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A research proposal is a document written by a researcher that provides a detailed description of the proposed program. It is like an outline of the entire research process that gives a reader a summary of the information discussed in a project.
Research proposals are written for various reasons, such as requesting a budget (grant) for the research they describe, certification requirements for research (as from an institutional review board committee if the experiment is to be done on human beings or animals protected by animal rights laws), as a task in tertiary education (e.g., before performing research for a dissertation), or as a condition for employment at a research institution (which usually requires sponsor-approved research proposals). They may be considered as grey literature.
The phrasing of research proposals has many similarities to that of scientific articles. Research proposals are written in future tense and have different points of emphasis. Like scientific articles, research proposals have sections describing the research background, significance, methods, and references. The method section of research proposals is far more detailed than those of scientific articles, allowing profound understanding of the price and risks of the study and the plans for reducing them. Instead of a section describing the results, research proposals have a section describing the hypotheses or the expected results. A typical research proposal includes an extensive but focused literature review. A research proposal may also include preliminary results.
In contrast to scientific articles, research proposals usually contain the curriculum vitaes of the researchers. The curriculum vitaes are required for proving that the personnel asking to conduct the research are capable of doing so. For example, a research proposal for a study including injections would be expected to name at least one researcher qualified to inject human beings. Similarly, a research proposal in biology is not likely to receive funding when the entire staff consists of mathematicians only. In some academic institutes, a detailed resume of the thesis mentor is required on the research proposal in order to show that the mentor can help the student with the subject of the thesis.
Research sponsors publish calls for research proposals, specifying the topics into which they fund research and their detailed format requirements. Those sponsors may be governmental, nonprofit or business research foundations.