To write an academic research proposal is most likened to writing a proposal that addresses a project. The main difference is that the research proposal is a plan to conduct either academic or scientific research, not to develop a project. It is basically outlining proposed research on an academic subject and outlining any types of procedures for quantitative or qualitative research on a subject.
A research proposal for academic writing analyzes a topic and proposes a theory for that topic that may not have been used before. You will normally see this sort of proposal as a precursor to a doctoral dissertation or a Master's Degree level thesis paper.
The proposal will introduce what the research proposes to do and/or prove. It will also give an in depth account of the methods and theories that will be used to support the hypothesis within the project.
The proposal encompasses argumentative writing as well as hardcore research. It will usually contain reviews of various books which support the thesis or hypothesis that it proposes to prove.
Your introduction should provide the background or the skeleton of the paper. You are establishing your basic framework for research. You should probably have a few subsections in the introduction.
a. You can grab the attention of the reader with your topic.
b. You should provide brief background information and explore past research.
c. It will discern if your research is qualitative or quantitative and should allude to the thesis statement.
ii. Statement of the Problem
a. This section will describe the analytical approach that you intend to use.
b. You will fully describe the problem as it related to your topic of research.
c. It will answer the question "Why does this research need to be done?"
iii. Purpose of the Study
a. You will need to provide a well rounded, intelligent and substantial statement on why the research that you are doing needs to be done.
b. It will disclose the hypothesis that needs to be tested and any questions surrounding it.
c. It will normally begin with the statement "The purpose of this academic research study is…"
d. It will provide a detailed discussion of whether you will be doing quantitative or qualitative research and the instruments of research (survey, interview, questionnaire, etc.) to be used.
iv. Literature Review
a. This will discuss the information that is already known about the project.
b. It will review any pressing and pertinent research that is in anyway tied to the hypothesis debunking it.
c. It provides a research strategy - as in what sources will you use.
v. Research Questions or Hypotheses
a. You will disclose your hypothesis here.
b. You will further disclose any research questions that surround your hypothesis.
c. You will address the possible testable theories that will bolster your hypothesis.
vi. Methods and Procedures
a. This section will tell exactly which methods you will use in order to prove your hypothesis.
b. It discusses the key variables that you will test and/or control in order to prove your hypothesis to be valid.
c. This section will go in depth on your research methods.
This section will discuss any limitations that may arise in your research.
This section discuss your audience and why your research is relative to them.
This section will list all of your reference material in either APA or MLA format.