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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on January 3, 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:


Literature review.

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, 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

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.

What can proofreading do for your paper?

Scribbr editors not only correct grammar and spelling mistakes, but also strengthen your writing by making sure your paper is free of vague language, redundant words, and awkward phrasing.

research proposal 2021

See editing example

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

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:

To guide your introduction , include information about:

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:

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:

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:

To determine your budget, think about:

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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McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, January 03). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved February 27, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-process/research-proposal/

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How to Write a Research Proposal

Lindsay Kramer

Once you’re in college and really getting into  academic writing , you may not recognize all the kinds of assignments you’re asked to complete. You know what an essay is, and you know how to respond to readings—but when you hear your professor mention a research proposal or a literature review, your mind might do a double take. 

Don’t worry; we’ve got you. Boiled down to its core, a research proposal is simply a short piece of  writing that details exactly what you’ll be covering in a larger research project. You’ll likely be required to write one for your  thesis , and if you choose to continue in academia after earning your bachelor’s degree, you’ll be writing research proposals for your master’s thesis, your dissertation, and all other research you conduct. By then, you’ll be a research proposal pro. But for now, we’ll answer all your questions and help you confidently write your first one. 

Here’s a tip: Want to make sure your writing shines? Grammarly can check your spelling and save you from grammar and punctuation mistakes. It even proofreads your text, so your work is extra polished wherever you write.

Your writing, at its best Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly

What is the goal of a research proposal?

In a research proposal, the goal is to present the author’s plan for the research they intend to conduct. In some cases, part of this goal is to secure funding for said research. In others, it’s to have the research approved by the author’s supervisor or department so they can move forward with it. In some cases, a research proposal is a required part of a graduate school application. In every one of these circumstances, research proposals follow the same structure.

In a research proposal, the author demonstrates how and why their research is relevant to their field. They demonstrate that the work is necessary to the following:

A research proposal also demonstrates that the author is capable of conducting this research and contributing to the current state of their field in a meaningful way. To do this, your research proposal needs to discuss your academic background and credentials as well as demonstrate that your proposed ideas have academic merit. 

But demonstrating your research’s validity and your personal capability to carry it out isn’t enough to get your research proposal approved. Your research proposal also has to cover these things:

If you’ve already read our post on literature reviews , you may be thinking that a research proposal sounds pretty similar. They’re more than just similar, though—a literature review is part of a research proposal. It’s the section that covers which sources you’re using, how you’re using them, and why they’re relevant. Think of a literature review as a mini-research proposal that fits into your larger, main proposal. 

How long should a research proposal be?

Generally, research proposals for bachelor’s and master’s theses are a few pages long. Research proposals for meatier projects, like Ph.D. dissertations and funding requests, are often longer and far more detailed. A research proposal’s goal is to clearly outline exactly what your research will entail and accomplish, so including the proposal’s word count or page count isn’t nearly as important as it is to ensure that all the necessary elements and content are present. 

Research proposal structure

A research proposal follows a fairly straightforward structure. In order to achieve the goals described in the previous section, nearly all research proposals include the following sections:


Your introduction achieves a few goals:

In a research proposal, an introduction can be a few paragraphs long. It should be concise, but don’t feel like you need to cram all of your information into one paragraph. 

In some cases, you need to include an abstract and/or a table of contents in your research proposal. These are included just before the introduction. 

Background significance

This is where you explain why your research is necessary and how it relates to established research in your field. Your work might complement existing research, strengthen it, or even challenge it—no matter how your work will “play with” other researchers’ work, you need to express it in detail in your research proposal.  

This is also the section where you clearly define the existing problems your research will address. By doing this, you’re explaining why your work is necessary—in other words, this is where you answer the reader’s “so what?” 

In your background significance section, you’ll also outline how you’ll conduct your research. If necessary, note which related questions and issues you won’t be covering in your research. 

Literature review

In your  literature review , you introduce all the sources you plan to use in your research. This includes landmark studies and their data, books, and scholarly articles. A literature review isn’t merely a list of sources (that’s what your bibliography is for); a literature review delves into the collection of sources you chose and explains how you’re using them in your research. 

Research design, methods, and schedule

Following your research review, you’ll discuss your research plans. In this section, make sure you cover these aspects:

Beyond a comprehensive look at your research itself, you’ll also need to include:

Suppositions and implications

Although you can’t know your research’s results until you’ve actually done the work, you should be going into the project with a clear idea of how your work will contribute to your field. This section is perhaps the most critical to your research proposal’s argument because it expresses exactly why your research is necessary. 

In this section, make sure you cover the following:

In other words, this section isn’t about stating the specific results you expect. Rather, it’s where you state how your findings will be valuable. 

This is where you wrap it all up. Your conclusion section, just like your conclusion paragraph for an essay , briefly summarizes your research proposal and reinforces your research’s stated purpose. 


Yes, you need to write a bibliography in addition to your literature review. Unlike your literature review, where you explained the relevance of the sources you chose and in some cases, challenged them, your bibliography simply lists your sources and their authors.

The way you write a citation depends on the style guide you’re using. The three most common style guides for academics are MLA , APA , and Chicago , and each has its own particular rules and requirements. Keep in mind that each formatting style has specific guidelines for citing just about any kind of source, including photos , websites , speeches , and YouTube videos .

Sometimes, a full bibliography is not needed. When this is the case, you can include a references list, which is simply a scaled-down list of all the sources you cited in your work. If you’re not sure which to write, ask your supervisor. 

