A proposal is simply a document that tries to persuade a reader to implement, authorize, or extend a project.
Types of Proposals
A proposal requested by a sponsor that has specific requirements
A proposal that has not been requested but is believed to be important/significant by the proposer
A brief letter or abstract requested by a sponsor to minimize effort (once this is submitted, the proposer may be asked to submit a full proposal)
Continuation or non-competing proposal
A proposal that seeks to continue the support of a project after the initial end date by confirming the original proposal as well as showing reasonable progress
Renewal or competing proposal
A proposal that requests continuing support for an existing project; typically seen as an unsolicited proposal
A proposal that presents and justifies the need for a research study as well as presenting the ways the study will be conducted
WRITING THE PROPOSAL
The following information is geared toward a solicited research proposal; keep in mind that a proposal will need to follow the guidelines suggested by the solicitor/professor.
Components of a Proposal
Not all proposals will include each of these components.
- Introduction: should state the problem as well as the purpose and significance of the research; should also give enough background information that any audience would be able to put your research into context.
- Background: similar to a literature review, this section shows how your research will build upon, but is also different from, past research.
- Description of proposed research: this section should give a thorough explanation of what can be accomplished, the focus of the research, and the methods you will use in your research; don’t forget to be concise while also making the connections between the research objectives and methods clear.
- Conclusion: this short section should reiterate the significance of your research and why it is unique from past research.
- Citations/references: consult with your professor/instructor as to their preference for this section.
What To Do
To begin, ask yourself questions about what you want to study and why:
- What is the significance of the topic?
- Will it help solve a problem?
- How does it build on previous research?
- What is my plan? What is my timetable?
- Can I get this project done in that time?
Once you’ve answered those questions, write a sentence or two summarizing the proposal—this can help you organize your thoughts and may eventually be used in your introduction as a thesis statement.
Know your audience—typically, with solicited proposals, you’ll know who you’re writing to, but it is always a good idea to keep the reader’s needs, values, and attitudes in mind; if writing an unsolicited proposal, this is very important to keep in mind.
Always be clear and concise—do not use flowery language, stick to the facts
What Not To Do
- Do not use flowery language
- Do not use language/jargon your audience won’t understand
- Do not leave out any critical information—your reader/audience must make the connections you need them to make in order to authorize/enact your proposal
Writing Studio Consultant