Research Paper Guide

Writing Research Proposal

Last updated on: Nov 20, 2023

Writing a Research Proposal - Outline, Format, and Examples

By: Nathan D.

13 min read

Reviewed By: Rylee W.

Published on: Mar 24, 2023

Research Proposal

Ready to take on the world of research, but feeling a bit intimidated by the proposal-writing process? You're not alone! Writing a research proposal can seem like a daunting task, especially if you're new to the game. 

But don't worry – we're here to help make the process as easy and exciting as possible!

Think of your research proposal as a sales pitch for your ideas. It's your chance to convince others that your project is worth their time and investment. And just like with any great sales pitch, the key is to show passion and enthusiasm for your work.

In this guide, we'll demystify the proposal-writing process. We'll cover everything from defining your research question to outlining your methodology to presenting your budget. 

So get ready to rock this proposal writing journey!

Research Proposal

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What is a Research Proposal?

As per the research proposal definition, it is a concise summary of your research paper. It introduces the general idea of your research by highlighting the questions and issues you are going to address in your paper.

For writing a good and ‘acceptance worthy’ proposal, demonstrating the uniqueness and worthiness of your research paper is important.

Below is a detailed definition that will help you understand it better.

‘A research proposal is a document that is written to present and justify your interest and need for researching a particular topic.’

Similarly, a good proposal must highlight the benefits and o utcomes of the proposed study, supported by persuasive evidence.

Purpose of Research Proposal 

Knowing what the goal of writing a research proposal is can make the process easier and help you get your project approved by faculty. 

Let’s break down what makes up a good research proposal. 

Filling Gaps in Existing Knowledge 

Crafting a research proposal is an opportunity to explore the depths of your topic and uncover unturned stones. 

By identifying areas previously unexamined, you can open up new perspectives which could provide substantial value to your project. This demonstrates your contribution to knowledge. 

With such insights in hand, faculty will quickly recognize that there's something special about this study – setting it apart from others on the same subject!

Underscoring Existing Knowledge 

A research proposal is a chance for you to show how good you are at analyzing things and understanding past studies. 

With evidence-based data, you can demonstrate how these studies relate to each other - which agrees or disagrees with current theories about the topic. 

Whether it's presenting meaningful insights or uncovering new ones, this exercise will challenge your ability to think critically!

Adding New Original Knowledge 

To create a compelling research proposal, you must demonstrate your understanding of the existing body of knowledge on your topic. 

You should also bring something new to the table. You can explore primary sources like interviews or surveys with experts or members involved in this study. 

Showcase how this proposed project adds value and moves conversations forward; make sure that it is relevant to today's context!

In conclusion, the purpose of a research proposal is to identify gaps in existing knowledge and provide new, original perspectives on the topic. By doing this, you'll be able to craft an impactful study that faculty will find hard to ignore! 

How to Create a Research Proposal Outline?

Sometimes students don’t realize how important a research paper proposal is and end up putting all the information together without following the basic outline or thinking this through.

Before starting with the outline, you need to understand the basic components. A clear outline is important when it comes to presenting the literature review and writing the entire paper.

Here is a basic format you can follow while writing your proposal.

  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Research Methodology

It might seem like a dreadful task and especially for the students who are new to this. It requires good writing as well as research skills.

Here is a sample template to further explain the outline.

Research Proposal Template

RESEARCH PROPOSAL TEMPLATE

Need help with creating an outline for your research paper? Check out this in-depth read on how to create an effective research paper outline !

How to Start a Research Proposal?

Many students think that starting a research proposal is the same as creating an outline. No, it is not, and knowing how to start with your research proposal on the right track is like getting done with half of it.

Below are the important steps to start a research proposal.

  • Begin working on it as soon as possible.
  • Conduct thorough and in-depth research.
  • Instead of forming the title first, find the main theme or problem that you would like to discuss in your research.
  • Collect and save the research information with proper and complete citation and reference information.
  • Divide the collected details into the sections of the proposal and stick to them.

Writing a research proposal is tricky, but when you start it beforehand then you will have enough time to understand your main topic’s different aspects.

Procrastinating and leaving it for the last few days before submission will only land you in trouble.

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How to Write a Research Proposal

Now you have the basic outline you can follow. Let’s discuss how to write it by following the format mentioned above.

1. Choose the Title Carefully

Your proposal title should be concise and clear to indicate your research question. Your readers should know what to expect in the paper after reading the title. Avoid writing titles in a general perspective or phrases like “An investigation of …” or “A review of …” etc. Make it concise and well-defined.

2. Add a Concise Abstract

‘How to write an abstract for a research proposal?’

The abstract is a short summary that is around 100-250 words. The abstract should include the research question, the hypothesis of your research (if there is any), the research methodology, and the findings.

If the proposal is detailed, it will require a section of the contents after the abstract. It, knowing how to write an abstract  will be helpful and can save you from making any blunders.

3. Add a Strong Introduction

You need to start with a strong introduction. The introduction is written to provide a background or context related to your research problem. It is important to frame the research question while writing the proposal.

Start the introduction with a general statement related to the problem area you are focusing on and justify your study.

The introduction usually covers the following elements.

  • What is the purpose of your research or study?
  • Mention the background information and significance before you introduce your research question.
  • Introduce your research question in a way that its significance is highlighted by setting the stage for it.
  • Briefly mention the issues that you are going to discuss and highlight in your study.
  • Make sure that you identify the independent and dependent variables in the title of your study.
  • If there is a hypothesis or a theory related to your research, state it in the introduction.

Have a very clear and concise idea about your research, and make sure that you do not deviate from the main research question. A clear idea will help you craft a perfect thesis. Here is how you can create a crisp and interesting  thesis introduction  along with a basic guideline.

4. Clarify the Research Objectives

Your research objectives will explain what the writer is trying to achieve. Moreover, these aims and objectives must be achievable. It means that it must be framed according to the:

  • Available time
  • Infrastructure
  • Other important resources.

However, it is beneficial to read all the developments in the field and find research gaps before deciding your objective. It will help you come up with suitable aims for your projects.

5. Add Relevant Literature Review

A separate section dedicated to the literature review will allow you to conduct extensive background research and support your research question with credible sources and research.

The following are the basic purposes of the literature review.

  • To give reference to the researchers whose study has been a part of your research.
  • To help you construct a precise and clear research question.
  • To critically evaluate previous literature information related to your research.
  • To understand research issues relevant to the topic of your research.
  • To convince the reader that your research is an important contribution to the relevant niche.

A literature review is an important component. Learning  how to write a literature review  will help you compose an engaging and impressive literature review easily.

Keep your literature review organized by adding a subheading to maintain a smooth flow in the content. Try not to bore your readers and your instructor or the committee. Write it in an engaging manner.

6. Mention the Significance of the Research

The significance of your research will identify the importance of your work. It should be mainly stated in the introductory paragraph.

You must highlight how your research is beneficial for the respective field of study. Similarly, you can also state its contribution to the field in both the broader and narrow sense.

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7. Explain the Research Methodology

‘How to write a methods section of a research proposal?’

This section explains how you are going to conduct your research. Explain why the specific method is suitable for your research and how it will help you attain your research goals. Your research methodology will give you an organized plan for the research.

Mention sufficient information regarding your research methodology for readers to understand how you are conducting your research. It must contain enough information regarding the study for another researcher to implement it.

i.) Types of Research Methodology

Choose the type of research methodology that is suitable for your research.

a.) Qualitative type is used in a theoretical type of research like that in literature.

Some research involves both; if your research topic also involves analyzing both the statistical data and theory, then make sure that you use them appropriately.   For a qualitative approach, the method section of your proposal needs to be more detailed and elaborate compared to the one in the quantitative approach. How you will collect your data and analyze it according to the qualitative approach should be described with great care.

b.) Quantitative research is suitable for projects involving collecting and analyzing statistical data like that in social sciences, medicine, and psychology.    When you choose a quantitative approach for your research, the method section should contain answers to the following elements.

  • Design – Is it a laboratory experiment or a survey?
  • What are the sample size and the subject of your study?
  • What is the procedure of your study, and how will you carry out the activities involved in it?
  • Describe your questionnaire or the instruments you will be using in the experiment.

Have detailed knowledge of all the research methodologies to justify your approach toward the research problem.

8. Present the Hypothesis or the Expected Research Results

In the research proposal, this section will contain the results of the research, but since this is a research proposal, you do not have the results yet. This is why you will add the expected research results here. These results are those that you aim to obtain from the research.

Sometimes the researcher gets the same kind of results, but sometimes, the results could differ from the expected ones.

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9. Mention the Ethical Considerations

It is an essential part of your outline. Researchers need to consider ethical values while conducting research work. Furthermore, you also have to be very careful in the data collection process and need to respect the rights of the participants.

They should not harm them in any way, and full consent should be obtained from them prior to the study.

Lastly, the writer’s moral duty is to promise complete confidentiality to feel comfortable while sharing information.

10. Discuss the Research Limitations

The research limitations indicate the flaws and shortcomings of your research. These may include:

  • Unavailability of resources
  • Small sample size
  • Wrong methodology

Listing the limitations shows your honesty and complete understanding of the topic.

11. Add Proper References and Citation

Don’t forget the references section. You don’t want to get blamed for plagiarism. Always give references to the authors and the literature you have studied for your research.

There are two ways to cite your sources.

  • Reference –  List the literature that you have used in your proposal.
  • Bibliography –  List everything that you have studied, cited, or not while doing your study or while writing.

Follow a specific format for the citation section as instructed by your supervisor. It can be written in APA, MLA, Chicago, or Harvard style. Both references and a bibliography are included in it.

12. Edit and Proofread

Many students prefer not to proofread the proposal after completion, which is a grave mistake. If you proofread the paper on your own, you may fail to identify the mistakes. Use online tools or have a helping hand from your friend to give it a good read.

