too narrow, and has no obvious answer.
  • A good working thesis expresses a debatable idea or claim that can be supported with evidence from research.
  • Writers create a research proposal to present their topic, main research question, subquestions, and working thesis to an instructor for approval or feedback.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Research Proposal: A step-by-step guide with template

Making sure your proposal is perfect will drastically improve your chances of landing a successful research position. Follow these steps.

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There’s no doubt you have the most cutting-edge research idea to date, backed up by a solid methodology and a credible explanation proving its relevance! There are thousands of research ideas that could change the world with many new ideologies.

The truth is, none of this would matter without support. It can be daunting, challenging, and uncertain to secure funding for a research project. Even more so when it isn’t well-thought-out, outlined, and includes every detail.

An effective solution for presenting your project, or requesting funding, is to provide a research proposal to potential investors or financiers on your behalf.

It’s crucial to understand that making sure your proposal is perfect will drastically improve your chances of landing a successful research position. Your research proposal could result in the failure to study the research problem entirely if it is inadequately constructed or incomplete.

It is for this reason that we have created an excellent guide that covers everything you need to know about writing a research proposal, and includes helpful tips for presenting your proposal professionally and improving its likelihood of acceptance!

What Is a Research Proposal?

research proposal study area

Generally, a research proposal is a well-crafted, formal document that provides a thorough explanation of what you plan to investigate. This includes a rationale for why it is worth investigating, as well as a method for investigating it.

Research proposal writing in the contemporary academic environment is a challenging undertaking given the constant shift in research methodology and a commitment to incorporating scientific breakthroughs.

An outline of the plan or roadmap for the study is the proposal, and once the proposal is complete, everything should be smooth sailing. It is still common for post-graduate evaluation panels and funding applications to submit substandard proposals.

By its very nature, the research proposal serves as a tool for convincing the supervisor, committee, or university that the proposed research fits within the scope of the program and is feasible when considering the time and resources available.

A research proposal should convince the person who is going to sanction your research, or put another way, you need to persuade them that your research idea is the best.

Obviously, if it does not convince them that it is reasonable and adequate, you will need to revise and submit it again. As a result, you will lose significant time, causing your research to be delayed or cut short, which is not good.

A good research proposal should have the following structure

A dissertation or thesis research proposal may take on a variety of forms depending on the university, but  most generally a research proposal will include the following elements:

  • Titles or title pages that give a description of the research
  • Detailed explanation of the proposed research and its background
  • Outline of the research project
  • An overview of key research studies in the field
  • Description the proposed research design (approach)

So, if you include all these elements, you will have a general outline. Let’s take a closer look at how to write them and what to include in each element so that the research proposal is as robust as the idea itself.

A step-by-step guide to writing a research proposal

#1 introduction.

Researchers who wish to obtain grant funding for a project often write a proposal when seeking funding for a research-based postgraduate degree program, or in order to obtain approval for completing a thesis or PhD. Even though this is only a brief introduction, we should be considering it the beginning of an insightful discussion about the significance of a topic that deserves attention.

Your readers should understand what you are trying to accomplish after they read your introduction. Additionally, they should be able to perceive your zeal for the subject matter and a genuine interest in the possible outcome of the research.

As your introduction, consider answering these questions in three to four paragraphs:

  • In what way does the study address its primary issue?
  • Does that subject matter fall under the domain of that field of study?
  • In order to investigate that problem, what method should be used?
  • What is the importance of this study?
  • How does it impact academia and society overall?
  • What are the potential implications of the proposed research for someone reviewing the proposal?

It is not necessary to include an abstract or summary for the introduction to most academic departments and funding sources. Nevertheless, you should confirm your institution’s requirements.

#2 Background and importance

An explanation of the rationale for a research proposal and its significance is provided in this section. It is preferable to separate this part from the introduction so that the narrative flows seamlessly.

This section should be approached by presuming readers are time-pressed but want a general overview of the whole study and the research question.

Please keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive essay that contains every detail of your proposed research, rather a concise document that will spark interest in your proposal.

While you should try to take into account the following factors when framing the significance of your proposed study, there are no rigid rules.

  • Provide a detailed explanation of the purpose and problem of the study. Multidimensional or interdisciplinary research problems often require this.
  • Outline the purpose of your proposed research and describe the advantages of carrying out the study.
  • Outline the major issues or problems to be discussed. These might come in the form of questions or comments.
  • Be sure to highlight how your research contributes to existing theories that relate to the problem of the study.
  • Describe how your study will be conducted, including the source of data and the method of analysis.
  • To provide a sense of direction for your study, define the scope of your proposal.
  • Defining key concepts or terms, if necessary, is recommended.

The steps to a perfect research proposal all get more specific as we move forward to enhance the concept of the research. In this case, it will become important to make sure that your supervisor or your funder has a clear understanding of every aspect of your research study.

#3 Reviewing prior literature and studies

The aim of this paragraph is to establish the context and significance of your study, including a review of the current literature pertinent to it.

This part aims to properly situate your proposed study within the bigger scheme of things of what is being investigated, while, at the same time, showing the innovation and originality of your proposed work.

When writing a literature review, it is imperative that your format is effective because it often contains extensive information that allows you to demonstrate your main research claims compared to other scholars.

Separating the literature according to major categories or conceptual frameworks is an excellent way to do this. This is a more effective method than listing each study one by one in chronological order.

In order to arrange the review of existing relevant studies in an efficient manner, a literature review is often written using the following five criteria:

  • Be sure to cite your previous studies to ensure the focus remains on the research question. For more information, please refer to our guide on how to write a research paper .
  • Study the literature’s methods, results, hypotheses, and conclusions. Recognize the authors’ differing perspectives.
  • Compare and contrast the various themes, arguments, methodologies, and perspectives discussed in the literature. Explain the most prominent points of disagreement.
  • Evaluate the literature. Identify persuasive arguments offered by scholars. Choose the most reliable, valid, and suitable methodologies.
  • Consider how the literature relates to your area of research and your topic. Examine whether your proposal for investigation reflects existing literature, deviates from existing literature, synthesizes or adds to it in some way.

#4 Research questions and objectives

The next step is to develop your research objectives once you have determined your research focus.

When your readers read your proposal, what do you want them to learn? Try to write your objectives in one sentence, if you can. Put time and thought into framing them properly.

By setting an objective for your research, you’ll stay on track and avoid getting sidetracked.

Any study proposal should address the following questions irrespective of the topic or problem:

  • What are you hoping to accomplish from the study? When describing the study topic and your research question, be concise and to the point.
  • What is the purpose of the research? A compelling argument must also be offered to support your choice of topic.
  • What research methods will you use? It is essential to outline a clear, logical strategy for completing your study and make sure that it is doable.

Some authors include this section in the introduction, where it is generally placed at the end of the section.

#5 Research Design and Methods

It is important to write this part correctly and organize logically even though you are not starting the research yet.  This must leave readers with a sense of assurance that the topic is worthwhile.

To achieve this, you must convince your reader that your research design and procedures will adequately address the study’s problems. Additionally, it seeks to ensure that the employed methods are capable of interpreting the likely study results efficiently.

You should design your research in a way that is directly related to your objectives.

Exemplifying your study design using examples from your literature review, you are setting up your study design effectively. You should follow other researchers’ good practices.

Pay attention to the methods you will use to collect data, the analyses you will perform, as well as your methods of measuring the validity of your results.

If you describe the methods you will use, make sure you include the following points:

  • Develop a plan for conducting your research, as well as how you intend to interpret the findings based on the study’s objectives.
  • When describing your objectives with the selected techniques, it is important to also elaborate on your plans.
  • This section does not only present a list of events. Once you have chosen the strategy, make sure to explain why it is a good way to analyse your study question. Provide clear explanations.
  • Last but not least, plan ahead to overcome any challenges you might encounter during the implementation of your research design.

In the event that you closely follow the best practices outlined in relevant studies as well as justify your selection, you will be prepared to address any questions or concerns you may encounter.

We have an amazing article that will give you everything you need to know about research design .

#6 Knowledge Contribution and Relevance

In this section, you describe your theory about how your study will contribute to, expand, or alter knowledge about the topic of your study.

You should discuss the implications of your research on future studies, applications, concepts, decisions, and procedures. It is common to address the study findings from a conceptual, analytical, or scientific perspective.

If you are framing your proposal of research, these guide questions may help you:

  • How could the results be interpreted in the context of contesting the premises of the study?
  • Could the expected study results lead to proposals for further research?
  • Is your proposed research going to benefit people in any way?
  • Is the outcome going to affect individuals in their work setting?
  • In what ways will the suggested study impact or enhance the quality of life?
  • Are the study’s results going to have an impact on intervention forms, techniques, or policies?
  • What potential commercial, societal, or other benefits could be derived from the outcomes?
  • Policy decisions will be influenced by the outcomes?
  • Upon implementation, could they bring about new insights or breakthroughs?

Throughout this section, you will identify unsolved questions or research gaps in the existing literature. If the study is conducted as proposed, it is important to indicate how the research will be instrumental in understanding the nature of the research problem.

#7 Adherence to the Ethical Principles

In terms of scientific writing style, no particular style is generally acknowledged as more or less effective. The purpose is simply to provide relevant content that is formatted in a standardized way to enhance communication.

There are a variety of publication styles among different scholarly disciplines. It is therefore essential to follow the protocol according to the institution or organization that you are targeting.

All scholarly research and writing is, however, guided by codes of ethical conduct. The purpose of ethical guidelines, if they are followed, is to accomplish three things:

1) Preserve intellectual property right;

2) Ensure the rights and welfare of research participants;

3) Maintain the accuracy of scientific knowledge.

Scholars and writers who follow these ideals adhere to long-standing standards within their professional groups.

An additional ethical principle of the APA stresses the importance of maintaining scientific validity. An observation is at the heart of the standard scientific method, and it is verifiable and repeatable by others.

It is expected that scholars will not falsify or fabricate data in research writing. Researchers must also refrain from altering their studies’ outcomes to support a particular theory or to exclude inconclusive data from their report in an effort to create a convincing one.

#8 The budget

The need for detailed budgetary planning is not required by all universities when studying historical material or academic literature, though some do require it. In the case of a research grant application, you will likely have to include a comprehensive budget that breaks down the costs of each major component.

Ensure that the funding program or organization will cover the required costs, and include only the necessary items. For each of the items, you should include the following.

  • To complete the study in its entirety, how much money would you require?
  • Discuss the rationale for such a budget item for the purpose of completing research.
  • The source of the amount – describe how it was determined.

When doing a study, you cannot buy ingredients the way you normally would. With so many items not having a price tag, how can you make a budget? Take the following into consideration:

  • Does your project require access to any software programs or solutions? Do you need to install or train a technology tool?
  • How much time will you be spending on your research study? Are you required to take time off from work to do your research?
  • Are you going to need to travel to certain locations to meet with respondents or to collect data? At what cost?
  • Will you be seeking research assistants for the study you propose? In what capacity and for what compensation? What other aspects are you planning to outsource?

It is possible to calculate a budget while also being able to estimate how much more money you will need in the event of an emergency.

#9 Timeline

A realistic and concise research schedule is also important to keep in mind. You should be able to finish your plan of study within the allotted time period, such as your degree program or the academic calendar.

You should include a timeline that includes a series of objectives you must complete to meet all the requirements for your scholarly research. The process starts with preliminary research and ends with final editing. A completion date for every step is required.

In addition, one should state the development that has been made. It is also recommended to include other relevant research events, for instance paper or poster presentations . In addition, a researcher must update the timeline regularly, as necessary, since this is not a static document.

#10 A Concluding Statement

Presenting a few of the anticipated results of your research proposal is an effective way to conclude your proposal.

The final stage of the process requires you to reveal the conclusion and rationale you anticipate reaching. Considering the research you have done so far, your reader knows that these are anticipated results, which are likely to evolve once the whole study is completed.

In any case, you must let the supervisors or sponsors know what implications may be drawn. It will be easier for them to assess the reliability and relevance of your research.

It will also demonstrate your meticulousness since you will have anticipated and taken into consideration the potential consequences of your research.

The Appendix section is required by some funding sources and academic institutions. This is extra information that is not in the main argument of the proposal, but appears to enhance the points made.

For example, data in the form of tables, consent forms, clinical/research guidelines, and procedures for data collection may be included in this document.

Research Proposal Template

Now that you know all about each element that composes an ideal research proposal, here is an extra help: a ready to use research proposal example. Just hit the button below, make a copy of the document and start working!

research proposal study area

Avoid these common mistakes

In an era when rejection rates for prestigious journals can reach as high as 90 percent, you must avoid the following common mistakes when submitting a proposal:

  • Proposals that are too long. Stay to the point when you write research proposals. Make your document concise and specific. Be sure not to diverge into off-topic discussions.
  • Taking up too much research time. Many students struggle to delineate the context of their studies, regardless of the topic, time, or location. In order to explain the methodology of the study clearly to the reader, the proposal must clearly state what the study will focus on.
  • Leaving out significant works from a literature review. Though everything in the proposal should be kept at a minimum, key research studies must need to be included. To understand the scope and growth of the issue, proposals should be based on significant studies.
  • Major topics are too rarely discussed, and too much attention is paid to minor details. To persuasively argue for a study, a proposal should focus on just a few key research questions. Minor details should be noted, but should not overshadow the thesis.
  • The proposal does not have a compelling and well-supported argument. To prove that a study should be approved or funded, the research proposal must outline its purpose.
  • A typographical error, bad grammar or sloppy writing style. Even though a research proposal outlines a part of a larger project, it must conform to academic writing standards and guidelines.

