Dissertation/Thesis Research Proposal Checklist Example

A dissertation or thesis research proposal is a written document that provides the backbone of your dissertation or thesis research project. This document is the first of several that you will develop as you follow the path of your graduate program. It is what you will present to your adviser or research committee to explain your research project, how you will approach it, and how it will benefit your chosen field.

No matter what project you are working on, from a dissertation to a thesis, a research paper, a paper for school, or a business proposal, there are certain items that need to be included. Some of these items are a standard in all projects and dissertations, while others are unique to specific types of papers. Some may ask for a detailed outline, while others provide a detailed bibliography.

If you are a doctoral or master’s student about to graduate, you have a major research project, dissertation, or thesis in mind. These research projects require months or even years of preparation, and the first step in the process is to write a compelling, organized, and effective research proposal.

Familiarise yourself with the key differences between a PhD and a dissertation.

Checklists for research proposals are important

We have good news and bad news for students and graduates.

First the bad news. Search phrases are not easy to write. They require a lot of preparation and planning. They can also feel like an administrative task if your graduate advisors constantly remind you to write something you’re not sure about yet. And, of course, it’s another written document that can be dismissed.

And now the good news. Search suggestions help you organize and focus your search. You also exclude irrelevant topics that cannot or should not be covered in your research. They also let your academic leaders (professors, advisors, university community) know that your research deserves attention.

Checklists for research proposals go a step further. The research proposal checklist will help you determine what you will be looking for, why it is important and relevant, and how you will conduct the research.

This last part is very important. Research proposals are often rejected because they are not feasible or focused. But an organized checklist for your research or thesis can help you stay on track.

This article addresses the following issues related to checklists for research proposals:

What is a research proposal?

Research proposals are documents that propose a research project in a scientific or academic field and request funding or support.

The main goal is to convince others that you have an interesting research project and an organized plan to carry it out.

The main purpose of the research plan is to clearly state the main topic or question of the research, while providing solid information about the specific area of research.

Your research proposal should include a brief summary of the current literature, including gaps in knowledge about your research area and controversial areas that demonstrate that your proposal is relevant, timely, and worthy of attention.

But what functions does the research proposal fulfil?

Research proposals Explain your research topic

An effective research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • What is my research about?
  • In what specific academic area will I do research?
  • What is the current scientific and educational literature?
  • What are the generally accepted theories in my field?
  • What are the gaps in the knowledge base?
  • What are the key questions researchers are currently trying to answer?

Research proposals explain why your research topic is important

The research proposal , representing , should answer the following questions:

  • Why is my research important?
  • Why is my research of interest to scientists and laypeople?
  • What are my research questions?
  • How does my research contribute to the literature?
  • How will the gaps or unresolved issues in my work be addressed?
  • How or why might my research be funded in the future?
  • How does my research relate to society or healthcare in general?

Research proposals Explain how you will carry out the research

The feasible research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • How will my research be conducted?
  • What are my exact methods?
  • What materials should I buy?
  • What materials should I borrow from other researchers in my field?
  • What kind of relationships should I establish or maintain with other scientists?
  • What is the deadline for my research proposal?
  • What are the standard search procedures?
  • Are there limits to the research that need to be discussed?
  • Should I change one of the search methods? What problems can arise from this?

Sample checklist for a research proposal

Use this checklist for a sample research proposal as a guide for writing your own research proposal. This will help you decide what information to include and structure your ideas in a logical way.

Remember: If your research proposal cannot provide a conclusive answer to all the questions listed below, you should consult your advisor. This does not mean that the research topic you have chosen is bad; it just means that there are areas that need special attention.

Click here for a complete sample checklist for research proposals (pdf).


The title of your research proposal should capture the reader’s attention, describe the research question, and be understandable to both general and academic readers.

The title of your research proposal should read as follows:

  • Effectively summarize the main idea of the study.
  • be comprehensible to the general public
  • be convincing for university researchers and other doctoral students
  • Fully explain the independent and dependent variables
  • Avoid abbreviations and excessive use of articles.

Introduction and background to the study

The introduction usually begins with a general overview of your research area and focuses on a specific research problem or question. The following is an explanation of why the study needs to be conducted.

The introduction to your research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • What is the research problem, research question and research objective?
  • What is the reason for my quest?
  • Why is the answer to this research question important?
  • What are the key questions your research will answer?
  • What are the main problems that arose in answering the research question?
  • Did you uncover or clarify any discrepancies in the investigation?

Significance of the research project

The introductory paragraph of your proposal should also clearly explain why your research is important, relevant, timely and justified.

To effectively validate the relevance of your proposal, make sure your research has accomplished the following:

  • The results of the study fill a certain gap in knowledge.
  • The proposed study will provide a deeper understanding of the subject.
  • The results of the study will help to improve commonly used experimental models and methods in the future.
  • The research will produce new results of academic and/or practical value.

