How to Write a Research Proposal in Geology?

Writing guide
Posted on August 5, 2020

Writing a research proposal in geology is a serious step for college and university students. The point is that this project is your unique chance to demonstrate your scientific writing skills and your level of knowledge in geology. Therefore, you don’t have to take this work lightly and do you best to follow all standard requirements and rules to cope with a research proposal.

To make it clear, a research proposal in geology is a type of academic work that describes what you will research, the importance of your investigation, and the methods you apply to conduct your geology research. As for the format of the research proposal, it may varies from science to science, but usually proposals include the following parts:

  1. Cover page
  2. Intro
  3. Literature review
  4. Research
  5. References

Your college or university may have its own rules of how to properly name your research proposal sections and how to divide your project. However, the overall goals of a research proposal in geology is always remains the same. In our guide, we will take you through the traditional research proposal structure and explain why you have to provide this or that section.

What Is the Purpose of the Research Proposal in Geology?

As a rule, geology learners write their research proposals in order to receive funding for their investigations. As a college or university student, you might be asked to write this paper so that your supervisor could approve your dissertation of thesis.

All in all, every research proposal that you write in geology has to persuade your readers – your college committee, some funding body or university supervisor – that your research is important.

How Long Should Be Your Research Proposal in Geology?

There are no precise rules of how long this paper should be. If you’re writing a master’s or bachelor’s thesis proposal, you can cover just a couple of pages. At the same time, your research proposal for your research funding and PhD dissertation should be more detailed and longer.

Even though you write your research proposal before you start your research, its structure usually reminds you of the one of a dissertation or thesis, but it is shorter.

Title Page

Just like the thesis or dissertation, your research proposal will include a title with the following elements:

  • The title of your research project.
  • The name of the author (you).
  • The name of your supervisor.
  • Your college name and department.

We strongly recommend approaching your university supervisor in order to see if they have any specific requirements on how to write a research proposal in geology.

Abstract & Table of Contents

If you work on a geology topic that sounds something like ‘The traits of catastrophism and actualism in the geological evolution’, then you might also have to write an abstract and a table of contents in order to help your readers sail across your research.


The first part of your actual work is an engaging introduction, which should evoking the vital interests in your audience and explain succinctly what exactly you’re going to do and the reasons why you do. In a research proposal introduction for your geology course:

  • You have to introduce your topic (for instance, ‘Geological evolution’);
  • You have to provide the context and background information (for example, ‘According to the geologic history evidence, the evolutionary processes in the atmosphere, continents, and oceans had an enormous impact on the terrestrial environment during the times when all layers of rock at Earth’s surface were formed’);
  • You should give an outline of the research problem statement and list the questions as the part of your research.

Take a look at some of the key questions that will help you navigate your research proposal introduction:

  • Who might be interested in your geology topic? (Geologists? Some members of your community? The other students of your college? Politicians? Scientists?)
  • How much do the geologists already know about your topic? (If it is the topic that we mentioned in the previous section – geological evolution – keep in mind the recent studies done by Nature Communications, according to which 200 million years of geological evolution were dated)
  • Is there anything missing from the geology knowledge available at the moment?
  • Is your research going to contribute any new insight?
  • Why do you think your research is worth performing in the sphere of geology?

If at some point of your work you realize that your proposal is very long, we recommend including separate sections that include more context and background information, detailed description of objectives and goals, together with the explanation of why your research is important.

Literature Review

Let your readers know that you familiarized yourself with all the important researches on your topic. If you do your best and provide a complete literature review, your supervisor will see that your research proposal has strong basis in the sphere of geology. What is more, your literature review also proves that you don’t just repeat what other geologists have said or have to say about your topic now. In actual matter of fact, you demonstrate what kind of contribution your research will make to conversations in the field.

