How to Write a Good Abstract: Four Essential Elements with Example

This article shall guide you on how to write a good abstract. It lists the four essential elements of a good abstract, ideal number of words, and tense. The article ends with an example abstract of a real-life study with a supplemental video related to the findings.

After finishing your research paper, thesis, or scientific paper, there is a need for you to write the abstract. How is the abstract written? What are the essential elements of a good abstract?

If this is your first time, or you don’t feel confident about writing your first abstract, these tips are handy. I provide an example to demonstrate how it works.

Table of Contents

Why write the abstract.

Abstracts are indispensable references for scientists or students working on their research proposal; particularly, in preparing their literature review .

The information provided in the abstract must be sufficient to help the researcher decide whether the work is relevant to his or her interest or not. It should be brief but not lacking in essential elements to foster understanding of the research conducted. The abstract will also help the researcher decide whether to read the whole research paper or not.

Definition of an Abstract

An abstract is a summary of your research paper, thesis, or scientific paper. The abstract describes an unpublished or published research study in capsule form. It is a brief overview of the investigation so that researchers can comprehend the content of the research quickly. A good abstract is a mini-version of the whole research paper.

Four Essential Elements of a Good Abstract

So how should the abstract of a research paper be written so that readers will derive the maximum benefit from it?

In writing a good abstract, the critical sections of a research paper should be present. Generally, an informational abstract should sum up the main sections of the research paper, i.e., the introduction, the materials and methods used, the findings, discussion, conclusions, and recommendations. Therefore, it should contain the following essential elements:

1. Objective, aim, or purpose of the research paper

This part of the abstract mentions the study’s rationale. It states clearly the  objective , aim, or purpose of the study. It answers the question: “Why do we care about the issue?”

It states the problem statement or the central argument or  thesis statement . The relevance of the study in society is highlighted. Why did the researchers undertake the research? What is at stake?

2. Method or methodology that states the procedures used in the conduct of the study

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The method or methodology part concisely describes the  method or methodology  employed in gathering the data, processing, and analysis. It gives a brief description of how the researcher or group of researchers performed the investigation. It includes the number of samples, instruments, and  statistical tests  used to analyze the data for quantitative researches. This part also gives a hint on the scope of the study.

This portion of the abstract tells us the perspective adopted by the researcher or researchers. It describes the types of evidence used.

The method or methodology part also mentions the key concepts, relevant keywords that make it distinct and searchable. It also describes the focus of the investigation, whether it is a group of people, a particular gender, race, community, environment, etc.

3. Results or major findings

This portion of the abstract summarizes the results or major findings of the study. It only states the significant results, most important ones, or highlights of the study in a sentence or a few sentences.

You can cite the probability values here to show the significance of computed correlations or differences. It emphasizes the practical importance of the findings; how those findings will add or enhance the body of knowledge on the issue.

4. Principal conclusion

This part of the research abstract states the principal conclusion of the study. After obtaining the findings, what did the researchers conclude?

The conclusion, in particular, should be given special attention in writing the abstract. The conclusion should be well supported by the findings of the investigation; not a sweeping statement without any valid argument or evidence to back it up. 

Other considerations in writing the research abstract

Do you need to include recommendations in the research abstract?

In practice, some academic institutions or scientific journals do not incorporate recommendations in the abstract. Browsing through some published scientific papers, I discovered that some abstracts end with only significant findings. While it would be good practice to have information as mentioned here, some deviations do exist.

As an academician, reading research abstracts that tell very little of the salient findings of the paper, particularly those behind a  paywall , causes frustration. I tend to think those abstracts work more as a marketing strategy rather than to disseminate important information.

For publicly-funded researches, where most researches almost always belong, withholding information for commercial gain, appears to be unethical or defeats the purpose of research. In the US,  taxpayers spend $140 billion every year  supporting research that they cannot access for free. That is why  open-access publishing  has gained popularity in recent years. However, authors still contend with the high costs of publication in open-access journals.

In truth, we can’t afford to be  free riders  as reliable and rigorous scientific publication requires time, money, and effort to produce. A candidate paper for publication requires intensive  peer review , editing, and formatting to make it worthy of publication in reputable journals. But perhaps publishing companies also need to be reasonable in their charges as many reviewers give their services for free.

Finally, the references (e.g. name of author and date) should not be cited in the abstract unless the research paper involves an improvement or modification of a previously published method used by a researcher.

Number of Words

Many references on how to write a good abstract recommend that it should be short. But how short should the research abstract be?

If you submit a paper for inclusion in a conference presentation, organizers usually limit its length from 250 to 300 words. It is possible, however, to capture the essence of the paper in a few sentences.

Hence, the challenge is how to make the research abstract as short as possible, without leaving out the essential elements, that will cause readers to read the paper. The abstract serves as a teaser, a taste of the pie for readers to decide whether they will read the whole piece.

Abstracts should not exceed 250 words, but this number could vary depending on the prescribed number of words, say when you would like to submit your research paper to a popular scientific journal. A good abstract adheres to brevity.

The limited number of words required for the research abstract means that every word included in the abstract is necessary and should be coherent. Important information should fit into one paragraph. This format requires a little bit of thinking and practice for the beginning researcher.

flash games

Tense of the Abstract

In what tense should the abstract be written?

The abstract is usually written in the past tense because the investigation has transpired. However, statement of facts in, say, the results and discussion and the conclusion, must be in the present tense.

In recent years, however, many authors write in the active tense. They use the first-person perspective in writing the paper. You can see the following phrases in the abstract:

  • We analyze five years of sample visitor data…
  • We compare non-linear, Poisson, and negative binomial count data…
  • In this study, I challenge these interpretations…

Ultimately, the journal of publication defines the manner of abstract writing. But if you want the reader to grasp what you want to convey, bringing all the elements together would be more useful to the reader.

Example of an Abstract

I provide an example of a good abstract abiding with the precepts advanced in this article. It is for you to judge if this meets your expectations.

Young children’s exposure to violent computer games

This report discusses a two-year study on the effect of exposing four to six-year-old children to violent computer games. The study involved 200 children in nursery schools whose aggressive tendencies and anti-social behavior were observed with their teachers’ cooperation. The computer games they played at home were likewise assessed with the help of their parents. A strong correlation between violent computer game use and aggressive tendencies was obtained. Violent computer games, especially interactive ones, caused greater aggressiveness and anti-social behavior among children.

Although concisely written, the abstract captures the essence of the study. You can easily understand what transpired in that study, determine its relevance to your particular research, and decide whether to read the whole paper or merely cite the findings to strengthen your argument. But it always pays to read at least the method or methodology section of the full paper. While the study’s results are highly socially relevant, you might want to  critique the paper  by meticulously examining how the data was gathered and analyzed.

The example of an abstract given here is a real-life situation, as Dr. Perry Wilson reports in the following video.

Notice in the video that the study has its limitations. The participants, while young (8 to 12 years old), were conscious that they were observed in a university laboratory. This set-up may have affected their behavior.

Again, delving into the methodology of the study pays off. You cannot just blindly accept any scientific finding. It is always subject to error.

Final Notes

Have your style by deviating a little from the convention. The point is, the abstract should be interesting enough such that readers will want to read your investigation, learn from it, or skip it because it’s not directly relevant to their interest.

Since you want others to discover your work, select keywords or phrases that capture the essence of your research. Popular search engines like Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, or Safari need these keywords to effectively serve those who look for information on the issue that you cared to spend your time, money, and effort.

©P. A. Regoniel 9 November 2021

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E-catalogue: an innovative instructional design, about the author, patrick regoniel.

Dr. Regoniel, a faculty member of the graduate school, served as consultant to various environmental research and development projects covering issues and concerns on climate change, coral reef resources and management, economic valuation of environmental and natural resources, mining, and waste management and pollution. He has extensive experience on applied statistics, systems modelling and analysis, an avid practitioner of LaTeX, and a multidisciplinary web developer. He leverages pioneering AI-powered content creation tools to produce unique and comprehensive articles in this website.

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I am writing an abstract on “reduce the use of antibiotics in food”…..can you help me out?

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How to Write an Abstract for Research Proposal

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by  Antony W

December 13, 2021

components of an abstract of a research proposal

An abstract in a research proposal summarizes the main aspect of the assignment in a given sequence in 300 words or less. It highlights the purpose of the study, the research problem, design of the study, findings, summary of your interpretations and conclusions.

For what it’s worth, the abstract of your research proposal should give a clear and concise elaboration of the major aspects of an issue you’ve investigated.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to write an abstract for any research proposal. We’ll look at why an abstract is important, the types of abstracts, writing style, and what to avoid when it comes to writing an abstract for your research proposal.

Types of Abstracts for a Research Proposal

There are four types of abstracts that you can write for a research proposal:

  • Critical abstract
  • Descriptive abstract
  • Informative abstract
  • Highlight abstract

1. Critical abstract

A critical abstract in a research proposal describes the primary findings and gives a solid judgment on the validity, completeness, and reliability of the study. It’s your responsibility as a researcher to evaluate your work and then compare it with already existing work on the same subject.

Because a critical abstract includes an additional commentary, it tends to longer. Often, the length falls between 400 and 500 words. However, do keep in mind that this type of an abstract is very are, which means your instructor may never ask you to write a critical abstract for your research proposal.

2. Highlight Abstract

A highlight abstract is a piece of writing that can’t stand independent of its associated document. It uses incomplete and leading remarks, with the primary goal of grabbing the attention of the reader to the study.

Professors have made it clear that a highlight abstract is not by itself a true abstract to use in a research proposal. Since it cannot stand on its away separate from the associated article, it’s unlikely that your teacher will ask you to use it in academic writing.

3. Descriptive abstract

A descriptive abstract gives a short description of the research proposal. It may include purpose, method, and the scope of the research, and it’s often 100 words or less in length. Some people consider it to be an outline of the research proposal rather than an actual abstract for the document.

While a descriptive abstract describes the type of information a reader will find in a research proposal, it neither critics the work nor provides results and conclusion of the study.

4. Informative Abstract

Many abstracts in academic writing are informative. They don’t analyze the study or investigation that you propose, but they explain a research project in a way that they can stand independently. In other words, an informative abstract gives an explanation for the main arguments, evidence, and significant results.

In addition to featuring purpose, method, and scope, an informative abstract also include the results, conclusion, as well as the recommendation of the author. As for the length, an informative abstract should not be more than 300 words.

How to Write an Abstract for a Research Proposal

Of the four type of abstracts that we’ve discussed above, an informative abstract is what you’ll need to write in your research proposal. Writing an abstract for a research proposal isn’t difficult at all. You only need to know what to write and how to write it, and you’re good to get started.

1. Write in Active Voice

First, use active voice when writing an abstract for your research proposal. However, this doesn’t mean you should avoid passive voice in entirety. If you find that some sentences can’t make sense unless with passive sentence construction, feel free to bend this rule somewhat.

Second, make sure your sentences are concise and complete. Refrain from using ambiguous words. Keep the language simple instead.

Lastly, never use present or future tense to write an abstract for a research proposal. You’re reporting a study that you’ve already conducted and therefore writing in past sense makes the most sense.

Your abstract should come immediately after the title page. Write in block format without paragraph indentations. The abstract should not be more than 300 words long and the page should not have a number. The word “Abstract” in your research proposal should be center aligned in the page, unless otherwise stated.

In addition to these formatting rules, the last sentence of your abstract should summarize the application to practice or the conclusions of your study. In the case where it seems appropriate, you might want follow this by statement that suggests a need for additional research.

3. Time to Write the Abstract

There are no hard rules on when to write an abstract for a research proposal. Some students choose to write the section first while others choose to write it last. We strongly recommend that you write the abstract last because it’s a summary of the whole paper. You can also write it in the beginning if you’ve already outlined your draft and know what you want to talk about even before you start writing.

Your informative abstract is subject to frequent changes as you work on your paper, and that holds whether you write the section first or last. Be flexible and tweak this part of the assignment as necessary. Also, make sure you report statistical findings in parentheses.

Read abstract to be sure the summary of the study agrees with what you’ve written in your proposal. As we mentioned earlier, this section is subject to change depending on the direction your research takes. So make sure you identify and correct any anomalies if any.

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing an Abstract for Research Proposal

To wind up this guide, here are some of the most common mistakes that you should avoid when writing an abstract for your research proposal:

  • Avoid giving a lengthy background
  • Don’t include citations to other people’s work
  • An abstract shouldn’t include a table, figure, image, or any kind of illustration
  • Don’t include terms that are difficult to understand

About the author 

Antony W is a professional writer and coach at Help for Assessment. He spends countless hours every day researching and writing great content filled with expert advice on how to write engaging essays, research papers, and assignments.

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How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 21, 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 organized 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, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

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 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

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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 synthesize 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.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize 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

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?

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

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.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

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An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes: 1) the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or trends found as a result of your analysis; and, 4) a brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions.

