Proposal Preparation

Why is the development of research important for KPU?

Research and development at KPU helps to:

  • Maintain and build the quality of teaching programs;
  • Provide experiential learning opportunities for students and build their skills and expertise;
  • Broaden the KPU community and the public’s understanding of new knowledge and developments;
  • Enable faculty and staff to carry out their own personal growth and development in their area of choice; and
  • Connect KPU to community, industry, and the broader research community.

Why develop a research proposal?

A research proposal helps to:

  • Generate funds to sustain a research initiative or research unit;
  • Convince others that a research project is worth the effort and is important; and
  • Convince others that the researcher has the potential to carry out his/her project and report the findings.

What is a successful research proposal? (At a glance.)

A successful research proposal requires minimal effort on the part of the reviewer and should contain the following:

  • A great idea, with significant potential and credible impact;
  • An expert understanding of a challenge and the solution space needed;
  • Credible credentials;
  • Plain language that is informative, concise, clear, focused, and on-point;
  • A clear plan to deliver impact;
  • A well-defined allocation of time and money; and
  • Strong leverage that multiplies the value of the funding.

Get Prepared.

Consider taking the following preliminary steps before writing a research proposal.

  • Verify to which funding agency you should be applying to and be aware of its interests and priorities.
  • Carefully read the funding agency’s instructions for important information on the application process and guidance on preparing specific sections of your application.
  • Be sure to read the funding opportunity announcement for special instructions.
  • Get feedback on your research idea while it is still in the concept stage from colleagues and mentors.
  • Make sure you have adequate preliminary data.
  • Know your subject, as the funding agency’s reviewers will look for up-to-date knowledge in your research area.
  • Ask your colleagues or the ORS for copies of successfully completed research proposal applications to examine.
  • Consult your colleagues, partners (community or industry), the ORS staff, or even the grants officer at the funding body to help target your proposal appropriately.

Writing your research proposal.

  • Begin by writing a one-page summary of your intended research project and use this as a reference point when writing out the full proposal.
  • Anticipate and answer questions a reviewer might ask before he/she asks them, such as: Why fund you? Why fund this? Why now?
  • Clearly state how your research will help the funding agency and its priorities.
  • Identify a need or challenge and how you plan to fill this gap and/or provide a solution.
  • Capture the reviewer’s interest with good presentation. Don’t be afraid to use visuals/diagrams, tables, and headers/footers, and be sure to include section breaks, a lot of white space, and proper word size and font.

Structuring your research proposal.

A common research proposal contains the following:

  • a title
  • background and Significance
  • research challenge and question
  • literature review
  • theoretical framework/methodology
  • timeline
  • budget/resources
  • conclusion/outcomes
  • dissemination
  • references

*Be sure to check the funding agency’s guidelines carefully. One of the most common reasons for application failures is NOT meeting the funder’s format and specifications.

Sourced from Dr. Karen Kelsky of The Professor Is In,

The review process.

Research proposals are often ranked into the following categories: fund, fundable, invite resubmission, and reject. Reviewers generally look for the following:

  • a clear and well thought out approach
  • high quality
  • value for money
  • hypotheses that are evidence-based and conceptually sound
  • an interesting idea that fills a knowledge gap
  • a proposal that meets the funding agency’s priorities
  • novelty and timeliness

Research Proposal Checklist

Use this Research Proposal Checklist as a general guideline to ensure your application’s success.

PDF of the checklist can be downloaded here

A title

 Does it summarize the main idea of my proposed research in an exciting way in no less than 10-12 words?
 Is it a concise statement of my research challenge?
 Will the general public understand it?
 Can it stand alone? Is it fully explanatory?
 Does every word serve a useful purpose?
 Do I avoid abbreviations?

Background and Significance

 Do I provide a brief description of my proposed research? Is this description based on the period during which I am to hold the funding award?
 Do I explain how the results of my research will advance the general understanding of this topic?
 Do I explain how the results of my research fill a knowledge gap?

Research challenge and question

 Do I have a formal and clear statement of my proposed study’s purpose, particularly my research challenge and its associated research questions?
 Do I make a convincing case for why my research challenge and questions?
 Are my research challenge and questions developed from relevant peer-reviewed literature?
 Do I present and develop my research challenge and questions with enough breadth and clarity so reviewers who are not familiar with it can understand its significance?
 Do my research challenge and questions connect? Are they logical, researchable, achievable, and ethical?

Literature review

 Does my literature review justify my research challenge and questions?
 Does my literature review identify gaps, shortcomings, and limitations in existing research giving context to my study?
 Do I demonstrate a thorough and current understanding of the peer-reviewed literature relating to my topic?
 Does my literature review provide the most pertinent literature related to my challenge, rather than an exhaustive historical review, while still giving credit to those relevant early works?
 Do I avoid substituting one similar term for another and indicate that I intend to use a single term as a proxy?

Theoretical framework/Methodology

 Do I identify a theoretical framework and methodology to guide my research?
 Do I explain the approach I intend to use to solve the challenge in my study? Is it explicit and well thought out?
 Are both my theoretical framework and methods tied to my research challenge and questions?
 Does both my theoretical framework and methodology show an understanding of relevant peer-reviewed literature?
 Are my procedures well organized and clearly described?
 Do I discuss how confidentiality of subjects and their responses will be maintained? (if applicable)


 Does my timeline name dates for specific achievements? And does it pertain to the goals I have set out to achieve?
 Is my timeline manageable and realistic? Do I allow adequate time for completion of each stage?
 Is the sequence for completion logical?
 Is my timeline appropriate for the funding cycle for which I am requesting funds?


 Is my budget sufficiently detailed to justify funding requests?
 Is it realistic and appropriate to fund the tasks described?
 Is the sequence for completion logical?
 Are all anticipated expenses included? Do I provide a complete overview of proposed expenditures and funds?
 Did I explore all possible alternatives for purchase of needed equipment?
 Do I include all additional funding from other sources? (if applicable)


 Do I provide a strong conclusion that demonstrates the micro and macro implications of my research and how it will help to fill a knowledge gap?


 Do I indicate some type of formal distribution for the findings of my proposed research?


 Do I provide a list of cited references that are current and relevant?
 Am I using the correct citation style?
 Do I cite my references appropriately in my literature review, theoretical review, and methodology?