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WCU FAQs: APA and Citations

APA Question

APA does not have a specific format for research proposal papers or outlines.  For some recommendations on how to incorporate APA style into research proposals or outlines, go to .  Remember to follow all APA rules of formatting by viewing the library's APA research guide at .

In general, a research paper proposal should be 1 or 2 paragraphs summarizing what your paper is going to be about, why it is important to your profession, who it affects, the effect on society or a community, and what is being done about it. 

Cover these same main topic areas when writing an outline.  For examples of how to format an outline, go to .

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How to Write a Research Proposal

how to write an apa research proposal

How to write a research proposal when you have no idea what is it? A research proposal is another writing assignment a student can be faced with. For your help, EssayPro's paper writers wrote a full guide on how to write a research proposal with a research proposal example included. Let’s get right into the topic starting with a research proposal definition with our service.

What Is a Research Proposal

When your instructor assigns a research proposal, they seek a brief summary and a detailed methodology of the research you have conducted or will conduct for their class. The proposal allows them to approve your idea or propose any necessary changes before you begin writing. It is important to understand what this assignment’s purpose is.

Writing a proposal will allow you to demonstrate the depth of your knowledge in a particular field, as it will show your ability to express complex ideas briefly. The process of writing involves several steps such as brainstorming, picking a topic, drafting, and revising. At the end of the writing process, you will have a proposal that explains your research question and the purpose of your conducted study.

Starting Writing a Proposal

To start, find something that interests you, and choose a topic related to your field of study. Read on articles about recent discoveries, breakthroughs, and innovation. Find inspiration on our blog or just ask one of our professional writers to help you. Make sure that the topic you’ll be writing on will interest you so that you’ll find it easier to write about. Take a look at things you believe in. Review on things that you are passionate about and ask yourself these questions.

Once you chose the topic of your custom term paper , follow the research proposal template from our service.

Research Proposal Template

No ‘one-size-fits-all’ research proposal template would suit every type of paper. However, regardless of the scope and depth of your research, you will find that most sample templates include the listed information.

research template

Research Paper Title You will be able to revise your title throughout your research, but it is important that the title encompasses what your paper is about.

Example: The direct influence of Hitchcock’s Psycho on the genre of horror.

Abstract: This portion should be around 100 words long, consisting of the central question that you wish to address.

Context Your proposal should include a brief background to which you conducted your research. That includes the area of study, any debates on the topic and the relevance of the question.

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Research Question The aim should be to attempt to answer a question. The question needs to be narrow and focused, and reflect the objective of your essay. During your writing process, narrow your research question to two different aspects. You should elaborate on how you intend to answer the question and brief the reader on the conclusion that you made.

Example: How did Hitchcock’s Psycho influence the way horror films were made? How has the horror genre changed with respect to the film?

Research Method The research proposal should show how you conducted your research. Explain your key resources (ways you found your information) and how you collected your data. If you did interviews, brief the reader on who the people you interviewed were. Then explain how you analyzed the findings.

Research Significance Explain why your work is important. In any sample, you will find a short justification for why your research is original and how it adds something new to the field of study. You might want to list a reason why your research is pressing in the current time.

Example: The conducted research links Hitchcock’s Psycho too many modern films that exhibit the same shock-factor qualities. Today, shock-factor is harder to achieve; this is visible on the increase of poorly produced, lower-quality horror flicks that resort to shock rather than suspense to hold the audience’s attention.

Bibliography Lastly, you would want to create a list of the most relevant works that contributed to your study. You can need to so in the research paper format required by your instructor (APA, MLA, etc.). You can create an annotated bibliography, giving some insights into how each of the sources helped you with your research.

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Research Proposal Outline

Your research proposal outline should be structured according to the template above. Read more about outline format in our article. Before embarking on the proposal writing process, make sure that you have your research question narrowed down properly and a solid outline as to how you will structure your proposal. According to our history essay writer , your research proposal outline should include:

outline research

how to write an apa research proposal

You need to write an outline for a research paper but don't know how to do it? Learn more about this in our article on research paper outline .

