How to Write a Research Proposal in IT?

Writing guide
Posted on August 5, 2020

It or Information Technology has completely changed our lives by brining dozens of incredible improvements to our lifestyles. Probably, the most significant innovations in the field of IT were the evolution of the internet and computer.

Writing a research proposal in IT is an interesting job to do due to the fact that this field is among those that undergo non-stop development. It means that you will always have something that requires more research, and there will be no problem with choosing the right topic.

General Details

Most research proposals written in IT take from 4 to 15 pages. However, some colleges or departments provide students with a word limit. We just want to stress that it’s nearly impossible to provide a well-written research proposal that includes less than 1500 words.
You need to make sure your project has a logical and easy-to-understand layout. Besides, all the things like spacing, page numbers, typeface and table of contents should be there and properly arranged. Keep in mind that your supervisor deals with a never-ending range of papers of all kinds, which means clearness, logic and legibility of your work are a must.

Since your research proposal must be written by you, it is important to cite all the sources that you took information from. Even if you’ve copied a single sentence from some journal or online library, you have no right to leave it like that – plagiarism is something that you will get punished for.

Title Page

Your research proposal starts with the title page, where you have to give some personal details such as your name, your position at your college, academic tile if any, your date of birth, your private address, nationality, your work, email. Then you write down the title of your future research project (or dissertation). Do not forget that at this moment, you can provide only the so-called working title. However, it is important that you pick each word for your title carefully, making sure all words in your title work together. Besides, it is important to provide the title that is short, comprehensive, accurate and clearly indicating the topic under study. It is important to mention that you will come up with the final version of your title only when you decide on the narrow focus of your research.

The author of the research proposal should also name the area of his or her research, for instance – Electronic Engineering, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, and so on.
It is important that you set realistic deadline that you are going to get the project done.

Write an Abstract

An abstract in a research proposal is a short summary that includes up to 300 words. In it, you have to provide the research question that you’re going to answer, the study foundation, the hypothesis, your methods and the key findings. When you describe your methods, you may need to mention the procedures, design and instruments that you’re going to apply in the process of work.

Make Compelling Introduction

Being the starting point of your research proposal, introduction should provide your supervisor with a clear understanding of what you’re going to do. A professionally written introduction section will help the author to create a hooking case for the research proposal in IT.

First of all, we would like to stress that your introduction sets the context for the research. You simply do that through telling your funders about what is already known about your topic and what aspects require further exploration. In this part, the author can mention the way his or her work is going to contribute to the existing knowledge in the chosen topic and to IT area in general.
Include a hypothesis into your introduction part in order to let your reader know what made you develop this particular research design. In order to have a strong and logical hypothesis, we recommend to ask the questions like:

  • What is the main problem of my research?
  • How does the problem-related study topic sound?
  • What method(s) should I apply in order to analyze that problem?
  • What makes my research work important, after all? Is it significant? If yes, why? Are its outcomes going to impress the supervisor and the IT experts in general?

If you know that eventually your proposal will become a very long and complex project, feel free to provide a few of separate sections where you place all detailed information pieces on the context and background, your goals and the importance of the research.

Write Literature Review

To provide your research proposal with the right context background, you need to write a special literature review section. This is where you demonstrate your awareness of the past and present research done on your topic. For instance, if you work on the topic ‘Social Media Privacy’, you can mention such important research works as ‘A Comprehensive Study On Privacy and Security in Social Media’ done for International Conference on Information Security & Privacy or ‘Human Behavior and Social Networks’ by Adrian David Cheok, Bosede Iyiade Edwards and Idris Oladele Muniru. What is more, in a literature review section you have to demonstrate how your research is going to contribute to the knowledge that we have today in the sphere of Information Technology.
At the same time, we warn you to be careful and never turn this part of your research proposal into a list or a rough summary. Instead, use a story-like style to summarize, evaluate and synthesize existing research in order to hook your readers while revealing the gap that your work will attempt to fill.