A final note

We have come to the end of our research proposal guide. We really hope that you have found all the information you need. Wishing you success with the research study.

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Home » How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

Table of Contents

How To Write a Research Proposal

How To Write a Research Proposal

Writing a Research proposal involves several steps to ensure a well-structured and comprehensive document. Here is an explanation of each step:

1. Title and Abstract

  • Choose a concise and descriptive title that reflects the essence of your research.
  • Write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It should provide a brief overview of your proposal.

2. Introduction:

  • Provide an introduction to your research topic, highlighting its significance and relevance.
  • Clearly state the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Discuss the background and context of the study, including previous research in the field.

3. Research Objectives

  • Outline the specific objectives or aims of your research. These objectives should be clear, achievable, and aligned with the research problem.

4. Literature Review:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings, identify gaps, and highlight how your research will contribute to the existing knowledge.

5. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to employ to address your research objectives.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques you will use.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate and suitable for your research.

6. Timeline:

  • Create a timeline or schedule that outlines the major milestones and activities of your research project.
  • Break down the research process into smaller tasks and estimate the time required for each task.

7. Resources:

  • Identify the resources needed for your research, such as access to specific databases, equipment, or funding.
  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources to carry out your research effectively.

8. Ethical Considerations:

  • Discuss any ethical issues that may arise during your research and explain how you plan to address them.
  • If your research involves human subjects, explain how you will ensure their informed consent and privacy.

9. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

  • Clearly state the expected outcomes or results of your research.
  • Highlight the potential impact and significance of your research in advancing knowledge or addressing practical issues.

10. References:

  • Provide a list of all the references cited in your proposal, following a consistent citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

11. Appendices:

  • Include any additional supporting materials, such as survey questionnaires, interview guides, or data analysis plans.

Research Proposal Format

The format of a research proposal may vary depending on the specific requirements of the institution or funding agency. However, the following is a commonly used format for a research proposal:

1. Title Page:

  • Include the title of your research proposal, your name, your affiliation or institution, and the date.

2. Abstract:

  • Provide a brief summary of your research proposal, highlighting the research problem, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.

3. Introduction:

  • Introduce the research topic and provide background information.
  • State the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Explain the significance and relevance of the research.
  • Review relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings and identify gaps in the existing knowledge.
  • Explain how your research will contribute to filling those gaps.

5. Research Objectives:

  • Clearly state the specific objectives or aims of your research.
  • Ensure that the objectives are clear, focused, and aligned with the research problem.

6. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to use.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate for your research.

7. Timeline:

8. Resources:

  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources effectively.

9. Ethical Considerations:

  • If applicable, explain how you will ensure informed consent and protect the privacy of research participants.

10. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

11. References:

12. Appendices:

Research Proposal Template

Here’s a template for a research proposal:

1. Introduction:

2. Literature Review:

3. Research Objectives:

4. Methodology:

5. Timeline:

6. Resources:

7. Ethical Considerations:

8. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

9. References:

10. Appendices:

Research Proposal Sample

Title: The Impact of Online Education on Student Learning Outcomes: A Comparative Study

1. Introduction

Online education has gained significant prominence in recent years, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes by comparing them with traditional face-to-face instruction. The study will explore various aspects of online education, such as instructional methods, student engagement, and academic performance, to provide insights into the effectiveness of online learning.

2. Objectives

The main objectives of this research are as follows:

  • To compare student learning outcomes between online and traditional face-to-face education.
  • To examine the factors influencing student engagement in online learning environments.
  • To assess the effectiveness of different instructional methods employed in online education.
  • To identify challenges and opportunities associated with online education and suggest recommendations for improvement.

3. Methodology

3.1 Study Design

This research will utilize a mixed-methods approach to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. The study will include the following components:

3.2 Participants

The research will involve undergraduate students from two universities, one offering online education and the other providing face-to-face instruction. A total of 500 students (250 from each university) will be selected randomly to participate in the study.

3.3 Data Collection

The research will employ the following data collection methods:

  • Quantitative: Pre- and post-assessments will be conducted to measure students’ learning outcomes. Data on student demographics and academic performance will also be collected from university records.
  • Qualitative: Focus group discussions and individual interviews will be conducted with students to gather their perceptions and experiences regarding online education.

3.4 Data Analysis

Quantitative data will be analyzed using statistical software, employing descriptive statistics, t-tests, and regression analysis. Qualitative data will be transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically to identify recurring patterns and themes.

4. Ethical Considerations

The study will adhere to ethical guidelines, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of participants. Informed consent will be obtained, and participants will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time.

5. Significance and Expected Outcomes

This research will contribute to the existing literature by providing empirical evidence on the impact of online education on student learning outcomes. The findings will help educational institutions and policymakers make informed decisions about incorporating online learning methods and improving the quality of online education. Moreover, the study will identify potential challenges and opportunities related to online education and offer recommendations for enhancing student engagement and overall learning outcomes.

6. Timeline

The proposed research will be conducted over a period of 12 months, including data collection, analysis, and report writing.

The estimated budget for this research includes expenses related to data collection, software licenses, participant compensation, and research assistance. A detailed budget breakdown will be provided in the final research plan.

8. Conclusion

This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes through a comparative study with traditional face-to-face instruction. By exploring various dimensions of online education, this research will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and challenges associated with online learning. The findings will contribute to the ongoing discourse on educational practices and help shape future strategies for maximizing student learning outcomes in online education settings.

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  • Research Process

Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

  • 5 minute read

Table of Contents

The importance of a well-written research proposal cannot be underestimated. Your research really is only as good as your proposal. A poorly written, or poorly conceived research proposal will doom even an otherwise worthy project. On the other hand, a well-written, high-quality proposal will increase your chances for success.

In this article, we’ll outline the basics of writing an effective scientific research proposal, including the differences between research proposals, grants and cover letters. We’ll also touch on common mistakes made when submitting research proposals, as well as a simple example or template that you can follow.

What is a scientific research proposal?

The main purpose of a scientific research proposal is to convince your audience that your project is worthwhile, and that you have the expertise and wherewithal to complete it. The elements of an effective research proposal mirror those of the research process itself, which we’ll outline below. Essentially, the research proposal should include enough information for the reader to determine if your proposed study is worth pursuing.

It is not an uncommon misunderstanding to think that a research proposal and a cover letter are the same things. However, they are different. The main difference between a research proposal vs cover letter content is distinct. Whereas the research proposal summarizes the proposal for future research, the cover letter connects you to the research, and how you are the right person to complete the proposed research.

There is also sometimes confusion around a research proposal vs grant application. Whereas a research proposal is a statement of intent, related to answering a research question, a grant application is a specific request for funding to complete the research proposed. Of course, there are elements of overlap between the two documents; it’s the purpose of the document that defines one or the other.

Scientific Research Proposal Format

Although there is no one way to write a scientific research proposal, there are specific guidelines. A lot depends on which journal you’re submitting your research proposal to, so you may need to follow their scientific research proposal template.

In general, however, there are fairly universal sections to every scientific research proposal. These include:

  • Title: Make sure the title of your proposal is descriptive and concise. Make it catch and informative at the same time, avoiding dry phrases like, “An investigation…” Your title should pique the interest of the reader.
  • Abstract: This is a brief (300-500 words) summary that includes the research question, your rationale for the study, and any applicable hypothesis. You should also include a brief description of your methodology, including procedures, samples, instruments, etc.
  • Introduction: The opening paragraph of your research proposal is, perhaps, the most important. Here you want to introduce the research problem in a creative way, and demonstrate your understanding of the need for the research. You want the reader to think that your proposed research is current, important and relevant.
  • Background: Include a brief history of the topic and link it to a contemporary context to show its relevance for today. Identify key researchers and institutions also looking at the problem
  • Literature Review: This is the section that may take the longest amount of time to assemble. Here you want to synthesize prior research, and place your proposed research into the larger picture of what’s been studied in the past. You want to show your reader that your work is original, and adds to the current knowledge.
  • Research Design and Methodology: This section should be very clearly and logically written and organized. You are letting your reader know that you know what you are going to do, and how. The reader should feel confident that you have the skills and knowledge needed to get the project done.
  • Preliminary Implications: Here you’ll be outlining how you anticipate your research will extend current knowledge in your field. You might also want to discuss how your findings will impact future research needs.
  • Conclusion: This section reinforces the significance and importance of your proposed research, and summarizes the entire proposal.
  • References/Citations: Of course, you need to include a full and accurate list of any and all sources you used to write your research proposal.

Common Mistakes in Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

Remember, the best research proposal can be rejected if it’s not well written or is ill-conceived. The most common mistakes made include:

  • Not providing the proper context for your research question or the problem
  • Failing to reference landmark/key studies
  • Losing focus of the research question or problem
  • Not accurately presenting contributions by other researchers and institutions
  • Incompletely developing a persuasive argument for the research that is being proposed
  • Misplaced attention on minor points and/or not enough detail on major issues
  • Sloppy, low-quality writing without effective logic and flow
  • Incorrect or lapses in references and citations, and/or references not in proper format
  • The proposal is too long – or too short

Scientific Research Proposal Example

There are countless examples that you can find for successful research proposals. In addition, you can also find examples of unsuccessful research proposals. Search for successful research proposals in your field, and even for your target journal, to get a good idea on what specifically your audience may be looking for.

While there’s no one example that will show you everything you need to know, looking at a few will give you a good idea of what you need to include in your own research proposal. Talk, also, to colleagues in your field, especially if you are a student or a new researcher. We can often learn from the mistakes of others. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are prior to writing your research proposal, the more likely you are to succeed.

Language Editing Services

One of the top reasons scientific research proposals are rejected is due to poor logic and flow. Check out our Language Editing Services to ensure a great proposal , that’s clear and concise, and properly referenced. Check our video for more information, and get started today.

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on 30 October 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on 13 June 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:


Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organised and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, frequently asked questions.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: ‘A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management’
  • Example research proposal #2: ‘ Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use’

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesise prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasise again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement.

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

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Description of the study area is the act of describing the characteristics, qualities and physical features of an area, location, neighbourhood, city or community that is being studied or investigated for research purposes. Describing a study area is an important part of research, not just to the researcher, but to all concerned both now and in the future.

The study area is sometimes referred to as a study site in research, some higher institutions refer to the description of the study area as the “ profile of the study area “. In order to properly give a detailed description of an area, the researcher should have an in-depth knowledge of the study area in the project , and this can only be possible by reviewing other related materials in the form of published Journals, textbooks, etc., by academicians within a particular field of study or when the researcher is familiar with the neighbourhood or area in question.

In a dissertation, the description of a study area usually comes under Chapter Three (in most cases) with the exception of some institutions with special formats for presenting research papers. But the key point is that the captions on whichever chapter this subject is mentioned are usually written as “A Brief Description of Study Area” . This is not to limit the information provided but to apply some sort of concision in that it should be skillfully couched to enable a good flow in the presentation without creating confusion.

In summary, there are three aspects to the description of study area – (brief) (description) (study area)

The fact that it is termed brief does not necessarily mean it shouldn’t be detailed.

Your description should cover a broad spectrum of information; this would include location, geography, climatic condition, social infrastructure, vegetation, density, humidity, temperature, topography, terrain and so on.

The study area should be your area of coverage that is, your case study. Introducing information from other areas or regions will have no significance on the subject matter, hence your primary focus would be on the area your research is covering. At this point, you are expected to include maps of the study area (in colour).

What you’re expected to write is a detailed description of your study area to give your reader an idea of what your study area looks like. Get Samples 

Depending on the research topic, the pattern of describing the study area could vary;

If a project topic is focused on investigating issues or problems that concern a state or province the description will bother around everything that makes up the location. For example “ Evaluation of the Issues Affecting Girl-Child Education in FCT Abuja ” is a broad topic that focuses on FCT-Abuja as a case study, hence to describe the study area which in this case is FCT-Abuja, adequate data on everything that makes up or best describes Abuja as a Federal Capital Territory has to be brought in and properly described. The description should include the vegetation in Abuja, the population of Abuja, Abuja’s topography, its climatic condition, the culture of people living in Abuja, the terrain (that is, the flatness or sloppiness of Roads in Abuja), the nature of business, market data, rainfall, electricity, common food, the number of ethnic group in the territory, religion of residents among others.

The essence of the description of the study area is to enable an outsider to have an idea of the area or neighbourhood that is being researched, this knowledge will also help the readers to understand the body of your work and try to envision what your study is trying to pass across. It will also influence people’s judgment of the topic being researched.

description of study area

If the project topic is centred on a particular catchment or neighbourhood for example “ A Critical Examination of Facilities Management Strategy on Public Properties – A Case Study of Central Bank of Nigeria Staff Quarters ” the description will take a different shape. In this case, it should include a brief summary of the neighborhood where the CBN staff quarters are located followed by a broad description of the CBN staff quarters environment and premises. Let’s look at the following example;

“ The CBN staff quarters is a large purpose-built residential estate for senior, intermediate and junior CBN staff members. It is properly fenced around its perimeter solid block walls with a giant double two-way gate at the main entrance and another small pedestrian gate by the side. The estate comprises of the following; 16 Blocks of 8 units of 2bedroom flats each totalling 128 flats, 12 Block of 8 units of 3bedroom flats each totalling another 97 flats, and 6 Blocks of 6 units of 3bedroom flats each totalling 36 flats with additional buildings at the rear for intermediate and junior staff. The senior staff also have a large garage for parking vehicles .”