In the end, edit the document as per the needs.

Why Do Research Proposals Get Rejected?

An analysis of 500 rejected proposals allowed us to identify the common blunders made in them. These blunders caused the rejection of otherwise promising research. Therefore, to maximize the chances of acceptance, you must avoid these mistakes.

Here are some of those mistakes.

  • The proposal stated a flawed hypothesis.
  • The professor doubts the research will not bring new or useful results.
  • The plan mentioned in the proposal lacks details and is unrealistic.
  • It lacks coherence.
  • The results obtained, or the hypothesis from the chosen method will be inaccurate.
  • The review of the literature is not done correctly.
  • Sufficient time was not devoted to writing the proposal.
  • The proposal is copied or has been used by many other students in the past.

These are the common mistakes that result in rejection.

If you desire to make it shine, stick to your instructor’s guidelines and stay away from committing these mistakes. 

Research Proposal Examples

Looking for some helpful and detailed research proposal examples to get you started? Examples are great for a quick understanding of how something works or is written, in our case.

Here are some complete research paper proposal samples to help you write your own.

RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

RESEARCH PROPOSAL EXAMPLE - APA

HOW TO WRITE A RESEARCH GRANT PROPOSAL

NSF RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

MARKET RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

PH.D. RESEARCH PROPOSAL SAMPLE

Research Proposal Topics

You can take ideas for your topic from books, journals, previously done research, and dissertations.

Here are a few topics you can choose from.

  • How has technology evolved the English language over the last ten years?
  • What are the effects of individualism on British literature?
  • How has Feminism helped women get their rights over the last decade?
  • What caused the fall of the Roman empire, and what are its effects?
  • What factors caused World War II?
  • What are the effects of World War II on diplomacy?
  • Can cultural differences affect social interactions?
  • How have violent video games affected brain development among children?
  • How does alcohol affect aggression among a few people?
  • How effective is the death penalty?

If you want to know more about finding a topic for your research paper and research paper topic examples, here is a list of interesting  research paper topics .

Research proposals can be critical because they require great attention. If you are inexperienced, you are likely to suffer. In a worst-case scenario, your proposal may get rejected.

Your dedicated professional and experienced essay writer at  5StarEssays.com is always here to help you. Being a professional essay writing service , we know how to craft a compelling research proposal and help you get it accepted.

Or, try using our AI powered paper writer to get quick writing help and sample citations. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a strong research proposal.

Your proposal must explain why your research is important in addition to explaining the methods that you will use. You should also position yourself within your field of study and give an overview of why this specific topic could be significant.

How many pages a research proposal should be?

Research proposals typically range between three and five pages in length. Research proposal formats vary across disciplines.

You should follow the format that is standard within your field, with special attention to what your faculty mentor prefers.

What tense should a research proposal be written in?

In a research proposal, use future tense for actions to be undertaken in the study. For example: A survey method will be employed , and a close-ended questionnaire will be used .

How long is a research proposal?

When writing a research proposal, it is best, to begin with, what you want to know more about. There is no set length for these proposals so they can be anywhere from 2,500 words up or down depending on the topic and scope of your study.

Does a research proposal have chapters?

Like a research paper, the introduction and conclusion of your proposal should be brief. In every chapter you include in your proposal, begin with an informative intro paragraph that captures what will follow in each section.

Similarly, for chapters near their end, conclusions summarize points discussed throughout the sections but also highlight what is most important about them overall.

What are the 7 parts of the research proposal?

The 7 parts of a research proposal include 

  • Problem statement
  • Literature review 
  • Methodology

Each of these sections is key in order to craft an effective research proposal that will be approved by faculty members! 

Nathan D.

PhD Essay, Literature

Nathan completed his Ph.D. in journalism and has been writing articles for well-respected publications for many years now. His work is carefully researched and insightful, showing a true passion for the written word. Nathan's clients appreciate his expertise, deep understanding of the process, and ability to communicate difficult concepts clearly.

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research essay proposal outline

How to Write a Research Proposal: Steps, Outline, Example, and More!

research essay proposal outline

What Is a Research Proposal: Definition and Purpose

A research proposal is a strategic tool for a world of uncharted discoveries. It is the entrance to the world of scientific inquiry, where the bounds of human knowledge are pushed, and new perspectives are unveiled. When wondering what is a research proposal and what is its main purpose, remember that it accomplishes two things at once: it persuades the academics that the proposed study deserves funding and leads the researcher on an exciting intellectual quest. The proposal combines a call to action, a request for financial support, and a mission statement. It's a creative work that unites the brilliance of creation with the powerful ability to persuade, opening up a whole new range of alternatives.

A research proposal sets forth a planned research study's objectives, approach, schedule, and financial details. Its main goal is to persuade a funding organization or other interested parties that the suggested project is worth the investment and that the scholar has the competence and assets necessary to complete it adequately. The proposal has to be crystal clear, direct to the point, and persuasive, making a strong argument for the significance of the study, its future contribution, and the original strategy the scholar would employ. Each ambitious researcher should have a strong study proposal, which may lead to funding possibilities, team projects, and even brand-new insights.

We bet you'd fancy a guide on how to write a proposal for a research paper with detailed information and explaining steps required to successfully complete your work. Then, let's delve into the following sections right away!

How to Write a Research Proposal Step-by-Step

There is no research proposal template that is universally applicable to all types of papers. However, no matter how extensive and in-depth your study is, you will discover that the majority of research paper proposal example templates contain the following information:

How to Write a Research Proposal Step-by-Step

Research Paper Title

So, how to start a research proposal? The logical answer is to first come up with a proper title. A well-written title can greatly increase the likelihood of a research article being read and referenced. For instance, a study titled 'The Effect of Media Platforms on Social Development: A Systematic Review' effectively communicates the study's focus while clarifying how it was conducted. The reader will find it simpler to comprehend the study's goal and any potential ramifications owing to the title's precision and informational nature.

An abstract provides a 150-300 word summary of a research paper and its primary objectives, methods, results, and conclusions. As it is frequently the first thing readers see and can influence whether they continue reading the complete article, the abstract is an important part of a research study. An effective abstract should summarize the paper's ideas, be simple to read, and emphasize the importance and possible influence of the work. It should give readers a thorough understanding of the paper's scope and purpose while piquing their interest in learning more.

If you're wondering how to write a research proposal context, remember that here you should provide the structure and background information of your paper. Typically, you should discuss related literature reviews and any gaps in research that you'll be exploring throughout the study. It's also suggested that you stress the importance of undertaking the research and mentioning related theoretical and conceptual frameworks employed. Considering these, providing the context in your proposal is crucial since it helps your audience comprehend the study's relevance and how it fits into a broader perspective.

Research Question

The research question is the foundation of your proposal that shapes your study design and defines its main goal. It demonstrates your desire to learn more while furthering your academic career. If you're writing a proposal about comparing the US and UK healthcare systems, then you can come up with the following research question: 'How do low-income citizens with severe diseases do in terms of their physical well-being in the US and the UK?'.

Research Method

In the research proposal, you should go into depth about how you conducted your study. Explain your key research tools and the techniques you employed to get your results. If you conducted interviews, tell the reader about the subjects of your questions. Lastly, provide your analysis of the results.

Research Significance

Afterward, you should describe the significance of your work. Every research proposal sample will briefly explain how your research is unique and contributes to the topic of study. You might wish to provide reasoning for the necessity of your study at this given moment. For example: 'The study's findings connect Psycho with other contemporary movies that share the same shock-factor traits. The startling aspect is more difficult to create today, as seen by the rise of low-budget, badly made horror movies that rely on shock rather than suspense to keep viewers' interest.'

Bibliography

Finally, you should compile a list of the articles and books most helpful to your research. You may need to do so according to the guidelines set forth by your instructor for research papers (APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.). You could also develop an annotated bibliography in which you explain how each resource aided your inquiry.

How to Create a Research Proposal Outline with a Research Proposal Template

Your outline format should look like the research proposal example provided above. Ensure you have a well-defined research topic and a clear plan for organizing your approach before starting the proposal writing process. Our history essay writer suggests that the following be included in your research proposal outline:

How to Write a Research Proposal outline

I. Introduction

  • Background information and context
  • Research problem statement
  • Research question(s) or hypothesis

II. Literature Review

  • Review of relevant literature
  • Identification of gaps in existing research
  • Explanation of how the proposed research will address those gaps

III. Methodology

  • Research design
  • Participants or population
  • Sampling method
  • Data collection methods
  • Data analysis methods

IV. Expected Results

  • Discussion of expected outcomes
  • Significance of expected outcomes

V. Timeline

  • Project timeline with major milestones
  • Itemized budget with justification for expenses

VII. Conclusion

  • Recap of the research problem and proposed solution
  • Potential contributions to the field of study

VIII. References

  • List of references cited in the proposal

outline research

This research paper outline should give you a clear idea of how to write a research proposal example effortlessly. Now, let our research proposal writing service tells out more about the formatting details.