Research Paper Format

A format can vary from being only a couple of paragraphs long to about 2,500 words long for things like dissertations. Discuss with your instructor specifics such as length and contents before starting the writing process.

APA Research Proposal

The APA format itself can help you understand how to write a proposal for a research paper. The APA guidelines require writing an abstract, an introduction, and a bibliography as part of the paper, not only in the proposal. Here is a short breakdown of the APA proposal format:

Research Proposal Example

Here is a research proposal example APA. Notice the structure of a short research paper (around 15 pages) and the APA formatting.

Research Proposal: Video Guide

Avoid in a research proposal.

There are a couple of things that successful proposals have in common. If you look at an example, you will see that there are a couple of things in common that all of the proposals avoid:

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It’s okay if all the instructions and explanations didn’t make it clear to you how to write a research proposal. There is still a way to figure the task out — send us you ' write my research paper ' request to get help. Make your life easier, start your cooperation with the trusted service!

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Writing a Research Paper Introduction | Step-by-Step Guide

Published on September 24, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on November 29, 2022.

The introduction to a research paper is where you set up your topic and approach for the reader. It has several key goals:

The introduction looks slightly different depending on whether your paper presents the results of original empirical research or constructs an argument by engaging with a variety of sources.

Table of contents

Step 1: introduce your topic, step 2: describe the background, step 3: establish your research problem, step 4: specify your objective(s), step 5: map out your paper, research paper introduction examples, frequently asked questions about the research paper introduction.

The first job of the introduction is to tell the reader what your topic is and why it’s interesting or important. This is generally accomplished with a strong opening hook.

The hook is a striking opening sentence that clearly conveys the relevance of your topic. Think of an interesting fact or statistic, a strong statement, a question, or a brief anecdote that will get the reader wondering about your topic.

For example, the following could be an effective hook for an argumentative paper about the environmental impact of cattle farming:

A more empirical paper investigating the relationship of Instagram use with body image issues in adolescent girls might use the following hook:

Don’t feel that your hook necessarily has to be deeply impressive or creative. Clarity and relevance are still more important than catchiness. The key thing is to guide the reader into your topic and situate your ideas.

This part of the introduction differs depending on what approach your paper is taking.

In a more argumentative paper, you’ll explore some general background here. In a more empirical paper, this is the place to review previous research and establish how yours fits in.

Argumentative paper: Background information

After you’ve caught your reader’s attention, specify a bit more, providing context and narrowing down your topic.

Provide only the most relevant background information. The introduction isn’t the place to get too in-depth; if more background is essential to your paper, it can appear in the body .

Empirical paper: Describing previous research

For a paper describing original research, you’ll instead provide an overview of the most relevant research that has already been conducted. This is a sort of miniature literature review —a sketch of the current state of research into your topic, boiled down to a few sentences.

This should be informed by genuine engagement with the literature. Your search can be less extensive than in a full literature review, but a clear sense of the relevant research is crucial to inform your own work.

Begin by establishing the kinds of research that have been done, and end with limitations or gaps in the research that you intend to respond to.

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how to write an apa research proposal

The next step is to clarify how your own research fits in and what problem it addresses.

Argumentative paper: Emphasize importance

In an argumentative research paper, you can simply state the problem you intend to discuss, and what is original or important about your argument.

Empirical paper: Relate to the literature

In an empirical research paper, try to lead into the problem on the basis of your discussion of the literature. Think in terms of these questions:

You can make the connection between your problem and the existing research using phrases like the following.

Now you’ll get into the specifics of what you intend to find out or express in your research paper.

The way you frame your research objectives varies. An argumentative paper presents a thesis statement, while an empirical paper generally poses a research question (sometimes with a hypothesis as to the answer).

Argumentative paper: Thesis statement

The thesis statement expresses the position that the rest of the paper will present evidence and arguments for. It can be presented in one or two sentences, and should state your position clearly and directly, without providing specific arguments for it at this point.

Empirical paper: Research question and hypothesis

The research question is the question you want to answer in an empirical research paper.

Present your research question clearly and directly, with a minimum of discussion at this point. The rest of the paper will be taken up with discussing and investigating this question; here you just need to express it.