  • Always remain critical in your research: name all the weaknesses and strengths of various approaches.
  • Compare and contrast: check the main controversies, discussions, methods and theories.
  • Tell your readers who your research is going to suit the current knowledge: how are you going to synthesize, questions, challenge or improve the work of other geologists?


In a research proposal in geology, the section that incudes methods is important for the reason that it provides your supervisor with an idea how you’re going to deal with your research problem.

Describe your work plan in detail and provide the complete range of activities that you have to take in order to get all job done. Does your research requires you to approach the United States Geological Survey? Or, perhaps, you’ll need to get in touch with the experts of the Geological Society of America? All these have-to’s should be mentioned in the methods section.

In general, the number one rule for writing the methods sections is that you have to give enough details for the supervisor to decide if your methodology is sufficient and sound. Some of the supervisors may ask students to also include sufficient information that some other qualified geologist will use to implement the study.

Show your supervisor that you’re aware of all the existing alternative methods and point at the fact that the method that you chose for your topic is the most suitable way to address your question.
Depending on the sub-sections of geology and the topic that you research, the most appropriate research strategies should be well-defined at this point. Describe the methods that you used in order to collect information, the type of documentary or literature analysis, and so on. If you experienced any sort of difficulties when collecting data, let your supervisor know about it.

Significance of Research

You write your research proposal in order to show how original and important your research is in the sphere of geology (or in the world of science in general). Therefore, you have to explain why your work is significant. For instance, you can do that by telling your supervisor in what way your research adds to the today’s knowledge in geology or by listing the key reasons why it’s the right moment to research your topic.


Provide a short bibliography section where you have to put all the most relevant works that add to your topic.


When you deal with a research proposal in geology or any other subject, your task is to request an adequate sum of money for research that you’re going to do. Here are the steps you have to take on this way:

  • Give a complete breakdown of the budget that your study needs.
  • If the sponsors give any special guidelines, make sure to follow each because they are the ones to decide whether your study deserves the grant or not.
  • Provide the real costs estimates depending on all areas like services, equipment, rentals, utilities, and so on.
  • Make sure to give appropriate justification, especially when it’s for some really expensive items.

Typical Mistakes to Avoid

Due to the fact that research proposal in geology is a complex and challenging project, mistakes are not allowed. Check the most common mistakes that college students do in this type of work and make sure to keep away from them:

  • You are not concise in your writing. Your paper must be focused. Don’t write all over the geology sphere or talk about unrelated issues if there’s no clear purpose for it.
  • You do not provide landmark works citations in a literature review. You have to base your research proposal on a strong foundation that helps your supervisor understand the way you developed your scope.
  • You fail to set the limits for the research context (people, time, place, and so on). Just like it works with the term or research paper, your research proposal in geology should inform your supervisor about how your project will approach and examine the problem.
  • You don’t develop a persuasive and coherent argument for your research. It’s a huge mistake. In most cases, you will write a research proposal to convince the committee to provide you with required funds. For that reason, you have to give compelling reason why your research deserves financial support.
  • Your grammar, style and punctuation are poor. Even though a research proposal is not a completed project itself, you don’t have the right to submit it with grammar or any other mistakes. It must follow the given style and be readable.
  • You focus too much on minor details, but fail to give enough information about important things. Focus your project only on the most important research questions to support the reason that your research should be done. Even if there are any valid minor details, make sure they don’t take most of your text space.

Just like in any other writing project, you will have to redraft your research proposal, as well as proofread and edit it before your supervisor sees it. If there’s a chance, approach him to get a feedback.

Please, keep in mind that all of the recommendations that we’ve given about the research proposal writing are just suggestions that you have to adapt for your own needs to college requirements. They don’t guarantee receiving funds or high marks. At the same time, these recommendations will help you to create a comprehensive, persuasive and properly conceptualized research proposal in geology. This is not only important to your supervisor, but also to yourself. The point is that when you have a clear structure of a paper, you have an understanding of where your research is going and what you might need to complete it successfully.

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