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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How to write a research proposal

Advice and guidance on writing a proposal for a student research project.

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Purpose of a Research Proposal

A research proposal should describe what you will investigate, why it is important to the discipline and how you will conduct your research.

Simply put, it is your plan for the research you intend to conduct. All research proposals are designed to persuade someone about how and why your intended project is worthwhile. 

In your proposal you will need to explain and defend your choices. Always think about the exact reasons why you are making specific choices and why they are the best options available to you and your project. 

Your research proposal aims should be centred on: 

  • Relevance - You want to convince the reader how and why your research is relevant and significant to your field and how it is original. This is typically done in parts of the introduction and the literature review.
  • Context - You should demonstrate that you are familiar with the field, you understand the current state of research on the topic and your ideas have a strong academic basis (i.e., not simply based on your instincts or personal views). This will be the focus of your introduction and literature review. 
  • Approach - You need to make a case for your methodology, showing that you have carefully thought about the data, tools and procedures you will need to conduct the research. You need to explicitly defend all of your choices. This will be presented in the research design section. 
  • Feasibility - You need to demonstrate clearly that your project is both reasonable and feasible within the practical constraints of the course, timescales, institution or funding. You need to make sure you have the time and access to resources to complete the project in a reasonable period. 

301 Recommends:

Our Research Writing workshop will look at some of the main writing challenges associated with writing a large-scale research project and look at strategies to manage your writing on a day-to-day basis. It will identify ways to plan, organise and map out the structure of your writing to allow you to develop an effective writing schedule and make continuous progress on your dissertation project.

Proposal format

The format of a research proposal varies between fields and levels of study but most proposals should contain at least these elements: introduction, literature review, research design and reference list.

Generally, research proposals can range from 500-1500 words or one to a few pages long. Typically, proposals for larger projects such as a PhD dissertation or funding requests, are longer and much more detailed.

Remember, the goal of your research proposal is to outline clearly and concisely exactly what your research will entail and accomplish, how it will do so and why it is important. If you are writing to a strictly enforced word count, a research proposal can be a great test of your ability to express yourself concisely!

Introduction

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project, so make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why. In other words, this is where you answer the reader’s “so what?” It should typically include: introducing the topic , outlining your problem statement and research question(s) and giving background and context. Some important questions to shape your introduction include: 

  • Who has an interest in the topic (e.g. scientists, practitioners, policymakers, particular members of society)?
  • How much is already known about the problem and why is it important?
  • What is missing from current knowledge and why?
  • What new insights will your research contribute?
  • Why is this research worth doing?

If your proposal is very long, you might include separate sections with more detailed information on the background and context, problem statement, aims and objectives, and importance of the research.

Literature Review 

It’s important to show that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review convinces the reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory (i.e. how it relates to established research in the field).

Your literature review will also show that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said. This is also where you explain why your research is necessary. You might want to consider some of the following prompts:

  • Comparing and contrasting: what are the main theories, methods, debates and controversies?
  • Being critical: what are the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches?
  • Showing how your research fits in: how will you build on, challenge or synthesise the work of others? 
  • Filling a gap in the existing body of research: why is your idea innovative? 

Research design and methods

Following the literature review, it is a good idea to restate your main objectives, bringing the focus back to your own project. The research design/ methodology section should describe the overall approach and practical steps you will take to answer your research questions. You also need to demonstrate the feasibility of the project keeping in mind time and other constraints. 

You should definitely include:

  • Qualitative vs quantitative research? Combination? 
  • Will you collect original data or work with primary/secondary sources? 
  • Is your research design descriptive, correlational or experimental? Something completely different?
  • If you are undertaking your own study, when and where will you collect the data? How will you select subjects or sources? Ethics review? Exactly what or who will you study?
  • What tools and procedures will you use (e.g. systematic reviews, surveys, interviews, observation, experiments, bibliographic data) to collect your data? 
  • What tools/methods will you use to analyse your data? 
  • Why are these the best methods to answer your research question(s)? This is where you should justify your choices. 
  • How much time will you need to collect the data? 
  • How will you gain access to participants and sources?
  • Do you foresee any potential obstacles and if so, how will you address them?

Make sure you are not simply compiling a list of methods. Instead, aim to make an argument for why this is the most appropriate, valid and reliable way to approach answering your question. Remember you should always be defending your choices! 

Implications and Contributions to Knowledge

To ensure you finish your proposal on a strong note, it is a good idea to explore and/or emphasise the potential implications of the research. This means: what do you intend to contribute to existing knowledge on the topic?

Although you cannot know the results of your research until you have actually done the work, you should be going into the project with a clear idea of how your work will contribute to your field. This section might even be considered the most critical to your research proposal’s argument because it expresses exactly why your research is necessary. 

You should consider covering at least some of the following topics:

  • Ways in which your work can challenge existing theories and assumptions in your field. 
  • How your work will create the foundation for future research and theory. 
  • The practical value your findings will provide to practitioners, educators and other academics in your field. 
  • The problems or issues your work can potentially help to resolve. 
  • Policies that could be impacted by your findings. 
  • How your findings can be implemented in academia or other settings and how this will improve or otherwise transform these settings. 

This part is not about stating the specific results that you expect to obtain but rather, this is the section where you explicitly state how your findings will be valuable. 

This section is where you want to wrap it all up in a nice pretty bow. It is just like the concluding paragraph that you would structure and craft for a typical essay. You should briefly summarise your research proposal and reinforce your research purpose. 

Reference List or Bibliography

Your research proposal MUST include proper citations for every source you have used and full references. Please consult your departmental referencing styles to ensure you are citing and referencing in an appropriate way. 

Common mistakes to avoid 

Try and avoid these common pitfalls when you are writing your research proposal: 

  • Being too wordy: Remember formal does not mean flowery or pretentious. In fact, you should really aim to keep your writing as concise and accessible as possible. The more economically you can express your goals and ideas, the better. 
  • Failing to cite relevant information/sources: You are adding to the existing body of knowledge on the subject you are covering. Therefore, your research proposal should reference the main research pieces in your field (while referencing them correctly!) and connect your proposal to these works in some way. This does not mean just communicating the relevance of your work, it should explicitly demonstrate your familiarity with the field. 
  • Focusing too much on minor issues: Your research is most likely important for so many great reasons. However, they do not all need to be listed in your research proposal. Generally, including too many questions and issues in your research proposal can serve as a red flag and detract from your main purpose(s). This will in turn weaken your proposal. Only involve the main/key issues you plan to address. 
  • Failing to make a strong argument for your research: This is the simplest way to undermine your proposal. Your proposal is a piece of persuasive and critical writing . This means that, although you are presenting your proposal in an academic and hopefully objective manner, the goal is to get the reader to say ‘yes’ to your work. 
  • Not polishing your writing : If your proposal has spelling or grammatical errors, an inconsistent or inappropriate tone or even just awkward phrasing it can undermine your credibility. Check out some of these resources to help guide you in the right direction: Manchester Academic Phrasebank , Proofreading Guide , Essay Checklist and Grammar Guide . Remember to double and triple check your work. 

Links and Resources

You might also need to include a schedule and/or a budget depending on your requirements. Some tools to help include: 

  • Manchester University Academic Phrasebank
  • Leeds Beckett Assignment Calculator
  • Calendarpedia

Related information

Dissertation planning

Writing a literature review

Research methods

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The Summer Skills Spark offers workshops to support you through every step of the process. You'll have opportunities to plan your projects, develop your research skills, explore dissemination techniques, and consider a future career in research. 

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11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

Learning objectives.

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

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

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

Choosing a Topic

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

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

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

Identifying Potential Topics

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

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

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

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

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

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

Narrowing Your Topic

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

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

Exploring Your Topic in Writing

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

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

Conducting Preliminary Research

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

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

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

Writing at Work

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

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

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

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

Collaboration

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

A Plan for Research

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

Formulating a Research Question

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

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

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

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

Constructing a Working ThesIs

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

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

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

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

Creating a Research Proposal

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

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

Read Jorge's research proposal

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

Writing Your Own Research Proposal

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

Key Takeaways

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

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

Grad Coach

How To Write A Research Proposal

A Straightforward How-To Guide (With Examples)

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | August 2019 (Updated April 2023)

Writing up a strong research proposal for a dissertation or thesis is much like a marriage proposal. It’s a task that calls on you to win somebody over and persuade them that what you’re planning is a great idea. An idea they’re happy to say ‘yes’ to. This means that your dissertation proposal needs to be   persuasive ,   attractive   and well-planned. In this post, I’ll show you how to write a winning dissertation proposal, from scratch.

Before you start:

– Understand exactly what a research proposal is – Ask yourself these 4 questions

The 5 essential ingredients:

  • The title/topic
  • The introduction chapter
  • The scope/delimitations
  • Preliminary literature review
  • Design/ methodology
  • Practical considerations and risks 

What Is A Research Proposal?

The research proposal is literally that: a written document that communicates what you propose to research, in a concise format. It’s where you put all that stuff that’s spinning around in your head down on to paper, in a logical, convincing fashion.

Convincing   is the keyword here, as your research proposal needs to convince the assessor that your research is   clearly articulated   (i.e., a clear research question) ,   worth doing   (i.e., is unique and valuable enough to justify the effort), and   doable   within the restrictions you’ll face (time limits, budget, skill limits, etc.). If your proposal does not address these three criteria, your research won’t be approved, no matter how “exciting” the research idea might be.

PS – if you’re completely new to proposal writing, we’ve got a detailed walkthrough video covering two successful research proposals here . 

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

How do I know I’m ready?

Before starting the writing process, you need to   ask yourself 4 important questions .  If you can’t answer them succinctly and confidently, you’re not ready – you need to go back and think more deeply about your dissertation topic .

You should be able to answer the following 4 questions before starting your dissertation or thesis research proposal:

  • WHAT is my main research question? (the topic)
  • WHO cares and why is this important? (the justification)
  • WHAT data would I need to answer this question, and how will I analyse it? (the research design)
  • HOW will I manage the completion of this research, within the given timelines? (project and risk management)

If you can’t answer these questions clearly and concisely,   you’re not yet ready   to write your research proposal – revisit our   post on choosing a topic .

If you can, that’s great – it’s time to start writing up your dissertation proposal. Next, I’ll discuss what needs to go into your research proposal, and how to structure it all into an intuitive, convincing document with a linear narrative.

The 5 Essential Ingredients

Research proposals can vary in style between institutions and disciplines, but here I’ll share with you a   handy 5-section structure   you can use. These 5 sections directly address the core questions we spoke about earlier, ensuring that you present a convincing proposal. If your institution already provides a proposal template, there will likely be substantial overlap with this, so you’ll still get value from reading on.

For each section discussed below, make sure you use headers and sub-headers (ideally, numbered headers) to help the reader navigate through your document, and to support them when they need to revisit a previous section. Don’t just present an endless wall of text, paragraph after paragraph after paragraph…

Top Tip:   Use MS Word Styles to format headings. This will allow you to be clear about whether a sub-heading is level 2, 3, or 4. Additionally, you can view your document in ‘outline view’ which will show you only your headings. This makes it much easier to check your structure, shift things around and make decisions about where a section needs to sit. You can also generate a 100% accurate table of contents using Word’s automatic functionality.

a research proposal must contain

Ingredient #1 – Topic/Title Header

Your research proposal’s title should be your main research question in its simplest form, possibly with a sub-heading providing basic details on the specifics of the study. For example:

“Compliance with equality legislation in the charity sector: a study of the ‘reasonable adjustments’ made in three London care homes”

As you can see, this title provides a clear indication of what the research is about, in broad terms. It paints a high-level picture for the first-time reader, which gives them a taste of what to expect.   Always aim for a clear, concise title . Don’t feel the need to capture every detail of your research in your title – your proposal will fill in the gaps.

Need a helping hand?

a research proposal must contain

Ingredient #2 – Introduction

In this section of your research proposal, you’ll expand on what you’ve communicated in the title, by providing a few paragraphs which offer more detail about your research topic. Importantly, the focus here is the   topic   – what will you research and why is that worth researching? This is not the place to discuss methodology, practicalities, etc. – you’ll do that later.

You should cover the following:

  • An overview of the   broad area   you’ll be researching – introduce the reader to key concepts and language
  • An explanation of the   specific (narrower) area   you’ll be focusing, and why you’ll be focusing there
  • Your research   aims   and   objectives
  • Your   research question (s) and sub-questions (if applicable)

Importantly, you should aim to use short sentences and plain language – don’t babble on with extensive jargon, acronyms and complex language. Assume that the reader is an intelligent layman – not a subject area specialist (even if they are). Remember that the   best writing is writing that can be easily understood   and digested. Keep it simple.

The introduction section serves to expand on the  research topic – what will you study and why is that worth dedicating time and effort to?

Note that some universities may want some extra bits and pieces in your introduction section. For example, personal development objectives, a structural outline, etc. Check your brief to see if there are any other details they expect in your proposal, and make sure you find a place for these.

Ingredient #3 – Scope

Next, you’ll need to specify what the scope of your research will be – this is also known as the delimitations . In other words, you need to make it clear what you will be covering and, more importantly, what you won’t be covering in your research. Simply put, this is about ring fencing your research topic so that you have a laser-sharp focus.

All too often, students feel the need to go broad and try to address as many issues as possible, in the interest of producing comprehensive research. Whilst this is admirable, it’s a mistake. By tightly refining your scope, you’ll enable yourself to   go deep   with your research, which is what you need to earn good marks. If your scope is too broad, you’re likely going to land up with superficial research (which won’t earn marks), so don’t be afraid to narrow things down.

Ingredient #4 – Literature Review

In this section of your research proposal, you need to provide a (relatively) brief discussion of the existing literature. Naturally, this will not be as comprehensive as the literature review in your actual dissertation, but it will lay the foundation for that. In fact, if you put in the effort at this stage, you’ll make your life a lot easier when it’s time to write your actual literature review chapter.

