How to Write a Research Proposal: a Step-by-Step Guide


2nd November 2023

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A research proposal is a crucial document that outlines your planned research project, providing an overview of your research question, objectives, methodology, and potential impact. It’s an essential component of PhD applications and grant funding submissions. Get started on your academic journey and learn how to write a research proposal with our useful step-by-step guide.

Title and Abstract

  • Title: Your title should be concise, informative, and engaging. It should provide a clear indication of the research topic and its focus.
  • Abstract: The abstract is a brief summary of your research proposal, typically around 200-300 words. It should highlight the research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.


The introduction provides context for your research. It should:

  • Introduce the research topic and its significance.
  • Highlight the research question and objectives.
  • Provide a brief literature review to establish the current state of knowledge in your field.
  • Justify the need for your research and its potential contribution to the field.

Literature Review

The literature review is an in-depth exploration of existing research related to your topic. It should:

  • Identify key theories, models, and studies in your field.
  • Highlight gaps in the current literature that your research aims to address.
  • Demonstrate your understanding of the field and its theoretical framework.

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The methodology section outlines your research design and methods. It should include:

  • Research design: Explain your approach (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods) and justify your choice.
  • Data collection: Describe the methods you’ll use to collect data, including surveys, interviews, or archival research.
  • Data analysis: Explain how you’ll analyse the data, including the software or statistical techniques you’ll use.
  • Ethical considerations: Discuss any ethical issues related to your research and how you’ll address them.
  • Limitations: Acknowledge any potential limitations of your research design and methodology.

Expected Outcomes and Impact

This section outlines the anticipated outcomes of your research and its potential impact. It should:

  • Discuss the expected findings and their relevance to your research question.
  • Highlight the potential contribution of your research to the field and its broader implications.
  • Identify any practical applications or policy implications of your research.

Timeline and Budget

  • Timeline: Provide a realistic timeline for completing your research project, including key milestones and deadlines.
  • Budget: If applicable, outline the estimated costs of your research, including travel, materials, and any other expenses.


Conclude your research proposal by summarising the key points and emphasising the significance and potential impact of your research.

Make an Impact with Your Research Proposal

Writing a research proposal requires careful planning and attention to detail. It should provide a clear and concise overview of your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.

If you’re a PhD student seeking assistance with your research proposal or other academic writing needs, we can help. We offer personalised support to help you navigate the complexities of academic research and writing. Contact us today to take the next step in your academic journey.