A research question can be framed either directly or indirectly.

If your research involved testing hypotheses , these should be stated along with your research question. They are usually presented in the past tense, since the hypothesis will already have been tested by the time you are writing up your paper.

For example, the following hypothesis might respond to the research question above:

The final part of the introduction is often dedicated to a brief overview of the rest of the paper.

In a paper structured using the standard scientific “introduction, methods, results, discussion” format, this isn’t always necessary. But if your paper is structured in a less predictable way, it’s important to describe the shape of it for the reader.

If included, the overview should be concise, direct, and written in the present tense.

Full examples of research paper introductions are shown in the tabs below: one for an argumentative paper, the other for an empirical paper.

Are cows responsible for climate change? A recent study (RIVM, 2019) shows that cattle farmers account for two thirds of agricultural nitrogen emissions in the Netherlands. These emissions result from nitrogen in manure, which can degrade into ammonia and enter the atmosphere. The study’s calculations show that agriculture is the main source of nitrogen pollution, accounting for 46% of the country’s total emissions. By comparison, road traffic and households are responsible for 6.1% each, the industrial sector for 1%. While efforts are being made to mitigate these emissions, policymakers are reluctant to reckon with the scale of the problem. The approach presented here is a radical one, but commensurate with the issue. This paper argues that the Dutch government must stimulate and subsidize livestock farmers, especially cattle farmers, to transition to sustainable vegetable farming. It first establishes the inadequacy of current mitigation measures, then discusses the various advantages of the results proposed, and finally addresses potential objections to the plan on economic grounds.

The rise of social media has been accompanied by a sharp increase in the prevalence of body image issues among women and girls. This correlation has received significant academic attention: Various empirical studies have been conducted into Facebook usage among adolescent girls (Tiggermann & Slater, 2013; Meier & Gray, 2014). These studies have consistently found that the visual and interactive aspects of the platform have the greatest influence on body image issues. Despite this, highly visual social media (HVSM) such as Instagram have yet to be robustly researched. This paper sets out to address this research gap. We investigated the effects of daily Instagram use on the prevalence of body image issues among adolescent girls. It was hypothesized that daily Instagram use would be associated with an increase in body image concerns and a decrease in self-esteem ratings.

The introduction of a research paper includes several key elements:

and your problem statement

Don’t feel that you have to write the introduction first. The introduction is often one of the last parts of the research paper you’ll write, along with the conclusion.

This is because it can be easier to introduce your paper once you’ve already written the body ; you may not have the clearest idea of your arguments until you’ve written them, and things can change during the writing process .

The way you present your research problem in your introduction varies depending on the nature of your research paper . A research paper that presents a sustained argument will usually encapsulate this argument in a thesis statement .

A research paper designed to present the results of empirical research tends to present a research question that it seeks to answer. It may also include a hypothesis —a prediction that will be confirmed or disproved by your research.

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Research Proposal: A step-by-step guide with template

Making sure your proposal is perfect will drastically improve your chances of landing a successful research position. Follow these steps.

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There’s no doubt you have the most cutting-edge research idea to date, backed up by a solid methodology and a credible explanation proving its relevance! There are thousands of research ideas that could change the world with many new ideologies.

The truth is, none of this would matter without support. It can be daunting, challenging, and uncertain to secure funding for a research project. Even more so when it isn’t well-thought-out, outlined, and includes every detail.

An effective solution for presenting your project, or requesting funding, is to provide a research proposal to potential investors or financiers on your behalf.

It’s crucial to understand that making sure your proposal is perfect will drastically improve your chances of landing a successful research position. Your research proposal could result in the failure to study the research problem entirely if it is inadequately constructed or incomplete.

It is for this reason that we have created an excellent guide that covers everything you need to know about writing a research proposal, and includes helpful tips for presenting your proposal professionally and improving its likelihood of acceptance!

What Is a Research Proposal?

how to write an apa research proposal

Generally, a research proposal is a well-crafted, formal document that provides a thorough explanation of what you plan to investigate. This includes a rationale for why it is worth investigating, as well as a method for investigating it.

