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What Is a Case Study?

When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.

Deep Dive into a Topic

At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.

As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.

Study a Pattern

One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.

Gather Evidence

During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.

Present Findings

As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.

Draw Conclusions

Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.


research proposal for case study

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Case Study Proposal Template

Used 5,077 times

Prepared by: ​ [Sender.FirstName]

​ [Sender.LastName] ​

​ [Sender.Company] ​

Prepared for: ​ [Client.FirstName] ​

​ [Client.LastName] ​

​ [Client.Company] ​

Image 14

Cover Letter

Dear [Client.FirstName] ,

It’s been a pleasure being your service provider for the past (Years) years, and we’re excited to know that you’re planning to be featured in one of our case studies.

Before the process begins, I wanted to personally thank you for agreeing to be part of our case study, and I’d like to briefly explain why we’re doing this.

The mission of [Sender.Company] has always been to provide outstanding service to all of our customers. And as we grow, we need social proof to attest to our skills so that we can continue partnering with clients like you and further extend our business operations.

This study synthesizes how our service has helped you achieve exceptional results, and we hope your experience with us thus far aligns with that statement.

With this case study, we plan to discuss challenges that [Client.Company] faced, the proposed methodology [Sender.Company] put forth to address them, the impact of our solutions and measurable outcomes that followed.

I hope this provides sufficient background on how the case study not only helps define our ongoing business model and where we are headed, but how it also frames a business achievement for you, our trusted client.

The attached proposal discusses our process in further detail. It will provide a step-by-step summary of how we plan to write the case study.

​ [Sender.FirstName] [Sender.LastName]

​ [Sender.Company]


We are thrilled to hear that [Client.Company] is interested in being featured as one of [Sender.Company] ’s case studies! Our case studies are an excellent opportunity to highlight all the success stories of those who have benefited from our [Specific.Product/Service] .

This case study is also a great way to showcase [Client.Company] . It allows current or potential customers to recognize similar pain points and see how [Client.Company] benefited from

solving them by using our solution. In this document, you will gain a better understanding of what you can expect from [Sender.Company] throughout the case study creation process.

Below, I have outlined the project, such as timeframes, what kind of questions you can expect, and the approval process for all deliverables. We thank you again for your support. Without customers like you, we would not be able to spread the word about [Sender.Company] !

Image 30

Case Study Process

What to expect.

Start to finish, the entire process should take [Time.Period] depending on you and your team’s availability and turnaround time of drafts. Your involvement will require approximately [Hours.Number] hours of your time. This includes completion of any forms and questionnaires, a short phone interview (if necessary), and review and sign-off on draft versions of the case study.

Once [Client.FirstName] [Client.LastName] has signed off on this proposal, [Sender.FirstName] will be sending a questionnaire to [Client.Email] . Based on your responses, we may set up a follow-up call to elaborate or dig deeper into your answers.

When we have gathered all your responses, along with any other relevant information about [Client.Company] , we will put together a case study draft which [Sender.FirstName] will send to [Client.FirstName] to review for accuracy. [Sender.FirstName] will also notify you once the case study is finalized and will send you a link to where the case study is on our website, along with any other promotional material where your information has been used.

Image 25

Proposed Title And Case Study Direction

Proposed title: (name of the suggested title).

Since this case study is extremely niche, it will be used to target our BoFu (bottom of the funnel) prospects to inform them of the similar results they, too, can achieve with our product. This is going to be an exploratory case study and we will use questionnaires and phone interviews as research methods.

Our prime goal is to address three areas: challenges, solutions, and key outcomes. Challenges refer to the problems you faced before using the services of [Sender.Company] , solutions refer to the areas in which [Sender.Company] was able to assist, and key outcomes refer to the results you saw after using [Sender.Company] ’s services.

We also plan to repurpose this case study time and again (meaning that its content will be refreshed to meet SEO requirements, and we will be promoting this case study using our social channels, email newsletters, blogs, advertising content, and other marketing materials).

Sample Questions

Below you will find some questions that you should be prepared to answer on the questionnaire and if necessary, during a phone interview.

Please note that the aforementioned call will be of around (X) minutes to (X) hour(s), and the amount of questions may increase if the amount of relevant subject matter increases during the interview. The interview time can be discussed by both parties and confirmed at a later date depending upon their time zone differences and to make it as convenient as possible for you and your team.