Here’s a tip: Grammarly’s  Citation Generator  ensures your essays have flawless citations and no plagiarism. Try it for citing journal articles in MLA , APA , and Chicago  styles.

How to write a research proposal

Research proposals, like all other kinds of academic writing, are written in a formal, objective tone. Keep in mind that being concise is a key component of academic writing; formal does not mean flowery. 

Adhere to the structure outlined above. Your reader knows how a research proposal is supposed to read and expects it to fit this template. It’s crucial that you present your research proposal in a clear, logical way. Every question the reader has while reading your proposal should be answered by the final section. 

Editing and proofreading a research proposal

When you’re writing a research proposal, follow the same six-step writing process you follow with every other kind of writing you do. 

After you’ve got a first draft written, take some time to let it “cool off” before you start proofreading . By doing this, you’re making it easier for yourself to catch mistakes and gaps in your writing. 

Common mistakes to avoid when writing a research proposal

When you’re writing a research proposal, avoid these common pitfalls: 

Being too wordy

As we said earlier, formal does not mean flowery. In fact, you should aim to keep your writing as brief and to-the-point as possible. The more economically you can express your purpose and goal, the better.   

Failing to cite relevant sources

When you’re conducting research, you’re adding to the existing body of knowledge on the subject you’re covering. Your research proposal should reference one or more of the landmark research pieces in your field and connect your work to these works in some way. This doesn’t just communicate your work’s relevance—it also demonstrates your familiarity with the field. 

Focusing too much on minor issues

There are probably a lot of great reasons why your research is necessary. These reasons don’t all need to be in your research proposal. In fact, including too many questions and issues in your research proposal can detract from your central purpose, weakening the proposal. Save the minor issues for your research paper itself and cover only the major, key issues you aim to tackle in your proposal. 

Failing to make a strong argument for your research

This is perhaps the easiest way to undermine your proposal because it’s far more subjective than the others. A research proposal is, in essence, a piece of persuasive writing . That means that although you’re presenting your proposal in an objective, academic way, the goal is to get the reader to say “yes” to your work. 

This is true in every case, whether your reader is your supervisor, your department head, a graduate school admissions board, a private or government-backed funding provider, or the editor at a journal in which you’d like to publish your work. 

Polish your writing into a stellar proposal

When you’re asking for approval to conduct research—especially when there’s funding involved—you need to be nothing less than 100 percent confident in your proposal. If your research proposal has spelling or grammatical mistakes, an inconsistent or inappropriate tone, or even just awkward phrasing, those will undermine your credibility. 

Make sure your research proposal shines by using Grammarly to catch all of those issues. Even if you think you caught all of them while you were editing, it’s critical to double-check your work. Your research deserves the best proposal possible, and Grammarly can help you make that happen. 

research proposal 2021

Grad Coach

What (Exactly) Is A Research Proposal?

A simple explainer with examples + free template.

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Expert Reviewed By: Dr Eunice Rautenbach | June 2020

If you’re nearing the end of your degree program and your dissertation or thesis is on the horizon, or you’re planning to apply for a PhD program, chances are you’re going to 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 is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a simply a structured, formal document that explains  what  you plan to research (i.e. your research topic),  why  it’s worth researching (i.e. your justification), and  how  you plan to investigate it (i.e. your practical approach). 

The purpose of the research proposal (it’s 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?

As we mentioned earlier, a good dissertation or thesis proposal needs to cover the “what”, the “why” and the “how” of the research. Let’s look at each of these 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:

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:

So, make sure that your research proposal provides a detailed explanation of your research topic. It should go without saying, but don’t start writing your proposal until you have a crystal-clear topic in mind, or you’ll end up waffling away a few thousand words. 

Need a helping hand?

research proposal 2021

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 manage to find answers to your research questions ? 

For 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 .

Webinar - How to write a research proposal for a dissertation or thesis

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

While it’s generally not expected that you’ll have a fully fleshed out research strategy at the proposal stage, you will need to provide a high-level view of your research methodology and some key design decisions. Here are some important questions you’ll need to address in your proposal:

So, make sure you give some thought to the practicalities of your research and have at least a basic understanding of research methodologies before you start writing up your proposal. The video below provides a good introduction to methodology.

How long is a research proposal?

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.

The length of a proposal varies tremendously, depending on the university, the field of study, and the level of the degree.

How is a research proposal structured?

While the exact structure and format required for a dissertation or thesis research proposal differs from university to university, there are five “ essential ingredients ” that typically make up the structure of a research proposal:

For a detailed explanation of each of these, and step by step guidance covering how to write a research proposal,  have a look at this video post .   You might also consider using our free research proposal template here .

Final thoughts

As you write up your research proposal, remember the all-important core purpose:  to convince . Your research proposal needs to sell your research idea in terms of suitability and viability. So, focus on crafting a convincing narrative and you’ll have won half the battle.

research proposal 2021

Psst… there’s more (for free)

This post is part of our research writing mini-course, which covers everything you need to get started with your dissertation, thesis or research project.

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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.


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

Christopher Makuvaza

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.


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


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


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 🙂


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


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.


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


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


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.


This really helping


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


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


Very helpfull

faith wugah

the videos are very good and straight forward


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++

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research proposal 2021

Princeton Correspondents on Undergraduate Research

How to Write a Research Proposal as an Undergrad

As I just passed the deadline for my junior independent work (JIW), I wanted to explore strategies that could be helpful in composing a research proposal. In the chemistry department, JIW usually involves lab work and collecting raw data. However, this year, because of the pandemic, there is limited benchwork involved and most of the emphasis has shifted to designing a research proposal that would segue into one’s senior thesis. So far, I have only had one prior experience composing a research proposal, and it was from a virtual summer research program in my department. For this program, I was able to write a proposal on modifying a certain chemical inhibitor that could be used in reducing cancer cell proliferation. Using that experience as a guide, I will outline the steps I followed when I wrote my proposal. (Most of these steps are oriented towards research in the natural sciences, but there are many aspects common to research in other fields).

