Everything from A to Z on How to Write a Research Proposal in Music

Writing guide
Posted on March 11, 2020

A high-grade research proposal in music will assist you in embarking on the project with more confidence. How so? The thing is that this written assignment is the reflection of the clear idea of what the study involves and how the investigation is going to be carried out. A well-prepared research proposal in music increases the student’s chances of obtaining permission for research, getting a high grade, and a degree.

We’ve written a comprehensive manual on writing a music research proposal. It will be useful to those, who aren’t sure of themselves or have never faced this type of assignment before. Upon reading the article, you will know everything that deals with the stage of creating a college piece and will clearly evaluate your chances. Let’s get started, shall we?

How to Write a Research Proposal in Music: Workout the Idea

Usually, it’s assigned by a supervisor. However, a student is free to choose if he/she believes there is a topic that poses more interest both to readers and the field of music. “Interesting” — this is exactly where you can face a few problems. When you are thinking over a topic that is the ear- and mind-catching, consider the following tips:

  1. Take time to think about what particular area of the music field interests you the most and whether or not it poses interest to others.
  2. Check if the topic is researched, by whom and what data has been published.
  3. Think about the contribution that this topic may make into the entire field.
  4. Opt for a topic that is not only interesting but also complicated: yes, it’s true that you’ll spend much time studying it, but this choice usually commands respect. Plus, the entire process is something you admire too.

How to Write a Research Proposal in Music or Structure Is the Essence

Your proposed paper in music gives a comparatively short overview of the whole music issue. Also, it intends to clarify the explanations for undertaking the survey. The word length of the assignment mustn’t exceed 2,000, yet it has to be rather informative and clear. We recommend you to draft it reflecting the structural suggestions listed-below.

1. The title

It must be written to the point. Make it informative to obviously indicate the functional side of the relationship between the two variables: independent and dependen. Also, ascertain the chosen title addresses the main problem under your investigation.

In case you face problems with choosing the topic, start with researching the industry first, find weak or interesting points in the industry of music and decide if writing about anything of this kind could pose any interest to you. Plus, you can ask for tips from your professor: be sure that he/she is knowledgeable in the musical sphere. That is exactly how you’ll be able to evade misunderstandings and disapprovals in future.

2. Introduction or abstract

Different sources offer two different names for the identical structural element. “Introduction” is used more often, that’s why we are going to apply the term in this abstract as well. The introduction is a very short synopsis of future research work. It shouldn’t be longer than half a page (300 words).

The important part of the introduction is a short backstory of the study area that shortly covers the methodologies that you are planning to use. Why shortly? It’s because the used methodology will be the section covered later in your proposed research in music.

Background always explains the value of the issue. It is often melded into the introduction part. But you can choose to present it as a separate part of your proposal. While approaching to write this section, assume that committee members are aware of the researched issue as deeply as you are. The part must not be confused with an essay where you’re revealing all the details of the issue. In the background section, you need to:

  • Name the issue you are studying and provide explanations about the aim of your exploration (it’s a must in case the issue is difficult).
  • Show the meaning of the study specifying the reasons for it to be so crucial to be researched. Make sure you’re answering the SO-WHAT inquiry.
  • Reveal the top critical inquiries you address. Usually, the problems are presented in the form of questions.
  • Shortly explain the main methods you are planning to address while conducting thorough research. Plus, you must identify the main data sources without getting in too deep.
  • Set up the limits of the testing, tell what exactly you are intending to study along with what aspects aren’t going to be covered.
  • Work on defining of the key music concepts in case you believe they are important.

Though there’s much to be covered in this section, it is still not the main one. Remember of the word count: don’t go over 300 words.

3. Literature review

There are seven important functions that a data source review serves:

  • It ensures that a writer is not trying to reinvent the wheel.
  • It provides credits to scientists or musicians that have created the ground for the survey you’re nearly performing.
  • It shows your deep understanding of the issue you’re working on.
  • It shows how well you understand the theory and practice of the researched issue.
  • It depicts your skills in evaluating the relevant information from different sources.
  • It gives the theoretical insights for developing a new model of research.
  • It convinces readers that the proposed survey in music is going to have a significant influence on the sphere on the whole.

Take much time to work on it and make sure it is done according to the specifications. Info source review is now considered to be one of the primary parts of any proposed research in music. It covers the critical outlook of gathered and used information. The initial goal of the section is to allow the committee members to know that you possess significant knowledge of the issue you are researching. Be sure you mention all of the read textbooks, journals, interviews, etc..