There are a few things you need to achieve in this section:

  • Demonstrate that you’ve done your reading and are   familiar with the current state of the research   in your topic area.
  • Show that   there’s a clear gap   for your specific research – i.e., show that your topic is sufficiently unique and will add value to the existing research.
  • Show how the existing research has shaped your thinking regarding   research design . For example, you might use scales or questionnaires from previous studies.

When you write up your literature review, keep these three objectives front of mind, especially number two (revealing the gap in the literature), so that your literature review has a   clear purpose and direction . Everything you write should be contributing towards one (or more) of these objectives in some way. If it doesn’t, you need to ask yourself whether it’s truly needed.

Top Tip:  Don’t fall into the trap of just describing the main pieces of literature, for example, “A says this, B says that, C also says that…” and so on. Merely describing the literature provides no value. Instead, you need to   synthesise   it, and use it to address the three objectives above.

 If you put in the effort at the proposal stage, you’ll make your life a lot easier when its time to write your actual literature review chapter.

Ingredient #5 – Research Methodology

Now that you’ve clearly explained both your intended research topic (in the introduction) and the existing research it will draw on (in the literature review section), it’s time to get practical and explain exactly how you’ll be carrying out your own research. In other words, your research methodology.

In this section, you’ll need to   answer two critical questions :

  • How   will you design your research? I.e., what research methodology will you adopt, what will your sample be, how will you collect data, etc.
  • Why   have you chosen this design? I.e., why does this approach suit your specific research aims, objectives and questions?

In other words, this is not just about explaining WHAT you’ll be doing, it’s also about explaining WHY. In fact, the   justification is the most important part , because that justification is how you demonstrate a good understanding of research design (which is what assessors want to see).

Some essential design choices you need to cover in your research proposal include:

  • Your intended research philosophy (e.g., positivism, interpretivism or pragmatism )
  • What methodological approach you’ll be taking (e.g., qualitative , quantitative or mixed )
  • The details of your sample (e.g., sample size, who they are, who they represent, etc.)
  • What data you plan to collect (i.e. data about what, in what form?)
  • How you plan to collect it (e.g., surveys , interviews , focus groups, etc.)
  • How you plan to analyse it (e.g., regression analysis, thematic analysis , etc.)
  • Ethical adherence (i.e., does this research satisfy all ethical requirements of your institution, or does it need further approval?)

This list is not exhaustive – these are just some core attributes of research design. Check with your institution what level of detail they expect. The “ research onion ” by Saunders et al (2009) provides a good summary of the various design choices you ultimately need to make – you can   read more about that here .

Don’t forget the practicalities…

In addition to the technical aspects, you will need to address the   practical   side of the project. In other words, you need to explain   what resources you’ll need   (e.g., time, money, access to equipment or software, etc.) and how you intend to secure these resources. You need to show that your project is feasible, so any “make or break” type resources need to already be secured. The success or failure of your project cannot depend on some resource which you’re not yet sure you have access to.

Another part of the practicalities discussion is   project and risk management . In other words, you need to show that you have a clear project plan to tackle your research with. Some key questions to address:

  • What are the timelines for each phase of your project?
  • Are the time allocations reasonable?
  • What happens if something takes longer than anticipated (risk management)?
  • What happens if you don’t get the response rate you expect?

A good way to demonstrate that you’ve thought this through is to include a Gantt chart and a risk register (in the appendix if word count is a problem). With these two tools, you can show that you’ve got a clear, feasible plan, and you’ve thought about and accounted for the potential risks.

Gantt chart

Tip – Be honest about the potential difficulties – but show that you are anticipating solutions and workarounds. This is much more impressive to an assessor than an unrealistically optimistic proposal which does not anticipate any challenges whatsoever.

Final Touches: Read And Simplify

The final step is to edit and proofread your proposal – very carefully. It sounds obvious, but all too often poor editing and proofreading ruin a good proposal. Nothing is more off-putting for an assessor than a poorly edited, typo-strewn document. It sends the message that you either do not pay attention to detail, or just don’t care. Neither of these are good messages. Put the effort into editing and proofreading your proposal (or pay someone to do it for you) – it will pay dividends.

When you’re editing, watch out for ‘academese’. Many students can speak simply, passionately and clearly about their dissertation topic – but become incomprehensible the moment they turn the laptop on. You are not required to write in any kind of special, formal, complex language when you write academic work. Sure, there may be technical terms, jargon specific to your discipline, shorthand terms and so on. But, apart from those,   keep your written language very close to natural spoken language   – just as you would speak in the classroom. Imagine that you are explaining your project plans to your classmates or a family member. Remember, write for the intelligent layman, not the subject matter experts. Plain-language, concise writing is what wins hearts and minds – and marks!

Let’s Recap: Research Proposal 101

And there you have it – how to write your dissertation or thesis research proposal, from the title page to the final proof. Here’s a quick recap of the key takeaways:

  • The purpose of the research proposal is to   convince   – therefore, you need to make a clear, concise argument of why your research is both worth doing and doable.
  • Make sure you can ask the critical what, who, and how questions of your research   before   you put pen to paper.
  • Title – provides the first taste of your research, in broad terms
  • Introduction – explains what you’ll be researching in more detail
  • Scope – explains the boundaries of your research
  • Literature review – explains how your research fits into the existing research and why it’s unique and valuable
  • Research methodology – explains and justifies how you will carry out your own research

Hopefully, this post has helped you better understand how to write up a winning research proposal. If you enjoyed it, be sure to check out the rest of the Grad Coach Blog . If your university doesn’t provide any template for your proposal, you might want to try out our free research proposal template .

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

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

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30 Comments

Mazwakhe Mkhulisi

Thank you so much for the valuable insight that you have given, especially on the research proposal. That is what I have managed to cover. I still need to go back to the other parts as I got disturbed while still listening to Derek’s audio on you-tube. I am inspired. I will definitely continue with Grad-coach guidance on You-tube.

Derek Jansen

Thanks for the kind words :). All the best with your proposal.

NAVEEN ANANTHARAMAN

First of all, thanks a lot for making such a wonderful presentation. The video was really useful and gave me a very clear insight of how a research proposal has to be written. I shall try implementing these ideas in my RP.

Once again, I thank you for this content.

Bonginkosi Mshengu

I found reading your outline on writing research proposal very beneficial. I wish there was a way of submitting my draft proposal to you guys for critiquing before I submit to the institution.

Hi Bonginkosi

Thank you for the kind words. Yes, we do provide a review service. The best starting point is to have a chat with one of our coaches here: https://gradcoach.com/book/new/ .

Erick Omondi

Hello team GRADCOACH, may God bless you so much. I was totally green in research. Am so happy for your free superb tutorials and resources. Once again thank you so much Derek and his team.

You’re welcome, Erick. Good luck with your research proposal 🙂

ivy

thank you for the information. its precise and on point.

Nighat Nighat Ahsan

Really a remarkable piece of writing and great source of guidance for the researchers. GOD BLESS YOU for your guidance. Regards

Delfina Celeste Danca Rangel

Thanks so much for your guidance. It is easy and comprehensive the way you explain the steps for a winning research proposal.

Desiré Forku

Thank you guys so much for the rich post. I enjoyed and learn from every word in it. My problem now is how to get into your platform wherein I can always seek help on things related to my research work ? Secondly, I wish to find out if there is a way I can send my tentative proposal to you guys for examination before I take to my supervisor Once again thanks very much for the insights

Thanks for your kind words, Desire.

If you are based in a country where Grad Coach’s paid services are available, you can book a consultation by clicking the “Book” button in the top right.

Best of luck with your studies.

Adolph

May God bless you team for the wonderful work you are doing,

If I have a topic, Can I submit it to you so that you can draft a proposal for me?? As I am expecting to go for masters degree in the near future.

Thanks for your comment. We definitely cannot draft a proposal for you, as that would constitute academic misconduct. The proposal needs to be your own work. We can coach you through the process, but it needs to be your own work and your own writing.

Best of luck with your research!

kenate Akuma

I found a lot of many essential concepts from your material. it is real a road map to write a research proposal. so thanks a lot. If there is any update material on your hand on MBA please forward to me.

Ahmed Khalil

GradCoach is a professional website that presents support and helps for MBA student like me through the useful online information on the page and with my 1-on-1 online coaching with the amazing and professional PhD Kerryen.

Thank you Kerryen so much for the support and help 🙂

I really recommend dealing with such a reliable services provider like Gradcoah and a coach like Kerryen.

PINTON OFOSU

Hi, Am happy for your service and effort to help students and researchers, Please, i have been given an assignment on research for strategic development, the task one is to formulate a research proposal to support the strategic development of a business area, my issue here is how to go about it, especially the topic or title and introduction. Please, i would like to know if you could help me and how much is the charge.

Marcos A. López Figueroa

This content is practical, valuable, and just great!

Thank you very much!

Eric Rwigamba

Hi Derek, Thank you for the valuable presentation. It is very helpful especially for beginners like me. I am just starting my PhD.

Hussein EGIELEMAI

This is quite instructive and research proposal made simple. Can I have a research proposal template?

Mathew Yokie Musa

Great! Thanks for rescuing me, because I had no former knowledge in this topic. But with this piece of information, I am now secured. Thank you once more.

Chulekazi Bula

I enjoyed listening to your video on how to write a proposal. I think I will be able to write a winning proposal with your advice. I wish you were to be my supervisor.

Mohammad Ajmal Shirzad

Dear Derek Jansen,

Thank you for your great content. I couldn’t learn these topics in MBA, but now I learned from GradCoach. Really appreciate your efforts….

From Afghanistan!

Mulugeta Yilma

I have got very essential inputs for startup of my dissertation proposal. Well organized properly communicated with video presentation. Thank you for the presentation.

Siphesihle Macu

Wow, this is absolutely amazing guys. Thank you so much for the fruitful presentation, you’ve made my research much easier.

HAWANATU JULLIANA JOSEPH

this helps me a lot. thank you all so much for impacting in us. may god richly bless you all

June Pretzer

How I wish I’d learn about Grad Coach earlier. I’ve been stumbling around writing and rewriting! Now I have concise clear directions on how to put this thing together. Thank you!

Jas

Fantastic!! Thank You for this very concise yet comprehensive guidance.

Fikiru Bekele

Even if I am poor in English I would like to thank you very much.

Rachel Offeibea Nyarko

Thank you very much, this is very insightful.

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How to prepare a Research Proposal

Health research, medical education and clinical practice form the three pillars of modern day medical practice. As one authority rightly put it: ‘Health research is not a luxury, but an essential need that no nation can afford to ignore’. Health research can and should be pursued by a broad range of people. Even if they do not conduct research themselves, they need to grasp the principles of the scientific method to understand the value and limitations of science and to be able to assess and evaluate results of research before applying them. This review paper aims to highlight the essential concepts to the students and beginning researchers and sensitize and motivate the readers to access the vast literature available on research methodologies.

Most students and beginning researchers do not fully understand what a research proposal means, nor do they understand its importance. 1 A research proposal is a detailed description of a proposed study designed to investigate a given problem. 2

A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it. Broadly the research proposal must address the following questions regardless of your research area and the methodology you choose: What you plan to accomplish, why do you want to do it and how are you going to do it. 1 The aim of this article is to highlight the essential concepts and not to provide extensive details about this topic.

The elements of a research proposal are highlighted below:

1. Title: It should be concise and descriptive. It must be informative and catchy. An effective title not only prick’s the readers interest, but also predisposes him/her favorably towards the proposal. Often titles are stated in terms of a functional relationship, because such titles clearly indicate the independent and dependent variables. 1 The title may need to be revised after completion of writing of the protocol to reflect more closely the sense of the study. 3

2. Abstract: It is a brief summary of approximately 300 words. It should include the main research question, the rationale for the study, the hypothesis (if any) and the method. Descriptions of the method may include the design, procedures, the sample and any instruments that will be used. 1 It should stand on its own, and not refer the reader to points in the project description. 3

3. Introduction: The introduction provides the readers with the background information. Its purpose is to establish a framework for the research, so that readers can understand how it relates to other research. 4 It should answer the question of why the research needs to be done and what will be its relevance. It puts the proposal in context. 3

The introduction typically begins with a statement of the research problem in precise and clear terms. 1

The importance of the statement of the research problem 5 : The statement of the problem is the essential basis for the construction of a research proposal (research objectives, hypotheses, methodology, work plan and budget etc). It is an integral part of selecting a research topic. It will guide and put into sharper focus the research design being considered for solving the problem. It allows the investigator to describe the problem systematically, to reflect on its importance, its priority in the country and region and to point out why the proposed research on the problem should be undertaken. It also facilitates peer review of the research proposal by the funding agencies.

Then it is necessary to provide the context and set the stage for the research question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance. 1 This step is necessary for the investigators to familiarize themselves with existing knowledge about the research problem and to find out whether or not others have investigated the same or similar problems. This step is accomplished by a thorough and critical review of the literature and by personal communication with experts. 5 It helps further understanding of the problem proposed for research and may lead to refining the statement of the problem, to identify the study variables and conceptualize their relationships, and in formulation and selection of a research hypothesis. 5 It ensures that you are not "re-inventing the wheel" and demonstrates your understanding of the research problem. It gives due credit to those who have laid the groundwork for your proposed research. 1 In a proposal, the literature review is generally brief and to the point. The literature selected should be pertinent and relevant. 6

Against this background, you then present the rationale of the proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing.

4. Objectives: Research objectives are the goals to be achieved by conducting the research. 5 They may be stated as ‘general’ and ‘specific’.

The general objective of the research is what is to be accomplished by the research project, for example, to determine whether or not a new vaccine should be incorporated in a public health program.

