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Write Your Research Plan

In this part, we give you detailed information about writing an effective Research Plan. We start with the importance and parameters of significance and innovation.

We then discuss how to focus the Research Plan, relying on the iterative process described in the Iterative Approach to Application Planning Checklist shown at Draft Specific Aims  and give you advice for filling out the forms.

You'll also learn the importance of having a well-organized, visually appealing application that avoids common missteps and the importance of preparing your just-in-time information early.

While this document is geared toward the basic research project grant, the R01, much of it is useful for other grant types.

Table of Contents

Research plan overview and your approach, craft a title, explain your aims, research strategy instructions, advice for a successful research strategy, graphics and video, significance, innovation, and approach, tracking for your budget, preliminary studies or progress report, referencing publications, review and finalize your research plan, abstract and narrative.

Your application's Research Plan has two sections:

  • Specific Aims —a one-page statement of your objectives for the project.
  • Research Strategy —a description of the rationale for your research and your experiments in 12 pages for an R01.

In your Specific Aims, you note the significance and innovation of your research; then list your two to three concrete objectives, your aims.

Your Research Strategy is the nuts and bolts of your application, where you describe your research rationale and the experiments you will conduct to accomplish each aim. Though how you organize it is largely up to you, NIH expects you to follow these guidelines.

  • Organize using bold headers or an outline or numbering system—or both—that you use consistently throughout.
  • Start each section with the appropriate header: Significance, Innovation, or Approach.
  • Organize the Approach section around your Specific Aims.

Format of Your Research Plan

To write the Research Plan, you don't need the application forms. Write the text in your word processor, turn it into a PDF file, and upload it into the application form when it's final.

Because NIH may return your application if it doesn't meet all requirements, be sure to follow the rules for font, page limits, and more. Read the instructions at NIH’s Format Attachments .

For an R01, the Research Strategy can be up to 12 pages, plus one page for Specific Aims. Don't pad other sections with information that belongs in the Research Plan. NIH is on the lookout and may return your application to you if you try to evade page limits.

Follow Examples

As you read this page, look at our Sample Applications and More  to see some of the different strategies successful PIs use to create an outstanding Research Plan.

Keeping It All In Sync

Writing in a logical sequence will save you time.

Information you put in the Research Plan affects just about every other application part. You'll need to keep everything in sync as your plans evolve during the writing phase.

It's best to consider your writing as an iterative process. As you develop and finalize your experiments, you will go back and check other parts of the application to make sure everything is in sync: the "who, what, when, where, and how (much money)" as well as look again at the scope of your plans.

In that vein, writing in a logical sequence is a good approach that will save you time. We suggest proceeding in the following order:

  • Create a provisional title.
  • Write a draft of your Specific Aims.
  • Start with your Significance and Innovation sections.
  • Then draft the Approach section considering the personnel and skills you'll need for each step.
  • Evaluate your Specific Aims and methods in light of your expected budget (for a new PI, it should be modest, probably under the $250,000 for NIH's modular budget).
  • As you design experiments, reevaluate your hypothesis, aims, and title to make sure they still reflect your plans.
  • Prepare your Abstract (a summary of your Specific Aims).
  • Complete the other forms.

Even the smaller sections of your application need to be well-organized and readable so reviewers can readily grasp the information. If writing is not your forte, get help.

To view writing strategies for successful applications, see our Sample Applications and More . There are many ways to create a great application, so explore your options.

Within the character limit, include the important information to distinguish your project within the research area, your project's goals, and the research problem.

Giving your project a title at the outset can help you stay focused and avoid a meandering Research Plan. So you may want to launch your writing by creating a well-defined title.

NIH gives you a 200 character limit, but don’t feel obliged to use all of that allotment. Instead, we advise you to keep the title as succinct as possible while including the important information to distinguish your project within the research area. Make your title reflect your project's goals, the problem your project addresses, and possibly your approach to studying it. Make your title specific: saying you are studying lymphocyte trafficking is not informative enough.

For examples of strong titles, see our Sample Applications and More .

After you write a preliminary title, check that

  • My title is specific, indicating at least the research area and the goals of my project.
  • It is 200 characters or less.
  • I use as simple language as possible.
  • I state the research problem and, possibly, my approach to studying it.
  • I use a different title for each of my applications. (Note: there are exceptions, for example, for a renewal—see Apply for Renewal  for details.)
  • My title has appropriate keywords.

Later you may want to change your initial title. That's fine—at this point, it's just an aid to keep your plans focused.

Since all your reviewers read your Specific Aims, you want to excite them about your project.

If testing your hypothesis is the destination for your research, your Research Plan is the map that takes you there.

You'll start by writing the smaller part, the Specific Aims. Think of the one-page Specific Aims as a capsule of your Research Plan. Since all your reviewers read your Specific Aims, you want to excite them about your project.

For more on crafting your Specific Aims, see Draft Specific Aims .

Write a Narrative

Use at least half the page to provide the rationale and significance of your planned research. A good way to start is with a sentence that states your project's goals.

For the rest of the narrative, you will describe the significance of your research, and give your rationale for choosing the project. In some cases, you may want to explain why you did not take an alternative route.

Then, briefly describe your aims, and show how they build on your preliminary studies and your previous research. State your hypothesis.

If it is likely your application will be reviewed by a study section with broad expertise, summarize the status of research in your field and explain how your project fits in.

In the narrative part of the Specific Aims of many outstanding applications, people also used their aims to

  • State the technologies they plan to use.
  • Note their expertise to do a specific task or that of collaborators.
  • Describe past accomplishments related to the project.
  • Describe preliminary studies and new and highly relevant findings in the field.
  • Explain their area's biology.
  • Show how the aims relate to one another.
  • Describe expected outcomes for each aim.
  • Explain how they plan to interpret data from the aim’s efforts.
  • Describe how to address potential pitfalls with contingency plans.

Depending on your situation, decide which items are important for you. For example, a new investigator would likely want to highlight preliminary data and qualifications to do the work.

Many people use bold or italics to emphasize items they want to bring to the reviewers' attention, such as the hypothesis or rationale.

Detail Your Aims

After the narrative, enter your aims as bold bullets, or stand-alone or run-on headers.

  • State your plans using strong verbs like identify, define, quantify, establish, determine.
  • Describe each aim in one to three sentences.
  • Consider adding bullets under each aim to refine your objectives.

How focused should your aims be? Look at the example below.

Spot the Sample

Read the Specific Aims of the Application from Drs. Li and Samulski , "Enhance AAV Liver Transduction with Capsid Immune Evasion."

  • Aim 1. Study the effect of adeno-associated virus (AAV) empty particles on AAV capsid antigen cross-presentation in vivo .
  • Aim 2. Investigate AAV capsid antigen presentation following administration of AAV mutants and/or proteasome inhibitors for enhanced liver transduction in vivo .
  • Aim 3. Isolate AAV chimeric capsids with human hepatocyte tropism and the capacity for cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) evasion.

After finishing the draft Specific Aims, check that

  • I keep to the one-page limit.
  • Each of my two or three aims is a narrowly focused, concrete objective I can achieve during the grant.
  • They give a clear picture of how my project can generate knowledge that may improve human health.
  • They show my project's importance to science, how it addresses a critical research opportunity that can move my field forward.
  • My text states how my work is innovative.
  • I describe the biology to the extent needed for my reviewers.
  • I give a rationale for choosing the topic and approach.
  • I tie the project to my preliminary data and other new findings in the field.
  • I explicitly state my hypothesis and why testing it is important.
  • My aims can test my hypothesis and are logical.
  • I can design and lead the execution of two or three sets of experiments that will strive to accomplish each aim.
  • As much as possible, I use language that an educated person without expertise can understand.
  • My text has bullets, bolding, or headers so reviewers can easily spot my aims (and other key items).

For each element listed above, analyze your text and revise it until your Specific Aims hit all the key points you'd like to make.

After the list of aims, some people add a closing paragraph, emphasizing the significance of the work, their collaborators, or whatever else they want to focus reviewers' attention on.

Your Research Strategy is the bigger part of your application's Research Plan (the other part is the Specific Aims—discussed above.)

The Research Strategy is the nuts and bolts of your application, describing the rationale for your research and the experiments you will do to accomplish each aim. It is structured as follows:

  • Significance
  • You can either include this information as a subsection of Approach or integrate it into any or all of the three main sections.
  • If you do the latter, be sure to mark the information clearly, for example, with a bold subhead.
  • Possible other sections, for example, human subjects, vertebrate animals, select agents, and others (these do not count toward the page limit).

Though how you organize your application is largely up to you, NIH does want you to follow these guidelines:

  • Add bold headers or an outlining or numbering system—or both—that you use consistently throughout.
  • Start each of the Research Strategy's sections with a header: Significance, Innovation, and Approach.

For an R01, the Research Strategy is limited to 12 pages for the three main sections and the preliminary studies only. Other items are not included in the page limit.

Find instructions for R01s in the SF 424 Application Guide—go to NIH's SF 424 (R&R) Application and Electronic Submission Information for the generic SF 424 Application Guide or find it in your notice of funding opportunity (NOFO).

For most applications, you need to address Rigor and Reproducibility by describing the experimental design and methods you propose and how they will achieve robust and unbiased results. The requirement applies to research grant, career development, fellowship, and training applications.

If you're responding to an institute-specific program announcement (PA) (not a parent program announcement) or a request for applications (RFA), check the NIH Guide notice, which has additional information you need. Should it differ from the NOFO, go with the NIH Guide .

Also note that your application must meet the initiative's objectives and special requirements. NIAID program staff will check your application, and if it is not responsive to the announcement, your application will be returned to you without a review.

When writing your Research Strategy, your goal is to present a well-organized, visually appealing, and readable description of your proposed project. That means your writing should be streamlined and organized so your reviewers can readily grasp the information. If writing is not your forte, get help.

There are many ways to create an outstanding Research Plan, so explore your options.

What Success Looks Like

Your application's Research Plan is the map that shows your reviewers how you plan to test your hypothesis.

It not only lays out your experiments and expected outcomes, but must also convince your reviewers of your likely success by allaying any doubts that may cross their minds that you will be able to conduct the research.

Notice in the sample applications how the writing keeps reviewers' eyes on the ball by bringing them back to the main points the PIs want to make. Write yourself an insurance policy against human fallibility: if it's a key point, repeat it, then repeat it again.

The Big Three

So as you write, put the big picture squarely in your sights. When reviewers read your application, they'll look for the answers to three basic questions:

  • Can your research move your field forward?
  • Is the field important—will progress make a difference to human health?
  • Can you and your team carry out the work?

Add Emphasis

Savvy PIs create opportunities to drive their main points home. They don't stop at the Significance section to emphasize their project's importance, and they look beyond their biosketches to highlight their team's expertise.

Don't take a chance your reviewer will gloss over that one critical sentence buried somewhere in your Research Strategy or elsewhere. Write yourself an insurance policy against human fallibility: if it's a key point, repeat it, then repeat it again.

Add more emphasis by putting the text in bold, or bold italics (in the modern age, we skip underlining—it's for typewriters).

Here are more strategies from our successful PIs:

  • While describing a method in the Approach section, they state their or collaborators' experience with it.
  • They point out that they have access to a necessary piece of equipment.
  • When explaining their field and the status of current research, they weave in their own work and their preliminary data.
  • They delve into the biology of the area to make sure reviewers will grasp the importance of their research and understand their field and how their work fits into it.

You can see many of these principles at work in the Approach section of the Application from Dr. William Faubion , "Inflammatory cascades disrupt Treg function through epigenetic mechanisms."

  • Reviewers felt that the experiments described for Aim 1 will yield clear results.
  • The plans to translate those findings to gene targets of relevance are well outlined and focused.
  • He ties his proposed experiments to the larger picture, including past research and strong preliminary data for the current application. 

Anticipate Reviewer Questions

Our applicants not only wrote with their reviewers in mind they seemed to anticipate their questions. You may think: how can I anticipate all the questions people may have? Of course you can't, but there are some basic items (in addition to the "big three" listed above) that will surely be on your reviewers' minds:

  • Will the investigators be able to get the work done within the project period, or is the proposed work over ambitious?
  • Did the PI describe potential pitfalls and possible alternatives?
  • Will the experiments generate meaningful data?
  • Could the resulting data prove the hypothesis?
  • Are others already doing the work, or has it been already completed?

Address these questions; then spend time thinking about more potential issues specific to you and your research—and address those too.

For applications, a picture can truly be worth a thousand words. Graphics can illustrate complex information in a small space and add visual interest to your application.

Look at our sample applications to see how the investigators included schematics, tables, illustrations, graphs, and other types of graphics to enhance their applications.

Consider adding a timetable or flowchart to illustrate your experimental plan, including decision trees with alternative experimental pathways to help your reviewers understand your plans.

Plan Ahead for Video

If you plan to send one or more videos, you'll need to meet certain standards and include key information in your Research Strategy now.

To present some concepts or demonstrations, video may enhance your application beyond what graphics alone can achieve. However, you can't count on all reviewers being able to see or hear video, so you'll want to be strategic in how you incorporate it into your application.

Be reviewer-friendly. Help your cause by taking the following steps:

  • Caption any narration in the video.
  • Choose evocative still images from your video to accompany your summary.
  • Write your summary of the video carefully so the text would make sense even without the video.

In addition to those considerations, create your videos to fit NIH’s technical requirements. Learn more in the SF 424 Form Instructions .

Next, as you write your Research Strategy, include key images from the video and a brief description.

Then, state in your cover letter that you plan to send video later. (Don't attach your files to the application.)

After you apply and get assignment information from the Commons, ask your assigned scientific review officer (SRO) how your business official should send the files. Your video files are due at least one month before the peer review meeting.

Know Your Audience's Perspective

The primary audience for your application is your peer review group. Learn how to write for the reviewers who are experts in your field and those who are experts in other fields by reading Know Your Audience .

Be Organized: A B C or 1 2 3?

In the top-notch applications we reviewed, organization ruled but followed few rules. While you want to be organized, how you go about it is up to you.

Nevertheless, here are some principles to follow:

  • Start each of the Research Strategy's sections with a header: Significance, Innovation, and Approach—this you must do.

