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Avoid Common Pitfalls: Key Mistakes to Avoid in your Project Proposal Templates

In today’s competitive business landscape, a well-crafted project proposal can make all the difference in securing new clients and winning lucrative contracts. However, many businesses fall into common pitfalls when it comes to creating their project proposal templates. In this article, we will highlight some key mistakes to avoid in order to ensure that your project proposal templates are effective and persuasive.

Lack of Clarity and Structure

The first mistake to avoid is a lack of clarity and structure in your project proposal template. A poorly organized proposal can confuse your clients and make it difficult for them to understand the scope of the project. To avoid this, start by clearly defining the objective of the project and outlining the steps that need to be taken to achieve it. Break down the proposal into sections such as introduction, methodology, timeline, budget, and deliverables. Use headings and subheadings to guide your clients through each section and make it easy for them to find the information they need.

Another important aspect of clarity is using language that is concise and straightforward. Avoid jargon or technical terms that may confuse your clients. Instead, focus on explaining complex ideas in simple terms that anyone can understand. Use bullet points or numbered lists to present information in a clear and organized manner.

Lack of Personalization

One common mistake businesses make is using generic project proposal templates without customizing them for each client. While templates can be a great starting point, they should be tailored to meet the specific needs of each client or project. Take the time to research your client’s industry and understand their unique challenges and goals. Incorporate this knowledge into your proposal by addressing their specific pain points and showcasing how your solution can help them overcome these challenges.

Personalization also extends beyond just the content of your proposal template. Pay attention to visual elements such as colors, fonts, and images. Align these elements with your client’s branding to create a cohesive and professional look. A personalized proposal shows your clients that you value their business and are invested in their success.

Lack of Supporting Evidence

A project proposal without supporting evidence is like a house without a foundation. It lacks credibility and fails to convince clients of your capabilities. Avoid this mistake by including relevant case studies, testimonials, or success stories in your proposal template. These examples demonstrate your past achievements and give clients confidence in your ability to deliver results.

Additionally, consider including relevant data or statistics that support the effectiveness of your proposed solution. Whether it’s increased productivity, cost savings, or improved customer satisfaction, quantifiable evidence adds weight to your proposal and makes it more persuasive.

Lack of Call-to-Action

Lastly, one crucial mistake businesses often overlook is failing to include a clear call-to-action in their project proposal templates. A call-to-action tells the client what they need to do next after reviewing the proposal. It could be scheduling a meeting, signing a contract, or providing feedback.

Make sure your call-to-action is specific and easy to understand. Use action verbs such as “schedule,” “sign,” or “reply” to guide the client towards the desired action. Provide clear instructions on how they can take that next step, whether it’s contacting you via email or phone.

In conclusion, avoiding common mistakes in project proposal templates is essential for winning new business opportunities. By ensuring clarity and structure, personalizing the content for each client, providing supporting evidence, and including a clear call-to-action, you can create persuasive project proposals that impress clients and increase your chances of success.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on June 13, 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

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template for a research proposal

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
  • Example research proposal #2: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

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As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

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McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, June 13). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved November 16, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-process/research-proposal/

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Research Proposal Example/Sample

Detailed Walkthrough + Free Proposal Template

If you’re getting started crafting your research proposal and are looking for a few examples of research proposals , you’ve come to the right place.

In this video, we walk you through two successful (approved) research proposals , one for a Master’s-level project, and one for a PhD-level dissertation. We also start off by unpacking our free research proposal template and discussing the four core sections of a research proposal, so that you have a clear understanding of the basics before diving into the actual proposals.

  • Research proposal example/sample – Master’s-level (PDF/Word)
  • Research proposal example/sample – PhD-level (PDF/Word)
  • Proposal template (Fully editable) 

If you’re working on a research proposal for a dissertation or thesis, you may also find the following useful:

  • Research Proposal Bootcamp : Learn how to write a research proposal as efficiently and effectively as possible
  • 1:1 Proposal Coaching : Get hands-on help with your research proposal

Webinar - How to write a research proposal for a dissertation or thesis

FAQ: Research Proposal Example

Research proposal example: frequently asked questions, are the sample proposals real.

