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A research as a specific type of academic work follows a particular format. Students are expected to produce an original academic work from the topic down to the bibliography and index. A research proposal is also an inevitable requirement. So, what is a research proposal? A research proposal is a clear design or strategy of the steps you want to follow in the execution your final project. Although the final decision of what a proposal should contain is solely determined by a particular faculty, most proposals will contain a topic, an introduction, aims and objectives, methodology, literature review, scope and constraints, resources, the outline of sections/chapters, timetable and references. In writing a research proposal, it is important to know what each component should include. Below are brief descriptions of each component of the research proposal.
  1. The Topic

When creating your topic, remember that it should pose a problem. Your topic, therefore, seeks a solution which will shed a new light on the area of study. You should note that your topic will act as a guide throughout your research. You must, however, feel free to change or improve upon your topic in the course of writing the research.

    2.    The Introduction

I have read advice from so-called experts to students who are struggling with an introduction, encouraging them to continue with their research and to return to the ‘problematic introduction’ later. But students should be careful of this strategy because it can backfire. The main reason why it is important to write an introduction first is that an introduction is where you outline the research problem, describe the nature and purpose, and indicate what you intend to achieve at the end of your research. Now, without a clear vision of what the problem is and how you intend to investigate and proffer solutions to the question you have asked in your topic, you are certainly going to run into problems at one point or another.

     3. Aims and Objectives

The aims and objectives are where you indicate what you hope to achieve at the end of your research. Aims and objectives are mostly written together, and many students fall into the error of treating them as one and the same thing. The truth is that they are different. While an aim is a declaration of intent of what one seeks to achieve at the end of a project or work, an objective is your goal and how you intend to achieve them.

    4. Methodology

You cannot carry out your research and complete your research without data and other required information. The methodology is an outline of the methods you want to use in the collection of data required for the project. The methodology is very important as it will be determined by the kind of research you are carrying out. Your supervisor(s) will need to see the feasibility of your methodology in doing the research before they approve it.

    5. Scope and Constraints

Every subject has limitless areas of consideration. Your research, therefore, must be limited to a definable area and scope. So, set your boundaries and stick with them. If you find out that you have too many materials to cover, constrain your research to a manageable limit according to your budget and resources. In determining the scope of your research always remember that time is of the essence in writing research, and also that cost and resources are limited unless you have a sponsor who will take the financial burden off you.

     6. Resources and Means

After seeing and approving your topic, the research supervisors or advisors will require explanations concerning the source of information as well as data required to write the research. Most of the time, resources will normally be expected to come from traditional places like the library, questionnaires and the internet. If you intend to use other resources to complete your work, list them and explain how you intend to gather them.


As the name suggests, this is where you are expected to give an outline of the structure of your research. Your supervisors will want to see your proposed chapters. You may want to write an overview of each item on the list of those proposed chapter headings.


The references will tell your supervisor and readers the depth of your research. The reference list at the end of your work demonstrates the depth of your research. Here, you should acknowledge your sources of information and give due acknowledgement to ideas that are not original to you.

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This article was first published on 19th September 2017


Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam writes creative non-fiction and prose fiction. Her works have appeared in Romance Meets Life, Flash Fiction Press, MTLS, Saraba Magazine, Sentinel Magazine and others. Her first novel is 'Finding Love Again'. She owns and manages

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