Research proposal writing in the contemporary academic environment is a challenging undertaking given the constant shift in research methodology and a commitment to incorporating scientific breakthroughs.

An outline of the plan or roadmap for the study is the proposal, and once the proposal is complete, everything should be smooth sailing. It is still common for post-graduate evaluation panels and funding applications to submit substandard proposals.

By its very nature, the research proposal serves as a tool for convincing the supervisor, committee, or university that the proposed research fits within the scope of the program and is feasible when considering the time and resources available.

A research proposal should convince the person who is going to sanction your research, or put another way, you need to persuade them that your research idea is the best.

Obviously, if it does not convince them that it is reasonable and adequate, you will need to revise and submit it again. As a result, you will lose significant time, causing your research to be delayed or cut short, which is not good.

A good research proposal should have the following structure

A dissertation or thesis research proposal may take on a variety of forms depending on the university, but  most generally a research proposal will include the following elements:

So, if you include all these elements, you will have a general outline. Let’s take a closer look at how to write them and what to include in each element so that the research proposal is as robust as the idea itself.

A step-by-step guide to writing a research proposal

#1 introduction.

Researchers who wish to obtain grant funding for a project often write a proposal when seeking funding for a research-based postgraduate degree program, or in order to obtain approval for completing a thesis or PhD. Even though this is only a brief introduction, we should be considering it the beginning of an insightful discussion about the significance of a topic that deserves attention.

Your readers should understand what you are trying to accomplish after they read your introduction. Additionally, they should be able to perceive your zeal for the subject matter and a genuine interest in the possible outcome of the research.

As your introduction, consider answering these questions in three to four paragraphs:

It is not necessary to include an abstract or summary for the introduction to most academic departments and funding sources. Nevertheless, you should confirm your institution’s requirements.

#2 Background and importance

An explanation of the rationale for a research proposal and its significance is provided in this section. It is preferable to separate this part from the introduction so that the narrative flows seamlessly.

This section should be approached by presuming readers are time-pressed but want a general overview of the whole study and the research question.

Please keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive essay that contains every detail of your proposed research, rather a concise document that will spark interest in your proposal.

While you should try to take into account the following factors when framing the significance of your proposed study, there are no rigid rules.

The steps to a perfect research proposal all get more specific as we move forward to enhance the concept of the research. In this case, it will become important to make sure that your supervisor or your funder has a clear understanding of every aspect of your research study.

#3 Reviewing prior literature and studies

The aim of this paragraph is to establish the context and significance of your study, including a review of the current literature pertinent to it.

This part aims to properly situate your proposed study within the bigger scheme of things of what is being investigated, while, at the same time, showing the innovation and originality of your proposed work.

When writing a literature review, it is imperative that your format is effective because it often contains extensive information that allows you to demonstrate your main research claims compared to other scholars.

Separating the literature according to major categories or conceptual frameworks is an excellent way to do this. This is a more effective method than listing each study one by one in chronological order.

In order to arrange the review of existing relevant studies in an efficient manner, a literature review is often written using the following five criteria:

#4 Research questions and objectives

The next step is to develop your research objectives once you have determined your research focus.

When your readers read your proposal, what do you want them to learn? Try to write your objectives in one sentence, if you can. Put time and thought into framing them properly.

By setting an objective for your research, you’ll stay on track and avoid getting sidetracked.

Any study proposal should address the following questions irrespective of the topic or problem:

Some authors include this section in the introduction, where it is generally placed at the end of the section.

#5 Research Design and Methods

It is important to write this part correctly and organize logically even though you are not starting the research yet.  This must leave readers with a sense of assurance that the topic is worthwhile.

To achieve this, you must convince your reader that your research design and procedures will adequately address the study’s problems. Additionally, it seeks to ensure that the employed methods are capable of interpreting the likely study results efficiently.

You should design your research in a way that is directly related to your objectives.

Exemplifying your study design using examples from your literature review, you are setting up your study design effectively. You should follow other researchers’ good practices.

Pay attention to the methods you will use to collect data, the analyses you will perform, as well as your methods of measuring the validity of your results.