The Research Strategy's page limit—12 for R01s—is for the three main parts: Significance, Innovation, and Approach and your preliminary studies (or a progress report if you're renewing your grant). Other sections, for example, research animals or select agents, do not have a page limit.

Although you will emphasize your project's significance throughout the application, the Significance section should give the most details. Don't skimp—the farther removed your reviewers are from your field, the more information you'll need to provide on basic biology, importance of the area, research opportunities, and new findings.

When you describe your project's significance, put it in the context of 1) the state of your field, 2) your long-term research plans, and 3) your preliminary data.

In our Sample Applications , you can see that both investigators and reviewers made a case for the importance of the research to improving human health as well as to the scientific field.

Look at the Significance section of the Application from Dr. Mengxi Jiang , "Intersection of polyomavirus infection and host cellular responses," to see how these elements combine to make a strong case for significance.

  • Dr. Jiang starts with a summary of the field of polyomavirus research, identifying critical knowledge gaps in the field.
  • The application ties the lab's previous discoveries and new research plans to filling those gaps, establishing the significance with context.
  • Note the use of formatting, whitespace, and sectioning to highlight key points and make it easier for reviewers to read the text.

After conveying the significance of the research in several parts of the application, check that

  • In the Significance section, I describe the importance of my hypothesis to the field (especially if my reviewers are not in it) and human disease.
  • I also point out the project's significance throughout the application.
  • The application shows that I am aware of opportunities, gaps, roadblocks, and research underway in my field.
  • I state how my research will advance my field, highlighting knowledge gaps and showing how my project fills one or more of them.
  • Based on my scan of the review committee roster, I determine whether I cannot assume my reviewers will know my field and provide some information on basic biology, the importance of the area, knowledge gaps, and new findings.

If you are either a new PI or entering a new area: be cautious about seeming too innovative. Not only is innovation just one of five review criteria, but there might be a paradigm shift in your area of science. A reviewer may take a challenge to the status quo as a challenge to his or her world view.

When you look at our sample applications, you see that both the new and experienced investigators are not generally shifting paradigms. They are using new approaches or models, working in new areas, or testing innovative ideas.

After finishing the draft innovation section, check that

  • I show how my proposed research is new and unique, e.g., explores new scientific avenues, has a novel hypothesis, will create new knowledge.
  • Most likely, I explain how my project's research can refine, improve, or propose a new application of an existing concept or method.
  • Make a very strong case for challenging the existing paradigm.
  • Have data to support the innovative approach.
  • Have strong evidence that I can do the work.

In your Approach, you spell out a few sets of experiments to address each aim. As we noted above, it's a good idea to restate the key points you've made about your project's significance, its place in your field, and your long-term goals.

You're probably wondering how much detail to include.

If you look at our sample applications as a guide, you can see very different approaches. Though people generally used less detail than you'd see in a scientific paper, they do include some experimental detail.

Expect your assigned reviewers to scrutinize your approach: they will want to know what you plan to do and how you plan to do it.

NIH data show that of the peer review criteria, approach has the highest correlation with the overall impact score.

Look at the Application from Dr. Mengxi Jiang , "Intersection of polyomavirus infection and host cellular responses," to see how a new investigator handled the Approach section.

For an example of an experienced investigator's well-received Approach section, see the Application from Dr. William Faubion , "Inflammatory cascades disrupt Treg function through epigenetic mechanisms."

Especially if you are a new investigator, you need enough detail to convince reviewers that you understand what you are undertaking and can handle the method.

  • Cite a publication that shows you can handle the method where you can, but give more details if you and your team don't have a proven record using the method—and state explicitly why you think you will succeed.
  • If space is short, you could also focus on experiments that highlight your expertise or are especially interesting. For experiments that are pedestrian or contracted out, just list the method.

Be sure to lay out a plan for alternative experiments and approaches in case you get negative or surprising results. Show reviewers you have a plan for spending the four or five years you will be funded no matter where the experiments lead.

See the Application from Drs. Li and Samulski , "Enhance AAV Liver Transduction with Capsid Immune Evasion," for a strong Approach section covering potential. As an example, see section C.1.3.'s alternative approaches.

Here are some pointers for organizing your Approach:

  • Enter a bold header for each Specific Aim.
  • Under each aim, describe the first set of experiments.
  • If you get result X, you will follow pathway X; if you get result Y, you will follow pathway Y.
  • Consider illustrating this with a flowchart.

Trim the fat—omit all information not needed to make your case. If you try to wow reviewers with your knowledge, they'll find flaws and penalize you heavily. Don't give them ammunition by including anything you don't need.

As you design your experiments, keep a running tab of the following essential data on a separate piece of paper:

  • Who. A list of people who will help you for your Key Personnel section later.
  • What. A list of equipment and supplies for the experiments you plan.
  • Time. Notes on how long each step takes. Timing directly affects your budget as well as how many Specific Aims you can realistically achieve.

Jotting this information down will help you Create a Budget and complete other sections later.

After finishing a draft Approach section, check that

  • I include enough background and preliminary data to give reviewers the context and significance of my plans.
  • They can test the hypothesis (or hypotheses).
  • I show alternative experiments and approaches in case I get negative or surprising results.
  • My experiments can yield meaningful data to test my hypothesis (or hypotheses).
  • As a new investigator, I include enough detail to convince reviewers I understand and can handle a method. I reviewed the sample applications to see how much detail to use.
  • If I or my team has experience with a method, I cite it; otherwise I include enough details to convince reviewers we can handle it.
  • I describe the results I anticipate and their implications.
  • I omit all information not needed to state my case.
  • I keep track of and explain who will do what, what they will do, when and where they will do it, how long it will take, and how much money it will cost.
  • My timeline shows when I expect to complete my aims.

If you are applying for a new application, include preliminary studies; for a renewal or a revision (a competing supplement to an existing grant), prepare a progress report instead.

Describing Preliminary Studies

Your preliminary studies show that you can handle the methods and interpret results. Here's where you build reviewer confidence that you are headed in the right direction by pursuing research that builds on your accomplishments.

Reviewers use your preliminary studies together with the biosketches to assess the investigator review criterion, which reflects the competence of the research team.

Give alternative interpretations to your data to show reviewers you've thought through problems in-depth and are prepared to meet future challenges. If you don't do this, the reviewers will!

Though you may include other people's publications, focus on your preliminary data or unpublished data from your lab and the labs of your team members as much as you can.

As we noted above, you can put your preliminary data anywhere in the Research Strategy that you feel is appropriate, but just make sure your reviewers will be able to distinguish it. Alternatively, you can create a separate section with its own header.

Including a Progress Report

If you are applying for a renewal or a revision (a competing supplement to an existing grant), prepare a progress report instead of preliminary studies.

Create a header so your program officer can easily find it and include the following information:

  • Project period beginning and end dates.
  • Summary of the importance of your findings in relation to your Specific Aims.
  • Account of published and unpublished results, highlighting your progress toward achieving your Specific Aims.

Note: if you submit a renewal application before the due date of your progress report, you do not need to submit a separate progress report for your grant. However, you will need to submit it, if your renewal is not funded.

After finishing the draft, check that

  • I interpret my preliminary results critically.
  • There is enough information to show I know what I'm talking about.
  • If my project is complex, I give more preliminary studies.
  • I show how my previous experience prepared me for the new project.
  • It's clear which data are mine and which are not.

References show your breadth of knowledge of the field. If you leave out an important work, reviewers may assume you're not aware of it.

Throughout your application, you will reference all relevant publications for the concepts underlying your research and your methods.

Read more about your Bibliography and References Cited at Add a Bibliography and Appendix .

  • Throughout my application I cite the literature thoroughly but not excessively, adding citations for all references important to my work.
  • I cite all papers important to my field, including those from potential reviewers.
  • I include fewer than 100 citations (if possible).
  • My Bibliography and References Cited form lists all my references.
  • I refer to unpublished work, including information I learned through personal contacts.
  • If I do not describe a method, I add a reference to the literature.

Look over what you've written with a critical eye of a reviewer to identify potential questions or weak spots.

Enlist others to do that too—they can look at your application with a fresh eye. Include people who aren't familiar with your research to make sure you can get your point across to someone outside your field.

As you finalize the details of your Research Strategy, you will also need to return to your Specific Aims to see if you must revise. See Draft Specific Aims .

After you finish your Research Plan, you are ready to write your Abstract (called Project Summary/Abstract) and Project Narrative, which are attachments to the Other Project Information form.

These sections may be small, but they're important.

  • All your peer reviewers read your Abstract and narrative.
  • Staff and automated systems in NIH's Center for Scientific Review use them to decide where to assign your application, even if you requested an institute and study section.
  • They show the importance and health relevance of your research to members of the public and Congress who are interested in what NIH is funding with taxpayer dollars.

Be sure to omit confidential or proprietary information in these sections! When your application is funded, NIH enters your title and Abstract in the public RePORTER database.

Think brief and simple: to the extent that you can, write these sections in lay language, and include appropriate keywords, e.g., immunotherapy, genetic risk factors.

As NIH referral officers use these parts to direct your application to an institute for possible funding, your description can influence the choice they make.

Write a succinct summary of your project that both a scientist and a lay person can understand (to the extent that you can).

  • Use your Specific Aims as a template—shorten it and simplify the language.
  • In the first sentence, state the significance of your research to your field and relevance to NIAID's mission: to better understand, treat, and prevent infectious, immunologic, and allergic diseases.
  • Next state your hypothesis and the innovative potential of your research.
  • Then list and briefly describe your Specific Aims and long-term objectives.

In your Project Narrative, you have only a few sentences to drive home your project's potential to improve public health.

Check out these effective Abstracts and Narratives from our R01  Sample Applications :

  • Application from Dr. Mengxi Jiang , "Intersection of polyomavirus infection and host cellular responses"
  • Application from Dr. William Faubion , "Inflammatory cascades disrupt Treg function through epigenetic mechanisms"
  • My Project Summary/Abstract and Project Narrative (and title) are accessible to a broad audience.
  • They describe the significance of my research to my field and state my hypothesis, my aims, and the innovative potential of my research.
  • My narrative describes my project's potential to improve public health.
  • I do not include any confidential or proprietary information.
  • I do not use graphs or images.
  • My Abstract has keywords that are appropriate and distinct enough to avoid confusion with other terms.
  • My title is specific and informative.

Previous Step

Have questions.

A program officer in your area of science can give you application advice, NIAID's perspective on your research, and confirmation that NIAID will accept your application.

Find contacts and instructions at When to Contact an NIAID Program Officer .

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11.3 Managing Your Research Project

Learning objectives.

  • Identify reasons for outlining the scope and sequence of a research project.
  • Recognize the steps of the research writing process.
  • Develop a plan for managing time and resources to complete the research project on time.
  • Identify organizational tools and strategies to use in managing the project.

The prewriting you have completed so far has helped you begin to plan the content of your research paper—your topic, research questions, and preliminary thesis. It is equally important to plan out the process of researching and writing the paper. Although some types of writing assignments can be completed relatively quickly, developing a good research paper is a complex process that takes time. Breaking it into manageable steps is crucial. Review the steps outlined at the beginning of this chapter.

Steps to Writing a Research Paper

  • Choose a topic.
  • Schedule and plan time for research and writing.
  • Conduct research.
  • Organize research
  • Draft your paper.
  • Revise and edit your paper.

You have already completed step 1. In this section, you will complete step 2. The remaining steps fall under two broad categories—the research phase of the project (steps 3 and 4) and the writing phase (steps 5 and 6). Both phases present challenges. Understanding the tasks involved and allowing enough time to complete each task will help you complete your research paper on time with a minimal amount of stress.

Planning Your Project

Each step of a research project requires time and attention. Careful planning helps ensure that you will keep your project running smoothly and produce your best work. Set up a project schedule that shows when you will complete each step. Think about how you will complete each step and what project resources you will use. Resources may include anything from library databases and word-processing software to interview subjects and writing tutors.

To develop your schedule, use a calendar and work backward from the date your final draft is due. Generally, it is wise to divide half of the available time on the research phase of the project and half on the writing phase. For example, if you have a month to work, plan for two weeks for each phase. If you have a full semester, plan to begin research early and to start writing by the middle of the term. You might think that no one really works that far ahead, but try it. You will probably be pleased with the quality of your work and with the reduction in your stress level.

As you plan, break down major steps into smaller tasks if necessary. For example, step 3, conducting research, involves locating potential sources, evaluating their usefulness and reliability, reading, and taking notes. Defining these smaller tasks makes the project more manageable by giving you concrete goals to achieve.

Jorge had six weeks to complete his research project. Working backward from a due date of May 2, he mapped out a schedule for completing his research by early April so that he would have ample time to write. Jorge chose to write his schedule in his weekly planner to help keep himself on track.

Review Jorge’s schedule. Key target dates are shaded. Note that Jorge planned times to use available resources by visiting the library and writing center and by meeting with his instructor.

Jorge's schedule

  • Working backward from the date your final draft is due, create a project schedule. You may choose to write a sequential list of tasks or record tasks on a calendar.
  • Check your schedule to be sure that you have broken each step into smaller tasks and assigned a target completion date to each key task.
  • Review your target dates to make sure they are realistic. Always allow a little more time than you think you will actually need.

Plan your schedule realistically, and consider other commitments that may sometimes take precedence. A business trip or family visit may mean that you are unable to work on the research project for a few days. Make the most of the time you have available. Plan for unexpected interruptions, but keep in mind that a short time away from the project may help you come back to it with renewed enthusiasm. Another strategy many writers find helpful is to finish each day’s work at a point when the next task is an easy one. That makes it easier to start again.

Writing at Work

When you create a project schedule at work, you set target dates for completing certain tasks and identify the resources you plan to use on the project. It is important to build in some flexibility. Materials may not be received on time because of a shipping delay. An employee on your team may be called away to work on a higher-priority project. Essential equipment may malfunction. You should always plan for the unexpected.

Staying Organized

Although setting up a schedule is easy, sticking to one is challenging. Even if you are the rare person who never procrastinates, unforeseen events may interfere with your ability to complete tasks on time. A self-imposed deadline may slip your mind despite your best intentions. Organizational tools—calendars, checklists, note cards, software, and so forth—can help you stay on track.