Yes. The proposals are real and were approved by the respective universities.

Can I copy one of these proposals for my own research?

As we discuss in the video, every research proposal will be slightly different, depending on the university’s unique requirements, as well as the nature of the research itself. Therefore, you’ll need to tailor your research proposal to suit your specific context.

You can learn more about the basics of writing a research proposal here .

How do I get the research proposal template?

You can access our free proposal template here .

Is the proposal template really free?

Yes. There is no cost for the proposal template and you are free to use it as a foundation for your research proposal.

Where can I learn more about proposal writing?

For self-directed learners, our Research Proposal Bootcamp is a great starting point.

For students that want hands-on guidance, our private coaching service is recommended.

Literature Review Course

Psst… there’s more!

This post is an extract from our bestselling Udemy Course, Research Proposal Bootcamp . If you want to work smart, you don't want to miss this .

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How to write your research proposal, with examples of good proposals.

Research proposals

Your research proposal is a key part of your application. It tells us about the question you want to answer through your research. It is a chance for you to show your knowledge of the subject area and tell us about the methods you want to use.

We use your research proposal to match you with a supervisor or team of supervisors.

In your proposal, please tell us if you have an interest in the work of a specific academic at York St John. You can get in touch with this academic to discuss your proposal. You can also speak to one of our Research Leads. There is a list of our Research Leads on the Apply page.

When you write your proposal you need to:

  • Highlight how it is original or significant
  • Explain how it will develop or challenge current knowledge of your subject
  • Identify the importance of your research
  • Show why you are the right person to do this research
  • Research Proposal Example 1 (DOC, 49kB)
  • Research Proposal Example 2 (DOC, 0.9MB)
  • Research Proposal Example 3 (DOC, 55.5kB)
  • Research Proposal Example 4 (DOC, 49.5kB)

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  • Writing a Humanities PhD Proposal (PDF, 0.1MB)
  • Writing a Creative Writing PhD Proposal (PDF, 0.1MB)
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Research Proposal Template

Research Proposal Template

A research proposal template is a professional document that is used when introducing a research study about a certain topic to a client. This Research Proposal template from Jotform Sign lets you fill out details such as the title of the research, description, problem statement, research questions or hypothesis, objectives, sources of data, data manipulation, data management, time table, financial budget, references, and information about the researcher. Fill out and e-sign it from any device — then share it with participants via email or by printing out a finalized copy.

Making changes to this template is quick and easy with our no-code online builder. No design knowledge required — just drag and drop to add or edit form fields, include your unique branding, change fonts and colors, and make other cosmetic changes in seconds. Make a strong first impression with a custom Research Proposal from Jotform Sign.

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Sign Templates: Free Project Proposal Template

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Don’t waste time creating multiple project proposals from scratch. With Jotform Sign’s ready-made Project Proposal template, you can generate and customize a professional-looking proposal that includes details such as an overview and description of the project, resources and budget, project goals, expected outcomes, and more. Update the wording however you see fit, then share it with clients via email to seamlessly gather e-signatures from any device.Want to personalize this Free Project Proposal to match your company’s branding with Jotform White Labeling? No problem! Using our powerful online builder, you can add or edit form fields, upload your logo and branding, include images, change fonts and colors, and make other design changes without any coding. Once both you and your client have signed this proposal, you’ll automatically receive a finalized document — ready to share, download, and print for your records.

Sign Templates: Mobile App Development Proposal Template

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Create a Mobile App Development Proposal Template that works for all occasions with Jotform Sign. With our entirely online signature and feedback collection process, you’ll be able to manage and reference signatures from your team members in one convenient place. Share via email or embed in your online team portal.Customizing this Mobile App Development Proposal Template is simple and efficient with Jotform Sign. Update the terms and conditions, add or remove form fields, change fonts and colors, and make other cosmetic changes with no coding required. Create your app proposal, send it straight to your team, and start collecting signatures and feedback instantly. Collaborate smarter with Jotform. To collect e-signatures on any device, create an e-sign document with Jotform Sign.

