How to Write a Research Paper: the Proposal Structure

Writing a research paper takes several steps. From selecting a topic and narrowing the topic, to organizing and writing the actual paper, there are many different pieces that go into completing the research paper puzzle. One of the most unusual steps for students involves writing the proposal. Students often forget this step, because not every research paper requires that a proposal be written.

Proposal Guidelines Established by Professors

Most professors will provide some guidelines when they assign a research paper proposal. The most common length for most assignments is between one and two pages. Professors often require that students write a proposal that is long enough to go onto a second piece of paper. They also set the standards for fonts and margins, too. Most research paper proposals need to be written in an easy-to-read font in size 12 with standard one-inch margins. The paper usually needs to be double spaced, since most research papers are also double spaced. Fortunately, many professors will provide samples for their students to use.

Introductory Paragraph with a Clear Hypothesis

When the proposal is written, professors require a short introductory paragraph that provides a quick explanation of the topic and the planned thesis statement. The thesis can be included at the end of the introduction, as a title for the paper, or as the question that the research paper will answer. As long as the professor knows what you will be proving in your research paper, they are generally satisfied.

Professors Include Instructions on the Middle Paragraphs

Once the introduction is written, professors will have different requirements for the rest of the proposal. Since the proposal is a summary of the plan of the research paper, the middle paragraphs will describe the steps that you plan to take to prove your point. You will also need to explain any comparisons or examples you plan to take from other disciplines. Somewhere in the middle of the proposal, you will explain the step-by-step road map you plan to use to complete the research paper.

Write a Clear Prediction of Your Expected Outcome

Most proposals end with a conclusion that will show what outcomes you expect to finish. This part of the proposal is all predictions and they have to fit with the hypothesis you presented in the introductory paragraph. You can then talk briefly about how the research could change the status quo, too.