The specific objectives relate to the specific research questions the investigator wants to answer through the proposed study and may be presented as primary and secondary objectives, for example, primary: To determine the degree of protection that is attributable to the new vaccine in a study population by comparing the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. 5 Secondary: To study the cost-effectiveness of this programme.

Young investigators are advised to resist the temptation to put too many objectives or over-ambitious objectives that cannot be adequately achieved by the implementation of the protocol. 3

5. Variables: During the planning stage, it is necessary to identify the key variables of the study and their method of measurement and unit of measurement must be clearly indicated. Four types of variables are important in research 5 :

a. Independent variables: variables that are manipulated or treated in a study in order to see what effect differences in them will have on those variables proposed as being dependent on them. The different synonyms for the term ‘independent variable’ which are used in literature are: cause, input, predisposing factor, risk factor, determinant, antecedent, characteristic and attribute.

b. Dependent variables: variables in which changes are results of the level or amount of the independent variable or variables.

Synonyms: effect, outcome, consequence, result, condition, disease.

c. Confounding or intervening variables: variables that should be studied because they may influence or ‘mix’ the effect of the independent variables. For instance, in a study of the effect of measles (independent variable) on child mortality (dependent variable), the nutritional status of the child may play an intervening (confounding) role.

d. Background variables: variables that are so often of relevance in investigations of groups or populations that they should be considered for possible inclusion in the study. For example sex, age, ethnic origin, education, marital status, social status etc.

The objective of research is usually to determine the effect of changes in one or more independent variables on one or more dependent variables. For example, a study may ask "Will alcohol intake (independent variable) have an effect on development of gastric ulcer (dependent variable)?"

Certain variables may not be easy to identify. The characteristics that define these variables must be clearly identified for the purpose of the study.

6. Questions and/ or hypotheses: If you as a researcher know enough to make prediction concerning what you are studying, then the hypothesis may be formulated. A hypothesis can be defined as a tentative prediction or explanation of the relationship between two or more variables. In other words, the hypothesis translates the problem statement into a precise, unambiguous prediction of expected outcomes. Hypotheses are not meant to be haphazard guesses, but should reflect the depth of knowledge, imagination and experience of the investigator. 5 In the process of formulating the hypotheses, all variables relevant to the study must be identified. For example: "Health education involving active participation by mothers will produce more positive changes in child feeding than health education based on lectures". Here the independent variable is types of health education and the dependent variable is changes in child feeding.

A research question poses a relationship between two or more variables but phrases the relationship as a question; a hypothesis represents a declarative statement of the relations between two or more variables. 7

For exploratory or phenomenological research, you may not have any hypothesis (please do not confuse the hypothesis with the statistical null hypothesis). 1 Questions are relevant to normative or census type research (How many of them are there? Is there a relationship between them?). Deciding whether to use questions or hypotheses depends on factors such as the purpose of the study, the nature of the design and methodology, and the audience of the research (at times even the outlook and preference of the committee members, particularly the Chair). 6

7. Methodology: The method section is very important because it tells your research Committee how you plan to tackle your research problem. The guiding principle for writing the Methods section is that it should contain sufficient information for the reader to determine whether the methodology is sound. Some even argue that a good proposal should contain sufficient details for another qualified researcher to implement the study. 1 Indicate the methodological steps you will take to answer every question or to test every hypothesis illustrated in the Questions/hypotheses section. 6 It is vital that you consult a biostatistician during the planning stage of your study, 8 to resolve the methodological issues before submitting the proposal.

This section should include:

Research design: The selection of the research strategy is the core of research design and is probably the single most important decision the investigator has to make. The choice of the strategy, whether descriptive, analytical, experimental, operational or a combination of these depend on a number of considerations, 5 but this choice must be explained in relation to the study objectives. 3

Research subjects or participants: Depending on the type of your study, the following questions should be answered 3 , 5

  • - What are the criteria for inclusion or selection?
  • - What are the criteria for exclusion?
  • - What is the sampling procedure you will use so as to ensure representativeness and reliability of the sample and to minimize sampling errors? The key reason for being concerned with sampling is the issue of validity-both internal and external of the study results. 9
  • - Will there be use of controls in your study? Controls or comparison groups are used in scientific research in order to increase the validity of the conclusions. Control groups are necessary in all analytical epidemiological studies, in experimental studies of drug trials, in research on effects of intervention programmes and disease control measures and in many other investigations. Some descriptive studies (studies of existing data, surveys) may not require control groups.
  • - What are the criteria for discontinuation?

Sample size: The proposal should provide information and justification (basis on which the sample size is calculated) about sample size in the methodology section. 3 A larger sample size than needed to test the research hypothesis increases the cost and duration of the study and will be unethical if it exposes human subjects to any potential unnecessary risk without additional benefit. A smaller sample size than needed can also be unethical as it exposes human subjects to risk with no benefit to scientific knowledge. Calculation of sample size has been made easy by computer software programmes, but the principles underlying the estimation should be well understood.

Interventions: If an intervention is introduced, a description must be given of the drugs or devices (proprietary names, manufacturer, chemical composition, dose, frequency of administration) if they are already commercially available. If they are in phases of experimentation or are already commercially available but used for other indications, information must be provided on available pre-clinical investigations in animals and/or results of studies already conducted in humans (in such cases, approval of the drug regulatory agency in the country is needed before the study). 3

Ethical issues 3 : Ethical considerations apply to all types of health research. Before the proposal is submitted to the Ethics Committee for approval, two important documents mentioned below (where appropriate) must be appended to the proposal. In additions, there is another vital issue of Conflict of Interest, wherein the researchers should furnish a statement regarding the same.

The Informed consent form (informed decision-making): A consent form, where appropriate, must be developed and attached to the proposal. It should be written in the prospective subjects’ mother tongue and in simple language which can be easily understood by the subject. The use of medical terminology should be avoided as far as possible. Special care is needed when subjects are illiterate. It should explain why the study is being done and why the subject has been asked to participate. It should describe, in sequence, what will happen in the course of the study, giving enough detail for the subject to gain a clear idea of what to expect. It should clarify whether or not the study procedures offer any benefits to the subject or to others, and explain the nature, likelihood and treatment of anticipated discomfort or adverse effects, including psychological and social risks, if any. Where relevant, a comparison with risks posed by standard drugs or treatment must be included. If the risks are unknown or a comparative risk cannot be given it should be so stated. It should indicate that the subject has the right to withdraw from the study at any time without, in any way, affecting his/her further medical care. It should assure the participant of confidentiality of the findings.

Ethics checklist: The proposal must describe the measures that will be undertaken to ensure that the proposed research is carried out in accordance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki on Ethical Principles for Medical research involving Human Subjects. 10 It must answer the following questions:

  • • Is the research design adequate to provide answers to the research question? It is unethical to expose subjects to research that will have no value.
  • • Is the method of selection of research subjects justified? The use of vulnerable subjects as research participants needs special justification. Vulnerable subjects include those in prison, minors and persons with mental disability. In international research it is important to mention that the population in which the study is conducted will benefit from any potential outcome of the research and the research is not being conducted solely for the benefit of some other population. Justification is needed for any inducement, financial or otherwise, for the participants to be enrolled in the study.
  • • Are the interventions justified, in terms of risk/benefit ratio? Risks are not limited to physical harm. Psychological and social risks must also be considered.
  • • For observations made, have measures been taken to ensure confidentiality?

Research setting 5 : The research setting includes all the pertinent facets of the study, such as the population to be studied (sampling frame), the place and time of study.

Study instruments 3 , 5 : Instruments are the tools by which the data are collected. For validated questionnaires/interview schedules, reference to published work should be given and the instrument appended to the proposal. For new a questionnaire which is being designed specifically for your study the details about preparing, precoding and pretesting of questionnaire should be furnished and the document appended to the proposal. Descriptions of other methods of observations like medical examination, laboratory tests and screening procedures is necessary- for established procedures, reference of published work cited but for new or modified procedure, an adequate description is necessary with justification for the same.

Collection of data: A short description of the protocol of data collection. For example, in a study on blood pressure measurement: time of participant arrival, rest for 5p. 10 minutes, which apparatus (standard calibrated) to be used, in which room to take measurement, measurement in sitting or lying down position, how many measurements, measurement in which arm first (whether this is going to be randomized), details of cuff and its placement, who will take the measurement. This minimizes the possibility of confusion, delays and errors.

Data analysis: The description should include the design of the analysis form, plans for processing and coding the data and the choice of the statistical method to be applied to each data. What will be the procedures for accounting for missing, unused or spurious data?

Monitoring, supervision and quality control: Detailed statement about the all logistical issues to satisfy the requirements of Good Clinical Practices (GCP), protocol procedures, responsibilities of each member of the research team, training of study investigators, steps taken to assure quality control (laboratory procedures, equipment calibration etc)

Gantt chart: A Gantt chart is an overview of tasks/proposed activities and a time frame for the same. You put weeks, days or months at one side, and the tasks at the other. You draw fat lines to indicate the period the task will be performed to give a timeline for your research study (take help of tutorial on youtube). 11

Significance of the study: Indicate how your research will refine, revise or extend existing knowledge in the area under investigation. How will it benefit the concerned stakeholders? What could be the larger implications of your research study?

Dissemination of the study results: How do you propose to share the findings of your study with professional peers, practitioners, participants and the funding agency?

Budget: A proposal budget with item wise/activity wise breakdown and justification for the same. Indicate how will the study be financed.

References: The proposal should end with relevant references on the subject. For web based search include the date of access for the cited website, for example: add the sentence "accessed on June 10, 2008".

Appendixes: Include the appropriate appendixes in the proposal. For example: Interview protocols, sample of informed consent forms, cover letters sent to appropriate stakeholders, official letters for permission to conduct research. Regarding original scales or questionnaires, if the instrument is copyrighted then permission in writing to reproduce the instrument from the copyright holder or proof of purchase of the instrument must be submitted.

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How to Write a Research Proposal: Checklist Example

a research proposal must contain

If you are a PhD doctoral or Master’s student approaching graduation, then a large research project, dissertation, or thesis is in your future. These capstone research projects take months if not years of preparation, and the first step in this process is first writing a compelling, organized, and effective research proposal.

Check out the  key differences between dissertation and thesis .

Research Proposal Checklists Are Important

We’ve got some good and bad news for the PhD and Master’s graduate students out there. 

First, the bad news. Research proposals are not easy to write. They require lots of preparation and planning. They can also seem to be an administrative task, with your PhD advisors constantly reminding you to write something that you’re not yet sure about. And of course, it’s also yet another written document that could be rejected. 

Now, the good news. Research proposals help you organize and focus your research. They also eliminate irrelevant topics that your research cannot or should not cover. Further, they help signal your academic superiors (professors, advisors, scientific community) that your research is worth pursuing.

Research proposal checklists  go one step further. A research proposal checklist helps you identify  what  you will research,  why  it is important and relevant, and  how  you will perform the research. 

This last part is critical. Research proposals are often rejected for not being feasible or being unfocused. But an organized research or thesis proposal checklist can help you stay on topic. 

This article goes into the following topics about research proposal checklists:

What is a Research Proposal?

Research proposals are documents that propose a research project in the sciences or academic fields and request funding or sponsorship.

The primary objective is to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project as well as an organized plan to accomplish‌ ‌it. 

A main purpose of a research plan is to clearly state the central research topic or question that you intend to research while providing a solid background of your particular area of research.

Your research proposal must contain a quick  summary of the current literature , including gaps in your research area’s knowledge base as well as areas of controversy, which together demonstrate your proposal is relevant, timely, and worth pursuing.

But what functions does a research proposal perform?:

Research proposals explain your research topic

An  effective  research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • What is my research about? 
  • What specific academic area will I be researching?
  • What is the current scientific and academic literature?
  • What are the accepted theories in my area of research?
  • What are gaps in the knowledge base?
  • What are key questions researchers are currently trying to answer?

Research proposals explain why your research topic is important

A  compelling  research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • Why is my research important?
  • Why is my research interesting to both academics and laypeople?
  • What are my  research questions ? 
  • How does my research contribute to the literature?
  • How will my dissertation or thesis answer gaps or unsolved questions?
  • How or why would my research earn funding in the future?
  • How does my research relate to wider society or public health?

Research proposals explain how you will perform your research

A  feasible  research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • How will my research be performed?
  • What are my exact methods?
  • What materials will I need to purchase? 
  • What materials will I need to borrow from other researchers in my field?
  • What relationships do I need to make or maintain with other academics?
  • What is my research proposal timeline?
  • What are the standard research procedures? 
  • Are there any  study limitations  to discuss?
  • Will I need to modify any research methods? What, if any, problems will this introduce?

Research Proposal Example Checklist

Use this research proposal example checklist as an aid to draft your own research proposal. This can help you decide what information to include and keep your ideas logically structured. 

Remember, if your research proposal cannot effectively answer every single question below, then you may want to consult your advisor. It doesn’t mean your chosen research topic is bad; it just means certain areas may need some additional focus.

Click here for the full Research Proposal Example Checklist in .pdf form

research proposal example checklist 1

Research Proposal Title

The title of your research proposal must attract the reader’s eye, be descriptive of the research question, and be understandable for both casual and academic readers.

The title of your research proposal should do the following:

  • Effectively summarize the main research idea
  • Be clear to the general public
  • Be compelling to academic researchers and other graduate students
  • Fully explain the independent and dependent variables
  • Avoid abbreviations and excessive  use of articles

Research Proposal Introduction and Research Background

The introduction typically begins with a general overview of your research field, focusing on a specific research problem or question. This is followed by an explanation of why the study should be conducted.

The introduction of your research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • What is the research problem, research question, and purpose of the study?
  • What is the rationale behind my study? 
  • Why is answering this research question important?
  • What are the major issues your research will address?
  • What are the major challenges in answering the research question?
  • Did you highlight or clarify the research discrepancies?