Writing an Abstract. The Writing Center. Clarion University, 2009; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-first Century . Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing, 2010;

Importance of a Good Abstract

Sometimes your professor will ask you to include an abstract, or general summary of your work, with your research paper. The abstract allows you to elaborate upon each major aspect of the paper and helps readers decide whether they want to read the rest of the paper. Therefore, enough key information [e.g., summary results, observations, trends, etc.] must be included to make the abstract useful to someone who may want to examine your work.

How do you know when you have enough information in your abstract? A simple rule-of-thumb is to imagine that you are another researcher doing a similar study. Then ask yourself: if your abstract was the only part of the paper you could access, would you be happy with the amount of information presented there? Does it tell the whole story about your study? If the answer is "no" then the abstract likely needs to be revised.

Farkas, David K. “A Scheme for Understanding and Writing Summaries.” Technical Communication 67 (August 2020): 45-60;  How to Write a Research Abstract. Office of Undergraduate Research. University of Kentucky; Staiger, David L. “What Today’s Students Need to Know about Writing Abstracts.” International Journal of Business Communication January 3 (1966): 29-33; Swales, John M. and Christine B. Feak. Abstracts and the Writing of Abstracts . Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2009.

Structure and Writing Style

I.  Types of Abstracts

To begin, you need to determine which type of abstract you should include with your paper. There are four general types.

Critical Abstract A critical abstract provides, in addition to describing main findings and information, a judgment or comment about the study’s validity, reliability, or completeness. The researcher evaluates the paper and often compares it with other works on the same subject. Critical abstracts are generally 400-500 words in length due to the additional interpretive commentary. These types of abstracts are used infrequently.

Descriptive Abstract A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract only describes the work being summarized. Some researchers consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short, 100 words or less. Informative Abstract The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the researcher presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the paper. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract [purpose, methods, scope] but it also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is usually no more than 300 words in length.

Highlight Abstract A highlight abstract is specifically written to attract the reader’s attention to the study. No pretense is made of there being either a balanced or complete picture of the paper and, in fact, incomplete and leading remarks may be used to spark the reader’s interest. In that a highlight abstract cannot stand independent of its associated article, it is not a true abstract and, therefore, rarely used in academic writing.

II.  Writing Style

Use the active voice when possible , but note that much of your abstract may require passive sentence constructions. Regardless, write your abstract using concise, but complete, sentences. Get to the point quickly and always use the past tense because you are reporting on a study that has been completed.

Abstracts should be formatted as a single paragraph in a block format and with no paragraph indentations. In most cases, the abstract page immediately follows the title page. Do not number the page. Rules set forth in writing manual vary but, in general, you should center the word "Abstract" at the top of the page with double spacing between the heading and the abstract. The final sentences of an abstract concisely summarize your study’s conclusions, implications, or applications to practice and, if appropriate, can be followed by a statement about the need for additional research revealed from the findings.

Composing Your Abstract

Although it is the first section of your paper, the abstract should be written last since it will summarize the contents of your entire paper. A good strategy to begin composing your abstract is to take whole sentences or key phrases from each section of the paper and put them in a sequence that summarizes the contents. Then revise or add connecting phrases or words to make the narrative flow clearly and smoothly. Note that statistical findings should be reported parenthetically [i.e., written in parentheses].

Before handing in your final paper, check to make sure that the information in the abstract completely agrees with what you have written in the paper. Think of the abstract as a sequential set of complete sentences describing the most crucial information using the fewest necessary words. The abstract SHOULD NOT contain:

  • A catchy introductory phrase, provocative quote, or other device to grab the reader's attention,
  • Lengthy background or contextual information,
  • Redundant phrases, unnecessary adverbs and adjectives, and repetitive information;
  • Acronyms or abbreviations,
  • References to other literature [say something like, "current research shows that..." or "studies have indicated..."],
  • Using ellipticals [i.e., ending with "..."] or incomplete sentences,
  • Jargon or terms that may be confusing to the reader,
  • Citations to other works, and
  • Any sort of image, illustration, figure, or table, or references to them.

Abstract. Writing Center. University of Kansas; Abstract. The Structure, Format, Content, and Style of a Journal-Style Scientific Paper. Department of Biology. Bates College; Abstracts. The Writing Center. University of North Carolina; Borko, Harold and Seymour Chatman. "Criteria for Acceptable Abstracts: A Survey of Abstracters' Instructions." American Documentation 14 (April 1963): 149-160; Abstracts. The Writer’s Handbook. Writing Center. University of Wisconsin, Madison; Hartley, James and Lucy Betts. "Common Weaknesses in Traditional Abstracts in the Social Sciences." Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 60 (October 2009): 2010-2018; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-first Century. Oxford, UK: Chandos Publishing, 2010; Procter, Margaret. The Abstract. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Riordan, Laura. “Mastering the Art of Abstracts.” The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association 115 (January 2015 ): 41-47; Writing Report Abstracts. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Writing Abstracts. Writing Tutorial Services, Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. Indiana University; Koltay, Tibor. Abstracts and Abstracting: A Genre and Set of Skills for the Twenty-First Century . Oxford, UK: 2010; Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper. The Writing Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Writing Tip

Never Cite Just the Abstract!

Citing to just a journal article's abstract does not confirm for the reader that you have conducted a thorough or reliable review of the literature. If the full-text is not available, go to the USC Libraries main page and enter the title of the article [NOT the title of the journal]. If the Libraries have a subscription to the journal, the article should appear with a link to the full-text or to the journal publisher page where you can get the article. If the article does not appear, try searching Google Scholar using the link on the USC Libraries main page. If you still can't find the article after doing this, contact a librarian or you can request it from our free i nterlibrary loan and document delivery service .

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

What this handout is about

This handout provides definitions and examples of the two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. It also provides guidelines for constructing an abstract and general tips for you to keep in mind when drafting. Finally, it includes a few examples of abstracts broken down into their component parts.

What is an abstract?

An abstract is a self-contained, short, and powerful statement that describes a larger work. Components vary according to discipline. An abstract of a social science or scientific work may contain the scope, purpose, results, and contents of the work. An abstract of a humanities work may contain the thesis, background, and conclusion of the larger work. An abstract is not a review, nor does it evaluate the work being abstracted. While it contains key words found in the larger work, the abstract is an original document rather than an excerpted passage.

Why write an abstract?

You may write an abstract for various reasons. The two most important are selection and indexing. Abstracts allow readers who may be interested in a longer work to quickly decide whether it is worth their time to read it. Also, many online databases use abstracts to index larger works. Therefore, abstracts should contain keywords and phrases that allow for easy searching.

Say you are beginning a research project on how Brazilian newspapers helped Brazil’s ultra-liberal president Luiz Ignácio da Silva wrest power from the traditional, conservative power base. A good first place to start your research is to search Dissertation Abstracts International for all dissertations that deal with the interaction between newspapers and politics. “Newspapers and politics” returned 569 hits. A more selective search of “newspapers and Brazil” returned 22 hits. That is still a fair number of dissertations. Titles can sometimes help winnow the field, but many titles are not very descriptive. For example, one dissertation is titled “Rhetoric and Riot in Rio de Janeiro.” It is unclear from the title what this dissertation has to do with newspapers in Brazil. One option would be to download or order the entire dissertation on the chance that it might speak specifically to the topic. A better option is to read the abstract. In this case, the abstract reveals the main focus of the dissertation:

This dissertation examines the role of newspaper editors in the political turmoil and strife that characterized late First Empire Rio de Janeiro (1827-1831). Newspaper editors and their journals helped change the political culture of late First Empire Rio de Janeiro by involving the people in the discussion of state. This change in political culture is apparent in Emperor Pedro I’s gradual loss of control over the mechanisms of power. As the newspapers became more numerous and powerful, the Emperor lost his legitimacy in the eyes of the people. To explore the role of the newspapers in the political events of the late First Empire, this dissertation analyzes all available newspapers published in Rio de Janeiro from 1827 to 1831. Newspapers and their editors were leading forces in the effort to remove power from the hands of the ruling elite and place it under the control of the people. In the process, newspapers helped change how politics operated in the constitutional monarchy of Brazil.

From this abstract you now know that although the dissertation has nothing to do with modern Brazilian politics, it does cover the role of newspapers in changing traditional mechanisms of power. After reading the abstract, you can make an informed judgment about whether the dissertation would be worthwhile to read.

Besides selection, the other main purpose of the abstract is for indexing. Most article databases in the online catalog of the library enable you to search abstracts. This allows for quick retrieval by users and limits the extraneous items recalled by a “full-text” search. However, for an abstract to be useful in an online retrieval system, it must incorporate the key terms that a potential researcher would use to search. For example, if you search Dissertation Abstracts International using the keywords “France” “revolution” and “politics,” the search engine would search through all the abstracts in the database that included those three words. Without an abstract, the search engine would be forced to search titles, which, as we have seen, may not be fruitful, or else search the full text. It’s likely that a lot more than 60 dissertations have been written with those three words somewhere in the body of the entire work. By incorporating keywords into the abstract, the author emphasizes the central topics of the work and gives prospective readers enough information to make an informed judgment about the applicability of the work.

When do people write abstracts?

  • when submitting articles to journals, especially online journals
  • when applying for research grants
  • when writing a book proposal
  • when completing the Ph.D. dissertation or M.A. thesis
  • when writing a proposal for a conference paper
  • when writing a proposal for a book chapter

Most often, the author of the entire work (or prospective work) writes the abstract. However, there are professional abstracting services that hire writers to draft abstracts of other people’s work. In a work with multiple authors, the first author usually writes the abstract. Undergraduates are sometimes asked to draft abstracts of books/articles for classmates who have not read the larger work.

Types of abstracts

There are two types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. They have different aims, so as a consequence they have different components and styles. There is also a third type called critical, but it is rarely used. If you want to find out more about writing a critique or a review of a work, see the UNC Writing Center handout on writing a literature review . If you are unsure which type of abstract you should write, ask your instructor (if the abstract is for a class) or read other abstracts in your field or in the journal where you are submitting your article.

Descriptive abstracts

A descriptive abstract indicates the type of information found in the work. It makes no judgments about the work, nor does it provide results or conclusions of the research. It does incorporate key words found in the text and may include the purpose, methods, and scope of the research. Essentially, the descriptive abstract describes the work being abstracted. Some people consider it an outline of the work, rather than a summary. Descriptive abstracts are usually very short—100 words or less.

Informative abstracts

The majority of abstracts are informative. While they still do not critique or evaluate a work, they do more than describe it. A good informative abstract acts as a surrogate for the work itself. That is, the writer presents and explains all the main arguments and the important results and evidence in the complete article/paper/book. An informative abstract includes the information that can be found in a descriptive abstract (purpose, methods, scope) but also includes the results and conclusions of the research and the recommendations of the author. The length varies according to discipline, but an informative abstract is rarely more than 10% of the length of the entire work. In the case of a longer work, it may be much less.

Here are examples of a descriptive and an informative abstract of this handout on abstracts . Descriptive abstract:

The two most common abstract types—descriptive and informative—are described and examples of each are provided.

Informative abstract:

Abstracts present the essential elements of a longer work in a short and powerful statement. The purpose of an abstract is to provide prospective readers the opportunity to judge the relevance of the longer work to their projects. Abstracts also include the key terms found in the longer work and the purpose and methods of the research. Authors abstract various longer works, including book proposals, dissertations, and online journal articles. There are two main types of abstracts: descriptive and informative. A descriptive abstract briefly describes the longer work, while an informative abstract presents all the main arguments and important results. This handout provides examples of various types of abstracts and instructions on how to construct one.

Which type should I use?

Your best bet in this case is to ask your instructor or refer to the instructions provided by the publisher. You can also make a guess based on the length allowed; i.e., 100-120 words = descriptive; 250+ words = informative.

How do I write an abstract?

The format of your abstract will depend on the work being abstracted. An abstract of a scientific research paper will contain elements not found in an abstract of a literature article, and vice versa. However, all abstracts share several mandatory components, and there are also some optional parts that you can decide to include or not. When preparing to draft your abstract, keep the following key process elements in mind:

  • Reason for writing: What is the importance of the research? Why would a reader be interested in the larger work?
  • Problem: What problem does this work attempt to solve? What is the scope of the project? What is the main argument/thesis/claim?
  • Methodology: An abstract of a scientific work may include specific models or approaches used in the larger study. Other abstracts may describe the types of evidence used in the research.
  • Results: Again, an abstract of a scientific work may include specific data that indicates the results of the project. Other abstracts may discuss the findings in a more general way.
  • Implications: What changes should be implemented as a result of the findings of the work? How does this work add to the body of knowledge on the topic?

(This list of elements is adapted with permission from Philip Koopman, “How to Write an Abstract.” )

All abstracts include:

  • A full citation of the source, preceding the abstract.
  • The most important information first.
  • The same type and style of language found in the original, including technical language.
  • Key words and phrases that quickly identify the content and focus of the work.
  • Clear, concise, and powerful language.

