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Guidelines on Writing a Research Proposal

Writing a research proposal is rightfully considered as one of the most complex tasks and requires mastery of multiple skills. It is a paper, which aims to deliver a brief information on the research you want to conduct, explaining the main reasons why it will be useful for the reader and for the society. A correct research proposal should contain:

You should give an overview of your studies and interest others to go on reading. A research paper is usually the first step for students to get funding for their project, so it is crucial to create a thoughtful and deep paper.

You should pay attention to the common mistakes and use a research proposal template if needed in order to avoid them. First, you need to be precise and perform a clear vision of what you are going to describe (provide a clear idea, time, place and so on). You should always stay focused on the problem, avoiding too many details on minor issues. You shouldn’t forget about correcting any grammar or lexical mistakes, which will definitely spoil the overall impression. Finally, you should pay careful attention to citing other works in your study to show that you have conducted a thoughtful research and know the subject perfectly.

In this article, we will give you an overview of how to write a proposal for a research paper and make it stand out from the rest.

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Research Proposal Example and Sample

Most of the students struggle to find information on how to write a research proposal and spend lots of money when hiring others to complete the task. Using a proposal sample can be of a great help for those, who want to create a research paper on their own but don’t know where to start.

A previously downloaded template can greatly help any student and give an overall information on such aspects like:

Using proposal examples is a great way to learn from someone else’s experience and create an outstanding powerful proposal.

Research Proposal Outline

It is impossible to conduct a thorough paper without using a sample research proposal. It will greatly help you to shape your research and give its readers the best impression.

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This is only a sample, to get your own paper you need to:

Research Proposal Examples

research proposal format

Research Proposal Format

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Research Proposal Sample

research proposal template

Research Proposal Template

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Proposal Example

A research proposal format consists of six main parts:

We hope, that with the help of this data you will be able to interest the reader and be able to create a deep and thoughtful research paper.

Research Proposal topics

According to the latest surveys, over a half of all students face difficulties when looking for research proposal ideas for the topic. We decided to put an ease on the writing process and offer a list of ideas. Choose the best matching research topic proposal example as the inspiration:

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Research topic proposal format

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Research Proposal Template

A research proposal template is a professional document that is used when introducing a research study about a certain topic to a client. This Research Proposal template from Jotform Sign lets you fill out details such as the title of the research, description, problem statement, research questions or hypothesis, objectives, sources of data, data manipulation, data management, time table, financial budget, references, and information about the researcher. Fill out and e-sign it from any device — then share it with participants via email or by printing out a finalized copy.

Making changes to this template is quick and easy with our no-code online builder. No design knowledge required — just drag and drop to add or edit form fields, include your unique branding, change fonts and colors, and make other cosmetic changes in seconds. Make a strong first impression with a custom Research Proposal from Jotform Sign.

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Sign Templates: Free Business Proposal Template

Free Business Proposal Template

Getting your business off the ground is no small task and might require gathering funding from investors. With Jotform Sign, your young business can create a Free Business Proposal Template to outline your business’ needs, ideas, and benefits — making it easier to get investor buy-ins. Just create and customize your proposal, then send it to your investors and stakeholders for their e-signatures.Need to make changes to your Free Business Proposal Template? No problem! Jotform’s got you covered. Drag and drop to personalize your form to align with your company branding and policies. Add or remove form fields, create automated signing orders for multiple investors, upload logos and branding, and choose fonts and colors that work best for you. Work smarter with Jotform Sign.

Sign Templates: Free Project Proposal

Free Project Proposal

Don’t waste time creating multiple project proposals from scratch. With Jotform Sign’s ready-made Project Proposal template, you can generate and customize a professional-looking proposal that includes details such as an overview and description of the project, resources and budget, project goals, expected outcomes, and more. Update the wording however you see fit, then share it with clients via email to seamlessly gather e-signatures from any device.Want to personalize this Free Project Proposal to match your company’s branding? No problem! Using our powerful online builder, you can add or edit form fields, upload your logo and branding, include images, change fonts and colors, and make other design changes without any coding. Once both you and your client have signed this proposal, you’ll automatically receive a finalized document — ready to share, download, and print for your records.

