Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Assignments

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Analyzing a Scholarly Journal Article
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  • Dealing with Nervousness
  • Using Visual Aids
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  • 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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Grad Coach

How To Write A Research Proposal

A Straightforward How-To Guide (With Examples)

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewed By: Dr. Eunice Rautenbach | August 2019 (Updated April 2023)

Writing up a strong research proposal for a dissertation or thesis is much like a marriage proposal. It’s a task that calls on you to win somebody over and persuade them that what you’re planning is a great idea. An idea they’re happy to say ‘yes’ to. This means that your dissertation proposal needs to be   persuasive ,   attractive   and well-planned. In this post, I’ll show you how to write a winning dissertation proposal, from scratch.

Before you start:

– Understand exactly what a research proposal is – Ask yourself these 4 questions

The 5 essential ingredients:

  • The title/topic
  • The introduction chapter
  • The scope/delimitations
  • Preliminary literature review
  • Design/ methodology
  • Practical considerations and risks 

What Is A Research Proposal?

The research proposal is literally that: a written document that communicates what you propose to research, in a concise format. It’s where you put all that stuff that’s spinning around in your head down on to paper, in a logical, convincing fashion.

Convincing   is the keyword here, as your research proposal needs to convince the assessor that your research is   clearly articulated   (i.e., a clear research question) ,   worth doing   (i.e., is unique and valuable enough to justify the effort), and   doable   within the restrictions you’ll face (time limits, budget, skill limits, etc.). If your proposal does not address these three criteria, your research won’t be approved, no matter how “exciting” the research idea might be.

PS – if you’re completely new to proposal writing, we’ve got a detailed walkthrough video covering two successful research proposals here . 

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

How do I know I’m ready?

Before starting the writing process, you need to   ask yourself 4 important questions .  If you can’t answer them succinctly and confidently, you’re not ready – you need to go back and think more deeply about your dissertation topic .

You should be able to answer the following 4 questions before starting your dissertation or thesis research proposal:

  • WHAT is my main research question? (the topic)
  • WHO cares and why is this important? (the justification)
  • WHAT data would I need to answer this question, and how will I analyse it? (the research design)
  • HOW will I manage the completion of this research, within the given timelines? (project and risk management)

If you can’t answer these questions clearly and concisely,   you’re not yet ready   to write your research proposal – revisit our   post on choosing a topic .

If you can, that’s great – it’s time to start writing up your dissertation proposal. Next, I’ll discuss what needs to go into your research proposal, and how to structure it all into an intuitive, convincing document with a linear narrative.

The 5 Essential Ingredients

Research proposals can vary in style between institutions and disciplines, but here I’ll share with you a   handy 5-section structure   you can use. These 5 sections directly address the core questions we spoke about earlier, ensuring that you present a convincing proposal. If your institution already provides a proposal template, there will likely be substantial overlap with this, so you’ll still get value from reading on.

For each section discussed below, make sure you use headers and sub-headers (ideally, numbered headers) to help the reader navigate through your document, and to support them when they need to revisit a previous section. Don’t just present an endless wall of text, paragraph after paragraph after paragraph…

Top Tip:   Use MS Word Styles to format headings. This will allow you to be clear about whether a sub-heading is level 2, 3, or 4. Additionally, you can view your document in ‘outline view’ which will show you only your headings. This makes it much easier to check your structure, shift things around and make decisions about where a section needs to sit. You can also generate a 100% accurate table of contents using Word’s automatic functionality.

a research proposal can be defined as

Ingredient #1 – Topic/Title Header

Your research proposal’s title should be your main research question in its simplest form, possibly with a sub-heading providing basic details on the specifics of the study. For example:

“Compliance with equality legislation in the charity sector: a study of the ‘reasonable adjustments’ made in three London care homes”

As you can see, this title provides a clear indication of what the research is about, in broad terms. It paints a high-level picture for the first-time reader, which gives them a taste of what to expect.   Always aim for a clear, concise title . Don’t feel the need to capture every detail of your research in your title – your proposal will fill in the gaps.

Need a helping hand?

a research proposal can be defined as

Ingredient #2 – Introduction

In this section of your research proposal, you’ll expand on what you’ve communicated in the title, by providing a few paragraphs which offer more detail about your research topic. Importantly, the focus here is the   topic   – what will you research and why is that worth researching? This is not the place to discuss methodology, practicalities, etc. – you’ll do that later.

You should cover the following:

  • An overview of the   broad area   you’ll be researching – introduce the reader to key concepts and language
  • An explanation of the   specific (narrower) area   you’ll be focusing, and why you’ll be focusing there
  • Your research   aims   and   objectives
  • Your   research question (s) and sub-questions (if applicable)

Importantly, you should aim to use short sentences and plain language – don’t babble on with extensive jargon, acronyms and complex language. Assume that the reader is an intelligent layman – not a subject area specialist (even if they are). Remember that the   best writing is writing that can be easily understood   and digested. Keep it simple.

The introduction section serves to expand on the  research topic – what will you study and why is that worth dedicating time and effort to?

Note that some universities may want some extra bits and pieces in your introduction section. For example, personal development objectives, a structural outline, etc. Check your brief to see if there are any other details they expect in your proposal, and make sure you find a place for these.

Ingredient #3 – Scope

Next, you’ll need to specify what the scope of your research will be – this is also known as the delimitations . In other words, you need to make it clear what you will be covering and, more importantly, what you won’t be covering in your research. Simply put, this is about ring fencing your research topic so that you have a laser-sharp focus.

All too often, students feel the need to go broad and try to address as many issues as possible, in the interest of producing comprehensive research. Whilst this is admirable, it’s a mistake. By tightly refining your scope, you’ll enable yourself to   go deep   with your research, which is what you need to earn good marks. If your scope is too broad, you’re likely going to land up with superficial research (which won’t earn marks), so don’t be afraid to narrow things down.

Ingredient #4 – Literature Review

In this section of your research proposal, you need to provide a (relatively) brief discussion of the existing literature. Naturally, this will not be as comprehensive as the literature review in your actual dissertation, but it will lay the foundation for that. In fact, if you put in the effort at this stage, you’ll make your life a lot easier when it’s time to write your actual literature review chapter.

There are a few things you need to achieve in this section:

  • Demonstrate that you’ve done your reading and are   familiar with the current state of the research   in your topic area.
  • Show that   there’s a clear gap   for your specific research – i.e., show that your topic is sufficiently unique and will add value to the existing research.
  • Show how the existing research has shaped your thinking regarding   research design . For example, you might use scales or questionnaires from previous studies.

When you write up your literature review, keep these three objectives front of mind, especially number two (revealing the gap in the literature), so that your literature review has a   clear purpose and direction . Everything you write should be contributing towards one (or more) of these objectives in some way. If it doesn’t, you need to ask yourself whether it’s truly needed.

Top Tip:  Don’t fall into the trap of just describing the main pieces of literature, for example, “A says this, B says that, C also says that…” and so on. Merely describing the literature provides no value. Instead, you need to   synthesise   it, and use it to address the three objectives above.

 If you put in the effort at the proposal stage, you’ll make your life a lot easier when its time to write your actual literature review chapter.

Ingredient #5 – Research Methodology

Now that you’ve clearly explained both your intended research topic (in the introduction) and the existing research it will draw on (in the literature review section), it’s time to get practical and explain exactly how you’ll be carrying out your own research. In other words, your research methodology.

In this section, you’ll need to   answer two critical questions :

  • How   will you design your research? I.e., what research methodology will you adopt, what will your sample be, how will you collect data, etc.
  • Why   have you chosen this design? I.e., why does this approach suit your specific research aims, objectives and questions?

In other words, this is not just about explaining WHAT you’ll be doing, it’s also about explaining WHY. In fact, the   justification is the most important part , because that justification is how you demonstrate a good understanding of research design (which is what assessors want to see).

Some essential design choices you need to cover in your research proposal include:

  • Your intended research philosophy (e.g., positivism, interpretivism or pragmatism )
  • What methodological approach you’ll be taking (e.g., qualitative , quantitative or mixed )
  • The details of your sample (e.g., sample size, who they are, who they represent, etc.)
  • What data you plan to collect (i.e. data about what, in what form?)
  • How you plan to collect it (e.g., surveys , interviews , focus groups, etc.)
  • How you plan to analyse it (e.g., regression analysis, thematic analysis , etc.)
  • Ethical adherence (i.e., does this research satisfy all ethical requirements of your institution, or does it need further approval?)

This list is not exhaustive – these are just some core attributes of research design. Check with your institution what level of detail they expect. The “ research onion ” by Saunders et al (2009) provides a good summary of the various design choices you ultimately need to make – you can   read more about that here .

Don’t forget the practicalities…

In addition to the technical aspects, you will need to address the   practical   side of the project. In other words, you need to explain   what resources you’ll need   (e.g., time, money, access to equipment or software, etc.) and how you intend to secure these resources. You need to show that your project is feasible, so any “make or break” type resources need to already be secured. The success or failure of your project cannot depend on some resource which you’re not yet sure you have access to.

Another part of the practicalities discussion is   project and risk management . In other words, you need to show that you have a clear project plan to tackle your research with. Some key questions to address:

  • What are the timelines for each phase of your project?
  • Are the time allocations reasonable?
  • What happens if something takes longer than anticipated (risk management)?
  • What happens if you don’t get the response rate you expect?

A good way to demonstrate that you’ve thought this through is to include a Gantt chart and a risk register (in the appendix if word count is a problem). With these two tools, you can show that you’ve got a clear, feasible plan, and you’ve thought about and accounted for the potential risks.

Gantt chart

Tip – Be honest about the potential difficulties – but show that you are anticipating solutions and workarounds. This is much more impressive to an assessor than an unrealistically optimistic proposal which does not anticipate any challenges whatsoever.

Final Touches: Read And Simplify

The final step is to edit and proofread your proposal – very carefully. It sounds obvious, but all too often poor editing and proofreading ruin a good proposal. Nothing is more off-putting for an assessor than a poorly edited, typo-strewn document. It sends the message that you either do not pay attention to detail, or just don’t care. Neither of these are good messages. Put the effort into editing and proofreading your proposal (or pay someone to do it for you) – it will pay dividends.

When you’re editing, watch out for ‘academese’. Many students can speak simply, passionately and clearly about their dissertation topic – but become incomprehensible the moment they turn the laptop on. You are not required to write in any kind of special, formal, complex language when you write academic work. Sure, there may be technical terms, jargon specific to your discipline, shorthand terms and so on. But, apart from those,   keep your written language very close to natural spoken language   – just as you would speak in the classroom. Imagine that you are explaining your project plans to your classmates or a family member. Remember, write for the intelligent layman, not the subject matter experts. Plain-language, concise writing is what wins hearts and minds – and marks!

Let’s Recap: Research Proposal 101

And there you have it – how to write your dissertation or thesis research proposal, from the title page to the final proof. Here’s a quick recap of the key takeaways:

  • The purpose of the research proposal is to   convince   – therefore, you need to make a clear, concise argument of why your research is both worth doing and doable.
  • Make sure you can ask the critical what, who, and how questions of your research   before   you put pen to paper.
  • Title – provides the first taste of your research, in broad terms
  • Introduction – explains what you’ll be researching in more detail
  • Scope – explains the boundaries of your research
  • Literature review – explains how your research fits into the existing research and why it’s unique and valuable
  • Research methodology – explains and justifies how you will carry out your own research

Hopefully, this post has helped you better understand how to write up a winning research proposal. If you enjoyed it, be sure to check out the rest of the Grad Coach Blog . If your university doesn’t provide any template for your proposal, you might want to try out our free research proposal template .

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Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling short course, Research Proposal Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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Mazwakhe Mkhulisi

Thank you so much for the valuable insight that you have given, especially on the research proposal. That is what I have managed to cover. I still need to go back to the other parts as I got disturbed while still listening to Derek’s audio on you-tube. I am inspired. I will definitely continue with Grad-coach guidance on You-tube.

Derek Jansen

Thanks for the kind words :). All the best with your proposal.

NAVEEN ANANTHARAMAN

First of all, thanks a lot for making such a wonderful presentation. The video was really useful and gave me a very clear insight of how a research proposal has to be written. I shall try implementing these ideas in my RP.

Once again, I thank you for this content.

Bonginkosi Mshengu

I found reading your outline on writing research proposal very beneficial. I wish there was a way of submitting my draft proposal to you guys for critiquing before I submit to the institution.

Hi Bonginkosi

Thank you for the kind words. Yes, we do provide a review service. The best starting point is to have a chat with one of our coaches here: https://gradcoach.com/book/new/ .

Erick Omondi

Hello team GRADCOACH, may God bless you so much. I was totally green in research. Am so happy for your free superb tutorials and resources. Once again thank you so much Derek and his team.

You’re welcome, Erick. Good luck with your research proposal 🙂

ivy

thank you for the information. its precise and on point.

Nighat Nighat Ahsan

Really a remarkable piece of writing and great source of guidance for the researchers. GOD BLESS YOU for your guidance. Regards

Delfina Celeste Danca Rangel

Thanks so much for your guidance. It is easy and comprehensive the way you explain the steps for a winning research proposal.

Desiré Forku

Thank you guys so much for the rich post. I enjoyed and learn from every word in it. My problem now is how to get into your platform wherein I can always seek help on things related to my research work ? Secondly, I wish to find out if there is a way I can send my tentative proposal to you guys for examination before I take to my supervisor Once again thanks very much for the insights

Thanks for your kind words, Desire.

If you are based in a country where Grad Coach’s paid services are available, you can book a consultation by clicking the “Book” button in the top right.

Best of luck with your studies.

Adolph

May God bless you team for the wonderful work you are doing,

If I have a topic, Can I submit it to you so that you can draft a proposal for me?? As I am expecting to go for masters degree in the near future.

Thanks for your comment. We definitely cannot draft a proposal for you, as that would constitute academic misconduct. The proposal needs to be your own work. We can coach you through the process, but it needs to be your own work and your own writing.

Best of luck with your research!

kenate Akuma

I found a lot of many essential concepts from your material. it is real a road map to write a research proposal. so thanks a lot. If there is any update material on your hand on MBA please forward to me.

Ahmed Khalil

GradCoach is a professional website that presents support and helps for MBA student like me through the useful online information on the page and with my 1-on-1 online coaching with the amazing and professional PhD Kerryen.

Thank you Kerryen so much for the support and help 🙂

I really recommend dealing with such a reliable services provider like Gradcoah and a coach like Kerryen.

PINTON OFOSU

Hi, Am happy for your service and effort to help students and researchers, Please, i have been given an assignment on research for strategic development, the task one is to formulate a research proposal to support the strategic development of a business area, my issue here is how to go about it, especially the topic or title and introduction. Please, i would like to know if you could help me and how much is the charge.

Marcos A. López Figueroa

This content is practical, valuable, and just great!

Thank you very much!

Eric Rwigamba

Hi Derek, Thank you for the valuable presentation. It is very helpful especially for beginners like me. I am just starting my PhD.

Hussein EGIELEMAI

This is quite instructive and research proposal made simple. Can I have a research proposal template?

Mathew Yokie Musa

Great! Thanks for rescuing me, because I had no former knowledge in this topic. But with this piece of information, I am now secured. Thank you once more.

Chulekazi Bula

I enjoyed listening to your video on how to write a proposal. I think I will be able to write a winning proposal with your advice. I wish you were to be my supervisor.

Mohammad Ajmal Shirzad

Dear Derek Jansen,

Thank you for your great content. I couldn’t learn these topics in MBA, but now I learned from GradCoach. Really appreciate your efforts….

From Afghanistan!

Mulugeta Yilma

I have got very essential inputs for startup of my dissertation proposal. Well organized properly communicated with video presentation. Thank you for the presentation.

Siphesihle Macu

Wow, this is absolutely amazing guys. Thank you so much for the fruitful presentation, you’ve made my research much easier.

HAWANATU JULLIANA JOSEPH

this helps me a lot. thank you all so much for impacting in us. may god richly bless you all

June Pretzer

How I wish I’d learn about Grad Coach earlier. I’ve been stumbling around writing and rewriting! Now I have concise clear directions on how to put this thing together. Thank you!

Jas

Fantastic!! Thank You for this very concise yet comprehensive guidance.