In addition, a detailed description of the site and construction details of the buildings will beef up your work. For example:

“ The site is rectangular in shape, it has a flat or table surface and properly drains off water during heavy downpours. The site measures approximately 22.32 hectares .”

The construction details should encompass; the type of floor, wall, doors, windows, ceiling, fittings, roof and the materials used in constructing them. For example, a brief description of the floor can be written like this “ The floor is made of mass concrete on hardcore filling well rammed over consolidated laterite and finished with terrazzo material ” The other building components (windows, doors, ceiling, wall, fitting and roof) should have their description proper done like the “floor”.

The facilities in the CBN staff estate should also come in the description. A short write-up can be done to explain to the reader or supervisor the available facilities installed and used in the CBN staff quarters, for example, “ The facilities provided in the CBN staff quarters are; water treatment plant, cameras, sewage treatment plant, generator house, heavy duty generator set to illuminate the premises, pumping machine (Sumo) to circulate water to all apartments, borehole, external lighting points and lawn tennis court for exercise .”

Sometimes an institution could be a case study of a project. Let’s use this project topic as an example “ An Analysis of the Maintenance and Management Problem of the University of Lagos Hostel Buildings ”.

To describe this study area the following sub-headings should be developed and expanded:

This involves the description of the University’s location, including the city and local government area where it is situated.

The History, Origin and Growth of the Study Area:

Tracing the historical background of the University of Lagos, its various campuses, colleges (college of medicine), the total size of the school premises, total number of staff and students (undergraduates and postgraduate students), annual enrollment of students, the various faculties and departments and other facilities attached to the universities and subsidiary campuses or learning institutions within and outside the state, or country is paramount.

Important : Make sure to include a colour map in your description to guide your readers and supervisor further.

description of study area


Frequently asked questions about the description of study area., what is the general description of the study area.

There is no such thing as a general description of the study area, the pattern of describing a particular area might differ from the way other areas are described. This is dependent on the type and nature of the area that is going to be described. No two locations have exactly the same features, hence you cannot give a written account of locations A and B the same way, which is why the researcher will need to either visit the area of the study or source materials with comprehensive and recent information on a particular area to be described in the research paper.

Examples of areas of study?

The determination of a study area is dependent on the type or nature of the researchable problem that the researcher wants to solve. For example, an ideal study area for “Impact of indiscriminate dumps on children’s health” would be a neighbourhood that experiences a high volume of indiscriminate dumps such as ghettos, slum neighbourhoods, high-density or populated neighbourhoods etc.

Also, if a project topic is   “Impact of social media on junior secondary school subjects” the area of study will comprise a certain number of junior secondary schools in a particular area not necessarily the entire State, Region or Province. The area of study must be connected with the project topic, this is because the research problem is first identified before developing a topic around the problem. So, the research has to identify a problem, search for areas affected by the identified problem and then develop a topic that captures the problem and the area of study.

The following can represent an area of study; Primary and Secondary Schools, Communities, Organizations, Provinces, Streets, Local Government Areas, hospitals, Banks, TV and Radio Stations, Government Agencies, Military Barracks, Police Stations, Specialized Buildings, Events, Shrines, Layouts etc.

Some people may want to carry out simple research about their home or certain areas or components in their home, this could be academic or personal research about an identified problem in the home. Hence, examples of study areas at home would include, the premises, building structures, the environment, farmland or plantation farm, auxiliary facilities, recreational areas in the home, pool sites, cooking or baking area etc. depending on the project topic.

What is a study area in research?

Study areas are locations where a researcher plans to carry out an in-depth study about a topic or existing problem. This is usually indicated in the research proposal for the supervisor to vet and approve. If approved, the researcher or student is expected to visit the study area to observe and gather information related to the existing problem in that neighbourhood. A study area is also referred to as a study site or research site.

What is the importance of the study area in research?

The importance of the study area cannot be over-emphasized. I have taken time to explain this question in the article “ Reasons for Choosing a Study Area in Research ”.

Must a description of the study area in a project be broad?

No.  I mentioned earlier in this article that most research papers or projects require a brief description of your study area, so you could write a brief account of your study area in about one to three pages depending on how vast the area is. You don’t need to write more than is required, just provide the relevant information needed and you’re good.

Get complete samples of the Description of Study Areas here  

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South Africa has been experiencing load-shedding

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its educative

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I am interested in your website. Currently I am preparing my thesis for completion of my MBA n Marketing. Thank you for your help.

Thank you Zelalem, you can send a message if you need further guide. I wish you success!

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What if I choose a Senior high school in Enugu state? Am I going to write about the school or the State itself?

If your project topic is about a particular high school then the description should focus on the School itself not the State.

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very good concept. Really I appreciate it.

Awesome, thanks Ray.

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Helpful information .Thanks

Thank you Peres Bett.

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How to write description of the study Area

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This is great information just as I wanted it to be. thanks a lot man

Thanks Richard.

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17 Research Proposal Examples

research proposal example sections definition and purpose, explained below

A research proposal systematically and transparently outlines a proposed research project.

The purpose of a research proposal is to demonstrate a project’s viability and the researcher’s preparedness to conduct an academic study. It serves as a roadmap for the researcher.

The process holds value both externally (for accountability purposes and often as a requirement for a grant application) and intrinsic value (for helping the researcher to clarify the mechanics, purpose, and potential signficance of the study).

Key sections of a research proposal include: the title, abstract, introduction, literature review, research design and methods, timeline, budget, outcomes and implications, references, and appendix. Each is briefly explained below.

Watch my Guide: How to Write a Research Proposal

Get your Template for Writing your Research Proposal Here (With AI Prompts!)

Research Proposal Sample Structure

Title: The title should present a concise and descriptive statement that clearly conveys the core idea of the research projects. Make it as specific as possible. The reader should immediately be able to grasp the core idea of the intended research project. Often, the title is left too vague and does not help give an understanding of what exactly the study looks at.

Abstract: Abstracts are usually around 250-300 words and provide an overview of what is to follow – including the research problem , objectives, methods, expected outcomes, and significance of the study. Use it as a roadmap and ensure that, if the abstract is the only thing someone reads, they’ll get a good fly-by of what will be discussed in the peice.

Introduction: Introductions are all about contextualization. They often set the background information with a statement of the problem. At the end of the introduction, the reader should understand what the rationale for the study truly is. I like to see the research questions or hypotheses included in the introduction and I like to get a good understanding of what the significance of the research will be. It’s often easiest to write the introduction last

Literature Review: The literature review dives deep into the existing literature on the topic, demosntrating your thorough understanding of the existing literature including themes, strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in the literature. It serves both to demonstrate your knowledge of the field and, to demonstrate how the proposed study will fit alongside the literature on the topic. A good literature review concludes by clearly demonstrating how your research will contribute something new and innovative to the conversation in the literature.

Research Design and Methods: This section needs to clearly demonstrate how the data will be gathered and analyzed in a systematic and academically sound manner. Here, you need to demonstrate that the conclusions of your research will be both valid and reliable. Common points discussed in the research design and methods section include highlighting the research paradigm, methodologies, intended population or sample to be studied, data collection techniques, and data analysis procedures . Toward the end of this section, you are encouraged to also address ethical considerations and limitations of the research process , but also to explain why you chose your research design and how you are mitigating the identified risks and limitations.

Timeline: Provide an outline of the anticipated timeline for the study. Break it down into its various stages (including data collection, data analysis, and report writing). The goal of this section is firstly to establish a reasonable breakdown of steps for you to follow and secondly to demonstrate to the assessors that your project is practicable and feasible.

Budget: Estimate the costs associated with the research project and include evidence for your estimations. Typical costs include staffing costs, equipment, travel, and data collection tools. When applying for a scholarship, the budget should demonstrate that you are being responsible with your expensive and that your funding application is reasonable.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: A discussion of the anticipated findings or results of the research, as well as the potential contributions to the existing knowledge, theory, or practice in the field. This section should also address the potential impact of the research on relevant stakeholders and any broader implications for policy or practice.

References: A complete list of all the sources cited in the research proposal, formatted according to the required citation style. This demonstrates the researcher’s familiarity with the relevant literature and ensures proper attribution of ideas and information.

Appendices (if applicable): Any additional materials, such as questionnaires, interview guides, or consent forms, that provide further information or support for the research proposal. These materials should be included as appendices at the end of the document.

Research Proposal Examples

Research proposals often extend anywhere between 2,000 and 15,000 words in length. The following snippets are samples designed to briefly demonstrate what might be discussed in each section.

1. Education Studies Research Proposals

See some real sample pieces:

  • Assessment of the perceptions of teachers towards a new grading system
  • Does ICT use in secondary classrooms help or hinder student learning?
  • Digital technologies in focus project
  • Urban Middle School Teachers’ Experiences of the Implementation of
  • Restorative Justice Practices
  • Experiences of students of color in service learning

Consider this hypothetical education research proposal:

The Impact of Game-Based Learning on Student Engagement and Academic Performance in Middle School Mathematics

Abstract: The proposed study will explore multiplayer game-based learning techniques in middle school mathematics curricula and their effects on student engagement. The study aims to contribute to the current literature on game-based learning by examining the effects of multiplayer gaming in learning.

Introduction: Digital game-based learning has long been shunned within mathematics education for fears that it may distract students or lower the academic integrity of the classrooms. However, there is emerging evidence that digital games in math have emerging benefits not only for engagement but also academic skill development. Contributing to this discourse, this study seeks to explore the potential benefits of multiplayer digital game-based learning by examining its impact on middle school students’ engagement and academic performance in a mathematics class.

Literature Review: The literature review has identified gaps in the current knowledge, namely, while game-based learning has been extensively explored, the role of multiplayer games in supporting learning has not been studied.

Research Design and Methods: This study will employ a mixed-methods research design based upon action research in the classroom. A quasi-experimental pre-test/post-test control group design will first be used to compare the academic performance and engagement of middle school students exposed to game-based learning techniques with those in a control group receiving instruction without the aid of technology. Students will also be observed and interviewed in regard to the effect of communication and collaboration during gameplay on their learning.

Timeline: The study will take place across the second term of the school year with a pre-test taking place on the first day of the term and the post-test taking place on Wednesday in Week 10.

Budget: The key budgetary requirements will be the technologies required, including the subscription cost for the identified games and computers.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: It is expected that the findings will contribute to the current literature on game-based learning and inform educational practices, providing educators and policymakers with insights into how to better support student achievement in mathematics.

2. Psychology Research Proposals

See some real examples:

  • A situational analysis of shared leadership in a self-managing team
  • The effect of musical preference on running performance
  • Relationship between self-esteem and disordered eating amongst adolescent females

Consider this hypothetical psychology research proposal:

The Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Stress Reduction in College Students

Abstract: This research proposal examines the impact of mindfulness-based interventions on stress reduction among college students, using a pre-test/post-test experimental design with both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods .

Introduction: College students face heightened stress levels during exam weeks. This can affect both mental health and test performance. This study explores the potential benefits of mindfulness-based interventions such as meditation as a way to mediate stress levels in the weeks leading up to exam time.

Literature Review: Existing research on mindfulness-based meditation has shown the ability for mindfulness to increase metacognition, decrease anxiety levels, and decrease stress. Existing literature has looked at workplace, high school and general college-level applications. This study will contribute to the corpus of literature by exploring the effects of mindfulness directly in the context of exam weeks.

Research Design and Methods: Participants ( n= 234 ) will be randomly assigned to either an experimental group, receiving 5 days per week of 10-minute mindfulness-based interventions, or a control group, receiving no intervention. Data will be collected through self-report questionnaires, measuring stress levels, semi-structured interviews exploring participants’ experiences, and students’ test scores.

Timeline: The study will begin three weeks before the students’ exam week and conclude after each student’s final exam. Data collection will occur at the beginning (pre-test of self-reported stress levels) and end (post-test) of the three weeks.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: The study aims to provide evidence supporting the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing stress among college students in the lead up to exams, with potential implications for mental health support and stress management programs on college campuses.

3. Sociology Research Proposals

  • Understanding emerging social movements: A case study of ‘Jersey in Transition’
  • The interaction of health, education and employment in Western China
  • Can we preserve lower-income affordable neighbourhoods in the face of rising costs?

Consider this hypothetical sociology research proposal:

The Impact of Social Media Usage on Interpersonal Relationships among Young Adults

Abstract: This research proposal investigates the effects of social media usage on interpersonal relationships among young adults, using a longitudinal mixed-methods approach with ongoing semi-structured interviews to collect qualitative data.

Introduction: Social media platforms have become a key medium for the development of interpersonal relationships, particularly for young adults. This study examines the potential positive and negative effects of social media usage on young adults’ relationships and development over time.

Literature Review: A preliminary review of relevant literature has demonstrated that social media usage is central to development of a personal identity and relationships with others with similar subcultural interests. However, it has also been accompanied by data on mental health deline and deteriorating off-screen relationships. The literature is to-date lacking important longitudinal data on these topics.

