Instructions for Written Research Proposal
A project proposal is the first step in the development of a research project plan. The project proposal is
a relatively short (3-5 page) document that includes the goal(s) of the research project, the objectives, a
background section, a short version of the approach, expected results, and references. Like a good
resume, a good research proposal should peak the prospective client’s or grantor’s interest (instructor’s
in this case) in the first section of the proposal, and is more of a detailed annotated outline in advance
of a more detailed research project plan.
The proposal must be:
1. A minimum of 4 pages in length.
2. Include no more than 2 figures or illustrations, each being no more than 1/3 of a page in size.
3. #11 font and 1.5 spacing.
4. Include a title and all of the sections listed in the outline of a proposal below.
Outline of a Research Project Proposal
I. Goal(s) a. State one or more goals of the project that are stated in way that captures why this project
is important and needed.
II. Objectives a. At least two objectives that are detailed statements about planned outcomes of the project that
support the goal(s). These are more specific statements about how you will meet each goal.
III. Background a. Some background that informs the reader on the subject matter, reference to previous research
that supports goals/objectives, and scope (temporal and/or spatial as applies) of the project. A
map showing the geographic scope of the project should be included if this applies to your
IV. Approach a. Briefly, and step-by-step, summarize how the project will be done from data collection through
b. Emphasize any new or state-of-the art methods that will be used.
V. Expected Results a. List TWO or more expected results based on similar work that has been done or based on your
experience or expertise.
b. Be careful not to promise too much in this section; simply give the reader an idea what they can
c. Providing alternative results based on the data collected and if the hypothesis(-es) was/were
accepted or rejected is a good approach as long as there is not too much uncertainty.
VI. References a. Include all references and relevant sources of information that indicate you have done your
research, and include any publications of your own that show your experience if germane to the
topic of the proposal.