Fikiru Bekele

Even if I am poor in English I would like to thank you very much.

Rachel Offeibea Nyarko

Thank you very much, this is very insightful.

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Writing a Research Proposal

  • First Online: 10 April 2022

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a research proposal can be defined as

  • Fahimeh Tabatabaei 3 &
  • Lobat Tayebi 3  

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A research proposal is a roadmap that brings the researcher closer to the objectives, takes the research topic from a purely subjective mind, and manifests an objective plan. It shows us what steps we need to take to reach the objective, what questions we should answer, and how much time we need. It is a framework based on which you can perform your research in a well-organized and timely manner. In other words, by writing a research proposal, you get a map that shows the direction to the destination (answering the research question). If the proposal is poorly prepared, after spending a lot of energy and money, you may realize that the result of the research has nothing to do with the initial objective, and the study may end up nowhere. Therefore, writing the proposal shows that the researcher is aware of the proper research and can justify the significance of his/her idea.

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A. Gholipour, E.Y. Lee, S.K. Warfield, The anatomy and art of writing a successful grant application: A practical step-by-step approach. Pediatr. Radiol. 44 (12), 1512–1517 (2014)

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Additional Resources

https://grants.nih.gov

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https://www.niaid.nih.gov

http://www.grantcentral.com

http://www.saem.org/research

http://www.cfda.gov

http://www.ahrq.gov

http://www.nsf/gov

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Tabatabaei, F., Tayebi, L. (2022). Writing a Research Proposal. In: Research Methods in Dentistry. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-98028-3_4

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How to prepare a Research Proposal

Health research, medical education and clinical practice form the three pillars of modern day medical practice. As one authority rightly put it: ‘Health research is not a luxury, but an essential need that no nation can afford to ignore’. Health research can and should be pursued by a broad range of people. Even if they do not conduct research themselves, they need to grasp the principles of the scientific method to understand the value and limitations of science and to be able to assess and evaluate results of research before applying them. This review paper aims to highlight the essential concepts to the students and beginning researchers and sensitize and motivate the readers to access the vast literature available on research methodologies.

Most students and beginning researchers do not fully understand what a research proposal means, nor do they understand its importance. 1 A research proposal is a detailed description of a proposed study designed to investigate a given problem. 2

A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it. Broadly the research proposal must address the following questions regardless of your research area and the methodology you choose: What you plan to accomplish, why do you want to do it and how are you going to do it. 1 The aim of this article is to highlight the essential concepts and not to provide extensive details about this topic.

The elements of a research proposal are highlighted below:

1. Title: It should be concise and descriptive. It must be informative and catchy. An effective title not only prick’s the readers interest, but also predisposes him/her favorably towards the proposal. Often titles are stated in terms of a functional relationship, because such titles clearly indicate the independent and dependent variables. 1 The title may need to be revised after completion of writing of the protocol to reflect more closely the sense of the study. 3

2. Abstract: It is a brief summary of approximately 300 words. It should include the main research question, the rationale for the study, the hypothesis (if any) and the method. Descriptions of the method may include the design, procedures, the sample and any instruments that will be used. 1 It should stand on its own, and not refer the reader to points in the project description. 3

3. Introduction: The introduction provides the readers with the background information. Its purpose is to establish a framework for the research, so that readers can understand how it relates to other research. 4 It should answer the question of why the research needs to be done and what will be its relevance. It puts the proposal in context. 3

The introduction typically begins with a statement of the research problem in precise and clear terms. 1

The importance of the statement of the research problem 5 : The statement of the problem is the essential basis for the construction of a research proposal (research objectives, hypotheses, methodology, work plan and budget etc). It is an integral part of selecting a research topic. It will guide and put into sharper focus the research design being considered for solving the problem. It allows the investigator to describe the problem systematically, to reflect on its importance, its priority in the country and region and to point out why the proposed research on the problem should be undertaken. It also facilitates peer review of the research proposal by the funding agencies.

Then it is necessary to provide the context and set the stage for the research question in such a way as to show its necessity and importance. 1 This step is necessary for the investigators to familiarize themselves with existing knowledge about the research problem and to find out whether or not others have investigated the same or similar problems. This step is accomplished by a thorough and critical review of the literature and by personal communication with experts. 5 It helps further understanding of the problem proposed for research and may lead to refining the statement of the problem, to identify the study variables and conceptualize their relationships, and in formulation and selection of a research hypothesis. 5 It ensures that you are not "re-inventing the wheel" and demonstrates your understanding of the research problem. It gives due credit to those who have laid the groundwork for your proposed research. 1 In a proposal, the literature review is generally brief and to the point. The literature selected should be pertinent and relevant. 6

Against this background, you then present the rationale of the proposed study and clearly indicate why it is worth doing.

4. Objectives: Research objectives are the goals to be achieved by conducting the research. 5 They may be stated as ‘general’ and ‘specific’.

The general objective of the research is what is to be accomplished by the research project, for example, to determine whether or not a new vaccine should be incorporated in a public health program.

The specific objectives relate to the specific research questions the investigator wants to answer through the proposed study and may be presented as primary and secondary objectives, for example, primary: To determine the degree of protection that is attributable to the new vaccine in a study population by comparing the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. 5 Secondary: To study the cost-effectiveness of this programme.

Young investigators are advised to resist the temptation to put too many objectives or over-ambitious objectives that cannot be adequately achieved by the implementation of the protocol. 3

5. Variables: During the planning stage, it is necessary to identify the key variables of the study and their method of measurement and unit of measurement must be clearly indicated. Four types of variables are important in research 5 :

a. Independent variables: variables that are manipulated or treated in a study in order to see what effect differences in them will have on those variables proposed as being dependent on them. The different synonyms for the term ‘independent variable’ which are used in literature are: cause, input, predisposing factor, risk factor, determinant, antecedent, characteristic and attribute.

b. Dependent variables: variables in which changes are results of the level or amount of the independent variable or variables.

Synonyms: effect, outcome, consequence, result, condition, disease.

c. Confounding or intervening variables: variables that should be studied because they may influence or ‘mix’ the effect of the independent variables. For instance, in a study of the effect of measles (independent variable) on child mortality (dependent variable), the nutritional status of the child may play an intervening (confounding) role.

d. Background variables: variables that are so often of relevance in investigations of groups or populations that they should be considered for possible inclusion in the study. For example sex, age, ethnic origin, education, marital status, social status etc.

The objective of research is usually to determine the effect of changes in one or more independent variables on one or more dependent variables. For example, a study may ask "Will alcohol intake (independent variable) have an effect on development of gastric ulcer (dependent variable)?"

Certain variables may not be easy to identify. The characteristics that define these variables must be clearly identified for the purpose of the study.

6. Questions and/ or hypotheses: If you as a researcher know enough to make prediction concerning what you are studying, then the hypothesis may be formulated. A hypothesis can be defined as a tentative prediction or explanation of the relationship between two or more variables. In other words, the hypothesis translates the problem statement into a precise, unambiguous prediction of expected outcomes. Hypotheses are not meant to be haphazard guesses, but should reflect the depth of knowledge, imagination and experience of the investigator. 5 In the process of formulating the hypotheses, all variables relevant to the study must be identified. For example: "Health education involving active participation by mothers will produce more positive changes in child feeding than health education based on lectures". Here the independent variable is types of health education and the dependent variable is changes in child feeding.

A research question poses a relationship between two or more variables but phrases the relationship as a question; a hypothesis represents a declarative statement of the relations between two or more variables. 7

For exploratory or phenomenological research, you may not have any hypothesis (please do not confuse the hypothesis with the statistical null hypothesis). 1 Questions are relevant to normative or census type research (How many of them are there? Is there a relationship between them?). Deciding whether to use questions or hypotheses depends on factors such as the purpose of the study, the nature of the design and methodology, and the audience of the research (at times even the outlook and preference of the committee members, particularly the Chair). 6

7. Methodology: The method section is very important because it tells your research Committee how you plan to tackle your research problem. The guiding principle for writing the Methods section is that it should contain sufficient information for the reader to determine whether the methodology is sound. Some even argue that a good proposal should contain sufficient details for another qualified researcher to implement the study. 1 Indicate the methodological steps you will take to answer every question or to test every hypothesis illustrated in the Questions/hypotheses section. 6 It is vital that you consult a biostatistician during the planning stage of your study, 8 to resolve the methodological issues before submitting the proposal.

This section should include:

Research design: The selection of the research strategy is the core of research design and is probably the single most important decision the investigator has to make. The choice of the strategy, whether descriptive, analytical, experimental, operational or a combination of these depend on a number of considerations, 5 but this choice must be explained in relation to the study objectives. 3

Research subjects or participants: Depending on the type of your study, the following questions should be answered 3 , 5

  • - What are the criteria for inclusion or selection?
  • - What are the criteria for exclusion?
  • - What is the sampling procedure you will use so as to ensure representativeness and reliability of the sample and to minimize sampling errors? The key reason for being concerned with sampling is the issue of validity-both internal and external of the study results. 9
  • - Will there be use of controls in your study? Controls or comparison groups are used in scientific research in order to increase the validity of the conclusions. Control groups are necessary in all analytical epidemiological studies, in experimental studies of drug trials, in research on effects of intervention programmes and disease control measures and in many other investigations. Some descriptive studies (studies of existing data, surveys) may not require control groups.
  • - What are the criteria for discontinuation?

Sample size: The proposal should provide information and justification (basis on which the sample size is calculated) about sample size in the methodology section. 3 A larger sample size than needed to test the research hypothesis increases the cost and duration of the study and will be unethical if it exposes human subjects to any potential unnecessary risk without additional benefit. A smaller sample size than needed can also be unethical as it exposes human subjects to risk with no benefit to scientific knowledge. Calculation of sample size has been made easy by computer software programmes, but the principles underlying the estimation should be well understood.

Interventions: If an intervention is introduced, a description must be given of the drugs or devices (proprietary names, manufacturer, chemical composition, dose, frequency of administration) if they are already commercially available. If they are in phases of experimentation or are already commercially available but used for other indications, information must be provided on available pre-clinical investigations in animals and/or results of studies already conducted in humans (in such cases, approval of the drug regulatory agency in the country is needed before the study). 3

Ethical issues 3 : Ethical considerations apply to all types of health research. Before the proposal is submitted to the Ethics Committee for approval, two important documents mentioned below (where appropriate) must be appended to the proposal. In additions, there is another vital issue of Conflict of Interest, wherein the researchers should furnish a statement regarding the same.

The Informed consent form (informed decision-making): A consent form, where appropriate, must be developed and attached to the proposal. It should be written in the prospective subjects’ mother tongue and in simple language which can be easily understood by the subject. The use of medical terminology should be avoided as far as possible. Special care is needed when subjects are illiterate. It should explain why the study is being done and why the subject has been asked to participate. It should describe, in sequence, what will happen in the course of the study, giving enough detail for the subject to gain a clear idea of what to expect. It should clarify whether or not the study procedures offer any benefits to the subject or to others, and explain the nature, likelihood and treatment of anticipated discomfort or adverse effects, including psychological and social risks, if any. Where relevant, a comparison with risks posed by standard drugs or treatment must be included. If the risks are unknown or a comparative risk cannot be given it should be so stated. It should indicate that the subject has the right to withdraw from the study at any time without, in any way, affecting his/her further medical care. It should assure the participant of confidentiality of the findings.

Ethics checklist: The proposal must describe the measures that will be undertaken to ensure that the proposed research is carried out in accordance with the World Medical Association Declaration of Helsinki on Ethical Principles for Medical research involving Human Subjects. 10 It must answer the following questions:

  • • Is the research design adequate to provide answers to the research question? It is unethical to expose subjects to research that will have no value.
  • • Is the method of selection of research subjects justified? The use of vulnerable subjects as research participants needs special justification. Vulnerable subjects include those in prison, minors and persons with mental disability. In international research it is important to mention that the population in which the study is conducted will benefit from any potential outcome of the research and the research is not being conducted solely for the benefit of some other population. Justification is needed for any inducement, financial or otherwise, for the participants to be enrolled in the study.
  • • Are the interventions justified, in terms of risk/benefit ratio? Risks are not limited to physical harm. Psychological and social risks must also be considered.
  • • For observations made, have measures been taken to ensure confidentiality?

Research setting 5 : The research setting includes all the pertinent facets of the study, such as the population to be studied (sampling frame), the place and time of study.

Study instruments 3 , 5 : Instruments are the tools by which the data are collected. For validated questionnaires/interview schedules, reference to published work should be given and the instrument appended to the proposal. For new a questionnaire which is being designed specifically for your study the details about preparing, precoding and pretesting of questionnaire should be furnished and the document appended to the proposal. Descriptions of other methods of observations like medical examination, laboratory tests and screening procedures is necessary- for established procedures, reference of published work cited but for new or modified procedure, an adequate description is necessary with justification for the same.

Collection of data: A short description of the protocol of data collection. For example, in a study on blood pressure measurement: time of participant arrival, rest for 5p. 10 minutes, which apparatus (standard calibrated) to be used, in which room to take measurement, measurement in sitting or lying down position, how many measurements, measurement in which arm first (whether this is going to be randomized), details of cuff and its placement, who will take the measurement. This minimizes the possibility of confusion, delays and errors.

Data analysis: The description should include the design of the analysis form, plans for processing and coding the data and the choice of the statistical method to be applied to each data. What will be the procedures for accounting for missing, unused or spurious data?

Monitoring, supervision and quality control: Detailed statement about the all logistical issues to satisfy the requirements of Good Clinical Practices (GCP), protocol procedures, responsibilities of each member of the research team, training of study investigators, steps taken to assure quality control (laboratory procedures, equipment calibration etc)

Gantt chart: A Gantt chart is an overview of tasks/proposed activities and a time frame for the same. You put weeks, days or months at one side, and the tasks at the other. You draw fat lines to indicate the period the task will be performed to give a timeline for your research study (take help of tutorial on youtube). 11

Significance of the study: Indicate how your research will refine, revise or extend existing knowledge in the area under investigation. How will it benefit the concerned stakeholders? What could be the larger implications of your research study?

Dissemination of the study results: How do you propose to share the findings of your study with professional peers, practitioners, participants and the funding agency?

Budget: A proposal budget with item wise/activity wise breakdown and justification for the same. Indicate how will the study be financed.

References: The proposal should end with relevant references on the subject. For web based search include the date of access for the cited website, for example: add the sentence "accessed on June 10, 2008".

Appendixes: Include the appropriate appendixes in the proposal. For example: Interview protocols, sample of informed consent forms, cover letters sent to appropriate stakeholders, official letters for permission to conduct research. Regarding original scales or questionnaires, if the instrument is copyrighted then permission in writing to reproduce the instrument from the copyright holder or proof of purchase of the instrument must be submitted.

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Research Proposal – Types, Template and Example

Table of Contents

Research Proposal

Research Proposal

Research proposal is a document that outlines a proposed research project . It is typically written by researchers, scholars, or students who intend to conduct research to address a specific research question or problem.

Types of Research Proposal

Research proposals can vary depending on the nature of the research project and the specific requirements of the funding agency, academic institution, or research program. Here are some common types of research proposals:

Academic Research Proposal

This is the most common type of research proposal, which is prepared by students, scholars, or researchers to seek approval and funding for an academic research project. It includes all the essential components mentioned earlier, such as the introduction, literature review , methodology , and expected outcomes.

Grant Proposal

A grant proposal is specifically designed to secure funding from external sources, such as government agencies, foundations, or private organizations. It typically includes additional sections, such as a detailed budget, project timeline, evaluation plan, and a description of the project’s alignment with the funding agency’s priorities and objectives.

Dissertation or Thesis Proposal

Students pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree often need to submit a proposal outlining their intended research for their dissertation or thesis. These proposals are usually more extensive and comprehensive, including an in-depth literature review, theoretical framework, research questions or hypotheses, and a detailed methodology.

Research Project Proposal

This type of proposal is often prepared by researchers or research teams within an organization or institution. It outlines a specific research project that aims to address a particular problem, explore a specific area of interest, or provide insights for decision-making. Research project proposals may include sections on project management, collaboration, and dissemination of results.

Research Fellowship Proposal

Researchers or scholars applying for research fellowships may be required to submit a proposal outlining their proposed research project. These proposals often emphasize the novelty and significance of the research and its alignment with the goals and objectives of the fellowship program.