The first step is usually choosing a topic . This can be assigned to you by the principal investigator for the lab or a research mentor if you have one. For me, it was my research mentor, a graduate student in our lab, who helped me in selecting a field of query for my proposal. When I chose the lab I wanted to be part of for my summer project (with my JIW and senior thesis in mind) , I knew the general area of research I wanted to be involved in. But, usually within a lab, there are many projects that graduate students and post-docs work on within that specific area. Hence, it is important to identify a mentor with specific projects you want to be involved in for your own research. Once you choose a mentor, you can talk to them about formulating a research proposal based on the direction they plan to take their research in and how you can be involved in a similar project. Usually, mentors assign you one to three papers related to your research topic – a review paper that summarizes many research articles and one to two research articles with similar findings and methodology. In my case, the papers involved a review article on the role of the chemical inhibitor I was investigating along with articles on inhibitor design and mechanism of action.  

The next step is to perform a literature review to broadly assess previous work in your research topic, using the articles assigned by your mentor. At this stage, for my proposal, I was trying to know as much about my research area from these papers as well as the articles cited in them. Here, it is helpful to use a reference management software such as Zotero and Mendeley to organize your notes along with all the articles you look into for a bibliography. 

After going through your literature review, you can start thinking about identifying questions that remain to be answered in that field. For my JIW, I found some good ideas in the discussion section of the papers I had read where authors discussed what could be done in future research projects. One discussion section, for example, suggested ways to complement in-vitro experiments (outside of a living organism) with in-vivo ones (inside a living organism) . Reviewing the discussion section is a relatively straightforward way to formulate your own hypothesis. Alternatively, you could look at the papers’ raw data and find that the authors’ conclusions need to be revisited (this might require a critical review of the paper and the supplementary materials) or you could work on improving the paper’s methodology and optimizing its experiments. Furthermore, you might think about combining ideas from different papers or trying to reconcile differing conclusions reached by them.

The next step is developing a general outline ; deciding on what you want to cover in your proposal and how it is going to be structured. Here, you should try hard to limit the scope of your proposal to what you can realistically do for your senior thesis. As a junior or a senior, you will only be working with your mentor for a limited amount of time. Hence, it is not possible to plan long term experiments that would be appropriate for graduate students or post-docs in the lab. (For my summer project, there was not a follow up experiment involved, so I was able to think about possible experiments without the time or equipment constraints that would need to be considered for a JIW). Thus, your proposal should mostly focus on what you think is feasible given your timeline. 

Below are two final considerations. It is important that your research proposal outlines how you plan to collect your own data , analyze it and compare it with other papers in your field. For a research project based on a proposal, you need only establish if your premises/hypotheses are true or false. To do that, you need to formulate questions you can answer by collecting your own data, and this is where experiments come in. My summer project had three specific aims and each one was in the form of a question.

It is important to keep in mind in your proposal the experiments you can perform efficiently on your own – the experimental skills you want to master as an undergraduate. In my view, it is better to learn one to two skills very well than having surface-level knowledge of many. This is because the nature of research has been very specialized in each field that there is limited room for broad investigations. This does not mean your proposal should be solely based on things you can test by yourself (although it might be preferable to put more emphasis there). If your proposal involves experiments beyond what you can learn to do in a year or two, you can think of asking for help from an expert in your lab. 

research proposal 2021

A research proposal at the undergraduate level is an engaging exercise on coming up with your own questions on your chosen field. There is much leeway as an undergraduate to experiment within your field and think out of the box. In many ways, you will learn how to learn and how to formulate questions for any task you encounter in the future. Whether or not you want to be involved in research, it is an experience common to all Princeton students that you take with you after graduation.

In this post, I have described the basic elements of a natural science research proposal and my approach to writing one. Although the steps above are not comprehensive, I am hopeful they offer guidance you can adapt when you write your own proposal in the future.

— Yodahe Gebreegziabher, Natural Sciences Correspondent

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How to prepare a research proposal in the health sciences?


Knowing how to properly prepare a research proposal is a real challenge - and being able to prepare an excellent research proposal is increasingly a requirement to compete for funding with assurances of success. With this in mind, we aim to share with the reader our experience (in many cases, unsuccessful) as applicants on the most important aspects of preparing a research proposal and securing its approval and funding. This article aims not only to list theoretical recommendations but also to share some personal and eminently practical suggestions on the following elements of a research proposal: the title, the abstract, the introduction, the objectives, the methodology, the work plan or schedule, the proposal's consistency and coherence, its viability, its applicability, the importance of the principal investigator and the research team, the proposal's limitations and alternatives, its budget, its references, and, finally, the research proposal's form or wording. In summary, a research proposal is a carefully written plan that includes all the scientific, ethical and logistical aspects of the study to be conducted. Writing a good research proposal requires considerable effort and a great deal of time, but it's worth it.

Keywords: Ciencias de la salud; Health sciences; Protocol; Protocolo; Proyecto de investigación; Research proposal.

Copyright © 2020 Elsevier España, S.L.U. All rights reserved.

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Research Proposal Topics: 503 Ideas, Sample, & Guide [2023]

Do you have to write a research proposal and can’t choose one from the professor’s list? This article may be exactly what you need.

