Chapter 14: The Research Proposal


Research proposals take a lot of time to prepare, even after one has undertaken the literature review. As the research proposal serves as the map for your research study, it is critical to take your time in researching, thinking, and writing your research proposal. At the end of the day, you want to leave the readers of your research proposal feeling, “Wow, this is an exciting idea and I cannot wait to see how it turns out!”

To help you make sure your research proposal is clearly and logically written, here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for undertaking the proposed research.
  • Failure to be concise; not making the purpose clear and being “all over the map.”
  • Failure to cite landmark (significant) pieces of work in your literature review.
  • Failure to set forth the contextual boundaries of your research (i.e., time, place, people, etc.).
  • Failure to stay focused on the research problem (i.e., going off on unrelated tangents).
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, including grammatical mistakes.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, and not enough detail on major issues.


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