Collaborative Research Proposal

In cases where researchers from multiple institutions or disciplines collaborate on a research project, a collaborative research proposal is prepared. This proposal highlights the objectives, responsibilities, and contributions of each collaborator, as well as the overall research plan and coordination mechanisms.

Research Proposal Outline

A research proposal typically follows a standard outline that helps structure the document and ensure all essential components are included. While the specific headings and subheadings may vary slightly depending on the requirements of your institution or funding agency, the following outline provides a general structure for a research proposal:

  • Title of the research proposal
  • Name of the researcher(s) or principal investigator(s)
  • Affiliation or institution
  • Date of submission
  • A concise summary of the research proposal, typically limited to 200-300 words.
  • Briefly introduce the research problem or question, state the objectives, summarize the methodology, and highlight the expected outcomes or significance of the research.
  • Provide an overview of the subject area and the specific research problem or question.
  • Present relevant background information, theories, or concepts to establish the need for the research.
  • Clearly state the research objectives or research questions that the study aims to address.
  • Indicate the significance or potential contributions of the research.
  • Summarize and analyze relevant studies, theories, or scholarly works.
  • Identify research gaps or unresolved issues that your study intends to address.
  • Highlight the novelty or uniqueness of your research.
  • Describe the overall approach or research design that will be used (e.g., experimental, qualitative, quantitative).
  • Justify the chosen approach based on the research objectives and question.
  • Explain how data will be collected (e.g., surveys, interviews, experiments).
  • Describe the sampling strategy and sample size, if applicable.
  • Address any ethical considerations related to data collection.
  • Outline the data analysis techniques or statistical methods that will be applied.
  • Explain how the data will be interpreted and analyzed to answer the research question(s).
  • Provide a detailed schedule or timeline that outlines the various stages of the research project.
  • Specify the estimated duration for each stage, including data collection, analysis, and report writing.
  • State the potential outcomes or results of the research.
  • Discuss the potential significance or contributions of the study to the field.
  • Address any potential limitations or challenges that may be encountered.
  • Identify the resources required to conduct the research, such as funding, equipment, or access to data.
  • Specify any collaborations or partnerships necessary for the successful completion of the study.
  • Include a list of cited references in the appropriate citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

———————————————————————————————–

Research Proposal Example Template

Here’s an example of a research proposal to give you an idea of how it can be structured:

Title: The Impact of Social Media on Adolescent Well-being: A Mixed-Methods Study

This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of social media on the well-being of adolescents. The study will employ a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews to gather comprehensive data. The research objectives include examining the relationship between social media use and mental health, exploring the role of peer influence in shaping online behaviors, and identifying strategies for promoting healthy social media use among adolescents. The findings of this study will contribute to the understanding of the effects of social media on adolescent well-being and inform the development of targeted interventions.

1. Introduction

1.1 Background and Context:

Adolescents today are immersed in social media platforms, which have become integral to their daily lives. However, concerns have been raised about the potential negative impact of social media on their well-being, including increased rates of depression, anxiety, and body dissatisfaction. It is crucial to investigate this phenomenon further and understand the underlying mechanisms to develop effective strategies for promoting healthy social media use among adolescents.

1.2 Research Objectives:

The main objectives of this study are:

  • To examine the association between social media use and mental health outcomes among adolescents.
  • To explore the influence of peer relationships and social comparison on online behaviors.
  • To identify strategies and interventions to foster positive social media use and enhance adolescent well-being.

2. Literature Review

Extensive research has been conducted on the impact of social media on adolescents. Existing literature suggests that excessive social media use can contribute to negative outcomes, such as low self-esteem, cyberbullying, and addictive behaviors. However, some studies have also highlighted the positive aspects of social media, such as providing opportunities for self-expression and social support. This study will build upon this literature by incorporating both quantitative and qualitative approaches to gain a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between social media and adolescent well-being.

3. Methodology

3.1 Research Design:

This study will adopt a mixed-methods approach, combining quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews. The quantitative phase will involve administering standardized questionnaires to a representative sample of adolescents to assess their social media use, mental health indicators, and perceived social support. The qualitative phase will include in-depth interviews with a subset of participants to explore their experiences, motivations, and perceptions related to social media use.

3.2 Data Collection Methods:

Quantitative data will be collected through an online survey distributed to schools in the target region. The survey will include validated scales to measure social media use, mental health outcomes, and perceived social support. Qualitative data will be collected through semi-structured interviews with a purposive sample of participants. The interviews will be audio-recorded and transcribed for thematic analysis.

3.3 Data Analysis:

Quantitative data will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and regression analysis to examine the relationships between variables. Qualitative data will be analyzed thematically to identify common themes and patterns within participants’ narratives. Integration of quantitative and qualitative findings will provide a comprehensive understanding of the research questions.

4. Timeline

The research project will be conducted over a period of 12 months, divided into specific phases, including literature review, study design, data collection, analysis, and report writing. A detailed timeline outlining the key milestones and activities is provided in Appendix A.

5. Expected Outcomes and Significance

This study aims to contribute to the existing literature on the impact of social media on adolescent well-being by employing a mixed-methods approach. The findings will inform the development of evidence-based interventions and guidelines to promote healthy social media use among adolescents. This research has the potential to benefit adolescents, parents, educators, and policymakers by providing insights into the complex relationship between social media and well-being and offering strategies for fostering positive online experiences.

6. Resources

The resources required for this research include access to a representative sample of adolescents, research assistants for data collection, statistical software for data analysis, and funding to cover survey administration and participant incentives. Ethical considerations will be taken into account, ensuring participant confidentiality and obtaining informed consent.

7. References

Research Proposal Writing Guide

Writing a research proposal can be a complex task, but with proper guidance and organization, you can create a compelling and well-structured proposal. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you through the process:

  • Understand the requirements: Familiarize yourself with the guidelines and requirements provided by your institution, funding agency, or program. Pay attention to formatting, page limits, specific sections or headings, and any other instructions.
  • Identify your research topic: Choose a research topic that aligns with your interests, expertise, and the goals of your program or funding opportunity. Ensure that your topic is specific, focused, and relevant to the field of study.
  • Conduct a literature review : Review existing literature and research relevant to your topic. Identify key theories, concepts, methodologies, and findings related to your research question. This will help you establish the context, identify research gaps, and demonstrate the significance of your proposed study.
  • Define your research objectives and research question(s): Clearly state the objectives you aim to achieve with your research. Formulate research questions that address the gaps identified in the literature review. Your research objectives and questions should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).
  • Develop a research methodology: Determine the most appropriate research design and methodology for your study. Consider whether quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods approaches will best address your research question(s). Describe the data collection methods, sampling strategy, data analysis techniques, and any ethical considerations associated with your research.
  • Create a research plan and timeline: Outline the various stages of your research project, including tasks, milestones, and deadlines. Develop a realistic timeline that considers factors such as data collection, analysis, and report writing. This plan will help you stay organized and manage your time effectively throughout the research process.
  • A. Introduction: Provide background information on the research problem, highlight its significance, and introduce your research objectives and questions.
  • B. Literature review: Summarize relevant literature, identify gaps, and justify the need for your proposed research.
  • C . Methodology: Describe your research design, data collection methods, sampling strategy, data analysis techniques, and any ethical considerations.
  • D . Expected outcomes and significance: Explain the potential outcomes, contributions, and implications of your research.
  • E. Resources: Identify the resources required to conduct your research, such as funding, equipment, or access to data.
  • F . References: Include a list of cited references in the appropriate citation style.
  • Revise and proofread: Review your proposal for clarity, coherence, and logical flow. Check for grammar and spelling errors. Seek feedback from mentors, colleagues, or advisors to refine and improve your proposal.
  • Finalize and submit: Make any necessary revisions based on feedback and finalize your research proposal. Ensure that you have met all the requirements and formatting guidelines. Submit your proposal within the specified deadline.

Research Proposal Length

The length of a research proposal can vary depending on the specific guidelines provided by your institution or funding agency. However, research proposals typically range from 1,500 to 3,000 words, excluding references and any additional supporting documents.

Purpose of Research Proposal

The purpose of a research proposal is to outline and communicate your research project to others, such as academic institutions, funding agencies, or potential collaborators. It serves several important purposes:

  • Demonstrate the significance of the research: A research proposal explains the importance and relevance of your research project. It outlines the research problem or question, highlights the gaps in existing knowledge, and explains how your study will contribute to the field. By clearly articulating the significance of your research, you can convince others of its value and potential impact.
  • Provide a clear research plan: A research proposal outlines the methodology, design, and approach you will use to conduct your study. It describes the research objectives, data collection methods, data analysis techniques, and potential outcomes. By presenting a clear research plan, you demonstrate that your study is well-thought-out, feasible, and likely to produce meaningful results.
  • Secure funding or support: For researchers seeking funding or support for their projects, a research proposal is essential. It allows you to make a persuasive case for why your research is deserving of financial resources or institutional backing. The proposal explains the budgetary requirements, resources needed, and potential benefits of the research, helping you secure the necessary funding or support.
  • Seek feedback and guidance: Presenting a research proposal provides an opportunity to receive feedback and guidance from experts in your field. It allows you to engage in discussions and receive suggestions for refining your research plan, improving the methodology, or addressing any potential limitations. This feedback can enhance the quality of your study and increase its chances of success.
  • Establish ethical considerations: A research proposal also addresses ethical considerations associated with your study. It outlines how you will ensure participant confidentiality, obtain informed consent, and adhere to ethical guidelines and regulations. By demonstrating your awareness and commitment to ethical research practices, you build trust and credibility in your proposed study.

Importance of Research Proposal

The research proposal holds significant importance in the research process. Here are some key reasons why research proposals are important:

  • Planning and organization: A research proposal requires careful planning and organization of your research project. It forces you to think through the research objectives, research questions, methodology, and potential outcomes before embarking on the actual study. This planning phase helps you establish a clear direction and framework for your research, ensuring that your efforts are focused and purposeful.
  • Demonstrating the significance of the research: A research proposal allows you to articulate the significance and relevance of your study. By providing a thorough literature review and clearly defining the research problem or question, you can showcase the gaps in existing knowledge that your research aims to address. This demonstrates to others, such as funding agencies or academic institutions, why your research is important and deserving of support.
  • Obtaining funding and resources: Research proposals are often required to secure funding for your research project. Funding agencies and organizations need to evaluate the feasibility and potential impact of the proposed research before allocating resources. A well-crafted research proposal helps convince funders of the value of your research and increases the likelihood of securing financial support, grants, or scholarships.
  • Receiving feedback and guidance: Presenting a research proposal provides an opportunity to seek feedback and guidance from experts in your field. By sharing your research plan and objectives with others, you can benefit from their insights and suggestions. This feedback can help refine your research design, strengthen your methodology, and ensure that your study is rigorous and well-informed.
  • Ethical considerations: A research proposal addresses ethical considerations associated with your study. It outlines how you will protect the rights and welfare of participants, maintain confidentiality, obtain informed consent, and adhere to ethical guidelines and regulations. This emphasis on ethical practices ensures that your research is conducted responsibly and with integrity.
  • Enhancing collaboration and partnerships: A research proposal can facilitate collaborations and partnerships with other researchers, institutions, or organizations. When presenting your research plan, you may attract the interest of potential collaborators who share similar research interests or possess complementary expertise. Collaborative partnerships can enrich your study, expand your resources, and foster knowledge exchange.
  • Establishing a research trajectory: A research proposal serves as a foundation for your research project. Once approved, it becomes a roadmap that guides your study’s implementation, data collection, analysis, and reporting. It helps maintain focus and ensures that your research stays on track and aligned with the initial objectives.

When to Write Research Proposal

The timing of when to write a research proposal can vary depending on the specific requirements and circumstances. However, here are a few common situations when it is appropriate to write a research proposal:

  • Academic research: If you are a student pursuing a research degree, such as a Ph.D. or Master’s by research, you will typically be required to write a research proposal as part of the application process. This is usually done before starting the research program to outline your proposed study and seek approval from the academic institution.
  • Funding applications: When applying for research grants, scholarships, or funding from organizations or institutions, you will often need to submit a research proposal. Funding agencies require a detailed description of your research project, including its objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. Writing a research proposal in this context is necessary to secure financial support for your study.
  • Research collaborations: When collaborating with other researchers, institutions, or organizations on a research project, it is common to prepare a research proposal. This helps outline the research objectives, roles and responsibilities, and expected contributions from each party. Writing a research proposal in this case allows all collaborators to align their efforts and ensure a shared understanding of the project.
  • Research project within an organization: If you are conducting research within an organization, such as a company or government agency, you may be required to write a research proposal to gain approval and support for your study. This proposal outlines the research objectives, methodology, resources needed, and expected outcomes, ensuring that the project aligns with the organization’s goals and objectives.
  • Independent research projects: Even if you are not required to write a research proposal, it can still be beneficial to develop one for your independent research projects. Writing a research proposal helps you plan and structure your study, clarify your research objectives, and anticipate potential challenges or limitations. It also allows you to communicate your research plans effectively to supervisors, mentors, or collaborators.

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11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

Learning objectives.

  • Identify the steps in developing a research proposal.
  • Choose a topic and formulate a research question and working thesis.
  • Develop a research proposal.

Writing a good research paper takes time, thought, and effort. Although this assignment is challenging, it is manageable. Focusing on one step at a time will help you develop a thoughtful, informative, well-supported research paper.

Your first step is to choose a topic and then to develop research questions, a working thesis, and a written research proposal. Set aside adequate time for this part of the process. Fully exploring ideas will help you build a solid foundation for your paper.

Choosing a Topic

When you choose a topic for a research paper, you are making a major commitment. Your choice will help determine whether you enjoy the lengthy process of research and writing—and whether your final paper fulfills the assignment requirements. If you choose your topic hastily, you may later find it difficult to work with your topic. By taking your time and choosing carefully, you can ensure that this assignment is not only challenging but also rewarding.

Writers understand the importance of choosing a topic that fulfills the assignment requirements and fits the assignment’s purpose and audience. (For more information about purpose and audience, see Chapter 6 “Writing Paragraphs: Separating Ideas and Shaping Content” .) Choosing a topic that interests you is also crucial. You instructor may provide a list of suggested topics or ask that you develop a topic on your own. In either case, try to identify topics that genuinely interest you.

After identifying potential topic ideas, you will need to evaluate your ideas and choose one topic to pursue. Will you be able to find enough information about the topic? Can you develop a paper about this topic that presents and supports your original ideas? Is the topic too broad or too narrow for the scope of the assignment? If so, can you modify it so it is more manageable? You will ask these questions during this preliminary phase of the research process.

Identifying Potential Topics

Sometimes, your instructor may provide a list of suggested topics. If so, you may benefit from identifying several possibilities before committing to one idea. It is important to know how to narrow down your ideas into a concise, manageable thesis. You may also use the list as a starting point to help you identify additional, related topics. Discussing your ideas with your instructor will help ensure that you choose a manageable topic that fits the requirements of the assignment.

In this chapter, you will follow a writer named Jorge, who is studying health care administration, as he prepares a research paper. You will also plan, research, and draft your own research paper.

Jorge was assigned to write a research paper on health and the media for an introductory course in health care. Although a general topic was selected for the students, Jorge had to decide which specific issues interested him. He brainstormed a list of possibilities.

If you are writing a research paper for a specialized course, look back through your notes and course activities. Identify reading assignments and class discussions that especially engaged you. Doing so can help you identify topics to pursue.

  • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) in the news
  • Sexual education programs
  • Hollywood and eating disorders
  • Americans’ access to public health information
  • Media portrayal of health care reform bill
  • Depictions of drugs on television
  • The effect of the Internet on mental health
  • Popularized diets (such as low-carbohydrate diets)
  • Fear of pandemics (bird flu, HINI, SARS)
  • Electronic entertainment and obesity
  • Advertisements for prescription drugs
  • Public education and disease prevention

Set a timer for five minutes. Use brainstorming or idea mapping to create a list of topics you would be interested in researching for a paper about the influence of the Internet on social networking. Do you closely follow the media coverage of a particular website, such as Twitter? Would you like to learn more about a certain industry, such as online dating? Which social networking sites do you and your friends use? List as many ideas related to this topic as you can.

