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How to write a research proposal?

Date published by Date updated: December 28, 2016

Before you start writing your thesis, you will need to create a plan – which is often referred to as a research proposal.

Having a good proposal is half the battle, as it’s the thread that you will follow throughout the writing process!

The main goal of the proposal is to describe what you are going to investigate and how you will do so.

It should include an overview of the literature, a problem statement and research question, your research methodology, and the main sources and references you will use.

What should your research proposal look like?

Your proposal should identify the literature, problem statement and research question, method of investigation, main data sources, and references that you will use when writing your thesis.

Part 1 Read current literature

Look for literature on topics that you find interesting to motivate your research. Examine what has already been done and look for questions that remain unanswered.

Part 2 Formulate a problem statement and research questions

Identify the problem and main research question you will explore in your thesis, plus some sub-questions that you can use to tackle the main question step by step.

Part 3 Create a research methodology

Explain how you will answer your research questions, including the methods and materials you will use.

Part 4 Identify data sources

Outline where you will find the data you need, including how you will search the relevant literature and the main journals that you will consult.

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Article by Bas Swaen

Bas is co-founder of Scribbr. Bas loves to teach and is an experienced thesis writer. He tries to help students with writing clear and easy to comprehend articles about difficult topics.

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