4. Designs ( methodology) of the exploration

This is a logically-organized part of your survey in music that covers the choices of methods or study approaches and convinces readers that the chosen techniques correctly impact the researched issue and can definitely give means for clear interpretations of the expected results. Both designs and methods that you enumerate have to touch upon the goals of the survey that you have specified above.

Start by sharing examples from the previous chapter — the data source review. Cover the approaches that were previously applied by other scientists and those new ones that you are planning to apply to data collecting. Be clear when revealing the methodological ways that you are intending to apply to receive the required results. When touching upon the methodologies you are planning to use in your study, make sure you:

  1. Are very clear about the process of the study that you’re going to conduct. Also, stay clear about the way you obtained results will be interpreted and explained in simple words.
  2. Don’t describe the supposable achievements, instead, you have to to specify how you’re planning to spend the time when applying the chosen methods. For example, you’ll spend time coding interview texts for finding the essential information.
  3. Give reasons why these methodologies are important and how they add up to a better problem investigation. If you are just enumerating the methods without demonstrating their significance, you are not making things clearer for a reader of the research proposal in music.
  4. Acknowledge all potential pitfalls and barriers during the course of carrying out the survey. Talk on the way you are intending to address them and deal with them.

And finally, you need to clarify that no methods are universal or perfect for researching and collecting important data. Describe where you believe there may be potential changes in the process of researching and collecting necessary information.

5. Results prediction

This partition of a research proposal is rather tough especially when the research touches upon the music. You have to try and predict the results of the research work. At this stage, any of your predictions may be very inaccurate, yet still, you need to provide them. What for? Your predictions will assist readers in seeing that you already have a general idea of what your research will lead to.

If predictions are too general, your research proposal will possible not be approved. If you don’t want to redo it, stay more specific in your predictions.

NB: As you are crafting a research proposal in music, it is possible that your survey touches upon some ethical issues. Remember that readers are always interested in knowing ethical details, their benefits, and their drawbacks. The more ethical details your work addresses, the more contribution in the field of research you make.

6. Editing

Writing a research proposal in music seems very complicated until the moment you realise there’s more — you need to edit and proofread your paper. As you have completed the draft, check it for the following:

  • It has all the sections we have mentioned above.
  • The sentences aren’t too long. If they are, you can easily improve the quality of writing by dividing one long sentence into a few shorter ones.
  • The paragraphs aren’t too long. Unfortunately, this is one of the commonest issues when it comes to writing a research proposal or any other academic assignment.
  • The writing isn’t vague or awkward. Make sure it is concise, without any superfluous words and is just right to the point of the research topic.
  • The work isn’t a plagiarism piece. Please, use different online plagiarism checking tools to make sure your work is unique. Avoid inadvertent plagiarism.
  • Check the correctness of citing once again.

How to Write a Research Proposal in Music: Top 6 Commonest Mistakes

Of course, one can make numerous mistakes, minor or major. But the six we want to share are the commonest and may cost you a high grade.

  1. You aren’t concise. We’ve mentioned this drawback before. But let’s repeat it once more: your research proposal should be very clear and focused on some clear sense instead of being “all over the map”.
  2. You don’t cite. That’s a huge mistake! No one ever doubts that your survey is grounded unless you fail to provide citations and a number of references. It is true that your work can mostly consist of your own study outcomes, but still, you need to mention those sources that became a sort of your push on the way of your own results.
  3. You don’t delimit contextual boundaries. The proposal has to inform readers of the WHAT and HOW ways of you examining the problem. By providing only results you won’t succeed.
  4. You can’t provide a persuasive argument. Remember that your research proposal must literarily argue for why the research and study should take place.
  5. Your grammar is poor. Nothing can save your proposal (even the deepest and broadest research) if the grammar of the work is really poor. It must be well-written and follow the rules of great academic writing.
  6. You add too many minor details. You have only 2,000 words, so you need to make sure only major details are covered. After the research intention is approved and you have the green light, you can include more details into your full research work.

After reading all the recommendations and tips on how to write a research purpose in music, you may have got a feeling as if completing this assignment is too tough. We won’t hide the truth — it is really complicated but with the instructions that we’ve provided the process will be less troublesome.


  • Bhattarai, A. (2010). Writing a Research Proposal. Journal of NELTA, 6(1).
  • Drummer, O.H. and Bassed, R. (2013). How to write a research proposal and conduct productive research. Pathology, 45, p.S23.
  • Turabian, K.L., Booth, W.C., Colomb, G.G. and Williams, J.M. (2013). A manual for writers of research papers, theses, and dissertations : Chicago Style for students and researchers. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press.
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