Narrowing Your Topic

Once you have a list of potential topics, you will need to choose one as the focus of your essay. You will also need to narrow your topic. Most writers find that the topics they listed during brainstorming or idea mapping are broad—too broad for the scope of the assignment. Working with an overly broad topic, such as sexual education programs or popularized diets, can be frustrating and overwhelming. Each topic has so many facets that it would be impossible to cover them all in a college research paper. However, more specific choices, such as the pros and cons of sexual education in kids’ television programs or the physical effects of the South Beach diet, are specific enough to write about without being too narrow to sustain an entire research paper.

A good research paper provides focused, in-depth information and analysis. If your topic is too broad, you will find it difficult to do more than skim the surface when you research it and write about it. Narrowing your focus is essential to making your topic manageable. To narrow your focus, explore your topic in writing, conduct preliminary research, and discuss both the topic and the research with others.

Exploring Your Topic in Writing

“How am I supposed to narrow my topic when I haven’t even begun researching yet?” In fact, you may already know more than you realize. Review your list and identify your top two or three topics. Set aside some time to explore each one through freewriting. (For more information about freewriting, see Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” .) Simply taking the time to focus on your topic may yield fresh angles.

Jorge knew that he was especially interested in the topic of diet fads, but he also knew that it was much too broad for his assignment. He used freewriting to explore his thoughts so he could narrow his topic. Read Jorge’s ideas.

Conducting Preliminary Research

Another way writers may focus a topic is to conduct preliminary research . Like freewriting, exploratory reading can help you identify interesting angles. Surfing the web and browsing through newspaper and magazine articles are good ways to start. Find out what people are saying about your topic on blogs and online discussion groups. Discussing your topic with others can also inspire you. Talk about your ideas with your classmates, your friends, or your instructor.

Jorge’s freewriting exercise helped him realize that the assigned topic of health and the media intersected with a few of his interests—diet, nutrition, and obesity. Preliminary online research and discussions with his classmates strengthened his impression that many people are confused or misled by media coverage of these subjects.

Jorge decided to focus his paper on a topic that had garnered a great deal of media attention—low-carbohydrate diets. He wanted to find out whether low-carbohydrate diets were as effective as their proponents claimed.

Writing at Work

At work, you may need to research a topic quickly to find general information. This information can be useful in understanding trends in a given industry or generating competition. For example, a company may research a competitor’s prices and use the information when pricing their own product. You may find it useful to skim a variety of reliable sources and take notes on your findings.

The reliability of online sources varies greatly. In this exploratory phase of your research, you do not need to evaluate sources as closely as you will later. However, use common sense as you refine your paper topic. If you read a fascinating blog comment that gives you a new idea for your paper, be sure to check out other, more reliable sources as well to make sure the idea is worth pursuing.

Review the list of topics you created in Note 11.18 “Exercise 1” and identify two or three topics you would like to explore further. For each of these topics, spend five to ten minutes writing about the topic without stopping. Then review your writing to identify possible areas of focus.

Set aside time to conduct preliminary research about your potential topics. Then choose a topic to pursue for your research paper.

Collaboration

Please share your topic list with a classmate. Select one or two topics on his or her list that you would like to learn more about and return it to him or her. Discuss why you found the topics interesting, and learn which of your topics your classmate selected and why.

A Plan for Research

Your freewriting and preliminary research have helped you choose a focused, manageable topic for your research paper. To work with your topic successfully, you will need to determine what exactly you want to learn about it—and later, what you want to say about it. Before you begin conducting in-depth research, you will further define your focus by developing a research question , a working thesis, and a research proposal.

Formulating a Research Question

In forming a research question, you are setting a goal for your research. Your main research question should be substantial enough to form the guiding principle of your paper—but focused enough to guide your research. A strong research question requires you not only to find information but also to put together different pieces of information, interpret and analyze them, and figure out what you think. As you consider potential research questions, ask yourself whether they would be too hard or too easy to answer.

To determine your research question, review the freewriting you completed earlier. Skim through books, articles, and websites and list the questions you have. (You may wish to use the 5WH strategy to help you formulate questions. See Chapter 8 “The Writing Process: How Do I Begin?” for more information about 5WH questions.) Include simple, factual questions and more complex questions that would require analysis and interpretation. Determine your main question—the primary focus of your paper—and several subquestions that you will need to research to answer your main question.

Here are the research questions Jorge will use to focus his research. Notice that his main research question has no obvious, straightforward answer. Jorge will need to research his subquestions, which address narrower topics, to answer his main question.

Using the topic you selected in Note 11.24 “Exercise 2” , write your main research question and at least four to five subquestions. Check that your main research question is appropriately complex for your assignment.

Constructing a Working ThesIs

A working thesis concisely states a writer’s initial answer to the main research question. It does not merely state a fact or present a subjective opinion. Instead, it expresses a debatable idea or claim that you hope to prove through additional research. Your working thesis is called a working thesis for a reason—it is subject to change. As you learn more about your topic, you may change your thinking in light of your research findings. Let your working thesis serve as a guide to your research, but do not be afraid to modify it based on what you learn.

Jorge began his research with a strong point of view based on his preliminary writing and research. Read his working thesis statement, which presents the point he will argue. Notice how it states Jorge’s tentative answer to his research question.

One way to determine your working thesis is to consider how you would complete sentences such as I believe or My opinion is . However, keep in mind that academic writing generally does not use first-person pronouns. These statements are useful starting points, but formal research papers use an objective voice.

Write a working thesis statement that presents your preliminary answer to the research question you wrote in Note 11.27 “Exercise 3” . Check that your working thesis statement presents an idea or claim that could be supported or refuted by evidence from research.

Creating a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a brief document—no more than one typed page—that summarizes the preliminary work you have completed. Your purpose in writing it is to formalize your plan for research and present it to your instructor for feedback. In your research proposal, you will present your main research question, related subquestions, and working thesis. You will also briefly discuss the value of researching this topic and indicate how you plan to gather information.

When Jorge began drafting his research proposal, he realized that he had already created most of the pieces he needed. However, he knew he also had to explain how his research would be relevant to other future health care professionals. In addition, he wanted to form a general plan for doing the research and identifying potentially useful sources. Read Jorge’s research proposal.

Read Jorge's research proposal

Before you begin a new project at work, you may have to develop a project summary document that states the purpose of the project, explains why it would be a wise use of company resources, and briefly outlines the steps involved in completing the project. This type of document is similar to a research proposal. Both documents define and limit a project, explain its value, discuss how to proceed, and identify what resources you will use.

Writing Your Own Research Proposal

Now you may write your own research proposal, if you have not done so already. Follow the guidelines provided in this lesson.

Key Takeaways

  • Developing a research proposal involves the following preliminary steps: identifying potential ideas, choosing ideas to explore further, choosing and narrowing a topic, formulating a research question, and developing a working thesis.
  • A good topic for a research paper interests the writer and fulfills the requirements of the assignment.
  • Defining and narrowing a topic helps writers conduct focused, in-depth research.
  • Writers conduct preliminary research to identify possible topics and research questions and to develop a working thesis.
  • A good research question interests readers, is neither too broad nor too narrow, and has no obvious answer.
  • A good working thesis expresses a debatable idea or claim that can be supported with evidence from research.
  • Writers create a research proposal to present their topic, main research question, subquestions, and working thesis to an instructor for approval or feedback.

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.

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  • Knowledge Base
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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on 30 October 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on 13 June 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organised and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, frequently asked questions.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal aims
Show your reader why your project is interesting, original, and important.
Demonstrate your comfort and familiarity with your field.
Show that you understand the current state of research on your topic.
Make a case for your .
Demonstrate that you have carefully thought about the data, tools, and procedures necessary to conduct your research.
Confirm that your project is feasible within the timeline of your program or funding deadline.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

Prevent plagiarism, run a free check.

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: ‘A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management’
  • Example research proposal #2: ‘ Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use’

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesise prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

Building a research proposal methodology
? or  ? , , or research design?
, )? ?
, , , )?
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To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasise again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

Example research schedule
Research phase Objectives Deadline
1. Background research and literature review 20th January
2. Research design planning and data analysis methods 13th February
3. Data collection and preparation with selected participants and code interviews 24th March
4. Data analysis of interview transcripts 22nd April
5. Writing 17th June
6. Revision final work 28th July

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement.

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

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Chapter 14: The Research Proposal

14.3 Components of a Research Proposal

Krathwohl (2005) suggests and describes a variety of components to include in a research proposal. The following sections – Introductions, Background and significance, Literature Review; Research design and methods, Preliminary suppositions and implications; and Conclusion present these components in a suggested template for you to follow in the preparation of your research proposal.

Introduction

The introduction sets the tone for what follows in your research proposal – treat it as the initial pitch of your idea. After reading the introduction your reader should:

  • understand what it is you want to do;
  • have a sense of your passion for the topic; and
  • be excited about the study’s possible outcomes.

As you begin writing your research proposal, it is helpful to think of the introduction as a narrative of what it is you want to do, written in one to three paragraphs. Within those one to three paragraphs, it is important to briefly answer the following questions:

  • What is the central research problem?
  • How is the topic of your research proposal related to the problem?
  • What methods will you utilize to analyze the research problem?
  • Why is it important to undertake this research? What is the significance of your proposed research? Why are the outcomes of your proposed research important? Whom are they important?

Note : You may be asked by your instructor to include an abstract with your research proposal. In such cases, an abstract should provide an overview of what it is you plan to study, your main research question, a brief explanation of your methods to answer the research question, and your expected findings. All of this information must be carefully crafted in 150 to 250 words. A word of advice is to save the writing of your abstract until the very end of your research proposal preparation. If you are asked to provide an abstract, you should include 5 to 7 key words that are of most relevance to your study. List these in order of relevance.

Background and significance

The purpose of this section is to explain the context of your proposal and to describe, in detail, why it is important to undertake this research. Assume that the person or people who will read your research proposal know nothing or very little about the research problem. While you do not need to include all knowledge you have learned about your topic in this section, it is important to ensure that you include the most relevant material that will help to explain the goals of your research.

While there are no hard and fast rules, you should attempt to address some or all of the following key points:

  • State the research problem and provide a more thorough explanation about the purpose of the study than what you stated in the introduction.
  • Present the rationale for the proposed research study. Clearly indicate why this research is worth doing. Answer the “so what?” question.
  • Describe the major issues or problems to be addressed by your research. Do not forget to explain how and in what ways your proposed research builds upon previous related research.
  • Explain how you plan to go about conducting your research.
  • Clearly identify the key or most relevant sources of research you intend to use and explain how they will contribute to your analysis of the topic.
  • Set the boundaries of your proposed research, in order to provide a clear focus. Where appropriate, state not only what you will study, but what will be excluded from your study.
  • Provide clear definitions of key concepts and terms. Since key concepts and terms often have numerous definitions, make sure you state which definition you will be utilizing in your research.

Literature review

This key component of the research proposal is the most time-consuming aspect in the preparation of your research proposal. As described in Chapter 5 , the literature review provides the background to your study and demonstrates the significance of the proposed research. Specifically, it is a review and synthesis of prior research that is related to the problem you are setting forth to investigate. Essentially, your goal in the literature review is to place your research study within the larger whole of what has been studied in the past, while demonstrating to your reader that your work is original, innovative, and adds to the larger whole.

As the literature review is information dense, it is essential that this section be intelligently structured to enable your reader to grasp the key arguments underpinning your study. However, this can be easier to state and harder to do, simply due to the fact there is usually a plethora of related research to sift through. Consequently, a good strategy for writing the literature review is to break the literature into conceptual categories or themes, rather than attempting to describe various groups of literature you reviewed. Chapter 5   describes a variety of methods to help you organize the themes.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach the writing of your literature review:

  • Think about what questions other researchers have asked, what methods they used, what they found, and what they recommended based upon their findings.
  • Do not be afraid to challenge previous related research findings and/or conclusions.
  • Assess what you believe to be missing from previous research and explain how your research fills in this gap and/or extends previous research.

It is important to note that a significant challenge related to undertaking a literature review is knowing when to stop. As such, it is important to know when you have uncovered the key conceptual categories underlying your research topic. Generally, when you start to see repetition in the conclusions or recommendations, you can have confidence that you have covered all of the significant conceptual categories in your literature review. However, it is also important to acknowledge that researchers often find themselves returning to the literature as they collect and analyze their data. For example, an unexpected finding may develop as you collect and/or analyze the data; in this case, it is important to take the time to step back and review the literature again, to ensure that no other researchers have found a similar finding. This may include looking to research outside your field.

This situation occurred with one of this textbook’s authors’ research related to community resilience. During the interviews, the researchers heard many participants discuss individual resilience factors and how they believed these individual factors helped make the community more resilient, overall. Sheppard and Williams (2016) had not discovered these individual factors in their original literature review on community and environmental resilience. However, when they returned to the literature to search for individual resilience factors, they discovered a small body of literature in the child and youth psychology field. Consequently, Sheppard and Williams had to go back and add a new section to their literature review on individual resilience factors. Interestingly, their research appeared to be the first research to link individual resilience factors with community resilience factors.

Research design and methods

The objective of this section of the research proposal is to convince the reader that your overall research design and methods of analysis will enable you to solve the research problem you have identified and also enable you to accurately and effectively interpret the results of your research. Consequently, it is critical that the research design and methods section is well-written, clear, and logically organized. This demonstrates to your reader that you know what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. Overall, you want to leave your reader feeling confident that you have what it takes to get this research study completed in a timely fashion.

Essentially, this section of the research proposal should be clearly tied to the specific objectives of your study; however, it is also important to draw upon and include examples from the literature review that relate to your design and intended methods. In other words, you must clearly demonstrate how your study utilizes and builds upon past studies, as it relates to the research design and intended methods. For example, what methods have been used by other researchers in similar studies?

While it is important to consider the methods that other researchers have employed, it is equally, if not more, important to consider what methods have not been but could be employed. Remember, the methods section is not simply a list of tasks to be undertaken. It is also an argument as to why and how the tasks you have outlined will help you investigate the research problem and answer your research question(s).

Tips for writing the research design and methods section:

Specify the methodological approaches you intend to employ to obtain information and the techniques you will use to analyze the data.

Specify the research operations you will undertake and the way you will interpret the results of those operations in relation to the research problem.

Go beyond stating what you hope to achieve through the methods you have chosen. State how you will actually implement the methods (i.e., coding interview text, running regression analysis, etc.).

Anticipate and acknowledge any potential barriers you may encounter when undertaking your research, and describe how you will address these barriers.

Explain where you believe you will find challenges related to data collection, including access to participants and information.

Preliminary suppositions and implications

The purpose of this section is to argue how you anticipate that your research will refine, revise, or extend existing knowledge in the area of your study. Depending upon the aims and objectives of your study, you should also discuss how your anticipated findings may impact future research. For example, is it possible that your research may lead to a new policy, theoretical understanding, or method for analyzing data? How might your study influence future studies? What might your study mean for future practitioners working in the field? Who or what might benefit from your study? How might your study contribute to social, economic or environmental issues? While it is important to think about and discuss possibilities such as these, it is equally important to be realistic in stating your anticipated findings. In other words, you do not want to delve into idle speculation. Rather, the purpose here is to reflect upon gaps in the current body of literature and to describe how you anticipate your research will begin to fill in some or all of those gaps.

The conclusion reiterates the importance and significance of your research proposal, and provides a brief summary of the entire proposed study. Essentially, this section should only be one or two paragraphs in length. Here is a potential outline for your conclusion:

Discuss why the study should be done. Specifically discuss how you expect your study will advance existing knowledge and how your study is unique.

Explain the specific purpose of the study and the research questions that the study will answer.

Explain why the research design and methods chosen for this study are appropriate, and why other designs and methods were not chosen.

State the potential implications you expect to emerge from your proposed study,

Provide a sense of how your study fits within the broader scholarship currently in existence, related to the research problem.

Citations and references

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used in composing your research proposal. In a research proposal, this can take two forms: a reference list or a bibliography. A reference list lists the literature you referenced in the body of your research proposal. All references in the reference list must appear in the body of the research proposal. Remember, it is not acceptable to say “as cited in …” As a researcher you must always go to the original source and check it for yourself. Many errors are made in referencing, even by top researchers, and so it is important not to perpetuate an error made by someone else. While this can be time consuming, it is the proper way to undertake a literature review.