If you describe the methods you will use, make sure you include the following points:

In the event that you closely follow the best practices outlined in relevant studies as well as justify your selection, you will be prepared to address any questions or concerns you may encounter.

We have an amazing article that will give you everything you need to know about research design .

#6 Knowledge Contribution and Relevance

In this section, you describe your theory about how your study will contribute to, expand, or alter knowledge about the topic of your study.

You should discuss the implications of your research on future studies, applications, concepts, decisions, and procedures. It is common to address the study findings from a conceptual, analytical, or scientific perspective.

If you are framing your proposal of research, these guide questions may help you:

Throughout this section, you will identify unsolved questions or research gaps in the existing literature. If the study is conducted as proposed, it is important to indicate how the research will be instrumental in understanding the nature of the research problem.

#7 Adherence to the Ethical Principles

In terms of scientific writing style, no particular style is generally acknowledged as more or less effective. The purpose is simply to provide relevant content that is formatted in a standardized way to enhance communication.

There are a variety of publication styles among different scholarly disciplines. It is therefore essential to follow the protocol according to the institution or organization that you are targeting.

All scholarly research and writing is, however, guided by codes of ethical conduct. The purpose of ethical guidelines, if they are followed, is to accomplish three things:

1) Preserve intellectual property right;

2) Ensure the rights and welfare of research participants;

3) Maintain the accuracy of scientific knowledge.

Scholars and writers who follow these ideals adhere to long-standing standards within their professional groups.

An additional ethical principle of the APA stresses the importance of maintaining scientific validity. An observation is at the heart of the standard scientific method, and it is verifiable and repeatable by others.

It is expected that scholars will not falsify or fabricate data in research writing. Researchers must also refrain from altering their studies’ outcomes to support a particular theory or to exclude inconclusive data from their report in an effort to create a convincing one.

#8 The budget

The need for detailed budgetary planning is not required by all universities when studying historical material or academic literature, though some do require it. In the case of a research grant application, you will likely have to include a comprehensive budget that breaks down the costs of each major component.

Ensure that the funding program or organization will cover the required costs, and include only the necessary items. For each of the items, you should include the following.

When doing a study, you cannot buy ingredients the way you normally would. With so many items not having a price tag, how can you make a budget? Take the following into consideration:

It is possible to calculate a budget while also being able to estimate how much more money you will need in the event of an emergency.

#9 Timeline

A realistic and concise research schedule is also important to keep in mind. You should be able to finish your plan of study within the allotted time period, such as your degree program or the academic calendar.

You should include a timeline that includes a series of objectives you must complete to meet all the requirements for your scholarly research. The process starts with preliminary research and ends with final editing. A completion date for every step is required.

In addition, one should state the development that has been made. It is also recommended to include other relevant research events, for instance paper or poster presentations . In addition, a researcher must update the timeline regularly, as necessary, since this is not a static document.

#10 A Concluding Statement

Presenting a few of the anticipated results of your research proposal is an effective way to conclude your proposal.

The final stage of the process requires you to reveal the conclusion and rationale you anticipate reaching. Considering the research you have done so far, your reader knows that these are anticipated results, which are likely to evolve once the whole study is completed.

In any case, you must let the supervisors or sponsors know what implications may be drawn. It will be easier for them to assess the reliability and relevance of your research.

It will also demonstrate your meticulousness since you will have anticipated and taken into consideration the potential consequences of your research.

The Appendix section is required by some funding sources and academic institutions. This is extra information that is not in the main argument of the proposal, but appears to enhance the points made.

For example, data in the form of tables, consent forms, clinical/research guidelines, and procedures for data collection may be included in this document.

Research Proposal Template

Now that you know all about each element that composes an ideal research proposal, here is an extra help: a ready to use research proposal example. Just hit the button below, make a copy of the document and start working!

how to write an apa research proposal

Avoid these common mistakes

In an era when rejection rates for prestigious journals can reach as high as 90 percent, you must avoid the following common mistakes when submitting a proposal:

A final note

We have come to the end of our research proposal guide. We really hope that you have found all the information you need. Wishing you success with the research study.