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How to Format a Research Proposal Properly: APA Research Proposal

A research proposal format might be as short as a few paragraphs or as extensive as up to ten pages for dissertations. When unsure how to format a research proposal, first discuss details with your teacher, such as length, content, style, etc. However, one of the most demanded formats is the APA style, which follows a specific format as given in the American Psychological Association guidelines. As it guides the project and helps guarantee that the study is thorough, ethical, and evidence-based, a research proposal example APA is usually generated before the study is conducted. Here is the general APA format:

  • 12-point font Times New Roman
  • Double-spaced
  • 1-inch margins
  • An APA running head (limited to 50 characters)
  • A title page with the paper's title (no more than 12 words in length), your name, and the name of your institution
  • An abstract (150-200 words)
  • In-text citations
  • References page

Effective Research Proposal Topics

Research proposals are the foundation of scholarly investigation. Therefore, thinking of fresh and distinctive research proposal ideas might be difficult. Due to this, our paper writers have supplied some excellent research proposal topics that will add excitement and enthusiasm to your academic endeavor:

  • Investigating whether virtual reality affects how medical students acquire empathy.
  • Examining the efficiency of a mindfulness-based treatment in decreasing college students' social media addiction.
  • The link between preschoolers' cultivation of creativity and outdoor recreation.
  • Evaluating the application of chatbots to provide mental health therapy to underprivileged groups.
  • Fostering food security and social cohesiveness in urban areas using green spaces.
  • An investigation of how music affects the development of memory in older people.
  • Examining how light pollution affects nocturnal animals' circadian clocks.
  • Investigating how mindfulness techniques affect people with anxiety disorders' ability to control their emotions.
  • The link between teenage self-esteem and use of social media.
  • An investigation on the effects of daily exercise on mental function in people with moderate memory loss.

Research Proposal Example

Here is a research proposal example APA. Notice the structure of a short research paper (around 15 pages) and the APA formatting.

If you enjoyed our sample, feel free to drop us your ' write an essay for me ' request for any kind of assignment.

To wrap up, we hope our article assisted you in writing a research proposal. In addition to providing a thorough analysis of all the crucial elements of a research project, we provided guidance on how to write a research paper proposal that stands out.

And if you're already prepared to start producing a scholarly research paper, you can always rely on us! Contact us with your ' write my research paper ' request to place an order for a quality custom term paper that will easily impress your professor!

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Getting started with your research paper outline

research essay proposal outline

Levels of organization for a research paper outline

First level of organization, second level of organization, third level of organization, fourth level of organization, tips for writing a research paper outline, research paper outline template, my research paper outline is complete: what are the next steps, frequently asked questions about a research paper outline, related articles.

The outline is the skeleton of your research paper. Simply start by writing down your thesis and the main ideas you wish to present. This will likely change as your research progresses; therefore, do not worry about being too specific in the early stages of writing your outline.

A research paper outline typically contains between two and four layers of organization. The first two layers are the most generalized. Each layer thereafter will contain the research you complete and presents more and more detailed information.

The levels are typically represented by a combination of Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, uppercase letters, lowercase letters but may include other symbols. Refer to the guidelines provided by your institution, as formatting is not universal and differs between universities, fields, and subjects. If you are writing the outline for yourself, you may choose any combination you prefer.

This is the most generalized level of information. Begin by numbering the introduction, each idea you will present, and the conclusion. The main ideas contain the bulk of your research paper 's information. Depending on your research, it may be chapters of a book for a literature review , a series of dates for a historical research paper, or the methods and results of a scientific paper.

I. Introduction

II. Main idea

III. Main idea

IV. Main idea

V. Conclusion

The second level consists of topics which support the introduction, main ideas, and the conclusion. Each main idea should have at least two supporting topics listed in the outline.

If your main idea does not have enough support, you should consider presenting another main idea in its place. This is where you should stop outlining if this is your first draft. Continue your research before adding to the next levels of organization.

  • A. Background information
  • B. Hypothesis or thesis
  • A. Supporting topic
  • B. Supporting topic

The third level of organization contains supporting information for the topics previously listed. By now, you should have completed enough research to add support for your ideas.

The Introduction and Main Ideas may contain information you discovered about the author, timeframe, or contents of a book for a literature review; the historical events leading up to the research topic for a historical research paper, or an explanation of the problem a scientific research paper intends to address.

  • 1. Relevant history
  • 2. Relevant history
  • 1. The hypothesis or thesis clearly stated
  • 1. A brief description of supporting information
  • 2. A brief description of supporting information

The fourth level of organization contains the most detailed information such as quotes, references, observations, or specific data needed to support the main idea. It is not typical to have further levels of organization because the information contained here is the most specific.

  • a) Quotes or references to another piece of literature
  • b) Quotes or references to another piece of literature

Tip: The key to creating a useful outline is to be consistent in your headings, organization, and levels of specificity.

  • Be Consistent : ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.
  • Organize Information : Higher levels of organization are more generally stated and each supporting level becomes more specific. The introduction and conclusion will never be lower than the first level of organization.
  • Build Support : Each main idea should have two or more supporting topics. If your research does not have enough information to support the main idea you are presenting, you should, in general, complete additional research or revise the outline.

By now, you should know the basic requirements to create an outline for your paper. With a content framework in place, you can now start writing your paper . To help you start right away, you can use one of our templates and adjust it to suit your needs.

word icon

After completing your outline, you should:

  • Title your research paper . This is an iterative process and may change when you delve deeper into the topic.
  • Begin writing your research paper draft . Continue researching to further build your outline and provide more information to support your hypothesis or thesis.
  • Format your draft appropriately . MLA 8 and APA 7 formats have differences between their bibliography page, in-text citations, line spacing, and title.
  • Finalize your citations and bibliography . Use a reference manager like Paperpile to organize and cite your research.
  • Write the abstract, if required . An abstract will briefly state the information contained within the paper, results of the research, and the conclusion.

An outline is used to organize written ideas about a topic into a logical order. Outlines help us organize major topics, subtopics, and supporting details. Researchers benefit greatly from outlines while writing by addressing which topic to cover in what order.

The most basic outline format consists of: an introduction, a minimum of three topic paragraphs, and a conclusion.

You should make an outline before starting to write your research paper. This will help you organize the main ideas and arguments you want to present in your topic.

  • Consistency: ensure every heading has a similar tone. State the topic or write short sentences for each heading but avoid doing both.
  • Organization : Higher levels of organization are more generally stated and each supporting level becomes more specific. The introduction and conclusion will never be lower than the first level of organization.
  • Support : Each main idea should have two or more supporting topics. If your research does not have enough information to support the main idea you are presenting, you should, in general, complete additional research or revise the outline.

research essay proposal outline

How to create a helpful research paper outline

Last updated

21 December 2023

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You need to structure your research paper in an orderly way that makes it easy for readers to follow your reasoning and supporting data. That's where a research paper outline can help.

Writing a research paper outline will help you arrange your ideas logically and allow your final paper to flow. It will make the entire process more manageable and help you work out which details to include and which are better left out.

  • What is a research paper outline?

Write your research paper outline before starting your first draft. The outline provides a map of how you will structure your ideas throughout the paper. A research paper outline will help you to be more efficient when ordering the sections of your thesis, rather than trying to make structural changes after finishing an entire first draft.

An outline consists of the main topics and subtopics of your paper, listed in a logical order. The main topics will become the sections of your research paper, and the subtopics reveal the content you want to include or discuss under the main topics.

Under each subtopic, you can also jot down items you don't want to forget to include in your research paper, such as:

Topic ideas

Paragraph ideas

Direct quotes

Once you start listing these under your main topics, you can focus your thoughts as you plan and write the research paper using the evidence and data you collected and any additional information.

  • Why use an outline?

If your research paper does not have a clear, logical order, readers may not understand the ideas you're trying to share, or they may lose interest and not bother to read the whole paper. An outline helps you structure your research paper so readers can easily connect the content, ideas, and theories you're trying to prove or maintain.

  • Are there different kinds of research paper outlines?

Different kinds of research paper outlines might seem similar but have different purposes. You can select an outline type that provides a clear road map and thoroughly explores each point. 

Other types will help structure content logically or with a segmented flow and progression of ideas that align closely with the theme of your research.

  • The 3 types of outlines

The three outline formats available to research paper writers are:

Alphanumeric or topic outlines

Sentence or full-sentence outlines

Decimal outlines

Let’s look at the differences between each type and see how one may be more beneficial than another, depending on the nature of your research.

This type of research paper outline allows you to segment main headings and subheadings with an alphanumeric arrangement.

The alphanumeric characters of Roman numerals, capital letters, numbers, and lowercase letters define the hierarchy of main topic headings, subtopic headings, and third- and fourth-tier subtopic headings. (e.g., I, A, 1, a)

This method uses minimal words to describe the main and subtopic headings. You'll mostly use this type of research paper outline to focus on the organization of the content while allowing you to review it for unrelated or irrelevant information.

Full-sentence outlines

You will format this type of research paper outline as an alphanumeric outline, using the same alphanumeric characters. However, it contains complete sentences rather than a few words for each main and subtopic heading.

This formatting method allows the writer to focus on looking for inaccuracies and inconsistencies in each point before starting the first draft.

Instead of using alphanumeric characters to define main headings, subheadings, and third- and fourth-tier subheadings, the decimal outline uses a decimal numbering system.

This system shows a logical progression of the content by using 1.0 for the main section heading (and 2.0, 3.0, etc., for subsequent sections), 1.1 for the subheading, 1.1.1 for a third-tier subheading, and 1.1.1.1 for the fourth-tier subheading.

The headings and subheadings will be just a few words, as in the alphanumerical research paper outline. Decimal outlines allow the writer to focus on the content's overall coherence, increasing your writing efficiency and reducing the time it takes to write your research paper.

  • How to write a research paper outline

Before you begin your research paper outline, you need to determine your topic and gather your information. Let’s look at these steps first, then dive into how to write your outline.

1. Determine your topic

You'll need to establish a topic or the main point you intend to write about.

For example, you may want to research and write about whether influencers are the most beneficial way to promote products in your industry. This topic is the main point around which your essay will revolve.

2. Gather information

You'll need evidence, data, statistics, and facts to prove or disprove that influencers are the best method of promoting products in your industry.

You'll insert any of these things you collect to substantiate your findings into the outline to support your topic.