In contrast, a bibliography , is a list of everything you used or cited in your research proposal, with additional citations to any key sources relevant to understanding the research problem. In other words, sources cited in your bibliography may not necessarily appear in the body of your research proposal. Make sure you check with your instructor to see which of the two you are expected to produce.

Overall, your list of citations should be a testament to the fact that you have done a sufficient level of preliminary research to ensure that your project will complement, but not duplicate, previous research efforts. For social sciences, the reference list or bibliography should be prepared in American Psychological Association (APA) referencing format. Usually, the reference list (or bibliography) is not included in the word count of the research proposal. Again, make sure you check with your instructor to confirm.

Research Methods for the Social Sciences: An Introduction Copyright © 2020 by Valerie Sheppard is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  • Research Objectives | Definition & Examples

Research Objectives | Definition & Examples

Published on July 12, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on November 20, 2023.

Research objectives describe what your research is trying to achieve and explain why you are pursuing it. They summarize the approach and purpose of your project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement . They should:

  • Establish the scope and depth of your project
  • Contribute to your research design
  • Indicate how your project will contribute to existing knowledge

Table of contents

What is a research objective, why are research objectives important, how to write research aims and objectives, smart research objectives, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research objectives.

Research objectives describe what your research project intends to accomplish. They should guide every step of the research process , including how you collect data , build your argument , and develop your conclusions .

Your research objectives may evolve slightly as your research progresses, but they should always line up with the research carried out and the actual content of your paper.

Research aims

A distinction is often made between research objectives and research aims.

A research aim typically refers to a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear at the end of your problem statement, before your research objectives.

Your research objectives are more specific than your research aim and indicate the particular focus and approach of your project. Though you will only have one research aim, you will likely have several research objectives.

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a research proposal can be defined as

Research objectives are important because they:

  • Establish the scope and depth of your project: This helps you avoid unnecessary research. It also means that your research methods and conclusions can easily be evaluated .
  • Contribute to your research design: When you know what your objectives are, you have a clearer idea of what methods are most appropriate for your research.
  • Indicate how your project will contribute to extant research: They allow you to display your knowledge of up-to-date research, employ or build on current research methods, and attempt to contribute to recent debates.

Once you’ve established a research problem you want to address, you need to decide how you will address it. This is where your research aim and objectives come in.

Step 1: Decide on a general aim

Your research aim should reflect your research problem and should be relatively broad.

Step 2: Decide on specific objectives

Break down your aim into a limited number of steps that will help you resolve your research problem. What specific aspects of the problem do you want to examine or understand?

Step 3: Formulate your aims and objectives

Once you’ve established your research aim and objectives, you need to explain them clearly and concisely to the reader.

You’ll lay out your aims and objectives at the end of your problem statement, which appears in your introduction. Frame them as clear declarative statements, and use appropriate verbs to accurately characterize the work that you will carry out.

The acronym “SMART” is commonly used in relation to research objectives. It states that your objectives should be:

  • Specific: Make sure your objectives aren’t overly vague. Your research needs to be clearly defined in order to get useful results.
  • Measurable: Know how you’ll measure whether your objectives have been achieved.
  • Achievable: Your objectives may be challenging, but they should be feasible. Make sure that relevant groundwork has been done on your topic or that relevant primary or secondary sources exist. Also ensure that you have access to relevant research facilities (labs, library resources , research databases , etc.).
  • Relevant: Make sure that they directly address the research problem you want to work on and that they contribute to the current state of research in your field.
  • Time-based: Set clear deadlines for objectives to ensure that the project stays on track.

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Research objectives describe what you intend your research project to accomplish.

They summarize the approach and purpose of the project and help to focus your research.

Your objectives should appear in the introduction of your research paper , at the end of your problem statement .

Your research objectives indicate how you’ll try to address your research problem and should be specific:

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

Scope of research is determined at the beginning of your research process , prior to the data collection stage. Sometimes called “scope of study,” your scope delineates what will and will not be covered in your project. It helps you focus your work and your time, ensuring that you’ll be able to achieve your goals and outcomes.

Defining a scope can be very useful in any research project, from a research proposal to a thesis or dissertation . A scope is needed for all types of research: quantitative , qualitative , and mixed methods .

To define your scope of research, consider the following:

  • Budget constraints or any specifics of grant funding
  • Your proposed timeline and duration
  • Specifics about your population of study, your proposed sample size , and the research methodology you’ll pursue
  • Any inclusion and exclusion criteria
  • Any anticipated control , extraneous , or confounding variables that could bias your research if not accounted for properly.

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  • Published: 18 June 2024

From wearable sensor data to digital biomarker development: ten lessons learned and a framework proposal

  • Paola Daniore   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-3319-1125 1 , 2 ,
  • Vasileios Nittas   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-6685-8275 3 , 4 ,
  • Christina Haag   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-9662-5245 1 , 4 ,
  • Jürgen Bernard 2 , 5 ,
  • Roman Gonzenbach 6 &
  • Viktor von Wyl   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-8754-9797 1 , 2 , 4 , 7  

npj Digital Medicine volume  7 , Article number:  161 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

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  • Clinical trials
  • Diagnostic markers

Wearable sensor technologies are becoming increasingly relevant in health research, particularly in the context of chronic disease management. They generate real-time health data that can be translated into digital biomarkers, which can provide insights into our health and well-being. Scientific methods to collect, interpret, analyze, and translate health data from wearables to digital biomarkers vary, and systematic approaches to guide these processes are currently lacking. This paper is based on an observational, longitudinal cohort study, BarKA-MS, which collected wearable sensor data on the physical rehabilitation of people living with multiple sclerosis (MS). Based on our experience with BarKA-MS, we provide and discuss ten lessons we learned in relation to digital biomarker development across key study phases. We then summarize these lessons into a guiding framework (DACIA) that aims to informs the use of wearable sensor data for digital biomarker development and chronic disease management for future research and teaching.

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Introduction.

The increasing popularity of ubiquitous mobile technologies, such as wearables, has the potential to transform chronic disease management 1 , 2 , 3 . The broad adoption of wearables, particularly commercial activity trackers, is driven by their affordability, user-friendliness, and overall high accuracy 4 . The rising amount of research on chronic diseases that involves wearables highlights this trend 5 , 6 , 7 . Wearables are equipped with sensors that generate health-related data in real-time, creating opportunities for personalized care 8 . The clinical relevance of this data ultimately depends on their translation into digital biomarkers 9 , 10 . This process generally requires the definition of normal ranges, which is either informed by external benchmarks (e.g., 10,000 daily steps) or intra-individual norms (e.g., individual average step counts during the week) that can be further validated with patient-reported data (e.g., surveys) 11 , 12 , 13 . However, most wearables have fixed measurement capabilities (e.g., physical activity and heart rate), which currently limit their translation to digital biomarkers.

For the potential of digital biomarkers to be achieved, aligning wearable capabilities and study design with recommended practices for meaningful clinical measures is essential 14 . The Food and Drug Agency (FDA) guidance document on the use of digital health technologies for remote data acquisition in clinical investigations proposes a multi-step approach towards digital biomarker development, in which the validation and verification steps take central roles 15 . Along similar lines, the framework by the Digital Medicine Society on best practices for evaluating monitoring technologies for use in clinical trials emphasizes verification, analytical validation, and clinical validation (V3) as central steps 16 , 17 . While these documents provide useful high-level guidance, they offer limited support for the development of digital, wearable-based biomarkers. Furthermore, in current guidance there is an absence of study design and conduct elements that involve all stakeholders in an iterative approach and focus on the implementation of digital biomarkers in practice. Consequently, researchers and health professionals often rely on limited guidance for the use of wearable data in clinical practice and chronic disease management 18 , 19 .

Digital biomarkers may significantly improve the management of complex chronic conditions, such as multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a serious neurodegenerative health condition that is characterized by both extensive and highly variable physical and mental symptoms. More than 15,000 people are currently living with MS in Switzerland alone 20 . Optimizing and tailoring treatment options has been limited by a still unexplained heterogeneity in symptom patterns and disease course. For this reason, MS is often referred to as the ‘disease with 1000 faces’ 21 . In this paper, we briefly introduce the BarKA-MS study program (section “Introduction”), which collected sensor data from wearables on the physical rehabilitation of people living with MS (PwMS), and summarize ten important lessons learned (section “The BarKA-MS study program”) across key study phases related to methods aimed at guiding the development of digital biomarkers 22 . We then present the DACIA framework (section “Lessons learned from BarKA-MS”) as a crosscut between the ten lessons and five crucial steps of digital biomarker development, which has been applied twice in the course “Digital Health in Practice” for medical students at the University of Zurich. Finally, we discuss the DACIA framework in the context of existing guidance and highlight its relevance. Our work aims to inform (1) future research on the development wearable-based digital biomarkers for chronic disease management, as well as (2) teaching curricula, through the application of our framework 10 , 11 .

The BarKA-MS study program

BarKA-MS is a semi-remote observational, longitudinal cohort pilot study program that explored the physical activity rehabilitation of PwMS, which informed several independent analyses as part of the program 18 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 . The methods and results of BarKA-MS are published elsewhere 22 , 24 , 25 , 26 . The study was planned in collaboration between the researchers, clinical staff, as well as experts in human-centered and interactive visual data analytics (IVDA). During study design, clinicians and researchers defined relevant clinical measures for potential future use in a rehabilitation clinic. Study nurses from the clinical staff were consulted to identify feasible data collection methods, drawing on their experiences with PwMS and their understanding of patient needs. Data collection was planned with the Fitabase activity tracker database 27 to enable the statistical analysts and IVDA experts to effectively translate wearable sensor data to digital biomarkers.

BarKA-MS was divided in two phases. First, the physical activity of participants was measured during their inpatient rehabilitation stay at the Valens Rehabilitation Centre in Switzerland, which for most patients lasted between two to three weeks. Second, their physical activity was measured upon return to their homes. Participants were asked to wear the Fitbit Inspire HR during the entire duration of the study 28 and an additional research-grade wearable sensor, the Actigraph GTX, during their last week of rehabilitation and the first week back home 25 . Participants were followed up for up to eight weeks i.e., two to four weeks in the first phase and four weeks in the second phase. Technical and motivational support was provided throughout the study. The study protocol obtained ethical approval from the Zurich cantonal ethics commission (BASEC-no. 2020–02350). All participants provided written informed consent.

Participant demographics of BarKA-MS are available in Supplementary Table 1 . At baseline, most participants were female, had a median age of 46, had MS for a median of 11 years and were either working part-time or were unemployed. These characteristics align with the typical demographics observed in MS populations with a more progressed disease state 29 , 30 , 31 . A follow-up study 23 involving participants with different characteristics and chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, revealed conclusions consistent with the main BarKA-MS analyses, suggesting that the findings discussed in this lessons learned paper may be applicable to other chronic disease populations.

Relevant wearable sensor data was collected longitudinally and included heart rate, step count, sleep indicators, physical activity intensity (time spent in light, moderate, or vigorous physical activity), and sedentary time. These measurements were available at the minute, hourly, and daily granularity levels. To provide additional context to the physical activity measures from the wearable sensors, we collected self-reported data using the following instruments: (1) the 18-item Barriers to Health Promoting Activities for Disabled Persons Scale 32 to assess perceived barriers to physical activity, (2) the 12-item MS Walking Scale-12 33 to assess the walking ability of the participants and (3) the Fatigue Scale for Motor and Cognitive Functions 34 to assess MS-related cognitive and motor fatigue. The study achieved a weekly survey completion of 96%, as well as 99% and 97% valid Fitbit wear days at the rehabilitation clinic and in the home setting, respectively.

Lessons learned from BarKA-MS

In the following sections, we present our insights (lessons learned) from designing and implementing BarKA-MS, as well several independent analyses of sensor measurements and patient reported outcomes 18 , 24 , 25 , 26 , and a follow-up study that was modeled after BarKA-MS 23 that examined the implementation of a physical activity post-rehabilitation program from the perspectives of patients and healthcare professionals. We specifically selected insights that are relevant to the use of wearable sensor data for digital biomarker development. All our lessons learned were discussed and co-formulated with healthcare professionals, clinical staff and researchers involved in BarKA-MS, and categorized in four key study phases, including: (1) early study design, (2) study execution, (3) data analysis, and (4) data interpretation.

Early study design

For BarKA-MS, we chose to use the Fitbit Inspire HR commercial wearable after an assessment against other devices due its low cost, ease of use and ability to collect relevant data with Fitabase 27 , a secure third-party data collection tool that enables remote monitoring of data quality and completeness checks. By contrast, the Actigraph accelerometer was not chosen as the primary wearable device for data collection due to its higher costs, lower participant preference from discomfort of wearing it around the hip, and increased complexity due to limited storage capacity and the requirement to actively download data with a cable. These initial decisions were taken during the protocol writing phase and in agreement with healthcare professionals and clinical staff. Central to these decisions was also designing the study to protect the privacy of the participants, by ensuring the safe collection and use of data. In particular, only non-identifiable user accounts were used for wearable devices and potentially sensitive features of the devices, such as location tracking or data sharing via social media, were disabled. These decisions led to the following lessons.

Lesson 1: Aligning study goals and technology

The choice of measurement tools should be guided by the research question and the study outcomes of interest. In our case, the primary outcome was daily-life physical activity, a proximal outcome that was directly derived from the Fitbit Inspire HR. To decide whether a wearable is the most suitable option, it is key to fully understand the functions, but most importantly the potential limitations of devices. Understanding the limitations reduces the risk of unreliable measurements. A relevant example comes from one of our previous unpublished sub-analyses of BarKA-MS, which examined correlations of self-reported fatigue (using the Multiple Sclerosis Impact Scale-29 score 35 ) and sensor measurements, including sleep length and daily-life physical activity. Our findings revealed weak associations, which were likely due to the wearable’s indirect measurement of distances 26 . Having missed this limitation would have likely led to incorrect measurements.

Lesson 2: Aligning measurement and outcome assessment timeframes

A second lesson learned during the early design phases of BarKA-MS is the importance of required timeframes, or the time needed until relevant study outcomes can be fully measured. Chronic diseases, such as MS, progress over years or decades. Recent digital health studies on chronic diseases have reported monitoring periods of up to 12 months 2 . However, the optimal timeframe to detect a change of interest depends on the study question. In the case of BarKA-MS, we detected clinically relevant changes in self-reported measures related to barriers to physical activity for severe fatigue scores in 8 out of the 38 participants, and a median improvement of 16.7 points in the MS Walking Scale-12 after an 8-week follow-up 24 , 26 . By contrast, health behaviors, such as daily-life physical activity, fluctuate on much smaller time scales, such as days, weeks, or months. Nevertheless, our experiences with BarKA-MS and a follow-up study 23 suggest that even timeframes of 4 to 12 weeks require significant efforts to keep participants engaged. Being aware of the expected efforts during the study, the availability of resources, and the characteristics of the study population, such as their age, level of disability and educational level, will ultimately determine whether (a) the use of wearables is scientifically meaningful, and (b) what duration periods will likely be needed 24 . Commercial wearables are well-geared towards measuring health behavior changes on weekly or monthly time scales, while also supporting longer study durations due to their ease of use and wear comfort. Not defining timeframes correctly and early enough risks delays and waste of resources.

Lesson 3: Defining the role of wearables

Wearables can take different roles and thus, support different goals in chronic disease management. In our discussions with healthcare professionals involved in BarKA-MS, we identified the need for clarity regarding the role of wearables in digital biomarker studies. Two central questions emerged: “how can sensor data improve patient health?”, and “who should take action to achieve health benefits?”. These questions led to the development of our “goal pyramid” (Fig. 1 ), which outlines various healthcare goals that wearable data can support. These goals range from low-effort (bottom of the pyramid), to high-effort, yet clinically more informative, goals (top of the pyramid). For example, prediction studies might require longer follow-up times, larger sample sizes, and additional data for prediction model validation. Overall, the “goal pyramid” is a useful tool to facilitate discussions with healthcare professionals about study designs and for clarifying technology’s role in achieving health outcomes, along with the associated efforts.

figure 1

Goal versus effort pyramid to inform the role of wearable sensors in achieving research goals.