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How to Write a Research Proposal in the APA Style

The sixth edition of the “Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association” directs you how to format and structure your research proposal. This is the most common style used for proposal related to the social sciences. A research proposal in APA format should include a title, abstract, main body and references.

General Structure

APA format recommends that you type your proposal with a highly legible 12-point font, such as Times New Roman. It needs to be double-spaced. When you write a new paragraph, indent fives spaces or use the Tab key. Your paper should have a 1-inch margin on all sides. At the top of each page, insert a running head in the header. To format this correctly, write the title of your proposal in the upper left hand side and the page number in the upper right hand side. Your running head is limited to 50 characters, including spaces. If you must shorten your title, select the keywords.

For your research proposal, your title page should include your paper’s title, your name and your university’s name. Other information that may appear on the title page includes submission date, budget period, total funds requested or advisor’s name, depending on your proposal’s audience. APA style recommends that your title is no more than 12 words in length. All text on this page should be double-spaced. When listing names, do not include any titles or degrees. The running head is different on the title page than the rest of your paper. Format your running head so it says “Running head” followed by a colon and your title.

In APA format, your abstract is the second page of your paper. Despite appearing at the beginning of your paper, plan to write your research proposal last. This is a brief summary of your entire paper. In a 150- to 250-word paragraph, state your problem, and propose a solution for it. To properly format this page, center the word “Abstract” without any additional formatting on the first line of the page. Following a double-space, write your paragraph. Do not indent this paragraph. After your summary, indent five spaces and write the word, “Keywords” in italics followed by a colon. Then list keywords related to your proposal.

In-Text Citations

Every sentence that references another person’s work must include an in-text citation. The APA recommends that you use the author-date method. Write the author’s name and the publication year within parentheses at the end of the referencing sentence. For example, “One study found that the most important element in comprehending non-native speech is familiarity with the topic (Gass & Varonis, 1984).”

At the end of your proposal, APA style advises that you create a references page that lists citations for all of your references. Label this page with the word “References” centered on the first line of the page. Then list all the sources used within your proposal in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. For any references that are longer than one line, indent all subsequent lines by five spaces.

When writing references, APA style recommends that you give the author’s last name and then use initials for all other names. For a single author book, write the author’s last name, a comma, first initial and a period. Next, write the publication year in parentheses. Place a period outside the last parenthesis. Then write the title of the book in italics and sentence case, a period, the city, a comma, the state, a colon, the publisher’s name and a period. A reference may look like this:

Zerby, C. (2002). Devil’s details: A history of footnotes. Montpelier, VT: Invisible Cities Press.

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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7+ Apa Research Proposal Templates – PDF, Word

The APA Style was developed by a team of social scientists that aimed to establish academic writing standards. The APA style is popular in the fields of Social Sciences but it can also be used in the student research proposal .

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APA Research Proposal Paper Outline Template

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Model APA Research Proposal

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Steps of writing an apa research proposal, free apa style checklist research proposal.

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How to Writing a Research Proposal in APA Style?

The American Psychological Association (APA) style is a set of norms for writing in psychology and related subjects. These standards were outlined in the American Psychological Association’s Publication Manual (APA, 2006). In 1944, the American Psychological Association produced its first version of the Publication Manual for the American Psychological Association, which included its writing style and structure for academic papers. The handbook has undergone six revisions, with the sixth and most recent editions issued in 2009. The APA style refers to the principles established by the American Psychological Association in their manual to provide a standard for journals and scholarly works. The style guide was developed to improve the precise interpretation of academic and research papers published in their journals by minimizing linguistic bias and using clear language.

Since then, several colleges and scientific publications have accepted the APA research paper style as the norm for academic writing, often with minor alterations. Most academic writing begins with a research proposal, and the estimate of the process aggregation will generate research.