Our specialists will write a custom essay on any topic for $13.00 $10.40/page

We will provide you with the most up-to-date undergraduate and postgraduate topic ideas. Moreover, we will share the secrets of the winning research proposal writing.

Here, you will find possible ideas for research proposal topics from the best custom writing service that may be used to create your own proposal project as well as a direction for further investigation! So let’s start!

🔬 Research Proposal: Definition

First of all, let’s make clear what a research proposal is. A research proposal is a type of paper you write to show others that you have a project to investigate. A research proposal demonstrates the following:

The purpose of proposal writing is to persuade others that your topic needs to be investigated. Your task is to write a well-structured text that covers all the necessary points. Make sure that everyone can understand what you wish to investigate, why it’s important, and how you are going to do it.

💡 Research Proposal Topics

Now that you know what a research proposal is, it’s time to begin the work.

What is the first thing to be done, then?

That’s right—you need to choose a topic!

The list of research proposal topics below will help you start the process. Some of the research topics are simple, while others are quite complicated. The more difficult problems also contain a short description, so that you can understand immediately whether that topic would be interesting for you.

Political Science Research Proposal Topics

Researching political science gives you plenty of room for exploration. Do you want to investigate local or global politics? Are you interested in historical or contemporary issues? The number of options is overwhelming. Have a look at this list to make choosing easier:

Research Proposal Topics in Information Technology

In recent years, the demand for IT skills has skyrocketed. This trend is likely to continue for the next few decades. Humanity’s dependency on computers keeps growing. Because of this, solid knowledge in IT makes you an invaluable employee for any company. So, get started by writing about one of our engaging prompts:

Receive a plagiarism-free paper tailored to your instructions.

Computer Science Project Proposal Topics

Technology surrounds us everywhere. The internet, for one, has drastically changed the way we communicate. These developments affect all aspects of our lives. One big area that has significantly benefited from ICT is education.

Business Research Proposal Topics

There’s much more to business than just talking finances. Your topic can be theoretical as well as empirical. Writing about business can cover areas such as strategic planning, leadership, or sustainability.

Management Research Proposal Topics

Management is a vital part of every company. That’s why good governance is the key to success. Researching this subject will prove helpful for your future career.

MBA Research Proposal Topic Ideas

Time is money. How can you use it more effectively? That’s one of the central questions you can suggest investigating in an MBA research proposal. For more inspiration, check out these ideas:

Business Project Proposal Ideas

Have you been planning to start your own company? Or maybe you’d like to develop a product that makes life easier? A business project research proposal allows you to put your dream on paper. If you don’t have a concrete idea just yet, here is some inspiration:

Just $13.00 $10.40/page , and you can get an custom-written academic paper according to your instructions

Research Proposal Topics on Education

Education plays a crucial role in our lives. It’s an area where constant research and improvement are incredibly important. Check out these ideas:

Harassment and bullying have been factors in 75% of shooting incidents.

Special Education Research Proposal Topics

There are many questions regarding the best approach in educating kids with special needs. Should they always study with their peers? Or do they need special classes to tackle their individual requirements? Your research proposal can focus on various aspects. The parents’ roles or the use of technology are compelling examples.

Research Proposal Topics in Early Childhood Education

Young children are extremely impressionable. Because of this, early childhood education has a huge impact on kids’ development. Many factors need careful consideration. Among them are learning techniques and the need of incorporating the child’s social background.

Sociology Research Proposal Topics

Humans are erratic creatures. Yet, we all manage to live together. Are you interested in studying the mechanics of society? Then you should consider a research proposal in sociology .

Other Research Proposal Topics

History research proposal example topics.

Maybe you enjoy tracing the footsteps of past societies. Or perhaps you like to study the battles of the 20 th century. Whatever your preference is, researching any part of history will certainly yield fascinating results.

Research Proposal Topics in English and World Literature

If you’re passionate about reading , this section is for you. From Dostoyevsky to Austen, this list contains only the most engaging prompts in literature.

Chemistry Research Proposal Topic Ideas

Do you enjoy analyzing what our world is made of? With a research proposal in chemistry , you can do precisely that. Whether you’re into inorganic or biochemistry, this section has what you need.

Psychology Research Proposal Example Topics

In many ways, human mind remains a mystery. That’s probably one of the main reasons why psychology is such a fascinating subject. Do you want to dive into an uncharted territory or stay on the beaten track? You decide!

Research Proposal Topics in Philosophy

What is good and evil? Philosophers have been asking questions like this for centuries. You can join their pondering with a research proposal topic from the list below.

Research Proposal Topics in Development Studies

The evolution of states and nations is at the core of developmental studies. You can observe this process from various perspectives. These include political, social, or cultural points of view.

Medical Research Proposal Sample Topics

Thorough medical research is vital for human survival and wellbeing. The human body harbors many mysteries that need exploring. If you want to contribute to solving the puzzle, check out this section.

Biology Research Proposal Sample Topics

Biology is not just about watching birds or inspecting plants. The science of life has much to offer. If you choose to write a paper on this subject, why not study microbiology? Or maybe epidemiology? There is much left to understand about the organisms inhabiting this planet.

Environmental Research Proposal Topics

Environmental disasters are happening at an unprecedented rate. Finding ways to combat them is an urgent mission. That’s why many countries made environmental issues a top priority on their political agendas.

Research Proposal Topics in International Relations

Thanks to globalization, humanity is more interconnected than ever. How do various states, NGOs, and other global actors interact with each other? That’s the critical question of international relations. This subject contains aspects of economics, politics, and law.