Study execution

Not all study execution challenges can be anticipated during the design phase. For example, BarKA-MS offered comprehensive participant support, which resulted in high study compliance. However, we recognize that this approach is likely not an option for studies with larger samples. Overall, our experiences, based also on feedback from clinical staff, point to a trade-off between collecting high-quality and near-complete data while optimizing participant burden and maintaining high compliance. The following two lessons reflect our experiences during study execution.

Lesson 4: Combining passive monitoring with actively collected data

BarKA-MS taught us that the combination of wearable sensor data with other data types (e.g., clinical, physiological, or patent-reported data) may enhance the accuracy of digital biomarker development. Rationales for collecting additional data types may include sensor validation, multivariable predictions of health outcomes, or stratification through subgroup analyses. In BarKA-MS, we deliberately used commercial wearables not specifically designed for use by PwMS. To enhance and contextualize the rather generic wearable sensor data, we collected patient-reported symptoms, frequency of physical activity, and its associated barriers, along with free-text feedback on wearable use and acceptability. In BarKA-MS, assessing this combination of passively and actively collected data was a crucial first step in exploring possible digital biomarkers of barriers to physical activity in the context of shifts in fatigue and mobility 26 . However, previous examples have also demonstrated that active data collection, such as through surveys, carries a risk of drop-outs or non-compliance 36 that may be higher than in studies with only passive data collection (e.g., wearables). Although a recent scoping review 4 was unable to identify clear associations of participant burden due to active data collection, this aspect should be carefully monitored and possibly adjusted during the study.

Lesson 5: Maintaining and supporting participant compliance

Data completeness and participant compliance are particularly relevant, especially for studies that are conducted remotely. A key initial consideration for digital health studies is ensuring that participants are representative of the study’s target population, including relevant underrepresented groups 37 . This may require targeted recruiting efforts, as well as possible contextual and cultural adaptations of the study design 38 . In BarKA-MS and a follow-up study 23 , efforts were taken to enhance the diversity of the study population in terms of age and gender by providing participant onboarding and technical support during follow-up. Participants also provided weekly feedback about their experience with and usability of the Fitbit. Problems were either addressed by the clinical staff at the rehabilitation clinic or the two involved researchers. For example, when participants encountered technical issues with their Fitbit, researchers promptly scheduled phone calls to resolve the problems 23 , 24 . As shown by an internal assessment of support logs, these measures helped retain older or more impaired study participants with higher MS symptom burden 24 . BarKA-MS achieved high study compliance but also required considerable efforts to actively monitor data collection (e.g., frequent personal reminders from the researchers). Missing data and dropouts are also inevitable. Declining participant motivation or health, inconvenient timing, or burdensome data collection can all contribute to low compliance and missing data. In BarKA-MS, declining health often demotivated participants who preferred not to receive physical activity reminders, as these highlighted their physical limitations. This further illustrates that challenges may emerge and even multiply over longer observation periods, underscoring the need for continuous participant support.

Data analysis

For BarKA-MS, we focused the data analysis on: (1) time series assessments of wearable sensor data for recurring patterns within/between PwMS, and (2) descriptive analyses to explore physical activity barriers for PwMS. To better visualize and assess these results, we conducted an unpublished sub-study in collaboration with experts in IVDA. These were then discussed with IVDA experts and healthcare professionals to better understand the present data quality and analytical challenges, and contribute to the formulation of new hypotheses. The following lessons reflect these experiences.

Lesson 6: Defining appropriate data aggregation level

Wearable sensors collect data at different time scales. For example, step count, time spent in active physical activity, and heart rate are available at the minute level, while resting heart rate, which is measured at nighttime, is only available as a single daily value. Finding the most appropriate temporal aggregation level depends on the expected timeframe needed to observe an effect in the outcome of interest (lesson 2), as well as mitigating redundancy and low data resolution 39 , or ensuring that outcome measures comply with those relevant in clinical settings 40 . In BarKA-MS, we collaborated with healthcare professionals to create interactive visualizations from the study’s sensor data. These experiences highlighted that daily aggregations were meaningful for most parameters to develop informative composite measures, but longer-term assessments might benefit from weekly or even monthly data aggregations, with the option to switch between aggregation levels. Further considerations include whether data aggregation can help with managing high volumes of data. Data aggregation can help with reducing information overload, which can help healthcare professionals and patients understand the data and its signals more easily. In BarKA-MS, we followed a user-centered design methodology to co-design sensor data visualizations together with healthcare professionals, to facilitate informed decision-making based on meaningful data signals. The resulting data visualizations also revealed useful for guiding researchers in analyzing BarKA-MS data.

Lesson 7: Contextualizing sensor measurements

In BarKA-MS, the main challenge of developing digital biomarkers was the contextualization of our data. A common issue was distinguishing between patterns in physical activity due to exercise or unrelated activities, such as knitting or playing the piano. This was highlighted in a BarKA-MS analysis that revealed weak correlations between different sensor measurements in a real-world setting 25 , echoing similar reported difficulties in the scientific literature 41 , 42 , 43 . Another challenge involved connecting irregular patterns of activity or inactivity with individual or group-level factors that influence motivation. For example, among PwMS there is a high prevalence of fatigue (affecting over 70% of PwMS 44 ), which may demotivate them from exercising, as observed in a BarKA-MS analysis revealing a positive correlation between levels of fatigue and barriers to physical activity 26 . Individual-level visualization of the data with healthcare professionals as part of BarKA-MS highlighted the need for contextual information related or unrelated to sensor measurements to help identify patterns of interest for individual participants 45 . For example, visualizations of physical activity and sleep data from BarKA-MS suggested cyclical within-person patterns, such as higher physical activity on weekends. In BarKA-MS, we also used weather condition data to assess whether deviations in activities could be contextualized to other, external influencing factors. Knowledge about the temporal occurrence of such factors may overall help to better interpret sensor measurement data.

Lesson 8: Discerning signal from noise

Filtering out “noise”, or signals in the data collection that are of low value and are not indicative of the presence of an actual signal 46 , within sensor data is a key, yet challenging task. Building on lesson 7, contextual data, such as weather patterns, can help distinguish between trivial explanations for patterns, or nuisance parameters, and the actual patterns of interest to the study 47 . For example, by applying interactive visualizations to our BarKA-MS data we observed differences in step counts or sleep patterns between weekdays or weekends. In some individuals, healthcare professionals also noticed distinct within-day patterns, such as reduced activity in afternoons, which they identified as possible signs of fatigue, a common symptom in PwMS. Another approach is to build a time series model that includes these noise parameters to predict expected sensor measurements. This de-noising approach involves gathering and analyzing data from nuisance variables that introduce noise, such as daily routines, weather and calendar data, alongside sensor measurements. The inclusion of such nuisance variables, if they are indeed associated with the outcome, has the potential to decrease noise. Ideally, the identification of variables required for “de-noising” should be considered at the study planning stage.

Data interpretation

The data interpretation phase is linked with the analysis phase, however, focuses more on the contextual interpretation of results. For BarKA-MS, visual data analytics and discussions with healthcare professionals played a key role. We derived the following two lessons.

Lesson 9: Choosing internal and external benchmarks

Digital biomarkers should ideally be characterized by clear norm ranges. However, it is difficult to develop universal norms, as observed with healthy individuals occasionally having laboratory values outside the norm, or the other way around. Data interpretation is further challenged by possible systematic measurement inaccuracies, such as those from Light Emission Diode-based wearable devices that may be less accurate for people of color 42 , 48 , or datasets omitting underrepresented groups 49 , which can contribute to biased benchmarks. Considering these challenges, digital biomarker studies should focus on inter-individual changes rather than absolute benchmarks 50 , 51 . In BarKA-MS, physical activity level digital biomarkers were informed by internal and external benchmarks. Internal benchmarks were derived to assess if individual PwMS exhibited certain patterns that occurred more frequently than expected, considering a normal distribution. External benchmarks were obtained directly from the wearables, using calculated measures of e.g., physical activity intensity, such as the amount of time spent in light, moderate, or vigorous physical activity 25 . These measures served as digital biomarkers for low or high levels of physical activity. For such metrics in chronic disease populations, such as MS, personal contexts play an important role. This underlines the need for studies on chronic disease populations to assess changes in intra-individual norms and, ideally, health status assessments from clinicians to develop meaningful digital biomarkers.

Lesson 10: Deriving clear actions

For digital biomarkers to be of clinical value, they should be linked to an action plan. Such an action plan may include defining the rules that confirm digital biomarker deviations (e.g., outside-norm signals in two subsequent weeks), monitoring frequently, and adjusting intervention delivery (e.g., motivational phone call to participant). Building on lesson 3, such action plans should be aligned with the overall goal of the study and the role of wearables, as illustrated by the “goal pyramid” (Fig. 1 ). For BarKA-MS, the interactive data visualizations and discussions with healthcare professionals revealed important preconditions for reacting to digital biomarker changes. For example, healthcare professionals stated that such processes should be compatible with existing workflows to avoid additional burden to clinical staff and healthcare professionals themselves, or that technical support for both patients and clinical staff should be made available 23 . A follow-up study explored these topics using the normalization process theory framework, focusing on how healthcare professionals and patients can collaborate effectively in remote activity tracking for rehabilitation aftercare 23 .

The DACIA framework to inform planning of wearable sensor data use in healthcare research, management and teaching

Drawing on identified patterns and themes from the ten lessons from BarKA-MS, observations from a follow-up study 23 , and feedback received when used in the course “Digital Health in Practice” for medical students at the University of Zurich, we developed the DACIA framework. This framework is based on the notion that digital biomarker development is informed by: (1) d ata, (2) a ggregation, (3) c ontextualization, (4) i nterpretation, and (5) a ctions (Fig. 2 ). These constructs aim to guide future early-stage research on wearable sensor-based digital biomarker development and are scalable to larger studies. The DACIA framework also serves as an interactive teaching tool for medical students to plan and execute a hands-on wearable sensor data collection and analysis for a mock digital health intervention.

figure 2

DACIA framework constructs and feedback loops.

In this section, we present the five DACIA constructs along with examples for guiding questions to inform study planning (Table 1 ), which can also be used to support teaching. We then present data loops among the DACIA constructs, depicted by the orange box, to illustrate the iterative and flexible aspects of digital biomarker development. To provide further context on DACIA’s applicability to a study, we apply the constructs of the framework to BarKA-MS (Supplementary Table 2 ).

Feedback loops in the DACIA framework (orange box, informed by lessons 4, 7, 8, and 10)

During BarKA-MS, we regularly collected user feedback on the study and device acceptability in free-text fields. User studies were also conducted to identify healthcare professionals’ needs for data visualizations and considerations for appropriate data interpretation. This feedback was useful for study improvements. Therefore, since critical aspects for the study’s success may only surface during study conduct (e.g., through interim analyses or user feedback), we recommend that wearable sensor studies be adaptable to such feedback and evolving data requirements. This is visualized by the orange box in Fig. 2 .

Regularly engaging participants through user feedback, e.g., as part of a weekly survey or after a data collection task has been completed, may also be beneficial for overall study compliance. In response to the feedback, researchers can promptly respond and provide motivational or technical support. The involved researchers can also keep support logs to record technical and non-technical issues that require further communication with participants. Considering participant burden, researchers should also assess the usefulness of individual data items during data collection, discarding those irrelevant to the study’s goals to reduce unnecessary burden. Researchers can also reduce burden by collecting data less frequently or re-using existing information, for example through linkage with clinical data.

Regular communication with study participants and healthcare professionals may also be useful for the interpretation of detected digital biomarker signals. Studies can explore implementing automated feedback loops to share deviating digital biomarker signals with study participants and healthcare professionals, gathering valuable data for process improvement or supervised machine learning models. These models should be critically assessed to ensure algorithmic fairness based on a diverse study population, to ensure that they are externally valid in other clinical settings and do not exclude underrepresented groups. Reviewing model results and predictions directly with involved stakeholders and diverse patient groups can help identify potential issues. Importantly, algorithms and digital biomarkers should also undergo external validation with independent patient populations before use in healthcare and clinical practice.

Our paper provides key lessons learned from the BarKA-MS study program for the use of wearable sensor data for digital biomarker development. Based on these, we propose the DACIA framework, which aims to guide and inform future research and support teaching curricula on digital health interventions. The framework is easily applicable to studies across various chronic conditions, in both observational as well as interventional study designs.

The DACIA framework in the context of current guidance

In light of current guidelines, the DACIA framework provides interdisciplinary guidance on how to use wearable sensor data for digital biomarker development. Our work can be seen as complementary to other frameworks. The Framework for Meaningful Measurement by Manta et al. 52 , for example, provides a sequential list of data collection-related considerations to evaluate the meaningfulness of sensor signals. The Digital Biomarker Discovery Pipeline from Bent et al. 53 , goes a step further and focuses more specifically on aligning study goals with the collected data and different types of analyses. Guidance from Coravos et al. 9 rather focuses on the variability in types of sensor technologies, digital biomarkers and their clinical relevance. Combined with high-level guidance from the FDA 15 and Digital Medicine Society 16 , 17 , the DACIA framework provides a more comprehensive approach for planning and conducting research with wearable sensors to develop digital biomarkers that places focus on involving relevant stakeholders in each key step of DACIA in an iterative manner. This is especially of relevance in the action construct of the framework, going beyond digital biomarker development guidelines into meaningfully applying and assessing them along with relevant stakeholders in clinical practice. Furthermore, the DACIA framework places a more participant-centric approach that focuses on reducing their burden through support and continuous feedback. Overall, the DACIA framework complements existing guidance by focusing on participant needs as a crucial factor for study success, making it relevant for both short and long-duration studies.

Implication for future studies

The DACIA framework fills an important gap by placing a stronger focus on the interdisciplinary and iterative planning, analysis and interpretation of wearable sensor data, to enhance the clinical relevance of future research in wearable sensor-based digital biomarker development. In particular, DACIA helps to assign the relevant responsibilities and clarify data requirements for assessing study outcomes and measurement contexts. It also underlines the importance of necessary measurement frequency to support relevant actions, such as by collecting user feedback and adapting the delivery of the study tasks based on this feedback in real-time, or regularly communicating with stakeholders to interpret and react to detected digital biomarker signals. While initially designed for the development of digital biomarkers from wearable sensors that measure physical activity, the DACIA framework can be applied to explore digital biomarkers using various devices or signal measurements, including for digital health interventions focused on behavior change.

An important consideration when implementing the DACIA framework in research studies is its applicability to larger study samples. BarKA-MS included 45 participants who received consistent support from the clinical staff and researchers to ensure completion of both the in-person and remote study components. The combination of a smaller sample size and the continuous support enabled higher personalization. However, we recognize that such approaches may not be directly applicable to larger studies or studies with limited resources. In the orange feedback loop of the DACIA framework, we propose approaches to streamline and automate certain study steps to reduce reliance on clinical staff and researchers. We also recommend referring to additional guidance documents 9 , 15 , 16 , 17 , 52 , 53 and implementation science theories, such as the normalization process theory 54 , to further inform design actions that align smoothly with healthcare workflows, meet stakeholder needs, and utilize available resources efficiently.

Strengths and limitations

This paper presents some limitations. The ten lessons are primarily derived from a single study program, which includes four published outcome analyses and a subsequent follow-up study, resulting in a relatively constrained experience base from a limited range of devices and data collection methods relevant to BarKA-MS. Moreover, the participant pool in BarKA-MS is limited to individuals with more advanced stages of MS, potentially limiting the generalizability of the findings to those living with other chronic diseases.

It is also important to note that the individual steps of the DACIA framework may not hold the same significance for certain applications and studies, particularly those that do not involve interventions. While we believe the DACIA framework adequately addresses important study design and conduct decisions relevant for digital biomarker development, we cannot rule out the possibility that certain studies may demand additional considerations beyond the scope of the framework. Therefore, further refinements and real-world testing are advisable.

Nevertheless, the DACIA framework builds on substantial research, data from wearable sensors and valid survey instruments, practical experience in conducting various digital health studies that use sensor measurements from wearables, and teaching experience with medical students. As such, we consider the framework to be well-grounded and reflective of real-world challenges in such studies, which can be informative for future research and teaching.

