Writing a Research Proposal in APA Style

Writing a research proposal in APA style is an essential step before beginning any major work of scholarship, regardless of your discipline. Research proposals will enable you to articulate your goals for a research project and using APA style will ensure that you are able to present your ideas in a stylistically familiar fashion.

Create a right-justified header that includes your last name and the page number. Your header should start on the cover page and continue throughout to the end of the proposal.

Format your proposal's title page. Your proposal's headline should be centered and should start approximately halfway down the page. It should be followed by your name on a new line. The college or organization in which you are presenting your proposal follows your name.

Write your proposal's abstract on a new page. State the purpose of your research, as well as the suggested methods you will use. Limit your abstract to between 100 and 250 words.

Write your proposal's introduction on a new page. Your introduction should create interest in your research topic, identify the problem that spurs you to action, position the study in the larger context of scholarship and identify a specific audience for your work. Limit your introduction to 2-3 pages.

Review the literature you will cite to complete your research following your introduction. Your literature review should share the conclusions of other similar or related studies, relate the study to other scholarship, provide the framework in which you will operate during your research and position the problem that motivates your research. Limit your literature review to 5-7 pages.

Identify the method you will use during the course of your research. Include an analysis of the variables that will exist in your research and how you will control or randomize these variables. Limit your analysis of methodology to 3-5 pages.

List the limitations of your proposed course of study. These include scholarly limitations, such as having a limited understanding of a specific language, or physical limitations, such as your distance from an important resource. Limit your discussion of limitations to 1/2 page.

Outline the significance of your study. Identify tangible, practical applications, in addition to theoretical implications of your study and the conclusions you hope to or predict you will discover. Limit your discussion of significance to 1-2 pages.

List the references you cited while composing your research proposal, following the APA style of citation for bibliographies or annotated bibliographies.

Attach any requisite appendices.


Use double spacing, 12-point Times New Roman and standard margins and gutters throughout your proposal.

Things You'll Need

  • APA stylebook
  • Computer
  • Internet access
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