Abstracts may include:

  • The thesis of the work, usually in the first sentence.
  • Background information that places the work in the larger body of literature.
  • The same chronological structure as the original work.

How not to write an abstract:

  • Do not refer extensively to other works.
  • Do not add information not contained in the original work.
  • Do not define terms.

If you are abstracting your own writing

When abstracting your own work, it may be difficult to condense a piece of writing that you have agonized over for weeks (or months, or even years) into a 250-word statement. There are some tricks that you could use to make it easier, however.

Reverse outlining:

This technique is commonly used when you are having trouble organizing your own writing. The process involves writing down the main idea of each paragraph on a separate piece of paper– see our short video . For the purposes of writing an abstract, try grouping the main ideas of each section of the paper into a single sentence. Practice grouping ideas using webbing or color coding .

For a scientific paper, you may have sections titled Purpose, Methods, Results, and Discussion. Each one of these sections will be longer than one paragraph, but each is grouped around a central idea. Use reverse outlining to discover the central idea in each section and then distill these ideas into one statement.

Cut and paste:

To create a first draft of an abstract of your own work, you can read through the entire paper and cut and paste sentences that capture key passages. This technique is useful for social science research with findings that cannot be encapsulated by neat numbers or concrete results. A well-written humanities draft will have a clear and direct thesis statement and informative topic sentences for paragraphs or sections. Isolate these sentences in a separate document and work on revising them into a unified paragraph.

If you are abstracting someone else’s writing

When abstracting something you have not written, you cannot summarize key ideas just by cutting and pasting. Instead, you must determine what a prospective reader would want to know about the work. There are a few techniques that will help you in this process:

Identify key terms:

Search through the entire document for key terms that identify the purpose, scope, and methods of the work. Pay close attention to the Introduction (or Purpose) and the Conclusion (or Discussion). These sections should contain all the main ideas and key terms in the paper. When writing the abstract, be sure to incorporate the key terms.

Highlight key phrases and sentences:

Instead of cutting and pasting the actual words, try highlighting sentences or phrases that appear to be central to the work. Then, in a separate document, rewrite the sentences and phrases in your own words.

Don’t look back:

After reading the entire work, put it aside and write a paragraph about the work without referring to it. In the first draft, you may not remember all the key terms or the results, but you will remember what the main point of the work was. Remember not to include any information you did not get from the work being abstracted.

Revise, revise, revise

No matter what type of abstract you are writing, or whether you are abstracting your own work or someone else’s, the most important step in writing an abstract is to revise early and often. When revising, delete all extraneous words and incorporate meaningful and powerful words. The idea is to be as clear and complete as possible in the shortest possible amount of space. The Word Count feature of Microsoft Word can help you keep track of how long your abstract is and help you hit your target length.

Example 1: Humanities abstract

Kenneth Tait Andrews, “‘Freedom is a constant struggle’: The dynamics and consequences of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, 1960-1984” Ph.D. State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1997 DAI-A 59/02, p. 620, Aug 1998

This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so. The time period studied includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies. Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports. This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.

Now let’s break down this abstract into its component parts to see how the author has distilled his entire dissertation into a ~200 word abstract.

What the dissertation does This dissertation examines the impacts of social movements through a multi-layered study of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement from its peak in the early 1960s through the early 1980s. By examining this historically important case, I clarify the process by which movements transform social structures and the constraints movements face when they try to do so.

How the dissertation does it The time period studied in this dissertation includes the expansion of voting rights and gains in black political power, the desegregation of public schools and the emergence of white-flight academies, and the rise and fall of federal anti-poverty programs. I use two major research strategies: (1) a quantitative analysis of county-level data and (2) three case studies.

What materials are used Data have been collected from archives, interviews, newspapers, and published reports.

Conclusion This dissertation challenges the argument that movements are inconsequential. Some view federal agencies, courts, political parties, or economic elites as the agents driving institutional change, but typically these groups acted in response to movement demands and the leverage brought to bear by the civil rights movement. The Mississippi movement attempted to forge independent structures for sustaining challenges to local inequities and injustices. By propelling change in an array of local institutions, movement infrastructures had an enduring legacy in Mississippi.

Keywords social movements Civil Rights Movement Mississippi voting rights desegregation

Example 2: Science Abstract

Luis Lehner, “Gravitational radiation from black hole spacetimes” Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, 1998 DAI-B 59/06, p. 2797, Dec 1998

The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search for and analysis of detected signals. The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm. This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.

This science abstract covers much of the same ground as the humanities one, but it asks slightly different questions.

Why do this study The problem of detecting gravitational radiation is receiving considerable attention with the construction of new detectors in the United States, Europe, and Japan. The theoretical modeling of the wave forms that would be produced in particular systems will expedite the search and analysis of the detected signals.

What the study does The characteristic formulation of GR is implemented to obtain an algorithm capable of evolving black holes in 3D asymptotically flat spacetimes. Using compactification techniques, future null infinity is included in the evolved region, which enables the unambiguous calculation of the radiation produced by some compact source. A module to calculate the waveforms is constructed and included in the evolution algorithm.

Results This code is shown to be second-order convergent and to handle highly non-linear spacetimes. In particular, we have shown that the code can handle spacetimes whose radiation is equivalent to a galaxy converting its whole mass into gravitational radiation in one second. We further use the characteristic formulation to treat the region close to the singularity in black hole spacetimes. The code carefully excises a region surrounding the singularity and accurately evolves generic black hole spacetimes with apparently unlimited stability.

Keywords gravitational radiation (GR) spacetimes black holes

Works consulted

We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.

Belcher, Wendy Laura. 2009. Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Press.

Koopman, Philip. 1997. “How to Write an Abstract.” Carnegie Mellon University. October 1997. http://users.ece.cmu.edu/~koopman/essays/abstract.html .

Lancaster, F.W. 2003. Indexing And Abstracting in Theory and Practice , 3rd ed. London: Facet Publishing.

You may reproduce it for non-commercial use if you use the entire handout and attribute the source: The Writing Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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How to Write an Abstract

How to write an abstract for a conference, what is an abstract and why is it important, an abstract is a brief summary of your research or creative project, usually about a paragraph long (250-350 words), and is written when you are ready to present your research or included in a thesis or research publication..

For additional support in writing your abstract, you can contact the Office of URSA at [email protected]  or schedule a time to meet with a Writing and Research Consultant at the OSU Writing Center 

Main Components of an Abstract: 

The opening sentences should summarize your topic and describe what researchers already know, with reference to the literature. 

A brief discussion that clearly states the purpose of your research or creative project. This should give general background information on your work and allow people from different fields to understand what you are talking about. Use verbs like investigate, analyze, test, etc. to describe how you began your work. 

In this section you will be discussing the ways in which your research was performed and the type of tools or methodological techniques you used to conduct your research. 

This is where you describe the main findings of your research study and what you have learned. Try to include only the most important findings of your research that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions. If you have not completed the project, talk about your anticipated results and what you expect the outcomes of the study to be. 

Significance

This is the final section of your abstract where you summarize the work performed. This is where you also discuss the relevance of your work and how it advances your field and the scientific field in general.

  • Your word count for a conference may be limited, so make your abstract as clear and concise as possible.
  • Organize it by using good transition words found on the lef so the information flows well.
  • Have your abstract proofread and receive feedback from your supervisor, advisor, peers, writing center, or other professors from different disciplines. 
  • Double-check on the guidelines for your abstract and adhere to any formatting or word count requirements.
  • Do not include bibliographic references or footnotes. 
  • Avoid the overuse of technical terms or jargon. 

Feeling stuck? Visit the OSU ScholarsArchive for more abstract examples related to your field

components of an abstract of a research proposal

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Components of a research proposal.

In general, the proposal components include:

Introduction: Provides reader with a broad overview of problem in context.

Statement of problem: Answers the question, “What research problem are you going to investigate?”

Literature review: Shows how your approach builds on existing research; helps you identify methodological and design issues in studies similar to your own; introduces you to measurement tools others have used effectively; helps you interpret findings; and ties results of your work to those who’ve preceded you.

Research design and methods: Describes how you’ll go about answering your research questions and confirming your hypothesis(es). Lists the hypothesis(es) to be tested, or states research question you’ll ask to seek a solution to your research problem. Include as much detail as possible: measurement instruments and procedures, subjects and sample size.

The research design is what you’ll also need to submit for approval from the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) if your research involves human or animal subjects, respectively.

Timeline: Breaks your project into small, easily doable steps via backwards calendar.

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Structure and content, introduction (to topic and problem), research question (or hypothesis, thesis statement, aim), proposed methodology, anticipated findings, contributions - impact and significance, tables and figures (if applicable).

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The structure and content of a research proposal can vary depending upon the discipline, purpose, and target audience. For example, a graduate thesis proposal and a Tri-Council grant proposal will have different guidelines for length and required sections.

Before you begin writing, be sure to talk with your supervisor to gain a clear understanding of their specific expectations, and continually check in with them throughout the writing process.

  • Organizing your Research Proposal - Template This 6-page fillable pdf handout provides writers with a template to begin outlining sections of their own research proposal.

This template can be used in conjunction with the sections below.

What are some keywords for your research?

  • Should give a clear indication of your proposed research approach or key question
  • Should be concise and descriptive

Writing Tip: When constructing your title, think about the search terms you would use to find this research online.

Important: Write this section last, after you have completed drafting the proposal. Or if you are required to draft a preliminary abstract, then remember to rewrite the abstract after you have completed drafting the entire proposal because some information may need to be revised.

The abstract should provide a brief overview of the entire proposal. Briefly state the research question (or hypothesis, thesis statement, aim), the problem and rationale, the proposed methods, and the proposed analyses or expected results.

The purpose of the introduction is to communicate the information that is essential for the reader to understand the overall area of concern. Be explicit. Outline why this research must be conducted and try to do so without unnecessary jargon or overwhelming detail.

Start with a short statement that establishes the overall area of concern. Avoid too much detail. Get to the point. Communicate only information essential for the reader’s comprehension. Avoid unnecessary technical language and jargon. Answer the question, "What is this study about?"

Questions to consider:

  • What is your topic area, and what is the problem within that topic?
  • What does the relevant literature say about the problem? – Be selective and focused.
  • What are the critical, theoretical, or methodological issues directly related to the problem to be investigated?
  • What are the reasons for undertaking the research? – This is the answer to the "so what?" question.

The following sections - listed as part of the introduction - are intended as a guide for drafting a research proposal. Most introductions include these following components. However, be sure to clarify with your advisor or carefully review the grant guidelines to be sure to comply with the proposal genre expectations of your specific discipline.

Broad topic and focus of study

  • Briefly describe the broad topic of your research area, and then clearly explain the narrowed focus of your specific study.

Importance of topic/field of study

  • Position your project in a current important research area.
  • Address the “So what?” question directly, and as soon as possible.
  • Provide context for the reader to understand the problem you are about to pose or research question you are asking.

Problem within field of study

  • Identify the problem that you are investigating in your study.

Gap(s) in knowledge

  • Identify something missing from the literature.
  • What is unknown in this specific research area? This is what your study will explore and where you will attempt to provide new insights.
  • Is there a reason this gap exists? Where does the current literature agree and where does it disagree? How you fill this gap (at least partially) with your research?
  • Convince your reader that the problem has been appropriately defined and that the study is worth doing. Be explicit and detailed.
  • Develop your argument logically and provide evidence.
  • Explain why you are the person to do this project. Summarize any previous work or studies you may have undertaken in this field or research area.

Research question or hypothesis

  • Foreshadow outcomes of your research. What is the question you are hoping to answer? What are the specific hypotheses to be tested and/or issues to be explored?
  • Use questions when research is exploratory.
  • Use declarative statements when existing knowledge enables predictions.
  • List any secondary or subsidiary questions if applicable.

Purpose statement

  • State the purpose of your research. Be succinct and simple.
  • Why do you want to do this study?
  • What is your research trying to find out?

Goals for proposed research

  • Write a brief, broad statement of what you hope to accomplish and why (e.g., Improve something… Understand something… ). Are there specific measurable outcomes that you will accomplish in your study? 
  • You will have a chance to go into greater detail in the research question and methodology sections.

Background or context (or literature review)

  • What does the existing research on this topic say?
  • Briefly state what you already know and introduce literature most relevant to your research.
  • Indicate main research findings, methodologies, and interpretations from previous related studies.
  • Discuss how your question or hypothesis relates to what is already known.
  • Position your research within the field’s developing body of knowledge.
  • Explain and support your choice of methodology or theoretical framework.