Research Design and Methods: Participants ( n = 454 ) will be young adults aged 18-24. Ongoing self-report surveys will assess participants’ social media usage, relationship satisfaction, and communication patterns. A subset of participants will be selected for longitudinal in-depth interviews starting at age 18 and continuing for 5 years.

Timeline: The study will be conducted over a period of five years, including recruitment, data collection, analysis, and report writing.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: This study aims to provide insights into the complex relationship between social media usage and interpersonal relationships among young adults, potentially informing social policies and mental health support related to social media use.

4. Nursing Research Proposals

  • Does Orthopaedic Pre-assessment clinic prepare the patient for admission to hospital?
  • Nurses’ perceptions and experiences of providing psychological care to burns patients
  • Registered psychiatric nurse’s practice with mentally ill parents and their children

Consider this hypothetical nursing research proposal:

The Influence of Nurse-Patient Communication on Patient Satisfaction and Health Outcomes following Emergency Cesarians

Abstract: This research will examines the impact of effective nurse-patient communication on patient satisfaction and health outcomes for women following c-sections, utilizing a mixed-methods approach with patient surveys and semi-structured interviews.

Introduction: It has long been known that effective communication between nurses and patients is crucial for quality care. However, additional complications arise following emergency c-sections due to the interaction between new mother’s changing roles and recovery from surgery.

Literature Review: A review of the literature demonstrates the importance of nurse-patient communication, its impact on patient satisfaction, and potential links to health outcomes. However, communication between nurses and new mothers is less examined, and the specific experiences of those who have given birth via emergency c-section are to date unexamined.

Research Design and Methods: Participants will be patients in a hospital setting who have recently had an emergency c-section. A self-report survey will assess their satisfaction with nurse-patient communication and perceived health outcomes. A subset of participants will be selected for in-depth interviews to explore their experiences and perceptions of the communication with their nurses.

Timeline: The study will be conducted over a period of six months, including rolling recruitment, data collection, analysis, and report writing within the hospital.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: This study aims to provide evidence for the significance of nurse-patient communication in supporting new mothers who have had an emergency c-section. Recommendations will be presented for supporting nurses and midwives in improving outcomes for new mothers who had complications during birth.

5. Social Work Research Proposals

  • Experiences of negotiating employment and caring responsibilities of fathers post-divorce
  • Exploring kinship care in the north region of British Columbia

Consider this hypothetical social work research proposal:

The Role of a Family-Centered Intervention in Preventing Homelessness Among At-Risk Youthin a working-class town in Northern England

Abstract: This research proposal investigates the effectiveness of a family-centered intervention provided by a local council area in preventing homelessness among at-risk youth. This case study will use a mixed-methods approach with program evaluation data and semi-structured interviews to collect quantitative and qualitative data .

Introduction: Homelessness among youth remains a significant social issue. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of family-centered interventions in addressing this problem and identify factors that contribute to successful prevention strategies.

Literature Review: A review of the literature has demonstrated several key factors contributing to youth homelessness including lack of parental support, lack of social support, and low levels of family involvement. It also demonstrates the important role of family-centered interventions in addressing this issue. Drawing on current evidence, this study explores the effectiveness of one such intervention in preventing homelessness among at-risk youth in a working-class town in Northern England.

Research Design and Methods: The study will evaluate a new family-centered intervention program targeting at-risk youth and their families. Quantitative data on program outcomes, including housing stability and family functioning, will be collected through program records and evaluation reports. Semi-structured interviews with program staff, participants, and relevant stakeholders will provide qualitative insights into the factors contributing to program success or failure.

Timeline: The study will be conducted over a period of six months, including recruitment, data collection, analysis, and report writing.

Budget: Expenses include access to program evaluation data, interview materials, data analysis software, and any related travel costs for in-person interviews.

Expected Outcomes and Implications: This study aims to provide evidence for the effectiveness of family-centered interventions in preventing youth homelessness, potentially informing the expansion of or necessary changes to social work practices in Northern England.

Research Proposal Template

Get your Detailed Template for Writing your Research Proposal Here (With AI Prompts!)

This is a template for a 2500-word research proposal. You may find it difficult to squeeze everything into this wordcount, but it’s a common wordcount for Honors and MA-level dissertations.

Your research proposal is where you really get going with your study. I’d strongly recommend working closely with your teacher in developing a research proposal that’s consistent with the requirements and culture of your institution, as in my experience it varies considerably. The above template is from my own courses that walk students through research proposals in a British School of Education.


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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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8 thoughts on “17 Research Proposal Examples”

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Very excellent research proposals

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very helpful

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Very helpful

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Dear Sir, I need some help to write an educational research proposal. Thank you.

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Hi Levi, use the site search bar to ask a question and I’ll likely have a guide already written for your specific question. Thanks for reading!

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very good research proposal

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Thank you so much sir! ❤️

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Very helpful 👌

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3. Methodology of Research 3.1. Study Area and Target Population

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Related Papers

Cherinet Bariso

research proposal study area

International Scholars Journals


Among the major root and tuber crops, anchote is a potential crop produced in Western parts of Ethiopia. In addition to food source, it takes wide portion in socioeconomic , cultural and medicinal value for the farming communities. To study the indigenous knowledge on utilization and conservation of anchote, ethno-botanical survey was conducted in 2012 for continuous three months (February, March and April) in Western part of Ethiopia. The landraces were also collected during survey. Forty nine anchote landraces were tested in 7x7 Simple Lattice Design at Wayu Tuqa District of East Wollega in 2012/013. The survey results showed that most of the respondents had sufficient experiences of growing Coccinia abyssinica (Lam.) Cogn. Socioeconomic status of the households and ecological requirements was found to be an important factor affecting the use, management and conservation of the crop. The difference in level of education had no impact on conservation and use of Coccinia abyssinica. It was also observed that the older informants were more knowledgeable than the younger ones, as they knew much more about the different local cultivars and values of use. Data of the mean values of all experimental units were subjected to analysis of variance for RCBD. Flower width (61.22%) showed high heritability and medium heritability was recorded for flower length (52.24%), indicated that such characters were least affected by environmental modifications so that; selection based on phenotypic performance would be reliable. Low heritability were recorded for traits like root length (33.72%), Leaf width (21.53%), total root yield (20.6%), leaf length (17.19%), root diameter (8.33%) and low heritability were recorded for other to indicate environmental effect that constitutes a major portion of the total phenotypic variation signifying that management practice is better than selection to improve those traits. Genetic advance as percentage of the mean ranged from 2.45% for leaf length to 77.08% for flower width. Within these range a relatively high genetic advance as percent of the mean was observed for flower length (57.72%) and flower width (77.08 %). High value for heritability and genetic advance of the characters in current study provide information for the existence of wider genetic diversity among anchote landraces which offers high chances for improving several traits of the crop through simple selection. Cluster analysis showed that four divergent groups were formed. Each cluster known by their highest and lowest mean value and it is helpful for easy selection of parents with the desired traits for hybridization or selection program.

Urgessa T Bekabil

Deforestation is a growing problem in many parts of the tropical world and one of the affected countries is Ethiopia. The general objective of this study is to assess the effect of population growth on forest resource in East Wollega Zone in general and Haro Limu woreda in particular. The data used for the study were collected from 89 farm households heads drawn from the four kebeles of Haro Limmu district. Probability proportional to size sampling technique was employed to select the farm households from four peasant associations, which were selected by random sampling techniques. Primary data were collected using a structured questionnaire. In addition, secondary data were extracted from relevant sources to supplement the data obtained from the survey. The result of this study reveals that population growth huge impact on forestry development in the ways of expanding agricultural land, using wood as energy sources and satisfying the input requirements in agricultural activity. Respondents use family planning services in reducing the impact of population growth on the forestry development.

addisu N Worku

Mersha Chanie

This study was conducted in Honkolo enclosed area found in Honkolo Wabe district of Arsi zone with in oromia region. The study objective was to critically assess the land use land cover change in Honkolo enclosed area, and explain socioeconomic and environmental impacts caused due to land use land cover change. To realize the objective data was collected from 95 sample rural households using questionnaire, 6 key informant interviews, and 4 Focus Group discussions with farmers and experts. Besides to this, satellite image of 30 meter resolution was also used to identify the land use and land cover change in the enclosed area with remote sensing and GIS software. The analysis of land use land cover change detection showed that farm land and settlement had been increasing from before the area was enclosed from human and animal interventions since 2010; the socioeconomic analysis revealed woody tree species that disappeared long time ago have been restored following the establishment of enclosures. Additionally, most of focus group discussion and key informant confirmed that they had obtained socio-economic and environmental benefits from the establishment of the area enclosures. From the analysis of the results on LULC it can be concluded that human interventions are the determinant factors for the changing land use and land cover. However, various problems were also identified such as shortages of firewood and scarcity of pastureland. Finally based on findings it is concluded that local community had got a positive attitude towards area enclosures practices. Therefore, close relationship among the local communities and other related bodies is essential for the success and effective management practices of area enclosures. Key words: Area enclosure, Land use/land over, land management, Land degradation, GIS, community participation

European Scientific Journal ESJ

Jiregna Garamu Tarafa

Abstract The main objective of this study was to examine, the population growth nexus land degradation in Nejo district. Correlation research design was used to carry out this study. Both quantitative and qualitative data used in the study. Primary and secondary data were used in this study. Non-probable sampling techniques were used to select the four peasant association from thirty-five of Nejo district, namely Walitate Agar, Bushane Alaltu, Micico Gorgise, and Lalisa Kemi. This was due to insufficient budget and time to include overall peasant associations in the district. Sampling formula used to determine sample of 99 households and were selected from the total of 3559 households using lottery method proportionally. Additional key informant like, DA (Development Agents) and district agricultural office head were interviewed and, model farmers participated in focus group discussion. Questionnaire presented to collect data from households, semi-structured interview used to complement data gathered using questionnaires from DA and district agricultural office.Focus group discussion also instruments used for data collection from model farmers. Finally, researcher undertakes field observation the land use and extent of physical land degradation. Quantitative data were analyzed using excel software package to compute its frequencies, percentage, means and standard deviation, Pearson correlation and linear regressions followed by discussion of the most important points. Data that were collected by semi-structure interview and open- ended questions were analyzed and interpreted in narrative approach to substantiate the quantitative information whenever required. Finally, the overall courses of the study was summarized with finding, conclusions some possible solution. The finding showed that as population growth non-cultivated areas added as crop land and the more use of other land uses for crop production. There is a significant negative correlation between areas land covered with grazing lands and population growth in the district.There is a significant negative correlation between areas of natural forest and population growth. Population growths have significant negative relationship with grazing lands. The population growths have significant positive relationship with grazing lands.The findings revealed that the population growth have no significant relationship with changes in areas of wet lands as.With respect to linear regressions were utilized to investigate the best indicators of changes in areas of forest plantation. The findings revealed that the population growth have significant positively relationship with forest plantation with hence population growth constitute the major determinants of land degradation as there were effect changing in land use cover of in Nejo district.The respondents were asked if they think that land degradation affects your livelihood. All of the respondents had agreed that land degradation affects their livelihood. The major costs of land degradation includes, reduced number of daily meals, reduced in quality of meals, withdrawal of children from school, poor health, lack of household energy consumptions such as fire wood & charcoal, decline in livestock caring capacity, decrease in range land, poverty and malnutrition, andinternalmigration. Based on finding the study drawn following recommendation the farmers need participate effectively throughout the entire district to assist in reducing the pressure on available land and vegetation resources in the district. The need to use alternative sources of energy like solar in medium and long-term and promote the growing of fast maturing tree species for sustainable charcoal production.

Temesgen Sadi

This study attempts to assess the challenges and prospects of community policing in Nejo town, Oromia regional state. In order to achieve this objective, the study employed descriptive research design and combination of quantitative and qualitative research approach. The study used both primary and secondary sources in order to touch its objectives. Primary data were gathered through questionnaire, interview and focus group discussion while secondary data were gathered through document analysis, books, journal and other document. Questionnaires were distributed and administered by the researcher with the help of enumerators. Structured questionnaires were filled by households of 01 and 04 kebeles. Interviews were conducted with police members, community leaders and justice sector participants to attain profound information. Similarly, FGD was conducted with respondents selected from police and community members. Data were analyzed and interpreted using descriptive statistics and qualitative technique.The finding of the study revealed that, community and to some extent police have low understanding and perception toward community policing in the study area. In addition to this, the study identified institutional challenges, which include lack of coordination, lack of effective police service delivery, lack of professional police and police violation of human right. Similarly, the study identified social challenges affecting community policing, which include, lack of community participation, lack of police community relationship and lack of regular community policing forum. Under infrastructural challenges the study identified lack of adequate logistic support, lack of adequate budge and lack of resource to implement community policing effectively. The finding of the study also revealed that the practice of the key components of community policing mainly community partnership, problem solving and organizational transformations are not as such effective. Based on the finding of the study, the researcher recommends that enhancing awareness creation, effective coordination among the stakeholders, insuring transparency and accountability, building trust with community, establishing regular community policing forum, enhancing police capacity, allocating adequate budget and logistic support, improving community participation in order to sustain these strategies in the study area.

