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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Writing a Research Proposal

This guide will help you understand what a research proposal is, how to write one, and will show you the proper resources to perfect your proposal.

What is a Research Proposal?

A proposal is a request for support for sponsored research, instruction, or extension projects. Good proposals quickly and easily answer the following questions:

  • What do you want to do, and how do you plan to do it?
  • How much will it cost, and how much time will it take?
  • How does the proposed project relate to the sponsor's interests?
  • What difference will the project make to: your university, your students, your discipline, the state, the nation, or any other concerned parties?
  • What has already been done in the area of your project? Why should you, rather than someone else, do this project?
  • How will the results be evaluated?

Certain questions will be emphasized over others depending on the nature of the proposed project and the agency to which you are submitting the proposal. Most agencies provide detailed instructions or guidelines concerning the preparation of proposals (and, in some cases, forms on which proposals are to be typed).