Sign Templates: Mobile App Development Proposal

Mobile App Development Proposal

Create a Mobile App Development Proposal Template that works for all occasions with Jotform Sign. With our entirely online signature and feedback collection process, you’ll be able to manage and reference signatures from your team members in one convenient place. Share via email or embed in your online team portal.Customizing this Mobile App Development Proposal Template is simple and efficient with Jotform Sign. Update the terms and conditions, add or remove form fields, change fonts and colors, and make other cosmetic changes with no coding required. Create your app proposal, send it straight to your team, and start collecting signatures and feedback instantly. Collaborate smarter with Jotform. To collect e-signatures on any device, create an e-sign document with Jotform Sign.

These templates are suggested forms only. If you're using a form as a contract, or to gather personal (or personal health) info, or for some other purpose with legal implications, we recommend that you do your homework to ensure you are complying with applicable laws and that you consult an attorney before relying on any particular form.

Free Proposal Templates

Write a winning proposal in minutes with Jotform’s Proposal PDF Templates. Whether you need a business proposal, bid proposal, or project proposal, these free proposal templates will help guide you in creating an attention-grabbing proposal that contains key information regarding objectives, strategy, and budget. Proposal submissions will automatically be converted into PDFs that are easy to print, pitch, and present.

Personalize your proposal for your company or potential clients using Jotform’s PDF Editor. If you need to start from scratch, you can always get started generating a custom proposal for free! In any case, you’ll be able to modify your proposal template however you’d like, from writing additional form fields to changing fonts and colors. Jotform simplifies the proposal process so you can spend less time drawing up your proposals and more time closing deals.

Prepare a business proposal to present to interested investors. Personalize to match your branding. Works on all devices. Collect e-signatures quickly.

Generate a free project proposal in seconds with Jotform Sign. Fill out and e-sign from any smartphone, tablet, or desktop. Easy to customize and sign.

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Create a bid proposal for upcoming projects. Customize to match your project’s theme. Works on any device — desktop, tablet, or mobile. Collaborate smarter.

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Sponsorship Proposal

This sponsorship proposal template helps you attract and convince your leads to be part of your event as a sponsor. It contains a front page, cover letter for the leads, company overview, information about the event and terms.

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What is a proposal?

A proposal is a formal offer written in response to a specific request or opportunity with a prospective client. As the name suggests, it proposes a unique idea or a solution to a client’s problem. Proposals are evaluated on whether they meet a client’s expectations regarding goals, timelines, deliverables, and budget.

What are the different types of proposals?

From sales proposals to construction proposals to book proposals, proposals are written for all purposes and industries. Some of the most common types of proposals are grant proposals, research proposals, and business proposals. Business proposals are either solicited or unsolicited. A solicited proposal is one that has been requested by a client or written in response to an RFP (request for proposal). RFPs are sent out by companies and agencies and list specific requirements. Unsolicited proposals initiate the sales process without responding to a request and are generally considered to be more challenging to write.

What should I include in my proposal?

Our free proposal templates already include everything you'll need for your proposal. To learn more about proposals, read our article on items to include in a proposal!

How should I write an effective business proposal?

It takes a lot more than a good idea for a proposal to be successful. Check out our tips on how to write a winning proposal .

What makes a proposal different from an estimate, quote, bid, or business plan?

Unlike estimates, quotes, and bids, proposals include information beyond the specific cost of a project or service. Proposals provide an in-depth explanation of the work being done, with details about scope, deliverables, milestones, and qualifications as well as budget.

While a business plan and business proposal might sound like the same document, one focuses on a company’s internal operations while the other seeks to create a business relationship with another company. A business plan, usually written with the intent of securing funds from an investor, summarizes a company’s overall goals and objectives. On the other hand, a business proposal focuses on a specific project or service for a prospective client.

Can a proposal become a contract?

For a document to be considered a legally binding contract, it must consist of an offer, consideration, and acceptance. A proposal can serve as the foundation for a contract, but it will generally only require a client’s signature, whereas a contract needs signatures from all involved parties.

