Suggested Outline for Research Proposals

1. Introduction: An “abstract” or ‘lede’ that describes briefly the important details of your project; this intro can consist of 5-7 lines which answer the questions, what you hope to study, with whom and why.  This intro will orient reviewers to the principal elements of your proposal.

2. Context: Give the reader enough context to set the stage for your central research topic.  Usually about two paragraphs, this section often cites relevant statistics, previous studies, preliminary findings, and the like.  In addition to setting up your research question, this section will also elucidate why your research is timely and important as well as how your project will contribute to the scholarly conversation in your field.  This context section also provides sufficient information so that reviewers can understand the question you will be asking.  Since non-experts are often reading your project descriptions, this introductory section is especially important in providing relevant background information about your project.

3. Presenting your central question/topic: What do you plan to research?  What are you investigating precisely?  What main points do you hope to address?  That is, your research question should be as well defined as possible.

4. Mentor: At this point, introduce your faculty mentor (and, if appropriate, any other affiliate) so that readers know who will be supporting your project.

5. Research Design/Methodology: Describe the main phases of your project and what you hope to accomplish in each of them.  In providing this plan, be as detailed and as concrete as possible!  Also, it is often good to think in terms of a timeline, since it invites you to think concretely about the process of researching. 

Often, too, this would be the place to indicate how you may be using the funds in undertaking your project.

Also, it would be good in this section to indicate how you and your faculty mentor may be working together, collaborating, and/or communicating through the course of your project. 

6. Anticipated Outcomes: What do you hope to produce by the project’s conclusion?  How do you hope to share your findings?