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Research Paper vs. Research Proposals: 3 Key Differences

Dec 18, 2020

Research Papers and proposals can be very difficult and frustrating to write. However, while they may create similar emotions, they are very different, and understanding these differences is important.

There are three important differences between research papers and proposals, which are the timeframe, purpose, and structure.

First, the time that you write a research paper and proposal is different. This is the difference that most people are aware of. For a research paper, you want to start writing this when you have finished all of the data collection. On the other hand, research proposals should be started prior to the start of the research. 

Second, the purpose of each is very different. The purpose of a research paper is to communicate your findings to your field. Therefore, the structure of a research paper is fundamentally different. To communicate your findings, you need to tell the background knowledge to understand your findings, what you did, what you found, and what it all means.

In contrast, the purpose of a research proposal is to communicate a research plan, its feasibility, and its importance. Ultimately, the point of a proposal is to convince someone to give you permission to complete this work, either as money or as permission from a committee.

As a result, the best proposal structures include the background knowledge of what this proposal is studying and why is this study important, how you would complete the proposed research, and what you will do when you encounter challenges. If you include each of these segments, then your reader will be able to evaluate your science and feasibility.

Ultimately, you do not want to write your proposal like a futuristic paper. This will generally result in a poor proposal because it will not provide enough information to evaluate the potential science.

If you are working on a research paper, make sure that you get my research paper checklist to be able to access my entire process from data to journal submission. You can access it below.

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