Different departments have different rules for research paper proposals, saying when they are due (usually near the end of junior year or the beginning of senior year) and how long they should be (usually a page or two).You can find out the specifics from a departmental administrator or perhaps from the department’s Web site.Getting your professor or instructor to approve your research paper proposal is often seen as just a bureaucratic hurdle, yet another dull requirement among so many you have to meet in college. A good proposal would be worth doing even if it were not required, because it will start your research on the right path.
Do you plan to use case studies, interviews, large databases, original documents, or some combination of these?
Will this be more a quantitative study or a qualitative one?
Once you have identified an important question and stated it clearly, you need to say how you will examine it. You may wish to illustrate your approach with a little preliminary analysis, probably only a paragraph or two.
In the social sciences, you should also mention what data you will use.
If you plan to rely on (or contend with) some major secondary works, such as several major books about Wordsworth, mention that and explain how they fit into your research paper.
Normally, a research paper proposal does not mention your academic background or special skills unless they directly affect your planned research.
For instance, you would not mention that you have taken advanced statistics courses, but you might mention the techniques you plan to use for data analysis.
For a research paper on World War II in the Pacific, you might say that you will rely on important documents in the original Japanese.
Trying to explain your project will help you understand it better.
Discussing it with faculty will help, too, because your instructor’s suggestions and clarifications come at a critical moment, while you are still framing your focal questions and your basic approach.