The research question is the question you are hoping to answer in your research project. It is important to know how you should write your research question into your proposal. Some proposals include

  • a research question, written as a question
  • or, a hypothesis as a potential response to the research question
  • or, a thesis statement as an argument that answers the research question
  • or, aims and objects as accomplishment or operational statements

Foreshadow the outcomes of your research. Are you trying to improve something? Understand something? Advocate for a social responsibility?

Research question

What is the question you are hoping to answer?

Subsidiary questions (if applicable)

  • Does your major research question hinge on a few smaller questions? Which will you address first?

Your hypothesis should provide one (of many) possible answers to your research question.

  • What are the specific hypotheses to be tested and/or issues to be explored?
  • What results do you anticipate for this experiment?

Usually a hypothesis is written to show the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Your hypothesis must be

  • An expected relationship between variables
  • Falsifiable
  • Consistent with the existing body of knowledge

Thesis statement

Your thesis statement is a clear, concise statement of what you are arguing and why it is important. For more support on writing thesis statements, check out these following resources:

  • 5 Types of Thesis Statements - Learn about five different types of thesis statements to help you choose the best type for your research.
  • Templates for Writing Thesis Statements - This template provides a two-step guide for writing thesis statements.
  • 5 Questions to Strengthen Your Thesis Statement - Follow these five steps to strengthen your thesis statements.

Aims and objectives

Aims are typically broader statements of what you are trying to accomplish and may or may not be measurable. Objectives are operational statements indicating specifically how you will accomplish the aims of your project.

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • How are you going to address the research question?

Be specific and make sure your aims or objectives are realistic. You want to convey that it is feasible to answer this question with the objectives you have proposed.

Make it clear that you know what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, and why it will work by relating your methodology to previous research. If there isn’t much literature on the topic, you can relate your methodology to your own preliminary research or point out how your methodology tackles something that may have been overlooked in previous studies.

Explain how you will conduct this research. Specify scope and parameters (e.g., geographic locations, demographics). Limit your inclusion of literature to only essential articles and studies.

  • How will these methods produce an answer to your research question?
  • How do the methods relate to the introduction and literature review?
  • Have you done any previous work (or read any literature) that would inform your choices about methodology?
  • Are your methods feasible and adequate? How do you know?
  • What obstacles might you encounter in conducting the research, and how will you overcome them?

This section should include the following components that are relevant to your study and research methodologies:

Object(s) of study / participants / population

Provide detail about your objects of study (e.g., literary texts, swine, government policies, children, health care systems).

  • Who/what are they?
  • How will you find, select, or collect them?
  • How feasible is it to find/select them?
  • Are there any limitations to sample/data collection?
  • Do you need to travel to collect samples or visit archives, etc.?
  • Do you need to obtain Research Ethics Board (REB) approval to include human participants?

Theoretical frame or critical methodology

  • Explain the theories or disciplinary methodologies that your research draws from or builds upon.

Materials and apparatus

  • What are your survey or interview methods? (You may include a copy of questionnaires, etc.)
  • Do you require any special equipment?
  • How do you plan to purchase or construct or obtain this equipment?

Procedure and design

What exactly will you do? Include variables selected or manipulated, randomization, controls, the definition of coding categories, etc.

  • Is it a questionnaire? Laboratory experiment? Series of interviews? Systematic review? Interpretative analysis?
  • How will subjects be assigned to experimental conditions?
  • What precautions will be used to control possible confounding variables?
  • How long do you expect to spend on each step, and do you have a backup plan?

Data analysis and statistical procedures

  • How do you plan to statistically analyze your data?
  • What analyses will you conduct?
  • How will the analyses contribute to the objectives?

What are the expected outcomes from your methods? Describe your expected results in relation to your hypothesis. Support these results using existing literature.

  • What results would prove or disprove your hypotheses and validate your methodology, and why?
  • What obstacles might you encounter in obtaining your results, and how will you deal with those obstacles?
  • How will you analyze and interpret your results?

This section may be the most important part of your proposal. Make sure to emphasize how this research is significant to the related field, and how it will impact the broader community, now and in the future.

Convince your reader why this project should be funded above the other potential projects. Why is this research useful and relevant? Why is it useful to others? Answer the question “so what?”

Specific contributions

  • How will your anticipated results specifically contribute to fulfilling the aims, objectives, or goals of your research?
  • Will these be direct or indirect contributions? – theoretical or applied?
  • How will your research contribute to the larger topic area or research discipline?

Impact and significance

  • How will your research contribute to the research field of study?
  • How will your research contribute to the larger topic addressed in your introduction?
  • How will this research extend other work that you have done?
  • How will this contribution/significance convince the reader that this research will be useful and relevant?
  • Who else might find your research useful and relevant? (e.g., other research streams, policy makers, professional fields, etc.)

Provide a list of some of the most important sources that you will need to use for the introduction and background sections, plus your literature review and theoretical framework. 

What are some of the most important sources that you will need to use for the intro/background/lit review/theoretical framework? 

  • Find out what style guide you are required to follow (e.g., APA, MLA, Chicago).
  • Follow the guidelines in our Cite Your Sources  Libguide to format citations and create a reference list or bibliography.

Attach this list to your proposal as a separate page unless otherwise specified.

This section should include only visuals that help illustrate the preliminary results, methods, or expected results.

  • What visuals will you use to help illustrate the methods or expected results?
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Writing Center Home Page

OASIS: Writing Center

Writing for publication: abstracts.

An abstract is "a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of the paper" (American Psychological Association [APA], 2020, p. 38). This summary is intended to share the topic, argument, and conclusions of a research study or course paper, similar to the text on the back cover of a book. When submitting your work for publication, an abstract is often the first piece of your writing a reviewer will encounter. An abstract may not be required for course papers.

Read on for more tips on making a good first impression with a successful abstract.

An abstract is a single paragraph preceded by the heading " Abstract ," centered and in bold font. The abstract does not begin with an indented line. APA (2020) recommends that abstracts should generally be less than 250 words, though many journals have their own word limits; it is always a good idea to check journal-specific requirements before submitting. The Writing Center's APA templates are great resources for visual examples of abstracts.

Abstracts use the present tense to describe currently applicable results (e.g., "Results indicate...") and the past tense to describe research steps (e.g., "The survey measured..."), and they do not typically include citations.

Key terms are sometimes included at the end of the abstract and should be chosen by considering the words or phrases that a reader might use to search for your article.

An abstract should include information such as

  • The problem or central argument of your article
  • A brief exposition of research design, methods, and procedures.
  • A brief summary of your findings
  • A brief summary of the implications of the research on practice and theory

It is also appropriate, depending on the type of article you are writing, to include information such as:

  • Participant number and type
  • Study eligibility criteria
  • Limitations of your study
  • Implications of your study's conclusions or areas for additional research

Your abstract should avoid unnecessary wordiness and focus on quickly and concisely summarizing the major points of your work. An abstract is not an introduction; you are not trying to capture the reader's attention with timeliness or to orient the reader to the entire background of your study. When readers finish reading your abstract, they should have a strong sense of your article's purpose, approach, and conclusions. The Walden Office of Research and Doctoral Services has additional  tutorial material on abstracts .

Clinical or Empirical Study Abstract Exemplar

In the following abstract, the article's problem is stated in red , the approach and design are in blue , and the results are in green .

End-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients have a high cardiovascular mortality rate. Precise estimates of the prevalence, risk factors and prognosis of different manifestations of cardiac disease are unavailable. In this study a prospective cohort of 433 ESRD patients was followed from the start of ESRD therapy for a mean of 41 months. Baseline clinical assessment and echocardiography were performed on all patients.  The major outcome measure was death while on dialysis therapy. Clinical manifestations of cardiovascular disease were highly prevalent at the start of ESRD therapy: 14% had coronary artery disease, 19% angina pectoris, 31% cardiac failure, 7% dysrhythmia and 8% peripheral vascular disease. On echocardiography 15% had systolic dysfunction, 32% left ventricular dilatation and 74% left ventricular hypertrophy. The overall median survival time was 50 months. Age, diabetes mellitus, cardiac failure, peripheral vascular disease and systolic dysfunction independently predicted death in all time frames. Coronary artery disease was associated with a worse prognosis in patients with cardiac failure at baseline. High left ventricular cavity volume and mass index were independently associated with death after two years. The independent associations of the different echocardiographic abnormalities were: systolic dysfunction--older age and coronary artery disease; left ventricular dilatation--male gender, anemia, hypocalcemia and hyperphosphatemia; left ventricular hypertrophy--older age, female gender, wide arterial pulse pressure, low blood urea and hypoalbuminemia. We conclude that clinical and echocardiographic cardiovascular disease are already present in a very high proportion of patients starting ESRD therapy and are independent mortality factors.

Foley, R. N., Parfrey, P. S., Harnett, J. D., Kent, G. M., Martin, C. J., Murray, D. C., & Barre, P. E. (1995). Clinical and echocardiographic disease in patients starting end-stage renal disease therapy. Kidney International , 47 , 186–192. https://doi.org/10.1038/ki.1995.22

Literature Review Abstract Exemplar

In the following abstract, the purpose and scope of the literature review are in red , the specific span of topics is in blue , and the implications for further research are in green .

This paper provides a review of research into the relationships between psychological types, as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and managerial attributes, behaviors and effectiveness. The literature review includes an examination of the psychometric properties of the MBTI and the contributions and limitations of research on psychological types. Next, key findings are discussed and used to advance propositions that relate psychological type to diverse topics such as risk tolerance, problem solving, information systems design, conflict management and leadership. We conclude with a research agenda that advocates: (a) the exploration of potential psychometric refinements of the MBTI, (b) more rigorous research designs, and (c) a broadening of the scope of managerial research into type.

Gardner, W. L., & Martinko, M. J. (1996). Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to study managers: A literature review and research agenda. Journal of Management, 22 (1), 45–83. https://doi.org/10.1177/014920639602200103

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2.2: Components of a Research Proposal

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A research proposal can be divided into many different steps but all of these configurations serve to demonstrate two qualities to your reader: that (1) there is an important question which needs answering; and (2) you have the capacity to answer that question. All the steps of a proposal must serve either or both of these goals (Wong, n.d.).

Before we delve into the substantive details of the research proposal, we want to briefly discuss two often overlooked components: title page and abstract. The first component of presenting a topic is developing a title page that accurately reflects your topic. Make sure that your title highlights the focus of your study and the expected outcomes (e.g., do you expect to discover lessons, insights, implementation strategies, improved understandings etc.). It is best to keep your title short (usually no more than two lines) and specific to your research concerns. For more tips on writing effective titles, see Hartley (2017). Apart from the actual words in your title, you should ensure that your title page aligns with the referencing style used in the rest of the proposal (e.g., check out APA convention on title pages). Regardless of the referencing style used, a good title page usually has the following information: title of the proposal, author’s name, institution and/department, program/course and the date. Including a running header and page number are optional.

Hartley, J. (2007). There‘s more to the title than meets the eye: Exploring the possibilities. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication , 37(1), 95-101. https://doi.org/10.2190/BJ16-8385-7Q73-1162

Wong, Paul T. P. (n.d.). How to Write a Research Proposal . Meaning.ca. http://www.meaning.ca/archives/archive/art_how_to_write_P_Wong.htm

Grad Coach

What (Exactly) Is A Research Proposal?

A simple explainer with examples + free template.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020 (Updated April 2023)

Whether you’re nearing the end of your degree and your dissertation is on the horizon, or you’re planning to apply for a PhD program, chances are you’ll need to craft a convincing research proposal . If you’re on this page, you’re probably unsure exactly what the research proposal is all about. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Overview: Research Proposal Basics

  • What a research proposal is
  • What a research proposal needs to cover
  • How to structure your research proposal
  • Example /sample proposals
  • Proposal writing FAQs
  • Key takeaways & additional resources

What is a research proposal?

Simply put, a research proposal is a structured, formal document that explains what you plan to research (your research topic), why it’s worth researching (your justification), and how  you plan to investigate it (your methodology). 

The purpose of the research proposal (its job, so to speak) is to convince  your research supervisor, committee or university that your research is  suitable  (for the requirements of the degree program) and  manageable  (given the time and resource constraints you will face). 

The most important word here is “ convince ” – in other words, your research proposal needs to  sell  your research idea (to whoever is going to approve it). If it doesn’t convince them (of its suitability and manageability), you’ll need to revise and resubmit . This will cost you valuable time, which will either delay the start of your research or eat into its time allowance (which is bad news). 

A research proposal is a  formal document that explains what you plan to research , why it's worth researching and how you'll do it.

What goes into a research proposal?