Throughout your project, organize both your time and your resources systematically. Review your schedule frequently and check your progress. It helps to post your schedule in a place where you will see it every day. Both personal and workplace e-mail systems usually include a calendar feature where you can record tasks, arrange to receive daily reminders, and check off completed tasks. Electronic devices such as smartphones have similar features.

Organize project documents in a binder or electronic folder, and label project documents and folders clearly. Use note cards or an electronic document to record bibliographical information for each source you plan to use in your paper. Tracking this information throughout the research process can save you hours of time when you create your references page.

Revisit the schedule you created in Note 11.42 “Exercise 1” . Transfer it into a format that will help you stay on track from day to day. You may wish to input it into your smartphone, write it in a weekly planner, post it by your desk, or have your e-mail account send you daily reminders. Consider setting up a buddy system with a classmate that will help you both stay on track.

Some people enjoy using the most up-to-date technology to help them stay organized. Other people prefer simple methods, such as crossing off items on a checklist. The key to staying organized is finding a system you like enough to use daily. The particulars of the method are not important as long as you are consistent.

Anticipating Challenges

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar? You have identified a book that would be a great resource for your project, but it is currently checked out of the library. You planned to interview a subject matter expert on your topic, but she calls to reschedule your meeting. You have begun writing your draft, but now you realize that you will need to modify your thesis and conduct additional research. Or you have finally completed your draft when your computer crashes, and days of hard work disappear in an instant.

These troubling situations are all too common. No matter how carefully you plan your schedule, you may encounter a glitch or setback. Managing your project effectively means anticipating potential problems, taking steps to minimize them where possible, and allowing time in your schedule to handle any setbacks.

Many times a situation becomes a problem due only to lack of planning. For example, if a book is checked out of your local library, it might be available through interlibrary loan, which usually takes a few days for the library staff to process. Alternatively, you might locate another, equally useful source. If you have allowed enough time for research, a brief delay will not become a major setback.

You can manage other potential problems by staying organized and maintaining a take-charge attitude. Take a minute each day to save a backup copy of your work on a portable hard drive. Maintain detailed note cards and source cards as you conduct research—doing so will make citing sources in your draft infinitely easier. If you run into difficulties with your research or your writing, ask your instructor for help, or make an appointment with a writing tutor.

Identify five potential problems you might encounter in the process of researching and writing your paper. Write them on a separate sheet of paper. For each problem, write at least one strategy for solving the problem or minimizing its effect on your project.

In the workplace, documents prepared at the beginning of a project often include a detailed plan for risk management. When you manage a project, it makes sense to anticipate and prepare for potential setbacks. For example, to roll out a new product line, a software development company must strive to complete tasks on a schedule in order to meet the new product release date. The project manager may need to adjust the project plan if one or more tasks fall behind schedule.

Key Takeaways

  • To complete a research project successfully, a writer must carefully manage each phase of the process and break major steps into smaller tasks.
  • Writers can plan a research project by setting up a schedule based on the deadline and by identifying useful project resources.
  • Writers stay focused by using organizational tools that suit their needs.
  • Anticipating and planning for potential setbacks can help writers avoid those setbacks or minimize their effect on the project schedule.

Writing for Success Copyright © 2015 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

Project Management for Research

The tools you need to make your research project a success.

This toolkit includes a variety of tools for managing your research projects including recommendations for general project management software and tools to help you and your team manage activities from grant writing to implementation and project closeout.

Explore the toolkit below:

Grant Writing + Project Development

A Gantt Chart is a popular project management tool; it is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project’s schedule. The chart allows for organizing and viewing project activities and tasks against pre-established timeframes.

Gantt Chart Template Gantt Chart Instructions Gantt Chart Example

Graphic display of the flow or sequence of events that a product or service follows; it shows all activities, decision points, rework loops and handoffs.

Process maps allow the team to visualize the process and come to agreement on the steps of a process as well as examine which activities are duplicated. Process maps are used to:

  • Capture current and new process information
  • Identify the flow of a process
  • Identify responsibility of different business functions
  • Clearly show hand-off between functions
  • Identify value added and non-value added activities
  • Train team members in new process

Process Map Template Process Mapping Guide Process Map Example 1 Process Map Example 2

The Data Management Plan (DMP) defines the responsibilities related to the entry, ownership, sharing, validation, editing and storage of primary research data.

A data management plan must not only reflect the requirements of the protocol/project but also comply with applicable institutional, state and federal guidelines and regulations. The DMP Tool details your agencies expectations, has suggested language for REDCap and exports a properly formatted plan.

DMP Tool NIH Data Management & Sharing (DMS) Policy

The Project Charter's purpose is to define at a high level what the Project Team will deliver, what resources are needed and why it is justified.

The Project Charter also represents a commitment to dedicate the necessary time and resources to the project. It can be especially useful when organizing a multi-disciplinary, internally funded team. The document should be brief (up to three pages maximum).   

Project Charter Template Project Charter Instructions Project Charter Example

Milestones are an effective way to track major progress in your research project.

A Gantt Chart is an effective tool for setting and tracking milestones and deliverables. It is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project’s schedule.  

The proposal budget should be derived directly from the project description.

The proposal budget should follow the format specified by the sponsor. The Office of Sponsored Programs Budget Preparation webpages provide descriptions of the standard budget categories, lists of typical components of those categories, Ohio State rates where appropriate and other details to help ensure your budget is complete. Budget Preparation Resources from Office of Research The 398 grant form from the NIH is a template that includes standard categories required for an NIH grant (and many others) that you can use to develop a preliminary budget.

PHS 398 Forms PHS 398 Budget form for Initial Project Period Template PHS 398 Budget Form for Entire Proposal Project Template

The Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan first assists the research team in anticipating risk that may occur during the research project before it happens.

The plan then specifies when to act to mitigate risk by defining thresholds and establishing action plans to follow. As a fundamental ethical requirement research risks are to be minimized to the greatest extent possible for all research endeavors. This includes not only prompt identification measures but also response, reporting and resolution. Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan Template Risk Assessment and Mitigation Plan Example

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) organizes the research project work into manageable components.

It is represented in a hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the research project team. It visually defines the scope into manageable chunks that the team can understand.  WBS Instructions and Template WBS Structure Example

Implementation

A Gantt Chart is a popular project management tool; it is a type of bar chart that illustrates a project’s schedule.

The chart allows for organizing and viewing project activities and tasks against pre-established timeframes. A Gantt Chart can also be used for tracking milestones and major progresses within your research project.

The purpose is to define at a high level what the Project Team will deliver, what resources are needed and why it is justified.   

It is represented in a hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the research project team. It visually defines the scope into manageable chunks that the team can understand.  WBS Instructions + Template WBS Structure Example

A communications plan facilitates effective and efficient dissemination of information to the research team members and major stakeholders in the research project.

It describes how the communications will occur; the content, security, and privacy of those communications; along with the method of dissemination and frequency.

Communications Plan Template Communications Plan Example

The Data Management Plan (DMP) defines the responsibilities related to the entry, ownership, sharing, validation, editing, and storage of primary research data.

A data management plan must not only reflect the requirements of the protocol/project but also comply with applicable institutional, state, and federal guidelines and regulations. The DMP Tool details your agencies expectations, has suggested language for REDCap, and exports a properly formatted plan.

DMP Tool DMP Tool Instructions Ohio State Research Guide: Data

The chart allows for organizing and viewing project activities and tasks against pre-established timeframes. Gantt Chart Template Gantt Chart Instructions Gantt Chart Example

This tool helps you capture details of issues that arise so that the project team can quickly see the status and who is responsible for resolving it.

Further, the Issue Management Tool guides you through a management process that gives you a robust way to evaluate issues, assess their impact, and decide on a plan for resolution.

Issue Management Tool Template Issue Management Tool Instructions Issue Management Example

A Pareto Chart is a graphical tool that helps break down a problem into its parts so that managers can identify the most frequent, and thus most important, problems.

It depicts in descending order (from left to right) the frequency of events being studied. It is based on the Pareto Principle or “80/20 Rule”, which says that roughly 80% of problems are caused by 20% of contributors. With the Pareto Principle Project Managers solve problems by identifying and focusing on the “vital few” problems. Managers should avoid focusing on “people” problems. Problems are usually the result of processes, not people.

Pareto Chart Template Pareto Chart Instructions Pareto Chart Example

Closeout, Transfer + Application

Completing a project means more than finishing the research. 

There remain financial, personnel, reporting, and other responsibilities. These tasks typically need to be completed within a timeline that begins 60 to 90 days before the project end date and 90 days after. Specifics will vary depending on the project and the funding source. The Office of Sponsored Programs “Project Closeout” webpage provides a description closeout issues, a list of PI Responsibilities and other details to help ensure your project is in fact complete.  Project Closeout Checklist Project Closeout Resources from Office of Research

A communications plan facilitates effective and efficient dissemination of information to the research team members and major stakeholders in the research project. 

It describes how the communications will occur; the content, security and privacy of those communications; along with the method of dissemination and frequency.

Project Management Software

An open-source project management software similar to Microsoft Project.

OpenProject  has tools to create dashboards, Gantt Charts, budgets, and status reports. Activities can be assigned to team members and progress monitored. OpenProject also has a tool for Agile Project Management. While the software is free, OpenProject must be installed and maintained on a local server and there will probably be costs associated with this. Talk to your departmental or college IT staff.

A secure, web-based project management system.

Basecamp  offers an intuitive suite of tools at a minimal cost: ~$20/month or free for teachers. Basecamp facilitates collaboration between research team members with features such as to-do lists, messaging, file sharing, assignment of tasks, milestones, due dates and time tracking.  

A project management tool that organizes tasks, activities, responsibilities and people on projects.

Trello can help manage research projects by keeping everyone on time and on task. It uses a distinctive interface based on cards and lists and may be especially useful for smaller projects.

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Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
  • Group Presentations
  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
  • Grading Someone Else's Paper
  • Types of Structured Group Activities
  • Group Project Survival Skills
  • Leading a Class Discussion
  • Multiple Book Review Essay
  • Reviewing Collected Works
  • Writing a Case Analysis Paper
  • Writing a Case Study
  • About Informed Consent
  • Writing Field Notes
  • Writing a Policy Memo
  • Writing a Reflective Paper
  • Writing a Research Proposal
  • Generative AI and Writing
  • Acknowledgments

The goal of a research proposal is twofold: to present and justify the need to study a research problem and to present the practical ways in which the proposed study should be conducted. The design elements and procedures for conducting research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews. They must provide persuasive evidence that a need exists for the proposed study. In addition to providing a rationale, a proposal describes detailed methodology for conducting the research consistent with requirements of the professional or academic field and a statement on anticipated outcomes and benefits derived from the study's completion.

Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005.

How to Approach Writing a Research Proposal

Your professor may assign the task of writing a research proposal for the following reasons:

  • Develop your skills in thinking about and designing a comprehensive research study;
  • Learn how to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature to determine that the research problem has not been adequately addressed or has been answered ineffectively and, in so doing, become better at locating pertinent scholarship related to your topic;
  • Improve your general research and writing skills;
  • Practice identifying the logical steps that must be taken to accomplish one's research goals;
  • Critically review, examine, and consider the use of different methods for gathering and analyzing data related to the research problem; and,
  • Nurture a sense of inquisitiveness within yourself and to help see yourself as an active participant in the process of conducting scholarly research.

A proposal should contain all the key elements involved in designing a completed research study, with sufficient information that allows readers to assess the validity and usefulness of your proposed study. The only elements missing from a research proposal are the findings of the study and your analysis of those findings. Finally, an effective proposal is judged on the quality of your writing and, therefore, it is important that your proposal is coherent, clear, and compelling.

Regardless of the research problem you are investigating and the methodology you choose, all research proposals must address the following questions:

  • What do you plan to accomplish? Be clear and succinct in defining the research problem and what it is you are proposing to investigate.
  • Why do you want to do the research? In addition to detailing your research design, you also must conduct a thorough review of the literature and provide convincing evidence that it is a topic worthy of in-depth study. A successful research proposal must answer the "So What?" question.
  • How are you going to conduct the research? Be sure that what you propose is doable. If you're having difficulty formulating a research problem to propose investigating, go here for strategies in developing a problem to study.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Failure to be concise . A research proposal must be focused and not be "all over the map" or diverge into unrelated tangents without a clear sense of purpose.
  • Failure to cite landmark works in your literature review . Proposals should be grounded in foundational research that lays a foundation for understanding the development and scope of the the topic and its relevance.
  • Failure to delimit the contextual scope of your research [e.g., time, place, people, etc.]. As with any research paper, your proposed study must inform the reader how and in what ways the study will frame the problem.
  • Failure to develop a coherent and persuasive argument for the proposed research . This is critical. In many workplace settings, the research proposal is a formal document intended to argue for why a study should be funded.
  • Sloppy or imprecise writing, or poor grammar . Although a research proposal does not represent a completed research study, there is still an expectation that it is well-written and follows the style and rules of good academic writing.
  • Too much detail on minor issues, but not enough detail on major issues . Your proposal should focus on only a few key research questions in order to support the argument that the research needs to be conducted. Minor issues, even if valid, can be mentioned but they should not dominate the overall narrative.

Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal.  The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Sanford, Keith. Information for Students: Writing a Research Proposal. Baylor University; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences, Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Structure and Writing Style

Beginning the Proposal Process

As with writing most college-level academic papers, research proposals are generally organized the same way throughout most social science disciplines. The text of proposals generally vary in length between ten and thirty-five pages, followed by the list of references. However, before you begin, read the assignment carefully and, if anything seems unclear, ask your professor whether there are any specific requirements for organizing and writing the proposal.

A good place to begin is to ask yourself a series of questions:

  • What do I want to study?
  • Why is the topic important?
  • How is it significant within the subject areas covered in my class?
  • What problems will it help solve?
  • How does it build upon [and hopefully go beyond] research already conducted on the topic?
  • What exactly should I plan to do, and can I get it done in the time available?

In general, a compelling research proposal should document your knowledge of the topic and demonstrate your enthusiasm for conducting the study. Approach it with the intention of leaving your readers feeling like, "Wow, that's an exciting idea and I can’t wait to see how it turns out!"

