Your research proposal should flow similarly to a research paper. This is the general order of how content should be structured in a research proposal (McCombes, 2019):
In compliance with APA style, you can use these sections as headings for your document as well. Using section headings makes information more organized for the reader and allows them to follow the author's thoughts more clearly.
Besides the contents of your proposal, you also need to pay attention to your writing style. It is going to be different from other papers or documents you may have had to write in the past. According to Academic Writer (n.d.), the following are some of the main elements of writing style. These are important to making your proposal sound respectful and professional.
Instead of using common language, which is the type of language we use in normal conversations, you want to use the "language of research" or the "language of science." This means that if a term has two meanings, you should only use the term for the meaning that is the most relevant to your research. For example, if a chemist uses the word "element" in a proposal, they use it only in the context of its scientific definition. This prevents the reader from getting confused throughout the document. Avoid creating new terms in your proposal and be sure to clearly define unfamiliar words at the beginning of the proposal (Locke et al., 2007). Lastly, you also want to avoid using first person in your proposal ("I will...") as it does not demonstrate professionalism in writing.
The tone of your writing should be professional and serious. In other words, use "academic voice" in your proposal writing. Academic voice is meant to convey your thoughts and distinguish them from other authors (Robbins, 2016). It is comprised of three elements ("What are the three elements," n.d.):
These elements make your academic writing unique from other writers and present your thoughts in a professional manner.
You want to ensure that your writing is precise so that readers have a clear understanding of your project. Proposals should exclude excessive jargon (technical terms), slang, and abbreviations. They should also make logical comparisons between ideas to prevent readers from getting confused or lost ("Academic Writer," n.d.). Here are some general tips for ensuring clarity in your writing:
For more in-depth content on writing style in academic writing, you can view quick guides and tutorials about scholarly writing on Academic Writer. If you are new to using Academic Writer, we also have a database tutorial for new users. The links to the database and tutorial are below.