A good dissertation or thesis proposal needs to cover the “ what “, “ why ” and” how ” of the proposed study. Let’s look at each of these attributes in a little more detail:

Your proposal needs to clearly articulate your research topic . This needs to be specific and unambiguous . Your research topic should make it clear exactly what you plan to research and in what context. Here’s an example of a well-articulated research topic:

An investigation into the factors which impact female Generation Y consumer’s likelihood to promote a specific makeup brand to their peers: a British context

As you can see, this topic is extremely clear. From this one line we can see exactly:

  • What’s being investigated – factors that make people promote or advocate for a brand of a specific makeup brand
  • Who it involves – female Gen-Y consumers
  • In what context – the United Kingdom

So, make sure that your research proposal provides a detailed explanation of your research topic . If possible, also briefly outline your research aims and objectives , and perhaps even your research questions (although in some cases you’ll only develop these at a later stage). Needless to say, don’t start writing your proposal until you have a clear topic in mind , or you’ll end up waffling and your research proposal will suffer as a result of this.

Need a helping hand?

components of an abstract of a research proposal

As we touched on earlier, it’s not good enough to simply propose a research topic – you need to justify why your topic is original . In other words, what makes it  unique ? What gap in the current literature does it fill? If it’s simply a rehash of the existing research, it’s probably not going to get approval – it needs to be fresh.

But,  originality  alone is not enough. Once you’ve ticked that box, you also need to justify why your proposed topic is  important . In other words, what value will it add to the world if you achieve your research aims?

As an example, let’s look at the sample research topic we mentioned earlier (factors impacting brand advocacy). In this case, if the research could uncover relevant factors, these findings would be very useful to marketers in the cosmetics industry, and would, therefore, have commercial value . That is a clear justification for the research.

So, when you’re crafting your research proposal, remember that it’s not enough for a topic to simply be unique. It needs to be useful and value-creating – and you need to convey that value in your proposal. If you’re struggling to find a research topic that makes the cut, watch  our video covering how to find a research topic .

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

It’s all good and well to have a great topic that’s original and valuable, but you’re not going to convince anyone to approve it without discussing the practicalities – in other words:

  • How will you actually undertake your research (i.e., your methodology)?
  • Is your research methodology appropriate given your research aims?
  • Is your approach manageable given your constraints (time, money, etc.)?

While it’s generally not expected that you’ll have a fully fleshed-out methodology at the proposal stage, you’ll likely still need to provide a high-level overview of your research methodology . Here are some important questions you’ll need to address in your research proposal:

  • Will you take a qualitative , quantitative or mixed -method approach?
  • What sampling strategy will you adopt?
  • How will you collect your data (e.g., interviews, surveys, etc)?
  • How will you analyse your data (e.g., descriptive and inferential statistics , content analysis, discourse analysis, etc, .)?
  • What potential limitations will your methodology carry?

So, be sure to give some thought to the practicalities of your research and have at least a basic methodological plan before you start writing up your proposal. If this all sounds rather intimidating, the video below provides a good introduction to research methodology and the key choices you’ll need to make.

How To Structure A Research Proposal

Now that we’ve covered the key points that need to be addressed in a proposal, you may be wondering, “ But how is a research proposal structured? “.

While the exact structure and format required for a research proposal differs from university to university, there are four “essential ingredients” that commonly make up the structure of a research proposal:

  • A rich introduction and background to the proposed research
  • An initial literature review covering the existing research
  • An overview of the proposed research methodology
  • A discussion regarding the practicalities (project plans, timelines, etc.)

In the video below, we unpack each of these four sections, step by step.

Research Proposal Examples/Samples

In the video below, we provide a detailed walkthrough of two successful research proposals (Master’s and PhD-level), as well as our popular free proposal template.

Proposal Writing FAQs

How long should a research proposal be.

This varies tremendously, depending on the university, the field of study (e.g., social sciences vs natural sciences), and the level of the degree (e.g. undergraduate, Masters or PhD) – so it’s always best to check with your university what their specific requirements are before you start planning your proposal.

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 first three chapters of the dissertation or thesis.

The takeaway – be sure to check with your institution before you start writing.

How do I choose a topic for my research proposal?

Finding a good research topic is a process that involves multiple steps. We cover the topic ideation process in this video post.

How do I write a literature review for my proposal?

While you typically won’t need a comprehensive literature review at the proposal stage, you still need to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the key literature and are able to synthesise it. We explain the literature review process here.

How do I create a timeline and budget for my proposal?

We explain how to craft a project plan/timeline and budget in Research Proposal Bootcamp .

Which referencing format should I use in my research proposal?

The expectations and requirements regarding formatting and referencing vary from institution to institution. Therefore, you’ll need to check this information with your university.

What common proposal writing mistakes do I need to look out for?

We’ve create a video post about some of the most common mistakes students make when writing a proposal – you can access that here . If you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary:

  • The research topic is too broad (or just poorly articulated).
  • The research aims, objectives and questions don’t align.
  • The research topic is not well justified.
  • The study has a weak theoretical foundation.
  • The research design is not well articulated well enough.
  • Poor writing and sloppy presentation.
  • Poor project planning and risk management.
  • Not following the university’s specific criteria.

Key Takeaways & Additional Resources

As you write up your research proposal, remember the all-important core purpose:  to convince . Your research proposal needs to sell your study in terms of suitability and viability. So, focus on crafting a convincing narrative to ensure a strong proposal.

At the same time, pay close attention to your university’s requirements. While we’ve covered the essentials here, every institution has its own set of expectations and it’s essential that you follow these to maximise your chances of approval.

By the way, we’ve got plenty more resources to help you fast-track your research proposal. Here are some of our most popular resources to get you started:

  • Proposal Writing 101 : A Introductory Webinar
  • Research Proposal Bootcamp : The Ultimate Online Course
  • Template : A basic template to help you craft your proposal

If you’re looking for 1-on-1 support with your research proposal, be sure to check out our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the proposal development process (and the entire research journey), step by step.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

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

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51 Comments

Myrna Pereira

I truly enjoyed this video, as it was eye-opening to what I have to do in the preparation of preparing a Research proposal.

I would be interested in getting some coaching.

BARAKAELI TEREVAELI

I real appreciate on your elaboration on how to develop research proposal,the video explains each steps clearly.

masebo joseph

Thank you for the video. It really assisted me and my niece. I am a PhD candidate and she is an undergraduate student. It is at times, very difficult to guide a family member but with this video, my job is done.

In view of the above, I welcome more coaching.

Zakia Ghafoor

Wonderful guidelines, thanks

Annie Malupande

This is very helpful. Would love to continue even as I prepare for starting my masters next year.

KYARIKUNDA MOREEN

Thanks for the work done, the text was helpful to me

Ahsanullah Mangal

Bundle of thanks to you for the research proposal guide it was really good and useful if it is possible please send me the sample of research proposal

Derek Jansen

You’re most welcome. We don’t have any research proposals that we can share (the students own the intellectual property), but you might find our research proposal template useful: https://gradcoach.com/research-proposal-template/

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Cheruiyot Moses Kipyegon

Thanks alot. It was an eye opener that came timely enough before my imminent proposal defense. Thanks, again

agnelius

thank you very much your lesson is very interested may God be with you

Abubakar

I am an undergraduate student (First Degree) preparing to write my project,this video and explanation had shed more light to me thanks for your efforts keep it up.

Synthia Atieno

Very useful. I am grateful.

belina nambeya

this is a very a good guidance on research proposal, for sure i have learnt something

Wonderful guidelines for writing a research proposal, I am a student of m.phil( education), this guideline is suitable for me. Thanks

You’re welcome 🙂

Marjorie

Thank you, this was so helpful.

Amitash Degan

A really great and insightful video. It opened my eyes as to how to write a research paper. I would like to receive more guidance for writing my research paper from your esteemed faculty.

Glaudia Njuguna

Thank you, great insights

Thank you, great insights, thank you so much, feeling edified

Yebirgual

Wow thank you, great insights, thanks a lot

Roseline Soetan

Thank you. This is a great insight. I am a student preparing for a PhD program. I am requested to write my Research Proposal as part of what I am required to submit before my unconditional admission. I am grateful having listened to this video which will go a long way in helping me to actually choose a topic of interest and not just any topic as well as to narrow down the topic and be specific about it. I indeed need more of this especially as am trying to choose a topic suitable for a DBA am about embarking on. Thank you once more. The video is indeed helpful.

Rebecca

Have learnt a lot just at the right time. Thank you so much.

laramato ikayo

thank you very much ,because have learn a lot things concerning research proposal and be blessed u for your time that you providing to help us

Cheruiyot M Kipyegon

Hi. For my MSc medical education research, please evaluate this topic for me: Training Needs Assessment of Faculty in Medical Training Institutions in Kericho and Bomet Counties

Rebecca

I have really learnt a lot based on research proposal and it’s formulation

Arega Berlie

Thank you. I learn much from the proposal since it is applied

Siyanda

Your effort is much appreciated – you have good articulation.

You have good articulation.

Douglas Eliaba

I do applaud your simplified method of explaining the subject matter, which indeed has broaden my understanding of the subject matter. Definitely this would enable me writing a sellable research proposal.

Weluzani

This really helping

Roswitta

Great! I liked your tutoring on how to find a research topic and how to write a research proposal. Precise and concise. Thank you very much. Will certainly share this with my students. Research made simple indeed.

Alice Kuyayama

Thank you very much. I an now assist my students effectively.

Thank you very much. I can now assist my students effectively.

Abdurahman Bayoh

I need any research proposal

Silverline

Thank you for these videos. I will need chapter by chapter assistance in writing my MSc dissertation

Nosi

Very helpfull

faith wugah

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Imam

thanks so much for this wonderful presentations, i really enjoyed it to the fullest wish to learn more from you

Bernie E. Balmeo

Thank you very much. I learned a lot from your lecture.

Ishmael kwame Appiah

I really enjoy the in-depth knowledge on research proposal you have given. me. You have indeed broaden my understanding and skills. Thank you

David Mweemba

interesting session this has equipped me with knowledge as i head for exams in an hour’s time, am sure i get A++

Andrea Eccleston

This article was most informative and easy to understand. I now have a good idea of how to write my research proposal.

Thank you very much.

Georgina Ngufan

Wow, this literature is very resourceful and interesting to read. I enjoyed it and I intend reading it every now then.

Charity

Thank you for the clarity

Mondika Solomon

Thank you. Very helpful.

BLY

Thank you very much for this essential piece. I need 1o1 coaching, unfortunately, your service is not available in my country. Anyways, a very important eye-opener. I really enjoyed it. A thumb up to Gradcoach

Md Moneruszzaman Kayes

What is JAM? Please explain.

Gentiana

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azeem kakar

very very wonderful…

Koang Kuany Bol Nyot

thank you for the video but i need a written example

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Research Method

Home » How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

How To Write A Research Proposal – Step-by-Step [Template]

Table of Contents

How To Write a Research Proposal

How To Write a Research Proposal

Writing a Research proposal involves several steps to ensure a well-structured and comprehensive document. 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. Introduction:

  • Provide an introduction to your research topic, highlighting its significance and relevance.
  • Clearly state the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Discuss the background and context of the study, including previous research in the field.

3. Research Objectives

  • Outline the specific objectives or aims of your research. These objectives should be clear, achievable, and aligned with the research problem.

4. Literature Review:

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings, identify gaps, and highlight how your research will contribute to the existing knowledge.

5. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to employ to address your research objectives.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques you will use.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate and suitable for your research.

6. Timeline:

  • Create a timeline or schedule that outlines the major milestones and activities of your research project.
  • Break down the research process into smaller tasks and estimate the time required for each task.

7. Resources:

  • Identify the resources needed for your research, such as access to specific databases, equipment, or funding.
  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources to carry out your research effectively.

8. Ethical Considerations:

  • Discuss any ethical issues that may arise during your research and explain how you plan to address them.
  • If your research involves human subjects, explain how you will ensure their informed consent and privacy.

9. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

  • Clearly state the expected outcomes or results of your research.
  • Highlight the potential impact and significance of your research in advancing knowledge or addressing practical issues.

10. References:

  • Provide a list of all the references cited in your proposal, following a consistent citation style (e.g., APA, MLA).

11. Appendices:

  • Include any additional supporting materials, such as survey questionnaires, interview guides, or data analysis plans.

Research Proposal Format

The format of a research proposal may vary depending on the specific requirements of the institution or funding agency. However, the following is a commonly used format for a research proposal:

1. Title Page:

  • Include the title of your research proposal, your name, your affiliation or institution, and the date.

2. Abstract:

  • Provide a brief summary of your research proposal, highlighting the research problem, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.

3. Introduction:

  • Introduce the research topic and provide background information.
  • State the research problem or question you aim to address.
  • Explain the significance and relevance of the research.
  • Review relevant literature and studies related to your research topic.
  • Summarize key findings and identify gaps in the existing knowledge.
  • Explain how your research will contribute to filling those gaps.

5. Research Objectives:

  • Clearly state the specific objectives or aims of your research.
  • Ensure that the objectives are clear, focused, and aligned with the research problem.

6. Methodology:

  • Describe the research design and methodology you plan to use.
  • Explain the data collection methods, instruments, and analysis techniques.
  • Justify why the chosen methods are appropriate for your research.