A signed proposal may become a contract only if it contains signatures from each party and contractual language such as terms and conditions. However, it’s best to keep your contract separate from your proposal in case your client disagrees with your offer and requires a new document outlining the negotiated terms. If you need inspiration for your contract, we recommend our free contract PDF templates.

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Research Proposal Template

Use this template to create a proposal for a market research study.

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Market Research Proposal Template

Used 7,240 times

Reviewed by Olga Asheychik

Title of the research

Prepared for: [Client.Company]

Prepared by: [Sender.FirstName] [Sender.LastName] [Sender.Company]

What is a market research proposal? A market research proposal is a document that sells your services to potential clients by showing them what they can accomplish by hiring you to complete their project or research study. It includes a summary, objectives, existing knowledge, intended outcomes, target demographics, data collection methods, a detailed research methodology, a project timeline, proposed budget, ethical considerations, and further outcomes.

Through this market research project, [research title] , we aim to provide more information for [client] regarding market trends in the area. The following summary will give an overview of the causes, processes, and possible effects of the market research proposal detailed below.

Based on our conversation with [Client First Name] with [Client Company] , we know that your goals for this research include [objective] and [objective] We will use a variety of qualitative and quantitative processes to collect and analyze the latest market data. This process will allow you to assess the potential market for your new product and how best to advertise it.

The primary client objectives for this research involve:

2. Objectives

The overall purpose of this market research study is to develop a marketing strategy for [Client Company] ’s newest product. Specific objectives to be addressed as a result of the study are:

3. Existing knowledge

Based on our initial prospecting call with [Client First Name] at [Client Company Name] , we know that this product will complement an existing product line. This line’s most successful target market is women between the ages of 20 and 40 with an annual household income between $50,000 and $75,000.

Other companies in this industry have successfully launched similar products that are currently selling well with your target demographic. Last year [Client Industry] revenues topped [$dollar amount] .

By researching what features clients most desire in [Client Company] ’s new product, you will have a better understanding of their triggers. You can tailor your marketing strategy to highlight these features and tell the story of how they benefit target customers, capture new customers and build market share.

4. Intended outcomes

Based on our experience, we believe that the study will allow [Client Company] to:

You can use these results to tailor your marketing messages and chosen marketing channels to better target your desired market. By better understanding how your product meets customer needs, you can develop ad strategies to communicate its benefits.

5. Target demographics

Our research process will begin in-house with [Client Company] ’s marketing team. We will evaluate annual reports, sales reports, research and development reports, and other existing data to confirm that our target market is correct.

Based on our initial call and background research, this study will target 200 individuals from households of different sizes within your service area. From our initial research, we have determined that this study will likely target women between the ages of 20 and 40 with an annual income of between $35,000 and $100,000, but specifics will be determined following interviews with [Client Company] . Focused research methodologies will be used to determine what features of the new product they find most beneficial as well as their current level of awareness of [Client Company] and their preferred marketing channels.

6. Data collection

To meet the objectives of the project, we will perform the following data collection methods. Data collection methods will be suited to the project at hand and will include:

Focus groups are a proven method for gathering data from your target sample. We will conduct up to five focus group meetings consisting of no more than 10 participants. In our experience, smaller groups allow us to collect data from more participants, and they are easier to control.

Each focus group will last for about an hour, and participants will receive a $5 gift card for their time. Focus groups will be conducted in our conference rooms.

We will also conduct a randomly distributed mail survey to collect data from a representative sample within your service area. The survey will also be made available online. Customers who receive the mail survey will be given an access code to take the survey online, and their responses will be kept separate from general online responses to maintain a random sample.

To capture additional responses, we will display QR codes in targeted locations to promote the online survey. We suggest offering an incentive to people who take the survey such as an entry to a prize drawing or a coupon from [Client Company] .

Along with focus groups and surveys, we recommend conducting intercept polls of people in the desired target market shopping near retail chains that currently carry [Client Company] ’s products.

7. Approach

This research study will include a blend of qualitative and quantitative research methods, primarily utilizing the data collection methods listed above. Since your objectives include [objective] our research methods have been tailored to reach your desired demographics. In our previous experience, we have found that this demographic responds well to our proposed methodology.

