As if writing a research paper were not difficult enough, many university programs require that students write a proposal draft explicating what the final paper will entail prior to submission. Although writing the proposal may seem like menial work, if used properly, the research draft proposal is actually one of the most helpful aspects of the pre-research process. In order to successfully submit a research draft, preliminary research must be completed and synthesized into an effective thesis statement and proposal of research methods. By writing an effective research draft, students have the chance to work out potential problems prior to the final paper.
Complete preliminary research. This means looking into previous studies or papers written on the topic. Keep a detailed folder or file of all these sources to use later as references.
Synthesize research information into workable sections. A successful research proposal recognizes all stages of the process. If writing a research proposal, you will need to acknowledge the work previously done concerning your topic, then prove how you will either expand upon or refute what is already published. A research proposal that simply ignores previous work or does not prove its actual purpose is not likely to be accepted.
Create a concrete thesis statement or hypothesis. The introduction should lead to the thesis statement. Follow the thesis statement with your intentions; explicitly state what you mean to do with your research. The thesis should make clear to funders or professors your intentions. According to Susan Finger of Carnegie Mellon University, if seeking money, "always read the RFP (request for proposal) to find out what funders want. They will give you money only if you can help them reach their goals."
Include a survey of literature or prior research. The section should include a basic summary of the previous work you intend to cite, as well as the primary texts or topics you are researching. Make clear how each text relates and what exactly you intend to do with the material.
Write out the organization of the paper or the research. If working in the humanities, provide an outline of how you intend the paper to flow, section by section. If completing a science research paper, write out the scientific process you intend to follow, step-by-step. Include a bibliography section, allowing professors to look into the works you intend to employ.