How to Write an Academic Research Proposal

If you are in a thesis course or preparing to write a paper for your major project, you are probably faced with needing to create an academic research proposal. This proposal is usually used to determine the worthiness of your chosen topic as the basis for your thesis project. If approved, you will be able to go ahead with the thesis project as you have outlined it. If not, you will be going back to the drawing board to consider other alternatives. Given the stakes, it is important that you get this paper right the first time. The following tips will make sure your first proposal is a winner.

  • Convince Yourself First. Before you can write a paper convincing a professor that your idea is a good one, make sure you fully believe in it first. Do enough research so that you are confident in the topic and your ability to build it out into a full blown thesis paper. During your research you might find you are having trouble uncovering enough information, or that you can’t find a central theme to build your project around. From there, you can tweak your idea so that it fits nicely with the research you are finding. Doing this work upfront, instead of after the proposal, will give you a much higher chance of being accepted.
  • All About Organization. A research paper is an organized document, so a proposal for a research paper should be the same way. Outline a clear argument in favor of your project before you start writing. Using your outline to guide you, write the proposal such that the points flow from one to the next, and the reader can easily follow along with your thinking.
  • Focus on the Details. While you are doing all of the research and preparation for the logic in your proposal, don’t forget about the small stuff. Basic things like spelling mistakes and punctuation problems are sure to get your paper rejected before your ideas are even considered.
  • Know Your Audience. Most likely, you are writing this paper to a specific professor. In that case, make sure that your arguments are written in a way that is likely to hit home with that professor’s style. After sitting in lectures all semester, you should have a good gauge of their personality, so use that knowledge to your advantage when trying to writing a winning proposal.