Topics for a Research Proposal: Economics

It’s nice to have goods and valuables. But it’s also relevant to know how to properly handle them. Economics looks into how people produce, consume, and otherwise interact with resources.

Criminal Justice Research Proposal Topics

Criminal justice deals with the identification, judgment, and punishment of criminals. It encompasses three spheres: law enforcement, the courts, and corrections.

Qualitative Research Proposal Sample Topics

Are you more of a hands-on student? Does conducting interviews and fieldwork sound exciting to you? Then writing a proposal for qualitative research is the right thing for you.

Quantitative Research Proposal Topics to Write About

If math doesn’t scare you, quantitative research might be what you’re looking for. It’s suitable for everything: from agriculture to microeconomics. Quantifying data collection and analysis is at the heart of this research method.

Easy Research Proposal Topics for Students

A research doesn’t have to be about rocket science. Easy topics can be just as effective. Check out our collection of simple research proposal topics:

If you still want to find some more topics, you are welcome to check science research proposal topics on our blog to make your academic writing life much easier.

📝   How to Write a Project Proposal

Before you start working on the proposal itself, it’s pivotal to understand the standard proposal writing format.

Every academic paper has defined rules to follow, so let’s take a look at the research proposal structure.

Components of Research Proposal

Typically, a research proposal consists of a title, abstract, introduction, research methodology, research results, discussion, ethical considerations, and references.

At the beginning stage, you should choose an interesting proposal title to investigate. It may sound unbelievable, but a carefully chosen title can do half the job in persuading your audience.

Essay title tips list.

In this article, you’ll find research proposal topics in many different areas. It’s always easier to choose one if you have a list of proposal topics to browse. Once you’ve chosen your topic, make your research proposal title catchy and relevant.

Next, every research proposal needs an abstract. This part of your paper has a limited word count, typically between 100 and 300 words. If you want to convince your research committee in just a few lines, you should take this stage very seriously.

What to include in an abstract list.

The abstract must summarize your research proposal, so it’s better to write it after the rest of your paper is done.


This is a standard part of every paper, but different documents include various elements in their introductory texts.

The essay introduction must answer 3 essential question for the reader.

A research proposal introduction should contain the following three parts:

Research Methodology

When writing a research proposal, you need to describe the methods you’ve used. It will make your work more credible and allow the readers to evaluate it properly.

Choose your research methodology.

Your methodology helps you carry out your research. It serves as a basis for any academic paper, and it’s closely connected with your research question.

Research Results

You may be wondering how you can write the research proposal results when you haven’t actually conducted the research yet.

Well, don’t worry—you’re not expected to draw final conclusions at this stage. Instead, just try to analyze what research proposal results you’ll get after your project is done and how those results will impact your field of study or the world at large.

Two ways of presenting and organizing the research results.

This is an important part of your paper because it explains to the research committee whether or not your results will be worth the effort. Try to persuade the audience that you can get important results, but never promise too much.

Research Discussion

It’s okay to face some problems with your research, whether it’s trouble getting an interview from a foreign professor or having the funds to complete an expensive experiment.

Just don’t try to hide from the research committee the things you can’t do for your project. Instead, discuss them with your committee so they can have the whole picture and give you helpful advice on your research. Who knows—maybe one of them can introduce you to this foreign professor!

Ethical Considerations

If your research is conducted on people or animals, you should mention how you’re going to collect your data. Make sure your research proposal methodology doesn’t conflict with ethical guidelines.

References and Appendices

No research paper can be written without reading and studying dozens of sources. You site them all in the References section . If you have any questionnaires for your research proposal or any other documents related to your investigation, include them all in the appendices .

Examples of items in appendices.

Outline of a Research Proposal: Step by Step

STEP #1. Write the abstract.

How should you write your research proposal abstract? Explain the primary problem you want to explore and tell why it’s important:

The next step is writing a research methodology section.

STEP #2. Introduce your methodological approach.

To choose a methodological approach, you need to analyze your research question. Do it from the following points of view:

STEP #3. Introduce your data collection methods.

Depending on how you answered the previous questions, choose which types of data you will need for your research:

Here are the main methods of primary data collection:

Secondary data is usually obtained from books and articles. The main method here is the literature review , where you analyze and evaluate information from the source.

STEP #4. Describe your methods of analysis.

The methods of analysis can be qualitative or quantitative.

Multiple linear regression.

STEP #5. Justify your choices.

Here you should explain why you’ve chosen a particular methodology for your project. Show why your approach is the most appropriate one, and why other methods are not suitable. Here’s the list of the most common disadvantages:

Research Proposal Cover Page & Format

Every academic paper has defined rules to follow, so let’s take a look at the research proposal writing format.

Research Proposal Title Page

The front page of a proposal includes the following:

Formatting and References

Remember to make a reference to every article or website that you used to write your research proposal, and only use credible sources for your study, such as books and peer-reviewed articles. You are usually required to cite your sources in one of the existing citing styles, such as APA or MLA .

Research Proposal Timeline

A timeline is a plan that indicates the milestones of your research and the dates at which you could realistically achieve these milestones. Time schedules are especially important for lengthy researches.

Here are the milestones that you can include in your timeline:

It’s handy to have two versions of the same timeline. First, make a shorter one to include in your research proposal. Then, write a more detailed version for your personal reference.

📄 Undergraduate Research Proposal Sample

Finally, we’ve prepared a research proposal example (MLA format) to help you better understand your task. Feel free to download it below.

