Many students and emerging researchers face difficulties in writing high quality competitive research proposals. This is an important piece of work, as it intends to convince others (academic boards, research, grants and selection committees, etc.) that your research is meaningful, important, needed, and that you have the competences, the action plan and the means to complete it. It is important also to show that your methodology is profound and will assist the main aims of the research, that you have a good grasp of the relevant literature and the major issues. In general, a research proposal should contain key elements which provide sufficient information for the readers to objectively evaluate the proposed project/study.
Here are selected online resources to help you in the process of writing a research proposal. Some of them contain and explain the basic elements of a research proposal. Others take the viewpoint of the university or the level where you apply for a research grant – have a look and decide which one suits your research objectives:
- Beginners’ Guide to Grant Proposal Writing – Grant Proposal Writing Tips for Beginners and PhD applicants from the University of Calgary, Canada
- Changemakers.net is a community of actions where participants talk about the issues, share stories and mentor, advise, and encourage each other in group forums, even engage in friendly competition. The platform also provides a venue for sharing research and collaborating with others interested in your research field.
- European Association of Development Research and Training Institutes – is the leading professional network for development and regional studies in Europe. The EADI Training Database allows you to search for post- and undergraduate programmes and training courses with a focus on development issues from 28 European countries. DeFunding gives you direct connection to funding organisations. It covers: grants and scholarships in development related fields; tenders and calls; funding possibilities for development research
- Guidelines on writing a research proposal, written by by M. McGranaghan. The same principles apply to dissertation proposals and to proposals to most funding agencies. It includes a model outline, but advisor, committee and funding agency expectations vary and your proposal will be a variation on this basic theme. Use these guidelines as a point of departure for discussions with your advisor. They may serve as a straw-man against which to build your understanding of both your project and of proposal writing.
- Proposal Writer’s Guide – a practical, down-to-earth research proposal guide, intended for faculty members with little or no experience in writing proposals for sponsored research activities; by Don Thackrey, University of Michigan.
- Proposal writing and fundraising, – a toolkit of Global Development Network providing tips and practical suggestions for applying for funding and proposal writing. It is based on interviews with experienced research fundraisers. Obtaining funding for your research is a difficult achievement, so we hope this guide will help give your proposal the best possible chance of success.
- How to write a brilliant research proposal. Tips from the Online PhD Programs on conceptualising, preparing for research, writing and editing of a research proposal.
- How to Write a Good Proposal – resources to help scholars in preparing competitive research proposals.
- ISOS Proposal Tips – a great research proposal writing tips, Salford Business School, University of Salford, Manchester, UK
- Principles of a Good Research Proposal (PDF) – a short non-academic research proposal guide. It covers the most important aspects of writing a research proposal, giving some very clear guidelines and asking questions that help clarify your research goals.
- Research Proposal Writing – The goal of this page is to give information on research-proposal writing that will help the novice and the experienced proposal writer. It can be used as a guide and a reference source. It uses some original material, but it is mostly an organized directory of resources.
Below are more online resources to help you to write a research proposal, especially tailored to the universities’ practices and requirements:
- 10 Steps to Writing an Academic Research Proposal from Hub Pages
- How to Write a Losing Proposal by Alexander Scheeline of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne
- How to Write an Academic Research Proposal (from Information Consult)
- How to Write an NSF Proposal (from Washington University in St. Louis)
- The Proposal in Qualitative Research by Anthony W. Heath (from NOVA)
- 200 Best Writing Tools and Resources Every Student Needs
Good luck with your research, and make sure that once when you receive the grant, you spend sufficient efforts and time to complete the research at the requested quality, and to also announce the results in the best possible way – among other scholars and where relevant – among the general audience as well.