Most proposals should include the following sections:

I.  Introduction

In the real world of higher education, a research proposal is most often written by scholars seeking grant funding for a research project or it's the first step in getting approval to write a doctoral dissertation. Even if this is just a course assignment, treat your introduction as the initial pitch of an idea based on a thorough examination of the significance of a research problem. After reading the introduction, your readers should not only have an understanding of what you want to do, but they should also be able to gain a sense of your passion for the topic and to be excited about the study's possible outcomes. Note that most proposals do not include an abstract [summary] before the introduction.

Think about your introduction as a narrative written in two to four paragraphs that succinctly answers the following four questions :

  • What is the central research problem?
  • What is the topic of study related to that research problem?
  • What methods should be used to analyze the research problem?
  • Answer the "So What?" question by explaining why this is important research, what is its significance, and why should someone reading the proposal care about the outcomes of the proposed study?

II.  Background and Significance

This is where you explain the scope and context of your proposal and describe in detail why it's important. It can be melded into your introduction or you can create a separate section to help with the organization and narrative flow of your proposal. Approach writing this section with the thought that you can’t assume your readers will know as much about the research problem as you do. Note that this section is not an essay going over everything you have learned about the topic; instead, you must choose what is most relevant in explaining the aims of your research.

To that end, while there are no prescribed rules for establishing the significance of your proposed study, you should attempt to address some or all of the following:

  • State the research problem and give a more detailed explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction. This is particularly important if the problem is complex or multifaceted .
  • Present the rationale of your proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing; be sure to answer the "So What? question [i.e., why should anyone care?].
  • Describe the major issues or problems examined by your research. This can be in the form of questions to be addressed. Be sure to note how your proposed study builds on previous assumptions about the research problem.
  • Explain the methods you plan to use for conducting your research. Clearly identify the key sources you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Describe the boundaries of your proposed research in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you plan to study, but what aspects of the research problem will be excluded from the study.
  • If necessary, provide definitions of key concepts, theories, or terms.

III.  Literature Review

Connected to the background and significance of your study is a section of your proposal devoted to a more deliberate review and synthesis of prior studies related to the research problem under investigation . The purpose here is to place your project within the larger whole of what is currently being explored, while at the same time, demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methodological approaches they have used, and what is your understanding of their findings and, when stated, their recommendations. Also pay attention to any suggestions for further research.

Since a literature review is information dense, it is crucial that this section is intelligently structured to enable a reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your proposed study in relation to the arguments put forth by other researchers. A good strategy is to break the literature into "conceptual categories" [themes] rather than systematically or chronologically describing groups of materials one at a time. Note that conceptual categories generally reveal themselves after you have read most of the pertinent literature on your topic so adding new categories is an on-going process of discovery as you review more studies. How do you know you've covered the key conceptual categories underlying the research literature? Generally, you can have confidence that all of the significant conceptual categories have been identified if you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations that are being made.

NOTE: Do not shy away from challenging the conclusions made in prior research as a basis for supporting the need for your proposal. Assess what you believe is missing and state how previous research has failed to adequately examine the issue that your study addresses. Highlighting the problematic conclusions strengthens your proposal. For more information on writing literature reviews, GO HERE .

To help frame your proposal's review of prior research, consider the "five C’s" of writing a literature review:

  • Cite , so as to keep the primary focus on the literature pertinent to your research problem.
  • Compare the various arguments, theories, methodologies, and findings expressed in the literature: what do the authors agree on? Who applies similar approaches to analyzing the research problem?
  • Contrast the various arguments, themes, methodologies, approaches, and controversies expressed in the literature: describe what are the major areas of disagreement, controversy, or debate among scholars?
  • Critique the literature: Which arguments are more persuasive, and why? Which approaches, findings, and methodologies seem most reliable, valid, or appropriate, and why? Pay attention to the verbs you use to describe what an author says/does [e.g., asserts, demonstrates, argues, etc.].
  • Connect the literature to your own area of research and investigation: how does your own work draw upon, depart from, synthesize, or add a new perspective to what has been said in the literature?

IV.  Research Design and Methods

This section must be well-written and logically organized because you are not actually doing the research, yet, your reader must have confidence that you have a plan worth pursuing . The reader will never have a study outcome from which to evaluate whether your methodological choices were the correct ones. Thus, the objective here is to convince the reader that your overall research design and proposed methods of analysis will correctly address the problem and that the methods will provide the means to effectively interpret the potential results. Your design and methods should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

Describe the overall research design by building upon and drawing examples from your review of the literature. Consider not only methods that other researchers have used, but methods of data gathering that have not been used but perhaps could be. Be specific about the methodological approaches you plan to undertake to obtain information, the techniques you would use to analyze the data, and the tests of external validity to which you commit yourself [i.e., the trustworthiness by which you can generalize from your study to other people, places, events, and/or periods of time].

When describing the methods you will use, be sure to cover the following:

  • Specify the research process you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results obtained in relation to the research problem. Don't just describe what you intend to achieve from applying the methods you choose, but state how you will spend your time while applying these methods [e.g., coding text from interviews to find statements about the need to change school curriculum; running a regression to determine if there is a relationship between campaign advertising on social media sites and election outcomes in Europe ].
  • Keep in mind that the methodology is not just a list of tasks; it is a deliberate argument as to why techniques for gathering information add up to the best way to investigate the research problem. This is an important point because the mere listing of tasks to be performed does not demonstrate that, collectively, they effectively address the research problem. Be sure you clearly explain this.
  • Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers and pitfalls in carrying out your research design and explain how you plan to address them. No method applied to research in the social and behavioral sciences is perfect, so you need to describe where you believe challenges may exist in obtaining data or accessing information. It's always better to acknowledge this than to have it brought up by your professor!

V.  Preliminary Suppositions and Implications

Just because you don't have to actually conduct the study and analyze the results, doesn't mean you can skip talking about the analytical process and potential implications . The purpose of this section is to argue how and in what ways you believe your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the subject area under investigation. Depending on the aims and objectives of your study, describe how the anticipated results will impact future scholarly research, theory, practice, forms of interventions, or policy making. Note that such discussions may have either substantive [a potential new policy], theoretical [a potential new understanding], or methodological [a potential new way of analyzing] significance.   When thinking about the potential implications of your study, ask the following questions:

  • What might the results mean in regards to challenging the theoretical framework and underlying assumptions that support the study?
  • What suggestions for subsequent research could arise from the potential outcomes of the study?
  • What will the results mean to practitioners in the natural settings of their workplace, organization, or community?
  • Will the results influence programs, methods, and/or forms of intervention?
  • How might the results contribute to the solution of social, economic, or other types of problems?
  • Will the results influence policy decisions?
  • In what way do individuals or groups benefit should your study be pursued?
  • What will be improved or changed as a result of the proposed research?
  • How will the results of the study be implemented and what innovations or transformative insights could emerge from the process of implementation?

NOTE:   This section should not delve into idle speculation, opinion, or be formulated on the basis of unclear evidence . The purpose is to reflect upon gaps or understudied areas of the current literature and describe how your proposed research contributes to a new understanding of the research problem should the study be implemented as designed.

ANOTHER NOTE : This section is also where you describe any potential limitations to your proposed study. While it is impossible to highlight all potential limitations because the study has yet to be conducted, you still must tell the reader where and in what form impediments may arise and how you plan to address them.

VI.  Conclusion

The conclusion reiterates the importance or significance of your proposal and provides a brief summary of the entire study . This section should be only one or two paragraphs long, emphasizing why the research problem is worth investigating, why your research study is unique, and how it should advance existing knowledge.

Someone reading this section should come away with an understanding of:

  • Why the study should be done;
  • The specific purpose of the study and the research questions it attempts to answer;
  • The decision for why the research design and methods used where chosen over other options;
  • The potential implications emerging from your proposed study of the research problem; and
  • A sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship about the research problem.

VII.  Citations

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used . In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so consult with your professor about which one is preferred.

  • References -- a list of only the sources you actually used in creating your proposal.
  • Bibliography -- a list of everything you used in creating your proposal, along with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem.

In either case, this section should testify to the fact that you did enough preparatory work to ensure the project will complement and not just duplicate the efforts of other researchers. It demonstrates to the reader that you have a thorough understanding of prior research on the topic.

Most proposal formats have you start a new page and use the heading "References" or "Bibliography" centered at the top of the page. Cited works should always use a standard format that follows the writing style advised by the discipline of your course [e.g., education=APA; history=Chicago] or that is preferred by your professor. This section normally does not count towards the total page length of your research proposal.

Develop a Research Proposal: Writing the Proposal. Office of Library Information Services. Baltimore County Public Schools; Heath, M. Teresa Pereira and Caroline Tynan. “Crafting a Research Proposal.” The Marketing Review 10 (Summer 2010): 147-168; Jones, Mark. “Writing a Research Proposal.” In MasterClass in Geography Education: Transforming Teaching and Learning . Graham Butt, editor. (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2015), pp. 113-127; Juni, Muhamad Hanafiah. “Writing a Research Proposal.” International Journal of Public Health and Clinical Sciences 1 (September/October 2014): 229-240; Krathwohl, David R. How to Prepare a Dissertation Proposal: Suggestions for Students in Education and the Social and Behavioral Sciences . Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2005; Procter, Margaret. The Academic Proposal. The Lab Report. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Punch, Keith and Wayne McGowan. "Developing and Writing a Research Proposal." In From Postgraduate to Social Scientist: A Guide to Key Skills . Nigel Gilbert, ed. (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006), 59-81; Wong, Paul T. P. How to Write a Research Proposal. International Network on Personal Meaning. Trinity Western University; Writing Academic Proposals: Conferences , Articles, and Books. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing a Research Proposal. University Library. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Research Project Guidelines

For the purposes of the traditional (non-basic science track) degree, clinical research is defined as research conducted with human subjects or patients’ samples in which an investigator makes direct measurements or observations on the subjects. It includes clinical trials, studies of the mechanism of human disease, epidemiological and behavioral studies, outcomes research and health services research. For examples of mechanistic studies, correlating serum biomarkers or genetic variants with clinical phenotypes would be acceptable. For information specific to the Research Project for the  Basic Science Research Track , please refer to that page.  Studies based entirely in animal models or in vitro systems would only be appropriate for students on the Basic Science Research Track.

Although it is desirable the research project be one in which the student is involved throughout from the concept and design stage, this is not mandatory. A secondary data analysis of an existing data set might be acceptable, for example, as might a project that the student designs and conducts, but from which only preliminary results are reported.  Students unsure if a potential project satisfies this definition should email a brief description to John Williams, MD, MHSc.

Three faculty members constitute an examining committee to certify the student has successfully completed the research project requirement for the degree. The committee must include a clinical investigator and a statistician, both of whom are on the faculty of the Clinical Research Training Program (CRTP). The third member of the committee should be a faculty member who has substantive knowledge in the area in which the clinical research project is conducted; for clinical fellows, this committee member is often the student's mentor. The chair of the committee must be a member of the CRTP faculty.

Important Note : Committees formed for other purposes (e.g., Fellowship committees, CTSA committees, etc.) cannot substitute for the CRTP Research Committee. You must have an approved CRTP committee for your research project.

A full year before you want to graduate: 

  • Develop your research proposal.
  • Complete Research Project Proposal (RP1) Form and submit to Gail Ladd
  • John  Williams or Scott Palmer will contact you if changes are needed.  They will identify your Committee Chair, Committee Member and Mentor.  They will send an official notification (RP2) to you that the proposal is approved.

When your proposal is approved: 

  • Convene your Committee within the month your proposal is approved.  If you are unable to meet in person, work with Gail Ladd  to set up an on line meeting.
  • Within a week of your initial meeting, submit Initial Meeting Form (RP3) with summary of key discussion items and any planned changes to the protocol to your Committee members and Gail. 
  •  Keep in regular contact with your Committee.
  • Begin work on your Research Project.

Two months before you plan to defend:

  • Submit a forma written progress report (RP5) to your Committee members and Gail Ladd .  Use RP Mid-Point Progress Report form.

One month before you plan to defend:

  • Submit final manuscript to Committee and to Gail Ladd .
  • Set oral defense date and location.

After you have defended: 

  • Submit the RP Contribution checklist form (RP6) detailing your roles in the project.
  • If necessary, complete any required modifications and resubmit to the Committee Chair and Gail Ladd.
While you can start your project at any point during your time in CRTP, you must register for the 12 credits the semester before you plan to graduate.

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How to Do Your Research Project: A Guide for Students

Student resources, welcome to the digital roadmap and resources.

Work your way through  interactive exercises  for each stage of the research project roadmap and watch  videos   from your pocket supervisor, Gary Thomas. Explore real-world practice through  case studies   and  journal articles . Reflect, revise, and take your learning on the go with  worksheets  and get to grips with key terms and concepts using digital  flashcards .

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Roadmap 1

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Write an Error-free Research Protocol As Recommended by WHO: 21 Elements You Shouldn’t Miss!

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Principal Investigator: Did you draft the research protocol?

Student: Not yet. I have too many questions about it. Why is it important to write a research protocol? Is it similar to research proposal? What should I include in it? How should I structure it? Is there a specific format?

Researchers at an early stage fall short in understanding the purpose and importance of some supplementary documents, let alone how to write them. Let’s better your understanding of writing an acceptance-worthy research protocol.

Table of Contents

What Is Research Protocol?

The research protocol is a document that describes the background, rationale, objective(s), design, methodology, statistical considerations and organization of a clinical trial. It is a document that outlines the clinical research study plan. Furthermore, the research protocol should be designed to provide a satisfactory answer to the research question. The protocol in effect is the cookbook for conducting your study

Why Is Research Protocol Important?

In clinical research, the research protocol is of paramount importance. It forms the basis of a clinical investigation. It ensures the safety of the clinical trial subjects and integrity of the data collected. Serving as a binding document, the research protocol states what you are—and you are not—allowed to study as part of the trial. Furthermore, it is also considered to be the most important document in your application with your Institution’s Review Board (IRB).