This study examines the effect of mobile educational applications on pre-school children and their academic achievements. The research was conducted by studying and analyzing the information provided by similar previously conducted researches. The interpretive methods, which focus on understanding a phenomenon comprehensively, and secondary data collection, were used for this research.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Have any interesting questions or ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Learn more on this topic:

🔗  References

I am a student in Kenya at Taita Taveta University…I need a proposal on investigating voters registration turn out in Taita Taveta County

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Hello Merry, Our experts can help you with your proposal https://custom-writing.org/ .

I’m a undergraduate student in kenya I want a proposal for water resource management

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Interesting Topics

Thanks for stopping by🙂!

Hello, I am a student of Bachelor of Commerce in Human Resource management and industrial relations and need a research topic in the area. Thanks!

Hello, Keneilwe! Maybe our Topic Generator can help you, or you can ask our academic experts here .

Need a unique academic research proposal related to global health and travel medicine.

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Designing a Research Proposal


Before conducting research, whether this is for an undergraduate project/essay,or a dissertation or thesis, it is important that you design a research proposal first. This will serve as a plan to orient you as you conduct your research and seek to answer the question(s) you have set. Every university (and programme within) will have its own guidelines for this, but the resources below give some accessible overviews on how a research proposal works in general, and then lists some examples the E-International Relations team has found useful from universities around the world.

The resources below have been curated by the E-International Relations team. You can find more resources on our methods homepage .

How to Develop a Good Research Topic by KStateLibraries (YouTube)

How To Write A Strong Research Proposal by Dr Amina Yonis (Youtube)

‘The Perfect Proposal’ by Dr. Hastings of the Texas A&M University Writing Center (YouTube)

Developing Research Questions by Monash University (website).

Doing a Literature Review

An essential part of any proposal is a review of the relevant literature already published on the topic you are researching. This shows that you understand where the existing debates are focused and (for more advanced works) can identify any gaps in the extant research that your work may address. Generally, literature falls into two broad categories: (1) Academic literature – this is books, journal articles and academic PhD theses… anything peer reviewed. (2) ‘Grey’ Literature – essentially anything not peer reviewed but useful to your research. this is a broad category that incorporates Newspaper/Magazine articles, policy or technical reports, government publications/archives, multimedia content (Podcasts, videos etc.) etc. Both academic and grey literature can be online or physical/in print and the distinction is less important than the nature and use of the materials in your literature review.

Get Lit: The Literature Review by Dr. Candace Hastings (YouTube)

Literature Review by University of Waterloo (website).

Andrew Booth, Diana Papaioannou, and Anthea Sutton, Systematic Approaches to Successful Literature Review (SAGE, 2012), pp.1–16. https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/43465_Booth_et_al.pdf

Chris Hart, Doing a Literature Review (SAGE, 1998), pp.1–25. https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/28728_LitReview___hart_chapter_1.pdf

Robin Kiteley and Chris Stogdon, Literature Reviews in Social Work (SAGE, 2014), pp.5–22. The Selection of a Research Approach. https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/58106_Kiteley_&_Stogdon.pdf

John W. Creswell, Research Design Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches Fourth Edition (Sage, 2014). https://us.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/55588_Chapter_1_Sample_Creswell_Research_Design_4e.pdf

Examples of different university guides for research proposals

University of Nottingham https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/pgstudy/how-to-apply/research-proposal.aspx

Oxford University https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/about/writing-your-research-proposal

King’s College London, Department of European and International Studies https://www.kcl.ac.uk/eis/postgraduate/eis-phd-research-proposal-guidelines

Guidelines for elaborating a master’s thesis or project. ISCTE Business School (Lisbon, Portugal). https://www.iscte-iul.pt/assets/files/2020/11/02/1604315461085_Guidelines_for_elaborating_a_Master_s_dissertation_or_project.pdf

Dissertation Proposal Template. Católica Lisbon School of Business and Economics. https://www.clsbe.lisboa.ucp.pt/system/files/assets/files/dissertation-proposal-template.pdf

Writing a research proposal. University of Melbourne https://students.unimelb.edu.au/academic-skills/explore-our-resources/graduate-research/writing-a-research-proposal

Types of Research Design. – University of Southern California. https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/researchdesigns

Guidelines for the Preparation of Research Project, Dissertation and Thesis – University of Malaya. https://inpuma.um.edu.my/Guidelines_for_Preparation_of_Research_Project_Dissertation_and_Thesis.pdf

Research Proposal Guidelines. – University of Pretoria. https://www.up.ac.za/communication-management-division/article/2417100/research-proposal-guidelines

Writing a Research Proposal. – Victoria University of Wellington. https://www.wgtn.ac.nz/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/1341273/Writing-a-Research-Proposal.pdf

How to Prepare: Thesis Proposal. – University of Hong Kong. https://gradsch.hku.hk/f/page/476/1666/thesis-proposal.pdf

George Washington University, Dissertation Content and Style Guide. https://gsehd.gwu.edu/sites/default/files/gsehd_dissertation_content_and_style_guide.pdf.

Organizing your Social Sciences Research Paper. https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide

Tips for Writing a Good Quality Social Science Research Paper. https://globaljournals.org/journals/human-social-science/tips-for-writing-a-good-quality-social-science-research-paper

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper. https://libguides.pointloma.edu/c.php?g=944338&p=6806892

The Open University. (2021). “Postgraduate Study Skills”. The Open University. https://help.open.ac.uk/conducting-an-interview .