Describe Your Research Work (Methodology)

This is the core of your research proposal, where you provide all detailed about your proposed approach or methodology. You can also title this sections “Methodology” and include precise explanation of your work. In your explanations, make sure to stay away from laymen and give your preference to addressing the IT sphere experts.
The way you arrange all the details in this part depends on what kind of research you’re going to perform – quantitative or qualitative. Regardless of the topic of your research, you will include the parts like ‘Instrumentation’, ‘Analysis’, ‘Research Design’ and so on. You may include some details about what exactly you’re going to do in order to improve social networking privacy protection. The other sub-parts of this section might be ‘Applicability’, ‘Consistency’, etc.
You, as the author of your future research in IT, have to also mention the other methods that exist at the moment and point out why the one you prefer using is the best one to perform your research.

No matter how good your knowledge of the IT sphere is, always remain realistic about what you’re planning accomplish eventually, explicit about the chosen focus and clear about everything that your research is based on.

Include a timetable for the proposed research (make it clear and detailed), if applicable.

Research Bibliography

Provide the separate section for all the academic works that you have mentioned in your paper. It is recommended to use the most recent works. This will prove that you are fully aware of the newest discoveries and research. You might be tempted to list the publications that you have never used, but we do not recommend you doing so. Never just copy-paste bibliographies from the other sources. If you’re stuck with some of the publications that are not accessible where you live, you can list them separately and let your readers know that you couldn’t get access to them.

Schedule Your Research

Some of the supervisor may ask you to provide a detailed timeline of your research proposal in order to let him know what you’re going to do at every stage and how much time you’ll need for it. Find out more about the requirements of your supervisor or funders to see if you have to provide research schedule.

Here’s an example of a schedule for your research proposal in IT:

  1. Literature review & background research. At this stage, you contact and meet your supervisor, do a more extensive review of all literature that is available, check the research questions and provide a theoretical framework.
    Deadline: 10 January
  2. Plan up your research design. Work on your questionnaires, find online sources where you could invite participants to your research, finalize data analysis methods.
    Deadline: 15 March
  3. Collect data. Choose your participants and send out your questionnaires. Feel free to interview some of them in order to have precise data in the end.
    Deadline: 18 April
  4. Analyze your data. Check survey data, analyze it. Check interview results and draft chapters for discussion.
    Deadline: 17 May
  5. Write your research proposal. Get the complete thesis draft done. Set an appointment with your supervisor to get a professional feedback.
    Deadline: 14 July
  6. Revise your paper. Change your draft based on the given feedback and make sure to get your supervisor’s approval. Edit, print it out and submit.
    Deadline: assigned by the funders.


Manage your time wisely in order to have enough time for editing once you finish your research proposal. Make sure your paper doesn’t include any punctuation, style or grammar mistakes. Check the title correctness, and whether your work actually reflects its meaning. Ensure to ask an expert to take a look at your proposal before you submit it. For instance, if you work on ‘Healthcare information technology as the means to improve the quality and safety of care’, approach someone who works in hospitals, medical or diagnostic centers for a feedback.

Any Pitfalls?

More often than not, students fail to submit a strong research proposal for their IT course because of all the weaknesses of their work. In order to keep away from any sort of failures, follow some advice that we have for you:

  • Make sure that you stated your question, idea or research problem clearly and persuasively so that it shows the current gap in today’s knowledge. Take your time as you come up with the questions – at the very beginning of your work, these questions can be equally important as your findings.
  • Ensure to get as much information as possible about every departments that you’re going to deal with in order to make certain there are people interested in your research question and are ready to supervise your research proposal writing. Get in touch with your potential supervisor as early as possible, as well as provide him or her with a perfect version of your project for professional feedback.
  • Structure your research proposal in a logical manner. Chaotically formed research proposals demonstrate your lack of seriousness about the project and prove that your future research may suffer the same.
  • Make certain that the project scope is reasonable and keep in mind all the limits to the complexity and size of the work that can be written within the given period. Your supervisor will assess your project not only for its significant and intellectual power, but also for the likelihood that you will be able to accomplish it successfully.
  • Ensure that every other sentence of your research proposal proves how passionate you are about your topic and the area of IT in general. Keep in mind that your potential funders may not be professionals in IT, which is why you have to make your proposal as attractive to your audience as you possible can!
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