It is written with the contributions and inputs from a medical expert, a statistician, pharmacokinetics expert, the clinical research coordinator, and the project manager to ensure all aspects of the study are covered in the final document.

Is Research Protocol Same As Research Proposal?

Often misinterpreted, research protocol is not similar to research proposal. Here are some significant points of difference between a research protocol and a research proposal:

What Are the Elements/Sections of a Research Protocol?

According to Good Clinical Practice guidelines laid by WHO, a research protocol should include the following:

Research Protocol

1. General Information

  • Protocol title, protocol identifying number (if any), and date.
  • Name and address of the funder.
  • Name(s) and contact details of the investigator(s) responsible for conducting the research, the research site(s).
  • Responsibilities of each investigator.
  • Name(s) and address(es) of the clinical laboratory(ies), other medical and/or technical department(s) and/or institutions involved in the research.

2. Rationale & Background Information

  • The rationale and background information provides specific reasons for conducting the research in light of pertinent knowledge about the research topic.
  • It is a statement that includes the problem that is the basis of the project, the cause of the research problem, and its possible solutions.
  • It should be supported with a brief description of the most relevant literatures published on the research topic.

3. Study Objectives

  • The study objectives mentioned in the research proposal states what the investigators hope to accomplish. The research is planned based on this section.
  • The research proposal objectives should be simple, clear, specific, and stated prior to conducting the research.
  • It could be divided into primary and secondary objectives based on their relativity to the research problem and its solution.

4. Study Design

  • The study design justifies the scientific integrity and credibility of the research study.
  • The study design should include information on the type of study, the research population or the sampling frame, participation criteria (inclusion, exclusion, and withdrawal), and the expected duration of the study.

5. Methodology

  • The methodology section is the most critical section of the research protocol.
  • It should include detailed information on the interventions to be made, procedures to be used, measurements to be taken, observations to be made, laboratory investigations to be done, etc.
  • The methodology should be standardized and clearly defined if multiple sites are engaged in a specified protocol.

6. Safety Considerations

  • The safety of participants is a top-tier priority while conducting clinical research .
  • Safety aspects of the research should be scrutinized and provided in the research protocol.

7. Follow-up

  • The research protocol clearly indicate of what follow up will be provided to the participating subjects.
  • It must also include the duration of the follow-up.

8. Data Management and Statistical Analysis

  • The research protocol should include information on how the data will be managed, including data handling and coding for computer analysis, monitoring and verification.
  • It should clearly outline the statistical methods proposed to be used for the analysis of data.
  • For qualitative approaches, specify in detail how the data will be analysed.

9. Quality Assurance

  • The research protocol should clearly describe the quality control and quality assurance system.
  • These include GCP, follow up by clinical monitors, DSMB, data management, etc.

10. Expected Outcomes of the Study

  • This section indicates how the study will contribute to the advancement of current knowledge, how the results will be utilized beyond publications.
  • It must mention how the study will affect health care, health systems, or health policies.

11. Dissemination of Results and Publication Policy

  • The research protocol should specify not only how the results will be disseminated in the scientific media, but also to the community and/or the participants, the policy makers, etc.
  • The publication policy should be clearly discussed as to who will be mentioned as contributors, who will be acknowledged, etc.

12. Duration of the Project

  • The protocol should clearly mention the time likely to be taken for completion of each phase of the project.
  • Furthermore a detailed timeline for each activity to be undertaken should also be provided.

13. Anticipated Problems

  • The investigators may face some difficulties while conducting the clinical research. This section must include all anticipated problems in successfully completing their projects.
  • Furthermore, it should also provide possible solutions to deal with these difficulties.

14. Project Management

  • This section includes detailed specifications of the role and responsibility of each investigator of the team.
  • Everyone involved in the research project must be mentioned here along with the specific duties they have performed in completing the research.
  • The research protocol should also describe the ethical considerations relating to the study.
  • It should not only be limited to providing ethics approval, but also the issues that are likely to raise ethical concerns.
  • Additionally, the ethics section must also describe how the investigator(s) plan to obtain informed consent from the research participants.
  • This section should include a detailed commodity-wise and service-wise breakdown of the requested funds.
  • It should also include justification of utilization of each listed item.

17. Supplementary Support for the Project

  • This section should include information about the received funding and other anticipated funding for the specific project.

18. Collaboration With Other Researchers or Institutions

  • Every researcher or institute that has been a part of the research project must be mentioned in detail in this section of the research protocol.

19. Curriculum Vitae of All Investigators

  • The CVs of the principal investigator along with all the co-investigators should be attached with the research protocol.
  • Ideally, each CV should be limited to one page only, unless a full-length CV is requested.

20. Other Research Activities of Investigators

  • A list of all current research projects being conducted by all investigators must be listed here.

21. References

  • All relevant references should be mentioned and cited accurately in this section to avoid plagiarism.

How Do You Write a Research Protocol? (Research Protocol Example)

Main Investigator    

Number of Involved Centers (for multi-centric studies)

Indicate the reference center

Title of the Study

Protocol ID (acronym)

Keywords (up to 7 specific keywords)

Study Design

Mono-centric/multi-centric

Perspective/retrospective

Controlled/uncontrolled

Open-label/single-blinded or double-blinded

Randomized/non-randomized

n parallel branches/n overlapped branches

Experimental/observational

Endpoints (main primary and secondary endpoints to be listed)

Expected Results                                                

Analyzed Criteria

Main variables/endpoints of the primary analysis

Main variables/endpoints of the secondary analysis

Safety variables

Health Economy (if applicable)

Visits and Examinations

Therapeutic plan and goals

Visits/controls schedule (also with graphics)

Comparison to treatment products (if applicable)

Dose and dosage for the study duration (if applicable)

Formulation and power of the studied drugs (if applicable)

Method of administration of the studied drugs (if applicable)

Informed Consent

Study Population

Short description of the main inclusion, exclusion, and withdrawal criteria

Sample Size

Estimated Duration of the Study

Safety Advisory

Classification Needed

Requested Funds

Additional Features (based on study objectives)

Click Here to Download the Research Protocol Example/Template

Be prepared to conduct your clinical research by writing a detailed research protocol. It is as easy as mentioned in this article. Follow the aforementioned path and write an impactful research protocol. All the best!

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  • Research paper

How to Write a Research Paper | A Beginner's Guide

A research paper is a piece of academic writing that provides analysis, interpretation, and argument based on in-depth independent research.

Research papers are similar to academic essays , but they are usually longer and more detailed assignments, designed to assess not only your writing skills but also your skills in scholarly research. Writing a research paper requires you to demonstrate a strong knowledge of your topic, engage with a variety of sources, and make an original contribution to the debate.

This step-by-step guide takes you through the entire writing process, from understanding your assignment to proofreading your final draft.

Table of contents

Understand the assignment, choose a research paper topic, conduct preliminary research, develop a thesis statement, create a research paper outline, write a first draft of the research paper, write the introduction, write a compelling body of text, write the conclusion, the second draft, the revision process, research paper checklist, free lecture slides.

Completing a research paper successfully means accomplishing the specific tasks set out for you. Before you start, make sure you thoroughly understanding the assignment task sheet:

  • Read it carefully, looking for anything confusing you might need to clarify with your professor.
  • Identify the assignment goal, deadline, length specifications, formatting, and submission method.
  • Make a bulleted list of the key points, then go back and cross completed items off as you’re writing.

Carefully consider your timeframe and word limit: be realistic, and plan enough time to research, write, and edit.

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There are many ways to generate an idea for a research paper, from brainstorming with pen and paper to talking it through with a fellow student or professor.

You can try free writing, which involves taking a broad topic and writing continuously for two or three minutes to identify absolutely anything relevant that could be interesting.

You can also gain inspiration from other research. The discussion or recommendations sections of research papers often include ideas for other specific topics that require further examination.

Once you have a broad subject area, narrow it down to choose a topic that interests you, m eets the criteria of your assignment, and i s possible to research. Aim for ideas that are both original and specific:

  • A paper following the chronology of World War II would not be original or specific enough.
  • A paper on the experience of Danish citizens living close to the German border during World War II would be specific and could be original enough.

Note any discussions that seem important to the topic, and try to find an issue that you can focus your paper around. Use a variety of sources , including journals, books, and reliable websites, to ensure you do not miss anything glaring.

Do not only verify the ideas you have in mind, but look for sources that contradict your point of view.

  • Is there anything people seem to overlook in the sources you research?
  • Are there any heated debates you can address?
  • Do you have a unique take on your topic?
  • Have there been some recent developments that build on the extant research?

In this stage, you might find it helpful to formulate some research questions to help guide you. To write research questions, try to finish the following sentence: “I want to know how/what/why…”

A thesis statement is a statement of your central argument — it establishes the purpose and position of your paper. If you started with a research question, the thesis statement should answer it. It should also show what evidence and reasoning you’ll use to support that answer.

The thesis statement should be concise, contentious, and coherent. That means it should briefly summarize your argument in a sentence or two, make a claim that requires further evidence or analysis, and make a coherent point that relates to every part of the paper.

You will probably revise and refine the thesis statement as you do more research, but it can serve as a guide throughout the writing process. Every paragraph should aim to support and develop this central claim.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

A research paper outline is essentially a list of the key topics, arguments, and evidence you want to include, divided into sections with headings so that you know roughly what the paper will look like before you start writing.

A structure outline can help make the writing process much more efficient, so it’s worth dedicating some time to create one.

Your first draft won’t be perfect — you can polish later on. Your priorities at this stage are as follows:

  • Maintaining forward momentum — write now, perfect later.
  • Paying attention to clear organization and logical ordering of paragraphs and sentences, which will help when you come to the second draft.
  • Expressing your ideas as clearly as possible, so you know what you were trying to say when you come back to the text.

You do not need to start by writing the introduction. Begin where it feels most natural for you — some prefer to finish the most difficult sections first, while others choose to start with the easiest part. If you created an outline, use it as a map while you work.

Do not delete large sections of text. If you begin to dislike something you have written or find it doesn’t quite fit, move it to a different document, but don’t lose it completely — you never know if it might come in useful later.

Paragraph structure

Paragraphs are the basic building blocks of research papers. Each one should focus on a single claim or idea that helps to establish the overall argument or purpose of the paper.

Example paragraph

George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language” has had an enduring impact on thought about the relationship between politics and language. This impact is particularly obvious in light of the various critical review articles that have recently referenced the essay. For example, consider Mark Falcoff’s 2009 article in The National Review Online, “The Perversion of Language; or, Orwell Revisited,” in which he analyzes several common words (“activist,” “civil-rights leader,” “diversity,” and more). Falcoff’s close analysis of the ambiguity built into political language intentionally mirrors Orwell’s own point-by-point analysis of the political language of his day. Even 63 years after its publication, Orwell’s essay is emulated by contemporary thinkers.

Citing sources

It’s also important to keep track of citations at this stage to avoid accidental plagiarism . Each time you use a source, make sure to take note of where the information came from.

You can use our free citation generators to automatically create citations and save your reference list as you go.

APA Citation Generator MLA Citation Generator

The research paper introduction should address three questions: What, why, and how? After finishing the introduction, the reader should know what the paper is about, why it is worth reading, and how you’ll build your arguments.

What? Be specific about the topic of the paper, introduce the background, and define key terms or concepts.

Why? This is the most important, but also the most difficult, part of the introduction. Try to provide brief answers to the following questions: What new material or insight are you offering? What important issues does your essay help define or answer?

How? To let the reader know what to expect from the rest of the paper, the introduction should include a “map” of what will be discussed, briefly presenting the key elements of the paper in chronological order.

The major struggle faced by most writers is how to organize the information presented in the paper, which is one reason an outline is so useful. However, remember that the outline is only a guide and, when writing, you can be flexible with the order in which the information and arguments are presented.

One way to stay on track is to use your thesis statement and topic sentences . Check:

  • topic sentences against the thesis statement;
  • topic sentences against each other, for similarities and logical ordering;
  • and each sentence against the topic sentence of that paragraph.

Be aware of paragraphs that seem to cover the same things. If two paragraphs discuss something similar, they must approach that topic in different ways. Aim to create smooth transitions between sentences, paragraphs, and sections.

The research paper conclusion is designed to help your reader out of the paper’s argument, giving them a sense of finality.

Trace the course of the paper, emphasizing how it all comes together to prove your thesis statement. Give the paper a sense of finality by making sure the reader understands how you’ve settled the issues raised in the introduction.

You might also discuss the more general consequences of the argument, outline what the paper offers to future students of the topic, and suggest any questions the paper’s argument raises but cannot or does not try to answer.

You should not :

  • Offer new arguments or essential information
  • Take up any more space than necessary
  • Begin with stock phrases that signal you are ending the paper (e.g. “In conclusion”)

There are four main considerations when it comes to the second draft.

  • Check how your vision of the paper lines up with the first draft and, more importantly, that your paper still answers the assignment.
  • Identify any assumptions that might require (more substantial) justification, keeping your reader’s perspective foremost in mind. Remove these points if you cannot substantiate them further.
  • Be open to rearranging your ideas. Check whether any sections feel out of place and whether your ideas could be better organized.
  • If you find that old ideas do not fit as well as you anticipated, you should cut them out or condense them. You might also find that new and well-suited ideas occurred to you during the writing of the first draft — now is the time to make them part of the paper.

The goal during the revision and proofreading process is to ensure you have completed all the necessary tasks and that the paper is as well-articulated as possible.

Global concerns

  • Confirm that your paper completes every task specified in your assignment sheet.
  • Check for logical organization and flow of paragraphs.
  • Check paragraphs against the introduction and thesis statement.

Fine-grained details

Check the content of each paragraph, making sure that:

  • each sentence helps support the topic sentence.
  • no unnecessary or irrelevant information is present.
  • all technical terms your audience might not know are identified.

Next, think about sentence structure , grammatical errors, and formatting . Check that you have correctly used transition words and phrases to show the connections between your ideas. Look for typos, cut unnecessary words, and check for consistency in aspects such as heading formatting and spellings .

Finally, you need to make sure your paper is correctly formatted according to the rules of the citation style you are using. For example, you might need to include an MLA heading  or create an APA title page .

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Checklist: Research paper

I have followed all instructions in the assignment sheet.