7. Timeline:

8. Resources:

  • Explain how you will acquire or utilize these resources effectively.

9. Ethical Considerations:

  • If applicable, explain how you will ensure informed consent and protect the privacy of research participants.

10. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

11. References:

12. Appendices:

Research Proposal Template

Here’s a template for a research proposal:

1. Introduction:

2. Literature Review:

3. Research Objectives:

4. Methodology:

5. Timeline:

6. Resources:

7. Ethical Considerations:

8. Expected Outcomes and Significance:

9. References:

10. Appendices:

Research Proposal Sample

Title: The Impact of Online Education on Student Learning Outcomes: A Comparative Study

1. Introduction

Online education has gained significant prominence in recent years, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes by comparing them with traditional face-to-face instruction. The study will explore various aspects of online education, such as instructional methods, student engagement, and academic performance, to provide insights into the effectiveness of online learning.

2. Objectives

The main objectives of this research are as follows:

  • To compare student learning outcomes between online and traditional face-to-face education.
  • To examine the factors influencing student engagement in online learning environments.
  • To assess the effectiveness of different instructional methods employed in online education.
  • To identify challenges and opportunities associated with online education and suggest recommendations for improvement.

3. Methodology

3.1 Study Design

This research will utilize a mixed-methods approach to gather both quantitative and qualitative data. The study will include the following components:

3.2 Participants

The research will involve undergraduate students from two universities, one offering online education and the other providing face-to-face instruction. A total of 500 students (250 from each university) will be selected randomly to participate in the study.

3.3 Data Collection

The research will employ the following data collection methods:

  • Quantitative: Pre- and post-assessments will be conducted to measure students’ learning outcomes. Data on student demographics and academic performance will also be collected from university records.
  • Qualitative: Focus group discussions and individual interviews will be conducted with students to gather their perceptions and experiences regarding online education.

3.4 Data Analysis

Quantitative data will be analyzed using statistical software, employing descriptive statistics, t-tests, and regression analysis. Qualitative data will be transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically to identify recurring patterns and themes.

4. Ethical Considerations

The study will adhere to ethical guidelines, ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of participants. Informed consent will be obtained, and participants will have the right to withdraw from the study at any time.

5. Significance and Expected Outcomes

This research will contribute to the existing literature by providing empirical evidence on the impact of online education on student learning outcomes. The findings will help educational institutions and policymakers make informed decisions about incorporating online learning methods and improving the quality of online education. Moreover, the study will identify potential challenges and opportunities related to online education and offer recommendations for enhancing student engagement and overall learning outcomes.

6. Timeline

The proposed research will be conducted over a period of 12 months, including data collection, analysis, and report writing.

The estimated budget for this research includes expenses related to data collection, software licenses, participant compensation, and research assistance. A detailed budget breakdown will be provided in the final research plan.

8. Conclusion

This research proposal aims to investigate the impact of online education on student learning outcomes through a comparative study with traditional face-to-face instruction. By exploring various dimensions of online education, this research will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness and challenges associated with online learning. The findings will contribute to the ongoing discourse on educational practices and help shape future strategies for maximizing student learning outcomes in online education settings.

About the author

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Muhammad Hassan

Researcher, Academic Writer, Web developer

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  • Indian J Anaesth
  • v.60(9); 2016 Sep

How to write a research proposal?

Department of Anaesthesiology, Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Devika Rani Duggappa

Writing the proposal of a research work in the present era is a challenging task due to the constantly evolving trends in the qualitative research design and the need to incorporate medical advances into the methodology. The proposal is a detailed plan or ‘blueprint’ for the intended study, and once it is completed, the research project should flow smoothly. Even today, many of the proposals at post-graduate evaluation committees and application proposals for funding are substandard. A search was conducted with keywords such as research proposal, writing proposal and qualitative using search engines, namely, PubMed and Google Scholar, and an attempt has been made to provide broad guidelines for writing a scientifically appropriate research proposal.

INTRODUCTION

A clean, well-thought-out proposal forms the backbone for the research itself and hence becomes the most important step in the process of conduct of research.[ 1 ] The objective of preparing a research proposal would be to obtain approvals from various committees including ethics committee [details under ‘Research methodology II’ section [ Table 1 ] in this issue of IJA) and to request for grants. However, there are very few universally accepted guidelines for preparation of a good quality research proposal. A search was performed with keywords such as research proposal, funding, qualitative and writing proposals using search engines, namely, PubMed, Google Scholar and Scopus.

Five ‘C’s while writing a literature review

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Object name is IJA-60-631-g001.jpg

BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF 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 the credibility, achievability, practicality and reproducibility (repeatability) of the research design.[ 3 ] Four categories of audience with different expectations may be present in the evaluation committees, namely academic colleagues, policy-makers, practitioners and lay audiences who evaluate the research proposal. Tips for preparation of a good research proposal include; ‘be practical, be persuasive, make broader links, aim for crystal clarity and plan before you write’. A researcher must be balanced, with a realistic understanding of what can be achieved. Being persuasive implies that researcher must be able to convince other researchers, research funding agencies, educational institutions and supervisors that the research is worth getting approval. The aim of the researcher should be clearly stated in simple language that describes the research in a way that non-specialists can comprehend, without use of jargons. The proposal must not only demonstrate that it is based on an intelligent understanding of the existing literature but also show that the writer has thought about the time needed to conduct each stage of the research.[ 4 , 5 ]

CONTENTS OF A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

The contents or formats of a research proposal vary depending on the requirements of evaluation committee and are generally provided by the evaluation committee or the institution.

In general, a cover page should contain the (i) title of the proposal, (ii) name and affiliation of the researcher (principal investigator) and co-investigators, (iii) institutional affiliation (degree of the investigator and the name of institution where the study will be performed), details of contact such as phone numbers, E-mail id's and lines for signatures of investigators.

The main contents of the proposal may be presented under the following headings: (i) introduction, (ii) review of literature, (iii) aims and objectives, (iv) research design and methods, (v) ethical considerations, (vi) budget, (vii) appendices and (viii) citations.[ 4 ]

Introduction

It is also sometimes termed as ‘need for study’ or ‘abstract’. Introduction is an initial pitch of an idea; it sets the scene and puts the research in context.[ 6 ] The introduction should be designed to create interest in the reader about the topic and proposal. It should convey to the reader, what you want to do, what necessitates the study and your passion for the topic.[ 7 ] Some questions that can be used to assess the significance of the study are: (i) Who has an interest in the domain of inquiry? (ii) What do we already know about the topic? (iii) What has not been answered adequately in previous research and practice? (iv) How will this research add to knowledge, practice and policy in this area? Some of the evaluation committees, expect the last two questions, elaborated under a separate heading of ‘background and significance’.[ 8 ] Introduction should also contain the hypothesis behind the research design. If hypothesis cannot be constructed, the line of inquiry to be used in the research must be indicated.

Review of literature

It refers to all sources of scientific evidence pertaining to the topic in interest. In the present era of digitalisation and easy accessibility, there is an enormous amount of relevant data available, making it a challenge for the researcher to include all of it in his/her review.[ 9 ] It is crucial to structure this section intelligently so that the reader can grasp the argument related to your study in relation to that of other researchers, while still demonstrating to your readers that your work is original and innovative. It is preferable to summarise each article in a paragraph, highlighting the details pertinent to the topic of interest. The progression of review can move from the more general to the more focused studies, or a historical progression can be used to develop the story, without making it exhaustive.[ 1 ] Literature should include supporting data, disagreements and controversies. Five ‘C's may be kept in mind while writing a literature review[ 10 ] [ Table 1 ].

Aims and objectives

The research purpose (or goal or aim) gives a broad indication of what the researcher wishes to achieve in the research. The hypothesis to be tested can be the aim of the study. The objectives related to parameters or tools used to achieve the aim are generally categorised as primary and secondary objectives.

Research design and method

The objective here is to convince the reader that the overall research design and methods of analysis will correctly address the research problem and to impress upon the reader that the methodology/sources chosen are appropriate for the specific topic. It should be unmistakably tied to the specific aims of your study.

In this section, the methods and sources used to conduct the research must be discussed, including specific references to sites, databases, key texts or authors that will be indispensable to the project. There should be specific mention about the methodological approaches to be undertaken to gather information, about the techniques to be used to analyse it and about the tests of external validity to which researcher is committed.[ 10 , 11 ]

The components of this section include the following:[ 4 ]

Population and sample

Population refers to all the elements (individuals, objects or substances) that meet certain criteria for inclusion in a given universe,[ 12 ] and sample refers to subset of population which meets the inclusion criteria for enrolment into the study. The inclusion and exclusion criteria should be clearly defined. The details pertaining to sample size are discussed in the article “Sample size calculation: Basic priniciples” published in this issue of IJA.

Data collection

The researcher is expected to give a detailed account of the methodology adopted for collection of data, which include the time frame required for the research. The methodology should be tested for its validity and ensure that, in pursuit of achieving the results, the participant's life is not jeopardised. The author should anticipate and acknowledge any potential barrier and pitfall in carrying out the research design and explain plans to address them, thereby avoiding lacunae due to incomplete data collection. If the researcher is planning to acquire data through interviews or questionnaires, copy of the questions used for the same should be attached as an annexure with the proposal.

Rigor (soundness of the research)

This addresses the strength of the research with respect to its neutrality, consistency and applicability. Rigor must be reflected throughout the proposal.

It refers to the robustness of a research method against bias. The author should convey the measures taken to avoid bias, viz. blinding and randomisation, in an elaborate way, thus ensuring that the result obtained from the adopted method is purely as chance and not influenced by other confounding variables.

Consistency

Consistency considers whether the findings will be consistent if the inquiry was replicated with the same participants and in a similar context. This can be achieved by adopting standard and universally accepted methods and scales.

Applicability

Applicability refers to the degree to which the findings can be applied to different contexts and groups.[ 13 ]

Data analysis

This section deals with the reduction and reconstruction of data and its analysis including sample size calculation. The researcher is expected to explain the steps adopted for coding and sorting the data obtained. Various tests to be used to analyse the data for its robustness, significance should be clearly stated. Author should also mention the names of statistician and suitable software which will be used in due course of data analysis and their contribution to data analysis and sample calculation.[ 9 ]

Ethical considerations

Medical research introduces special moral and ethical problems that are not usually encountered by other researchers during data collection, and hence, the researcher should take special care in ensuring that ethical standards are met. Ethical considerations refer to the protection of the participants' rights (right to self-determination, right to privacy, right to autonomy and confidentiality, right to fair treatment and right to protection from discomfort and harm), obtaining informed consent and the institutional review process (ethical approval). The researcher needs to provide adequate information on each of these aspects.

Informed consent needs to be obtained from the participants (details discussed in further chapters), as well as the research site and the relevant authorities.

When the researcher prepares a research budget, he/she should predict and cost all aspects of the research and then add an additional allowance for unpredictable disasters, delays and rising costs. All items in the budget should be justified.

Appendices are documents that support the proposal and application. The appendices will be specific for each proposal but documents that are usually required include informed consent form, supporting documents, questionnaires, measurement tools and patient information of the study in layman's language.

As with any scholarly research paper, you must cite the sources you used in composing your proposal. Although the words ‘references and bibliography’ are different, they are used interchangeably. It refers to all references cited in the research proposal.

Successful, qualitative research proposals should communicate the researcher's knowledge of the field and method and convey the emergent nature of the qualitative design. The proposal should follow a discernible logic from the introduction to presentation of the appendices.

Financial support and sponsorship

Conflicts of interest.

There are no conflicts of interest.

  • Components of a Proposal

Proposal preparation checklists  can help you put together a proposal. Most proposals contain the following:

  • Cover or Title Page : Contains specific information about the proposal and the Institute and requires specific authorizations/signatures. See  MIT Facts and Profile Information   
  • Abstract or Project Summary : Outlines the proposed research, including the objectives, methodology, and significance of the research. 
  • Statement of Work (SOW) : Provides a full and detailed explanation of the proposed research, and typically includes a project timetable. The SOW describes  how  the work will be done,  where  the work will be done, and  who  will do the work. 
  • Budget : Must include an estimate of the resources necessary to conduct the project. Most sponsors require a detailed breakdown of the budget into defined categories and a detailed  budget justification , explaining what costs will be paid for and how the expense was calculated.
  • Curriculum Vitae or Biographical Sketch : Include for all key project personnel. 
  • Bibliography : Lists all references cited in proposal. 