3. Determine the type of essay you'll be writing

There are many types of essays or research papers you can write. The kinds of essays include:

Argumentative: Builds logic and support for an argument

Cause and effect: Explains relationships between specific conditions and their results

Analytical: Presents a claim on what is being analyzed

Interpretive: Informative and persuasive explanations on how something is perceived

Experimental: Reports on experimental results and the reasoning behind the results

Review: Offers an understanding and analysis of primary sources on a given topic

Definition: Defines what a term or concept means

Persuasive: Uses logic and reason to show that one idea is more justified than another

Narrative: Tells a story of personal experience from the author’s point of view

Expository: Shows an objective view of a subject by exploring various angles

Descriptive: Describes objects, people, places, experiences, emotions, situations, etc.

Once you understand the essay format you are writing, you'll know how to structure your outline. 

4. Include basic sections

You'll begin to structure your outline using basic sections. Your main topic headings for these sections may include an introduction, multiple body paragraph sections, and a conclusion.

Once you establish the sections, you can insert the subtopics under each main topic heading.

5. Organize your outline

For example, if you're writing an argumentative essay taking the position that brand influencers (e.g., social media stars on Instagram or TikTok) are the best way to promote products in your industry, you will argue for that particular position.

You'll organize your argumentative essay outline with a main topic section supporting the position. The subtopics will include the reasoning behind your arguments, and the third-tier subtopics will contain the supporting evidence and data you gathered during your research.

You'll add another main topic section to counter and respond to any opposing arguments. Once you've organized and included all the information in this way, this will provide the structure to start your argumentative essay draft.

6. Consider compare-and-contrast essays

A compare-and-contrast essay is a form of essay that analyzes the differences between two opposing theories or subjects. If you have multiple subjects that are the same or different in just one aspect, you can write a point-by-point outline exploring each subject in terms of this characteristic.

The main topic headings will list that one characteristic, and the subtopic headings will list the subjects or items that are the same or different in relation to this characteristic.

Conversely, if you have multiple items to compare, but they have many characteristics that are similar or different, you can write a block method outline. The main topic headings will contain the items to be compared, while the subtopic headings will contain the aspects in which they are similar or different.

7. Consider advanced organizers for longer essays

An advanced organizer is a sentence that introduces new topics by connecting already-known information to new information. It can also prepare the reader for what they may expect to learn from the entire essay, or each section or paragraph.

Incorporating advanced organizers makes it easier for the reader to process and understand the information you are trying to convey. If you choose to use advanced organizers, depending on how often you want to use them throughout your paper, you can add them to your outline at the end of the introduction, the beginning of a section, or the beginning of each paragraph. 

  • Do outlines need periods (full stops)?

If you're constructing alphanumerical or decimal topic outlines, they do not need periods because the entries are usually not complete sentences. However, outlines containing full sentences will need to be punctuated as any sentence is, including using periods.

  • An example research paper outline

Here is an example of an alphanumerical outline that argues brand influencers are the best method of promoting products in a particular industry:

I.  Introduction

    A.  Background information about the issue and the position being argued.

    B.  Thesis statement: Influencers are the best way to promote products in this industry.

II.  Reasons that support the thesis statement

    A.  Reason or argument #1

           1.  Supporting evidence

           2.  Supporting evidence

    B.  Reason or argument #2

    C.  Reason or argument #3

          1.  Supporting evidence

          2.  Supporting evidence

III. Counterarguments and responses

       A.  Arguments from the other point of view

       B.  Rebuttals against those arguments

IV.  Conclusion

  • How long is a thesis outline?

There is no set length for a research paper outline or thesis outline. Your outline can be as long as it needs to be to organize your thoughts constructively.

You can start with a short outline containing an introduction , background, methodology, data and analysis, and conclusion. Or you can break these sections into more specific segments according to the content you want to share.

Why make writing a research paper more complicated than it needs to be? Knowing the elements of an outline and how to insert them into a cohesive structure will make your final paper understandable and interesting to the reader.

Understanding how to outline a research paper will make the writing process more efficient and less time-consuming.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

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  • About Informed Consent
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  • 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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What’s Included: Research Paper Template

If you’re preparing to write an academic research paper, our free research paper template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples .

The template’s structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research papers. The template structure reflects the overall research process, ensuring your paper will have a smooth, logical flow from chapter to chapter.

The research paper template covers the following core sections:

  • The title page/cover page
  • Abstract (sometimes also called the executive summary)
  • Section 1: Introduction 
  • Section 2: Literature review 
  • Section 3: Methodology
  • Section 4: Findings /results
  • Section 5: Discussion
  • Section 6: Conclusion
  • Reference list

Each section is explained in plain, straightforward language , followed by an overview of the key elements that you need to cover within each section. We’ve also included links to free resources to help you understand how to write each section.

The cleanly formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

FAQs: Research Paper Template

What format is the template (doc, pdf, ppt, etc.).

The research paper template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

What types of research papers can this template be used for?

The template follows the standard best-practice structure for formal academic research papers, so it is suitable for the vast majority of degrees, particularly those within the sciences.

Some universities may have some additional requirements, but these are typically minor, with the core structure remaining the same. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Is this template for an undergrad, Masters or PhD-level research paper?

This template can be used for a research paper at any level of study. It may be slight overkill for an undergraduate-level study, but it certainly won’t be missing anything.

How long should my research paper be?

This depends entirely on your university’s specific requirements, so it’s best to check with them. We include generic word count ranges for each section within the template, but these are purely indicative. 

What about the research proposal?

If you’re still working on your research proposal, we’ve got a template for that here .

We’ve also got loads of proposal-related guides and videos over on the Grad Coach blog .

How do I write a literature review?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack how to write a literature review from scratch. You can check out the literature review section of the blog here.

How do I create a research methodology?

We have a wealth of free resources on the Grad Coach Blog that unpack research methodology, both qualitative and quantitative. You can check out the methodology section of the blog here.

Can I share this research paper template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template. If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, all we ask is that you reference this page as your source.

Can Grad Coach help me with my research paper?

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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:

Introduction

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

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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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research essay proposal outline

4 Research Essay

Jeffrey Kessler

By the end of this chapter, you will be able to do the following:

  • Construct a thesis based upon your research
  • Use critical reading strategies to analyze your research
  • Defend a position in relation to the range of ideas surrounding a topic
  • Organize your research essay in order to logically support your thesis

I. Introduction

The goal of this book has been to help demystify research and inquiry through a series of genres that are part of the research process. Each of these writing projects—the annotated bibliography, proposal, literature review, and research essay—builds on each other. Research is an ongoing and evolving process, and each of these projects help you build towards the next.

In your annotated bibliography, you started your inquiry into a topic, reading widely to define the breadth of your inquiry. You recorded this by summarizing and/or evaluating  the first sources you examined. In your proposal, you organized a plan and developed pointed questions to pursue and ideas to research. This provided a good sense of where you might continue to explore. In your literature review, you developed a sense of the larger conversations around your topic and assessed the state of existing research. During each of these writing projects, your knowledge of your topic grew, and you became much more informed about its key issues.

You’ve established a topic and assembled sources in conversation with one another. It’s now time to contribute to that conversation with your own voice. With so much of your research complete, you can now turn your focus to crafting a strong research essay with a clear thesis. Having the extensive knowledge that you have developed across the first three writing projects will allow you to think more about putting the pieces of your research together, rather than trying to do research at the same time that you are writing.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t need to do a little more research. Instead, you might need to focus strategically on one or two key pieces of information to advance your argument, rather than trying to learn about the basics of your topic.

But what about a thesis or argument? You may have developed a clear idea early in the process, or you might have slowly come across an important claim you want to defend or a critique you want to make as you read more into your topic. You might still not be sure what you want to argue. No matter where you are, this chapter will help you navigate the genre of the research essay. We’ll examine the basics of a good thesis and argument, different ways to use sources, and strategies to organize your essay.

While this chapter will focus on the kind of research essay you would write in the college classroom, the skills are broadly applicable. Research takes many different forms in the academic, professional, and public worlds. Depending on the course or discipline, research can mean a semester-long project for a class or a few years’ worth of research for an advanced degree. As you’ll see in the examples below, research can consist of a brief, two-page conclusion or a government report that spans hundreds of pages with an overwhelming amount of original data.

Above all else, good research is engaged with its audience to bring new ideas to light based on existing conversations. A good research essay uses the research of others to advance the conversation around the topic based on relevant facts, analysis, and ideas.

II. Rhetorical Considerations: Contributing to the Conversation

The word “essay” comes from the French word essayer , or “attempt.” In other words, an essay is an attempt—to prove or know or illustrate something. Through writing an essay, your ideas will evolve as you attempt to explore and think through complicated ideas. Some essays are more exploratory or creative, while some are straightforward reports about the kind of original research that happens in laboratories.

Most research essays attempt to argue a point about the material, information, and data that you have collected. That research can come from fieldwork, laboratories, archives, interviews, data mining, or just a lot of reading. No matter the sources you use, the thesis of a research essay is grounded in evidence that is compelling to the reader.

Where you described the conversation in your literature review, in your research essay you are contributing to that conversation with your own argument. Your argument doesn’t have to be an argument in the cable-news-social-media-shouting sense of the word. It doesn’t have to be something that immediately polarizes individuals or divides an issue into black or white. Instead, an argument for a research essay should be a claim, or, more specifically, a claim that requires evidence and analysis to support. This can take many different forms.

Example 4.1: Here are some different types of arguments you might see in a research essay:

  • Critiquing a specific idea within a field
  • Interrogating an assumption many people hold about an issue
  • Examining the cause of an existing problem
  • Identifying the effects of a proposed program, law, or concept
  • Assessing a historical event in a new way
  • Using a new method to evaluate a text or phenomenon
  • Proposing a new solution to an existing problem
  • Evaluating an existing solution and suggesting improvements

These are only a few examples of the kinds of approaches your argument might take. As you look at the research you have gathered throughout your projects, your ideas will have evolved. This is a natural part of the research process. If you had a fully formed argument before you did any research, then you probably didn’t have an argument based on strong evidence. Your research now informs your position and understanding, allowing you to form a stronger evidence-based argument.