My introduction presents my topic in an engaging way and provides necessary background information.

My introduction presents a clear, focused research problem and/or thesis statement .

My paper is logically organized using paragraphs and (if relevant) section headings .

Each paragraph is clearly focused on one central idea, expressed in a clear topic sentence .

Each paragraph is relevant to my research problem or thesis statement.

I have used appropriate transitions  to clarify the connections between sections, paragraphs, and sentences.

My conclusion provides a concise answer to the research question or emphasizes how the thesis has been supported.

My conclusion shows how my research has contributed to knowledge or understanding of my topic.

My conclusion does not present any new points or information essential to my argument.

I have provided an in-text citation every time I refer to ideas or information from a source.

I have included a reference list at the end of my paper, consistently formatted according to a specific citation style .

I have thoroughly revised my paper and addressed any feedback from my professor or supervisor.

I have followed all formatting guidelines (page numbers, headers, spacing, etc.).

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  • Research Guidelines
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Subject Areas

Students may submit a paper on any topic, provided that the student has worked with a faculty mentor from SUNY Orange throughout the course of completing that research paper, poster, or project.

Note: If a student has completed research with a mentor from another institution through a program sponsored by SUNY Orange, please contact Michele Iannuzzi Sucich (at [email protected] ) to determine if that research is eligible for presentation at the SOARS Conference.

Approach to Creative Research Projects

  • For creative research projects that involve a performance (example: dance or song), the performance should be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.
  • For example, field work might be part of an anthropology presentation while lab reports would be featured in a scientific or technical paper.
  • Additionally, research from introductory courses (such as English 101 and 102) would provide a brief, research-based analysis of a topic that is new to the student, but perhaps not to the field.
  • All submissions must show the results of research, reflection, analysis, and an original perspective.
  • Students should work closely with their mentors early on to determine the appropriate nature and scope of their research.
  • If a student, in collaboaration with their mentor, feels that their creattive research project does not fit easily into the submission formats detailed below, please contact Michele Iannuzzi Sucich at michel[email protected] to discuss possible alternatives.
  • Creativity is encouraged and alternative suggesttions will be given careful consideration.

Evaluation & Feedback

  • Students’ work will be evaluated on the quality and originality of the research, as well as on the written submission.
  • Students will receive confirmaiton that their research has been accepted for presentatin in February.
  • Students, in collaboration with their mentors, then have the option of making revisions to their written work before presenting it at the conference in mid-March.
  • This deadline for feedback also will allow students interested in submitting a written paper to the regional Beacon Conference to use this feedback in preparation of their written work for the Beacon annual submission deadline in March.

Guidelines for Research

  • Research must include reputable, academic sources.
  • As with any research project, you are responsible for evaluating source material and ensuring the selection of credible sources. For example, Wikipedia is not considered a credible source because anyone can provide information to that website.
  • In general, follow the guidelines of the particular discipline in terms of the expectations for scholarly research (i.e., for the sciences, peer-reviewed primary sources from scholarly journals).
  • The method of documentation should be whatever is appropriate to the discipline (i.e., MLA for the Humanities, APA for the Social Sciences, CMS for History)

Submission Guidelines for Creative Research Projects

How to submit your work.

  • Each paper, poster, or project must be submitted electronically to Michele Iannuzzi-Sucich at [email protected] .
  • Each individual submitting to the conference must also complete the Registration Form found on the SOARS home page in the menu on the left side of that page.
  • An e-mail from the faculty mentor must also be sent verifying approval of the submission.

Submission Deadline: Please see the Dates to Remember Page for the current submission deadline.

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Research Project Guidelines

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A central part of earning a master's degree is demonstrating the ability to conduct research and to analyze real-world phenomena. The value of doing research and analysis is not limited to academia; these are skills that have immense practical value in both personal and professional spheres, especially within the fields of intelligence and human security, where analysis is the heart of the work. It takes training and practice to learn and refine research and analysis skills. This is why the successful completion of a well-written and well-documented research project is one of the requirements to pass GEOG 571. This research project is worth 230 points total.

What Is a Research Project?

We want to make an important distinction between research projects and reports.

A report is a project where a student chooses a topic, consults relevant sources from which they collect and collate facts about that topic, composes a carefully organized summary or discussion of those facts, and delivers all of this as a paper or presentation.

By contrast, a research project is a project in which a student formulates a central question, consults relevant sources from which they collect and collate information (which can include basic facts, quantitative data, and qualitative data) relating to that question, analyzes and interprets the information they have found, and develops a defensible argument that supports their interpretation. The argument is usually presented in its most basic form as a thesis statement, which appears in the introduction to the completed project, and the completed project is often delivered as a paper or presentation.

Reports and research projects have some things in common: they require a student to identify a question or topic worthy of study; identify, vet, and consult a number and variety of relevant sources; synthesize information from those sources; and compose some kind of deliverable that presents their work. Yet there are a couple of crucial differences that we want to highlight here.

First, while a report centers on a topic , a research project centers on a question . Second, while a report presents a synthesis of information on its topic, a research project makes an argument based on the researcher’s analysis of the information. Both a report and a research project can be a lot of work — but the difference in approach up front (i.e., choosing a question rather than a topic) means that a research project entails a level of critical thinking and analytical skills that a report does not.

Ultimately, where a report simply presents existing knowledge, the goal of a research project is to present new knowledge (or a new interpretation) about something. This is what makes research projects common requirements of graduate-level courses — including this one.

Project Medium:

Research projects are traditionally delivered as research papers. Yet we now have technology that enables us to present research effectively across a variety of media. For this course, you may choose one of the following options for presenting your research:

  • a traditional research paper
  • ArcGIS Online StoryMap

You may also suggest another medium. If you choose to present your project in a medium other than a research paper, please make sure to discuss your vision with your instructor.

Make sure that you choose a medium that is appropriate to your project. Certain kinds of projects lend themselves better to some formats than others. If your evidence is best presented in a set of interactive maps, or if your project includes lots of visuals (still or video), StoryMaps is a good option. If your project revolves around interviews that you are conducting, or if there is a significant audio component, a podcast might be appropriate. If your project is purely or primarily text-driven (possibly with a map or table or two), you should present it as a traditional research paper.

Regardless of the medium, the research project must result in the equivalent of 12 to 15 pages of text (not including title, reference, graphics, or figures). Note that for podcasts, this translates to 20 to 30 minutes of airtime. The project must also be documented with the APA citation guidelines . Please visit the Penn State University Libraries APA Quick Citation Guide to make sure you are using the proper citations.

Note for students submitting podcasts : your podcast must be accompanied by two things:

  • either a script or transcript (some students have had good luck with Welder’s free audio-to-text transcriptions , though you will have to edit the output for spelling and format)
  • a separate document containing your works cited, properly formatted in APA style.

Reminder: you are expected to incorporate citations in the podcast itself (e.g., by conversationally stating the author and year of a study). If you are not sure how best to do this, contact your instructor.

If you choose to present your project as a paper, it must use these formatting guidelines:

  • 12 point font
  • double-spaced
  • 1” margins on all sides

Research Project Deliverables:  

  • Week 2 - Project Proposal (20 points) Students will submit via Canvas a primary research question that will be the focal point of their project. In addition to this, students will provide a statement justifying the merits of completing this research, a list of three potential sources, a set of keywords or search terms they will use to search for additional sources, and the medium they intend to use to convey their research. Note that the medium is not set in stone and can be changed later.
  • Week 4 - Project Outline and Annotated Bibliography (50 points) Students will submit an outline that includes the main topic areas of their research project along with an annotated bibliography.
  • Week 7 - Rough Draft (30 points) Students will submit a draft of the project.
  • Week 9 - Final Draft (130 points) Students will submit the final project (130 points.) Note: In addition to the final draft, a one-page Executive Summary of the project (worth 75 points) is due as part of Lesson 9.

Choosing a Research Question:

The key to completing a successful research project is identifying and constructing a good research question. For a research question to be good, it needs to fulfill some basic criteria (the following bullet points come from the George Mason University Writing Center website):

  • clear: it provides enough specifics that one’s audience can easily understand its purpose without needing additional explanation.
  • focused: it is narrow enough that it can be answered thoroughly in the space the writing task allows.
  • concise: it is expressed in the fewest possible words.
  • complex: it is not answerable with a simple “yes” or “no,” but rather requires synthesis and analysis of ideas and sources prior to composition of an answer.
  • arguable: its potential answers are open to debate rather than accepted facts.

All of these points are important for generating a good research question. Given that this is a graduate level course, we want to emphasize the last two points here. The topics and concepts that we use in this course are complex, and your research is meant to generate new knowledge or a new interpretation of existing knowledge. Be mindful of this as you generate your research question. If you can answer your research question with an unqualified “yes” or “no” after a few minutes’ research, or if your sources provide you with a clear-cut answer to your question, it means that your question is not deep enough to merit a research project.

Your research project should sit at the nexus of cultural/political geography and intelligence or human security. That is, your project should consider an issue related to intelligence or human security from a geographical perspective . We encourage you to develop your primary research question around your professional interests; we expect you to take a geographical approach to answering that question.

Your research project should be focused on one or more specific places or regions within the world, and on a specific issue with respect to intelligence or human security. Below are some examples of general research questions that you can use as a starting point to build a more specific question tailored to your interests:

  • How does the creation of border walls impact conflict?
  • What role do GIS and cartography play in the geographic separation of people?
  • What role(s) does ethnicity play in the development of separatist movements?
  • How well do disaster relief policies accommodate people’s attachments to their homes?
  • How well do refugee resettlement programs handle cultural differences between local and refugee populations?
  • What practices or policies can be established to mitigate ethical differences between the disciplines of human geography and intelligence?
  • How are geography, immigration, and marginalization related with regard to radicalization?
  • How does the distribution of natural resources impact conflict?
  • How does the distribution of natural resources impact migration?
  • How are territorial control and the geographic distribution of terrorist attacks related in conflict zones?

Remember: the questions above are meant to get you thinking. Many of the questions posed above are far too broad for you to conduct a research project within the scope of this assignment. You will likely need to hone one of these questions to focus on a more specific question. Note that many of these could be designed to focus on a single place, or to present two or more case studies in comparison. Bear in mind that any research question that you propose should be as specific as possible with regard to place or region, actors, conflict, and other relevant factors.

To help you understand what we mean by “specific,” here are some examples of research questions around which students in other terms have based their research projects:

  • What role has ethnic identity played in the ongoing conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine?
  • How have place identity and human geography shaped support for paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland?
  • Do incidents of domestic terrorism and international terrorism display different geographic patterns? [This project presented and compared several case studies.]
  • What was the relationship between nationalism and religion in the Northern Ireland Conflict?
  • How have the PLO and Hamas differed in their approach to Palestinian identity, and what are the geopolitical impacts of these differences?
  • What is the significance of natural resources in the conflict over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?
  • How do geography and identity influence radicalization among ethnic minorities? [This project presented and compared several case studies.]

A Note on Sources:

A good project will incorporate at least 16-20 vetted sources. These should be primarily scholarly sources, though some projects will also rely on gray literature. Projects that use GIS data should list all data sources in their works cited, but only two of these will count toward the source minimum. Students should not use Britannica, Wikipedia, or other general tertiary sources (though it is okay to use specialized encyclopedias such as the Dictionary of Human Geography ). See below for more information.

Projects will be graded on strength and sophistication of analysis, clarity of presentation, logic, reliance on accurate information and facts, integration of reading materials (including online lectures), and attention to detail. The grading rubric is provided in the assignment dropbox.

The grade will not be based upon the position taken relative to the issue, but instead will rest upon the accuracy and effectiveness of applying geographic thought. Simply arguing that you "feel" a certain way about something is not a reasonable defense of your position. Instead, you will need to cite relevant sources to support your assertions, with the majority of these sources being scholarly sources. The following video from the University of South Australia describes which sources are considered scholarly.

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How to Write a Research Proposal: Checklist Example

research project guidelines

If you are a PhD doctoral or Master’s student approaching graduation, then a large research project, dissertation, or thesis is in your future. These capstone research projects take months if not years of preparation, and the first step in this process is first writing a compelling, organized, and effective research proposal.

Check out the  key differences between dissertation and thesis .

Research Proposal Checklists Are Important

We’ve got some good and bad news for the PhD and Master’s graduate students out there. 

First, the bad news. Research proposals are not easy to write. They require lots of preparation and planning. They can also seem to be an administrative task, with your PhD advisors constantly reminding you to write something that you’re not yet sure about. And of course, it’s also yet another written document that could be rejected. 

Now, the good news. Research proposals help you organize and focus your research. They also eliminate irrelevant topics that your research cannot or should not cover. Further, they help signal your academic superiors (professors, advisors, scientific community) that your research is worth pursuing.

Research proposal checklists  go one step further. A research proposal checklist helps you identify  what  you will research,  why  it is important and relevant, and  how  you will perform the research. 

This last part is critical. Research proposals are often rejected for not being feasible or being unfocused. But an organized research or thesis proposal checklist can help you stay on topic. 

This article goes into the following topics about research proposal checklists:

What is a Research Proposal?

Research proposals are documents that propose a research project in the sciences or academic fields and request funding or sponsorship.

The primary objective is to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project as well as an organized plan to accomplish‌ ‌it. 

A main purpose of a research plan is to clearly state the central research topic or question that you intend to research while providing a solid background of your particular area of research.

Your research proposal must contain a quick  summary of the current literature , including gaps in your research area’s knowledge base as well as areas of controversy, which together demonstrate your proposal is relevant, timely, and worth pursuing.

But what functions does a research proposal perform?:

Research proposals explain your research topic

An  effective  research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • What is my research about? 
  • What specific academic area will I be researching?
  • What is the current scientific and academic literature?
  • What are the accepted theories in my area of research?
  • What are gaps in the knowledge base?
  • What are key questions researchers are currently trying to answer?

Research proposals explain why your research topic is important

A  compelling  research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • Why is my research important?
  • Why is my research interesting to both academics and laypeople?
  • What are my  research questions ? 
  • How does my research contribute to the literature?
  • How will my dissertation or thesis answer gaps or unsolved questions?
  • How or why would my research earn funding in the future?
  • How does my research relate to wider society or public health?

