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Related Books

The Essential Guide to Doing Your Research Project (4th ed.)

Q180.55.M4 O52 2021

Chapter 5. Crafting a Research Proposal

(Undergraduate friendly)


Research Proposal: Little Quick Fix

LB2369 .O44 2018

(Undergraduate friendly)

Developing Effective Research Proposals (3rd ed.)

H62 .P863 2016

(Undergraduate friendly)

Writing a Proposal for Your Dissertation: Guidelines and Examples

E-Book, 2016

(for PhD dissertation proposal)

Conducting Educational Research: Guide to Completing a Major Project

E-Book, 2011

Chapter 8. Creating a Research Proposal

How to Design, Write, and Present a Successful Dissertation Proposal

LB2369 .W39 2014

(for PhD dissertation proposal)

Writing Successful Grant Proposals from the Top Down and Bottom Up


Print: Q180.55.P7 W75 2014

(for grant proposal)

Write a Research Proposal

What is a Research Proposal

"Research proposals are documents prepared for two primary purposes: to help researchers articulate their plans for research and to convince others (e.g., funders, colleagues, supervisors) that the plan for a research study is sound." (Julien, 2008)

Types of Research Proposal

As a student or researcher, you might have the chance to write a research proposal in one of these circumstances:

  • to prepare for your thesis or dissertation - A thesis proposal
  • to get admitted to a PhD programme - A PhD research proposal
  • to get approval from a funding application - A funding proposal

Here's a quick summary of what each type of research proposal should focus on. You can also take a look at some sample proposals to get an idea of how each type of proposal looks like. 

A Thesis Proposal
A PhD Proposal
A Funding Proposal

To get prepared for your final year thesis or dissertation.

You will likely need to write one for the assignment in your Research Methodology class.

To get admitted to a PhD programme you are interested in. To get approval from a funding body.
  • Undergraduate level: need to demonstrate the ability to present study in a disciplined way in scholarly conventions of the discipline.
  • Masters level: need to show evidence of advanced knowledge in a specific field and the ability to make critical use of published work. 
  • PhD level: need to show evidence of the mastery of knowledge and methodological techniques in the relevant field, and the ability to communicate research findings effectively in a professional and international context.
Need to sell your potential as a researcher. Need to have a strong emphasis on the practicalities of the method and the benefits of potential outcomes.


Components of a Research Proposal

The format of a research proposal varies between fields. In general, a research proposal contains the following elements with the aim to achieve 3 key objectives:

Components Objectives  
1. Title 1. To identify an important research topic or problem and establish a research question

Follow the guidelines. Depending on the purposes, the proposal approver may have specific requirements or guidelines to follow. Check with your supervisor if you are not sure.

Use the template, if there is one.

2. Introduction / Background

  • Research Question / Hypothesis
  • Objectives & Significance

3. Literature Review

2. To provide evidence from the literature that the study needs to be done

4. Methodology

  • Research Design
  • Data Collection Procedure / Sampling
  • Data Analysis Methods
3. To set out a plan on how data will be collected and analyzed that will enable the research question to be addressed
5. Ethical Considerations
6. Timeline / Planning
7. Budget
8. References

If you are preparing for your thesis project, the first 4 components of your proposal can be parts of your thesis. Refer to respective guides to learn how to develop a research question and conduct a literature review

Writing a Research Proposal

There are many online guides and tutorials that teach how to write a research proposal. Here we pick a few good ones for you.

Video Tutorials        Online Guides

Understand University's Guidelines and Requirements

Find Collaborators / Supervisors
  • SciVal - a research analytical database that can help you identify top researchers in a chosen subject field (Watch workshop recording to learn how to use SciVal)
  • PolyU Scholars Hub - to explore PolyU researchers and their research outputs

Explore Funding Opportunities