Having a good idea about your thesis and your approach is an important step, but getting the general idea into specific words can be a challenge on its own. This is one of the most common challenges in writing: “I know what I want to say; I just don’t know how to say it.”

Example 4.2: Here are some sample thesis statements. Examine them and think about their arguments.

Whether you agree, disagree, or are just plain unsure about them, you can imagine that these statements require their authors to present evidence, offer context, and explain key details in order to argue their point.

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) has the ability to greatly expand the methods and content of higher education, and though there are some transient shortcomings, faculty in STEM should embrace AI as a positive change to the system of student learning. In particular, AI can prove to close the achievement gap often found in larger lecture settings by providing more custom student support.
  • I argue that while the current situation for undocumented college students remains tumultuous, there are multiple routes—through financial and social support programs like the Fearless Undocumented Alliance—that both universities and colleges can utilize to support students affected by the reality of DACA’s shortcomings.

While it can be argued that massive reform of the NCAA’s bylaws is needed in the long run, one possible immediate improvement exists in the form of student-athlete name, image, and likeness rights. The NCAA should amend their long-standing definition of amateurism and allow student athletes to pursue financial gains from the use of their names, images, and likenesses, as is the case with amateur Olympic athletes.

Each of these thesis statements identifies a critical conversation around a topic and establishes a position that needs evidence for further support. They each offer a lot to consider, and, as sentences, are constructed in different ways.

Some writing textbooks, like They Say, I Say (2017), offer convenient templates in which to fit your thesis. For example, it suggests a list of sentence constructions like “Although some critics argue X, I will argue Y” and “If we are right to assume X, then we must consider the consequences of Y.”

More Resources 4.1: Templates

Templates can be a productive start for your ideas, but depending on the writing situation (and depending on your audience), you may want to expand your thesis beyond a single sentence (like the examples above) or template. According to Amy Guptill in her book Writing in Col lege (2016) , a good thesis has four main elements (pp. 21-22). A good thesis:

  • Makes a non-obvious claim
  • Poses something arguable
  • Provides well-specified details
  • Includes broader implications

Consider the sample thesis statements above. Each one provides a claim that is both non-obvious and arguable. In other words, they present something that needs further evidence to support—that’s where all your research is going to come in. In addition, each thesis identifies specifics, whether these are teaching methods, support programs, or policies. As you will see, when you include those specifics in a thesis statement, they help project a starting point towards organizing your essay.

Finally, according to Guptill, a good thesis includes broader implications. A good thesis not only engages the specific details of its argument, but also leaves room for further consideration. As we have discussed before, research takes place in an ongoing conversation. Your well-developed essay and hard work won’t be the final word on this topic, but one of many contributions among other scholars and writers. It would be impossible to solve every single issue surrounding your topic, but a strong thesis helps us think about the larger picture. Here’s Guptill:

Putting your claims in their broader context makes them more interesting to your reader and more impressive to your professors who, after all, assign topics that they think have enduring significance. Finding that significance for yourself makes the most of both your paper and your learning. (p. 23)

Thinking about the broader implications will also help you write a conclusion that is better than just repeating your thesis (we’ll discuss this more below).

Example 4.3: Let’s look at an example from above:

This thesis makes a key claim about the rights of student athletes (in fact, shortly after this paper was written, NCAA athletes became eligible to profit from their own name, image, and likeness). It provides specific details, rather than just suggesting that student athletes should be able to make money. Furthermore, it provides broader context, even giving a possible model—Olympic athletes—to build an arguable case.

Remember, that just like your entire research project, your thesis will evolve as you write. Don’t be afraid to change some key terms or move some phrases and clauses around to play with the emphasis in your thesis. In fact, doing so implies that you have allowed the research to inform your position.

Example 4.4: Consider these examples about the same topic and general idea. How does playing around with organization shade the argument differently?

  • Although William Dowling’s amateur college sports model reminds us that the real stakeholders are the student athletes themselves, he highlights that the true power over student athletes comes from the athletic directors, TV networks, and coaches who care more about profits than people.
  • While William Dowling’s amateur college sports model reminds us that the real stakeholders in college athletics are not the athletic directors, TV networks, and coaches, but the students themselves, his plan does not seem feasible because it eliminates the reason many people care about student athletes in the first place: highly lucrative bowl games and March Madness.
  • Although William Dowling’s amateur college sports model has student athletes’ best interests in mind, his proposal remains unfeasible because financial stakeholders in college athletics, like athletic directors, TV networks, and coaches, refuse to let go of their power.

When you look at the different versions of the thesis statements above, the general ideas remain the same, but you can imagine how they might unfold differently in a paper, and even  how those papers might be structured differently. Even after you have a good version of your thesis, consider how it might evolve by moving ideas around or changing emphasis as you outline and draft your paper.

More Resources 4.2: Thesis Statements

Looking for some additional help on thesis statements? Try these resources:

  • How to Write a Thesis Statement
  • Writing Effective Thesis Statements. 

Library Referral: Your Voice Matters!

(by Annie R. Armstrong)

If you’re embarking on your first major college research paper, you might be concerned about “getting it right.” How can you possibly jump into a conversation with the authors of books, articles, and more, who are seasoned experts in their topics and disciplines? The way they write might seem advanced, confusing, academic, irritating, and even alienating. Try not to get discouraged. There are techniques for working with scholarly sources to break them down and make them easier to work with (see How to Read a Scholarly Article ). A librarian can work with you to help you find a variety of source types that address your topic in a meaningful way, or that one specific source you may still be trying to track down.

Furthermore, scholarly experts are not the only voices welcome at the research table! This research paper and others to come are an invitation to you to join the conversation; your voice and lived experience give you one-of-a-kind expertise equipping you to make new inquiries and insights into your topic. Sure, you’ll need to wrestle how to interpret difficult academic texts and how to piece them together. That said, your voice is an integral and essential part of the puzzle. All of those scholarly experts started closer to where you are than you might think.

III. The Research Essay Across the Disciplines

Example 4.5: Academic and Professional Examples

These examples are meant to show you how this genre looks in other disciplines and professions. Make sure to follow the requirements for your own class or to seek out specific examples from your instructor in order to address the needs of your own assignment.

As you will see, different disciplines use language very differently, including citation practices, use of footnotes and endnotes, and in-text references. (Review Chapter 3 for citation practices as disciplinary conventions.) You may find some STEM research to be almost unreadable, unless you are already an expert in that field and have a highly developed knowledge of the key terms and ideas in that field. STEM fields often rely on highly technical language and assume a high level of knowledge in the field. Similarly, humanities research can be hard to navigate if you don’t have a significant background in the topic or material.

As we’ve discussed, highly specialized research assumes its readers are other highly specialized researchers. Unless you read something like The Journ al of American Medicine on a regular basis, you usually learn about scientific or medical breakthroughs when they are reported by another news outlet, where a reporter makes the highly technical language of a scientific discovery more accessible for non-specialists.

Even if you are not an expert in multiple disciplines of study, you will find that research essays contain a lot of similarities in their structure and organization. Most research essays have an abstract that summarizes the entire article at the beginning. Introductions provide the necessary setup for the article. Body sections can vary. Some essays include a literature review section that describes the state of research about the topic. Others might provide background or a brief history. Many essays in the sciences will have a methodology section that explains how the research was conducted, including details such as lab procedures, sample sizes, control populations, conditions, and survey questions. Others include long analyses of primary sources, sets of data, or archival documents. Most essays end with conclusions about what further research needs to be completed or what their research further implies.

As you examine some of the different examples, look at the variations in arguments and structures. Just as in reading research about your own topic, you don’t need to read each essay from start to finish. Browse through different sections and see the different uses of language and organization that are possible.

IV. Research Strategies: When is Enough?

At this point, you know a lot about your topic. You’ve done a lot of research to complete your first three writing projects, but when do you have enough sources and information to start writing? Really, it depends.

If you’re writing a dissertation, you may have spent months or years doing research and still feel like you need to do more or to wait a few months until that next new study is published. If you’re writing a research essay for a class, you probably have a schedule of due dates for drafts and workshops. Either way, it’s better to start drafting sooner rather than later. Part of doing research is trying on ideas and discovering things throughout the drafting process.

That’s why you’ve written the other projects along the way instead of just starting with a research essay. You’ve built a foundation of strong research to read about your topic in the annotated bibliography, planned your research in the proposal, and understood the conversations around your topic in the literature review. Now that you are working on your research essay, you are far enough along in the research process where you might need a few more sources, but you will most likely discover this as you are drafting your essay. In other words, get writing and trust that you’ll discover what you need along the way.

V. Reading Strategies: Forwarding and Countering

Using sources is necessary to a research essay, and it is essential to think about how you use them. At this point in your research, you have read, summarized, analyzed, and made connections across many sources. Think back to the literature review. In that genre, you used your sources to illustrate the major issues, topics, and/or concerns among your research. You used those sources to describe and make connections between them.

For your research essay, you are putting those sources to work in a different way: using them in service of supporting your own contribution to the conversation. According to Joseph Harris in his book Rewriting (2017), we read texts in order to respond to them: “drawing from, commenting on, adding to […] the works of others” (p. 2). The act of writing, according to Harris, takes place among the different texts we read and the ways we use them for our own projects. Whether a source provides factual information or complicated concepts, we use sources in different ways. Two key ways to do so for Harris are forwarding and countering .