Research proposals explain how you will perform your research

A  feasible  research proposal should answer the following questions:

  • How will my research be performed?
  • What are my exact methods?
  • What materials will I need to purchase? 
  • What materials will I need to borrow from other researchers in my field?
  • What relationships do I need to make or maintain with other academics?
  • What is my research proposal timeline?
  • What are the standard research procedures? 
  • Are there any  study limitations  to discuss?
  • Will I need to modify any research methods? What, if any, problems will this introduce?

Research Proposal Example Checklist

Use this research proposal example checklist as an aid to draft your own research proposal. This can help you decide what information to include and keep your ideas logically structured. 

Remember, if your research proposal cannot effectively answer every single question below, then you may want to consult your advisor. It doesn’t mean your chosen research topic is bad; it just means certain areas may need some additional focus.

Click here for the full Research Proposal Example Checklist in .pdf form

research proposal example checklist 1

Research Proposal Title

The title of your research proposal must attract the reader’s eye, be descriptive of the research question, and be understandable for both casual and academic readers.

The title of your research proposal should do the following:

  • Effectively summarize the main research idea
  • Be clear to the general public
  • Be compelling to academic researchers and other graduate students
  • Fully explain the independent and dependent variables
  • Avoid abbreviations and excessive  use of articles

Research Proposal Introduction and Research Background

The introduction typically begins with a general overview of your research field, focusing on a specific research problem or question. This is followed by an explanation of why the study should be conducted.

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

  • What is the research problem, research question, and purpose of the study?
  • What is the rationale behind my study? 
  • Why is answering this research question important?
  • What are the major issues your research will address?
  • What are the major challenges in answering the research question?
  • Did you highlight or clarify the research discrepancies?

Significance of Research Proposal 

Your proposal’s introduction section should also clearly communicate why your research is significant, relevant, timely, and valid.

To effectively confirm the significance of your proposal, make sure your study accomplishes the following:

  • The research results fill a defined gap in the knowledge.
  • The proposed study will advance understanding of the subject.
  • The research results will lead to the improvement of commonly used experimental models and methods in the future.
  • The research results will yield novel findings that have academic and/or practical value.

Research Proposal Literature Review

In the literature review section, you should provide a review of the current state of the literature as well as provide a summary of the results generated by your research. Determine relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research to support your research claim. 

State an overview and significance of your primary resources and provide a critical analysis highlighting what those sources lack and future directions for research.

  • List your primary sources.
  • List your secondary sources.
  • Discuss influential research papers, paradigms, and modalities. 
  • What is lacking in well-accepted research paradigms in your research field?
  • What are the main theories, methods, and controversies in your research field?
  • How does your research question or problem tie into the current literature? Does it extend a current idea or run counter to it?

Research Proposal Theoretical Methodology and Design

Following the literature review, it is a good idea to restate your main objectives, bringing the focus back to your own project. The research design or methodology section should describe the overall approach and practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

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

  • Explain whether your research method will be a study or an experiment.
  • Is your research for a PhD dissertation or Master’s program?
  • Explain the theoretical resources motivating your choice of methods.
  • Explain how particular methods enable you to answer your research question.
  • Credit any colleagues or researchers you will collaborate with.
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of your chosen methodology.
  • What is the timeline of your research experiment or study?
  • Compare/contrast your research design with that of the literature and other research on your topic. 
  • Are there any different or alternative methods or materials that will be used?

Additionally, explain how your results will be processed:

  • How will your research results be processed and interpreted?
  • What data types will your results be in?
  • Explain the statistical models and processes you must perform (e.g. Student’s t-test).
  • Will your study be more statistically rigorous than other studies?

Read about  how to explain research methods clearly for reproducibility .

Research Proposal Discussion and Conclusion

Your  discussion and conclusion section  has an important purpose: to persuade the reader of your proposed research study’s potential impact. This section should also directly address potential weaknesses and criticisms put forth by other researchers and academics.

  • Explain the limitations and weaknesses of the proposed research.
  • Explain how any potential weaknesses would be justified by extenuating circumstances such as time and financial constraints.
  • What, if any, alternative research questions or problems naturally can be answered in the future?
  • How does the research strengthen, support, or challenge a current theoretical framework or model?

References and Bibliography

Although it comes at the end, your reference section is vital and will be carefully scrutinized. It should include all sources of information you used to support your research, and it should be in the correct citation format. 

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

Use the Wordvice APA Citation Generator  to instantly generate citations in APA Style, or choose one of the formats below to generate citations for the citation style of your academic work:

Using Research Proposal Examples

Although every research proposal is unique, it is a good idea to take a look at examples of research proposals before writing your initial proposal draft. This will help you understand the academic level you should aim for. Be sure to include a reference list at the end of your proposal as described above. 

In addition to reading research proposal examples, you should also outline your research proposal to make sure no crucial information or research proposal sections are missing from your final manuscript. Although the sections included in a research proposal may vary depending on whether it is a grant, doctoral dissertation, conference paper, or professional project, there are many sections in common. Knowing the differences before you draft will ensure that your proposal is cohesive and thorough.

Research Proposal Proofreading and Editing

It’s vital to take the time to redraft, edit, and proofread a research proposal before submitting it to your PhD advisor or committee. Researchers and graduate students usually turn to a professional English editing service  like Wordvice to improve their research writing.

Our academic services, including thesis editing , dissertation editing , and research paper editing , will fully prepare any academic document for publication in academic journals.

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Starting steps for research project success

research project guidelines

Research projects are an important part of a student’s academic career. They’re an integral part of the learning process, providing students with the opportunity to explore a particular topic in-depth, develop research skills, and make an original contribution to their field of study.

That said, they can also be a source of stress for many students, particularly if it’s their first time writing a research project. The best way to approach a project of this size is to break it down into smaller steps and ensure you’ve laid the groundwork before you even begin writing.

In this article, we’ll look at different elements of beginning a research project, including writing a proposal, starting steps, and how to use monday.com to organize all your research and tasks in one place.

What is a research project?

A research project is an organized effort to investigate a specific question or topic. It can involve either quantitative or qualitative research methods and can include surveys, interviews, or literature reviews.

The goal of a research project is to answer a question or hypothesis by exploring new ideas and testing theories.

In an academic setting, research projects are typically conducted by students, faculty members, postdoctoral fellows, or graduate students, and may involve collaborations with outside organizations.

How to write a research project proposal

Before beginning to write a research project, you need to first write a proposal. A research project proposal is a document used to outline the specific goals, methods, and resources required for a research project. It’s used to present the planned research to potential sponsors or other stakeholders in order to receive approval to proceed with the project.

There are several elements to include in a project proposal that will not only help guide your research but help show why your topic is relevant and worth pursuing.

  • Title: Develop a clear and concise title for your research project proposal.
  • Introduction: Give background, including the purpose and importance of the research.
  • Objectives: List the specific objectives of your research project.
  • Methodology: Describe the methods and techniques you will use.
  • Resources: Describe the resources you will need to carry out your project.
  • Timeline: Provide a timeline for completion and bring up any potential obstacles or risks.
  • Expected outcomes: Identify the expected outcomes, including possible implications.
  • Budget: Estimate the costs of completing the project and any necessary funding.
  • References: Provide references that you’ll cite that help prove your topic is relevant.

Looking at examples of other research project proposals will be helpful to visualize what yours should look like. Here are examples of successful project proposals in the field of social policy and criminology as well as a Ph.D. project in politics .

A project proposal template from monday.com can help you build out your project proposal. This template will ensure that you aren’t missing any essential elements that can result in your research project getting rejected or needing to edit and resubmit a new proposal.

5 starting steps for writing a research project

While there are many different steps to the writing portion of a research project, the initial setup of your project will not only set you up for success but will make the writing go a lot more smoothly. Here are five steps you should take when you’re just starting your research project.

1. Find the right supervisor

A good supervisor will provide guidance on the design, methods, and structure of your research project, as well as advice on how to best analyze and interpret data. A good way to find the right supervisor is to speak with faculty members in a department, a trusted professor, or a colleague to discuss who might be the best fit. When you have a list of potential advisors, send them an email to introduce yourself and your project before asking to meet to discuss the next steps.

2. Choose your topic

After finding a supervisor, they may be able to help you narrow down your topic. The more specific your topic, the better you’ll be able to sharpen the direction of your research so that you can explore your topic in greater depth. It can also save time by allowing you to tighten the scope of your research and focus on the most relevant aspects of the topic.

3. Develop a thesis

A thesis serves as the main point or argument and provides direction and focus to a project, allowing you to collect and organize information more efficiently. A clear and concise thesis statement guides readers in understanding the project’s purpose and ensures that readers will be able to follow the main thread of your argument.

4. Create a timeline

When you begin your research, it’s important to create a timeline to set a framework for the project and ensure that it’s completed on time. It also keeps you organized on various tasks and ensures all steps are accounted for, from researching to writing and editing. Finally, a timeline can help you stay motivated and on track.

5. Write your outline

Outlines provide structure and clarity and allow you to organize your thoughts in a logical order. An outline serves as a roadmap for your research, allowing you to focus on the important points and not get sidetracked. It may also help identify gaps in your research, which can be addressed before beginning the writing process.

monday.com can help you organize your research project

Given all the different steps to take before you even begin writing, staying organized and on top of each task will ensure your project runs seamlessly. Project management tools such as monday.com can help you stay organized so that you don’t overlook an important step in your project. There are a few specific monday.com features that make it an excellent tool for anyone working on a research project.

Track your project with timelines

project timeline in monday.com

Create a timeline to see when different elements of your research project are due and see if you’re on time with your project proposal’s timeline.

Organize your tasks in one place

task management in monday.com

There are tons of small tasks in each research project, from planning a project, collecting and organizing data, communications, surveying, and more. With monday.com’s task management tools, you can make sure you’ve accounted for all tasks you need to complete so that you don’t miss a thing.

Use a template to make a visual plan

The student planner template allows you to visualize your project plan. Not only is this a good place to track tasks, but you can also add in information such as budgets, contact information, priorities, and even attach files for each access to your project’s information all in one place.

How do you start a research project?

When starting a research project, the first step is to create a research question or hypothesis that will be the focus of the project. Next, you’ll want to begin gathering information, finding a supervisor, forming your thesis, and outlining your project.

What are some examples of research projects?

Research projects vary widely depending on the field. For example, in biology, some research projects have focused on investigating the effects of a medication or therapy on a specific group of patients or looking at the role of genetics in disease.

How do I find a research project topic?

There are many different ways to find a topic. For starters, consider which topics interest you. From there, you can research online, speak with professors or advisors, and attend conferences and workshops to find ideas.

Make sure you have all you need to start writing

Writing a research project takes a lot of time, dedication, and focus. They can also be stressful, especially if it’s your first time writing one. Following the steps and guidelines here will make your research project more successful. Additionally, using a project management work tool like monday.com to organize your research project is one of the best ways to alleviate the stress of staying on top of your tasks and timeline so that you can better focus on the research itself.

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Research Method

Home » Research Project – Definition, Writing Guide and Ideas

Research Project – Definition, Writing Guide and Ideas

Table of Contents

Research Project

Research Project

Definition :

Research Project is a planned and systematic investigation into a specific area of interest or problem, with the goal of generating new knowledge, insights, or solutions. It typically involves identifying a research question or hypothesis, designing a study to test it, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions based on the findings.

Types of Research Project

Types of Research Projects are as follows:

Basic Research

This type of research focuses on advancing knowledge and understanding of a subject area or phenomenon, without any specific application or practical use in mind. The primary goal is to expand scientific or theoretical knowledge in a particular field.

Applied Research

Applied research is aimed at solving practical problems or addressing specific issues. This type of research seeks to develop solutions or improve existing products, services or processes.

Action Research

Action research is conducted by practitioners and aimed at solving specific problems or improving practices in a particular context. It involves collaboration between researchers and practitioners, and often involves iterative cycles of data collection and analysis, with the goal of improving practices.

Quantitative Research

This type of research uses numerical data to investigate relationships between variables or to test hypotheses. It typically involves large-scale data collection through surveys, experiments, or secondary data analysis.

Qualitative Research

Qualitative research focuses on understanding and interpreting phenomena from the perspective of the people involved. It involves collecting and analyzing data in the form of text, images, or other non-numerical forms.

Mixed Methods Research

Mixed methods research combines elements of both quantitative and qualitative research, using multiple data sources and methods to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a phenomenon.

Longitudinal Research

This type of research involves studying a group of individuals or phenomena over an extended period of time, often years or decades. It is useful for understanding changes and developments over time.

Case Study Research

Case study research involves in-depth investigation of a particular case or phenomenon, often within a specific context. It is useful for understanding complex phenomena in their real-life settings.

Participatory Research

Participatory research involves active involvement of the people or communities being studied in the research process. It emphasizes collaboration, empowerment, and the co-production of knowledge.

Research Project Methodology

Research Project Methodology refers to the process of conducting research in an organized and systematic manner to answer a specific research question or to test a hypothesis. A well-designed research project methodology ensures that the research is rigorous, valid, and reliable, and that the findings are meaningful and can be used to inform decision-making.

There are several steps involved in research project methodology, which are described below:

Define the Research Question

The first step in any research project is to clearly define the research question or problem. This involves identifying the purpose of the research, the scope of the research, and the key variables that will be studied.

Develop a Research Plan

Once the research question has been defined, the next step is to develop a research plan. This plan outlines the methodology that will be used to collect and analyze data, including the research design, sampling strategy, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.

Collect Data

The data collection phase involves gathering information through various methods, such as surveys, interviews, observations, experiments, or secondary data analysis. The data collected should be relevant to the research question and should be of sufficient quantity and quality to enable meaningful analysis.

Analyze Data

Once the data has been collected, it is analyzed using appropriate statistical techniques or other methods. The analysis should be guided by the research question and should aim to identify patterns, trends, relationships, or other insights that can inform the research findings.

Interpret and Report Findings

The final step in the research project methodology is to interpret the findings and report them in a clear and concise manner. This involves summarizing the results, discussing their implications, and drawing conclusions that can be used to inform decision-making.