Significance of Research Proposal 

Your proposal’s introduction section should also clearly communicate why your research is significant, relevant, timely, and valid.

To effectively confirm the significance of your proposal, make sure your study accomplishes the following:

  • The research results fill a defined gap in the knowledge.
  • The proposed study will advance understanding of the subject.
  • The research results will lead to the improvement of commonly used experimental models and methods in the future.
  • The research results will yield novel findings that have academic and/or practical value.

Research Proposal Literature Review

In the literature review section, you should provide a review of the current state of the literature as well as provide a summary of the results generated by your research. Determine relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research to support your research claim. 

State an overview and significance of your primary resources and provide a critical analysis highlighting what those sources lack and future directions for research.

  • List your primary sources.
  • List your secondary sources.
  • Discuss influential research papers, paradigms, and modalities. 
  • What is lacking in well-accepted research paradigms in your research field?
  • What are the main theories, methods, and controversies in your research field?
  • How does your research question or problem tie into the current literature? Does it extend a current idea or run counter to it?

Research Proposal Theoretical Methodology and Design

Following the literature review, it is a good idea to restate your main objectives, bringing the focus back to your own project. The research design or methodology section should describe the overall approach and practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To help you write a clear and structured methodology, use your plan and answer the following issues. This will give you an outline to follow and keep you on track when writing this section of your research proposal. 

  • Explain whether your research method will be a study or an experiment.
  • Is your research for a PhD dissertation or Master’s program?
  • Explain the theoretical resources motivating your choice of methods.
  • Explain how particular methods enable you to answer your research question.
  • Credit any colleagues or researchers you will collaborate with.
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of your chosen methodology.
  • What is the timeline of your research experiment or study?
  • Compare/contrast your research design with that of the literature and other research on your topic. 
  • Are there any different or alternative methods or materials that will be used?

Additionally, explain how your results will be processed:

  • How will your research results be processed and interpreted?
  • What data types will your results be in?
  • Explain the statistical models and processes you must perform (e.g. Student’s t-test).
  • Will your study be more statistically rigorous than other studies?

Read about  how to explain research methods clearly for reproducibility .

Research Proposal Discussion and Conclusion

Your  discussion and conclusion section  has an important purpose: to persuade the reader of your proposed research study’s potential impact. This section should also directly address potential weaknesses and criticisms put forth by other researchers and academics.

  • Explain the limitations and weaknesses of the proposed research.
  • Explain how any potential weaknesses would be justified by extenuating circumstances such as time and financial constraints.
  • What, if any, alternative research questions or problems naturally can be answered in the future?
  • How does the research strengthen, support, or challenge a current theoretical framework or model?

References and Bibliography

Although it comes at the end, your reference section is vital and will be carefully scrutinized. It should include all sources of information you used to support your research, and it should be in the correct citation format. 

  • Provide a complete list of references for all cited statements.
  • Make sure citations are in the correct format (e.g. APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.)
  • References are present in the introduction, literature review, and methodology sections.

Use the Wordvice APA Citation Generator  to instantly generate citations in APA Style, or choose one of the formats below to generate citations for the citation style of your academic work:

Using Research Proposal Examples

Although every research proposal is unique, it is a good idea to take a look at examples of research proposals before writing your initial proposal draft. This will help you understand the academic level you should aim for. Be sure to include a reference list at the end of your proposal as described above. 

In addition to reading research proposal examples, you should also outline your research proposal to make sure no crucial information or research proposal sections are missing from your final manuscript. Although the sections included in a research proposal may vary depending on whether it is a grant, doctoral dissertation, conference paper, or professional project, there are many sections in common. Knowing the differences before you draft will ensure that your proposal is cohesive and thorough.

Research Proposal Proofreading and Editing

It’s vital to take the time to redraft, edit, and proofread a research proposal before submitting it to your PhD advisor or committee. Researchers and graduate students usually turn to a professional English editing service  like Wordvice to improve their research writing.

Our academic services, including thesis editing , dissertation editing , and research paper editing , will fully prepare any academic document for publication in academic journals.

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Chapter 14: The Research Proposal

14.3 Components of a Research Proposal

Krathwohl (2005) suggests and describes a variety of components to include in a research proposal. The following sections – Introductions, Background and significance, Literature Review; Research design and methods, Preliminary suppositions and implications; and Conclusion present these components in a suggested template for you to follow in the preparation of your research proposal.

Introduction

The introduction sets the tone for what follows in your research proposal – treat it as the initial pitch of your idea. After reading the introduction your reader should:

  • understand what it is you want to do;
  • have a sense of your passion for the topic; and
  • be excited about the study’s possible outcomes.

As you begin writing your research proposal, it is helpful to think of the introduction as a narrative of what it is you want to do, written in one to three paragraphs. Within those one to three paragraphs, it is important to briefly answer the following questions:

  • What is the central research problem?
  • How is the topic of your research proposal related to the problem?
  • What methods will you utilize to analyze the research problem?
  • Why is it important to undertake this research? What is the significance of your proposed research? Why are the outcomes of your proposed research important? Whom are they important?

Note : You may be asked by your instructor to include an abstract with your research proposal. In such cases, an abstract should provide an overview of what it is you plan to study, your main research question, a brief explanation of your methods to answer the research question, and your expected findings. All of this information must be carefully crafted in 150 to 250 words. A word of advice is to save the writing of your abstract until the very end of your research proposal preparation. If you are asked to provide an abstract, you should include 5 to 7 key words that are of most relevance to your study. List these in order of relevance.

Background and significance

The purpose of this section is to explain the context of your proposal and to describe, in detail, why it is important to undertake this research. Assume that the person or people who will read your research proposal know nothing or very little about the research problem. While you do not need to include all knowledge you have learned about your topic in this section, it is important to ensure that you include the most relevant material that will help to explain the goals of your research.

While there are no hard and fast rules, you should attempt to address some or all of the following key points:

  • State the research problem and provide a more thorough explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction.
  • Present the rationale for the proposed research study. Clearly indicate why this research is worth doing. Answer the “so what?” question.
  • Describe the major issues or problems to be addressed by your research. Do not forget to explain how and in what ways your proposed research builds upon previous related research.
  • Explain how you plan to go about conducting your research.
  • Clearly identify the key or most relevant sources of research you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research, in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you will study, but what will be excluded from your study.
  • Provide clear definitions of key concepts and terms. Since key concepts and terms often have numerous definitions, make sure you state which definition you will be utilizing in your research.

Literature review

This key component of the research proposal is the most time-consuming aspect in the preparation of your research proposal. As described in Chapter 5 , the literature review provides the background to your study and demonstrates the significance of the proposed research. Specifically, it is a review and synthesis of prior research that is related to the problem you are setting forth to investigate. Essentially, your goal in the literature review is to place your research study within the larger whole of what has been studied in the past, while demonstrating to your reader that your work is original, innovative, and adds to the larger whole.

As the literature review is information dense, it is essential that this section be intelligently structured to enable your reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your study. However, this can be easier to state and harder to do, simply due to the fact there is usually a plethora of related research to sift through. Consequently, a good strategy for writing the literature review is to break the literature into conceptual categories or themes, rather than attempting to describe various groups of literature you reviewed. Chapter 5   describes a variety of methods to help you organize the themes.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach the writing of your literature review:

  • Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they used, what they found, and what they recommended based upon their findings.
  • Do not be afraid to challenge previous related research findings and/or conclusions.
  • Assess what you believe to be missing from previous research and explain how your research fills in this gap and/or extends previous research.

It is important to note that a significant challenge related to undertaking a literature review is knowing when to stop. As such, it is important to know when you have uncovered the key conceptual categories underlying your research topic. Generally, when you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations, you can have confidence that you have covered all of the significant conceptual categories in your literature review. However, it is also important to acknowledge that researchers often find themselves returning to the literature as they collect and analyze their data. For example, an unexpected finding may develop as you collect and/or analyze the data; in this case, it is important to take the time to step back and review the literature again, to ensure that no other researchers have found a similar finding. This may include looking to research outside your field.

This situation occurred with one of this textbook’s authors’ research related to community resilience. During the interviews, the researchers heard many participants discuss individual resilience factors and how they believed these individual factors helped make the community more resilient, overall. Sheppard and Williams (2016) had not discovered these individual factors in their original literature review on community and environmental resilience. However, when they returned to the literature to search for individual resilience factors, they discovered a small body of literature in the child and youth psychology field. Consequently, Sheppard and Williams had to go back and add a new section to their literature review on individual resilience factors. Interestingly, their research appeared to be the first research to link individual resilience factors with community resilience factors.

Research design and methods

The objective of this section of the research proposal is to convince the reader that your overall research design and methods of analysis will enable you to solve the research problem you have identified and also enable you to accurately and effectively interpret the results of your research. Consequently, it is critical that the research design and methods section is well-written, clear, and logically organized. This demonstrates to your reader that you know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Overall, you want to leave your reader feeling confident that you have what it takes to get this research study completed in a timely fashion.

Essentially, this section of the research proposal should be clearly tied to the specific objectives of your study; however, it is also important to draw upon and include examples from the literature review that relate to your design and intended methods. In other words, you must clearly demonstrate how your study utilizes and builds upon past studies, as it relates to the research design and intended methods. For example, what methods have been used by other researchers in similar studies?

While it is important to consider the methods that other researchers have employed, it is equally, if not more, important to consider what methods have not been but could be employed. Remember, the methods section is not simply a list of tasks to be undertaken. It is also an argument as to why and how the tasks you have outlined will help you investigate the research problem and answer your research question(s).

Tips for writing the research design and methods section:

Specify the methodological approaches you intend to employ to obtain information and the techniques you will use to analyze the data.

Specify the research operations you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results of those operations in relation to the research problem.

Go beyond stating what you hope to achieve through the methods you have chosen. State how you will actually implement the methods (i.e., coding interview text, running regression analysis, etc.).

Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers you may encounter when undertaking your research, and describe how you will address these barriers.

Explain where you believe you will find challenges related to data collection, including access to participants and information.

Preliminary suppositions and implications

The purpose of this section is to argue how you anticipate that your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the area of your study. Depending upon the aims and objectives of your study, you should also discuss how your anticipated findings may impact future research. For example, is it possible that your research may lead to a new policy, theoretical understanding, or method for analyzing data? How might your study influence future studies? What might your study mean for future practitioners working in the field? Who or what might benefit from your study? How might your study contribute to social, economic or environmental issues? While it is important to think about and discuss possibilities such as these, it is equally important to be realistic in stating your anticipated findings. In other words, you do not want to delve into idle speculation. Rather, the purpose here is to reflect upon gaps in the current body of literature and to describe how you anticipate your research will begin to fill in some or all of those gaps.

The conclusion reiterates the importance and significance of your research proposal, and provides a brief summary of the entire proposed study. Essentially, this section should only be one or two paragraphs in length. Here is a potential outline for your conclusion:

Discuss why the study should be done. Specifically discuss how you expect your study will advance existing knowledge and how your study is unique.

Explain the specific purpose of the study and the research questions that the study will answer.

Explain why the research design and methods chosen for this study are appropriate, and why other designs and methods were not chosen.

State the potential implications you expect to emerge from your proposed study,

Provide a sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship currently in existence, related to the research problem.

Citations and references

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used in composing your research proposal. In a research proposal, this can take two forms: a reference list or a bibliography. A reference list lists the literature you referenced in the body of your research proposal. All references in the reference list must appear in the body of the research proposal. Remember, it is not acceptable to say “as cited in …” As a researcher you must always go to the original source and check it for yourself. Many errors are made in referencing, even by top researchers, and so it is important not to perpetuate an error made by someone else. While this can be time consuming, it is the proper way to undertake a literature review.

In contrast, a bibliography , is a list of everything you used or cited in your research proposal, with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem. In other words, sources cited in your bibliography may not necessarily appear in the body of your research proposal. Make sure you check with your instructor to see which of the two you are expected to produce.

Overall, your list of citations should be a testament to the fact that you have done a sufficient level of preliminary research to ensure that your project will complement, but not duplicate, previous research efforts. For social sciences, the reference list or bibliography should be prepared in American Psychological Association (APA) referencing format. Usually, the reference list (or bibliography) is not included in the word count of the research proposal. Again, make sure you check with your instructor to confirm.

Research Methods for the Social Sciences: An Introduction Copyright © 2020 by Valerie Sheppard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: Writing a Research Proposal

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Independent and Dependent Variables
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • The C.A.R.S. Model
  • Background Information
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Reading Research Effectively
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Is it Peer-Reviewed?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Writing Concisely
  • Avoiding Plagiarism [linked guide]
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper

The goal of a research proposal is 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 the research are governed by standards within the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, so 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/or 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 ensure a research problem has not already been answered [or you may determine the problem has been answered ineffectively] and, in so doing, become better at locating 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 doing 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 results. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your writing 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 research.
  • Why do you want to do it? 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 study. Be sure to answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to do it? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having trouble formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here .

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise; being "all over the map" without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual boundaries of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.].
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research.
  • Failure to stay focused on the research problem; going off on unrelated tangents.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues.

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 a regular academic paper, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. Proposals vary between ten and twenty-five pages in length. 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!"

In general your proposal 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 or 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 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 one to three paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions :

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Why is this 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 section can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. This is where you explain the context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important. 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 relevant to help explain the goals for your study.

To that end, while there are no hard and fast rules, you should attempt to address some or all of the following key points:

  • 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. Answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care].
  • Describe the major issues or problems to be addressed by your research. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain how you plan to go about conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you will study, but what is excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts 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 demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, where stated, their recommendations. Do not be afraid to challenge the conclusions of prior research. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

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 study in relation to that of other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically 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 read 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.