Literature review

In the literature section, you should provide an overview of the current state of the literature and a summary of the results of your study. Identify relevant theories, methods and gaps in existing research to support your research application.

List your primary sources and their importance, and provide a critical analysis identifying what is missing from these sources and where the research should go.

  • Make a list of your primary sources.
  • Make a list of your secondary sources.
  • Discuss influential scientific articles, paradigms, methods.
  • What is missing from established research paradigms in your field?
  • What are the main theories, methods and controversies in your field of research?
  • How does your research question or problem relate to the current literature? Does it expand the current idea or contradict it?

Methodology and theoretical design

After the literature review, it is a good idea to summarize your main objectives and refocus your attention on your own project. The research design or methodology section should describe the general approach and practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To help you write a clear and structured methodology, use your outline and answer the following questions. This will give you a plan to follow and help you stay on track when writing this part of your research proposal.

  • Explain whether the method of your research will be a survey or an experiment.
  • Is your research for a doctoral thesis or for a master’s thesis?
  • Explain the theoretical sources that motivate your choice of methods.
  • Explain how some methods allow you to answer your research question.
  • Tick all the colleagues or researchers you will be working with.
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of the method you have chosen.
  • What is the time frame of your research experiment or study?
  • Compare/contrast your study design with the literature and other studies on your topic.
  • Are there other or alternative methods or materials that should be used?

Also explain how your results will be processed:

  • How are your research results processed and interpreted?
  • In what type of data are your results displayed?
  • Explain what statistical models and procedures you will need to perform (e.g., Student’s t-test).
  • Would your study be more statistically rigorous than other studies?

Learn how to clearly explain research methods for reproducibility.

Discussion and conclusion

The discussion and conclusion have an important purpose: to convince the reader of the potential impact of the proposed research. This section should also directly address possible gaps and criticisms raised by other researchers and scholars.

  • Explain the limitations and disadvantages of the proposed study.
  • Explain how any disadvantages are justified by extenuating circumstances such as time constraints and financial limitations.
  • Of course, what other questions or research problems can be solved in the future?
  • How does the research reinforce, support or refute an existing theoretical framework or model?

References and bibliography

Even though it’s at the end, your reference section is important and will be looked at closely. It should list all the sources of information you used to support your research and it should be written in the correct citation style.

  • Provide a complete list of references for all statements cited.
  • Make sure citations are in the correct format (e.g., APA, Chicago, MLA, etc.).
  • References are included in the introduction, literature review and methodology.

Use Wordvice’s quote generator to create instant quotes in a variety of formats.

Editing and proofreading

It is very important that you take the time to review, edit and proofread your research proposal before submitting it to your advisor or committee. Sure, you can use a free online grammar checker or even proofread your own work, but professional researchers and PhD students usually use professional proofreading and editing services to make every aspect of their academic work even better.

This source has been very much helpful in doing our research. Read more about sample research proposal pdf and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you write a research proposal for a thesis?

First, think about how you would categorize your research. If you can’t see it fitting into an existing category, it might be a good idea to consider how you might create a new one. Some of the most common categories you’ll see are: -An investigation into the topic -A historical review of the topic -An evaluation of the topic -The implications of the topic -The implementation of the topic -If your research is not very academic and you’re not looking to be published, it may be best to stick to the investigation category.

Writing a research proposal for a thesis is one of the important milestones of a student’s academic career. While the actual writing process is not very difficult, finding the right content and format can be a bit daunting. The actual research proposal for a thesis should include a summary of the topic, the purpose and the scope of the project, the methodology that will be used to conduct the research, and the expected outcome.

What should be included in a dissertation proposal?

So you’ve been asked to write a dissertation proposal. While this sounds simple enough, it’s likely that you don’t know what a dissertation proposal is, how to write one or why it’s needed. While a dissertation proposal is a more formal request for approval, the term is typically used in advanced-level courses and is closely related to the research proposal. A dissertation proposal is a formal request for approval to examine a specific topic within a larger field of study, and it is typically used in advanced-level courses.

As you may know, a thesis proposal is an important part of the dissertation process. It gives your professor or supervisor an idea of what your dissertation will be about, and lays out a plan for how you will conduct research to complete your dissertation. Most professors have a set of guidelines for the content and structure of a good dissertation proposal.

How do you structure a research proposal?

A research proposal isn’t something you should rush; it’s a major part of your future and should be treated as such! Before you even think about how to start your proposal, it’s important to have the right idea. The first step is making a list of the things you want to research. Next, you should research your list. This is your chance to figure out which questions you want to answer with your research. Note: Make sure you keep your list updated while you are planning your project. Once you have your list of topics, you can start to organize them.

One of the most daunting tasks for any student is having to produce a research proposal. This is not just because it is a great deal of work, but also because of the emotions associated with the research process. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the thought of having to produce a proposal for a research project nobody has ever done before. (If you’re a visual learner, check out this sample of a research proposal with references here.)


About the Author: Prateek

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