Chapter 14: The Research Proposal

14.2 Writing the Research Proposal

As with writing any academic paper, research proposals are generally organized in the same manner across most social science disciplines. The length of a research proposal depends upon the audience for whom the research proposal is being prepared. For example, research proposals being prepared for a doctoral degree will have higher expectations and will likely run approximately 25 pages, excluding appendices and references. On the other hand, a research proposal being prepared for undergraduate level research might run approximately 10 pages, excluding appendices and references.

Before starting the writing process, a good place to start is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  1. What do I want to study?
  2. Why is the topic important?
  3. In what ways is this topic significant within my particular field of study?
  4. What problems will this research help to solve (i.e., social, cultural, safety, environmental, economic, business, and/or governance issues)?
  5. How does it build upon and go beyond previous research on this topic?
  6. What exactly should I plan to do?
  7. Can I get it done in the time and with the resources available to me?