Image 27

Past Case Studies and Client Testimonials

Here are the links to some of our recently published case studies. The case study that we will create with you will follow a similar structure:

Link to Case Study 1

Link to Case Study 2

Link to Case Study 3

And here are a few testimonials from clients who have been featured in our case studies:

Client Testimonial 1

Client Testimonial 2

Client Testimonial 3

Image 29

Terms and Conditions

​ [Client.Company] agrees that all rights regarding the publication and the usage of the case study content are reserved with [Sender.Company] . [Sender.Company] is the rightful owner of the case study and its content.

​ [Client.Company] agrees that there is no form of compensation (monetary or otherwise) involved, and [Client.Company] agrees to be a part of the case study with no expectation of payment.

​ [Client.Company] agrees that once the case study is published, it can be edited or taken down as per [Sender.Client] ’s discretion.

​ [Client.Company] can use the case study for marketing material and other activities only with the written consent of [Sender.Company] .

If under any circumstances [Client.Company] does not wish to be a part of the case study process after signing the contract, they will need to inform [Sender.Company] (X) days prior to the interview.

In case of any disputes, all matters will be under the [Sender.State] , [Sender.Company] local laws and jurisdiction for review.

​ [Client.Company] promises to provide accurate information and [Sender.Company] agrees to publish all information as provided in good faith and with utmost accuracy.

​ [Client.Company] agrees that [Sender.Company] is only responsible for publishing the case study. If any liabilities arise due to inaccurate information provided by [Client.Company] , [Sender.Company] will not be responsible for any repercussions that may occur in the wake of its publication.

Both parties agree to enter into the contract with the professional relationship of “client” and “service provider.”

Matters discussed in regard to this case study will remain confidential, unless otherwise specified. Confidential information pertains to the information that has not been published or is being put in the case study.

Your signature below indicates acceptance of this Case Study Proposal and entrance into a contractual agreement with [Sender.Company] beginning on the signature date below. Your story and logo will primarily be featured on our customer page on [Sender.Company] 's website. We may also repurpose parts of the story in our sales collateral and proposals, on our blog, or create a small testimonial.

Image 26

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Articles / How to Write a Case Study Document /

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How to Write a Case Study Document

Did you know? Proposal Packs are designed for writing complex studies as well as proposals with pre-written templates, samples, graphic design options and automation software.

How to Write a Case Study Document

Do you need to describe in detail the effectiveness of a project, or document the situation or experiences of an individual or a group of people? This sort of detailed study is called a case study.

Case studies are used to test hypotheses, help plan for real-world problems, and generate a discussion of potential needs and solutions, among other things.

For example, a pharmaceutical company might do a case study to determine how a group of individuals has benefited from a drug therapy, or a school administrator might do a case study to show whether or not individual students have benefited from tutoring programs.

Case study reports are usually complete standalone documents. However, if you write business proposals or grant applications, you may find that including summaries of case studies within your proposal can show how your product or service has benefited groups or provided the solution to needs in the past. And if you write business proposals, you may already be aware of a product called Proposal Kit. But you might not realize that Proposal Kit includes everything you need to write all sorts of studies and reports, too.

Each case study report should include these sections within the body of the report:

As with any report, you'll start off with a Title Page and a Table of Contents (Proposal Kit can produce one for you). You'll probably want to include a summary of the important summary points, too, for the high-level readers who will only skim your report. After the body of the report, you may need all sorts of appendices, too - lists of statistics, diagrams, charts, a bibliography or list of sources, and so forth. Proposal Kit will contain all of the individual topics used to flesh out the details of your study.

Remember to always keep your readers in mind. What do they know about you and the study? What do you need to tell them so they can judge the results? You may need to include background information about your organization, the resumes of personnel who participated, your training or education credentials, and so forth.

It's important that your case study sounds professional, so be sure to proofread every page. If possible, get someone who is unfamiliar with the study to read and comment on your work. It's always a good idea to choose a reviewer with a similar background to your readers so that he or she can ask appropriate questions and provide useful comments to improve your report.