IJAR Indexing

This study attempted to arrive at the ways of indigenous practices for promoting sustainable land development in selected kebeles of Gimbi Woreda,West Wollega Zone, Oromia Regional State. The study area is typical for the high potential coffee production, mixed farming, and cereal crops in the Southwestern Ethiopian highlands. Land is a precious natural resource which demands efficient management in order to use it in a sustainable manner. A cross sectional research design was employed with descriptive survey method. About 319 household heads were selected using simple random sampling technique from three kebeles (kebele: Lowest Administrative Division) which were chosen purposively. In addition, thirteen key informants and nine household heads for FGD were selected by purposive sampling technique. Data collection tools included questionnaire, focus group discussions, key informant interview and field observation. The factors that affect sustainable land management include land holding size, fragmentation, land ownership security, size of livestock, and availability of labor and farm tools, and education of farmers. Finally, based on the findings of the study, it has been recommended that farmers need to get basic education and family planning services. They have to be organized in team and get access to credit and saving services. The local knowledge of farmers has to be encouraged and supported through continuous training. A few selected breeds of livestock should be encouraged in order to reduce overgrazing.


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Selecting Research Area

Selecting a research area is the very first step in writing your dissertation. It is important for you to choose a research area that is interesting to you professionally, as well as, personally. Experienced researchers note that “a topic in which you are only vaguely interested at the start is likely to become a topic in which you have no interest and with which you will fail to produce your best work” [1] . Ideally, your research area should relate to your future career path and have a potential to contribute to the achievement of your career objectives.

Selecting Research Area

The importance of selecting a relevant research area that is appropriate for dissertation is often underestimated by many students. This decision cannot be made in haste. Ideally, you should start considering different options at the beginning of the term. However, even when there are only few weeks left before the deadline and you have not chosen a particular topic yet, there is no need to panic.

There are few areas in business studies that can offer interesting topics due to their relevance to business and dynamic nature. The following is the list of research areas and topics that can prove to be insightful in terms of assisting you to choose your own dissertation topic.

Globalization can be a relevant topic for many business and economics dissertations. Forces of globalization are nowadays greater than ever before and dissertations can address the implications of these forces on various aspects of business.

Following are few examples of research areas in globalization:

  • A study of implications of COVID-19 pandemic on economic globalization
  • Impacts of globalization on marketing strategies of beverage manufacturing companies: a case study of The Coca-Cola Company
  • Effects of labour migration within EU on the formation of multicultural teams in UK organizations
  • A study into advantages and disadvantages of various entry strategies to Chinese market
  • A critical analysis of the effects of globalization on US-based businesses

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is also one of the most popular topics at present and it is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. CSR refers to additional responsibilities of business organizations towards society apart from profit maximization. There is a high level of controversy involved in CSR. This is because businesses can be socially responsible only at the expense of their primary objective of profit maximization.

Perspective researches in the area of CSR may include the following:

  • The impacts of CSR programs and initiatives on brand image: a case study of McDonald’s India
  • A critical analysis of argument of mandatory CSR for private sector organizations in Australia
  • A study into contradictions between CSR programs and initiatives and business practices: a case study of Philip Morris Philippines
  • A critical analysis into the role of CSR as an effective marketing tool
  • A study into the role of workplace ethics for improving brand image

Social Media and viral marketing relate to increasing numbers of various social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube etc. Increasing levels of popularity of social media among various age groups create tremendous potential for businesses in terms of attracting new customers.

The following can be listed as potential studies in the area of social media:

  • A critical analysis of the use of social media as a marketing strategy: a case study of Burger King Malaysia
  • An assessment of the role of Instagram as an effective platform for viral marketing campaigns
  • A study into the sustainability of TikTok as a marketing tool in the future
  • An investigation into the new ways of customer relationship management in mobile marketing environment: a case study of catering industry in South Africa
  • A study into integration of Twitter social networking website within integrated marketing communication strategy: a case study of Microsoft Corporation

Culture and cultural differences in organizations offer many research opportunities as well. Increasing importance of culture is directly related to intensifying forces of globalization in a way that globalization forces are fuelling the formation of cross-cultural teams in organizations.

Perspective researches in the area of culture and cultural differences in organizations may include the following:

  • The impact of cross-cultural differences on organizational communication: a case study of BP plc
  • A study into skills and competencies needed to manage multicultural teams in Singapore
  • The role of cross-cultural differences on perception of marketing communication messages in the global marketplace: a case study of Apple Inc.
  • Effects of organizational culture on achieving its aims and objectives: a case study of Virgin Atlantic
  • A critical analysis into the emergence of global culture and its implications in local automobile manufacturers in Germany

Leadership and leadership in organizations has been a popular topic among researchers for many decades by now. However, the importance of this topic may be greater now than ever before. This is because rapid technological developments, forces of globalization and a set of other factors have caused markets to become highly competitive. Accordingly, leadership is important in order to enhance competitive advantages of organizations in many ways.

The following studies can be conducted in the area of leadership:

  • Born or bred: revisiting The Great Man theory of leadership in the 21 st century
  • A study of effectiveness of servant leadership style in public sector organizations in Hong Kong
  • Creativity as the main trait for modern leaders: a critical analysis
  • A study into the importance of role models in contributing to long-term growth of private sector organizations: a case study of Tata Group, India
  • A critical analysis of leadership skills and competencies for E-Commerce organizations

COVID-19 pandemic and its macro and micro-economic implications can also make for a good dissertation topic. Pandemic-related crisis has been like nothing the world has seen before and it is changing international business immensely and perhaps, irreversibly as well.

The following are few examples for pandemic crisis-related topics:

  • A study into potential implications of COVID-19 pandemic into foreign direct investment in China
  • A critical assessment of effects of COVID-19 pandemic into sharing economy: a case study of AirBnb.
  • The role of COVID-19 pandemic in causing shifts in working patterns: a critical analysis

Moreover, dissertations can be written in a wide range of additional areas such as customer services, supply-chain management, consumer behaviour, human resources management, catering and hospitality, strategic management etc. depending on your professional and personal interests.

[1] Saunders, M., Lewis, P. & Thornhill, A. (2012) “Research Methods for Business Students” 6th edition, Pearson Education Limited.

Selecting Research Area

John Dudovskiy

  • Introduction
  • Conclusions
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eTable 1. Patient and Clinical Characteristics of Men With Localized Prostate Cancer, Overall and Stratified by Quintiles of PDI and hPDI Scores

eTable 2. Multivariable Associations Between Each of the Three Food Groups and Risk of Prostate Cancer Progression

eTable 3. Multivariable Associations Between the hPDI and Risk of Prostate Cancer Progression Among Men Initially Diagnosed With Nonmetastatic Prostate Cancer, Stratified by Gleason Grade

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Liu VN , Van Blarigan EL , Zhang L, et al. Plant-Based Diets and Disease Progression in Men With Prostate Cancer. JAMA Netw Open. 2024;7(5):e249053. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.9053

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Plant-Based Diets and Disease Progression in Men With Prostate Cancer

  • 1 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2 Menwell Limited, London, England, United Kingdom
  • 3 Department of Urology, University of California, San Francisco
  • 4 Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • 5 Department of Urology and Population Health, New York University and Manhattan Veterans Affairs, New York
  • 6 Real World Solutions, IQVIA, Durham, North Carolina

Question   What is the association between postdiagnostic plant-based dietary patterns and risk of prostate cancer progression?

Findings   In a cohort study of 2062 men diagnosed with nonmetastatic prostate cancer, individuals with the highest intake of plant foods in the overall plant-based diet index had lower risk of prostate cancer progression compared with those with the lowest intake.

Meaning   These findings suggest that consuming a primarily plant-based diet may be associated with better prostate cancer–specific health outcomes among men with prostate cancer.

Importance   Plant-based diets are associated with many health and environmental benefits, including primary prevention of fatal prostate cancer, but less is known about postdiagnostic plant-based diet patterns in individuals with prostate cancer.

Objective   To examine whether postdiagnostic plant-based dietary patterns are associated with risk of prostate cancer progression and prostate cancer–specific mortality.

Design, Setting, and Participants   This longitudinal observational cohort study included men with biopsy-proven nonmetastatic prostate cancer (stage ≤T3a) from the diet and lifestyle substudy within the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor (CaPSURE) enrolled at 43 urology practices across the US from 1999 to 2018. Participants completed a comprehensive diet and lifestyle questionnaire (including a validated food frequency questionnaire [FFQ]) between 2004 and 2016. Data were analyzed from August 2022 to April 2023.

Exposures   Overall plant-based diet index (PDI) and healthful plant-based diet index (hPDI) scores were calculated from the FFQ.

Main Outcomes and Measures   The primary outcome was prostate cancer progression (recurrence, secondary treatment, bone metastases, or prostate cancer–specific mortality). The secondary outcome was prostate cancer–specific mortality.

Results   Among 2062 participants (median [IQR] age, 65.0 [59.0-70.0] years), 61 (3%) identified as African American, 3 (<1%) identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, 9 (<1%) identified as Asian or Pacific Islander, 15 (1%) identified as Latino, and 1959 (95%) identified as White. Median (IQR) time from prostate cancer diagnosis to FFQ was 31.3 (15.9-62.0) months after diagnosis. During a median (IQR) follow-up of 6.5 (1.3-12.8) years after the FFQ, 190 progression events and 61 prostate cancer–specific mortality events were observed. Men scoring in the highest vs lowest quintile of PDI had a 47% lower risk of progression (HR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.37-0.74; P for trend = .003). The hPDI was not associated with risk of progression overall. However, among 680 individuals with Gleason grade 7 or higher at diagnosis, the highest hPDI quintile was associated with a 55% lower risk of progression compared with the lowest hPDI quintile (HR 0.45; 95% CI, 0.25-0.81; P for trend = .01); no association was observed in individuals with Gleason grade less than 7.

Conclusions and Relevance   In this cohort study of 2062 men with prostate cancer, higher intake of plant foods after prostate cancer diagnosis was associated with lower risk of cancer progression. These findings suggest nutritional assessment and counseling may be recommended to patients with prostate cancer to help establish healthy dietary practices and support well-being and overall health.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the US. Plant-based diets (ie, diets incorporating a greater proportion of one’s daily caloric intake from plant sources) are increasingly popular 1 and have nutritional benefits among people diagnosed with various chronic diseases, including prostate cancer. 2 - 6 Current dietary recommendations for patients with cancer and the general population emphasize a plant-based diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 7

Yet, little is known about plant-based dietary patterns and prostate cancer–specific clinical outcomes after diagnosis. Many studies have reported that greater intake of individual plant-based foods (eg, cruciferous vegetables, cooked tomatoes, vegetable fats) is associated with lower risk of prostate cancer recurrence or mortality, 8 - 14 but single dietary factors in isolation may not accurately capture the health effects of whole diets. 15 Given the increasing interest in plant-based food at the population level, examining whether plant-based dietary patterns are associated with disease outcomes has important implications for public health.

Therefore, we evaluated postdiagnosis intake of plant-based foods in relation to clinical outcomes among patients with prostate cancer. We focused on 2 plant-based diet indices: the overall plant-based diet index (PDI) and healthful plant-based index (hPDI). These indices were developed in 2016 in 3 large cohort studies and have been associated with risk of diabetes, coronary heart disease, and total mortality. 2 , 3 In addition, in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, they were associated with a lower risk of fatal prostate cancer and better scores for quality of life among men diagnosed with prostate cancer. 16 , 17 We hypothesized that greater consumption of plant foods in both indices would be associated with lower risk of prostate cancer progression and prostate cancer–specific mortality.

This cohort study was conducted in accordance with the Belmont Report and the US Common Rule under local institutional review board approval. All participants provided written informed consent. This study followed the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology ( STROBE ) reporting guideline for cohort studies. We used data from the Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor (CaPSURE), a longitudinal observational study of 15 310 men with biopsy-proven prostate cancer. Participants were enrolled concurrently from 43 urology practices across the US from 1999 to 2018. 18 Participating urologists collected data on clinical and pathological factors, treatments, and recurrence.

A subset of individuals from the CaPSURE study were invited to participate in the CaPSURE Diet and Lifestyle substudy, consisting of a comprehensive diet and lifestyle questionnaire with a validated food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). Invitations to participate in the substudy were sent to all active participants at 3 time points between 2004 and 2016. If more than 1 survey was completed, we used the first completed FFQ to standardize exposure assessment.

Participants with a last clinical follow-up or documented progression (defined as recurrence, secondary treatment, bone metastases, or prostate cancer–specific mortality) prior to completion of a diet and lifestyle questionnaire were excluded. To reduce measurement error in usual diet, 19 , 20 individuals with an extreme or unknown caloric intake (<800 kcal/d or >4200 kcal/d) or missing 70 or more FFQ items were excluded. Lastly, individuals with unknown clinical T-stage or T-stage T3a or higher were excluded. For the prostate cancer–specific mortality analyses (secondary outcome), we included individuals who had documented progression prior to completing the FFQ, since these people were still at risk for prostate cancer–specific mortality.

Dietary data were collected with a validated semiquantitative FFQ based on the one used to develop the diet indices. 21 Participants were asked on average, how often (ranging from never or <1 serving/mo to ≥6 servings/d) they consumed a standard portion size of approximately 140 distinct foods and beverages in the past year.