Always check  Sponsor Specific Guidelines  as well as the proposal solicitation. Additional elements can include: 

  • Financial conflict of interest (COI) disclosures from PIs and senior/key personnel
  • Current and pending support: Lists the PI’s (and sometimes key personnel’s) current awards and pending proposals. 
  • Letters of support from non-Institute investigators 
  • Subaward documentation: If the proposal involves collaboration with investigators at other entities, detailed information about the subrecipient should be included in the proposal.  See MIT  Subawards Process  
  • Compliance certifications and representations  
  • Description of available equipment and facilities 
  • Uniform Guidance Fixed Rate Requirements
  • F&A Methodology
  • F&A Components
  • MIT Use of a de minimis Rate
  • Fund Account Overhead Rates
  • Allocation Rates
  • Determination of On-Campus and Off-Campus Rates
  • Employee Benefits (EB) Rates
  • Vacation Accrual Rates
  • Graduate Research Assistant Tuition Subsidy
  • Historical RA Salary Levels
  • MIT Facts and Profile Information
  • Classification of Sponsored Projects
  • Types of Sponsored Awards
  • How Are Sponsored Projects Generated?
  • Cost Principles and Unallowable Costs
  • Direct and Indirect Costs
  • EHS Role in MIT Grant Writing Process
  • Pre-Proposals / Letters of Intent
  • MIT Investigator Status
  • Special Reviews
  • Applying Through Workspace
  • Proposal Preparation Checklist
  • Proposals and Confidential Information
  • Personnel Costs
  • Subcontracts and Consultants
  • Annotated Budget Justification - Federal Research
  • Annotated Budget Justification - Non-Federal Research
  • Annotated Budget Justification - Federal Non-Research
  • Annotated Budget Justification - Non-Federal Non-Research
  • Kuali Coeus Approval Mapping
  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Submission of Revised Budgets
  • Standard Contract Terms and Conditions
  • Contractual Obligations and Problematic Terms and Conditions
  • Review and Negotiation of Federal Contract and Grant Terms and Conditions
  • Industrial Collaboration
  • International Activities
  • MIT Export Control - Export Policies
  • Nondisclosure and Confidentiality Agreements
  • Negative Confirmation On Award Notices
  • Routing and Acceptance of the Award Notice
  • COI and Special Review Hold Notice Definitions
  • Limiting Long-Term WBS Account Structures
  • SAP Project WBS Element Conditions
  • Kuali Coeus Electronic Document Storage (EDS)
  • Billing Agreements
  • PI Absence from Project
  • Cost Transfers
  • Equipment Threshold
  • Uniform Guidance and the FAR
  • MIT Standard Terms and Policies
  • Guidelines for Charging Faculty Summer Salary
  • Key Personnel
  • Limitations on Funds - Federal Contracts
  • Managing Salary Costs
  • Monitoring Project Budgets
  • Monthly Reconciliation and Review
  • No-Cost Extensions
  • Reporting Requirements
  • Return of Unexpended Funds to Foundations
  • Determining the Sponsor Approved Budget (SAB)
  • Working With the Sponsor Approved Budget (SAB)
  • Sponsor Approved Budget (SAB) and Child Account Budgets
  • Sponsor Approved Budget (SAB) and Prior Approvals
  • Submitting an SAB Change Request
  • When a PI Leaves MIT
  • Research Performance Progress Reports
  • Closing Out Fixed Price Awards
  • Closeout of Subawards
  • Record Retention
  • Early Termination
  • Reporting FAQs
  • Using SciENcv
  • AFOSR No-Cost Extension Process
  • Terms and Conditions
  • New ONR Account Set Ups
  • Department of Defense Disclosure Guidance
  • Department of Energy / Office of Science Disclosure Guidance
  • Introduction to Industrial Sponsors
  • General Considerations for Industrial Proposals
  • SRC Guidance to Faculty Considering Applying for SRC Funding
  • Find Specific RFP Information
  • Industrial Proposal Checklist
  • Proposal Formats
  • Special Requirements
  • Deadline Cycles
  • Model Proposals
  • Non-Competitive Industrial Proposals
  • Master and Alliance Agreements With Non-Standard Proposal Processes
  • Template Agreements
  • New Consortium Agreements
  • Competitive Industrial Proposals
  • Collaborative (No-cost) Research Agreements
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration Disclosure Guidance
  • NASA Graduate Research Fellowship Programs
  • NASA PI Status and Definitions
  • NIH Checklists and Preparation Guides
  • National Institutes of Health Disclosure Guidance
  • Human Subjects and NIH Proposals
  • NIH Data Management and Sharing
  • NIH Research Performance Progress Reports
  • Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry (GOALI) proposals
  • MIT Guidance Regarding the NSF CAREER Program
  • Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Supplements
  • National Science Foundation Disclosure Guidance
  • NSF Proposals: Administrative Review Stage
  • NSF Collaborations
  • NSF Pre-Award and Post-Award Actions
  • NSF Reporting
  • NSF Frequently Asked Questions
  • NSF Safe and Inclusive Working Environment
  • Research Terms and Conditions Prior Approval and Other Requirements Matrix
  • Process, Roles and Responsibilities
  • What Is Allowable/Eligible Cost Sharing?
  • MIT’s Preferred Cost Sharing Funds
  • Third-Party Cost Sharing
  • Showing Cost Sharing in a Proposal Budget
  • Sponsor Specific Instructions Regarding Location in the Proposal
  • Funding F&A Costs as Cost Sharing
  • Using Faculty Effort for Cost Sharing
  • Information about Completing the Cost Sharing Template
  • NSF Cost Sharing Policy
  • Tracking/Reporting Cost Sharing
  • Special Cost Sharing Topics
  • International Activities Examples
  • Rubicon Fellowships
  • Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowships
  • Criteria for Subrecipients
  • Subawards at Proposal
  • Requesting New Subawards
  • Managing Subawards
  • RAS Subaward Team Contacts
  • Funding and Approval
  • Proposal Phase
  • Award Set-up
  • Monitoring Research During Project Period
  • Closeout Phase
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  • Career Paths
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  • Tools and Systems
  • Award Closeout & Audits
  • Award Setup
  • Cost Sharing
  • Export Control
  • Financial Conflict of Interest
  • Kuali Coeus
  • Project Monitoring
  • Proposal Preparation & Submission
  • Research Sub Awards
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  • VPR Research Administration Organization Chart
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components of an abstract of a research proposal

Research Voyage

Research Tips and Infromation

How to Write Effective Research Grant Proposal Abstract?

Research Grant Proposal Abstract

Introduction

Research methodology and approach, key findings or results, significance and potential impact of the proposed research, title: developing a deep learning model for computer vision-based gesture recognition, phrasal verbs that can be used to write an effective research grant proposal, how long should a research grant proposal abstract be.

  • "Significance and potential impact" Section of a Research Grant Proposal Abstract?

Common Mistakes to Avoid when Writing a Research Grant Proposal Abstract

How can i make my research grant proposal abstract stand out, tailoring your research grant proposal abstract for a specific funding agency, difference between a research grant proposal abstract and a research paper abstract, feedback on my research grant proposal abstract.

A research grant proposal abstract is a brief summary of a research proposal that provides an overview of the proposed project’s objectives, methods, results, and potential impact. It is often the first part of the proposal that reviewers will read and serves as a key factor in determining whether a grant proposal is accepted or rejected.

Writing a clear and concise abstract is important because it helps reviewers quickly and easily understand the proposed research project’s main objectives, approach, and potential impact. A well-written abstract can also help to catch the attention of reviewers and encourage them to read the full proposal, increasing the chances of funding success.

Components of a Research Grant Proposal Abstract

The research question or problem should be clearly and succinctly stated in the abstract, providing the reader with a clear understanding of the scope and purpose of the proposed research. This description should highlight the novelty, importance, or relevance of the research question.

For example: “This research proposal aims to investigate the relationship between physical activity and mental health outcomes in adolescents with a focus on exploring the role of community-based interventions.”

The abstract should provide a brief description of the research methodology and approach, highlighting the key elements of the proposed research design. This section should provide enough information to help the reader understand the proposed research methodology and approach.

For example: “The proposed study will utilize a mixed-methods approach, consisting of a randomized controlled trial and qualitative interviews to explore the impact of a community-based physical activity program on mental health outcomes in adolescents.”

If the research proposal involves a pilot study or preliminary data, the abstract may summarize the key findings or results. This summary should be brief and provide an overview of the expected outcomes or results of the proposed research.

For example: “Preliminary data from a small pilot study suggests that community-based physical activity interventions may be effective in improving mental health outcomes in adolescents. The proposed study aims to build upon these findings to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the impact of such interventions.”

The abstract should conclude with a brief explanation of the significance and potential impact of the proposed research. This section should highlight the potential contributions of the proposed research to the research field and its broader implications for society.

For example: “This research has the potential to inform the development of community-based physical activity interventions for adolescents, with implications for improving mental health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. Additionally, this study may inform policies related to physical activity and mental health in adolescents.”

Tips for Writing an Effective Research Grant Proposal Abstract

Keep the abstract clear, concise, and specific: The abstract should be written in a clear and concise manner, avoiding unnecessary detail or repetition. The language should be specific and focused on the key elements of the proposed research.

Use plain language and avoid technical jargon: The abstract should be written in plain language, avoiding complex technical terminology that may be difficult for readers outside of the field to understand. Technical terms should be defined and explained in simple language.

Focus on the most important aspects of the research proposal : The abstract should focus on the most important elements of the proposed research project, including the research question or problem, methodology, and potential impact. Other details that are not essential to the understanding of the proposed research can be left out of the abstract.

Highlight the unique contributions of the proposed research : The abstract should emphasize the unique contributions of the proposed research, highlighting what sets it apart from other research projects in the field. This can include innovative methodologies, novel research questions, or the potential to fill gaps in the existing research.

Emphasize the potential benefits to society or the research field: The abstract should emphasize the potential benefits of the proposed research to society or the research field, including its potential impact on public health, policy, or clinical practice. This can help to make the research proposal more compelling to funders.

Be sure to follow any specific guidelines or requirements for the grant proposal abstract: The abstract should be written in accordance with any specific guidelines or requirements provided by the funding agency or organization. Failure to follow these guidelines may result in rejection of the proposal.

Example of a Research Grant Proposal Abstract

Introduction: This research grant proposal abstract outlines a project to develop a deep learning model for computer vision-based gesture recognition. The proposed research addresses the growing need for more accurate and reliable gesture recognition technologies for applications in human-computer interaction, virtual reality, and robotics.

Components of a research grant proposal abstract : This research proposal will involve developing and evaluating a deep learning model that can accurately recognize and interpret hand gestures captured by a camera. The research methodology will involve collecting and analyzing data on hand gestures, training and testing the deep learning model using various algorithms and evaluating the model’s accuracy and efficiency. The key findings of the proposed research will be a deep learning model that can accurately recognize hand gestures and an understanding of the key features that are most important in training such a model. The significance and potential impact of the proposed research include improving the accuracy and reliability of gesture recognition technologies, enabling more efficient and natural human-computer interaction, and advancing the fields of virtual reality and robotics.

Here are some examples of phrasal verbs that can be used to write an effective research grant proposal abstract:

Note that these are just a few examples and there are many other phrasal verbs that can be used to effectively convey the purpose and goals of a research grant proposal.

The length of a research grant proposal abstract can vary depending on the specific guidelines provided by the funding agency or grant opportunity. In general, most research grant proposal abstracts should be around 250 to 300 words or less.

However, it’s important to follow the specific instructions provided by the funding agency, which may specify a different word limit or even a specific format or structure for the abstract. It’s important to make sure that the abstract is clear, concise, and includes all the necessary information to give a clear overview of the proposed research project.

“Significance and potential impact” Section of a Research Grant Proposal Abstract?

The “significance and potential impact” section of a research grant proposal abstract should describe why the proposed research project is important and what potential benefits it could have for society or the research field. This section should convince the funding agency that the proposed research is worth funding.

Some key points that can be included in this section are:

  • The significance of the research question or problem being addressed, including any gaps in existing knowledge or areas where further research is needed.
  • The potential impact of the proposed research, both in terms of advancing scientific understanding and in terms of practical applications or benefits to society.
  • Any potential risks or challenges associated with the research project, and how these will be addressed.
  • The broader implications of the proposed research for the research field or related fields, including any potential for future research or applications.

Overall, this section should demonstrate the importance and potential impact of the proposed research project, and why it is a worthwhile investment for the funding agency.

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when writing a research grant proposal abstract:

  • Failing to follow the guidelines: It’s important to carefully read and follow the guidelines and requirements provided by the funding agency or grant opportunity. Failure to do so may result in the abstract being rejected without review.
  • Being too technical or jargon-heavy: It’s important to use plain language and avoid technical jargon or acronyms that may not be familiar to a broader audience.
  • Including unnecessary details: The abstract should focus on the most important aspects of the proposed research project and avoid including extraneous details or background information.
  • Making unsupported claims: Any claims or assertions made in the abstract should be supported by evidence or data from the proposed research project.
  • Failing to clearly articulate the significance and potential impact of the research: The abstract should clearly and convincingly explain why the proposed research project is important and what potential benefits it could have for society or the research field.
  • Being too vague or general: The abstract should provide enough detail to give a clear overview of the proposed research project, without being overly vague or general.
  • Being too long or too short: The abstract should be within the specified word limit and provide enough detail to clearly and effectively communicate the proposed research project.

