As mentioned earlier, I will be writing an article on how to write my essay, specifically a research proposal. Two years ago, when I started writing research proposals, I also consulted a lot of different information, tutorials, and approaches. I then spent a total of 3 months to get a proposal that I like the best. When I sent the research proposal to my instructor, I was very happy and proud of receiving his feedback that “This is the best proposal I read in a long time”. Then I have more motivation to write my essay and other research proposals.

In this article, I will share with you the experiences I have learned when I write my essay or write a research proposal. I hope that it will be helpful to you.

1. Who will be the readers and reviewers of your proposal? (Who will read and assess your research proposal?)

In general, the people who will read your proposal will be professors, researchers, instructors who are highly specialized in the field you choose. They have done a lot of similar research. They have a deep understanding of the field of research. They have a long experience of doing research, and of course, they have read a lot of research proposals from previous students.

So, when reading the PhD candidate’s proposal, what issues do teachers usually care about?

First, they will look at the topic name and research field in general, they want to make sure that this proposal belongs to the scope of their knowledge. Therefore they can guide students to implement this topic in the future. By the way, a small note for those who are looking to pursue a PhD, the concept of research field at PhD level is very specific and intensive. For example, you want to learn a Ph.D. degree in finance, you need to know more clearly what the financial area you want to study is. It may be banking finance, corporate finance, international finance, marketing financial institutions, quantitative methods of financial measures, financial asset valuation, or risk management in finance. In fact, research questions will be much more in-depth and specific. The more specific you find about the field you study, the better it is. Then when I write my essay, I always have to identify clearly which area I will do.

Second, the professors will be interested in whether the subject you want to do has been done by themselves or not. In many cases, when you do a Ph.D., the instructor will be a co-author of the research paper. Besides the role of an instructor, teachers will actively contribute ideas, methods, solutions during the research process. Therefore, they also expect your topic is a new topic that they have not done or does not overlap with the topics that their other Ph.D. students are working on. Therefore when I write my essay, I try to do a new and interesting topic.

Finally, the factors that evaluate whether a research proposal is good or not depend on the meaning and feasibility of that research. The meaning of research is reflected in solving research questions that contribute to improving knowledge in general or not (contributions to knowledge and practice). Feasible research means that the study is feasible or not. This is reflected in the selection of data and research methods.

2. Structure of a research proposal

The structure of a research proposal will include the following main parts:


When I write my essay, especially the research proposals, the topic name should be short, concise, and go straight ahead to the main point of this study. You don’t need to name the topic from the beginning. You can complete the main content of the proposal and then choose a suitable name.

Introduction / Motivation / Background

This section is the answer to the question of why you want to do this research. In other words, you give the reasons for the need to do that research (research motivation). There are two sources of reasons for conducting a research project: one is that the existing knowledge or knowledge is flawed. Secondly, there is no research has focused on solving it or proposing an answer to it. At the end of this section, you will conclude that the research topic you choose is completely meaningful and should be conducted.

There are quite a few common mistakes when writing the Introduction. You will start with very general concepts, then write very rambly before pointing at the research question. This makes your reasoning become rambling and unclear. On the contrary, if you start writing from very detailed concepts, some readers find it difficult to understand, it will be very difficult to develop your arguments. So, try to think logically and address the issue in the most understandable and persuasive way.

Research question

This is actually the section where you present again what the research question is. It may be similar to the end of the Introduction section. However, separating the research question into a separate section makes your proposal clearer and more specific.

In this section, after talking about the research topic, you can completely make the hypotheses that you surmise about the results of the research. In other words, in that study you will try to prove your assumptions true.

Literature review

This item can be considered as the longest of your research proposals. This is where you show your knowledge, synthesis, and critical thinking skills in your field.

Literature review means that you read studies related to the topic of your choice and summarize the development of the knowledge found. After all, doing research inheriting and developing existing knowledge. What you should do is search for relevant research articles, read, analyze, synthesize, compare, and find out things that can be more developed.

When reading a research paper, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the problem studied in this paper? (Research question)
  • What data and methods do the authors use to solve research questions? (Data and methodology)
  • What results did the author find in that study? (Results)
  • What is the contribution of that study? (Contributions)
  • The results of that research are different, similar, or further development of other studies. (Compare and contrast to other papers)
  • What limitations of the study? (Limitations, opportunities for further research …)

Data and methodology

In this section, you can present data first then research method or vice versa.

Regarding data, a good proposal will describe in detail what the data you need for your research. If you already have data, that’s too good. If you haven’t already, find out what sources you can get that data from. You should describe the necessary information that you need. For example, you need cross-sectional data type, time-series data or panel data, and your variables. What are you trying to use? Why are you using those variables? What are the sub-samples you are going to do?

Regarding the research method, specifically, you have to describe what approach, technique, and model you will use. This section is best written in the form of symbols, equations, formulas … In addition to being able to describe in a most specific way how you work towards, it proves your technical ability (technical ability).

Expected outcome and contribution

This is the section where you describe the results you expect to gain from your research, and what it means. In general, this section will have a bit of an overlap with the previous sections, but it helps readers summarize what your research is aiming for. This section does not need to belong, needs to be brief and meaningful.

Research plan (optional)

This item can be added or not included in your research proposal. If you add this section, you will present a plan for your research. They can be the date to which data will be collected, then how long it takes to review the literature, and how long it takes to do the experiment, run the model …

In fact, when writing proposals you are only working on one research topic. So in my opinion, this plan doesn’t have much practical meaning. Moreover, in the actual process, there will be many changes, so you can skip this part.


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