Forwarding a text means taking the original concept or idea and applying it to a new context. Harris writes: “In forwarding a text you test the strength of its insights and the range and flexibility of its phrasings. You rewrite it through reusing some of its key concepts and phrasings” (pp. 38-39). This is common in a lot of research essays. In fact, Harris identifies different types of forwarding:

  • Illustrating: using a source to explain a larger point
  • Authorizing: appealing to another source for credibility
  • Borrowing: taking a term or concept from one context or discipline and using it in a new one
  • Extending: expanding upon a source or its implications

It’s not enough in a research essay to include just sources with which you agree. Countering a text means more than just disagreeing with it, but it allows you to do more with a text that might not initially support your argument. This can include for Harris:

  • Arguing the other side: oftentimes called “including a naysayer” or addressing objections
  • Uncovering values: examining assumptions within the text that might prove problematic or reveal interesting insights
  • Dissenting: finding the problems in or the limits of an argument (p. 58)

While the categories above are merely suggestions, it is worth taking a moment to think a little more about sources with which you might disagree. The whole point of an argument is to offer a claim that needs to be proved and/or defended. Essential to this is addressing possible objections. What might be some of the doubts your reader may have? What questions might a reasonable person have about your argument? You will never convince every single person, but by addressing and acknowledging possible objections, you help build the credibility of your argument by showing how your own voice fits into the larger conversation—if other members of that conversation may disagree.

VI. Writing Strategies: Organizing and Outlining

At this point you likely have a draft of a thesis (or the beginnings of one) and a lot of research, notes, and three writing projects about your topic. How do you get from all of this material to a coherent research essay? The following section will offer a few different ideas about organizing your essay. Depending on your topic, discipline, or assignment, you might need to make some necessary adjustments along the way, depending on your audience. Consider these more as suggestions and prompts to help in the writing and drafting of your research essay.

Sometimes, we tend to turn our research essay into an enthusiastic book report: “Here are all the cool things I read about my topic this semester!” When you’ve spent a long time reading and thinking about a topic, you may feel compelled to include every piece of information you’ve found. This can quickly overwhelm your audience. Other times, we as writers may feel so overwhelmed with all of the things we want to say that we don’t know where to start.

Writers don’t all follow the same processes or strategies. What works for one person may not always work for another, and what worked in one writing situation (or class) may not be as successful in another. Regardless, it’s important to have a plan and to follow a few strategies to get writing. The suggestions below can help get you organized and writing quickly. If you’ve never tried some of these strategies before, it’s worth seeing how they will work for you.

Think in Sections, Not Paragraphs

For smaller papers, you might think about what you want to say in each of the five to seven paragraphs that paper might require. Sometimes writing instructors even tell students what each paragraph should include. For longer essays, it’s much easier to think about a research essay in sections, or as a few connected short papers. In a short essay, you might need a paragraph to provide background information about your topic, but in longer essays—like the ones you have read for your project—you will likely find that you need more than a single paragraph, sometimes a few pages.

You might think about the different types of sections you have encountered in the research you have already gathered. Those types of sections might include: introduction, background, the history of an issue, literature review, causes, effects, solutions, analysis, limits, etc. When you consider possible sections for your paper, ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this section?” Then you can start to think about the best way to organize that information into paragraphs for each section.

Build an Outline

After you have developed what you want to argue with your thesis (or at least a general sense of it), consider how you want to argue it. You know that you need to begin with an introduction (more on that momentarily). Then you’ll likely need a few sections that help lead your reader through your argument.

Your outline can start simple. In what order are you going to divide up your main points? You can slowly build a larger outline to include where you will discuss key sources, as well as what are the main claims or ideas you want to present in each section. It’s much easier to move ideas and sources around when you have a larger structure in place.

Example 4.6: A Sample Outline for a Research Paper

  • College athletics is a central part of American culture
  • Few of its viewers fully understand the extent to which players are mistreated
  • Thesis: While William Dowling’s amateur col lege sports model does not seem feasible to implement in the twenty-first century, his proposal reminds us that the real stakeholders in college athletics are not the athletic directors, TV networks, and coaches, but the students themselves, who deserve th e chance to earn a quality education even more than the chance to play ball.
  • While many student athletes are strong students, many D-1 sports programs focus more on elite sports recruits than academic achievement
  • Quotes from coaches and athletic directors about revenue and building fan bases (ESPN)
  • Lowered admissions standards and fake classes (Sperber)
  • Scandals in academic dishonesty (Sperber and Dowling)
  • Some elite D-1 athletes are left in a worse place than where they began
  • Study about athletes who go pro (Knight Commission, Dowling, Cantral)
  • Few studies on after-effects (Knight Commission)
  • Dowling imagines an amateur sports program without recruitment, athletic scholarships, or TV contracts
  • Without the presence of big money contracts and recruitment, athletics programs would have less temptation to cheat in regards to academic dishonesty
  • Knight Commission Report
  • Is there any incentive for large-scale reform?
  • Is paying student athletes a real possibility?

Some writers don’t think in as linear a fashion as others, and starting with an outline might not be the first strategy to employ. Other writers rely on different organizational strategies, like mind mapping, word clouds, or a reverse outline.

More Resources 4.3: Organizing Strategies

At this point, it’s best to get some writing done, even if writing is just taking more notes and then organizing those notes. Here are a few more links to get your thoughts down in some fun and engaging ways:

  • Concept Mapping
  • The Mad Lib from Hell: Three Alternatives to Traditional Outlining
  • Thinking Outside the Formal Outline
  • Mind Mapping in Research
  • Reverse Outlining

Start Drafting in the Middle

This may sound odd to some people, but it’s much easier to get started by drafting sections from the middle of your paper instead of starting with the introduction. Sections that provide background or more factual information tend to be more straightforward to write. Sections like these can even be written as you are still finalizing your argument and organizational structure.

If you’ve completed the three previous writing projects, you will likely also funnel some of your work from those projects into the final essay. Don’t just cut and paste entire chunks of those other assignments. That’s called self-plagiarism, and since those assignments serve different purposes in different genres, they won’t fit naturally into your research essay. You’ll want to think about how you are using the sources and ideas from those assignments to serve the needs of your argument. For example, you may have found an interesting source for your literature review paper, but that source may not help advance your final paper.

Draft your Introduction and Conclusion towards the End

Your introduction and conclusion are the bookends of your research essay. They prepare your reader for what’s to come and help your reader process what they have just read. The introduction leads your reader into your paper’s research, and the conclusion helps them look outward towards its implications and significance.

Many students think you should write your introduction at the beginning of the drafting stage because that is where the paper starts. This is not always the best idea. An introduction provides a lot of essential information, including the paper’s method, context, organization, and main argument. You might not have all of these details figured out when you first start drafting your paper. If you wait until much later in the drafting stage, the introduction will be much easier to write. In fact, most academic writers and researchers wait until the rest of their project—a paper, dissertation, or book—is completed before they write the introduction.

A good introduction does not need to be long. In fact, short introductions can impressively communicate a lot of information about a paper when the reader is most receptive to new information. You don’t need to have a long hook or anecdote to catch the reader’s attention, and in many disciplines, big, broad openings are discouraged. Instead, a good introduction to a research essay usually does the following:

  • defines the scope of the paper
  • indicates its method or approach
  • gives some brief context (although more significant background may be saved for a separate section)
  • offers a road map

If we think about research as an ongoing conversation, you don’t need to think of your conclusion as the end—or just a repetition of your argument. No matter the topic, you won’t have the final word, and you’re not going to tie up a complicated issue neatly with a bow. As you reach the end of your project, your conclusion can be a good place to reflect about how your research contributes to the larger conversations around your issue.

Think of your conclusion as a place to consider big questions. How does your project address some of the larger issues related to your topic? How might the conversation continue? How might it have changed? You might also address limits to existing research. What else might your readers want to find out? What do we need to research or explore in the future?

You need not answer every question. You’ve contributed to the conversation around your topic, and this is your opportunity to reflect a little about that. Still looking for some additional strategies for introductions and conclusions? Try this additional resource:

More Resources 4.4: Introductions and Conclusions

If you’re a bit stuck on introductions and conclusions, check out these helpful links:

  • Introductions & Writing Effective Introductions
  • Guide to Writing Introductions and Conclusions
  • Conclusions & Writing Effective Conclusions

Putting It All Together

This chapter is meant to help you get all the pieces together. You have a strong foundation with your research and lots of strategies at your disposal. That doesn’t mean you might not still feel overwhelmed. Two useful strategies are making a schedule and writing out a checklist.

You likely have a due date for your final draft, and maybe some additional dates for submitting rough drafts or completing peer review workshops. Consider expanding this schedule for yourself. You might have specific days set aside for writing or for drafting a certain number of words or pages. You can also schedule times to visit office hours, the library, or the writing center (especially if your writing center takes appointments—they fill up quickly at the end of the semester!). The more you fill in specific dates and smaller goals, the more likely you will be to complete them. Even if you miss a day that you set aside to write four hundred words, it’s easier to make that up than saying you’ll write an entire draft over a weekend and not getting much done.

Another useful strategy is assembling a checklist, as you put together all the pieces from your research, citations, key quotes, data, and different sections. This allows you to track what you have done and what you still need to accomplish. You might review your assignment’s requirements and list them out so you know when you’ve hit the things like required sources or minimum length. It also helps remind you towards the end to review things like your works cited and any other key grammar and style issues you might want to revisit.

You’re much closer to completing everything than you think. You have all the research, you have all the pieces, and you have a good foundation. You’ve developed a level of understanding of the many sources you have gathered, along with the writing projects you have written. Time to put it all together and join the conversation.

Key Takeaways

  • Your research essay adds to the conversation surrounding your topic.
  • Begin drafting your essay and trust that your ideas will continue to develop and evolve.
  • As you assemble your essay, rely on what works for you, whether that is outlining, mindmapping, checklists, or anything else.
  • You have come far. The end is in sight.

Image shows a person walking up the stairs, believing they are far from the top. In the next frame it shows that they have travelled a long distance and are much closer to the top than they think.

Clemson Libaries. (2016). “Joining the (Scholarly) Conversation.”  YouTube . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79WmzNQvAZY

Fosslien, L. Remember how much progress you’ve made [Image].

Graff, G. & Birkenstein, C. (2017). They Say, I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing . W. W. Norton and Co.