To compute the plant-based diet indices, 18 food groups were created based on nutrients and culinary similarities, then classified into 3 larger categories of 7 healthful plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils, and tea and coffee), 5 unhealthful plant foods (fruit juices, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains, potatoes, and sweets or desserts), and 6 animal foods (animal fats, dairy, eggs, fish and seafood, meat, and miscellaneous animal-based foods). 2 Intakes of the 18 food groups (servings per day) were ranked into quintiles (Qs). For PDI, greater amounts of both the healthful and unhealthful plant groups were given higher scores (ie, Q1 indicates a score 1; Q2, 2; Q3, 3; Q4, 4; Q5, 5), whereas animal food groups were given lower scores (ie, Q5 indicates a score of 1; Q4, 2; Q3, 3; Q2, 4; Q1, 5). For hPDI, the healthful plant food group was given increasing scores, while unhealthful plant food and animal food groups were given decreasing scores. Scores for the 18 groups were summed, ranging from 18 (lowest plant intake) to 90 (highest plant intake).

Our primary outcome was time to prostate cancer progression, a composite outcome comprised of biochemical recurrence, secondary treatment, bone metastases, or death attributed to prostate cancer. If participants had multiple progression events, the first reported date was used. Biochemical recurrence was defined as either 2 consecutive prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels at least 0.2 ng/mL (to convert to micrograms per liter, multiply by 1) after radical prostatectomy or 2 consecutive PSA levels at least 2.0 ng/mL greater than the postradiation nadir. 22 Date of recurrence was recorded as the date of the second elevated PSA. Secondary treatment was defined as any treatment that started at least 6 months after primary treatment completion. Bone metastases were attributed to prostate cancer if a urologist reported prostate cancer progression to bone or advancement to stage M1b, the patient had a positive bone scan, or the patient underwent radiation to treat bone metastases. Cause of death was determined by the registry data coordinating center and confirmed by state death certificate or the National Center for Health Statistics National Death Index. For analyses focused on clinical progression, participants were administratively censored at their last known clinical follow-up date up until January 31, 2019.

Prostate cancer–specific mortality was our secondary outcome, given the small number of prostate cancer–specific mortality events in this cohort. For these analyses, participants with a last known clinical follow-up date beyond December 30, 2020 (last National Death Index search), were administratively censored on December 30, 2020.

Medians and IQRs were calculated for continuous patient and clinical characteristics, and number and percentage was calculated for categorical characteristics, overall and by quintile, of the index scores. Median and IQR consumption of the 18 individual food groups were also computed in servings per day.

Pearson correlation coefficient was used to describe the correlation between the PDI and hPDI. We used Cox proportional hazards models and cause-specific models to evaluate the associations between the PDIs and the risk of prostate cancer progression and prostate cancer–specific mortality, respectively. All models were clustered by CaPSURE clinical site, with robust standard errors used to calculate 95% CIs. Simple models were adjusted for days from diagnosis to FFQ, age at diagnosis (years), year of diagnosis, and total energy intake (kcal). In the full multivariable models, we additionally adjusted for clinical T-stage (T1, T2, T3a), Gleason score (<7, 7, >7), and PSA (≤6, >6 to 10, >10 ng/mL) at diagnosis, primary treatment (radical prostatectomy, radiation, hormonal therapy, watchful waiting or active surveillance, other); self-reported race and ethnicity; smoking status (current, former, never); walking pace (<2, 2 to <3, 3 to <4, >4 mph, unable), and body mass index. Race and ethnicity were self reported and categorized as African American, Asian or Pacific Islander, Latino, multiple, Native American, White, and unknown; race and ethnicity were used in adjustment as White or other. Race and ethnicity were included in analysis because they are strongly associated with prostate cancer outcomes. Additional covariates, including diabetes, family history of prostate cancer, household income, education level, height, alcohol use, multivitamin use, calcium supplement use, and selenium supplement use, were considered but did not meaningfully change results, so they were not included in final models. Log-minus-log plots and Schoenfeld tests were used to test the proportional hazards assumption, and Martingale residuals and smoothing were used to assess the linearity of predictors assumption. Contrast analyses were used to assess for linear trends.

In secondary analyses, we examined each of the 3 food groups comprising the indices (healthful, unhealthful, animal) in association with prostate cancer progression. We also explored potential modification by walking pace (<3 vs ≥3 mph), age (<65 years vs ≥65 years), stage (T1, T2, or T3a), PSA (<6, 6-10, or >10 ng/mL), and Gleason grade at diagnosis (<7, ≥7). To evaluate the significance of interactions between the PDI or hPDI and these variables, we used separate multivariable models including cross product terms between the index and effect modifier of interest. We then used likelihood ratio tests to compare models with and without these interaction terms. For the covariates that demonstrated statistically significant interactions, stratified subgroup analyses were performed.

All analyses were performed in Stata software version 17 (StataCorp) using a 2-sided α = .05 to assess statistical significance. Data were analyzed from August 2022 to April 2023.

A total of 2891 participants completed at least 1 survey, and a total of 2062 participants (median [IQR] age at diagnosis, 65.0 [59.0-70.0] years) met the inclusion criteria; 61 (3%) identified as African American, 3 (<1%) identified as American Indian or Alaska Native, 9 (<1%) identified as Asian or Pacific Islander, 15 (1%) identified as Latino, and 1959 (95%) identified as White. Participant characteristics, overall and by quintile of the PDI and hPDI at baseline, are displayed in Table 1 . Compared with participants in the lowest PDI and hPDI quintile, participants in the highest quintile of PDI and hPDI had a faster walking pace, lower body mass index, and lower diagnostic PSA and were less likely to smoke ( Table 1 ). Participants in the highest PDI quintile consumed more calories than those in the lowest PDI quintile, whereas individuals in hPDI Q5 consumed fewer calories and were younger than those in Q1. Characteristics for participants in the prostate cancer–specific mortality analyses were nearly identical (eTable 1 in Supplement 1 ). PDI and hPDI scores were moderately positively correlated ( r  = 0.34; P  < .001). PDI scores ranged from 27 to 76, and hPDI scores ranged from 29 to 84.

Servings per day of individual dietary score components by lowest and highest quintile of PDI and hPDI are shown in Table 2 . Participants in the highest vs lowest quintile, consumed a mean of approximately 1.9 additional servings of vegetables, 1.6 additional servings of fruit, 0.9 more servings of whole grains, 1.0 less serving of dairy, 0.4 less servings of animal fat, slightly less egg, and marginally less meat ( Table 2 ).

Table 3 shows hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for associations between the PDIs and prostate cancer progression. Of 2062 participants who met the inclusion criteria for the primary end point analyses, we observed 190 progression events (170 participants with biochemical recurrence, 7 participants with bone metastases, and 13 deaths related to prostate cancer; there were no secondary treatment events that were not preceded by 1 of the other outcomes) as the first recorded event over a median (IQR) follow-up of 6.5 (1.3-12.8) years after FFQ completion. In the fully adjusted models, participants in the highest quintile of PDI had a 47% lower risk of progression compared with individuals in the lowest quintile (HR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.37-0.74; P for trend = .003). In contrast, there was no evidence of an association with the hPDI (Q5 vs Q1: HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.54-1.20; P for trend = .34). There was no statistically significant difference in analysis in the healthful plant food group (Q5 vs Q1: HR , 0.58; 95% CI, 0.34-1.00; P for trend = .08) (eTable 2 in Supplement 1 ). No associations were seen between the unhealthful plant nor animal food groups with risk of prostate cancer progression.

The sample for our secondary analysis of prostate cancer–specific mortality included 2274 participants, with 61 prostate cancer–specific deaths and 302 other deaths. While there were no statistically significant associations between either dietary index and risk of prostate cancer–specific mortality ( Table 3 ), CIs were too wide to draw meaningful conclusions from point estimates (Q4 vs Q1: HR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.14-0.78; Q5 vs Q1: HR, 0.53; 95% CI, 0.17-1.66; P for trend = .16).

For both indices, we found no evidence of interactions between age, PSA, stage at diagnosis, or walking pace. For hPDI, Gleason grade at diagnosis was associated with modifying the association of hPDI with prostate cancer progression ( P for interaction = .03). Among participants with Gleason grade 7 or higher, participants in the highest quintile had a 55% lower risk of progression compared with the lowest quintile (HR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.25-0.81; P for trend = .01) (eTable 3 in Supplement 1 ). There was no statistically significant association in individuals with Gleason grade less than 7. We did not detect association modification by any factors for the associations of the indices with prostate cancer–specific mortality.

This longitudinal cohort study investigated associations of plant-based dietary patterns after a diagnosis of localized prostate cancer with risk of prostate cancer progression. We did not evaluate the unhealthful plant-based diet index, as it would not be recommended for improving health outcomes. We observed an association whereby individuals who scored the highest on the overall PDI had lower risk of prostate cancer progression compared with those who scored the lowest.

Our findings align with previous reports that plant-based diets may improve prostate cancer outcomes. For example, in a study that evaluated PDI in association with risk of incident prostate cancer (47 243 men followed up for 28 years), Loeb et al 16 reported that a higher PDI score was associated with 19% lower risk of incident prostate cancer that went on to be fatal (HR, 0.81; 95% CI, 0.64-1.01; P for trend = .04).

Our results contribute to the evolving body of research indicating the positive associations of plant-based diets with health outcomes. The PDI and its subindices were originally developed by Satija et al 2 , 3 to evaluate the associations of PDI with type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. Satija et al 2 , 3 found inverse associations between the overall PDI and hPDI for both outcomes. For PDI, other studies have observed a lower risk for diabetes, 5 cardiovascular disease risk, 23 cardiovascular mortality, 6 , 23 and total mortality. 6 , 23 For hPDI, studies have reported lower risk for diabetes, 5 cardiovascular disease risk, 4 cardiovascular mortality, 6 and total mortality. 4 , 6 These results are important in the context of localized prostate cancer, where men are more likely to die from these chronic diseases than their cancer.

We did not observe statistically significant associations for hPDI. Inconsistencies between the hPDI and overall PDI have been noted by others as well. In a 2022 study, Loeb et al 16 observed associations between PDI and risk of developing fatal prostate cancer, whereas associations for hPDI were only seen for risk of developing localized prostate cancer. A study by Kim et al 23 also reported statistically significant associations of PDI, but not hPDI, with risk of CVD. 23 It may be that because the distribution of hPDI was relatively compressed compared with the distribution of PDI, the variance of the estimator increased corresponding with the association of hPDI. There were modest differences in servings per day between highest and lowest categories of fruit juice, refined grains, and sweets and desserts—all of which are categorized with equal weighting into the unhealthful food group and run in opposite directions for the PDI vs hPDI. Moreover, when looking at the healthful, unhealthful, and animal components of the subindices separately, there was no association with the unhealthful component with prostate cancer progression. Perhaps classifying some of these unhealthful plant foods as “bad actors” in the absence of an established detrimental association specifically with prostate cancer outcomes have attenuated the findings for hPDI. For PDI, we observed that people in Q5 (compared with Q1) consumed a mean of an additional 0.9 to 1.9 servings per day of healthful plant foods (particularly vegetables, fruits, and whole grains), while they consumed 0.3 to 1.0 fewer servings per day of animal products (particularly dairy, animal fat, and egg). These particular healthful foods have been associated with reduced risk in prostate cancer outcomes. 24 - 26 While the similar consumption of fish and seafood, meat, and miscellaneous animal products among the extreme quintiles were unexpected, these results suggest that slightly reducing intake of animal products and placing more emphasis on more nutrient-dense plant-based foods may be advantageous.

Previous studies suggest several mechanisms through which plant-based diets may improve prostate cancer outcomes. Fruits and vegetables contain a variety of phytochemicals, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, that have been shown to protect against prostate cancer. 24 , 26 , 27 Plant foods are also a source of dietary fiber, which may promote satiety and regulate blood glucose levels. 28 In addition, animal-based foods (including meat and dairy) have been associated with increased exposure to potentially harmful substances, such as hormones and heterocyclic amines. 29 - 31 High intake of red and processed meats has been associated with increased insulin resistance and insulin-like growth factor-1, which have been linked to increased prostate cancer risk and potentially mortality. 32 - 37 Furthermore, milk and dairy (a primary source of insulin-like growth factor-1), have been associated with increased risk of prostate cancer 37 - 41 ; whole milk, in particular, has been associated with increased risk of prostate cancer recurrence. 38

There are several limitations to the study. First, measurement error is a known limitation of self-reported data, including nutritional information. However, the FFQ used in this cohort has been validated, and the dietary data were collected prior to events of progression. Therefore, we expect measurement error in dietary intakes to be comparable in participants who experienced an event and those who did not. Second, even participants in the highest quintile of PDI consumed meat and dairy products; therefore we are unable to assess the associations of fully plant-based diets (eg, vegan, vegetarian). Third, the CaPSURE registry also is comprised of primarily of college-educated White men, which limits generalizability. Fourth, given that this was an observational study, we could not control for any unknown or unmeasured confounders. Other healthy behaviors and social determinants of health may be common causes of consuming more plant-based food and risk of prostate cancer progression. However, adjustment for income and education did not alter associations. Additionally, we were unable to adjust for prediagnostic diet in this cohort, so cannot conclude that the results are independent of prediagnostic exposure. Conversely, this study has several notable strengths, including a well-characterized cohort with extensive clinical follow-up and detailed diet data, as well as being the first to examine PDI and oncologic outcomes after prostate cancer diagnosis, to our knowledge.

The findings of this cohort study suggest that plant-based dietary patterns may be inversely associated with risk of prostate cancer progression, although future research and replication of our findings is needed. These data are consistent with prior research demonstrating the importance of dietary factors in overall health and well-being.

Accepted for Publication: March 1, 2024.

