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How to write a research / thesis proposal?

If you are aiming for an academic career, you may need to submit a thesis proposal or in other words a research proposal. If you have questions about how to write this, this article is for you!

Each institution has almost expect the same same from a research proposal. You should see this research proposal as a job application and show qualities of a good researcher and that you are expressing your subject clearly. With the proposal written in accordance with the desired structure and quality, you clearly convey yourself and what you want to do to the institution. You don't need to be an expert on the subject, but you need to show that you know your interests and the framework of the research topic.

According to our research for the University of Exeter, the University of Birmingham, the University of Westminster and many more, a research proposal must include:

  1. Title
  2. Summary
  3. Research question / Subject / Content
  4. Research Method
  5. Research Timeline
  6. Bibliography

Let's check these options in details!

1 – Title

In short, it is about how to name your research. The title is the part where you will give the first signal about what your research topic will be about. You need to identify your subject's keyword or words well and create a title accordingly.

2 – Summary

In this section you need to explain your research topic. You should present the reasons why your topic matters, why you want to focus on it, and the logic behind the background of your research topic. What is your hypothesis? What is your research question? What awareness / difference can your research create in the world?

All these questions will form the basis of your research and provide you a starting point. A research proposal written with realistic expectations and aspirations should be consistent in all. Therefore, you should observe the parts you will support your research and complete missing parts.

Remember, being able to answer questions such as how to support your research proposal, how long it will take to see the results, which research methods you will use will show that you have knowledge about your topic and the related literature.

3 – Research question / Subject / Content

In this section, where you should clearly state your research topic, also show your basic information that will push you to search this topic. Who, what or which fields affected by your research question? Why and how is your research proposal connected with the institution you submitted this proposal? This field will inform the institution you are applying to that you have knowledge about the content and the points that the institution can answer.

4 – Research Method

You have to specify your methodology here. How will you find the answers? Survey, literature searches? Will you create focus groups and answer your question through these groups?

In order to fill this area rationally, you should be able to know and define quantitative and qualitative research methods in the best way. You should identify the best research method or methods (you may also need to use more than one method) to answer your question. There will be many things you need to specify about where and in what environment you will conduct your research, how many samples you will determine, what tools you will use, and what these tools will be. You should be writing in this section how you determined the methods you set and why.

5 – Research Timeline

How long will it take to complete your research proposal? What will be your research stages in the process? When you create a timeline for your research, this will help you both identify the stages of your research and plan yourself accordingly. Along with this, you need to determine what strategies will be effective in complying with this.

For example, if you want to conduct a comprehensive survey on high school students, you need to determine the academic calendar of education, specify the permissions you need to conduct the survey and how you can obtain these permissions.

6 - Bibliography

You should outline the sources, scientists and methods on which you will base your research topic. If you need to talk about the idealism of Hegel, a German philosopher, in your research proposal or question, you should mention this in bibliography. In a way, you should show witnesses, evidence and resources that will strengthen the logic and validity of your research. Thus, you can demonstrate to the institution you are applying that you have solid indications about your question.

Regardless of your research proposal, working on your proposal and creating a framework for yourself by considering these steps will help you set a starting point and make it easier for you to be accepted by the institutions you will apply to.

If you are considering about studying abroad, IDP counselors can help you to apply for an institutions and give you more detailed information about a good research proposal! For more detailed information, you can fill out the form on the right side of the page, contact us via Whatsapp or send an email to!

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