Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Purdue University Purdue Logo Purdue Libraries

Communicating Your Chemical Research

Resources, tips and advice for writing, publishing, presenting and organizing your research. Also, information on Open Access, copyright, and author's rights.

Proposals In General

Good proposals stimulate my curiosity.  As I read a proposal, I begin to think up new questions about the project and its science.  The best proposals answer those questions before I'm done reading.  I have a lot of respect for writers who can anticipate the questions that a reader will have and provide answers.

 - Alexander Grushow, Rider University (from Write Like a Chemist: A Guide and Resource).


In general, research proposals need to communicate the importance of the work being done as well as persuade the  the funding agency (or your dissertation committee) that the work is worthy of funding (or passing).  The should be innovative, significant, relevant, and feasible.  Ideas should be intellectuall sound.  Typically reviewers (and committee members!) judge the intellelctual merit of your proposal accoring to the creativity of ideas, the credibility of your your research plan, and your competence as a researcher.

Again, in general proposals should include the following sections (always pay attention to the parts of the proposal outlined by the funding agency you are submitting to).

Project Summary:

  • Short summary that includes goals/objectives, importance of project, proposed methods, and broader impact of the work.

Project Description:

  • Clear statement of project goals and objectives
  • Importance and significance of proposed work
  • Essential background information
    • How does your work fit in and contribute to the current body of literature?
  • Clear description of experimental methods
    • How will you carry out your research?
    • What will you do if your "best" idea does not work?
    • How will you analyze your results?
  • Preliminary results (if you have them)
  • Timeline of the project
  • Projected outcomes
  • Broader impacts of the work

References cited:

  • Limit references to those that have greatly influenced your work (unless you are writing a dissertation proposal, then include more).
  • Make sure the formatting of the citations is correct!!  Check out a resource like EndNote, Zotero, or Mendeley to help with this.

Writing Research Proposals

Useful links that provide guidance about writing research proposals.