Overall, this paper outlines a set of important lessons learned for transforming wearable sensor data to digital biomarkers. The DACIA framework was developed as a crosscut between the lessons learned, which were summarized into five key steps of digital biomarker development and adapted based on student feedback. It highlights important elements to be considered when using wearable sensor data as digital biomarkers and provides practical guidance for future research and teaching. Our findings are applicable beyond MS and aim to inform any related digital health study for chronic disease management. As the popularity and use of wearables continuous to grow, our work provides an important first step towards the systematic and transparent development of meaningful digital biomarkers.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

The authors sincerely thank the participants in the Barrieren für körperliche Aktivität bei Multiple Sklerosis-Betroffenen (Barriers to Physical Activity in People With Multiple Sclerosis) study who dedicated their time to support multiple sclerosis research. The authors also thank Ramona Sylvester and Dr. Jan Kool for their invaluable feedback from their on-site experiences with the BarKA-MS study. The authors also thank the researchers who conducted all the studies that informed this paper, including Dr. Chloé Sieber, Dr. Ziyuan Lu, Yves Rutishauser and Gabriela Morgenshtern. Lastly, the authors thank Dr. Sarah Haile and Andreas Baumer for their assistance with the revision of the previous version of this paper. This study was funded by the Digital Society Initiative.

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V.V.W. and P.D. conceptualized and wrote the first version of this paper, and revised the final version of this paper. V.V.W. additionally provided relevant input and feedback that informed the content of this paper. V.N. assisted with the conceptualization of the first version of this paper, and revised and approved the final version of this paper. V.V.W., C.H., and R.G. conducted the BarKA-MS study that informed this paper. C.H., J.B., and R.G. provided relevant input and feedback that informed the content of this paper, and revised and approved the final version of this paper.

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Daniore, P., Nittas, V., Haag, C. et al. From wearable sensor data to digital biomarker development: ten lessons learned and a framework proposal. npj Digit. Med. 7 , 161 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41746-024-01151-3

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12 March 2024 - The Commission has published a Communication on managing climate risks in Europe that sets out how the EU and its countries can implement policies that save lives, cut costs, and protect prosperity. It comes as a direct response to the first-ever European Climate Risk Assessment by the European Environment Agency. It also addresses the concerns that many Europeans have following last’s year record temperatures and extreme weather events. The Commission is calling for action from all levels of government, the private sector and civil society to improve governance and tools for climate risk owners, manage risks across sectors and set the right preconditions to finance climate resilience.

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An Update on Sunscreen Requirements: The Deemed Final Order and the Proposed Order

FDA regulates sunscreens, which are nonprescription drugs, to help make sure that consumers have access to safe and effective sun protection products. There have been several developments involving sunscreen regulation in the past few years. Today, there are two more: FDA is posting the deemed final order for over-the-counter (OTC) sunscreens and is issuing a proposed order for sunscreens.

Theresa M. Michele, M.D.

In this CDER Conversation, Theresa Michele, M.D., director of the Office of Nonprescription Drugs, explains today’s activities and what the orders mean for consumers, health care providers, industry, and other stakeholders.

What are the big changes in sunscreen regulation over the past few years that have brought us to today’s activities?

Sunscreens have been regulated by FDA since the 1970s, but they have garnered a lot of attention recently. In 2019, FDA issued a proposed rule on sunscreens , which proposed to revise the requirements for sunscreen active ingredients; maximum sun protection factor (SPF) levels ; broad spectrum requirements (protection against both ultraviolet A and B rays); and dosage forms (for example, cream, lotion, or spray), among other things. The proposed rule also included updates on how sunscreens are labeled to make it easier for consumers to identify key information.

The 2019 proposal aimed to bring sunscreens up to date with the latest science, including new information showing that certain sunscreen ingredients can be absorbed through the skin into the body. For more information on this issue, I co-authored two FDA Voices articles, one in 2019 and an update in 2020 , explaining sunscreen absorption studies. 

Then came the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act , which Congress enacted in March 2020 in response to COVID-19. Most of its provisions focus on economic relief to individuals, families, businesses, and other groups. However, the CARES Act also reformed and modernized the way FDA regulates certain OTC monograph drugs, including sunscreen. As background, an OTC monograph is a “rule book” for each therapeutic category that establishes conditions, such as active ingredients, uses (indications), doses, labeling, and testing, under which an OTC drug is “generally recognized as safe and effective” (“GRASE” for short) and can be marketed without a new drug application and FDA pre-market approval.

The CARES Act replaced the rulemaking process for OTC monograph drugs with an administrative order process for issuing, revising, and amending the OTC monographs.  The administrative order process gives FDA new tools to help revise the OTC monographs as science changes, innovation progresses, new data become available, or emerging safety signals arise.

In addition, the CARES Act established deemed final orders for certain OTC monograph therapeutic categories, which became effective in March 2020. The deemed final orders establish a baseline of current GRASE conditions for the therapeutic categories. To learn more about OTC monograph reform, please see this FDA Voices article I wrote in 2020 on the topic.

For sunscreens specifically, in addition to establishing a deemed final order, the CARES Act requires FDA to issue a proposed order to amend and revise the deemed final order for sunscreens. 

It is important to remember that the proposed order is a proposal, and any new sunscreen requirements will not take effect until after the agency issues a final order. A 45-day public comment period began when FDA issued the proposed order. After reviewing and considering the comments, FDA will issue a final order with an effective date, which, by law, will not be earlier than one year after the agency issues the final order.

FDA has now posted the deemed final order for sunscreens and has also issued a proposed order. What are the main components of these two orders, and what do they mean for the sunscreen market?

The requirements of the sunscreen deemed final order essentially keep the status quo.

The deemed final order for sunscreens includes certain requirements about active ingredients from the 1999 final monograph regulation for OTC sunscreen products , which never took effect, and the labeling and effectiveness requirements from a final 2011 labeling and effectiveness testing rule .

In addition to incorporating requirements already in effect under the final 2011 regulation, the deemed final order largely corresponds to the approach of an FDA sunscreen enforcement policy guidance, which had been in place before the CARES Act because the sunscreen monograph was not in effect.

Meanwhile, the proposed order proposes changes to these requirements to bring them up to date with the current science. When finalized, the proposed order will fully replace the deemed final order with new requirements for sunscreens.

FDA first articulated its proposed changes to the sunscreen OTC monograph in the 2019 proposed rule. We are now using this proposed order to efficiently transition our ongoing consideration of the appropriate requirements for OTC sunscreens from the previous rulemaking process to the new order process that the CARES Act created.

The CARES Act did not change the scientific standard for making a GRASE determination. For that reason, the proposed requirements in the proposed order are substantively the same as those in the 2019 proposed rule.

There are notable differences between the sunscreen deemed final order and the proposed order. Below are a few key examples and short explanations. For more information, please visit this webpage .

The deemed final order does not impose an upper limit on SPF values.

The proposed order, in contrast, proposes a maximum labeled SPF of 60+ and also proposes a maximum on the formulated SPF value of a sunscreen.

The deemed final order makes sunscreens containing 16 specified sunscreen active ingredients GRASE by incorporating the ingredients from the (not in effect) 1999 sunscreen monograph.

However, the proposed order proposes GRASE status for sunscreens containing zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; not GRASE status for sunscreens containing aminobenzoic acid and trolamine salicylate because of data showing safety issues; and not GRASE status for sunscreens containing cinoxate, dioxybenzone, ensulizole, homosalate, meradimate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, padimate O, sulisobenzone, oxybenzone, and avobenzone because of inadequate data to support a safety finding.

Consistent with the requirements in the labeling and effectiveness rule for sunscreens issued in 2011, the deemed final order does not require broad spectrum testing, but it creates an optional broad spectrum labeling claim and broad spectrum testing that is required to include this claim on labeling.

To address the growing evidence of significant harms associated with UVA exposure, the proposed order proposes a requirement that all sunscreens with SPF values of 15 and above satisfy broad spectrum requirements.

Why doesn’t the proposed order address comments the agency received in response to the 2019 proposed rule? Will FDA address those comments?

FDA will consider the on-time comments we received on the 2019 proposed rule as comments submitted on this proposed order. For this reason, FDA is asking people not to resubmit the same comments, or rewrites of the same comments, to the proposed order if they submitted those comments during the comment period for the 2019 proposed rule. This will make things easier for both the commenters and for FDA and will help keep the process moving quickly. In addition, this proposed order gives the public an opportunity to submit new information that has become available since the comment period closed on the 2019 proposed rule.

In response to the 2019 proposed rule, manufacturers requested that FDA defer action on eight sunscreen active ingredients while data were being gathered to fill the identified safety gaps. What if data collection is still underway at the close of the comment period for the proposed order?

If at any time, sufficient evidence becomes available to answer the outstanding questions about whether a sunscreen containing any of these eight ingredients is GRASE, FDA plans to proceed to a final order reflecting our conclusion about that ingredient’s status. However, if there is not sufficient data to resolve the questions about each of these ingredients at the end of the proposed order comment period, FDA could consider deferring further action on the GRASE status of sunscreens containing the particular ingredient(s) to allow additional time for data to be developed and submitted. This would be the case if the agency has received adequate indication that the party seeking the deferral had made timely and diligent progress in trying to obtain that safety information.

In addition, if FDA initially defers further action regarding sunscreens containing a specific active ingredient, FDA plans to re-evaluate the progress of studies periodically. If FDA later decides that the studies are not progressing or otherwise are not productive, we expect we would move forward with a final order on sunscreens containing this ingredient. Moving forward, to make decisions on the GRASE status for OTC sunscreen products with certain active ingredients, the agency will use the administrative order process as established by the CARES Act. The statute gives FDA the authority to use the order process to add, remove or change conditions for an OTC monograph drug.

This is a complex area of medicine and policy right now, to say the least. As a trained health care provider and the director of CDER’s Office of Nonprescription Drugs, what do you want the public to know about sunscreen?

One thing — please protect yourself from the sun! Incidence rates for both melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers have been rising for the past quarter century. The relationship between skin cancers and overexposure to the sun is well-documented.

Sun safety is important for everyone, including people of all skin tones. Consumers should continue to use sun protection measures, including using broad spectrum sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, as we gather more safety data on sunscreen ingredients. 

However, sunscreen is only one part of the solution. People should engage in sun protective behaviors, such as wearing protective clothing; wearing sunglasses and a hat that provides adequate shade; and finding shade whenever possible during periods of peak sunlight. Also, consumers should use adequate protection and appropriate precaution with sunlamps and tanning beds/booths. Both are sources of UV radiation that have been linked to skin cancer, skin burns, premature skin aging, and both short-term and long-term eye damage. More about sun protection and sunscreens is available on the  FDA website . Check out these resources and stay safe in the sun.

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  • Jing-Xin Liu , Jian-Te Wang , Shi-Liang Zhu
  • Published 12 June 2024

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What Is Customer Service?

The definition of customer service is evolving. Here’s what every service professional needs to know.

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Customer Service Defined

Customer service is so important that it is now considered a strategic function for organisations across industries. In fact, 85% of service leaders say their org is expected to contribute more revenue this year.

Why is customer service important?

In one word: retention. Happier customers are more likely to continue doing business with you. This helps your bottom line. It’s less expensive to keep current customers than to attract new ones.

Customer service is also a differentiator that sets your brand apart from competitors that offer similar products or services. Service teams not only answer questions; they personalise each customer experience. In fact, 88% of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services.

Meanwhile, subpar customer experiences contribute to churn. Eighty percent of shoppers will abandon a retailer after three bad experiences, for example. Great customer service is important for your brand reputation, too. After all, customers are quick to share negative experiences with the masses online.

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Discover the latest trends and gain valuable insights from more than 5,500 service professionals.

Read the Salesforce “State of Service” report for an in-depth look at the findings.

The seven pillars of great customer service

1. Connect customer service to the broader organisation

The key is to connect service to your customer relationship management (CRM) system. This will give you a complete view of a customer’s interactions with your company. When a customer reaches out, the agent has all relevant data on a single screen — demographics, order history, preferences, and more — so they know how to help. And they'll know who to pull in from another department to help resolve the issue, if need be.

2. Offer support on every channel Today, great customer service happens everywhere — email, social media, text, and, of course, the phone. No matter the channel, customers want fast, convenient, and high-quality support. Here are the channels every service leader needs to scale support:

  • Mobile : The vast majority of service organisations use messaging apps (79%) and mobile apps (78%) to deliver customer service. Mobile options offer asynchronous communication. Customers and agents can access a log of past interactions and keep the conversation going over an extended period.
  • Social Media : Eighty-two percent of service organisations use social media channels . Integrate marketing and customer service data to give both teams a single view of the customer. This will help them to better collaborate and determine the appropriate next steps if a customer reaches out with a problem or complaint.
  • Email : Email is the most-used service channel , tied with phone support. Customers like email for its convenience. It also gives them the ability to see a written record of their correspondence and the option to add attachments, such as a receipt. With the right customer service technology , you can automatically turn an email into a case and route it to the right service team member.
  • Chatbots : Seventy-three percent of decision makers say their organisations use chatbots . Chatbots use AI to analyse data and answer routine questions quickly. Based on the customer’s request, the chatbot shares relevant content. If the case is complex, the chatbot puts the customer in touch with an agent for further support.
  • Video : Some cases need face-to-face interaction, but not necessarily in-person service. Examples include rebooting a piece of equipment or replacing a part yourself. That’s why 77% of service organisations report using video support. With visual remote assistance , customers have the option to connect with an agent or technician through video. The expert guides them through the steps to resolve an issue on their own.

3. Strike the perfect balance between quality and speed Sixty-eight percent of agents say it’s difficult to balance speed and quality. Omni-channel routing directs cases to the right agent and gives managers a bird’s eye view of contact centre activity . This ensures that agents are on the right cases based on their skills and availability.

Another way to help agents meet expectations for fast support is through automation . Automated workflows guide agents through the steps to complete an action. You can repurpose these workflows on your self-service channels to help customers complete a process on their own, too. For example, you can walk a customer through the steps to initiate a return.

4. Train Agents On Soft And Hard Skills

Agents today must actively listen, exhibit empathy, showcase product knowledge, and deliver a personalised experience to every customer, all while resolving cases quickly.

  • Interpersonal skills: At the end of the day, it’s how you make people feel that matters the most. Teach agents the basics of communication, including listening, positive language, persuasion, and empathy. Express the importance of putting yourself in the customer’s shoes.
  • Product knowledge: Update all employees on any new releases or updates. Encourage agents to study company protocols, products, and services. Provide opportunities to shadow and collaborate with experts to improve their product knowledge.
  • Technical expertise: Ensure your technology is intuitive for agents. Train them on the latest features and functions. Ask agents for their feedback so that you can improve the experience for every employee.

5. Act as one team

Although agents often work one-on-one with customers, they still need a sense of professional support and camaraderie. Maintain open lines of communication and collaboration. This is especially important with a remote workforce. Daily standups are an easy way to keep everyone connected and united.

6. Turn customer service into a revenue driver

Once the agent solves the issue at hand, they can take the relationship further by upselling and cross-selling. AI can help : It analyses the customer’s data — such as past orders and likelihood to buy — to recommend relevant products or services to the customer.

Beyond adding incremental revenue, customer service can support your business strategy. Agents glean customer insights and feedback every day. Consider inviting your service team to present customer feedback at company meetings. These insights can yield great product innovations or improvements.

7. Change up how you measure success

Handle time is an important metric, but it doesn’t tell you the whole story. Analyse a range of customer service metrics to better understand the customer and their relationship with your company overall.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Revenue: Review your contact centre analytics to determine if quality customer service is contributing to a higher number of transactions or greater sales per customer.
  • Customer retention: Pay attention to what happens after the customer disconnects. Has a frustrating customer service experience contributed to churn?
  • SLA performance: Most companies have service-level agreements (SLAs) for the contact centre, including items such as the most amount of time customers should wait on hold, for example. Compare your SLAs against actual performance according to your contact centre analytics. This will help you to identify improvements to meet SLAs.

The meaning of great customer service today

Even though the definition of customer service has changed over time, the sentiment remains the same: It’s the magic behind customer loyalty. Your service team understands the customer in a way that no other department can. They have the power to make customers feel special and understood while meeting their expectations. That’s a win for your team and your entire organisation.

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See how you can solve cases faster on the #1 platform for customer service.

Service Cloud saves your employees time with a powerful, connected agent workspace so they can focus on what’s important, your customers.