After you have all the information written for your proposal, work on making your document visually appealing. Add some color and graphics by incorporating your company logo, using colored borders, and selecting custom bullet points and fonts that match your business's style. Learn how to effectively select colors for a winning business proposal.

Proposal Pack

You also want your report to look professional, too. Proposal Kit can help with that because it allows you to choose from a variety of graphic designs.

There's no need to start each section of your case study report by staring at a blank page. Proposal Kit includes templates for all the topics mentioned in this article. Each template includes instructions and examples of information to include on that page to give you a jump start on writing. And Proposal Kit includes samples of all kinds of proposals and studies, too. You'll find yourself using the product for business documents and reports of all kinds.

How to Write a Case Study

This video demonstrates how to use Proposal Kit to create a customized case study document. While Proposal Kit is typically used to write proposals, quotes and business plans it can also create many types of business documents such as case studies.

Ian Lauder

Proposal Kit

Create winning business proposals & contracts with minimal effort and cost. Proposal software, proposal templates, legal contracts and sample proposals.

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How to Write a Research Proposal: Template, Format, Tips

Learn how to write a research proposal that makes you stand out from the crowd, get the funding you need, and gain entry into your dream academic institution.

research proposal for case study

John McTale

14 minute read

How to write a research proposal

You’ve put a lot of thought into that research project. You know it’s importan. The problem? Nobody else does. And no one is willing to fund it. Yet.

Research proposals are nerve-racking, notoriously difficult to write, and for good reason - they have a major impact on your academic career.

The best institutions and labs have thousands of talented researchers fighting to get in. And their most powerful weapon to get ahead of the pack is their research proposal.

So, how do you write a proposal that helps you outperform other applicants?

This guide will help you write stress-free research proposals that land the funding you deserve and launch your academic career .

What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a formal academic document that outlines your research project and requests support for that project: either by funding or agreeing to supervise your research.

The main objective of a research proposal is to explain what you’re planning to research and why it’s worth researching. Research proposals are most commonly used in academia or across non-academic scientific organizations. Of course, no two research proposals are identical—in fact, those can vary greatly depending on the level of study you’re at, your field, or the exact nature of your project.

Still, there are some general requirements that all great proposals have to meet and must-have sections to include. This article will focus particularly on writing research proposals for academic grants at postgraduate level or PhD applications. However, even if you’re writing a thesis or a dissertation proposal, most of the same rules apply—it’s just that your proposal might not have to be as detailed and comprehensive. Speaking of which...

How long should a research proposal be?

Most research proposals in humanities and social sciences are between 10 and 25 pages long. Technical or scientific proposals might require you to include detailed specifications and more supporting documentation and can therefore be significantly longer. That said, each institution might have its own guidelines and requirements for research proposals and those often include the word count range. If that’s the case, you obviously have to play by the rules.

Try Storydoc for research proposals

If you want to add some flair to your research proposal and immediately stand out from hundreds of other, identically-looking documents, take our interactive proposal maker for a spin and create a visually stunning summary of your proposal. Storydoc is 100% free to use for verified .edu email addresses.

Alright, we covered the theoretical part. Time for some practical knowledge!

Here’s how to write a research proposal:

1. write an introduction to present the subject of your research.

“Wow, I can’t wait to see the outcome of this study!” This is the kind of response you want your research proposal introduction to receive. How to make that happen? Outline your research proposal intro around these four key issues:

What is the research problem?

Who is this problem relevant to (general society, fellow researchers, specialized professionals, etc.)?

What is currently known about the problem and what key pieces are missing from the current state of knowledge?

Why should anyone care about the potential outcomes?

The easiest way to write a captivating intro to a research proposal is to follow a four-paragraph format, where each paragraph addresses one of these questions. Let’s see a practical example. (Yes, I made it up, but it works as a convenient point of reference.)

Sample outline for a research proposal introduction

The problem Investigating the impact of remote work on new joiners to previously in-house teams. Who it’s relevant to Human resources professionals, workspace psychologists, working population, business management specialists and scholars. What’s currently known There is existing research about the impact of remote work on team morale and productivity, but no research has been centered around people joining fully-remote teams that had previously worked in-house and the implications of such a situation for new employees' mental health and sense of belonging. Why should anyone care? In the era of COVID, many offices have switched to remote-only work yet they’re still hiring new employees. The findings of this study might suggest a need to change onboarding practices and HR management techniques in order to aid employee satisfaction which, in turn, can help improve work performance, NPS scores and overall business results.

