A research prospectus is a formal summary or proposal for a project. The prospectus is used by post-secondary students, research institutes and nonprofits to outline research goals and methods .
In a research prospectus, a student or researcher provides the purpose of research or the theme of a paper. For scientific research, the prospectus includes the theory being evaluated through the research.
In addition to explaining the topic or purpose of the paper or study, a research prospectus contains the proposed title, the background about the topic and a description of the bibliographical sources or scientific methods that will be utilized for the research.
In some cases, an oral presentation summarizing the prospectus is required in addition to the written document. This can be in a classroom setting, in front of a dissertation panel or a philanthropy or government agency offering a grant.
In an educational environment, a research prospectus gives students an opportunity to receive constructive criticism and feedback about a paper or project before it is completed in order to improve the quality of the final work. Grants for research projects are sometimes awarded based upon the information contained in a research prospectus.
The information contained in the prospectus is just an outline. The finished work often differs from the prospectus, particularly in regards to the title or bibliographic sources.