Why Is Research Proposal Writing So Challenging?

Why is Research Proposal Writing so difficult? Three key factors make research proposals difficult: Focus, Grounding in foundational research, and rigor. If you’re unable to master these three elements, you’re not alone. Here are some tips to get you started. Read on to learn more about these factors. If you’re struggling to write a proposal, don’t panic: there are many ways to improve your chances of approval.


A good research proposal answers three main questions: why, what, and how. The details of each section depend on the type of research, stage, and disciplinary requirements. Here are some tips to help you narrow down the topic and determine what your focus should be. Focus is also about ensuring that you’re not vague with your proposal. Read on for more advice on research proposal writing. We’ve provided a checklist below to help you focus your research proposal.

First introduce the problem:

First, the research proposal must introduce the problem. Explain the problem within a theoretical or conceptual framework. Secondly, the research idea should be well-supported by sufficient literature. Finally, the proposal should show sound methodology. The quality of your proposal writing will determine whether or not your project is accepted. A good proposal can be rejected due to weak writing, so make sure your work is clear and compelling. Focus on the proposal itself. Research ideas are addressed in other papers.

Grounding in foundational research:

For research proposals, grounding in foundational research is important. This means demonstrating how your project contributes to the body of knowledge. A research proposal should also include examples of previous studies that may inspire your own. For example, a research proposal might focus on the way in which people perceive new ideas. But if your research does not address any foundational issues, it will be seen as sloppy.


When it comes to research proposals, rigor can be an essential element. While addressing rigor requires a deeper understanding of the research question, it is not the same as adjusting the overall design of the project. Instead, it is more about justifying experimental design choices, which may include some limitations or lack of knowledge. Here are a few examples of rigor-enhancing research proposals. For more information, read the NIH’s FAQs.


There are some things to consider when writing a research proposal. For one, the elements of the proposal should be logically connected. Think of a story: all of the elements are meaningfully related and connected. A research proposal contains several main components, including the introduction, problem statement, purpose, significance, literature review, and methods. The elements must be aligned in order for the reader to understand them and appreciate the research.

Corrupted formatting:

When you’re preparing to write your research proposal, corrupted formatting is a common mistake. This problem occurs when you copy answers from other SMEs and paste them into your proposal. This results in a Frankenstein effect: your proposal looks like a patchwork of voices, rather than a coherent one. Make sure your proposal has one cohesive voice and is free from formatting errors. Overlapping text boxes in Adobe InDesign or faulty style settings in Microsoft Word can greatly reduce the aesthetic value of large sections.