To help frame your proposal's literature review, here are 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: what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, 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 it is 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 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 operations you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results of these operations 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 a methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is an argument as to why these tasks 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 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 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 reader.

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.

  • << Previous: Purpose of Guide
  • Next: Types of Research Designs >>
  • Last Updated: Sep 8, 2023 12:19 PM
  • URL: https://guides.library.txstate.edu/socialscienceresearch

Sacred Heart University Library

Organizing Academic Research Papers: Writing a Research Proposal

  • Purpose of Guide
  • Design Flaws to Avoid
  • Glossary of Research Terms
  • Narrowing a Topic Idea
  • Broadening a Topic Idea
  • Extending the Timeliness of a Topic Idea
  • Academic Writing Style
  • Choosing a Title
  • Making an Outline
  • Paragraph Development
  • Executive Summary
  • Background Information
  • The Research Problem/Question
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Citation Tracking
  • Content Alert Services
  • Evaluating Sources
  • Primary Sources
  • Secondary Sources
  • Tertiary Sources
  • What Is Scholarly vs. Popular?
  • Qualitative Methods
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Using Non-Textual Elements
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Common Grammar Mistakes
  • Avoiding Plagiarism
  • Footnotes or Endnotes?
  • Further Readings
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • How to Manage Group Projects
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Essays
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Acknowledgements

The goal of a research proposal is to present and justify a research idea you have and to present the practical ways in which you think this research should be conducted. The forms and procedures for such research are defined by the field of study, so guidelines for research proposals are generally more exacting and less formal than a project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews and must provide persuasive evidence that there is a need for the research study being proposed. In addition to providing rationale for the proposed research, 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/or benefits derived from the study.

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.
  • Help learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to ensure a research problem has not already been answered [or you may determine the problem has been answered ineffectively] and, in so doing, become familiar with scholarship related to your topic.
  • Improve your general research and writing skills.
  • Practice identifying what logical steps must be taken to accomplish one's research goals.
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of doing scholarly research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a complete 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 results of the study and your analysis of those results. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing. It is, therefore, important that your writing 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 succient in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to research.
  • Why do you want to do it? 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 study. Be sure to answer the "So what? question.
  • How are you going to do it? Be sure that what you propose is doable.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise; being "all over the map" without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual boundaries of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.].
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research.
  • Failure to stay focused on the research question; going off on unrelated tangents.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing. Poor grammar.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues.

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 a traditional research paper, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout the social sciences. Most proposals are between ten and fifteen pages in length. 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, and why?
  • 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 my topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?

In the end, your research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and highlight 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!"

In general your proposal 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 your doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea. 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 sense your passion for the topic and be excited about its possible outcomes.

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

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Why is this important research, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes from the study?

II.  Background and Significance

This section can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and flow of your proposal. This is where you explain the context of your project and outline why it's important. 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 research problem; instead, you must choose what is relevant to help explain your goals for the study.

To that end, while there are no hard and fast rules, you should attempt to deal with 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.
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing. Answer the "So what? question [i.e., why should anyone care].
  • Describe the major issues or problems to be addressed by your research.
  • Explain how you plan to go about conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to the analysis of your topic.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus.
  • Provide definitions of key concepts or terms, if necessary.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is 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 demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they've used, and what is your understanding of their findings. Assess what you believe is still missing, and state how previous research has failed to examine the issue that your study addresses.

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 study in relation to that of other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically describing materials one at a time.

To help frame your proposal's literature review, here are the "five C’s" of writing a literature review:

  • Cite : 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: what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, 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, etc.] .
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, or synthesize 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 . As a consequence, the reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. The objective here is to ensure that the reader is convinced that your overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the research problem. Your design and methods should be absolutely and 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. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to collect information, about the techniques you will use to analyze it, and about 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 or times].

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

  • Specify the research operations you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results of these operations in relation to your 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 doing it.
  • Keep in mind that a methodology is not just a list of research tasks; it is an argument as to why these tasks add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to perform does not demonstrate that they add up to the best feasible approach.
  • Be sure to anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to get around them.

V.  Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, it doesn't mean that you can skip talking about the 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 of your study will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policy. 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 the theoretical framework that frames 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 "real world"?
  • 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?
  • 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 will come about?

VI.  Conclusion

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

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

  • Why the study was done,
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempted to answer,
  • The research design and methods used,
  • 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 composing your proposal. In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so speak with your professor about which one is preferred.

  • References -- lists only the literature that you actually used or cited in your proposal.
  • Bibliography -- lists everything you used or cited in your proposal with additional citations of 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 make sure the project will complement and not duplicate the efforts of other researchers. Start a new page and use the heading "References" or "Bibliography" 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 [i.e., education=APA; history=Chicago, etc]. This section normally does not count towards the total length of your proposal.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal . Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; 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; 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.

  • << Previous: Writing a Policy Memo
  • Next: Acknowledgements >>
  • Last Updated: Jul 18, 2023 11:58 AM
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Program Title:

National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program
In response to the CHIPS Act of 2022 (Pub.L. 117-167), NSF is establishing the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program. The purpose of this program is to elevate the profession of STEM teaching by establishing a National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program to recognize outstanding STEM teachers in our Nation’s classrooms, reward them for their accomplishments, elevate their public profile, and create rewarding career paths to which all STEM teachers can aspire, both to prepare future STEM researchers and to create a scientifically literate public. With this solicitation, NSF is inviting proposals to establish an initial set of Regional Alliances responsible for (a) recruiting eligible applicants to become members of the National STEM Teacher Corps (see definitions in section II.A.); (b) screening, interviewing, and selecting members; and (c) supporting other activities detailed in the Program Description and the law (136 STAT. 1515). Each Alliance will be awarded as a cooperative agreement that represents the breadth of activities important to National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program and serves to elevate the public profile of STEM teachers within the region. Collectively these Alliances are expected to have a national impact. The National STEM Teacher Corps also welcomes planning proposals submitted at any time during the year. See Section II.E for additional information about the preparation and submission of planning proposals.

Cognizant Program Officer(s):

Please note that the following information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

Patrice Waller, Program Lead, telephone: (703) 292-4944, email: [email protected]

Alfred Hall, Program Co-lead, telephone: (703) 292-4895, email: [email protected]

Jennifer T. Ellis, telephone: (703) 292-2125, email: [email protected]

Leah McAlister, telephone: (703) 292-8712, email: [email protected]

Joel F. Schildbach, telephone: 703-292-1234, email: [email protected]

Joan Walker, telephone: 703-292-1234, email: [email protected]

Amy A. Wilson-Lopez, telephone: (703) 292-2606, email: [email protected]

  • 47.076 --- STEM Education

Award Information

Anticipated Type of Award: Standard Grant or Cooperative Agreement

8-10 Regional Alliance Awards made as Cooperative Agreements

NSF also anticipates funding up to 15 planning grants, subject to relevance and availability of funds.

Up to $35,000,000 to support up to 10 Regional Alliances for an initial five years with the opportunity to extend the Alliances cooperative agreement up to 10 years.

Eligibility Information

Who May Submit Proposals:

Proposals may only be submitted by the following: Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members.

Who May Serve as PI:

The Principal Investigator must hold a terminal degree in a STEM discipline, Education, STEM Education, or a related field.

Limit on Number of Proposals per Organization:

An eligible institution may submit no more than one proposal in response to this solicitation. An institution may have only one active National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program award at any given time.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or co-PI:

An individual may serve as PI or Co-PI of one proposal submitted in response to this solicitation.

Proposal Preparation and Submission Instructions

A. proposal preparation instructions.

Letters of Intent: Submission of Letters of Intent is optional. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

  • Preliminary Proposal Submission: Not required

Full Proposals:

  • Full Proposals submitted via Research.gov: NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG) guidelines apply. The complete text of the PAPPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg .
  • Full Proposals submitted via Grants.gov: NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov guidelines apply (Note: The NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide ).

B. Budgetary Information

Cost Sharing Requirements:

Inclusion of voluntary committed cost sharing is prohibited.

Indirect Cost (F&A) Limitations:

Not Applicable

Other Budgetary Limitations:

C. Due Dates

Proposal review information criteria.

Merit Review Criteria:

National Science Board approved criteria. Additional merit review criteria apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

Award Administration Information

Award Conditions:

Standard NSF award conditions apply.

Reporting Requirements:

Additional reporting requirements apply. Please see the full text of this solicitation for further information.

I. Introduction

NSF is establishing the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot per the statutory requirements in the CHIPS Act of 2022 (Pub.L. 117-167), Sec. 10311(c). The purpose of the National STEM Teacher Corps is to elevate the STEM teacher profession by recognizing outstanding STEM educators who advance equity in our Nation’s preK-12 classrooms. The pilot program rewards teachers for their accomplishments and elevates their public profile. The National STEM Teacher Corps Members serve as professional models to whom all teachers can aspire. The National STEM Teacher Corps Alliances will provide professional development, mentorship, and other support to STEM teachers, with specific attention to teachers certified in non-traditional or alternative methods, with the intent of enhancing the quality and preparedness of the STEM Teachers. The implementation of the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program is informed by previous programs sponsored by the National Science Foundation designed to transform STEM teacher preparation and professional development through collaboration and partnerships.

The National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program will support alliances tasked with identifying and selecting a cadre of teachers poised to contribute to substantial improvements in STEM education by heightening the STEM learning experience for all students which includes those from underserved and underrepresented communities. In addition to recognizing outstanding teachers, the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program will promote the retention of excellent STEM teachers and provide them with rewarding career paths. The recognition and retention of innovative STEM teachers will help to improve STEM education and in turn, heighten the STEM learning experiences and achievement of all students. By enhancing all students’ access to high-quality STEM learning experiences, the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program will prepare students for and attract students to future STEM careers and foster a scientifically literate public.

The National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program invites collaborative and innovative Regional Alliance proposals that recognize, support, help to retain, and uplift the STEM teachers, schools, school districts, and community partners that they serve. The goal of each Regional Alliance must be to leverage the talents, skills, abilities, and resources of teacher-leaders, campus leaders, and faculty at IHEs to create opportunities for synergistic and innovative collaboration among all Alliance partners to enhance the preparation of PreK-12 educators and further develop teaching practices that advance STEM education and the teaching profession.

As described in the table below, the NSF will make awards to Regional Alliances that submit competitive projects that fulfill the goals and duties of the program. Each Regional Alliance is responsible for:

  • Creating and fostering communities of practice by engaging local partners, which may include state educational agencies (SEA) local educational agencies (LEA), institutions of higher education (IHE), STEM organizations, education nonprofit organizations, and/or a private entity, including a STEM-related business to develop and serve the community of National STEM Teacher Corps members within the region, coordinate professional development activities, including activities led by National STEM Teacher Corps members, connect National STEM Teacher Corps members with existing educator professional development programs and coordinate members' involvement as cooperating teachers or mentors.
  • Screening, interviewing, and selecting members of the National STEM Teacher Corps with a focus on leveling strategies to recruit from the full spectrum of diverse talent that society has to offer. This includes recruiting STEM educators who support efforts to advance equity based on race, ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, age, disability status, geography, and language ability.
  • Seeking opportunities to involve teachers who are not members of the National STEM Teacher Corps to participate in alliance activities that enhance teacher effectiveness and increase teacher retention rates across the region; teachers that have been certified in nontraditional methods may also be supported by an Alliance.

The NSF invites proposals from Regional Alliances from the Northeast (New England and/or Mid-Atlantic), South (South Atlantic, East South Central, and/or West South Central), West (Mountain and/or Pacific), and Midwest (West North Central and/or East North Central) regions and divisions as defined by the US Census Bureau ( us_regdiv.pdf (census.gov) . While Alliance compositions are flexible, the National STEM Teacher Corps will seek to fund at least one alliance from each of the regions. Regional Alliances do not have to contain all states within the region.

Regional Alliances must identify a critical need that the Alliance will aim to serve within the specified region. The Regional Alliance must also contain school educational partners and/or local educational partners in all states within the Alliance. The Regional Alliance is also encouraged to include educational partners, local non-profits, etc., that support and enhance the goals of the Alliance. Regional Alliances should identify the topical area(s)(i.e. science, math2, etc.) to be supported within the Alliance.

Regional Alliances must outline the ways in which the Alliance intends to elevate the STEM teacher profession in the region. Alliances must submit a detailed plan on how they plan to fulfill all required duties (see duties of the Alliance below). Alliances are also encouraged to outline the ways in which the Alliance will work to support teachers that have entered STEM teaching in non-traditional methods (i.e. alternative certification, etc.).

The National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program complements other STEM Education programs in the Directorate of STEM Education (EDU), such as The Robert Noyce Scholarship program (Noyce), Discovery Research PreK-12, (DRK-12), and Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAMEST), by providing additional opportunities to recognize and promote STEM teaching and learning. DRK-12 is the only NSF program whose primary purpose is to support applied research and development at PreK-12 levels of formal education in all areas of STEM. Its research-focused Teaching Strand aims to contribute to the development of science of teaching. It complements the Noyce program’s Research track while also complementing both PAEMST’s and Noyce’s efforts to recognize teachers as essential members of the STEM workforce. Noyce aims to recruit, prepare, and retain highly effective elementary and secondary mathematics and science teachers and teacher leaders who persist as classroom teachers in high-need Local Education Agencies. The National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program will augment the existing programs by highlighting the contributions of STEM teachers who have persisted over 5 years in the field of education and demonstrated continued excellence in teaching PreK-12 STEM content. The National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program will leverage the brilliance of STEM educators to elevate public awareness of the outstanding contributions of STEM educators across the country.

