How to write a research proposal?

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It’s always hard to begin writing but once you start writing, everything goes smoothly. Writing a research proposal is the first step to apply to your thesis. A research proposal is overview theoretical information about your thesis topic. It’s always hard to decide the topic then try to summarize it and look for literature review that discusses your topic in details is a big job. so How to write a research proposal at first place?


1 – Establish your topic

Choose an interesting topic, not too old and not too recent topic so that you can find out a good list of literature review.
Try to narrow it down and be specific, you will only have to write from 10 to 20 pages only, so it’s not a book.

Brainstorm all your ideas; start reading many research, articles and books about your topic, you might come up with another topic or a research question.

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2 – Look for sources of information

Use many different sources; books, magazine articles, and internet articles. Don’t rely on just one source for all your information. Whether you go to the library or use the electronic catalog or browse the shelves to look for books on your topic. If you find a book that is useful, check the bibliography for other books or articles on that topic. Also check indexes of periodicals and newspapers.

Keep a list of all the sources that you use, you will need it for your bibliography; include the title of the source, the author, publisher, and place and date of publication.

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3 – Read Your Sources and Take Notes

While reading take notes and If you copy something directly from a book without putting it in your own words, put quotation marks around it or highlight it in yellow so that you know it is an exact quotation not your own words. This will help you to avoid plagiarism.

Organize your notes by subtopics then start writing your rough draft and make an outline.

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4 – Organize Your Ideas

Using the notes and information collected; develop an outline to organize your ideas. Write down all the main ideas, list the subordinate ideas below the main ideas and avoid any repetition of ideas.


5 – Write a First Draft

Every essay or paper is made up of three parts: Introduction, Body, Conclusion

  • The introduction should be clear let the reader know what the topic is, begins with a general statement about the topic and ends with a more specific statement of the main idea of your paper to arouse the reader’s curiosity so that he or she will want to read about your topic.Introduction includes your Research Problem – the problem your trying to solve or proof in your research and Research Questions – the questions any researcher asks to reach the result.


  • The body of the paper consists of a number of paragraphs in which you develop your ideas in detail; methodology, hypotheses, theoretical framework, literature review, and case study.
    In the methodology part, you will need to decide the approach you will use for your research. If it’s a comparative approach, you will need to write the elements you are going to use and in what way you will compare them.
    In the hypotheses part, you will need to test the variables and their relationship with each other whether it’s inverse or casual.
    In the theoretical framework, you will need to use the theories that are used before in the topic of your research.
    In the literature review, you will need to write a small summary about each reference you will use for your research. Limit each paragraph to one main idea. Prove your points continually by using specific examples and quotations from your bibliography.
    While for the case study part; it’s preferable to do a mini case study for your topic to be tested upon.


  • The conclusion summarizes your points, leaving out specific examples and proving the thesis.
    Your proposal includes thesis contents; in which you list out the content that you will include in your thesis.


6 – Write a bibliography

A bibliography is a list of all the references you have used for your research. It is included at the end of your research on the last page.

While you are reading and taking notes; keep track of each book, encyclopedia, research or article you use. Note down the full title, author, place of publication, publisher, and date of publication for each source.

For a book:
Author (last name first). Title of the book. City: Publisher, Date of publication.

For an encyclopedia:
Encyclopedia Title, Edition Date. Volume Number, “Article Title,” page numbers.

For a magazine:
Author (last name first), “Article Title.” Name of magazine. Volume number, (Date): page numbers.

For a newspaper:
Author (last name first), “Article Title.” Name of newspaper, city, state of publication. (date): edition if available, section, page number(s).

For a person:
Full name (last name first). Occupation. Date of interview.

For Online Resources

Internet: Author of message, (Date). Subject of message. Electronic conference or bulletin board (Online). Available e-mail:

World Wide Web: URL (Uniform Resource Locator or WWW address). author (or item’s name, if mentioned), date.

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7- Revise the First Draft

Before revising, set aside your draft for a day or two. Rethink your ideas; you might need to develop your ideas in more detail. Refine your arguments; you might need to develop your ideas in more detail and give more evidence to support your claims. Reorganize the paragraphs or delete material that is unnecessary.

Read your paper as if you are reading a stranger’s paper and have somebody else to read it.

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8 – Proofread the Final Draft

Print your papers out and look for errors, misspelled words, incorrect punctuation and capitalization.


The beginning is always hard. Once you decided your topic and wrote your proposal, the following will pass by faster. Never quit and never lose hope. You will always reach your dreams but be patient.





Written by

Mai Allam is a Senior Digital Account Executive and Social Media Account Manager working with Tribal DDB Cairo, Egypt. She is a passionate blogger and a social media expert for WeMakeScholars


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