A research proposal describes what you aim to investigate, why it is important, and how you propose to carry out your study. The structure of a research proposal varies depending on the subject. Most proposals, however, will include at least the following elements:

While the components may differ, the general goal remains the same. A research proposal acts as a blueprint and roadmap for your research strategy, assisting you in becoming organized and confident in the direction you want to go.

how to write an apa research proposal

APA Style and the Values of Psychology

According to Robert Madigan and his colleagues, APA-style papers serve an important role that is often overlooked. It specifically supports the scientific values and assumptions of psychologists. Many APA style aspects that appear random at first glance make perfect sense in this context. The following are some characteristics of APA-style writing and the scientific values or assumptions they reflect.

The APA rules for research proposal hypothesis will allow you to create a proposal with a consistent style that will persuade the committee to authorize your research. Specific standards are provided in the APA style for research proposals.

Margins, Header & Footer

All sides must have a 1-inch margin. The header format is right-justified, with the proposal title on the left and the page number on the right. The running header should not be more than 50 characters long; it should begin on the cover page and continue throughout the proposal. If the title is more than 50 characters, reduce it to include the keywords.

Fonts, Size & Space

APA style calls for a serif typeface, ideally Times New Roman. The fond is standard 12 size. Each word must be double-spaced, with a five-space indentation.

1. Title Page

The proposal headline will be positioned in the center, halfway down the page, in the proper format for your title page. The headline is followed by your name and the name of the organization or university.

2. Abstract

The abstract appears after the title page. Write the abstract in 250 words or less, and include a statement about the study and methodologies that will be employed.

3. Introduction

The introduction is on the next page of the proposal; it comprises the main concept behind the research, the setting of the study, the issue that it will address, and the individuals who will benefit. The section can be up to three pages long.

4. Literature Review

Following the introduction is a brief review of the literature you will need to study to gain a thorough understanding of the problem; you must relate the research to similar studies in the field and incorporate a structure that will be followed in the survey about existing knowledge in the area. The section might be as long as 7 pages.

5. Research Methodology

List and briefly explain the methodologies you will use in the research; include everything from data collection to analysis and how each will be justified. According to the criteria, this section can only have a maximum of 5 pages.

6. Limitations

It is necessary to describe the study’s potential limitations; keep this to half a page.

7. Significance

Limitations are followed by the significance of the research, its tangibility, practicability, and ramifications. The proposal must explain the likely result and what it hopes to achieve in research. The part is typically two pages long.

8. References, Bibliography & Citation

Include a section for every reference used in the proposal’s authoring. The APA citation must be in APA format ; the author and year must be mentioned when quoting or paraphrasing; and there is no bibliography section in APA format.

APA style should be viewed as a “genre” of writing that is ideal for presenting psychological research findings, particularly in academic and professional settings. It does not imply “excellent writing” in general. You would not write a literary analysis in APA style for an English class, even if it were based on psychoanalytic notions. Instead, you would write it in Modern Language Association (MLA) format. And you would not write a newspaper piece in APA style, even if it was about a great advance in behavioral neuroscience.

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Detailed Guide: APA Research Proposal Example 

Table of contents.

As a college student, essay assignments are the norm. But a research proposal may sound strange– especially if you are a newbie. If that’s the case, an APA research proposal example comes in handy.  In this article, we’ll examine the features of a research proposal. And provide all the information you need to write your first.

What Is A Research Proposal?

A research proposal is a document that outlines the main idea of a research project . The proposal explains why the study needs to be done and how it will benefit society or improve knowledge in the field. It delineates the methodology of the research you’ve conducted or are about to execute. 

What’s The Goal Of A Research Proposal?

A research proposal helps the writer explore a topic in greater detail. It provides an opportunity to identify and analyze relevant evidence, conclude, and offer potential solutions or recommendations.  A research proposal also allows you to demonstrate knowledge of a specific field and create a well-rounded argument considering diverse perspectives.  Sometimes, the purpose of a proposal is to secure funds to support your research.  A research proposal presents a unique insight into a particular subject matter. And make a compelling case for its importance in advancing knowledge. You should be able to prove that your work will:

It should also prove that you are capable of contributing meaningfully to the field of study. The best way to prove this is by stating your credentials and academic qualifications. Your study proposal also affirms the academic merit of your ideas. 

How Long Should A Proposal Be?