II. Program Description

A. Program Overview

The NSF’s National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program will fund Regional Alliances that demonstrate exceptional ability to fulfill the duties of the Alliances in an innovative and robust manner. NSF Seeks to fund Regional Alliances that will enact the goals of the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program in a novel and complete manner. Regional Alliances should aim to elevate the STEM teacher profession by recognizing a diverse cadre of outstanding STEM educators that advance equity in our Nation’s PreK –12 classrooms. The Regional Alliances should propose a plan for rewarding teachers for their accomplishments and elevating their public profile. Regional Alliances will be responsible for recruiting, screening, and selecting diverse STEM Teacher Corps members that serve as professional models to whom all teachers can aspire. The STEM Teacher Regional Alliances will provide professional development support to STEM teachers, including support for teachers certified in non-traditional or alternative methods, with the intent of enhancing the quality and preparedness of the STEM Teachers and to create a scientifically literate public.

Definitions

STEM Teacher- A state-licensed educator that teaches in one or more of the fields of science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics.

Alliance/Regional Alliance- Communities of practice consisting of a lead IHE, that collaborates with a consortium consisting of Regional Alliance partners.

Regional Alliance Partner - Entities that are part of a Regional Alliance including Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), State Educational Agencies (SEA), Local Education Agencies (LEA), education nonprofit associations, cross-sector STEM organizations, and/or private entities, including STEM-related businesses.

STEM Teacher Corps Member – An applicant that is selected by a Regional Alliance to be a member of the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program and agrees to fulfill the commitment and duties as outlined by the Alliance.

High-Need School— The term “high-need school” means a public elementary school or secondary school that is located in an area in which the percentage of students from families with incomes below the poverty line is 30 percent or more. Section 2211(b) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 19 6631(b)).

Professional Development—The term ‘‘professional development’’ has the meaning given the term in section 20 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 24 (20 U.S.C. 7801).

B. Regional Alliances

Composition -Regional Alliances must include a State Educational Agency (SEA) and/or a Local Education Agency (LEA) from each of the Regional Alliance states (definitions of an SEA and LEA provided in CHIPS Act of 2022 Sec.10311(c)(2)(B)(ii)). Alliances may also include education nonprofit associations, a cross sector STEM organization, and/or another type of entity, including a for-profit STEM-related business. Alliance proposals require letters of collaboration from all school and community partners, appropriate for the size and scope of the Alliance’s efforts.

Regional Alliances should be intentional about the selection of partners to ensure that the composition of the Alliance is well aligned with the identified needs of the region and that selected partners are capable of contributing to the support of its members and teachers. Alliance partners should be well aligned with the goals of the Regional Alliance and contribute directly to the aims as outlined by the Regional Alliance.

Alliances should aim to include PIs and Co-PIs that are both education and STEM faculty as prior research has indicated more positive results when there is a balance (CETP, 2001).

Duties of Regional Alliances - Activities carried out by the Regional Alliances must include, but are not limited to, the following:

(A) Creating and fostering communities of practice by engaging local partners to:

(i) develop and serve the community of National STEM Teacher Corps members within the region, in coordination with local partners, to carry out day-to-day activities including, but not limited to:

(ii) coordinating professional development activities, including activities led by National STEM Teacher Corps members;

(iii) connecting National STEM Teacher Corps members with existing educator professional development programs and coordinate members’ involvement as cooperating teachers or mentors;

(iv) seeking opportunities to involve and serve teachers who are not members of the National STEM Teacher Corps in National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program activities; and

(v) building partnerships with existing education organizations and other efforts by SEAs and LEAs that operate programs relevant to the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program and its Regional Alliances.

(B) Recruiting eligible applicants, with a focus on recruiting STEM educators who support efforts to advance equity based on race, ethnicity, sex, gender, socioeconomic status, age, disability, geography, language proficiency, and to promote access to high-quality and inclusive STEM learning experiences;

(C) Screening, interviewing, and selecting members of the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot using procedures and standards provided by the NSF's National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program;

(D) Coordinating the online network that supports all National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot members in the region;

(E) Convening meetings of National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot members in a region;

(F) Creating opportunities for the professional growth of National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot members, with a focus on increasing STEM student achievement and STEM participation rates for all students, particularly those from rural and/or high-need schools; and

(G) Supporting the retention and success of National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot members in the region.

Content and Grade-level Specificity - Proposals should specify the content and grade levels that will be of focus within the Regional Alliance. Alliances may choose to focus on a specific grade-level band (e.g., PreK, K-5, 6-8, 9-12) or PreK-12, as well as a specific topic or content area (e.g., science, mathematics, engineering, technology, CTE) within STEM. This decision should be made in collaboration with partners of the Alliance, as well as participating school districts and schools from which National STEM Teacher Corps members will be selected. Additionally, the focused designation should be data-driven, based upon actual needs of the region (e.g., STEM teacher recruitment/retention needs, student achievement results in STEM, student participation in STEM, etc.). Alliances can focus on all eligible STEM content areas and are able to select National STEM Teacher Corps members from eligible teachers in grades PreK-12.

Regional Alliances Obligations -Reginal Alliances must:

  • Fulfill all duties of the Alliance as described in this solicitation.
  • Ensure that all selected members meet the minimum requirements for membership as set by NSF’s National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program.
  • Report on the National STEM Teacher Corps members’ teaching status and continued support for 3 years after the life of the project.
  • Adhere to all other standard requirements as specified in the PAPPG.

C. National STEM Teacher Corps Members

Selection of National STEM Teacher Corps Members -Alliances will be responsible for the recruitment and selection of National STEM Teacher Corps members from PreK-12 schools within the region to participate in the program. Each Corps Alliance shall select a minimum of 5regional teachers yearly throughout the life of the project.

Alliances may recruit from groups of teachers previously identified as Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) Awardees and State Finalists, Robert S. Noyce Fellows (Track 3 Noyce participants), or Einstein Fellows to participate as members of the National STEM Teacher Corps. Additionally, Alliances may consider recruiting outstanding teachers as Corps members even if they have not participated in, or had access to, the aforementioned programmatic opportunities.

National STEM Teacher Corps members must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent resident aliens.

Regional Alliances should describe the recruitment, screening, and selection process for identifying National STEM Teacher Corps members for the grade-level(s) and content area(s) chosen for the Alliance. National STEM Teacher Corps member candidates must meet the following criteria;

  • teach science, technology, engineering, or mathematics as part of their contracted teaching responsibilities at the K-12 grade level in a public (including charter) or private school;
  • hold at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution;
  • be a full-time employee of their school or school district as determined by state and district policies, with responsibilities for teaching students no less than 50% of the school's allotted instructional time;
  • have at least five years of full-time employment as a K-12 teacher prior to the 2023-2024 academic school year, with science, technology, engineering, or mathematics teaching duties;
  • teach in one of the 50 states, the Department of Defense Education Activity schools, or the U.S. Jurisdictions of the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands;
  • have demonstrated leadership/impact in STEM education;
  • have a deep knowledge of STEM content and pedagogical practices, and child or adolescent development;
  • have a passion for STEM subjects and dedication to teaching;
  • provide evidence of leadership skills, and demonstrated experience increasing STEM student achievement and STEM participation rates for all students, particularly those from rural and high-need schools;
  • any other requirements set by the Alliance – requirements must be specified in the proposal.

Monitoring National STEM Teacher Corps Members - Each Alliance must provide a plan for tracking, monitoring, and supporting Teacher Corps members’ participation, retention, and effectiveness in the classroom, as well as in teacher leadership opportunities (e.g., school-based professional development, teacher mentoring, etc.). The Regional Alliance must also adhere to the monitoring and report requirements as noted by the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program.

Duties of the Member of the National STEM Teacher Corps -An applicant that is selected by a Corps alliance to be a member of the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot shall —

(A) serve a 4-year term with a possibility of reappointment;

(B) receive an annual stipend in an amount not less than $10,000; and

(C) have substantial responsibilities, including —

(i) working with other members of the National STEM Teacher Corps to develop and improve teaching practices, including practices that promote inquiry-based learning;

(ii) providing or participating in professional development that addresses innovative teaching methodologies, mentorship, and other topics (e.g., closing achievement gaps); and

(iii) continuing to excel in teaching their own students, with a focus on advancing equity and increasing STEM student achievement and STEM participation rates for all to include underserved students and students from rural and high-need schools.

Amount and Duration for Member Support – National STEM Teacher Corps members who are selected to join a Regional Alliance will receive no less than $10,000 per year for 4 years. After the 4 th year of membership, these members/teachers will no longer receive stipends but will still be recognized as a National STEM Teacher Corps member for the duration of their teaching/education career. Data regarding the members retention and impact in education must be submitted each year for three years post the stipend period.

Commitment of the Members of the National STEM Teacher Corps - Teachers who accept an award to serve as a National STEM Teacher Corps member are committing to maintain their role as a classroom teacher or to continue to serve as an educator in some capacity in a high-need school or LEA for the duration of their 4-year appointment. Members will be required to self-report their professional status in the education system to the NSF yearly for 7 years after the initial appointment.

IHEs are required to provide stipends in a staggered manner at least twice a year as the service commitment is being fulfilled by the member. Alliances will be required to include their stipend distribution plan in the project proposal.

National STEM Teacher Corps Member Obligations - National STEM Teacher Corps Members must:

  • Submit yearly reports to NSF regarding their professional status. The report will also include information regarding work they are doing to impact STEM education.
  • Fulfill all duties of National STEM Teacher Corps members as described in this solicitation and as further defined by the member’s alliance.

D. Key Project Information

Project Features – Proposals should describe the nature of the Regional Alliance and the plan for fulfilling the duties of the Alliance. In addition to outlining a plan for Alliance composition, content and grade level focus, meeting the Alliance duties, selecting, screening, and retaining National STEM Teacher Corps members, the proposal should also provide a plan for supporting STEM Teachers who are non-members of the National STEM Teacher Corps. The proposal for the Alliance should speak directly to the following three requirements:

  • How will the Regional Alliance work to elevate National STEM Teacher Corps members while providing support to other teachers in the region? How will the Alliance support teachers who have entered STEM teaching in non-traditional methods?
  • How will the Regional Alliance retain STEM educators focused on enhancing inclusive environments and advancing equity of access to high-quality STEM learning?
  • How will the Regional Alliance create opportunities for the professional growth of National STEM Teacher Corps members, with a focus on increasing STEM student achievement and STEM participation rates for all students, particularly those from rural and high-need schools?

Project Evaluation Plan - Proposals should include strategies for formative and summative assessments, including goals, activities, metrics, research questions, data collection, data analysis, and milestones. The evaluation plan must consist of metrics for assessing the Alliance's strengths, the overall effectiveness of its efforts, and the immediate or short-term impact of the Alliance partnership, and Teacher Corps members' interventions, and it should also document how the Alliance’s collaborative efforts are anticipated to evolve over time. In addition, it is highly desirable to have a structured means of tracking Teacher Corps members beyond the completion of the program to gauge the degree to which the Alliance continues to impact their career paths, and to impact other STEM teachers who participated in professional development efforts sponsored by the Alliance. Should an independent evaluator be utilized for the project, a biographical sketch should be provided as a part of the supplementary documentation submitted. Proposals must follow the PAPGG concerning Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements. Data management for the evaluation and assessment plan must be described in the required Data Management and Sharing Plan document.

E. OTHER TYPES OF PROPOSALS

Planning Projects - The National STEM Teacher Corps welcomes planning proposals submitted at any time during the year. This type of proposal must be submitted by an IHE eligible to submit to this solicitation. A consultation with a program officer is required prior to proposal submission. If the program director approves submission of a planning proposal, the proposal must be prepared in accordance with the instructions for the planning type of proposal contained in Chapter II.F of the PAPPG and must be submitted through Research.gov. Proposers should select the current PAPPG as the funding opportunity in Research.gov and direct the proposal to the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot program in the Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) in the Directorate for STEM Education (EDU).

III. Award Information

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds.

Estimated Number of Awards: 8-10 awards

Up to 10 Regional Alliance awards, made as cooperative agreements, are anticipated depending upon availability of funds. The budget for awards is up to $5,000,000 total per Alliance for the first 5 -year award with the opportunity to submit a renewal proposal to extend up to 10 years. Alliances can receive up to $1,000,000 per year up to year 10.

Anticipated Funding Amount:

Up to $35,000,000 to support up to 10 Regional Alliances for an initial five years with the opportunity to extend the Alliances cooperative agreement up to 10 years. The initial Regional Alliance award would be for five years.

IV. Eligibility Information

Additional Eligibility Info:

Regional Alliances must include a State Educational Agency (SEA) and/or a Local Education Agency (LEA) from each of the Regional Alliance states (definitions of an SEA and LEA provided in CHIPS Act of 2022 Sec.10311(c)(2)(B)(ii)). Alliances may also include education nonprofit associations, a cross sector STEM organization, and/or another type of entity, including a for-profit STEM-related business. National STEM Teacher Corps members must be U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent resident aliens.

V. Proposal Preparation And Submission Instructions

Letters of Intent (optional) :

A Letter of Intent (LOI) is recommended to facilitate the NSF review process. The LOI should be submitted via Research.gov no later than the LOI deadline date.

Please note the following conditions:

Project Title: The title should begin with "National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program: (insert the rest of the title and the Project's acronym)". The title should reflect the regional focus of the proposed Alliance.

Keywords: In order of decreasing emphasis, list four keywords that represent the scientific interdisciplinary content in the proposal.

Lead PI and Point of Contact for NSF Inquiries: The Lead PI will serve as the Point of Contact for NSF inquiries.

Other Senior/Key Project Personnel: Identify up to four co-PIs.

Participating Organizations: Anticipated partner organizations should be included in the Manage Participating Organizations section of the LOI.

Synopsis (not to exceed one page): A brief synopsis of the proposed plan to fulfill the goals of the National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program including relevance to Merit Review and Solicitation-Specific Review Criteria.

