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Genres in academic writing: Research proposals

At undergraduate level, you may be asked to write a research proposal before a major piece of writing such as an end of year project or a final year dissertation. The purpose of the proposal is to show how you intend to tackle the study and whether or not you have thought through the practicalities. Your lecturer will want to see that you have planned your research carefully in order for you to succeed.

It will probably include the following:

The typical stages involve in a research proposal would be the following:


Brief description of research proposal


Describe in detail what you what to find out: Aims and objectives


Present an argument to justify your research.

Explain why it is important

Literature review

Report any previous research

Give examples of previous research

Evaluate any previous research

Identify any gaps

Describe how you intend to fill the gaps


Describe your proposed research methodology: Qualitative or quantitative etc

Describe your time frame

Describe how you intend to do this in the time available

Describe your resources

Describe how you intend to do your research with the available resources, what methods you intend to use.


Describe how the findings will be used

Evaluate this use

Describe how the research findings will be disseminated.


References to works cited, plus a list of the books and articles you might find useful

End matter

May include letters giving permission etc.

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