Guptill, A. (2016). Constructing the Thesis and Argument—From the Ground Up : Writing in College . Open SUNY Textbooks.

Harris, Joseph. Rewriting: How to Do Things with Texts . Second Edition. Utah State University Press, 2017.

Writing for Inquiry and Research Copyright © 2023 by Jeffrey Kessler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Home » Research Paper Outline – Types, Example, Template

Research Paper Outline – Types, Example, Template

Table of Contents

Research Paper Outline

By creating a well-structured research paper outline, writers can easily organize their thoughts and ideas and ensure that their final paper is clear, concise, and effective. In this article, we will explore the essential components of a research paper outline and provide some tips and tricks for creating a successful one.

Research Paper Outline

Research paper outline is a plan or a structural framework that organizes the main ideas , arguments, and supporting evidence in a logical sequence. It serves as a blueprint or a roadmap for the writer to follow while drafting the actual research paper .

Typically, an outline consists of the following elements:

  • Introduction : This section presents the topic, research question , and thesis statement of the paper. It also provides a brief overview of the literature review and the methodology used.
  • Literature Review: This section provides a comprehensive review of the relevant literature, theories, and concepts related to the research topic. It analyzes the existing research and identifies the research gaps and research questions.
  • Methodology: This section explains the research design, data collection methods, data analysis, and ethical considerations of the study.
  • Results: This section presents the findings of the study, using tables, graphs, and statistics to illustrate the data.
  • Discussion : This section interprets the results of the study, and discusses their implications, significance, and limitations. It also suggests future research directions.
  • Conclusion : This section summarizes the main findings of the study and restates the thesis statement.
  • References: This section lists all the sources cited in the paper using the appropriate citation style.

Research Paper Outline Types

There are several types of outlines that can be used for research papers, including:

Alphanumeric Outline

This is a traditional outline format that uses Roman numerals, capital letters, Arabic numerals, and lowercase letters to organize the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is commonly used for longer, more complex research papers.

I. Introduction

  • A. Background information
  • B. Thesis statement
  • 1 1. Supporting detail
  • 1 2. Supporting detail 2
  • 2 1. Supporting detail

III. Conclusion

  • A. Restate thesis
  • B. Summarize main points

Decimal Outline

This outline format uses numbers to organize the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is similar to the alphanumeric outline, but it uses only numbers and decimals to indicate the hierarchy of the ideas.

  • 1.1 Background information
  • 1.2 Thesis statement
  • 1 2.1.1 Supporting detail
  • 1 2.1.2 Supporting detail
  • 2 2.2.1 Supporting detail
  • 1 2.2.2 Supporting detail
  • 3.1 Restate thesis
  • 3.2 Summarize main points

Full Sentence Outline

This type of outline uses complete sentences to describe the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is useful for those who prefer to see the entire paper outlined in complete sentences.

  • Provide background information on the topic
  • State the thesis statement
  • Explain main idea 1 and provide supporting details
  • Discuss main idea 2 and provide supporting details
  • Restate the thesis statement
  • Summarize the main points of the paper

Topic Outline

This type of outline uses short phrases or words to describe the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is useful for those who prefer to see a more concise overview of the paper.

  • Background information
  • Thesis statement
  • Supporting detail 1
  • Supporting detail 2
  • Restate thesis
  • Summarize main points

Reverse Outline

This is an outline that is created after the paper has been written. It involves going back through the paper and summarizing each paragraph or section in one sentence. This can be useful for identifying gaps in the paper or areas that need further development.

  • Introduction : Provides background information and states the thesis statement.
  • Paragraph 1: Discusses main idea 1 and provides supporting details.
  • Paragraph 2: Discusses main idea 2 and provides supporting details.
  • Paragraph 3: Addresses potential counterarguments.
  • Conclusion : Restates thesis and summarizes main points.

Mind Map Outline

This type of outline involves creating a visual representation of the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It can be useful for those who prefer a more creative and visual approach to outlining.

  • Supporting detail 1: Lack of funding for public schools.
  • Supporting detail 2: Decrease in government support for education.
  • Supporting detail 1: Increase in income inequality.
  • Supporting detail 2: Decrease in social mobility.

Research Paper Outline Example

Research Paper Outline Example on Cyber Security:

A. Overview of Cybersecurity

  • B. Importance of Cybersecurity
  • C. Purpose of the paper

II. Cyber Threats

A. Definition of Cyber Threats

  • B. Types of Cyber Threats
  • C. Examples of Cyber Threats

III. Cybersecurity Measures

A. Prevention measures

  • Anti-virus software
  • Encryption B. Detection measures
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS)
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) C. Response measures
  • Incident Response Plan
  • Business Continuity Plan
  • Disaster Recovery Plan

IV. Cybersecurity in the Business World

A. Overview of Cybersecurity in the Business World

B. Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

C. Best Practices for Cybersecurity in Business

V. Cybersecurity in Government Organizations

A. Overview of Cybersecurity in Government Organizations

C. Best Practices for Cybersecurity in Government Organizations

VI. Cybersecurity Ethics

A. Definition of Cybersecurity Ethics

B. Importance of Cybersecurity Ethics

C. Examples of Cybersecurity Ethics

VII. Future of Cybersecurity

A. Overview of the Future of Cybersecurity

B. Emerging Cybersecurity Threats

C. Advancements in Cybersecurity Technology

VIII. Conclusion

A. Summary of the paper

B. Recommendations for Cybersecurity

  • C. Conclusion.

IX. References

A. List of sources cited in the paper

B. Bibliography of additional resources

Introduction

Cybersecurity refers to the protection of computer systems, networks, and sensitive data from unauthorized access, theft, damage, or any other form of cyber attack. B. Importance of Cybersecurity The increasing reliance on technology and the growing number of cyber threats make cybersecurity an essential aspect of modern society. Cybersecurity breaches can result in financial losses, reputational damage, and legal liabilities. C. Purpose of the paper This paper aims to provide an overview of cybersecurity, cyber threats, cybersecurity measures, cybersecurity in the business and government sectors, cybersecurity ethics, and the future of cybersecurity.

A cyber threat is any malicious act or event that attempts to compromise or disrupt computer systems, networks, or sensitive data. B. Types of Cyber Threats Common types of cyber threats include malware, phishing, social engineering, ransomware, DDoS attacks, and advanced persistent threats (APTs). C. Examples of Cyber Threats Recent cyber threats include the SolarWinds supply chain attack, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack, and the Microsoft Exchange Server hack.

Prevention measures aim to minimize the risk of cyber attacks by implementing security controls, such as firewalls, anti-virus software, and encryption.

  • Firewalls Firewalls act as a barrier between a computer network and the internet, filtering incoming and outgoing traffic to prevent unauthorized access.
  • Anti-virus software Anti-virus software detects, prevents, and removes malware from computer systems.
  • Encryption Encryption involves the use of mathematical algorithms to transform sensitive data into a code that can only be accessed by authorized individuals. B. Detection measures Detection measures aim to identify and respond to cyber attacks as quickly as possible, such as intrusion detection systems (IDS), security information and event management (SIEM), and security operations centers (SOCs).
  • Intrusion Detection System (IDS) IDS monitors network traffic for signs of unauthorized access, such as unusual patterns or anomalies.
  • Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) SIEM combines security information management and security event management to provide real-time monitoring and analysis of security alerts.
  • Security Operations Center (SOC) SOC is a dedicated team responsible for monitoring, analyzing, and responding to cyber threats. C. Response measures Response measures aim to mitigate the impact of a cyber attack and restore normal operations, such as incident response plans (IRPs), business continuity plans (BCPs), and disaster recovery plans (DRPs).
  • Incident Response Plan IRPs outline the procedures and protocols to follow in the event of a cyber attack, including communication protocols, roles and responsibilities, and recovery processes.
  • Business Continuity Plan BCPs ensure that critical business functions can continue in the event of a cyber attack or other disruption.
  • Disaster Recovery Plan DRPs outline the procedures to recover from a catastrophic event, such as a natural disaster or cyber attack.

Cybersecurity is crucial for businesses of all sizes and industries, as they handle sensitive data, financial transactions, and intellectual property that are attractive targets for cyber criminals.

Risk assessment is a critical step in developing a cybersecurity strategy, which involves identifying potential threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences to determine the level of risk and prioritize security measures.

Best practices for cybersecurity in business include implementing strong passwords and multi-factor authentication, regularly updating software and hardware, training employees on cybersecurity awareness, and regularly backing up data.

Government organizations face unique cybersecurity challenges, as they handle sensitive information related to national security, defense, and critical infrastructure.

Risk assessment in government organizations involves identifying and assessing potential threats and vulnerabilities, conducting regular audits, and complying with relevant regulations and standards.

Best practices for cybersecurity in government organizations include implementing secure communication protocols, regularly updating and patching software, and conducting regular cybersecurity training and awareness programs for employees.

Cybersecurity ethics refers to the ethical considerations involved in cybersecurity, such as privacy, data protection, and the responsible use of technology.

Cybersecurity ethics are crucial for maintaining trust in technology, protecting privacy and data, and promoting responsible behavior in the digital world.

Examples of cybersecurity ethics include protecting the privacy of user data, ensuring data accuracy and integrity, and implementing fair and unbiased algorithms.

The future of cybersecurity will involve a shift towards more advanced technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and quantum computing.

Emerging cybersecurity threats include AI-powered cyber attacks, the use of deepfakes and synthetic media, and the potential for quantum computing to break current encryption methods.

Advancements in cybersecurity technology include the development of AI and machine learning-based security tools, the use of blockchain for secure data storage and sharing, and the development of post-quantum encryption methods.

This paper has provided an overview of cybersecurity, cyber threats, cybersecurity measures, cybersecurity in the business and government sectors, cybersecurity ethics, and the future of cybersecurity.