2. Explain the Context and Background

Whether or not you’ll need this section depends on how detailed your proposal is. If a research problem at hand is particularly complicated or advanced, it’s usually best to add this section. It will usually be entitled “Background and Significance,” or “Rationale.” For shorter proposals, most of the actual background will have been already included in the introduction. How to write the “Background” section of a research proposal?

Describe the broader area of research that your project fits into.

Focus on the gaps in existing studies and explain the need to fill these gaps. That said…

Show how your research will build upon existing knowledge.

Explain your hypothesis and the rationale behind it.

Establish the limits of your study (in other words, explain what the research is not about).

Finally, reiterate why your research is important and what benefits it can reap. In other words, provide the answer to the dreaded “So what?” question.

If your research project is complex and highly technical, describing the background in a separate section is particularly helpful: this way, you can make your introduction follow a free-flowing, “sexy” narrative, and let the “Background” part do the heavy lifting. That said— Don’t make this part too detailed either. Assume you’re dealing with a very busy reader who won’t have the time to get into your methodology and timeline but still wants some hard evidence behind the relevance of your project.

3. Provide a Detailed Literature Review

Arguably, the most important (and, yes, you guessed it, the most difficult) part of the whole document— One where you have to prove that you know *all* there is to know about the topic of interest and that your research will help advance the whole field of study. The Literature Review section is, in essence, a mini-dissertation. It has to follow a logical progression and put forward the argument for your study in relation to existing research: describe and summarize what has already been discussed and demonstrate that your research goes beyond that. In the digital era of easy access to information , it might be difficult to discuss all of the existing research on your subject in the Literature Review so be critical about what studies or papers you choose to include.

But there’s a handy set of rules to help you pick the right ones—the gold standard for academic Literature Review. It’s called “ the five Cs ” and refers to the following practices:

Cite directly from the sources to avoid digressions and drifting away from the actual literature.

Compare different theories or arguments (in arts and humanities), methodologies and findings (in sciences and tech).

Contrast the approaches discussed above: highlight the main differences and areas of disagreement among scholars in the field.

Critique the research of the past. Don’t shy away from pointing out inaccuracies, mutually exclusive findings, or controversies. At the same time, give credit where it’s due. Identify the findings you find most convincing, reliable, or accurate.

Connect the whole of the literature reviewed to your own project. Are you basing your assumptions on any previous findings? Is your goal to confront, challenge, or even debunk certain pieces of research? Either way, you need to prove that your study will be intertwined with existing ones, not floating in an academic void.

How to structure your Literature Review?

The easiest and most reader-friendly way to format the Literature Review section is to devote each paragraph to a separate piece of literature.

For scientific projects, it’s best to go from the more general to the more specific studies.

For projects in arts and humanities, a historical (or chronological) progression is the most commonly-used method as it helps develop an easy-to-follow narrative.

The hard part? DONE. (No, it really is). All of what comes next boils down to technicalities and formal requirements. If they’re sold on your vision by now, you just need to show how you’re planning to achieve what you set out to do.

4. List Your Key Aims and Objectives

This section can be called “Research Questions,” or just “Aims and Objectives.” Compared to the previous ones, it should be very succinct and to-the-point. Whether you need to write about your aims and objectives or formulate those as research questions usually depends on the formal requirements of the institution to which you’re applying. The key aspect of getting this part right is distinguishing between the three: an aim, an objective, and a research question. Here’s how:

Aims describe what you want to achieve. An aim is usually stated in a broad term.

Objectives are the specific, measurable outputs you need to produce in order to achieve your aim. There are usually multiple objectives associated with a single aim.

Questions are a slightly more specific way to formulate your objectives—in essence, very similar in meaning, just slightly different in format.

Again, here’s a practical example. And again, it’s simplified and not based on actual research, just here to let you better understand the disambiguation.

Sample research aims and objectives for a research proposal

Research Aim

To understand the importance of the quality of food in school canteens on the nutritional health of children aged 6–10. Objectives:

Investigate the weekly menus across 28 school canteens in New Jersey with a focus on key nutritional ingredients and portion sizes.