Here are some tips to make your research grant proposal abstract stand out:

  • Focus on the uniqueness of your research: Highlight the unique contributions and potential impact of your research project, and explain why it is different from existing research in the field.
  • Emphasize the potential benefits: Clearly articulate the potential benefits of the proposed research, both in terms of advancing scientific understanding and in terms of practical applications or benefits to society.
  • Use clear and concise language: Use plain language and avoid technical jargon, acronyms or overly complex language that may not be familiar to a broader audience.
  • Provide sufficient detail: Provide enough detail to give a clear overview of the proposed research project, without being overly vague or general.
  • Follow the guidelines and requirements: Carefully read and follow the guidelines and requirements provided by the funding agency or grant opportunity.
  • Include preliminary results: If you have any preliminary data or results, include them in the abstract to demonstrate the feasibility and potential impact of the proposed research project.
  • Be persuasive: Use persuasive language and a clear structure to convince the funding agency or grant opportunity that your proposed research project is worth funding.

Overall, making your research grant proposal abstract stand out involves effectively communicating the significance and potential impact of your proposed research project, and demonstrating why it is a worthwhile investment for the funding agency or grant opportunity.

When tailoring your research grant proposal abstract for a specific funding agency or grant opportunity, consider the following tips:

  • Read and follow the guidelines: Carefully read and follow the guidelines and requirements provided by the funding agency or grant opportunity. Ensure that your abstract adheres to the specific formatting, length, and content requirements specified in the guidelines.
  • Highlight alignment with funding priorities: Consider the specific priorities and focus areas of the funding agency or grant opportunity, and tailor your abstract to demonstrate how your proposed research aligns with those priorities.
  • Use appropriate language: Use language that is appropriate for the specific funding agency or grant opportunity. For example, if the funding agency is focused on advancing practical applications, emphasize the practical implications and potential benefits of your proposed research.
  • Provide evidence of fit: Provide evidence that your proposed research project is a good fit for the funding agency or grant opportunity. This might include highlighting relevant experience or expertise, or demonstrating how your proposed research addresses a particular gap in knowledge or addresses an important research question.
  • Be clear and concise: Ensure that your abstract is clear and concise, using plain language and avoiding technical jargon or overly complex language.
  • Consider the review process: Consider the review process for the funding agency or grant opportunity, and tailor your abstract to address the specific criteria or evaluation criteria that will be used to evaluate proposals.

Overall, tailoring your research grant proposal abstract for a specific funding agency or grant opportunity involves carefully reviewing the guidelines and priorities of the funding agency or grant opportunity, and highlighting how your proposed research aligns with those priorities while adhering to the specific requirements and evaluation criteria specified by the funding agency or grant opportunity.

A research grant proposal abstract and a research paper abstract serve different purposes and have different audiences.

A research grant proposal abstract is a brief summary of a proposed research project that is typically submitted as part of a grant application to funding agencies. The abstract is used to provide a quick overview of the proposed research project and to convince the funding agency to provide financial support for the research. The abstract is typically focused on the research question, methodology, key findings or results, and the significance and potential impact of the proposed research. The abstract is often written with a broader audience in mind, as it may be reviewed by multiple individuals who are not experts in the specific research area.

A research paper abstract , on the other hand, is a brief summary of a completed research paper that is included at the beginning of the paper. The abstract is used to provide readers with a quick overview of the research paper and to help readers decide whether they want to read the full paper. The abstract is typically focused on the research question, methodology, key findings or results, and the implications of the research. The abstract is typically written for an audience of experts in the specific research area who have a deeper understanding of the topic.

In summary, the main differences between a research grant proposal abstract and a research paper abstract are the purpose, audience, and content. While both provide a summary of a research project, the research grant proposal abstract is focused on obtaining funding, while the research paper abstract is focused on providing an overview of the completed research paper.

Here’s a table summarizing the main differences between a research grant proposal abstract and a research paper abstract, with examples from computer science:

There are several ways to get feedback on your research grant proposal abstract before submitting it:

  • Ask colleagues or mentors in your field: You can ask colleagues or mentors in your field to review your abstract and provide feedback on its clarity, organization, and overall effectiveness.
  • Attend a grant writing workshop or seminar: Many universities and research institutions offer grant writing workshops or seminars that provide guidance on how to write effective grant proposals. These events often include opportunities for participants to receive feedback on their proposals.
  • Consult with a grant writing consultant: If you have the budget for it, you can hire a grant writing consultant to review your proposal and provide feedback. These consultants are experienced in writing successful grant proposals and can offer valuable insights into how to improve your proposal. Read my article on hiring research consultant for research-related works.
  • Use online resources: There are many online resources available that provide guidance on how to write effective grant proposals, including tips for writing an effective abstract. You can also use online platforms, such as LinkedIn or Twitter, to connect with experts in your field and seek feedback on your proposal.

Regardless of the method you choose, it is important to get feedback from multiple sources to ensure that your proposal is as strong as possible before submitting it.

Writing a clear and compelling research grant proposal abstract is essential for securing funding in the competitive field of computer science research. By defining the purpose of the abstract and highlighting its key components, we have provided a framework for crafting a successful proposal.

By following our tips for writing an effective abstract and avoiding common mistakes, you can increase your chances of securing funding for your research project. Whether you are an experienced researcher or just starting out in your career, we hope that the information and examples provided here will help you to write an abstract that will grab the attention of grant reviewers and make a compelling case for your research proposal.

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9 Components of a Research Proposal

A research proposal can be divided into many different steps but all of these configurations serve to demonstrate two qualities to your reader: that (1) there is an important question which needs answering; and (2) you have the capacity to answer that question. All the steps of a proposal must serve either or both of these goals (Wong, n.d.).

Before we delve into the substantive details of the research proposal, we want to briefly discuss two often overlooked components: title page and abstract. The first component of presenting a topic is developing a title page that accurately reflects your topic. Make sure that your title highlights the focus of your study and the expected outcomes (e.g., do you expect to discover lessons, insights, implementation strategies, improved understandings etc.). It is best to keep your title short (usually no more than two lines) and specific to your research concerns. For more tips on writing effective titles, see Hartley (2017). Apart from the actual words in your title, you should ensure that your title page aligns with the referencing style used in the rest of the proposal (e.g., check out APA convention on title pages). Regardless of the referencing style used, a good title page usually has the following information: title of the proposal, author’s name, institution and/department, program/course and the date. Including a running header and page number are optional.

Hartley, J. (2007). There‘s more to the title than meets the eye: Exploring the possibilities. Journal of Technical Writing and Communication , 37(1), 95-101. https://doi.org/10.2190/BJ16-8385-7Q73-1162

Wong, Paul T. P. (n.d.). How to Write a Research Proposal . Meaning.ca. http://www.meaning.ca/archives/archive/art_how_to_write_P_Wong.htm

Practicing and Presenting Social Research Copyright © 2022 by Oral Robinson and Alexander Wilson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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  1. PDF How to Write an Abstract Proposal

    An abstract is a brief summary of a completed research/innovation project. What should an abstract include? An abstract should include the following components: 1. Background: What is the motivation behind the research? Provide a short paragraph that details the background information. 2. Objectives: What problem are you attempting to solve ...

  2. How to Write an Abstract

    An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a thesis, dissertation or research paper). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about. ... Writing a book or research proposal; Applying for research grants; It's easiest to write your abstract last, ...

  3. How to Write a Good Abstract: 4 Essential Elements

    Generally, an informational abstract should sum up the main sections of the research paper, i.e., the introduction, the materials and methods used, the findings, discussion, conclusions, and recommendations. Therefore, it should contain the following essential elements: 1. Objective, aim, or purpose of the research paper.

  4. Writing an Abstract for Your Research Paper

    Definition and Purpose of Abstracts An abstract is a short summary of your (published or unpublished) research paper, usually about a paragraph (c. 6-7 sentences, 150-250 words) long. A well-written abstract serves multiple purposes: an abstract lets readers get the gist or essence of your paper or article quickly, in order to decide whether to….

  5. How to Write an Abstract for Research Proposal

    Your abstract should come immediately after the title page. Write in block format without paragraph indentations. The abstract should not be more than 300 words long and the page should not have a number. The word "Abstract" in your research proposal should be center aligned in the page, unless otherwise stated.

  6. How to Write a Research Proposal

    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.

  7. 3. The Abstract

    An abstract summarizes, usually in one paragraph of 300 words or less, the major aspects of the entire paper in a prescribed sequence that includes: 1) the overall purpose of the study and the research problem(s) you investigated; 2) the basic design of the study; 3) major findings or trends found as a result of your analysis; and, 4) a brief summary of your interpretations and conclusions.

  8. Research Paper Abstract

    The typical length of an abstract is usually around 150-250 words, and it should be written in a concise and clear manner. Research Paper Abstract Structure. The structure of a research paper abstract usually includes the following elements: Background or Introduction: Briefly describe the problem or research question that the study addresses.

  9. Abstracts

    Abstracts also include the key terms found in the longer work and the purpose and methods of the research. Authors abstract various longer works, including book proposals, dissertations, and online journal articles. ... However, all abstracts share several mandatory components, and there are also some optional parts that you can decide to ...

  10. How to Write an Abstract

    Organize it by using good transition words found on the lef so the information flows well. Have your abstract proofread and receive feedback from your supervisor, advisor, peers, writing center, or other professors from different disciplines. Double-check on the guidelines for your abstract and adhere to any formatting or word count requirements.

  11. Components of a Research Proposal

    In general, the proposal components include: Introduction: Provides reader with a broad overview of problem in context. Statement of problem: Answers the question, "What research problem are you going to investigate?" Literature review: Shows how your approach builds on existing research; helps you identify methodological and design issues in studies similar to your own; introduces you to ...

  12. Key Components of a Research Proposal

    Some proposals include. a research question, written as a question. or, a hypothesis as a potential response to the research question. or, a thesis statement as an argument that answers the research question. or, aims and objects as accomplishment or operational statements. Foreshadow the outcomes of your research.

  13. Academic Guides: Writing for Publication: Abstracts

    An abstract is "a brief, comprehensive summary of the contents of the paper" (American Psychological Association [APA], 2020, p. 38). This summary is intended to share the topic, argument, and conclusions of a research study or course paper, similar to the text on the back cover of a book. When submitting your work for publication, an abstract ...

  14. 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 ...

  15. How to Write a Comprehensive and Informative Research Abstract

    An abstract is one of the most important components of academic writing. Although abstracts are traditionally associated with manuscripts or with research conferences, increasingly, abstracts are also required for funding applications. ... For a grant application or research proposal, the abstract must represent a cohesive summary of the ...

  16. 2.2: Components of a Research Proposal

    2.2: Components of a Research Proposal. A research proposal can be divided into many different steps but all of these configurations serve to demonstrate two qualities to your reader: that (1) there is an important question which needs answering; and (2) you have the capacity to answer that question. All the steps of a proposal must serve ...

  17. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    The purpose of the research proposal (its job, so to speak) is to convince your research supervisor, committee or university that your research is suitable (for the requirements of the degree program) and manageable (given the time and resource constraints you will face). The most important word here is "convince" - in other words, your ...

  18. 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.

  19. How to write a research proposal?

    Abstract. Writing the proposal of a research work in the present era is a challenging task due to the constantly evolving trends in the qualitative research design and the need to incorporate medical advances into the methodology. The proposal is a detailed plan or 'blueprint' for the intended study, and once it is completed, the research ...

  20. PDF Writing an Abstract Update 270912

    An abstract is a concise summary of a research paper or entire thesis. It is an original work, not an excerpted passage. An abstract must be fully self-contained and make sense by itself, without further reference to outside sources or to the actual paper. It highlights key content areas, your research purpose, the relevance or importance of ...

  21. Components of a Proposal

    Bibliography : Lists all references cited in proposal. Always check Sponsor Specific Guidelines as well as the proposal solicitation. Additional elements can include: Current and pending support: Lists the PI's (and sometimes key personnel's) current awards and pending proposals. Subaward documentation: If the proposal involves ...

  22. How to Write Effective Research Grant Proposal Abstract?

    A research grant proposal abstract is a brief summary of a research proposal that provides an overview of the proposed project's objectives, methods, results, and potential impact. It is often the first part of the proposal that reviewers will read and serves as a key factor in determining whether a grant proposal is accepted or rejected.

  23. 9 Components of a Research Proposal

    Before we delve into the substantive details of the research proposal, we want to briefly discuss two often overlooked components: title page and abstract. The first component of presenting a topic is developing a title page that accurately reflects your topic. Make sure that your title highlights the focus of your study and the expected ...