Types of Research Designs. University of Southern California Libraries. https://libguides.usc.edu/writingguide/researchdesigns

Writing your research proposal (York St. John University). https://www.yorksj.ac.uk/study/research/apply/examples-of-research-proposals/

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research proposal 2021

Sacred Heart University Library

A Guide to Research Proposals

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The Story of Research 

If you have ever read a news article online where it included the phrase "In a recent study..." you got a small glimpse of a parallel world. Out in this world, scholars and scientists are putting the scientific method to good use. Unless you know to look for it, you wouldn't know it was there.

Think about where you get your information on a daily basis. It's probably the internet, tv, social media, and from your friends and family. There are other sources of information that you might have never encountered (directly) before coming to SHU. As you enter college, you meet your professors who are here to teach you, yes, but they have other responsibilities too. Outside of their teaching duties, your professors must continue their research which means publishing articles in peer-reviewed journals, chapters in books, or even entire books.

Before diving into a research project, scholars (including your professors) often have to write research proposals. Even experts need to prove that their research is important and valuable. Research proposals are required when applying for grant money from different organizations, so scholars need to make a good argument that proves their project deserves to be funded. Sometimes there is fierce competition for limited funds. Even a good research project (because, let's be honest, some are bad) needs a good research proposal to help it be completed.   

Your Research Proposal

You might be thinking to yourself, "I am not applying for a grant, why is my professor making me do a research proposal?"

A research proposal is a great way to introduce you to research without making you write a long research paper (sounds nice, no?). It is preparing you for future classes where you might have to write a paper whether you research the same topic or not. If you do research the same topic, a research proposal gives you a huge head start because you end up having done a lot of prep work for the final project. This makes the entire process less stressful for you. If you don't use the same topic, you still have a better idea of how the process works for a new research project.

Research proposals force you to think about why the topic matters, not just to yourself, but to a wider audience. You get to learn about the scholarly conversation already going on and how you might be able to contribute to it with your own research.

Picking a Topic

The first thing you need to do is figure out what you want to research. This is probably going to be the hardest part.

Where do you even start?

You'll be spending some time on this project and you don't want to get bored by it. There are a few places to look when you are stuck on finding an interesting research topic. 

Other things to think about when choosing a topic...

Writing an Abstract

An Abstract is a concise summary of a research paper or article. It is a 150-250 word paragraph that provides a quick overview of your work and explains how it is organized. It should express your thesis or main idea and your key points. It should also suggest any implications of the research you discuss. 

An abstract describes the work. 

It begins with a brief statement of the research problem or question, followed by a description of the research method and design.

Anatomy of a Research Proposal

Below are three main sections you should have in a Research Proposal.

NOTE: Always refer to the assignment prompt from your class or syllabus. Your professor likely has specified a few things that you need to include in your Research Proposal. 


Literature Review/Background information

Methodology/Investigatory Procedures

Research Proposal Length

Again, this depends on your professor. It can be as short as 4 pages or as long as 20. 

This always depends on the subject you are studying. In the Social Sciences, you will probably need to use APA or Chicago Style (Author-Date). 

Here are some examples of research proposals to give you a little inspiration. Just consider the examples and follow format on above.

For more information about research proposal writing, read through the book Research Proposals: A practical Guide. Click on the link below to access the eBook.

research proposal 2021

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Open Calls for Proposals

UNEP is seeking partners committed to environmental sustainability. Below is a list of all current open calls for proposal relating to UNEP project and activities. Potential partners are invited to review the requirements related to calls for proposal which they are interested in by following the links provided and submit applications in accordance with the instructions given in the call for proposal.

6 results found

Title : Call for Proposals - Systemic Drivers of Food Loss and Waste in the United States

Title : call for proposals - addressing unique drivers of united states household food waste, title : call for wwqa workstream proposals and seed funding applications 2022/2023, title : fourth call for application - global ecosystem-based adaptation fund, title : structuring and regulation of the climate change fund of the republic of paraguay, title : call for applications: adaptation fund climate innovation accelerator – unep-ctcn.

research proposal 2021

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A Proposal to End the COVID-19 Pandemic


Ruchir Agarwal ; Gita Gopinath

Publication Date:

May 19, 2021

Electronic Access:

Free Download . Use the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this PDF file

Disclaimer: This Staff Discussion Note represents the views of the authors and does not necessarily represent IMF views or IMF policy. The views expressed herein should be attributed to the authors and not to the IMF, its Executive Board, or its management. Staff Discussion Notes are published to elicit comments and to further debate.

Urgent steps are needed to arrest the rising human toll and economic strain from the COVID-19 pandemic that are exacerbating already-diverging recoveries. Pandemic policy is also economic policy as there is no durable end to the economic crisis without an end to the health crisis. Building on existing initiatives, this paper proposes pragmatic actions at the national and multilateral level to expeditiously defeat the pandemic. The proposal targets: (1) vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022, (2) tracking and insuring against downside risks, and (3) ensuring widespread testing and tracing, maintaining adequate stocks of therapeutics, and enforcing public health measures in places where vaccine coverage is low. The benefits of such measures at about $9 trillion far outweigh the costs which are estimated to be around $50 billion—of which $35 billion should be paid by grants from donors and the residual by national governments potentially with the support of concessional financing from bilateral and multilateral agencies. The grant funding gap identified by the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator amounts to about $22 billion, which the G20 recognizes as important to address. This leaves an estimated $13 billion in additional grant contributions needed to finance our proposal. Importantly, the strategy requires global cooperation to secure upfront financing, upfront vaccine donations, and at-risk investment to insure against downside risks for the world.