Letter of Intent Preparation Instructions :

When submitting a Letter of Intent through Research.gov in response to this Program Solicitation please note the conditions outlined below:

  • Submission by an Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) is required when submitting Letters of Intent.

A Minimum of 0 and Maximum of 4 Other Senior Project Personnel are permitted

  • Keywords is required when submitting Letters of Intent
  • Submission of multiple Letters of Intent is not permitted

Full Proposal Preparation Instructions : Proposers may opt to submit proposals in response to this Program Solicitation via Research.gov or Grants.gov.

  • Full Proposals submitted via Research.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the general guidelines contained in the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide (PAPPG). The complete text of the PAPPG is available electronically on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg . Paper copies of the PAPPG may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-8134 or by e-mail from [email protected] . The Prepare New Proposal setup will prompt you for the program solicitation number.
  • Full proposals submitted via Grants.gov: Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation via Grants.gov should be prepared and submitted in accordance with the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide: A Guide for the Preparation and Submission of NSF Applications via Grants.gov . The complete text of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide is available on the Grants.gov website and on the NSF website at: ( https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=grantsgovguide ). To obtain copies of the Application Guide and Application Forms Package, click on the Apply tab on the Grants.gov site, then click on the Apply Step 1: Download a Grant Application Package and Application Instructions link and enter the funding opportunity number, (the program solicitation number without the NSF prefix) and press the Download Package button. Paper copies of the Grants.gov Application Guide also may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-8134 or by e-mail from [email protected] .

In determining which method to utilize in the electronic preparation and submission of the proposal, please note the following:

Collaborative Proposals. All collaborative proposals submitted as separate submissions from multiple organizations must be submitted via Research.gov. PAPPG Chapter II.E.3 provides additional information on collaborative proposals.

See PAPPG Chapter II.D.2 for guidance on the required sections of a full research proposal submitted to NSF. Please note that the proposal preparation instructions provided in this program solicitation may deviate from the PAPPG instructions.

The following instructions supplement the guidance in the PAPPG:

Project Data Form : A Project Data Form must be submitted as part of all proposals. The information on this form is used to direct proposals to appropriate reviewers and to determine the characteristics of projects supported by the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE). In Research.gov, this form will appear in the list of required Proposal Sections for the proposal only after selecting the National STEM Teacher Corps solicitation number in Step 1 of the Proposal Creation Wizard. Grants.gov users should refer to Section VI.5 of the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide for specific instructions on how to submit the DUE Project Data Form.

Project Description : In addition to the guidance specified in the PAPPG, including the requirement for a separate section labeled “Broader Impacts,” the Project Description must include a Project Evaluation Plan (see Section II.D for additional information).

Supplementary Documents: In addition to the requirements contained in the PAPPG, the Supplementary Documents section of the proposal should include: (1) letters of collaboration from project partners, and (2) the biographical-sketch of the project's independent evaluator (if applicable) in the NSF standard format. No additional information may be provided as an appendix or as supplementary documents. Proposals that are not compliant with these guidelines may be returned without review.

Cost Sharing:

Budget Preparation Instructions:

For all submissions, costs to support Members of the National STEM Teacher Corps should be included as participant support costs in the proposal budget. All budgets should include the number of yearly proposed National STEM Teacher Corps members as well as any funds to support the duties of the National STEM Teacher Corps Members. All budgets should include funds for each National STEM Teacher Corps member and one (1) PI or Co-PI to attend a regional or national meeting or conference related to the work of the National STEM Teacher Corps pilot program.

National STEM Teacher Corps Members will meet annually in Washington, DC at the national recognition convening. These meetings will provide opportunities for members of the National STEM Teacher Corps to share their successes and challenges with developing and improving innovative teaching methodology and mentorship; and to share their strategies for advancing equity and the impact they are having by teaching and coaching in rural and high-need areas. The annual meeting will also be a way for STEM Teacher Corps members to network with other members and STEM education professionals. Funds should also be set aside for National STEM Teacher Corps Members to attend the national meeting

D. Research.gov/Grants.gov Requirements

For Proposals Submitted Via Research.gov:

To prepare and submit a proposal via Research.gov, see detailed technical instructions available at: https://www.research.gov/research-portal/appmanager/base/desktop?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=research_node_display&_nodePath=/researchGov/Service/Desktop/ProposalPreparationandSubmission.html . For Research.gov user support, call the Research.gov Help Desk at 1-800-381-1532 or e-mail [email protected] . The Research.gov Help Desk answers general technical questions related to the use of the Research.gov system. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this funding opportunity.

For Proposals Submitted Via Grants.gov:

Before using Grants.gov for the first time, each organization must register to create an institutional profile. Once registered, the applicant's organization can then apply for any federal grant on the Grants.gov website. Comprehensive information about using Grants.gov is available on the Grants.gov Applicant Resources webpage: https://www.grants.gov/applicants . In addition, the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide (see link in Section V.A) provides instructions regarding the technical preparation of proposals via Grants.gov. For Grants.gov user support, contact the Grants.gov Contact Center at 1-800-518-4726 or by email: [email protected] . The Grants.gov Contact Center answers general technical questions related to the use of Grants.gov. Specific questions related to this program solicitation should be referred to the NSF program staff contact(s) listed in Section VIII of this solicitation.

Submitting the Proposal: Once all documents have been completed, the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) must submit the application to Grants.gov and verify the desired funding opportunity and agency to which the application is submitted. The AOR must then sign and submit the application to Grants.gov. The completed application will be transferred to Research.gov for further processing.

The NSF Grants.gov Proposal Processing in Research.gov informational page provides submission guidance to applicants and links to helpful resources including the NSF Grants.gov Application Guide , Grants.gov Proposal Processing in Research.gov how-to guide , and Grants.gov Submitted Proposals Frequently Asked Questions . Grants.gov proposals must pass all NSF pre-check and post-check validations in order to be accepted by Research.gov at NSF.

When submitting via Grants.gov, NSF strongly recommends applicants initiate proposal submission at least five business days in advance of a deadline to allow adequate time to address NSF compliance errors and resubmissions by 5:00 p.m. submitting organization's local time on the deadline. Please note that some errors cannot be corrected in Grants.gov. Once a proposal passes pre-checks but fails any post-check, an applicant can only correct and submit the in-progress proposal in Research.gov.

Proposers that submitted via Research.gov may use Research.gov to verify the status of their submission to NSF. For proposers that submitted via Grants.gov, until an application has been received and validated by NSF, the Authorized Organizational Representative may check the status of an application on Grants.gov. After proposers have received an e-mail notification from NSF, Research.gov should be used to check the status of an application.

VI. NSF Proposal Processing And Review Procedures

Proposals received by NSF are assigned to the appropriate NSF program for acknowledgement and, if they meet NSF requirements, for review. All proposals are carefully reviewed by a scientist, engineer, or educator serving as an NSF Program Officer, and usually by three to ten other persons outside NSF either as ad hoc reviewers, panelists, or both, who are experts in the particular fields represented by the proposal. These reviewers are selected by Program Officers charged with oversight of the review process. Proposers are invited to suggest names of persons they believe are especially well qualified to review the proposal and/or persons they would prefer not review the proposal. These suggestions may serve as one source in the reviewer selection process at the Program Officer's discretion. Submission of such names, however, is optional. Care is taken to ensure that reviewers have no conflicts of interest with the proposal. In addition, Program Officers may obtain comments from site visits before recommending final action on proposals. Senior NSF staff further review recommendations for awards. A flowchart that depicts the entire NSF proposal and award process (and associated timeline) is included in PAPPG Exhibit III-1.

A comprehensive description of the Foundation's merit review process is available on the NSF website at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/merit_review/ .

Proposers should also be aware of core strategies that are essential to the fulfillment of NSF's mission, as articulated in Leading the World in Discovery and Innovation, STEM Talent Development and the Delivery of Benefits from Research - NSF Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years (FY) 2022 - 2026 . These strategies are integrated in the program planning and implementation process, of which proposal review is one part. NSF's mission is particularly well-implemented through the integration of research and education and broadening participation in NSF programs, projects, and activities.

One of the strategic objectives in support of NSF's mission is to foster integration of research and education through the programs, projects, and activities it supports at academic and research institutions. These institutions must recruit, train, and prepare a diverse STEM workforce to advance the frontiers of science and participate in the U.S. technology-based economy. NSF's contribution to the national innovation ecosystem is to provide cutting-edge research under the guidance of the Nation's most creative scientists and engineers. NSF also supports development of a strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce by investing in building the knowledge that informs improvements in STEM teaching and learning.

NSF's mission calls for the broadening of opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. NSF is committed to this principle of diversity and deems it central to the programs, projects, and activities it considers and supports.

A. Merit Review Principles and Criteria

The National Science Foundation strives to invest in a robust and diverse portfolio of projects that creates new knowledge and enables breakthroughs in understanding across all areas of science and engineering research and education. To identify which projects to support, NSF relies on a merit review process that incorporates consideration of both the technical aspects of a proposed project and its potential to contribute more broadly to advancing NSF's mission "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes." NSF makes every effort to conduct a fair, competitive, transparent merit review process for the selection of projects.

1. Merit Review Principles

These principles are to be given due diligence by PIs and organizations when preparing proposals and managing projects, by reviewers when reading and evaluating proposals, and by NSF program staff when determining whether or not to recommend proposals for funding and while overseeing awards. Given that NSF is the primary federal agency charged with nurturing and supporting excellence in basic research and education, the following three principles apply:

  • All NSF projects should be of the highest quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of knowledge.
  • NSF projects, in the aggregate, should contribute more broadly to achieving societal goals. These "Broader Impacts" may be accomplished through the research itself, through activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. The project activities may be based on previously established and/or innovative methods and approaches, but in either case must be well justified.
  • Meaningful assessment and evaluation of NSF funded projects should be based on appropriate metrics, keeping in mind the likely correlation between the effect of broader impacts and the resources provided to implement projects. If the size of the activity is limited, evaluation of that activity in isolation is not likely to be meaningful. Thus, assessing the effectiveness of these activities may best be done at a higher, more aggregated, level than the individual project.

With respect to the third principle, even if assessment of Broader Impacts outcomes for particular projects is done at an aggregated level, PIs are expected to be accountable for carrying out the activities described in the funded project. Thus, individual projects should include clearly stated goals, specific descriptions of the activities that the PI intends to do, and a plan in place to document the outputs of those activities.

These three merit review principles provide the basis for the merit review criteria, as well as a context within which the users of the criteria can better understand their intent.

2. Merit Review Criteria

All NSF proposals are evaluated through use of the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria. In some instances, however, NSF will employ additional criteria as required to highlight the specific objectives of certain programs and activities.

The two merit review criteria are listed below. Both criteria are to be given full consideration during the review and decision-making processes; each criterion is necessary but neither, by itself, is sufficient. Therefore, proposers must fully address both criteria. (PAPPG Chapter II.D.2.d(i). contains additional information for use by proposers in development of the Project Description section of the proposal). Reviewers are strongly encouraged to review the criteria, including PAPPG Chapter II.D.2.d(i), prior to the review of a proposal.

When evaluating NSF proposals, reviewers will be asked to consider what the proposers want to do, why they want to do it, how they plan to do it, how they will know if they succeed, and what benefits could accrue if the project is successful. These issues apply both to the technical aspects of the proposal and the way in which the project may make broader contributions. To that end, reviewers will be asked to evaluate all proposals against two criteria:

  • Intellectual Merit: The Intellectual Merit criterion encompasses the potential to advance knowledge; and
  • Broader Impacts: The Broader Impacts criterion encompasses the potential to benefit society and contribute to the achievement of specific, desired societal outcomes.

The following elements should be considered in the review for both criteria:

  • Advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields (Intellectual Merit); and
  • Benefit society or advance desired societal outcomes (Broader Impacts)?
  • To what extent do the proposed activities suggest and explore creative, original, or potentially transformative concepts?
  • Is the plan for carrying out the proposed activities well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale? Does the plan incorporate a mechanism to assess success?
  • How well qualified is the individual, team, or organization to conduct the proposed activities?
  • Are there adequate resources available to the PI (either at the home organization or through collaborations) to carry out the proposed activities?

Broader impacts may be accomplished through the research itself, through the activities that are directly related to specific research projects, or through activities that are supported by, but are complementary to, the project. NSF values the advancement of scientific knowledge and activities that contribute to achievement of societally relevant outcomes. Such outcomes include, but are not limited to: full participation of women, persons with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); improved STEM education and educator development at any level; increased public scientific literacy and public engagement with science and technology; improved well-being of individuals in society; development of a diverse, globally competitive STEM workforce; increased partnerships between academia, industry, and others; improved national security; increased economic competitiveness of the United States; and enhanced infrastructure for research and education.

Proposers are reminded that reviewers will also be asked to review the Data Management and Sharing Plan and the Mentoring Plan, as appropriate.

Additional Solicitation Specific Review Criteria

Reviewers will also be asked to review the following solicitation Specific criteria:

  • How will the Regional Alliance work to elevate National STEM Teacher Corp members while providing support to other teachers in the region? How will the Alliance support teachers that have entered STEM teaching in non-traditional methods?

B. Review and Selection Process

Proposals submitted in response to this program solicitation will be reviewed by Ad hoc Review and/or Panel Review.

Reviewers will be asked to evaluate proposals using two National Science Board approved merit review criteria and, if applicable, additional program specific criteria. A summary rating and accompanying narrative will generally be completed and submitted by each reviewer and/or panel. The Program Officer assigned to manage the proposal's review will consider the advice of reviewers and will formulate a recommendation.

After scientific, technical and programmatic review and consideration of appropriate factors, the NSF Program Officer recommends to the cognizant Division Director whether the proposal should be declined or recommended for award. NSF strives to be able to tell proposers whether their proposals have been declined or recommended for funding within six months. Large or particularly complex proposals or proposals from new recipients may require additional review and processing time. The time interval begins on the deadline or target date, or receipt date, whichever is later. The interval ends when the Division Director acts upon the Program Officer's recommendation.

