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Academic Research Proposal

What is the Difference Between an Academic Research Proposal and a Project Proposal

Dec 27, 2012 - Posted to  Writing in General
There quite a few similarities between an academic research proposal and a project proposal. However, the major difference is that while an academic research proposal addresses a specific stream of scientific study, a project proposal aims at getting a comparatively smaller scientific venture or scheme approved; more often than not, project proposals are written with an intention to get support in the form of budget sanctions, and the permission to spend some time and effort on the chosen project.
It is a must mention here that the forms, procedures and guidelines of academic research proposals are much more stringent that the ones in project proposals; needless to mention, the standard too is much more demanding than in project proposals. Academic research proposals demand that the proposer conducts exhaustive literature reviews and provide readers with substantial evidence and facts, thus helping you gain the necessary approval for your academic research. Although the format, length and content might vary, but the general purpose of an academic research proposal as well as a project proposal remains the same, and that is to seek the approval of the supervisor, academic committee or the examiners.
This article will discuss the intricacies of an academic research proposal as well as of a project proposal, thus helping the readers understand the differences between the two.

Given below are some tips and suggestions for writing an academic research proposal:

  1. When it comes to the formatting aspect of academic research proposals, it depends largely on the guidelines specified by your department or council of education. Needless to mention, you must cautiously follow the guidelines to the letter. Irrespective of the strength of your idea or proposal, academic committees do not hesitate to reject a proposal if the proposal fails to follow the guidelines.
  2. You should make sure that each section of your proposal, except the title, is duly identified with apt headings in bold. Your academic research proposal must have sections such as specific aims, background and significance, research design, methods and references.
  3. Consider your academic research proposal title as a mini abstract; your title should be focused, clear and unambiguous. Needless to mention, it should clearly help the reader with a clear in sight into the heart of your proposal. In academic research proposal titles, the most important words are put first. Keeping all these points in mind, it is good to write the title of your academic research proposal last, i.e. at least after the completion of the first draft.
  4. An academic research proposal must have a rationale, a review and an outline, for it to be able to have the necessary impact on the academic committee that will approve or reject it. A rationale plays a quintessential role as it helps the readers understand the interests and challenges of the discipline. You must be realistic while writing the rationale of your academic proposal and must not forget to mention the limitations, as it is good to under promise and over deliver, and not the vice versa.
  5. Literature review is an integral part of any successful academic research proposal. While reviewing existing literature, you must also mention how your research will build on the existing research and literature, and will yet explore new arenas in the chosen field of study.
  6. The outline of your research proposal must include details of the approach or the methodology that you are going to follow in your research. It must also include details of crucial aspects of your research proposal such as the intended costs, resource needs and a feasible timeline for completion.
  7. For you academic research proposal to be approved, it is crucial that you focus on your research question through out your proposal. Employ a distinct and crisp style to exhibit that what you have proposed is a feasible and expedient idea.
  8. It is best to start with the pros of your idea, and how it will contribute to the existing stream of study. The next step is to mention how you intend to achieve the proposed idea, i.e. the technicalities involved in the study. However, while detailing the specifics, you must make sure that you keep the readers engaged.

Discussed below are few steps and suggestions that will help you write a good project proposal, and will also help you understand the major differences between an academic research proposal and a project proposal:

  1. The project proposals of majority of the disciplines must have sections such as Introduction, Motivation, Project Summary, Project Details, Conclusion and References. Needless to mention, your project proposal must also have a clear and appropriate title that is less than forty-five characters in length, including punctuations and spaces.
  2. The introduction of your project proposal must throw enough light on the two most important questions associated with your project - What is your project? And why is your project important? Your project proposal's introduction should also shed light on the structure that you are going to follow in your project proposal.
  3. The next section, i.e. the Motivation or the Research question should discuss the problem that you are going to offer solution to in your project proposal. This section should discuss the history of the problem, and if solutions are already available; if yes, then how the solution proposed by you is better than the solutions that are already available.
  4. The next section is the Project summary, which should discuss what your project intends to achieve in general.
  5. The next section is the Project details, and as the name signifies, this section should include a detailed account of procedures, technicalities, implementation issues, challenges, deliverables and timelines of your proposed project.
  6. In the conclusion, you must summarize all the above-mentioned sections and re-state the key elements of your proposed solutions as well as intended inputs.
  7. The last section of your project proposal is 'References', where you are supposed to list all the references that you used in your project proposal. In addition, you also need to include references that you intend to use in the project.
The above points are sure to help you understand the differences between a project proposal and an academic research proposal, thus helping you write better academic proposals.
Last but not the least, irrespective of whether you are writing an academic research proposal or a project proposal, through out your writing, you must exhibit confidence and eagerness in your proposal, which in turn will surely get your readers and target audience get involved and interested in your proposal, thus increasing the chances of your proposal getting approved.
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