Staff Discussion Notes No. 2021/004

Economic sectors Financial crises



Please address any questions about this title to [email protected]

Opportunity Desk

Call for Research Proposals: Global Development Awards Competition 2021

Call for Research Proposals: Global Development Awards Competition 2021

Deadline: June 9, 2021

The Global Development Network (GDN) invites researchers from low-income or middle-income countries to submit research proposals within the theme, ‘International trade and the promotion of biodiversity,’ for the Japanese Award for Outstanding Research on Development (ORD) .

The Japanese Award for Outstanding Research on Development is a competitive research grant program under the Global Development Awards Competition 2021. The Awards Competition is administered by GDN and supported by the Ministry of Finance, Government of Japan. This award program identifies and funds outstanding research proposals in low-income or middle-income countries with high potential for excellence in research and clear policy implications for addressing development issues.

A physical event is planned in 2021 for the presentations to the high-level Jury by the finalists, if conditions allow it, and projects are expected to start on 15 Jan 2022. In case social distancing policies do not make travelling possible, the event will be held on a virtual setting. The awards will be given to the researcher(s) whose proposals hold the greatest promise for improving our understanding of development issues and puts forth clear, articulate and well researched policy implications to address relevant developmental problems.


Review Criteria

Throughout the review process, the proposals will be judged on the following criteria:


Click here to apply .

For more information, visit Global Development Awards .

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STAARS Fellowship Program: 2021 Call for Research Proposals


The Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS) fellowship program, a multi-institution collaboration managed by Cornell University with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM), announces its annual call for research proposals. Early-career African researchers selected as STAARS fellows in 2021 advance rigorous, policy-oriented research on the causal determinants of productivity and income growth, asset accumulation, rural employment and risk management in African agriculture and rural spaces. Application deadline: January 31, 2021


The fellowship covers travel and training expenses. STAARS fellows will be paired with mentors at Cornell University with whom they will jointly author a paper on a topic of mutual interest relating to structural transformation in Africa south of the Sahara. The program aims for publication of resulting research findings in high quality journals and as working papers. In addition, PIM and Cornell will facilitate fellows’ participation in scientific and policy conferences.

The STAARS fellowship began in 2016 and to date has supported 22 fellows from diverse backgrounds. Learn about past fellows here.

From the previous STAARS Fellows: "...An exceptional opportunity to promote up-and-coming African researchers"

Scope of Research and Geographic Focus

Prospective STAARS fellows are invited to develop proposals in the following thematic areas.

STAARS Fellows’ rigorous policy analysis should use existing data, such as the Living Standards Measurement Study – Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS–ISA), Demographic and Health Surveys or similar high-quality datasets from Africa south of the Sahara.


The call is open for early career African researchers, either Ph.D. students in their final year prior to degree completion or those who completed their Ph.D. no earlier than 2016. Priority is given to researchers who are African nationals based and working in – or soon returning to – Africa, with proposals relating to the research themes indicated above. Qualified female researchers are particularly encouraged to apply. STAARS welcomes applications from fresh Ph.D. graduates who can benefit from mentorship and additional training to become internationally respected and recognized researchers. Fellows are expected to complete the proposed project by submitting findings as a complete working paper by December 15, 2021 and proceeding to submit the paper to a peer-reviewed journal and conferences in early 2022.

Researchers are expected to be familiar with existing data sets and have a strong working knowledge of appropriate software, typically Stata and/or R, and an interest in econometric analysis of high-quality data sets. Knowledge of Stata and/or R will be assessed at the finalist stage.

The selected applicants will receive funds to cover travel and participation in a three-week mentorship program at Cornell University. Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel may not be possible in 2021. The 2021 program will begin online and we will evaluate the feasibility of travel in mid-2021.

The proposed research and capacity development activities are expected to be undertaken as part of an ongoing effort by the scholar. No salary support is available; STAARS will not cover the scholar’s time allocated to this research. A letter of support from the candidate’s supervisor is required. The program cannot support costs for any new data collection.

Application Process

The STAARS Fellowship application process is managed by Cornell University, in collaboration with PIM. Applicants must prepare a maximum 2500-word research proposal, which motivates the selected research issues and objectives, outlines data sources and proposed methodology, and contains a convincing plan for completing the project by December 15, 2021. Projects that propose to use data that are not publicly available must provide documentation that they have access to those data. All proposals shall be prepared in English. All proposals will be peer-reviewed by experts from Cornell University and/or PIM.

The deadline to submit a research proposal is January 31, 2021.  Applicants should submit their completed proposals via email to [email protected] Accepted applicants will be notified by early March 2021 and are expected to begin remote collaboration with their mentor immediately upon acceptance.

Research Proposal Template

In addition to the Research Proposal (not included in the 2500 words):

Shortlisted applicants will be asked to provide the following:

The Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS) project is a collaborative venture between the  African Development Bank (AFDB) ,  CGIAR Research Program on Policies Institutions and Markets (PIM) ,  Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP) ,  African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) ,  World Bank , and  Cornell University . This project builds on the predecessor  Agriculture in Africa: Telling Myths and Facts  project led by researchers at the World Bank and relies heavily on the data provided through the  Living Standards Measurement Study Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA)  initiative.

On the photo: STAARS Fellow Mumina Shibia (left) with her mentor John McPeak, professor of public administration and international affairs at Syracuse University.

A farewell newsletter from PIM Director Frank Place as the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets comes to a close.

Although ICTs have the potential to revitalize agricultural extension in developing countries, evidence suggests that not all ICT-enabled extension approaches are equally effective in improving farmers’ technology adoption, productivity, income, or welfare outcomes.

How can we foster wider policy impacts from research on agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers? Why are partnerships with private sector important?

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