Apple Intelligence Preview

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AI for the rest of us.

Coming in beta this fall *

Static image of multiple iPhones showing Apple Intelligence features.

Built into your iPhone, iPad, and Mac to help you write, express yourself, and get things done effortlessly.

Draws on your personal context while setting a brand-new standard for privacy in AI.

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Write with intelligent new tools. Everywhere words matter.

Apple Intelligence powers new Writing Tools, which help you find just the right words virtually everywhere you write. With enhanced language capabilities, you can summarize an entire lecture in seconds, get the short version of a long group thread, and minimize unnecessary distractions with prioritized notifications.

iPhone and Mac showing Writing Tools

Explore new features for writing, focus, and communication.

UI for Writing Tools with a text field to enter prompts, buttons for Proofread and Rewrite, different tones of writing voice, and options for summarize, key points, table, and list

Transform how you communicate using intelligent Writing Tools that can proofread your text, rewrite different versions until the tone and wording are just right, and summarize selected text with a tap. Writing Tools are available nearly everywhere you write, including third-party apps.

Notifications list on an iPhone highlights Most Important at the top of the stack

Priority notifications appear at the top of the stack, letting you know what to pay attention to at a glance. And notifications are summarized, so you can scan them faster.

iPhone shows inbox in Mail app with important messages at the top and highlighted a different color

Priority messages in Mail elevate time-sensitive messages to the top of your inbox — like an invitation that has a deadline today or a check-in reminder for your flight this afternoon.

An email in the Mail app is shown with a summary you can read at the top.

Tap to reveal a summary of a long email in the Mail app and cut to the chase. You can also view summaries of email right from your inbox.

Phone app is shown with a new record function on a live call. A second iPhone shows a summary of the call based on live audio transcription.

Just hit record in the Notes or Phone apps to capture audio recordings and transcripts. Apple Intelligence generates summaries of your transcripts, so you can get to the most important information at a glance.

iPhone with Reduce Notifications Focus enabled shows a single notification marked "maybe important."

Reduce Interruptions is an all-new Focus that understands the content of your notifications and shows you the ones that might need immediate attention, like a text about picking up your child from daycare later today.

Smart Reply options in the Mail app are shown on an iPhone.

Use a Smart Reply in Mail to quickly draft an email response with all the right details. Apple Intelligence can identify questions you were asked in an email and offer relevant selections to include in your response. With a few taps you’re ready to send a reply with key questions answered.

Delightful images created just for you.

Apple Intelligence enables delightful new ways to express yourself visually. Create fun, original images and brand-new Genmoji that are truly personal to you. Turn a rough sketch into a related image that complements your notes with Image Wand. And make a custom memory movie based on the description you provide.

Custom images are shown in the Message app and the Image Wand feature in Notes is shown on an iPad.

Create expressive images, unique Genmoji, and custom memory movies.

UI of the Image Playground experience shows a colorful image of a brain surrounded by classical instruments and music notation with suggestions for more elements to add to the image

Produce fun, original images in seconds with the Image Playground experience right in your apps. Create an entirely new image based on a description, suggested concepts, and even a person from your Photos library. You can easily adjust the style and make changes to match a Messages thread, your Freeform board, or a slide in Keynote.

Image Playground app is shown on iPad. A custom image in the center is surrounded by different ideas and keywords used to make it.

Experiment with different concepts and try out image styles like animation, illustration, and sketch in the dedicated Image Playground app . Create custom images to share with friends in other apps or on social media.

Preview of a custom Genmoji of someone named Vee based on the prompt, race car driver

Make a brand-new Genmoji right in the keyboard to match any conversation. Provide a description to see a preview, and adjust your description until it’s perfect. You can even pick someone from your Photos library and create a Genmoji that looks like them.

A hand holding Apple Pencil draws a circle around a sketch in the Notes app on iPad.

Image Wand can transform your rough sketch into a related image in the Notes app. Use your finger or Apple Pencil to draw a circle around your sketch, and Image Wand will analyze the content around it to produce a complementary visual. You can even circle an empty space, and Image Wand will use the surrounding context to create a picture.

Cover of a custom new memory based on the description entered in the text field in the Photos app

Create a custom memory movie of the story you want to see, right in Photos. Enter a description, and Apple Intelligence finds the best photos and videos that match. It then crafts a storyline with unique chapters based on themes it identifies and arranges your photos into a movie with its own narrative arc.

A grid of photos based on the search prompt Katie with stickers on her face

Search for photos and videos in the Photos app simply by describing what you’re looking for. Apple Intelligence can even find a particular moment in a video clip that fits your search description and take you right to it.

A hand taps an object in the background of a photo on iPhone to highlight what to clean up

Remove distractions in your photos with the Clean Up tool in the Photos app. Apple Intelligence identifies background objects so you can remove them with a tap and perfect your shot — while staying true to the original image.

The start of a new era for Siri.

Siri draws on Apple Intelligence for all-new superpowers. With an all-new design, richer language understanding, and the ability to type to Siri whenever it’s convenient for you, communicating with Siri is more natural than ever. Equipped with awareness of your personal context, the ability to take action in and across apps, and product knowledge about your devices’ features and settings, Siri will be able to assist you like never before.

Mac, iPad, and iPhone are shown with new Siri features powered by Apple Intelligence

Discover an even more capable, integrated, personal Siri.

A light, colorful glow is barely visible around the edge of an iPhone showing the home screen

Siri has an all-new design that’s even more deeply integrated into the system experience, with an elegant, glowing light that wraps around the edge of your screen.

A text field at the top of keyboard in iPhone says Ask Siri

With a double tap on the bottom of your iPhone or iPad screen, you can type to Siri from anywhere in the system when you don’t want to speak out loud.

An iPhone is shown with step-by-step guidelines on how to schedule a text message to send later

Tap into the expansive product knowledge Siri has about your devices’ features and settings. You can ask questions when you’re learning how to do something new on your iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and Siri can give you step-by-step directions in a flash.

Siri, set an alarm for — oh wait no, set a timer for 10 minutes. Actually, make that 5.

Richer language understanding and an enhanced voice make communicating with Siri even more natural. And when you refer to something you mentioned in a previous request, like the location of a calendar event you just created, and ask ”What will the weather be like there?” Siri knows what you’re talking about.

A notification in the Apple TV+ app reminds you that a contact shared a show recommendation with you

Apple Intelligence empowers Siri with onscreen awareness , so it can understand and take action with things on your screen. If a friend texts you their new address, you can say “Add this address to their contact card,” and Siri will take care of it.

Snippets of information like calendar events, photos, and notes shows the many sources Siri can draw from

Awareness of your personal context enables Siri to help you in ways that are unique to you. Can’t remember if a friend shared that recipe with you in a note, a text, or an email? Need your passport number while booking a flight? Siri can use its knowledge of the information on your device to help find what you’re looking for, without compromising your privacy.

Photos library is shown on an iPhone along with a search description. A second iPhone is open to a single photo favorited based on the search. A third iPhone shows the photo incorporated into a note in the Notes app.

Seamlessly take action in and across apps with Siri. You can make a request like “Send the email I drafted to April and Lilly” and Siri knows which email you’re referencing and which app it’s in. And Siri can take actions across apps, so after you ask Siri to enhance a photo for you by saying “Make this photo pop,” you can ask Siri to drop it in a specific note in the Notes app — without lifting a finger.

Great powers come with great privacy.

Apple Intelligence is designed to protect your privacy at every step. It’s integrated into the core of your iPhone, iPad, and Mac through on-device processing. So it’s aware of your personal information without collecting your personal information. And with groundbreaking Private Cloud Compute, Apple Intelligence can draw on larger server-based models, running on Apple silicon, to handle more complex requests for you while protecting your privacy.

Private Cloud Compute

  • Your data is never stored
  • Used only for your requests
  • Verifiable privacy promise

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ChatGPT, seamlessly integrated.

With ChatGPT from OpenAI integrated into Siri and Writing Tools, you get even more expertise when it might be helpful for you — no need to jump between tools. Siri can tap into ChatGPT for certain requests, including questions about photos or documents. And with Compose in Writing Tools, you can create and illustrate original content from scratch.

You control when ChatGPT is used and will be asked before any of your information is shared. Anyone can access ChatGPT for free, without creating an account. ChatGPT subscribers can connect accounts to access paid features within these experiences.

The Compose in Writing Tools feature is shown on a MacBook

New possibilities for your favorite apps.

New App Intents, APIs, and frameworks make it incredibly easy for developers to integrate system-level features like Siri, Writing Tools, and Image Playground into your favorite apps.

Learn more about developing for Apple Intelligence

Apple Intelligence is compatible with these devices.

Apple Intelligence is free to use and will initially be available in U.S. English. Coming in beta this fall. *

  • iPhone 15 Pro Max A17 Pro
  • iPhone 15 Pro A17 Pro
  • iPad Pro M1 and later
  • iPad Air M1 and later
  • MacBook Air M1 and later
  • MacBook Pro M1 and later
  • iMac M1 and later
  • Mac mini M1 and later
  • Mac Studio M1 Max and later
  • Mac Pro M2 Ultra

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  4. SOLUTION: How to write a research proposal

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  5. 17 Research Proposal Examples (2024)

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  1. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    As a rough guide, a formal research proposal at Masters-level often ranges between 2000-3000 words, while a PhD-level proposal can be far more detailed, ranging from 5000-8000 words. In some cases, a rough outline of the topic is all that's needed, while in other cases, universities expect a very detailed proposal that essentially forms the ...

  2. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We've included a few for you below. Example research proposal #1: "A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management".

  3. Writing a Research Proposal

    Definition. 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. ... In a standard research proposal, this section can take two forms, so consult with your professor about which one is preferred. References-- a ...

  4. How to write a research proposal?

    A proposal needs to show how your work fits into what is already known about the topic and what new paradigm will it add to the literature, while specifying the question that the research will answer, establishing its significance, and the implications of the answer. [ 2] The proposal must be capable of convincing the evaluation committee about ...

  5. How To Write A Research Proposal (With Examples)

    Make sure you can ask the critical what, who, and how questions of your research before you put pen to paper. Your research proposal should include (at least) 5 essential components : Title - provides the first taste of your research, in broad terms. Introduction - explains what you'll be researching in more detail.

  6. How To Write A Research Proposal

    Here is an explanation of each step: 1. Title and Abstract. Choose a concise and descriptive title that reflects the essence of your research. Write an abstract summarizing your research question, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes. It should provide a brief overview of your proposal. 2.

  7. Writing a Research Proposal

    A research proposal is a roadmap that brings the researcher closer to the objectives, takes the research topic from a purely subjective mind, and manifests an objective plan. It shows us what steps we need to take to reach the objective, what questions we should answer, and how much time we need. It is a framework based on which you can perform ...

  8. How to prepare a Research Proposal

    A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a worthwhile research project and that you have the competence and the work-plan to complete it. ... then the hypothesis may be formulated. A hypothesis can be defined as a tentative prediction or explanation of the relationship between two or more variables. In other words, the ...

  9. What Is a Research Proposal? (Plus How To Write One)

    A research proposal is a vital tool that can help scholars and university students complete a dissertation, receive funding for projects or fulfill course requirements. It outlines the importance of your inquiry and summarizes how you plan to investigate your research problem. Before developing a project, it's often valuable to learn some ...

  10. Research Proposal

    Academic Research Proposal. This is the most common type of research proposal, which is prepared by students, scholars, or researchers to seek approval and funding for an academic research project. It includes all the essential components mentioned earlier, such as the introduction, literature review, methodology, and expected outcomes.

  11. 11.2 Steps in Developing a Research Proposal

    Key Takeaways. Developing a research proposal involves the following preliminary steps: identifying potential ideas, choosing ideas to explore further, choosing and narrowing a topic, formulating a research question, and developing a working thesis. A good topic for a research paper interests the writer and fulfills the requirements of the ...

  12. Research proposal

    v. t. e. A research proposal is a document proposing a research project, generally in the sciences or academia, and generally constitutes a request for sponsorship of that research. [1] Proposals are evaluated on the cost and potential impact of the proposed research, and on the soundness of the proposed plan for carrying it out. [2]

  13. PDF WHAT IS A RESEARCH PROPOSAL?

    Therefore this book is intended to help those who are unfamiliar with the process of proposal writing or who want to improve their chances of success in a complex and demanding field. Indeed, some of the skills and abilities required can be trans-ferred directly from other pursuits once their relevance and importance is understood; others may ...

  14. PDF How to write a good postgraduate RESEARCH PROPOSAL

    project defined by the prospective supervisor. Writing your proposal Whether you are limited to one page (as part of a university application form or an enquiry form) or are required to ... When writing your research proposal we strongly recommend checking the current guidance for staff and students available from the University: www.ed.ac.uk ...

  15. How to Write a Research Proposal in 2024: Structure, Examples & Common

    A quality example of a research proposal shows one's above-average analytical skills, including the ability to coherently synthesize ideas and integrate lateral and vertical thinking. Communication skills. The proposal also demonstrates your proficiency to communicate your thoughts in concise and precise language.

  16. Research Proposal Definition, Components & Examples

    Learn the research proposal definition and understand the components of a research proposal. Discover how to write a research proposal with steps and tips. Updated: 11/21/2023

  17. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We've included a few for you below. Example research proposal #1: 'A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management'.

  18. Essential Ingredients of a Good Research Proposal for Undergraduate and

    For instance, Naoum (2013) has used it as a section heading in a sample research proposal. In writing a research proposal, dissertation, or thesis, elements of literature review can be found in any section or chapter once references are cited in that section or chapter even if it is a single reference that is cited.

  19. 14.3 Components of a Research Proposal

    Literature review. This key component of the research proposal is the most time-consuming aspect in the preparation of your research proposal. As described in Chapter 5, the literature review provides the background to your study and demonstrates the significance of the proposed research.Specifically, it is a review and synthesis of prior research that is related to the problem you are setting ...

  20. Features of a research proposal

    Cohesive ties. Cohesive ties are linguistic devices that link words, phrases and clauses into fluent sentences and paragraphs. These are important in a research proposal as they help you signpost and order your material. They are especially useful in the methodology section to ensure that your process is clearly and logically set out.

  21. What Is a Research Design

    Step 1: Consider your aims and approach. Step 2: Choose a type of research design. Step 3: Identify your population and sampling method. Step 4: Choose your data collection methods. Step 5: Plan your data collection procedures. Step 6: Decide on your data analysis strategies. Other interesting articles.

  22. Research Objectives

    Defining a scope can be very useful in any research project, from a research proposal to a thesis or dissertation. A scope is needed for all types of research: quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. To define your scope of research, consider the following: Budget constraints or any specifics of grant funding; Your proposed timeline and ...

  23. House passes bill to automatically register young men for the draft

    The House passed a large defense bill Friday evening that included a provision that would automatically enroll young men between the ages of 18 and 26* for the Selective Service.

  24. From wearable sensor data to digital biomarker development ...

    Wearable sensor technologies are becoming increasingly relevant in health research, particularly in the context of chronic disease management. They generate real-time health data that can be ...

  25. The European Green Deal

    The European Commission has adopted a set of proposals to make the EU's climate, energy, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels.More information on Delivering the European Green Deal.. Discover the European Green Deal visual story

  26. An Update on Sunscreen Requirements: The Deemed Final Order and the

    The 2019 proposal aimed to bring sunscreens up to date with the latest science, including new information showing that certain sunscreen ingredients can be absorbed through the skin into the body.

  27. [PDF] Proposal for realizing and probing topological crystalline

    By using this feature, you agree to AI2's terms and conditions and that you will not submit any sensitive or confidential info.. AI2 may include your prompts and inputs in a public dataset for future AI research and development. Please check the box to opt-out.

  28. What Is Customer Service?

    Beyond adding incremental revenue, customer service can support your business strategy. Agents glean customer insights and feedback every day. Consider inviting your service team to present customer feedback at company meetings. These insights can yield great product innovations or improvements. 7. Change up how you measure success

  29. Apple Intelligence Preview

    Siri can tap into ChatGPT for certain requests, including questions about photos or documents. And with Compose in Writing Tools, you can create and illustrate original content from scratch. You control when ChatGPT is used and will be asked before any of your information is shared. Anyone can access ChatGPT for free, without creating an account.