Conduct desk-research of state policies regulating nutrition in primary schools.

Interview the parents of children participating in the study about their children’s nutritional habits outside of school.

Evaluate the key health-related metrics in children participating in the study.

As I mentioned, if such are the formal requirements, your objectives can easily be translated into research questions. For instance: “Conduct desk-research of state policies regulating nutrition in primary schools.” Becomes: “What state-wide policies regulating nutrition in primary schools are there in place in the state of New Jersey?”

Remember the five Cs of literature review? When it comes to your research objectives and questions, there’s another handy acronym to serve as a sanity check for you: SMART . It stands for:

Specific: is the objective well-defined and can be achieved with a singular action?

Measurable: will you end up with quantified, verifiable data?

Achievable: considering your resources and capacity, is it realistic for you to reach your objective?

Relevant: does this objective actually contribute to your research aim?

Timebound: do you have enough time to complete this objective, in relation to the overall timeline of your project?

5. Outline the Research Methods and Design

The grant decision makers already know what you’re trying to achieve and have a general idea about how you’re planning to achieve that. This section should prove to them that you’re well equipped (both in terms of your skills and resources) to conduct the research. The main goal is to convince the reader that your methods are adequate and appropriate for the specific topic. Any idea why “specific” is in bold? Well, this is one of those parts of a research proposal that differs the most across different documents. There’s an ideal methodology for any particular academic project and no two kinds of research design are the same. Make sure your methodology matches all of your desired outcomes.

Some usual components of the Research Methods section include:

Research type:

Qualitative or quantitative,

Collecting original data or basing your research on primary and secondary sources,

Descriptive, correlational, or experimental.

Population and sample:

The whole population of individuals or entities that meet eligibility criteria to be included in your research,

The subset of the population that is going to be included in the particular study.

Data collection:

What methods ( surveys , clinical analysis, biochemical analysis, interviews, experiments) will you use?

Why are those methods optimal for achieving the desired objectives?

How can you ensure that the chosen method eliminates bias?

Data analysis:

How will you sort and code the data obtained?

What tools, algorithms, or techniques will you use to analyze the data?

Operational issues:

How much time will you need to collect the research material?

How are you planning to gain access to the desired set of data or information?

What obstacles might you encounter and how will you overcome them?

Now, I can’t stress that enough— This part of a research proposal will vary the most from one proposal to another. The outline above will work good for sciences (both social and exact), perhaps not equally great for arts and humanities. At the end of the day, you know your project better than anyone else. You’ll need to make the judgement call as to what methods are best.

6. (Optional) Discuss Ethical Considerations

No, this part isn’t optional because you might just disregard ethics or choose to be the evil scientist. But let’s face it— There aren’t going to be many ethical issues to consider if you’re investigating the vector shapes of tree leaves’ shadows (I kid you not, it’s a legit research issue, my friend did his PhD in Physics about it and absolutely killed it). But if your research has to do with humans, especially in fields such as medicine or psychology, it might introduce ethical problems in data collection , not often encountered by other researchers. You need to take extra care to protect your participants’ rights, get their explicit consent to process the data, as well as consult the research project with the authorities of your academic institution—for that purpose, your proposal needs to contain detailed information regarding these aspects.

7. Present Preliminary or Desired Implications and Contribution to Knowledge

This is the last argument-based part of your proposal. After that, everything will be about “boring” technicalities. This also means, it’s your last chance to convince the decision makers to back your project. Think about it this way— You already explained what exactly is going to be the scope of your project. You detailed the current state of knowledge and identified the most important gaps. You told them what you’re hoping to find out and how you’re planning to do it. Now, talk about the actual, feasible difference your finding can make. How your research can influence the future of the field, or even the very narrow niche. In other words, describe the implications of your research such as:

How can your research challenge the current underlying assumptions on the subject matter?

How can it inform future research and what new areas of research can it propel?

What will the influence of your research be on policy decisions?

What sorts of individuals, organizations, or other entities can your research benefit?

What will be improved and optimized on the basis of your research?

All that while keeping one crucial thing in mind— Talking about the practical implications of your study shouldn’t sound like daydreaming. However “preliminary” or “desired” the said implications are, you need to base those on very clear evidence. In short, this section is about:

Reiterating the gaps in the current state of knowledge.