To enhance cybersecurity, organizations should prioritize risk assessment and implement a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy that includes prevention, detection, and response measures. Additionally, organizations should prioritize cybersecurity ethics to promote responsible behavior in the digital world.

C. Conclusion

Cybersecurity is an essential aspect of modern society, and organizations must prioritize cybersecurity to protect sensitive data and maintain trust in technology.

for further reading

X. Appendices

A. Glossary of key terms

B. Cybersecurity checklist for organizations

C. Sample cybersecurity policy for businesses

D. Sample cybersecurity incident response plan

E. Cybersecurity training and awareness resources

Note : The content and organization of the paper may vary depending on the specific requirements of the assignment or target audience. This outline serves as a general guide for writing a research paper on cybersecurity. Do not use this in your assingmets.

Research Paper Outline Template

  • Background information and context of the research topic
  • Research problem and questions
  • Purpose and objectives of the research
  • Scope and limitations

II. Literature Review

  • Overview of existing research on the topic
  • Key concepts and theories related to the research problem
  • Identification of gaps in the literature
  • Summary of relevant studies and their findings

III. Methodology

  • Research design and approach
  • Data collection methods and procedures
  • Data analysis techniques
  • Validity and reliability considerations
  • Ethical considerations

IV. Results

  • Presentation of research findings
  • Analysis and interpretation of data
  • Explanation of significant results
  • Discussion of unexpected results

V. Discussion

  • Comparison of research findings with existing literature
  • Implications of results for theory and practice
  • Limitations and future directions for research
  • Conclusion and recommendations

VI. Conclusion

  • Summary of research problem, purpose, and objectives
  • Discussion of significant findings
  • Contribution to the field of study
  • Implications for practice
  • Suggestions for future research

VII. References

  • List of sources cited in the research paper using appropriate citation style.

Note : This is just an template, and depending on the requirements of your assignment or the specific research topic, you may need to modify or adjust the sections or headings accordingly.

Research Paper Outline Writing Guide

Here’s a guide to help you create an effective research paper outline:

  • Choose a topic : Select a topic that is interesting, relevant, and meaningful to you.
  • Conduct research: Gather information on the topic from a variety of sources, such as books, articles, journals, and websites.
  • Organize your ideas: Organize your ideas and information into logical groups and subgroups. This will help you to create a clear and concise outline.
  • Create an outline: Begin your outline with an introduction that includes your thesis statement. Then, organize your ideas into main points and subpoints. Each main point should be supported by evidence and examples.
  • Introduction: The introduction of your research paper should include the thesis statement, background information, and the purpose of the research paper.
  • Body : The body of your research paper should include the main points and subpoints. Each point should be supported by evidence and examples.
  • Conclusion : The conclusion of your research paper should summarize the main points and restate the thesis statement.
  • Reference List: Include a reference list at the end of your research paper. Make sure to properly cite all sources used in the paper.
  • Proofreading : Proofread your research paper to ensure that it is free of errors and grammatical mistakes.
  • Finalizing : Finalize your research paper by reviewing the outline and making any necessary changes.

When to Write Research Paper Outline

It’s a good idea to write a research paper outline before you begin drafting your paper. The outline will help you organize your thoughts and ideas, and it can serve as a roadmap for your writing process.

Here are a few situations when you might want to consider writing an outline:

  • When you’re starting a new research project: If you’re beginning a new research project, an outline can help you get organized from the very beginning. You can use your outline to brainstorm ideas, map out your research goals, and identify potential sources of information.
  • When you’re struggling to organize your thoughts: If you find yourself struggling to organize your thoughts or make sense of your research, an outline can be a helpful tool. It can help you see the big picture of your project and break it down into manageable parts.
  • When you’re working with a tight deadline : If you have a deadline for your research paper, an outline can help you stay on track and ensure that you cover all the necessary points. By mapping out your paper in advance, you can work more efficiently and avoid getting stuck or overwhelmed.

Purpose of Research Paper Outline

The purpose of a research paper outline is to provide a structured and organized plan for the writer to follow while conducting research and writing the paper. An outline is essentially a roadmap that guides the writer through the entire research process, from the initial research and analysis of the topic to the final writing and editing of the paper.

A well-constructed outline can help the writer to:

  • Organize their thoughts and ideas on the topic, and ensure that all relevant information is included.
  • Identify any gaps in their research or argument, and address them before starting to write the paper.
  • Ensure that the paper follows a logical and coherent structure, with clear transitions between different sections.
  • Save time and effort by providing a clear plan for the writer to follow, rather than starting from scratch and having to revise the paper multiple times.

Advantages of Research Paper Outline

Some of the key advantages of a research paper outline include:

  • Helps to organize thoughts and ideas : An outline helps to organize all the different ideas and information that you want to include in your paper. By creating an outline, you can ensure that all the points you want to make are covered and in a logical order.
  • Saves time and effort : An outline saves time and effort because it helps you to focus on the key points of your paper. It also helps you to identify any gaps or areas where more research may be needed.
  • Makes the writing process easier : With an outline, you have a clear roadmap of what you want to write, and this makes the writing process much easier. You can simply follow your outline and fill in the details as you go.
  • Improves the quality of your paper : By having a clear outline, you can ensure that all the important points are covered and in a logical order. This makes your paper more coherent and easier to read, which ultimately improves its overall quality.
  • Facilitates collaboration: If you are working on a research paper with others, an outline can help to facilitate collaboration. By sharing your outline, you can ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

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  1. How to Create an Outline of a Research Paper Using Topic Sentences

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COMMENTS

  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" Example research proposal #2: "Medical Students as Mediators of ...

  2. 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.

  3. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Your proposal title should be concise and clear to indicate your research question. Your readers should know what to expect in the paper after reading the title. Avoid writing titles in a general perspective or phrases like "An investigation of …" or "A review of …" etc. Make it concise and well-defined. 2.

  4. Research Proposal Example (PDF + Template)

    Research Proposal Example/Sample. Detailed Walkthrough + Free Proposal Template. If you're getting started crafting your research proposal and are looking for a few examples of research proposals, you've come to the right place. In this video, we walk you through two successful (approved) research proposals, one for a Master's-level ...

  5. How To Write A Proposal

    1. Title Page: Include the title of your proposal, your name or organization's name, the date, and any other relevant information specified by the guidelines. 2. Executive Summary: Provide a concise overview of your proposal, highlighting the key points and objectives.

  6. How to Write a Research Proposal. Full Writing Guide

    Research Method. In the research proposal, you should go into depth about how you conducted your study. Explain your key research tools and the techniques you employed to get your results. If you conducted interviews, tell the reader about the subjects of your questions. Lastly, provide your analysis of the results.

  7. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    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 ...

  8. How to write a research paper outline

    The outline is the skeleton of your research paper. Simply start by writing down your thesis and the main ideas you wish to present. This will likely change as your research progresses; therefore, do not worry about being too specific in the early stages of writing your outline. Organize your papers in one place. Try Paperpile.

  9. How to Create a Research Paper Outline: Tips and Examples

    1. Determine your topic. You'll need to establish a topic or the main point you intend to write about. For example, you may want to research and write about whether influencers are the most beneficial way to promote products in your industry. This topic is the main point around which your essay will revolve. 2.

  10. 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.

  11. Writing a Research Proposal

    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 ...

  12. Academic Proposals

    An important part of the work completed in academia is sharing our scholarship with others. Such communication takes place when we present at scholarly conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and publish in books. This OWL resource addresses the steps in writing for a variety of academic proposals. For samples of academic proposals ...

  13. Free Research Paper Template (Word Doc & PDF)

    If you're preparing to write an academic research paper, our free research paper template is the perfect starting point. In the template, we cover every section step by step, with clear, straightforward explanations and examples.. The template's structure is based on the tried and trusted best-practice format for formal academic research papers. The template structure reflects the overall ...

  14. Research Proposal Template (Free Template for Academics)

    Depending on the length of your research proposal, you may wish to include a contents page for the proposal itself (not for your main research project: suggested contents for this are included in your Proposed Chapter Outline, section 9), as follows (add page numbers/subsections when you know them, depending on your research).As you introduce sub-sections into your different sections, number ...

  15. 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'.

  16. Research Essay

    The goal of this book has been to help demystify research and inquiry through a series of genres that are part of the research process. Each of these writing projects—the annotated bibliography, proposal, literature review, and research essay—builds on each other. Research is an ongoing and evolving process, and each of these projects help ...

  17. Research Paper Outline

    This outline format uses numbers to organize the main ideas and supporting details of a research paper. It is similar to the alphanumeric outline, but it uses only numbers and decimals to indicate the hierarchy of the ideas. Example: 1.0 Introduction. 1.1 Background information.

  18. Sample Academic Proposals

    Sample Academic Proposals. Select the Sample Academic Proposals PDF in the Media box above to download this file and read examples of proposals for conferences, journals, and book chapters. Media File: Sample Academic Proposals This resource is enhanced by an Acrobat PDF file. Download the free Acrobat Reader.

  19. How to Write a Proposal Essay/Paper

    7. Preparations Made. Show the audience that you know what you are doing. The more prepared you look the better your chances are to get the proposal passed (or get a better grade if it is for a class). 8. Conclusion. Do not restate your introduction here if you choose to mention the "history" of a certain proposal.

  20. Writing a Research Paper Introduction

    Table of contents. Step 1: Introduce your topic. Step 2: Describe the background. Step 3: Establish your research problem. Step 4: Specify your objective (s) Step 5: Map out your paper. Research paper introduction examples. Frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

  21. Sample Proposal Argument

    Sample Proposal Argument. Now that you have had the chance to learn about writing a proposal argument, it's time to see what one might look like. Below, you'll see a sample proposal argumentative essay written using APA 7 th edition formatting guidelines. Click the image below to open a PDF of the sample paper. Previous. Next.

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