A study proposal, also known as a research project proposal, is something that students need to write if they are applying for a research grant or scholarship. Though some undergraduate students may have to do this kind of proposal for their term paper or thesis, it's usually more common among graduate students and Ph.D. candidates who need to conduct an intensive study in order to earn their degree or title. Professors may also need to write study proposals if they want to take a sabbatical somewhere or specialize in a certain area. Knowing how to write a strong research proposal is important because if you can't appeal to the decision makers, then you may not get the grant, scholarship or mere permission to go ahead with the project. First, writing your study proposal has to start with you outlining your objectives.

Understand the Purpose of Study Proposal Objectives

The first step in writing strong aims and objectives for your study proposal is to understand why these objectives are important. Because the school or program wants to give you a research grant or scholarship to conduct your studies, they need to know that their money and resources are going to be used appropriately. For instance, a bank wouldn't give a loan to a person to start a business unless it first saw a structured business proposal written out with clear objectives. The same goes for a study proposal. You need to be able to tell the board or your professors why your research is important for the academic community and justify your intentions of conducting that research.

Identify Strong and Weak Objectives in Research Proposal Samples

Before you can even start thinking about your own study proposal objectives, you need to learn the difference between a good objective and a bad one. A simple way to do this is to look at successful research proposal samples. You can find these online, ask to look at a proposal of someone who has written one himself or even ask your professors for help. Your objectives should be concise and brief, interrelated, realistic and reasonable. Your objectives should make it very clear to your professors how you intend to conduct the research while ensuring the research stays authentic and valuable. Your objectives should not be too vague or unrealistic, repetitive or contradictory to the rest of your proposal.

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Brainstorm Your Research Objectives with Questions

Once you understand what is considered a strong research objective for your research project proposal, it's time to think of your own objectives. Following the guidelines of what's considered a good objective, spend some time brainstorming what your objectives are. To do this, ask yourself some questions:

  • Why do I think this research/study is important?
  • What are the benefits/impact of my research/study?
  • What problems will this research/study solve?
  • How do I plan on conducting this research/study?
  • What resources do I need to get my answers?
  • How are my aims going to be accomplished?
  • What are the potential outcomes?
  • Can I provide an accurate application of concepts learned?
  • Has this subject been covered before? If so, in what context?

Narrow Down Your Objectives

After you've brainstormed a healthy list of objectives that answers all those questions, and it fits the criteria of a good objective, you'll need to further narrow down the list. There's no magic number when it comes to choosing how many objectives to include in your study proposal, but three very good, concise objectives should do the trick. Rank your objectives from most important and most likely to be achieved to least important and least likely to be achieved. From there, you can choose a minimum of three objectives to support your proposal.

Outline Your Aims and Objectives

Once the narrowing-down process is finished, and you've decided for sure what your objectives are, it might be a good idea to participate in a peer review. A peer review can help you get feedback as to whether or not your objectives are on the right path. Once that's completed, you can start to outline your aims and objectives by using a template. While some students prefer a visual outline – for example, using a mind map – others may prefer simply writing out their objectives with bullet points underneath it. Do whatever works for you, but be open-minded about trying new strategies. Whichever outline you create, you're going to be using that when it comes time to write your actual study proposal.

Write Your Objectives in Your Study Proposal

Now it's time to learn how to write the objectives of the study for your actual proposal. Your study proposal will contain several elements, including a title page, an abstract or summary and the context of your research with a review of literature that's already published on the topic. Then come your objectives, which should tie into everything else. Make sure to provide lots of context surrounding your objectives so the readers can understand exactly how you plan to carry out your research. Finally, you will need to include any references that you used to help you determine your chosen objectives and ultimately write your proposal.

About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.