Frankly, the page count of a research proposal isn’t as important as the content it should entail. A master’s or bachelor’s research proposal may be a few pages long. But for a Ph.D. dissertation, it may be more as the research is often meatier.

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug

The purpose of a research proposal is to outline any content or element of your research. Don’t leave out details because you are targeting a word or page count.

The Structure Of A Research Proposal

An APA Research Proposal structure isn’t set in stone. But some elements are critical. They are as follows:

Research Paper Title

The research title should embody your paper’s content. While you can still change your title during the project, you must ensure your title explains the whole study in a few words. 

In just about 100 words, your abstract should state the question you intend to answer. 

Background Significance

This is where you’ll give a background introduction to your topic. It covers issues like why you decided to work on the research, existing debates, etc.  You should also include the relevance of the question you aim to answer and its importance. Finally, you must state the tool you plan to use while conducting your research. 

Literature Review

The literature review lists the sources you plan to rely on for your research and why you are working with those sources. 

Research Methods, Design And Schedule

This aspect of your research proposal covers the following topics. 

In addition, this aspect of the research proposal should also indicate:


Like the name suggests, this section wraps up the research proposal. It summarizes research proposals and restates your purpose. 


Finally, list your sources or the works that contributed to your research. In this case, you need to follow the APA format. You can even annotate your bibliography, indicating how each source will contribute to your study. 

APA Research Proposal Format

Now, we’ll briefly analyze what the APA format should look like. 

What To Avoid In APA Research Paper

Some factors can mar your research proposals. APA research papers should be written carefully, avoiding the following mistakes:  1. Using overly technical language that can make it difficult for the reader to understand.  2. Omitting any necessary facts or data may weaken the paper’s credibility and validity. 3. Failing to cite sources accurately could result in plagiarism. 4. Making assumptions without providing evidence to back them up. 5. Overlooking potential ethical issues related to a topic. 6. Ignoring grammar and spelling mistakes. 7. Not organizing ideas logically or presenting them in an unclear manner.  8. Relying too heavily on one source of information when multiple perspectives are needed.  9. Being overly opinionated instead of using objective analysis and reasoning.

APA Research Proposal Example

Emotional well-being and mental health research proposal , introduction.

I propose undertaking a research project into the effects of emotional well-being on mental health. This study investigates how emotional well-being affects one’s ability to cope with and manage mental health. This proposal will analyze current literature, examine personal experiences, and explore various theories. It seeks to gain an understanding of how emotional well-being influences mental health. 

Research Methodology

In terms of methodology, I plan to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research. Using these mediums, I will form conclusions regarding the correlation between emotional well-being and mental health.  A survey will be administered online, followed by semi-structured interviews with participants who indicate that they are struggling with their mental health. Furthermore, I will conduct interviews with healthcare professionals.  Personal stories and observations from my experience working with individuals with mental illness will also be incorporated into the data collection process. Additionally, information from relevant academic studies on this topic will be used to inform the interpretation of the results.  The proposed research has theoretical and practical implications for understanding the complex relationship between emotion and mental health.  Theoretically, it could lead to a greater understanding of the mechanisms underlying this relationship. It could also provide insight into the psychological underpinnings of mental illnesses like anxiety or depression.  Moreover, the findings could suggest new strategies for helping those with poor mental health. It will provide them with improved access to support systems and resources. Finally, further exploration of this issue could result in policies geared towards improving emotional well-being implemented at governmental levels.  I anticipate that this study will take approximately 6 months to complete, depending on the availability of interview subjects. 

If allowed to conduct this research, I am confident I can produce valid and reliable results. One that will contribute to our collective knowledge about the role of emotion in mental health. Note: This is a skeletal APA research proposal example. This should only serve as a guide. You need to be as detailed as possible while writing yours. 

An APA research proposal example is a document that outlines the basic idea of a researcher’s project.  When writing a research proposal using the APA style, it’s essential to follow the formatting rules the American Psychological Association laid out. This includes providing references in the correct format, such as author name, date, and page number.  Worried about drafting an excellent research proposal? Take INK on a spin. Our proposal generator takes instructions and delivers a brilliant research proposal. 

Detailed Guide: APA Research Proposal Example 

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