Suggested Format for a Research Proposal

  1. Title
  2. Motivation for the research
    • Give context for your research question(s): why is this an important area to study?
    • Provide references to the peer-reviewed scientific literature and if appropriate, policy documents.
  3. Overall research question
    • What do you want to find out?
    • What specific questions or hypotheses will you test in order to answer the overall question (be explicit about what these are)?
    • What is the state of scientific knowledge in this area, and how will your research question advance that knowledge?
  4. Approach (methods, e.g. field experiments, economic surveys, meta-analysis of existing data, that you will employ to test the hypotheses laid out in part 3)
    • What will you do to answer the overall research question?
    • What data will you collect? Where will you do the research?
    • What equipment or technical resources will you need?
    • How long will the research take?
    • How will you analyze and interpret your data?
  5. Anticipated results (based on your knowledge of related and previously conducted research in this area)
    • What do you predict that the results of your experiments, surveys, etc. will yield in terms of data? Why?
  6. Significance of the proposed research (to the scientific community and society)
    • Why are you excited about the proposed research, and why should the reader be as well?
    • How does the proposed research relate to what has already been done in this area?
  7. Literature cited