Published: May 1, 2024. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.9053

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License . © 2024 Liu VN et al. JAMA Network Open .

Corresponding Author: Stacey A. Kenfield, ScD, Department of Urology, University of California, San Francisco, 550 16th St, 6th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94158 ( [email protected] ).

Author Contributions: Drs Liu and Kenfield had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Liu, Van Blarigan, Kenfield.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: Liu, Van Blarigan, Zhang, Graff, Loeb, Langlais, Cowan, Carroll, Chan, Kenfield.

Drafting of the manuscript: Liu.

Critical review of the manuscript for important intellectual content: Liu, Van Blarigan, Zhang, Graff, Loeb, Langlais, Cowan, Carroll, Chan, Kenfield.

Statistical analysis: Liu, Zhang, Kenfield.

Obtained funding: Chan.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Langlais, Cowan, Carroll, Kenfield.

Supervision: Van Blarigan, Loeb, Kenfield.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Van Blarigan reported serving as an advisor or reviewer for the American Institute for Cancer Research and Fight Colorectal Cancer outside the submitted work. Dr Zhang reported receiving personal fees from Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute outside the submitted work. Dr Graff reported receiving personal fees from Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP outside the submitted work. Dr Loeb reported a family member owning equity in Gilead Sciences outside the submitted work. Dr Chan and Dr Kenfield reported receiving research support from Veracyte in the form of analysis of some biospecimens without charges outside the submitted work. Dr Kenfield reported receiving personal fees from Fellow Health outside the submitted work. No other disclosures were reported.

Funding/Support: Dr Graff is supported by a Young Investigator Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation. Dr Loeb is supported by the New York State Department of Health, and by Tricia and Michael Berns. Dr Chan is supported by the Steven & Christine Burd Safeway Distinguished Professorship. Dr Kenfield is supported by the Helen Diller Family Chair in Population Science for Urologic Cancer. The Cancer of the Prostate Strategic Urologic Research Endeavor (CaPSURE) has been supported by grants from the Department of Defense (grant No. W81XWH-13-2-0074 and W81XWH-04-1-0850), Prostate Cancer Foundation, TAP Pharmaceuticals, National Cancer Institute Cancer Center Support (grant No. P30 CA 82103-18), and the Goldberg Benioff Program in Translational Cancer Biology.

Role of the Funder/Sponsor: The funders had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Data Sharing Statement: See Supplement 2 .

Additional Contributions: We thank the CaPSURE participants for making this research possible, and the research team who diligently worked on ensuring data quality.

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Testing for residual cancer cells before blood cell transplant therapy is important and practical, new study finds

Research published in JAMA Oncology highlights the feasibility of testing for lingering cancer cells for patients in remission from a high-risk blood cancer, says Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC Professor Christopher Hourigan.

John Pastor

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Cancer researcher

Patients in remission after battling a high-risk blood cancer are likely to have better outcomes if no trace of the cancer is detectable before the patients receive donor blood cells.

The finding in Thursday’s edition of JAMA Oncology emphasizes the importance and practicality of testing for measurable residual disease, a condition that refers to evidence of lingering cancer cells in the body after people receive apparently successful chemotherapy treatment in adults with acute myeloid leukemia. 

“The good news is this testing is doable,” said Christopher Hourigan, a Virginia Tech professor at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute  who directs the institute’s new Cancer Research Center in Washington, D.C. “We had previously shown this genetic approach massively outperformed the current testing being done clinically. This work goes further and shows you don't need to be at a specialized center with customized technology and high levels of expertise — testing can be done using commercially available kits potentially at any major modern hospital lab. It is now a matter of implementation.”

In a study of 537 patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) treated throughout the United States, scientists used a method called targeted ultra-deep DNA sequencing to see if they could find specific, leftover cancer-related gene mutations in the blood of patients who were in remission, but still awaiting a bone marrow transplant from donors to restore their healthy blood supply.

The scientists were looking at DNA in blood for mutations in the FLT3   gene, which is among the most common seen in patients with AML. They found that if as little as 1 in 10,000 molecules of DNA tested contained a mutation, it corresponded with a higher risk of the cancer returning, and lower chances of survival with current standard treatments.

“Genetic testing is just one tool,” said Hourigan, who is also a professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine .  “It's not the total answer but it can help us personalize our therapy more, so long as the guide rails are in place for safety, as we understand better how beneficial prior treatments have been to the individual patient. We don't want to treat a number. We're treating the person. But if it helps that person, then, yes, we should use the number.”

Hourigan is the corresponding author of the study, and Laura Dillon and Gege Gui of the Laboratory of Myeloid Malignancies of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute are first authors of the research.

Hourigan was an ad hoc member of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee that voted 12-0 earlier this month in favor of using measurable residual disease testing in those with another high-risk blood cancer called multiple myeloma. 

Before joining Virginia Tech in April, Hourigan led the Laboratory of Myeloid Malignancies in the intramural research program of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health. The study was supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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What marijuana reclassification means for the United States

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country.

FILE - Marijuana plants are seen at a secured growing facility in Washington County, N.Y., May 12, 2023. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

FILE - Marijuana plants are seen at a secured growing facility in Washington County, N.Y., May 12, 2023. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

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Budtender Rey Cruz weighs cannabis for a customer at the Marijuana Paradise on Friday, April 19, 2024, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Cloud 9 Cannabis employee Beau McQueen, right, helps a customer, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Arlington, Wash. The shop is one of the first dispensaries to open under the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board’s social equity program, established in efforts to remedy some of the disproportionate effects marijuana prohibition had on communities of color. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is moving toward reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug. The Justice Department proposal would recognize the medical uses of cannabis , but wouldn’t legalize it for recreational use.

The proposal would move marijuana from the “Schedule I” group to the less tightly regulated “Schedule III.”

So what does that mean, and what are the implications?


Technically, nothing yet. The proposal must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, and then undergo a public-comment period and review from an administrative judge, a potentially lengthy process.

FILE - A marijuana plant is visible at a medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J., March 22, 2019 The Biden administration's move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous but still illegal drug was hailed as a monumental step in reshaping national policy. But it appears it would do little to ease a longstanding problem in the industry, a lack of loans and banking services other businesses take for granted. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Still, the switch is considered “paradigm-shifting, and it’s very exciting,” Vince Sliwoski, a Portland, Oregon-based cannabis and psychedelics attorney who runs well-known legal blogs on those topics, told The Associated Press when the federal Health and Human Services Department recommended the change.

“I can’t emphasize enough how big of news it is,” he said.

It came after President Joe Biden asked both HHS and the attorney general, who oversees the DEA, last year to review how marijuana was classified. Schedule I put it on par, legally, with heroin, LSD, quaaludes and ecstasy, among others.

Biden, a Democrat, supports legalizing medical marijuana for use “where appropriate, consistent with medical and scientific evidence,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Thursday. “That is why it is important for this independent review to go through.”

Cloud 9 Cannabis employee Beau McQueen, right, helps a customer, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Arlington, Wash. The shop is one of the first dispensaries to open under the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board's social equity program, established in efforts to remedy some of the disproportionate effects marijuana prohibition had on communities of color. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

Cloud 9 Cannabis employee Beau McQueen, right, helps a customer, Saturday, April 13, 2024, in Arlington, Wash. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)


Ap audio: what marijuana reclassification means for the united states.

AP correspondent Haya Panjwani reports on a proposal for the federal government to reclassify marijuana in what would be a historic shift that could have wide ripple effects across the country.

No. Schedule III drugs — which include ketamine, anabolic steroids and some acetaminophen-codeine combinations — are still controlled substances.

They’re subject to various rules that allow for some medical uses, and for federal criminal prosecution of anyone who traffics in the drugs without permission.

No changes are expected to the medical marijuana programs now licensed in 38 states or the legal recreational cannabis markets in 23 states, but it’s unlikely they would meet the federal production, record-keeping, prescribing and other requirements for Schedule III drugs.

There haven’t been many federal prosecutions for simply possessing marijuana in recent years, even under marijuana’s current Schedule I status, but the reclassification wouldn’t have an immediate impact on people already in the criminal justice system.

“Put simple, this move from Schedule I to Schedule III is not getting people out of jail,” said David Culver, senior vice president of public affairs at the U.S. Cannabis Council.

But rescheduling in itself would have some impact, particularly on research and marijuana business taxes.


Because marijuana is on Schedule I, it’s been very difficult to conduct authorized clinical studies that involve administering the drug. That has created something of a Catch-22: calls for more research, but barriers to doing it. (Scientists sometimes rely instead on people’s own reports of their marijuana use.)

Marijuana plants are seen at a secured growing facility in Washington County, N.Y., May 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

Schedule III drugs are easier to study, though the reclassification wouldn’t immediately reverse all barriers to study.

“It’s going to be really confusing for a long time,” said Ziva Cooper, director of the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Cannabis and Cannabinoids. “When the dust has settled, I don’t know how many years from now, research will be easier.”

Among the unknowns: whether researchers will be able to study marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries and how the federal Food and Drug Administration might oversee that.

Some researchers are optimistic.

“Reducing the schedule to schedule 3 will open up the door for us to be able to conduct research with human subjects with cannabis,” said Susan Ferguson, director of University of Washington’s Addictions, Drug & Alcohol Institute in Seattle.


Under the federal tax code, businesses involved in “trafficking” in marijuana or any other Schedule I or II drug can’t deduct rent, payroll or various other expenses that other businesses can write off. (Yes, at least some cannabis businesses, particularly state-licensed ones, do pay taxes to the federal government, despite its prohibition on marijuana.) Industry groups say the tax rate often ends up at 70% or more.

The deduction rule doesn’t apply to Schedule III drugs, so the proposed change would cut cannabis companies’ taxes substantially.

They say it would treat them like other industries and help them compete against illegal competitors that are frustrating licensees and officials in places such as New York .

“You’re going to make these state-legal programs stronger,” says Adam Goers, of The Cannabist Company, formerly Columbia Care. He co-chairs a coalition of corporate and other players that’s pushing for rescheduling.

It could also mean more cannabis promotion and advertising if those costs could be deducted, according to Beau Kilmer, co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Center.

Rescheduling wouldn’t directly affect another marijuana business problem: difficulty accessing banks, particularly for loans, because the federally regulated institutions are wary of the drug’s legal status. The industry has been looking instead to a measure called the SAFE Banking Act . It has repeatedly passed the House but stalled in the Senate.


Indeed, there are, including the national anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. President Kevin Sabet, a former Obama administration drug policy official, said the HHS recommendation “flies in the face of science, reeks of politics” and gives a regrettable nod to an industry “desperately looking for legitimacy.”

Some legalization advocates say rescheduling weed is too incremental. They want to keep the focus on removing it completely from the controlled substances list, which doesn’t include such items as alcohol or tobacco (they’re regulated, but that’s not the same).

Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said that simply reclassifying marijuana would be “perpetuating the existing divide between state and federal marijuana policies.” Kaliko Castille, a past president of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, said rescheduling just “re-brands prohibition,” rather than giving an all-clear to state licensees and putting a definitive close to decades of arrests that disproportionately pulled in people of color.

“Schedule III is going to leave it in this kind of amorphous, mucky middle where people are not going to understand the danger of it still being federally illegal,” he said.

This story has been corrected to show that Kaliko Castille is a past president, not president, of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and that Columbia Care is now The Cannabist Company.

___ Peltz reported from New York. Associated Press writers Colleen Long in Washington and Carla K. Johnson in Seattle contributed to this report.


China launches Chang'e 6 lunar probe, revving up space race with U.S.

WENCHANG SPACE LAUNCH SITE, China — China launched an uncrewed lunar spacecraft Friday in a first-of-its-kind mission to bring back samples from the far side of the moon, the latest step in a rapidly advancing Chinese space program that is spurring competition with the United States and others. 

The Chang’e 6 lifted off on time at 5:27 p.m. local time (5:27 a.m. ET) from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in China’s southern island province of Hainan.

The launch of the lunar probe, which NBC News was one of a handful of news organizations to attend, and the national excitement around it had transformed the normally sleepy fishing village of Longlou into a major tourist attraction, with crowds spilling from tour buses and heading to beaches and rooftops with the best views of the spaceport. One rooftop owner said he had sold out 200 seats at 200 yuan (about $28) each.

A Long March 5 rocket, carrying the Chang'e-6 mission lunar probe, lifts off

Ahead of the launch there was a festival-like atmosphere on the beach, where vendors offered space paraphernalia and groups of children sold Chinese flags for 3 yuan (about 40 cents) each. Families sprawled on picnic blankets playing cards, while others strung up hammocks between palm trees so they could wait in the limited shade.

Yiuwah Ng, a 28-year-old real estate office worker from the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai, traveled six hours by car and another three hours by ferry to stake out the best spot along the shore, where he had been camping for three days with friends and his dog. 

“I want to witness this historic moment,” he said of the launch, his fourth. “It’s an important first step for China’s lunar exploration.”

Max Zhang, a self-described “rocket chaser” from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, has been photographing launches at Wenchang from the beach since 2011. 

“I’m addicted to the shock of seeing the launches, especially the sound of the rocket flame,” he said. “It shakes my heart.”

Space enthusiasts await the launch of China’s Chang’e 6 lunar probe on the island of Hainan on Thursday.

‘ A force to be reckoned with’

If successful, the Chang’e mission will be a crucial step in realizing the country’s goals of landing Chinese astronauts on the moon by 2030 and eventually building a base on the lunar surface.