Research Project Writing Guide

Here are some guidelines to help you in writing a successful research project:

  • Choose a topic: Choose a topic that you are interested in and that is relevant to your field of study. It is important to choose a topic that is specific and focused enough to allow for in-depth research and analysis.
  • Conduct a literature review : Conduct a thorough review of the existing research on your topic. This will help you to identify gaps in the literature and to develop a research question or hypothesis.
  • Develop a research question or hypothesis : Based on your literature review, develop a clear research question or hypothesis that you will investigate in your study.
  • Design your study: Choose an appropriate research design and methodology to answer your research question or test your hypothesis. This may include choosing a sample, selecting measures or instruments, and determining data collection methods.
  • Collect data: Collect data using your chosen methods and instruments. Be sure to follow ethical guidelines and obtain informed consent from participants if necessary.
  • Analyze data: Analyze your data using appropriate statistical or qualitative methods. Be sure to clearly report your findings and provide interpretations based on your research question or hypothesis.
  • Discuss your findings : Discuss your findings in the context of the existing literature and your research question or hypothesis. Identify any limitations or implications of your study and suggest directions for future research.
  • Write your project: Write your research project in a clear and organized manner, following the appropriate format and style guidelines for your field of study. Be sure to include an introduction, literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and conclusion.
  • Revise and edit: Revise and edit your project for clarity, coherence, and accuracy. Be sure to proofread for spelling, grammar, and formatting errors.
  • Cite your sources: Cite your sources accurately and appropriately using the appropriate citation style for your field of study.

Examples of Research Projects

Some Examples of Research Projects are as follows:

  • Investigating the effects of a new medication on patients with a particular disease or condition.
  • Exploring the impact of exercise on mental health and well-being.
  • Studying the effectiveness of a new teaching method in improving student learning outcomes.
  • Examining the impact of social media on political participation and engagement.
  • Investigating the efficacy of a new therapy for a specific mental health disorder.
  • Exploring the use of renewable energy sources in reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change.
  • Studying the effects of a new agricultural technique on crop yields and environmental sustainability.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of a new technology in improving business productivity and efficiency.
  • Examining the impact of a new public policy on social inequality and access to resources.
  • Exploring the factors that influence consumer behavior in a specific market.

Characteristics of Research Project

Here are some of the characteristics that are often associated with research projects:

  • Clear objective: A research project is designed to answer a specific question or solve a particular problem. The objective of the research should be clearly defined from the outset.
  • Systematic approach: A research project is typically carried out using a structured and systematic approach that involves careful planning, data collection, analysis, and interpretation.
  • Rigorous methodology: A research project should employ a rigorous methodology that is appropriate for the research question being investigated. This may involve the use of statistical analysis, surveys, experiments, or other methods.
  • Data collection : A research project involves collecting data from a variety of sources, including primary sources (such as surveys or experiments) and secondary sources (such as published literature or databases).
  • Analysis and interpretation : Once the data has been collected, it needs to be analyzed and interpreted. This involves using statistical techniques or other methods to identify patterns or relationships in the data.
  • Conclusion and implications : A research project should lead to a clear conclusion that answers the research question. It should also identify the implications of the findings for future research or practice.
  • Communication: The results of the research project should be communicated clearly and effectively, using appropriate language and visual aids, to a range of audiences, including peers, stakeholders, and the wider public.

Importance of Research Project

Research projects are an essential part of the process of generating new knowledge and advancing our understanding of various fields of study. Here are some of the key reasons why research projects are important:

  • Advancing knowledge : Research projects are designed to generate new knowledge and insights into particular topics or questions. This knowledge can be used to inform policies, practices, and decision-making processes across a range of fields.
  • Solving problems: Research projects can help to identify solutions to real-world problems by providing a better understanding of the causes and effects of particular issues.
  • Developing new technologies: Research projects can lead to the development of new technologies or products that can improve people’s lives or address societal challenges.
  • Improving health outcomes: Research projects can contribute to improving health outcomes by identifying new treatments, diagnostic tools, or preventive strategies.
  • Enhancing education: Research projects can enhance education by providing new insights into teaching and learning methods, curriculum development, and student learning outcomes.
  • Informing public policy : Research projects can inform public policy by providing evidence-based recommendations and guidance on issues related to health, education, environment, social justice, and other areas.
  • Enhancing professional development : Research projects can enhance the professional development of researchers by providing opportunities to develop new skills, collaborate with colleagues, and share knowledge with others.

Research Project Ideas

Following are some Research Project Ideas:

Field: Psychology

  • Investigating the impact of social support on coping strategies among individuals with chronic illnesses.
  • Exploring the relationship between childhood trauma and adult attachment styles.
  • Examining the effects of exercise on cognitive function and brain health in older adults.
  • Investigating the impact of sleep deprivation on decision making and risk-taking behavior.
  • Exploring the relationship between personality traits and leadership styles in the workplace.
  • Examining the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for treating anxiety disorders.
  • Investigating the relationship between social comparison and body dissatisfaction in young women.
  • Exploring the impact of parenting styles on children’s emotional regulation and behavior.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions for treating depression.
  • Examining the relationship between childhood adversity and later-life health outcomes.

Field: Economics

  • Analyzing the impact of trade agreements on economic growth in developing countries.
  • Examining the effects of tax policy on income distribution and poverty reduction.
  • Investigating the relationship between foreign aid and economic development in low-income countries.
  • Exploring the impact of globalization on labor markets and job displacement.
  • Analyzing the impact of minimum wage laws on employment and income levels.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of monetary policy in managing inflation and unemployment.
  • Examining the relationship between economic freedom and entrepreneurship.
  • Analyzing the impact of income inequality on social mobility and economic opportunity.
  • Investigating the role of education in economic development.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different healthcare financing systems in promoting health equity.

Field: Sociology

  • Investigating the impact of social media on political polarization and civic engagement.
  • Examining the effects of neighborhood characteristics on health outcomes.
  • Analyzing the impact of immigration policies on social integration and cultural diversity.
  • Investigating the relationship between social support and mental health outcomes in older adults.
  • Exploring the impact of income inequality on social cohesion and trust.
  • Analyzing the effects of gender and race discrimination on career advancement and pay equity.
  • Investigating the relationship between social networks and health behaviors.
  • Examining the effectiveness of community-based interventions for reducing crime and violence.
  • Analyzing the impact of social class on cultural consumption and taste.
  • Investigating the relationship between religious affiliation and social attitudes.

Field: Computer Science

  • Developing an algorithm for detecting fake news on social media.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different machine learning algorithms for image recognition.
  • Developing a natural language processing tool for sentiment analysis of customer reviews.
  • Analyzing the security implications of blockchain technology for online transactions.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different recommendation algorithms for personalized advertising.
  • Developing an artificial intelligence chatbot for mental health counseling.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different algorithms for optimizing online advertising campaigns.
  • Developing a machine learning model for predicting consumer behavior in online marketplaces.
  • Analyzing the privacy implications of different data sharing policies for online platforms.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different algorithms for predicting stock market trends.

Field: Education

  • Investigating the impact of teacher-student relationships on academic achievement.
  • Analyzing the effectiveness of different pedagogical approaches for promoting student engagement and motivation.
  • Examining the effects of school choice policies on academic achievement and social mobility.
  • Investigating the impact of technology on learning outcomes and academic achievement.
  • Analyzing the effects of school funding disparities on educational equity and achievement gaps.
  • Investigating the relationship between school climate and student mental health outcomes.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different teaching strategies for promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  • Investigating the impact of social-emotional learning programs on student behavior and academic achievement.
  • Analyzing the effects of standardized testing on student motivation and academic achievement.

Field: Environmental Science

  • Investigating the impact of climate change on species distribution and biodiversity.
  • Analyzing the effectiveness of different renewable energy technologies in reducing carbon emissions.
  • Examining the impact of air pollution on human health outcomes.
  • Investigating the relationship between urbanization and deforestation in developing countries.
  • Analyzing the effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Investigating the impact of land use change on soil fertility and ecosystem services.
  • Analyzing the effectiveness of different conservation policies and programs for protecting endangered species and habitats.
  • Investigating the relationship between climate change and water resources in arid regions.
  • Examining the impact of plastic pollution on marine ecosystems and biodiversity.
  • Investigating the effects of different agricultural practices on soil health and nutrient cycling.

Field: Linguistics

  • Analyzing the impact of language diversity on social integration and cultural identity.
  • Investigating the relationship between language and cognition in bilingual individuals.
  • Examining the effects of language contact and language change on linguistic diversity.
  • Investigating the role of language in shaping cultural norms and values.
  • Analyzing the effectiveness of different language teaching methodologies for second language acquisition.
  • Investigating the relationship between language proficiency and academic achievement.
  • Examining the impact of language policy on language use and language attitudes.
  • Investigating the role of language in shaping gender and social identities.
  • Analyzing the effects of dialect contact on language variation and change.
  • Investigating the relationship between language and emotion expression.

Field: Political Science

  • Analyzing the impact of electoral systems on women’s political representation.
  • Investigating the relationship between political ideology and attitudes towards immigration.
  • Examining the effects of political polarization on democratic institutions and political stability.
  • Investigating the impact of social media on political participation and civic engagement.
  • Analyzing the effects of authoritarianism on human rights and civil liberties.
  • Investigating the relationship between public opinion and foreign policy decisions.
  • Examining the impact of international organizations on global governance and cooperation.
  • Investigating the effectiveness of different conflict resolution strategies in resolving ethnic and religious conflicts.
  • Analyzing the effects of corruption on economic development and political stability.
  • Investigating the role of international law in regulating global governance and human rights.

Field: Medicine

  • Investigating the impact of lifestyle factors on chronic disease risk and prevention.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different treatment approaches for mental health disorders.
  • Investigating the relationship between genetics and disease susceptibility.
  • Analyzing the effects of social determinants of health on health outcomes and health disparities.
  • Investigating the impact of different healthcare delivery models on patient outcomes and cost effectiveness.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different prevention and treatment strategies for infectious diseases.
  • Investigating the relationship between healthcare provider communication skills and patient satisfaction and outcomes.
  • Analyzing the effects of medical error and patient safety on healthcare quality and outcomes.
  • Investigating the impact of different pharmaceutical pricing policies on access to essential medicines.
  • Examining the effectiveness of different rehabilitation approaches for improving function and quality of life in individuals with disabilities.

Field: Anthropology

  • Analyzing the impact of colonialism on indigenous cultures and identities.
  • Investigating the relationship between cultural practices and health outcomes in different populations.
  • Examining the effects of globalization on cultural diversity and cultural exchange.
  • Investigating the role of language in cultural transmission and preservation.
  • Analyzing the effects of cultural contact on cultural change and adaptation.
  • Investigating the impact of different migration policies on immigrant integration and acculturation.
  • Examining the role of gender and sexuality in cultural norms and values.
  • Investigating the impact of cultural heritage preservation on tourism and economic development.
  • Analyzing the effects of cultural revitalization movements on indigenous communities.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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IMAGES

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  3. Choosing a Research Topic

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COMMENTS

  1. A Beginner's Guide to Starting the Research Process

    Step 1: Choose your topic Step 2: Identify a problem Step 3: Formulate research questions Step 4: Create a research design Step 5: Write a research proposal Other interesting articles Step 1: Choose your topic First you have to come up with some ideas. Your thesis or dissertation topic can start out very broad.

  2. Write Your Research Plan

    Within the character limit, include the important information to distinguish your project within the research area, your project's goals, and the research problem. Giving your project a title at the outset can help you stay focused and avoid a meandering Research Plan. So you may want to launch your writing by creating a well-defined title.

  3. (Pdf) a Guide to Research Writing

    Guidelines for the successful application of statistics in the analysis of data .... 80. The analysis of univariate data ... • Sketch the steps in the research project

  4. 11.3 Managing Your Research Project

    Review the steps outlined at the beginning of this chapter. Steps to Writing a Research Paper. Choose a topic. Schedule and plan time for research and writing. Conduct research. Organize research. Draft your paper. Revise and edit your paper. You have already completed step 1.

  5. PDF Research Proposal Format Example

    1 Research Proposal Format Example Following is a general outline of the material that should be included in your project proposal. I. Title Page II. Introduction and Literature Review (Chapters 2 and 3) A. Identification of specific problem area (e.g., what is it, why it is important). B. Prevalence, scope of problem. C.

  6. What is a research project?

    A research project is an academic, scientific, or professional undertaking to answer a research question. Research projects can take many forms, such as qualitative or quantitative, descriptive, longitudinal, experimental, or correlational. What kind of research approach you choose will depend on your topic.

  7. PDF PHCM9148 Research Project Guidelines

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  10. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

    The design elements and procedures for conducting research are governed by standards of the predominant discipline in which the problem resides, therefore, the guidelines for research proposals are more exacting and less formal than a general project proposal. Research proposals contain extensive literature reviews.

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    Research Project Guidelines The research project serves to demonstrate the student's ability to apply the quantitative and methodological principles of clinical research contained in the curriculum. The products required are a manuscript and an oral presentation, both of which will be evaluated by an examining committee.

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    Welcome to the Digital Roadmap and Resources. Work your way through interactive exercises for each stage of the research project roadmap and watch videos from your pocket supervisor, Gary Thomas. Explore real-world practice through case studies and journal articles.Reflect, revise, and take your learning on the go with worksheets and get to grips with key terms and concepts using digital ...

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    Submission Requirements. Students wishing to present a project may submit any of the following: 200-300 word abstract. Examples: An abstract describing an architectural model or a painting. Research paper. Slide presentation. Examples: Google Slides or PowerPoint. Poem. IMPORTANT NOTE: Guidelines are provided below for submission of each of the ...

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    Provide both a description of and a justification for the project. For research projects, this might include design, sample size, measurement techniques, instrumentation and data analysis. For creative projects, this might include an outline of the project, a sample of the material, a description of the plot e.g., slides, audio or videotape,

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    Applicants are strongly encouraged to research prior Pro Bono Innovation Fund projects to replicate and improve upon them. LSC is particularly interested in applications that propose to replicate projects LSC has previously funded with "Sustainability" Grants. Project Grants can be either 18 or 24 months. 3. Transformation Grants