After programmatic approval has been obtained, the proposals recommended for funding will be forwarded to the Division of Grants and Agreements or the Division of Acquisition and Cooperative Support for review of business, financial, and policy implications. After an administrative review has occurred, Grants and Agreements Officers perform the processing and issuance of a grant or other agreement. Proposers are cautioned that only a Grants and Agreements Officer may make commitments, obligations or awards on behalf of NSF or authorize the expenditure of funds. No commitment on the part of NSF should be inferred from technical or budgetary discussions with a NSF Program Officer. A Principal Investigator or organization that makes financial or personnel commitments in the absence of a grant or cooperative agreement signed by the NSF Grants and Agreements Officer does so at their own risk.

Once an award or declination decision has been made, Principal Investigators are provided feedback about their proposals. In all cases, reviews are treated as confidential documents. Verbatim copies of reviews, excluding the names of the reviewers or any reviewer-identifying information, are sent to the Principal Investigator/Project Director by the Program Officer. In addition, the proposer will receive an explanation of the decision to award or decline funding.

VII. Award Administration Information

A. notification of the award.

Notification of the award is made to the submitting organization by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer. Organizations whose proposals are declined will be advised as promptly as possible by the cognizant NSF Program administering the program. Verbatim copies of reviews, not including the identity of the reviewer, will be provided automatically to the Principal Investigator. (See Section VI.B. for additional information on the review process.)

B. Award Conditions

An NSF award consists of: (1) the award notice, which includes any special provisions applicable to the award and any numbered amendments thereto; (2) the budget, which indicates the amounts, by categories of expense, on which NSF has based its support (or otherwise communicates any specific approvals or disapprovals of proposed expenditures); (3) the proposal referenced in the award notice; (4) the applicable award conditions, such as Grant General Conditions (GC-1)*; or Research Terms and Conditions* and (5) any announcement or other NSF issuance that may be incorporated by reference in the award notice. Cooperative agreements also are administered in accordance with NSF Cooperative Agreement Financial and Administrative Terms and Conditions (CA-FATC) and the applicable Programmatic Terms and Conditions. NSF awards are electronically signed by an NSF Grants and Agreements Officer and transmitted electronically to the organization via e-mail.

*These documents may be accessed electronically on NSF's Website at https://www.nsf.gov/awards/managing/award_conditions.jsp?org=NSF . Paper copies may be obtained from the NSF Publications Clearinghouse, telephone (703) 292-8134 or by e-mail from [email protected] .

More comprehensive information on NSF Award Conditions and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter VII, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg .

Administrative and National Policy Requirements

Build America, Buy America

As expressed in Executive Order 14005, Ensuring the Future is Made in All of America by All of America’s Workers (86 FR 7475), it is the policy of the executive branch to use terms and conditions of Federal financial assistance awards to maximize, consistent with law, the use of goods, products, and materials produced in, and services offered in, the United States.

Consistent with the requirements of the Build America, Buy America Act (Pub. L. 117-58, Division G, Title IX, Subtitle A, November 15, 2021), no funding made available through this funding opportunity may be obligated for an award unless all iron, steel, manufactured products, and construction materials used in the project are produced in the United States. For additional information, visit NSF’s Build America, Buy America webpage.

C. Reporting Requirements

For all multi-year grants (including both standard and continuing grants), the Principal Investigator must submit an annual project report to the cognizant Program Officer no later than 90 days prior to the end of the current budget period. (Some programs or awards require submission of more frequent project reports). No later than 120 days following expiration of a grant, the PI also is required to submit a final annual project report, and a project outcomes report for the general public.

Failure to provide the required annual or final annual project reports, or the project outcomes report, will delay NSF review and processing of any future funding increments as well as any pending proposals for all identified PIs and co-PIs on a given award. PIs should examine the formats of the required reports in advance to assure availability of required data.

PIs are required to use NSF's electronic project-reporting system, available through Research.gov, for preparation and submission of annual and final annual project reports. Such reports provide information on accomplishments, project participants (individual and organizational), publications, and other specific products and impacts of the project. Submission of the report via Research.gov constitutes certification by the PI that the contents of the report are accurate and complete. The project outcomes report also must be prepared and submitted using Research.gov. This report serves as a brief summary, prepared specifically for the public, of the nature and outcomes of the project. This report will be posted on the NSF website exactly as it is submitted by the PI.

More comprehensive information on NSF Reporting Requirements and other important information on the administration of NSF awards is contained in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) Chapter VII, available electronically on the NSF Website at https://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=pappg .

Regional Alliances are required to report on the National STEM Teacher Corps members’ teaching status and continued support for 3 years after the life of the project.

National STEM Teacher Corps Members will submit yearly reports to NSF regarding their professional status up to 3 years after their 4-year term as a National STEM Teacher Corps Member. The report will also include information regarding the work being done to impact STEM education.

All projects are required to participate in program monitoring (including tracking) that will require annual data collection reported to a third party as part of National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program monitoring. In addition, projects are required to participate in evaluation activities conducted by a third party or NSF.

VIII. Agency Contacts

Please note that the program contact information is current at the time of publishing. See program website for any updates to the points of contact.

General inquiries regarding this program should be made to:

For questions related to the use of NSF systems contact:

For questions relating to Grants.gov contact:

Grants.gov Contact Center: If the Authorized Organizational Representatives (AOR) has not received a confirmation message from Grants.gov within 48 hours of submission of application, please contact via telephone: 1-800-518-4726; e-mail: [email protected] .

IX. Other Information

The NSF website provides the most comprehensive source of information on NSF Directorates (including contact information), programs and funding opportunities. Use of this website by potential proposers is strongly encouraged. In addition, "NSF Update" is an information-delivery system designed to keep potential proposers and other interested parties apprised of new NSF funding opportunities and publications, important changes in proposal and award policies and procedures, and upcoming NSF Grants Conferences . Subscribers are informed through e-mail or the user's Web browser each time new publications are issued that match their identified interests. "NSF Update" also is available on NSF's website .

Grants.gov provides an additional electronic capability to search for Federal government-wide grant opportunities. NSF funding opportunities may be accessed via this mechanism. Further information on Grants.gov may be obtained at https://www.grants.gov .

About The National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent Federal agency created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (42 USC 1861-75). The Act states the purpose of the NSF is "to promote the progress of science; [and] to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare by supporting research and education in all fields of science and engineering."

NSF funds research and education in most fields of science and engineering. It does this through grants and cooperative agreements to more than 2,000 colleges, universities, K-12 school systems, businesses, informal science organizations and other research organizations throughout the US. The Foundation accounts for about one-fourth of Federal support to academic institutions for basic research.

NSF receives approximately 55,000 proposals each year for research, education and training projects, of which approximately 11,000 are funded. In addition, the Foundation receives several thousand applications for graduate and postdoctoral fellowships. The agency operates no laboratories itself but does support National Research Centers, user facilities, certain oceanographic vessels and Arctic and Antarctic research stations. The Foundation also supports cooperative research between universities and industry, US participation in international scientific and engineering efforts, and educational activities at every academic level.

Facilitation Awards for Scientists and Engineers with Disabilities (FASED) provide funding for special assistance or equipment to enable persons with disabilities to work on NSF-supported projects. See the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide Chapter II.F.7 for instructions regarding preparation of these types of proposals.

The National Science Foundation has Telephonic Device for the Deaf (TDD) and Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) capabilities that enable individuals with hearing impairments to communicate with the Foundation about NSF programs, employment or general information. TDD may be accessed at (703) 292-5090 and (800) 281-8749, FIRS at (800) 877-8339.

The National Science Foundation Information Center may be reached at (703) 292-5111.

Privacy Act And Public Burden Statements

The information requested on proposal forms and project reports is solicited under the authority of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended. The information on proposal forms will be used in connection with the selection of qualified proposals; and project reports submitted by proposers will be used for program evaluation and reporting within the Executive Branch and to Congress. The information requested may be disclosed to qualified reviewers and staff assistants as part of the proposal review process; to proposer institutions/grantees to provide or obtain data regarding the proposal review process, award decisions, or the administration of awards; to government contractors, experts, volunteers and researchers and educators as necessary to complete assigned work; to other government agencies or other entities needing information regarding proposers or nominees as part of a joint application review process, or in order to coordinate programs or policy; and to another Federal agency, court, or party in a court or Federal administrative proceeding if the government is a party. Information about Principal Investigators may be added to the Reviewer file and used to select potential candidates to serve as peer reviewers or advisory committee members. See System of Record Notices , NSF-50 , "Principal Investigator/Proposal File and Associated Records," and NSF-51 , "Reviewer/Proposal File and Associated Records.” Submission of the information is voluntary. Failure to provide full and complete information, however, may reduce the possibility of receiving an award.

An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, an information collection unless it displays a valid Office of Management and Budget (OMB) control number. The OMB control number for this collection is 3145-0058. Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 120 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions. Send comments regarding the burden estimate and any other aspect of this collection of information, including suggestions for reducing this burden, to:

Suzanne H. Plimpton Reports Clearance Officer Policy Office, Division of Institution and Award Support Office of Budget, Finance, and Award Management National Science Foundation Alexandria, VA 22314

National Science Foundation

IMAGES

  1. How to Write a Successful Research Proposal

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  2. SOLUTION: How to write a research proposal

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  3. 2024 Research Proposal Sample

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Research Proposal

    The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements: Title page; Introduction; Literature review; ... Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list.

  2. Writing a Research 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 ...

  3. 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 ...

  4. 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.

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

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

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

    It should likewise contain a statement of the progress that one has made so far. Other relevant research-related activities should also be included, such as paper presentations (if applicable). ... In essence, the research proposal must be able to effectively argue why a study should be approved or funded. Poor grammar or careless writing ...

  7. How to write a research proposal

    The format of a research proposal varies between fields and levels of study but most proposals should contain at least these elements: introduction, literature review, research design and reference list. Generally, research proposals can range from 500-1500 words or one to a few pages long. Typically, proposals for larger projects such as a PhD ...

  8. 11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

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

  9. How To Write A Research Proposal (With Examples)

    Make sure you can ask the critical what, who, and how questions of your research before you put pen to paper. Your research proposal should include (at least) 5 essential components : Title - provides the first taste of your research, in broad terms. Introduction - explains what you'll be researching in more detail.

  10. How to write a research proposal?

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

  11. How to prepare a Research Proposal

    It puts the proposal in context. 3. The introduction typically begins with a statement of the research problem in precise and clear terms. 1. The importance of the statement of the research problem 5: The statement of the problem is the essential basis for the construction of a research proposal (research objectives, hypotheses, methodology ...

  12. How to Write a Research Proposal: Checklist Example

    Learn what a research proposal is and what goes into a proposal checklist. See research proposal examples and checklists. 1-888-627-6631; ... research topic or question that you intend to research while providing a solid background of your particular area of research. Your research proposal must contain a quick summary of the current ...

  13. 14.3 Components of a Research Proposal

    Krathwohl (2005) suggests and describes a variety of components to include in a research proposal. The following sections - Introductions, Background and significance, Literature Review; Research design and methods, Preliminary suppositions and implications; and Conclusion present these components in a suggested template for you to follow in ...

  14. Research Proposal Definition, Components & Examples

    A research proposal must contain key components to make it successful. These key components include; Title — The title should be unique and must capture the key concepts of the study.

  15. What Is a Research Proposal? (Plus How To Write One)

    A research proposal is a vital tool that can help scholars and university students complete a dissertation, receive funding for projects or fulfill course requirements. It outlines the importance of your inquiry and summarizes how you plan to investigate your research problem. Before developing a project, it's often valuable to learn some ...

  16. Writing a Research 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 ...

  17. Writing a Research Proposal

    The forms and procedures for such research are defined by the field of study, so guidelines for research proposals are generally more exacting and less formal than a project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews and must provide persuasive evidence that there is a need for the research study being proposed.

  18. Research proposal

    A research proposal describes your planned research. It presents your research topic and describes why this topic is significant, it reviews some of the key thinking related to the topic that can be found in published literature and it signals the approach you will take to gather data so that you can investigate the topic you propose.

  19. Q: How do I write the methods section of a research proposal?

    The methods section of a research proposal must contain all the necessary information that will facilitate another researcher to replicate your research. The purpose of writing this section is to convince the funding agency that the methods you plan to use are sound and this is the most suitable approach to address the problem you have chosen.

  20. How to write the introduction of a research proposal?

    Writing an effective research proposal is essential to acquire funding for your research. The introduction, being the first part of your proposal, must provide the funders a clear understanding of what you plan to do. ... INFOGRAPHIC: 9 Core parts every grant proposal must contain; INFOGRAPHIC: 15 Key tips for writing a winning grant proposal ...

  21. 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.

  22. The basics of writing a statement of the problem for your research proposal

    Research is a systematic investigative process employed to increase or revise current knowledge by discovering new facts. It can be divided into two general categories: (1) Basic research, which is inquiry aimed at increasing scientific knowledge, and (2) Applied research, which is effort aimed at using basic research for solving problems or developing new processes, products, or techniques.

  23. (Pdf) How to Write a Research Proposal

    Before writing up a research proposal, it is essential to: identify the sponsors for the research. read and understand application guidelines from sponsors /. clients, e.g., Universities, Ministry ...

  24. NSF 24-577: National STEM Teacher Corps Pilot Program

    If the program director approves submission of a planning proposal, the proposal must be prepared in accordance with the instructions for the planning type of proposal contained in Chapter II.F of the PAPPG and must be submitted through Research.gov. Proposers should select the current PAPPG as the funding opportunity in Research.gov and direct ...