The outcome of the mission will also have implications far beyond China’s borders. A slew of spacefaring nations — including Russia, India, Japan and the U.S. — also have their sights set on the moon, creating what some experts have likened to a new kind of space race.

“China is trying to prove that it’s a force to be reckoned with, and so it’s always that China is competing against everyone in space,” said Clayton Swope, deputy director of the Aerospace Security Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

A successful Chang’e 6 mission would demonstrate how sophisticated China’s lunar exploration program has become in a relatively short time.

“Twenty-five years ago, they had very rudimentary space capabilities,” said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a public policy think tank based in Washington. “Going from that to where they are today — I think they’ve clearly exceeded Russia, and their space capabilities are really only second to the United States.”

China achieved its first moon landing in 2013 with the Chang’e 3 mission, which set a lander and rover on the lunar surface to study the moon’s terrain. Before that, only the U.S. and the former Soviet Union had successfully landed spacecraft on the moon.

In 2019, China notched another historic milestone with its Chang’e 4 flight, becoming the first country to land a probe on the far side of the moon , the part that permanently faces away from Earth.

The following year, in 2020, China returned to the moon’s near side, which always faces Earth, landing the Chang’e 5 spacecraft on a volcanic plain known as Oceanus Procellarum. The probe retrieved samples there and brought them back to Earth, representing a big technological leap forward. 

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has invited scientists from the U.S., Europe and Asia to apply to borrow the lunar samples for their own research, holding a pitch meeting last week in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Researchers funded by NASA received rare approval from Congress to submit proposals, raising the possibility of high-level U.S.-China space cooperation that is otherwise prohibited by U.S. law.

This time, the Chang’e 6 spacecraft is aiming to land and retrieve samples from the South Pole-Aitken basin, an ancient and sprawling impact crater on the far side of the moon.

Spectators on a beach near the Wenchang Space Launch Site on Thursday.

Conducting a sample return mission from the side of the moon that always faces away from Earth is challenging because mission controllers on the ground have no way of directly contacting a spacecraft in that region. Instead, signals need to be relayed through a satellite now orbiting the moon that China launched from the same site in Hainan last month.

While difficult, the effort could have enormous payoffs. Studies suggest that the moon’s near side was more volcanically active than the far side, which means all of the lunar samples obtained thus far may be telling only part of the story of the moon’s origin and evolution.

Collecting lunar samples from different geological eras and regions “is of great value and significant for all mankind to have a more comprehensive understanding of the moon and even the origin of the solar system,” Ge Ping, a mission leader from CNSA’s Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center, told reporters in Hainan on Thursday.

Beyond its scientific objectives, the Chang’e 6 mission carries with it geopolitical considerations. The flight is a precursor to a pair of Chinese robotic missions to the moon’s south pole to scout locations to build a moon base. Last year, the Chinese and Russian space agencies agreed to jointly build a research station on the lunar surface.

NASA and its commercial partners also aim to establish a permanent presence at the lunar south pole, though the agency’s Artemis moon missions have faced numerous delays and budget overruns . The current timeline has American astronauts returning to the lunar surface in 2026 at the earliest.

With China and Russia forming a rival coalition, there is some pressure for the U.S. to keep its foot on the accelerator, Harrison said.

“It does matter who gets there first, and it matters how you get there and what kind of coalition you’re bringing with you,” he said.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has on multiple occasions warned that the U.S. runs the risk of falling behind China’s lunar ambitions. In an interview this week with Yahoo Finance , Nelson outlined what’s at stake in the new space race.

“I think it’s not beyond the pale that China would suddenly say, ‘We are here. You stay out,’” he said.

Asked Thursday about international competition in space, Ge said, “All countries in the world should explore, develop and use outer space peacefully.” 

“There is no need to worry too much,” he added. “Space programs are for all humans.”

A street vendor sells space merchandise ahead of the lunar launch Friday.

As more countries around the world build up space capabilities, NASA has pushed for more global cooperation, establishing the Artemis Accords in 2020 to promote peaceful, responsible and sustainable practices. U.S. law prevents China from joining the 39 other nations that have signed the accords, which both China and Russia have criticized as a tool to promote U.S. dominance in space.

Many Western space policy experts have in turn raised concerns about China’s and Russia’s intentions. The full scope of China’s ambitions in space is not known, for instance, because its space agency does not operate with the same level of transparency as NASA. The country’s space program is also more closely tied to the military than in the U.S.

“We cannot ever say that China’s investment in civilian space technologies are only civilian and not to be used for military purposes,” said Namrata Goswami, a professor in the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University and co-author of the 2020 book “Scramble for the Skies: The Great Power Competition to Control the Resources of Outer Space.”

While it may feel as if China’s spaceflight objectives have accelerated in recent years, they are part of a decadeslong strategy, Goswami said.

“Many of the leaders of China’s space program announced these goals and timelines 20 years ago,” she said. “What is astounding to me is that they are achieving almost all their milestones on time, and for them, that has a strategic advantage in the global narrative of who’s doing it better.”

As much as the moon and its resources can provoke competition among nations, space exploration can also be unifying, Swope said.

“We are literally a speck in the universe, and when we go to the moon or explore space, we as humankind have that shared human trait where we want to understand the unknown and we want to discover,” he said. “That does transcend politics.”

Janis Mackey Frayer reported from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in China, and Denise Chow reported from New York.

research proposal study area

Janis Mackey Frayer is a Beijing-based correspondent for NBC News.

research proposal study area

Denise Chow is a reporter for NBC News Science focused on general science and climate change.


  1. What's The Importance Of Research Proposal

    research proposal study area

  2. (PDF) Research Proposal

    research proposal study area

  3. 8+ Research Project Proposal Templates

    research proposal study area

  4. Choose from 40 Research Proposal Templates & Examples. 100% Free

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  5. Well-Written PhD Research Proposal Sample

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  6. How To Write A Phd Study Plan

    research proposal study area


  1. Study setting / Area: what you need to know!!!

  2. How To Write A Research Proposal 101: The What, Why & How (With Examples)

  3. Full Research Proposal Example

  4. How to write a research Proposal ?

  5. How to write Research Proposal

  6. How to Write a Research Proposal


  1. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We've included a few for you below. Example research proposal #1: "A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management".

  2. Writing a Research Proposal

    Although a research proposal does not represent a completed research study, there is still an expectation that it is well-written and follows the style and rules of good academic writing. Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues. Your proposal should focus on only a few key research questions in order to support ...

  3. PDF Research Proposal Format Example

    1. Research Proposal Format Example. Following is a general outline of the material that should be included in your project proposal. I. Title Page II. Introduction and Literature Review (Chapters 2 and 3) A. Identification of specific problem area (e.g., what is it, why it is important). B. Prevalence, scope of problem.

  4. How to Write a Research Proposal in 2024: Structure, Examples & Common

    A research proposal is commonly written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project when enrolling for a research-based postgraduate degree. ... Connect the literature to your own particular study area and topic. Discuss whether and how your proposed study draws upon, deviates from, synthesizes, or contributes new knowledge to ...

  5. How to prepare a Research Proposal

    Most students and beginning researchers do not fully understand what a research proposal means, nor do they understand its importance. 1 A research proposal is a detailed description of a proposed study designed to investigate a given problem. 2 A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to ...

  6. How to write a research proposal

    A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. You'll need to set out the issues that are central to the topic area and how you intend to address them with your research. To do this, you'll need to give the following: an outline of the general area of study within which your research falls.

  7. How to write a research proposal?

    A proposal needs to show how your work fits into what is already known about the topic and what new paradigm will it add to the literature, while specifying the question that the research will answer, establishing its significance, and the implications of the answer. [ 2] The proposal must be capable of convincing the evaluation committee about ...

  8. A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

    Step 1: Choose your topic. First you have to come up with some ideas. Your thesis or dissertation topic can start out very broad. Think about the general area or field you're interested in—maybe you already have specific research interests based on classes you've taken, or maybe you had to consider your topic when applying to graduate school and writing a statement of purpose.

  9. How to Write a Research Proposal

    A research proposal is a concise and coherent summary of your proposed research. It sets out the central issues or questions that you intend to address. It outlines the general area of study within which your research falls, referring to the current state of knowledge and any recent debates on the topic.

  10. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    As you write up your research proposal, remember the all-important core purpose: to convince. Your research proposal needs to sell your study in terms of suitability and viability. So, focus on crafting a convincing narrative to ensure a strong proposal. At the same time, pay close attention to your university's requirements.

  11. 11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

    Key Takeaways. Developing a research proposal involves the following preliminary steps: identifying potential ideas, choosing ideas to explore further, choosing and narrowing a topic, formulating a research question, and developing a working thesis. A good topic for a research paper interests the writer and fulfills the requirements of the ...

  12. PDF How to Write a Good Postgraduate RESEARCH PROPOSAL

    institution you are applying to. However, if you are not given any guidelines on how to format your research proposal, you could adopt the suggested structure below. This is also relevant if you are applying for external funding or asking your employer to sponsor you to undertake a research degree. Suggested structure for a research proposal:


    research proposal is the formal description of this process. The first part of the proposal will include the research question to be answered along with a statement of why the area of research is important and what is known already. The second part of the proposal is the methods section, where the plan for answering the research question is given.

  14. Research Proposal: A step-by-step guide with template

    A dissertation or thesis research proposal may take on a variety of forms depending on the university, but most generally a research proposal will include the following elements: Titles or title pages that give a description of the research. Detailed explanation of the proposed research and its background. Outline of the research project.

  15. How To Write A Research Proposal

    Here is an explanation of each step: 1. Title and Abstract. Choose a concise and descriptive title that reflects the essence of your research. Write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It should provide a brief overview of your proposal. 2.

  16. Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

    Abstract: This is a brief (300-500 words) summary that includes the research question, your rationale for the study, and any applicable hypothesis. You should also include a brief description of your methodology, including procedures, samples, instruments, etc. Introduction: The opening paragraph of your research proposal is, perhaps, the most ...

  17. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We've included a few for you below. Example research proposal #1: 'A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management'.

  18. How to Write Description of Study Area in Research

    What is a study area in research? Study areas are locations where a researcher plans to carry out an in-depth study about a topic or existing problem. This is usually indicated in the research proposal for the supervisor to vet and approve. If approved, the researcher or student is expected to visit the study area to observe and gather ...

  19. Overview of the Research Process, Study Area and Study Population

    A population of 50,000 resided in the area at the time of the survey. The center is located in Southwestern Ethiopia, Jimma zone, around Gilgel Gibe Hydroelectric dam, 260 km southwest of Addis Ababa and 55 km Northeast of Jimma town ( Figure 1 ). Location map of the study area: Gilgel Gibe Field Research Center.

  20. 17 Research Proposal Examples (2024)

    17 Research Proposal Examples. By Chris Drew (PhD) / January 12, 2024. A research proposal systematically and transparently outlines a proposed research project. The purpose of a research proposal is to demonstrate a project's viability and the researcher's preparedness to conduct an academic study. It serves as a roadmap for the researcher.

  21. 3. Methodology of Research 3.1. Study Area and Target Population

    The secondary data will be gathered from published as well as unpublished, Land sat Satellite images of the study area, shape file of the study area, documents, reports, books, journals, newspapers and other electronic media (internet) 3.4 Methods of data collection Methods of data collection are one of the basic parts of any research work.

  22. Selecting Research Area

    Selecting Research Area. Selecting a research area is the very first step in writing your dissertation. It is important for you to choose a research area that is interesting to you professionally, as well as, personally. Experienced researchers note that "a topic in which you are only vaguely interested at the start is likely to become a ...

  23. Research Proposal (docx)

    Research Proposal. Moore 4 of that individual make them a lawbreaker. Studies incorporates steady lying, neglect to foster sympathy, anticipate that their cravings should be taken special care of them, adoring somebody for doing what they need, high contrast scholars, and fault others. Lawbreakers who have been tried are ended up being less dependable, bigoted, and lacking in poise.

  24. UT Tyler Health Science Center

    Pioneering research, innovating academic programs and impacting our community. Come explore what the UT Tyler Health Science Center has to offer. ... The library features both private and public study areas and maintains a collection of over 5,000 periodicals and 3,000 books, most of which are easily accessible in an electronic format. ...

  25. Plant-Based Diets and Disease Progression in Men With Prostate Cancer

    The findings of this cohort study suggest that plant-based dietary patterns may be inversely associated with risk of prostate cancer progression, although future research and replication of our findings is needed. These data are consistent with prior research demonstrating the importance of dietary factors in overall health and well-being.

  26. Testing for residual cancer cells before blood cell transplant therapy

    Testing for residual cancer cells before blood cell transplant therapy is important and practical, new study finds. Research published in JAMA Oncology highlights the feasibility of testing for lingering cancer cells for patients in remission from a high-risk blood cancer, says Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC Professor Christopher Hourigan.

  27. What marijuana reclassification means for the U.S.

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is moving toward reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug. The Justice Department proposal would recognize the medical uses of cannabis, but wouldn't legalize it for recreational use. The proposal would move marijuana from the "Schedule I" group to the less tightly ...

  28. China launches Chang'e 6 lunar probe, revving up space race

    The Chang'e 6 lifted off on time at 5:27 p.m. local time (5:27 a.m. ET) from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in China's southern island province of Hainan. The launch of the lunar probe, which ...