A research proposal is a document proposing a research project, usually in the sciences or academic fields, which requests funding/sponsorship for that research project.

"They are used to persuade potential supervisors and funders that your work is worthy of their support" - Prospects 

The main objective should be to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it. 

It should always clearly state the central issue or question that you intend to address through your research and outline the general area of research.

It should contain a brief review of available literature, knowledge sources and debates on the topic to demonstrate the originality of the proposed research.

It's important to avoid unsupported subjective arguments and don't assume that the reader will be intimately familiar with the subject.

Use this 'Research Proposal Example' checklist alongside the proposal document you are planning to submit, to make sure it contains all the right information, is structured and coherent, and displays the facts in an interesting and engaging way. 

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Complete checklist details

Enter the checklist details in the form fields below. 

Enter sponsor details

Enter details of the research proposal in the fields below. 

Pre-Proposal Writing Tasks:

Gather information

Although it is crucial to follow and strictly adhere to the RFP guidelines before you start your proposal, make sure you think about, gather information and address the following questions before starting the proposal:

Plan your proposal

Using the information gathered in task 5 and the RFP/proposal guidelines, list what you plan to include in the following sections:

Choose a title

Your proposal title needs to be catchy, descriptive, informative and pre-dispose the reader favorably towards the proposal.

Brainstorm potential title ideas and record them below.

Run each title option through the below criteria and choose the final title by selecting the title which best meets the criteria. 

Record your final title in the field below. 

  • 1
    Is it concise?
  • 2
    Is it descriptive?
  • 3
    Is it informative?
  • 4
    Is it catchy?
  • 5
    Does it predispose the reader, favorably, towards the proposal?

Add this to the cover page in your proposal document. 

Proposal Writing Tasks:

Write your introduction

The introduction typically begins with a general statement of the problem area, with a focus on a specific research problem, to be followed by the rationale or justification for the proposed study

Provide brief answers to the following questions, and use what you planned to include in your introduction, to help you write a concise, interesting and informative first draft introduction in the last field.

This is what you planned to include in your introduction: {{form.Introduction}}

Check your introduction

Your introduction is a key part of your proposal as it introduces the reader to your proposal.

Make sure your introduction meets the following criteria.

Your first draft introduction:


Edit your first draft until you are happy it meets the below criteria and then add it to the bottom field, ready to copy and paste into your proposal document. 

  • 1
    Have you provided the necessary background or context for your research problem?
  • 2
    Have you framed the research question in the context of either a current "hot" topic or an older topic that still remains viable?
  • 3
    Is there an historical backdrop?

When you are satisfied, add this to 'Introduction' section in your proposal document.  

Confirm your aims & objectives

Think about what you hope to achieve with the research project and determine the specific steps that need to be taken to achieve the desired outcomes.

Record the project aims and objectives in the fields below. 

Add this to the 'Aims& objectives' section in your proposal document. 

Confirm your rough timeline

You should include an outline of the various stages and corresponding timelines for developing and implementing the research. 

Record the proposed timings and the justifications for these timings in the fields below. 

Add this to the 'Aims & objectives' section in your proposal document. 

Write your literature review

This section requires you to provide an overview of the current knowledge that exists in your research topic area. You must identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research to state the case for your research. 

Using mainly primary sources, state the significance of these resources and perform critical analysis of these resources in your proposal document.

This is what you planned to include in your literature review: {{form.Literature_Review}}

Record your primary, secondary, and influential paper sources below, so you can add these to your references section. 

Check your literature review

Once you have written your literature review, check it meets the following criteria: 

  • 1
    Is your review stimulating and engaging?
  • 2
    Have you used subheadings to bring order and structure to your review?
  • 3
    Do you cite influential papers?
  • 4
    Have you critically evaluated cited papers?
  • 5
    Have you included any recent developments?
  • 6
    Have you removed any irrelevant or trivial references?
  • 7
    Is the majority of your research from primary sources?

Write your methodology

This section will demonstrate how you plan to tackle your research problem.

To help you write a clear and structured methodology use your plan and answer the below questions to give you an outline to follow and keep you on track when writing this section of your proposal document.  

This is what you planned to include in the methodology: {{form.Methodology}}

Write your expected results

Obviously you do not yet have the results at this stage. However, you need to have an idea about the results you plan to get.

Use your plan and answer the following questions before you write your expected results section

This is what you planned to include in the expected results section: {{form.Expected_Results}}

Write your discussion/conclusion

Use this section to convince your reader of the potential impact of your proposed research.

Use your plan and answer these questions before you write your discussion section, so you can convince the reader of the impact of your research.

This is what you planned to include in the discussion/conclusion section: {{form.Discussion}}

Write the abstract

While the summary or abstract should be the first element of your finished proposal, it’s often best to write it last - as its simply an abbreviated version of your project

Write your abstract and then check it includes the following: 

  • 1
    The research question
  • 2
    The rationale for the study
  • 3
    The hypothesis (if any)
  • 4
    The method
  • 5
    The key findings

List your sources/reference

Make sure you have a reference section, in your proposal document, that includes the various sources of information you have used to put this research proposal together. 

These are the sources you recorded earlier: 




Pre-Submission Tasks:

Check the proposal meets requirements

Check that the proposal you have written meets the guidelines/requirements that have been given to you for this research proposal. 


In addition to this, review your proposal and make sure it answers the below questions: 

  • 1
    Have you provided context to frame the research question?
  • 2
    Have you limited the boundary conditions for your research?
  • 3
    Have you cited landmark studies?
  • 4
    Have you accurately presented the theoretical and empirical contributions by other researchers?
  • 5
    Have you stayed focused on the research question?
  • 6
    Have you developed a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research?
  • 7
    Is there a clear sense of direction to your proposal?
  • 8
    Have you cited all references?
  • 9
    Have you used simple, non-technical language?

Get a fresh pair of eyes to proofread it

Upload the first draft of your finished proposal document and send it to a "cold reader" to review. Give them a copy of the proposal guidelines/requirements, but little other information.

Ask them to read the proposal quickly as this is how the sponsor is likely to view your proposal and ask them to answer the following two questions: 

  • Do they understand it?
  • Does it make sense?

Implement feedback

Update your current proposal document and record the feedback you have received for future proposals. 

Read through one more time

Upload your final proposal, read it through one final time, and answer the following questions to make sure you have everything covered before submission. 

  • 1
    Have you presented a compelling case?
  • 2
    Does your project seem feasible? Is it overly ambitious? Does it have other weaknesses?
  • 3
    Have you stated the means that grantors can use to evaluate the success of your project after you’ve executed it?

Submit the proposal

Submit your proposal in-line with any requirements. 



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