The study will provide beneficial data to your company by focusing on the following key topics:

Potential limitations to the study methods include survey fatigue. Most companies include customer satisfaction surveys at every customer touchpoint, and people are less receptive to taking a survey. This has made it more difficult to capture user opinions using traditional survey methods.

To counteract survey fatigue, we will supplement survey data with a mix of qualitative and quantitative research. We will gather information from industry reports, online interactions, social media metrics, and in-person research to generate accurate and useful data.

To reach younger members of your target demographic, we propose offering digital engagement tools including livestream question-and-answer sessions and a dedicated social media page on which they can submit feedback. We can also set up a project-specific website to conduct user engagement. Our tools allow us to see the IP addresses of each user, so we exclude fake or irrelevant responses.

8. Reporting

Our project manager will keep in touch with [Client Company] regularly throughout the project. We will conduct weekly progress meetings via phone or video conferencing. At these meetings, we will discuss completed tasks, gather any outstanding data, and discuss the next steps in the process.

Written reports will be provided at the end of each task detailing the research methodology and the outcomes of each phase of the project. At the end of the project, a detailed report will be submitted containing a summary of the project and detailed results. We will submit the draft report to your project manager in Google Docs for any edits. Once the project is completed, we can present the report to your internal project team so they can best understand the results.

We will provide a printed copy and a PDF of the final report.

9. Timeline

Based on our call with [First Name] at [Client Company] , we know that you would like this study to be completed by the end of September. Since you plan on using the results to develop your marketing budget for the next fiscal year, we will complete your project within your desired time frame.

The following timeline details data collection times, the specific period of research analysis and the date of final deliverables. ‌‌We have developed this schedule based on our understanding of your needs, but the final timeline will be discussed during project kick off.

Task 1 Task description

Task 2 Task description

Task 3 Task description

10. Proposed budget

Task 1 [Cost] Description

Task 2 [Cost]

Task 3 [Cost]

‌‌Final report [Cost]

Reimbursable expenses [Cost]

Total [Cost]

11. Ethical considerations

[Company name] follows all ethical considerations regarding market research and test subjects. Each participant will be told that their participation in this research is voluntary, and they will be told how we plan on using their data. We will provide them with a form explaining this information and assuring them that their data will remain confidential.

Each participant will sign a form stating that they understand these terms. To protect each participant, we will not collect any personal data other than standard demographic information that can be used to inform the study.

If any additional data is collected, we will not sell this information to a third party or use it in any other research studies. It will be collected solely for the purposes of this market research project.

12. Further outcomes

This market research study will give [Client Company] a better understanding of your target market. It will provide insight into what your clients expect from your new product and how to best market it to members of your target demographic.

The study may also highlight other data including existing brand awareness and brand perceptions you can use to further tailor your ads.

13. About us

Our company was founded by market research experts with [XX] years of experience conducting similar studies. We use proven methodologies to collect data and distill it into easily digestible reports. We encourage our employees to stay up-to-date on the latest research techniques and analysis software.

14. Project team

Team Member

Bio – [Project Manager Name] has [XX] years of experience managing research studies for clients in many industries. She has a Master’s Degree in Market Research from [University] and is a Certified Research Expert.

Her experience includes similar studies in the industry which her client used to boost their market share by %. She is a well-known speaker at industry conferences and is well versed in the latest data analytics software.

Bio – [Team Member Name] is a data analyst with [XX] years of experience. He has worked on [XX] projects in [industry] and is a Certified Research Analyst. He will assist with data collection and analysis and provide technical support for all online components of this research study.

15. Previous successes

[Example Company] used our market research results to improve their understanding of client needs and used the information to develop a new marketing strategy. As a result, they achieved a 25% growth in revenue and reduced inventory backlog by 30%.

[Client Name]


16. Acceptance and terms and conditions

research topic proposal format

Table of Contents

1. abstract, 2. contents, 3. introduction, 4. literature review, 5. notion of original research, 6. key assertions / objectives, 7. research methods, 8. analysis, 9. proposed chapter outline, 10. research limitations, 11. proposed timescale, 12. references / bibliography, research proposal template, important notes.

