Typical parts of a research proposal are:
Title (or Cover) Page
Table of Contents
Introduction (including Statement of Problem, Purpose
of Research, and Significance of Research)
Background (including Literature Survey)
Description of Proposed Research (including Method or Approach) Description of Relevant Institutional Resources
List of References
The Title (or Cover) Page. Most sponsoring agencies specify the format for the title page, and some provide special forms to summarize basic administrative and fiscal data for the project. Generally, the principal investigator, his or her department head, and an official representing the University sign the title page. In addition, the title page usually includes the University's reference number for the proposal, the name of the agency to which the proposal is being submitted, the title of the proposal, the proposed starting date and budget period, the total funds requested, the name and address of the University unit submitting the proposal, and the date submitted. Some agencies want the title page to specify whether the proposal is for a new or continuing project. And some ask to which other agencies the proposal is being submitted.
A good title is usually a compromise between conciseness and explicitness. Although titles should be comprehensive enough to indicate the nature of the proposed work, they should also be brief. One good way to cut the length of titles is to avoid words that add nothing to a reader's understanding, such as "Studies on...," "Investigations...," or "Research on Some Problems in...."
Every proposal, even very brief ones, should have an abstract. Some readers read only the abstract, and most readers rely on it initially to give them a quick overview of the proposal and later to refresh their memory of its main points. Agencies often use the abstract alone in their compilations of research projects funded or in disseminating information about successful projects. Though it appears first, the abstract should be written last, as a concise summary (approximately 200 words) of the proposal. It should appear on a page by itself numbered with a small Roman numeral if the proposal has a table of contents and with an Arabic number if it does not.
To present the essential meaning of the proposal, the abstract should summarize or at least suggest the answers to all the questions mentioned in the Introduction above, except the one about cost (which is excluded on the grounds that the abstract is subject to a wider public distribution than the rest of the proposal). Certainly the major objectives of the project and the procedures to be followed in meeting these objectives should be mentioned.
The abstract speaks for the proposal when it is separated from it, provides the reader with his first impression of the request, and, by acting as a summary, frequently provides him also with his last. Thus it is the most important single element in the proposal.
The Table of Contents. Very brief proposals with few sections ordinarily do not need a table of contents; the guiding consideration in this is the reader's convenience. Long and detailed proposals may require, in addition to a table of contents, a list of illustrations (or figures) and a list of tables. If all of these are included, they should follow the order mentioned, and each should be numbered with lower-case Roman numerals. If they are brief, more than one can be put on a single page.
The table of contents should list all major parts and divisions (including the abstract, even though it precedes the table of contents). Subdivisions usually need not be listed. Again, the convenience of the reader should be the guiding consideration.
The Introduction. The introduction of a proposal should begin with a capsule statement of what is being proposed and then should proceed to introduce the subject to a stranger....