These templates are suggested forms only. If you're using a form as a contract, or to gather personal (or personal health) info, or for some other purpose with legal implications, we recommend that you do your homework to ensure you are complying with applicable laws and that you consult an attorney before relying on any particular form.

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Personalize your proposal for your company or potential clients using Jotform’s PDF Editor . If you need to start from scratch, you can always get started generating a custom proposal for free! In any case, you’ll be able to modify your proposal template however you’d like, from writing additional form fields to changing fonts and colors. Jotform simplifies the proposal process so you can spend less time drawing up your proposals and more time closing deals.

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What is a proposal?

A proposal is a formal offer written in response to a specific request or opportunity with a prospective client. As the name suggests, it proposes a unique idea or a solution to a client’s problem. Proposals are evaluated on whether they meet a client’s expectations regarding goals, timelines, deliverables, and budget.

What are the different types of proposals?

From sales proposals to construction proposals to book proposals, proposals are written for all purposes and industries. Some of the most common types of proposals are grant proposals, research proposals, and business proposals. Business proposals are either solicited or unsolicited. A solicited proposal is one that has been requested by a client or written in response to an RFP (request for proposal) . RFPs are sent out by companies and agencies and list specific requirements. Unsolicited proposals initiate the sales process without responding to a request and are generally considered to be more challenging to write.

What should I include in my proposal?

Our free proposal templates already include everything you'll need for your proposal. To learn more about proposals, read our article on items to include in a proposal!

How should I write an effective business proposal?

It takes a lot more than a good idea for a proposal to be successful. Check out our tips on how to write a winning proposal .

What makes a proposal different from an estimate, quote, bid, or business plan?

Unlike estimates, quotes, and bids, proposals include information beyond the specific cost of a project or service. Proposals provide an in-depth explanation of the work being done, with details about scope, deliverables, milestones, and qualifications as well as budget.

While a business plan and business proposal might sound like the same document, one focuses on a company’s internal operations while the other seeks to create a business relationship with another company. A business plan, usually written with the intent of securing funds from an investor, summarizes a company’s overall goals and objectives. On the other hand, a business proposal focuses on a specific project or service for a prospective client.

Can a proposal become a contract?

For a document to be considered a legally binding contract, it must consist of an offer, consideration, and acceptance. A proposal can serve as the foundation for a contract, but it will generally only require a client’s signature, whereas a contract needs signatures from all involved parties.

A signed proposal may become a contract only if it contains signatures from each party and contractual language such as terms and conditions. However, it’s best to keep your contract separate from your proposal in case your client disagrees with your offer and requires a new document outlining the negotiated terms. If you need inspiration for your contract, we recommend our free contract PDF templates.

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  1. The Benefits of Using a Template for Your Project Proposals

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  2. The Key Elements Every Project Proposal Template Should Include

    When it comes to creating a project proposal, having a well-designed template can significantly streamline the process. The introduction section of your project proposal template sets the stage for what follows.

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    Confirmation of Candidature Proposal Template. This document assists candidates to prepare the text for their Confirmation of Candidature Research Proposal.

  9. Research Proposal Template

    The research proposal should include: 1. Project Title. Provide a short descriptive title of no more than 20 words. 2. Project Summary.

  10. Examples of Research proposals

    Research proposals · Highlight how it is original or significant · Explain how it will develop or challenge current knowledge of your subject · Identify the

  11. Free research proposal templates to edit and print

    To customize any of our free research proposal samples, select the design you like best and start editing on Canva. Replace the fonts, colors, and placeholder

  12. THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL TEMPLATE

    Template 1: Research Proposal. This template is a framework to help you write down your proposal, in a way that will be acceptable for submission to the

  13. A Sample Research Proposal with Comments

    The proposal should discuss problem statement, objectives, research methodology, research activities, and a time schedule in about 3-5 pages. A sample proposal

  14. Research Proposal Template

    A research proposal template is a professional document that is used when introducing a research study about a certain topic to a