Please note that the nature of a  research proposal  will vary depending on your specific audience. If, for example, you are addressing only academics in your precise field, you can be quite specific about your area of study and assume a high degree of existing knowledge. But if you are addressing a wider audience, you need to assume that they have less existing knowledge.

In any case, it is important to keep your tone formal and academic, while still being as clear and simple you can in your language. Many people writing research proposals make the mistake of trying to over-complicate their language with the idea that it will make them sound academic / impressive. What is most impressive is having an idea that is worthy of academic research whilst remaining comprehensible.

While this document has the form of a sample, the main body of an academic proposal needs to be based on your research idea: all the rest of the content needs to flow from that if it is to be academically credible.

The notes and guide that form most of the words in this template are more important than the sentences to fill in. Often, the less ‘filler’ in an academic proposal, the better, as this means it is clear to your readers that your work is content-oriented. Often, the title of a subsection will be enough to introduce it. But it is important to get the title right.

The Sections of This Template

From here onwards, this sample is split into 13 sections according to the sections that should be included in an academic research proposal. Each section includes example notes and guidance on the suggested length and content. Some sections also include suggested content templates to be filled in, but given the nature of a research proposal as academic, this can unfortunately only be limited.

Please also note, the abstract, contents page, introduction and references should always appear on new pages on a printed document. Other sections can continue without page breaks

This should be clear and concise, while leaving the reader in no doubt as to your field of study. A good title structure can often be “Short Title: Longer Explanation of Your Field”.

Your academic institution may have a preferred format for the title, or even a title page. Find out before you submit your proposal. If there is no preferred format, keep it simple and clear, and use a ‘serif’ font that is easily legible.

<Main title: what I am trying to find out in this project>

<Academic Institution>

<Subject Area>

<Supervisor (if you already have one)>

<Name / student number>

100-200 words . Note: this summarises the central theme of your research. For this, try to use concise and clipped language, which is academic without being over-wordy and verbose.

The abstract needs to be entirely your own words, as every abstract will be completely different depending on your topic. Like the rest of the document, apart from block quotations, it should be double-spaced and laid out clearly.

Depending on the length of your research proposal, you may wish to include a contents page for the proposal itself (not for your main research project: suggested contents for this is included in your Proposed Chapter Outline, section 9), as follows (add page numbers / subsections when you know them, depending on your research).

As you introduce sub-sections into your different sections, number them accordingly e.g. subsections of the literature review could be numbered 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, etc.

200-400 words . Note: unlike the abstract, this is not a summary of everything you are about to say: you can afford to grab your readers’ attention.

Make a surprise beginning, perhaps a quote from someone who inspires you on this topic, and show your knowledge of the research area (include if you like your previous research experience in this field: you can afford to be personal in this section) and why it is relevant to today’s world.]

Length can vary immensely, but probably 300-1500 words or more, depending on the nature of your research . Note: this is one of the most important sections of your research proposal. It demonstrates that you know your field, who the key research players are in it, what has been said in the past and what is being said at the moment. You will want to mention, and where appropriate quote from, key works in your area.

This is the section that requires the most preliminary research: make sure you spend some time in an academic library and using search engines for relevant academic papers before presenting this. You do not need to discuss every work in your area, but you need to present a competent outline, and, especially if this is a proposal for doctoral research, you need to be sure that no-one else has already done the same project.

A good way of presenting a literature review coherently is in the form of a narrative, which can either be chronological or thematic.

There has been a <small / considerable / state value here> amount of previous academic research in this field.

< for a chronological narrative >

I will outline how the understanding of <this topic> has developed over the last <number of> years.

<insert chronological narrative, remembering to introduce key players, dates, and academic works, and end with the state of the field as it is today.>

<for a thematic narrative>

I will outline the major themes that are of relevance in this field, and go through them each in turn:

<use a bulleted list to outline what themes / topics you are planning on covering>

<After your bulleted list, you can use the themes from your list as subtitles to split up your literature review. Put them in bold, like this. You could also add them as subsections in your contents page.>

<Under each subtitle, describe the state of the field of research in this area, including the most important researchers and works in this area.>

Length varies, but probably similar length to literature review . Note: this is where you sell your research proposal to the reader. You need to explain, clearly and simply, how your research will complement the field you have just described in your literature review: what you will add, how it fills an existing gap, why the academic world would benefit from your research, etc.