Showing how you’ll contribute to a new understanding of certain problems or even a scientific breakthrough.

Clearly showing how your findings can be acted upon and what feasible change those actions will bring about.

And yes, it does sound lofty, but it’s true. As a researcher, you’re expanding the scope of human comprehension! Don’t shy away from highlighting the actual change you can bring to the world (or even just your narrow field, it’s just as valuable).

8. Detail Your Budget and Funding Requirements

If you do have a supervisor already, it’s best to consult this part with them. They’ve most likely submitted similar documents to the institution you’re reaching out to and will be able to provide invaluable insights on how much you can realistically expect to get paid. If you’re at a different stage of the application process, here are the key elements you should include in the funding requirements section:

Operational costs: materials, equipment, access to labs, any software you might need, etc.

Travel costs: including transportation, accommodation, and living costs.

Staff: if you’ll need human assistants to help you carry out your research, you’ll most likely need to pay them. It might be the case that junior researchers or students will be able to help you to obtain necessary credits for graduation, but it’s still a cost for their institution you’ll need to include in the budget.

Allowance: you’ll most likely have to give up on other duties that help you pay bills (be that teaching, publishing, or administrative work) but you still need those bills paid. Treat your allowance as a regular salary you need to make a living.

Note: if possible, do leave yourself some wiggle room and request for conditional extra allowance for unpredictable disasters, delays, or unexpected cost rises.

9. Provide a Timetable

Certain grant schemes come with predefined timetables (e.g. placements offered for 3, 6, or 9 months) and in such cases there’s no need for a very detailed timeline—all you need to do is convince them that the period of time for which you’ll be receiving funding is sufficient for you to complete the project. When you’re writing a proposal for a standalone project, detailing a timeline can help support your budget. The most common format is, you guessed it, a table. Divide your research into stages, list, in bullet points, what actions you’ll need to take at each stage, and list rough deadlines. I know I don’t have to tell you that but please, keep Murphy's Law in mind. Perhaps not everything that can go wrong will, but, well, expect the unexpected and be conservative with deadlines. All in all, it's easier to explain why you no longer need 3 months worth of funding than it is to ask for 6 months’ extra allowance. Don’t let delays derail your project. That’s all I have to say.

10. End with a List of Citations

This one really is self-explanatory, isn’t it. As a scholar, you need to cite the sources you’re referring to (no matter how harshly critical you are of some of those:)). Citations in research proposals can either be included in the form of references (so only the pieces of literature you actually cited) or bibliography (everything that informed your proposal). As is the case with many other elements of the proposal, the correct format depends almost exclusively on the institution you’re applying to, so make sure to check it with them or consult with your supervisor about which one is preferred. The same goes for the style of referencing. Most US universities use APA or Chicago style but each has its own set of rules and preferences. Double-check with the list of guidelines on their website. When in doubt, reach out to the head of the department you’re wishing to work with. (No, using the wrong style won’t ruin your chances but I don’t think I need to tell you how particular certain academics are so let’s not step on any toes, shall we?)

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And that’s a wrap!

To sum up, this is what a typical research proposal should include:


Context and Background

Literature Review

Aims and Objectives or Research Questions

Methods and Design

Ethical Considerations

Contributions to Knowledge or Implications

Writing a research proposal can be hard and feel like a never-ending process. It really isn’t much different from writing an actual thesis or dissertation. Yup, this is my roundabout way of saying: don’t get disheartened. Allow yourself a few months up to half a year to complete your proposal, follow the steps outlined in this guide and, whenever in doubt, remember to reach out to senior researchers for help. Keeping my fingers crossed for your proposal!

research proposal for case study

Hi, I'm John, Editor-in-chief at Storydoc. As a content marketer and digital writer specializing in B2B SaaS, my main goal is to provide you with up-to-date tips for effective business storytelling and equip you with all the right tools to enable your sales efforts.

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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 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.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

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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Research Proposal: A case study: Low volume production in manufacturing companies and its impacts on the buyer-supplier relationship. MBA Project

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This research proposal aims to present the academic structure to be used for the development of the MBA project dissertation, which is a major requirement to obtain the master degree at University of West London. The dissertation will be carried out as soon as the proposal is approved.

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