How to Write a PhD Research Proposal in 4 Steps

It is time to write a PhD research proposal and knowing where to start is confusing and frustrating. Take a breath because in 4 easy steps, your PhD research proposal will be written with professional quality.

Four easy steps for a PhD research proposal

  • Choose and Research Topic
  • Outline
  • Rough Draft
  • Final Draft

Topic and Research

Picking a topic for a PhD research proposal is the key element to having a great proposal. If the topic is too broad consider narrowing it down to a specific of the topic. If the topic is too narrow, meaning there is just not enough information to support your claim, you may need to choose a topic with more information. Finding a topic between the broad and narrow spectrum will give you just enough information without an overload of information. For a quality proposal, make sure your research is from a reliable source.


Making an outline for a research proposal can help design your paper. Using level, sublevels, and bullet points to point out the important part of the topic you are covering. This also breaks the proposal down into smaller categories giving you a visual idea of what the outcome may look like. Start with the introduction; go into the specifics adding bullet points for every sub-topic then add a strong conclusion.

Rough Draft

The rough draft is your first copy of your proposal. Following your outline will help you fill in the blanks or missing information. Remember to use in-text citations to refer the audience to the original work you gathered your information from. This should be easy; you are taking your outline and elaborating on the ideas already proposed.

Final Draft

The bulk of the proposal is already written, now it is time to edit and proofread what you already have. Correct any spelling, punctuation, or grammatical errors you find. Once this is done it is time to write the final draft to turn in. Thoroughly check for errors in references, bibliographies, and citations. Improper citations or references can deduct from the proposal. Once all of this is done, the proposal should be ready to turn in.

In these four steps you can write a great PhD research proposal. Choose a topic within the too broad and too narrow spectrum to avoid frustration. Elaborate on the sub-topics within the topic in an outline, make a rough draft, and then write your final draft. It is that simple.