It is impossible to have an example here, as every original piece of research will warrant a completely different approach. It is not possible simply to say ‘My piece of work is original because <insert reason here>, and this field needs to answer this question because <insert reason here>.’ Let this section be the central idea of your research that you are passionate about and everything else can build around.

One sentence for each question / assertion.  Note: this is really part of the ‘notion of original research’ section. A good way of making your research aim clear is to state a clear research question, and back it up with 2-4 specific assertions or objectives.

My central research question is as follows:

<insert research question here, in bold>

In the light of this, I will make the following observations / assertions:

<insert observations / assertions here, in bulleted list>

Approx. 50-1000 words depending on the nature of your research . This is where you explain how and where you plan to carry out your research. This will vary hugely depending on your subject.

Will you be researching in libraries and archives? Which ones hold the books and documents you will need? Will you need to travel? If so, where? Will your research involve extensive field-work? How and where? State whether you will plan to use different methods of data collection, and if so what they will be. Do you need to be in a laboratory? Will you be using qualitative or quantitative collection of data?

Do you have the necessary skills and qualifications to undertake your research (for instance foreign languages, statistical analysis, laboratory training, etc)? If not, what are your plans to acquire these skills (note: many postgraduate institutions offer considerable support in the acquisition of new skills necessary to perform research, but this will need discussing at the proposal stage)?

Approx. 50-300 words.  Note: once you have collected your data, what do you plan to do with it? Again, depending on the nature of your research, this section could be anywhere from one or two sentences to several paragraphs.

Probably less than 200 words, unless you have a very detailed plan already in mind . Note: this is like a preliminary contents page, but it does not need to be very specific, and can suggest sections rather than chapters at this stage, but the academics reading your proposal will be impressed to know that you have some idea how you may wish to present your work, and that you have some way in mind of translating your research to paper.

1. <title of your first chapter>

<explanation of your first chapter contents: one sentence>

1.1 <first subsection of your first chapter>

1.2 <second subsection of your first chapter>

2. <title of your second chapter>

<explanation of your second chapter contents: one sentence>

2.1 <first subsection of your second chapter>

2.2 <second subsection of your second chapter>

2.2.1 <smaller section>

2.2.2 <another small section>

<explanation of your third chapter contents: one sentence>

Approx. 50-300 words . Note: this section states everything you won’t be able to do in your research. It is surprisingly important, as it shows that you can recognise the limited scale of your work. Every project needs distinct limiting factors in order to be manageable.]

Naturally, the scope of this project is limited. This section describes specific limitations.

<add limitations here!>

A pprox 50-300 words . Note: this section is optional, but may be helpful to show your potential supervisors that you are being realistic and recognise that your project has limits. It also will help you to know the scale of your work in the preliminary stages of planning, and help you to have realistic expectations of yourself.

I predict that this research project will take <x> months / years. I propose a rough timescale, as follows:

<here, make a list of tasks that will need completing as part of your research project, and how long you predict each will take in terms of weeks or months. End with a final count of months. If you have a predicted start date, you can begin with this and work towards a proposed end date.>

Note: the reference list should always begin on a new page. Depending on your subject, there will probably be a specific set referencing pattern for written work (Chicago, Harvard, MLA, Social Sciences?).

Before you start writing, make sure you know what the convention for your subject area is, learn it and stick to it. There are a wide variety of different referencing conventions so it is important to make sure you find the correct one and are consistent.

This will make doing your research proposal and future research a lot easier. Depending on your subject, your referencing may involve in-text citations or footnotes. Either way, your proposal will need a full reference list or bibliography at the end, including all of the secondary works you have mentioned in your literature review and primary sources (if applicable).

You do not, however, need to include work that you have read in preparation but not used or mentioned in your work. Make sure this is correctly formatted: plenty of style guides for each referencing style are available online. Also remember to lay out your reference list in alphabetical order by author’s surname.

research topic proposal format

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