Research Proposal Format – University College Dublin

University College Dublin

A research proposal should be between 2,000–3000 words and should be written with the following headings in mind:


 Outline the working title of the research topic.

Overall Aim/Research Question (200 – 300 words)

 A brief and clear explanation should be provided of the nature of the research problem, i.e. the topic for investigation and the context within which it is located. Why is there a need for research in this area now?

Review of the Literature (1000 words)

Reviewing some core existing literature on the subject will enable candidates to formulate the problem clearly and may suggest research methodologies appropriate to the research question. Provide a short list of core references.

Research Methodology (500 – 1000 words)

Students may adopt a variety of research methodologies and the methodology section should be outlined in sufficient detail to provide a general indication of the feasibility of the proposed project including some indication of sample size and selection. Indicate the proposed research design and the techniques one is proposing to use, such as:

  • Whether the research will be conceptual, qualitative or quantitative or will combine a mixed-methods approach.
  • Sample size and selection. 
  • Strengths and limitations of research design.
  • If quantitative research is envisaged, proposals should include some ideas around sampling/population to be studied.
  • Ethical Considerations.

 Analysis (300 – 600 words)

 The analysis section should include an outline of the anticipated conceptual, statistical or other analysis to be used in the research, as appropriate.

 Originality (200 – 300 words)

Outline what is likely to be original or novel about this research and what contribution it can potentially make to the community of practitioners in Educational Psychology.


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