A research proposal is an overview of the argument contained in your working thesis statement, sometimes called a hypothesis. It is not based on research, but on what you already know, or think you know, about your topic.


If done well, a research proposal will almost serve as a preliminary outline of your paper. It offers your working thesis (hypothesis) and explanation, which should list the points you want to make. The sub-points are the main points of your paper. And the objections represent the other side of the argument.


This is a good time to reconsider the initial thoughts you had earlier in the module about your thesis (or hypothesis): do you need to rewrite it? If you have trouble filling in the sections below, an improperly formed thesis might be the problem.


The research proposal has 5 parts:


Working Thesis: a one-sentence paragraph; no introduction is necessary.
Explanation: a statement that includes the points you think you will be discussing in your paper.
Subpoints: each sub-point explains more fully a point mentioned in your explanation.
Possible Objections: a brief discussion of the opposition’s point of view.
Reply to Objections: your brief answer to the opposition.


Your research proposal should look like the five parts listed above. The number of sub-points may vary, but if you have only two, you may not have enough material for a good paper. For a simple undergraduate paper, limit your sub-points to 4 or 5.


The point of this exercise is to give you a focus, to force you to think about your topic independently of any research you may do or have done. This will probably serve as a basis for your paper, although it is quite likely that, once you begin your research, some of your ideas will change. That is the point of research: working to find an answer to a question!


Although your early research may have given you some great information, it is not necessary to rely on research for a good research proposal: you are simply outlining the argument that you expect to make in your final paper.


A good research proposal follows the standard format described in this module.


Save your research proposal as lastname_firstinitial_M1A2.doc and submit it to the M1: Assignment 3 Dropbox by Tuesday, April 14, 2015. All written assignments and responses should follow APA rules for attributing sources.


Assignment 3 Grading Criteria

Maximum Points

Working Thesis (making your claim clear)


Explanation (what do you expect to cover in your argument)


Sub-points  (explaining the points covered above)


Possible Objections (what does the “other side” think)


Response to Objections (how do you plan to answer those objections listed above)


Format (have you presented this information in APA style, and in a way that your reader can easily follow)


Usage and Mechanics: Grammar, Spelling, Sentence Structure



Style: Audience, Voice, Word Choice





How can you know if you have done well with this assignment?


This criteria:

Is well written if:

Working Thesis (making your claim clear)

You state your thesis (your main point) in a single, declarative sentence that can be argued using scholarly research. Your thesis is neither too narrow nor too broad. You use no conjunctions.

Explanation (what do you expect to cover in your argument)

You offer a short overview of the main points that you expect to cover in your paper.

Subpoints (explaining the points covered above in detail)

You expand on your overview, with a statement of what you already know about the subject that supports your claim, as well as areas where you will need to do research to fill in your knowledge.

Possible Objections (What does the “other side” think?)

You fairly and completely offer the strongest arguments against your position.

Response to Objections (How do you plan to answer those objections to your thesis listed above?)

You offer your possible responses to the objections listed above. You avoid fallacious argumentation and note the areas where the other side is correct.

Format (Have you followed APA style, and presented this information in a way that your reader can easily follow?)

Your proposal is saved in Microsoft Word®, with an APA style title page. You have five headings (THESIS, EXPLANATION, SUBPOINTS, OBJECTIONS, REPLY TO OBJECTIONS) in capital letters and in the order listed here.

Vocabulary, grammar and punctuation, voice, and word choice. (Are you presenting this work in an academic manner?)

You use appropriate language, avoiding wordiness, while giving the reader all necessary information. You have no spelling, punctuation, sentence, apostrophe, or homophone errors. You remain in the third person voice.






Here is an example of a completed research proposal without the required cover page:

Thesis: Children should be taught in their native languages in elementary school.

Explanation: Children learn better in a familiar environment and need to concentrate on subject matter, not trying to decode information in a language that is foreign to them. Lack of comprehension can lead to lack of acceptable educational progress or failure to finish high school.


  1. It is not the child’s fault that he or she does not speak English.
  2. Each grade has substantial amounts of material to be covered, and having to decode that material in an unfamiliar language can cause students to learn only part of what their peers learn.
  3. Students who fail to learn as quickly as their peers may be held back one or more grades.
  4. Students who are held back are more likely to drop out or fail to finish high school.

Possible Objections:

  1. The student will need the language skills eventually, so it is better to start them early.
  2. Children learn more easily than adults and soak up whatever languages are part of their environment.
  3. Many non-native speakers have been placed in immersion classrooms and have graduated high school with good grades.
  4. Each language adds an expense to school costs.

Reply to Objections:

  1. While it is true that the student will need the language skills eventually, these skills can be taught as a supplement, outside of class hours.
  2. While it is true that children learn more easily than adults and soak up whatever languages are part of their environment, languages take time, and students need to understand today’s lesson today, not at some unspecified time in the future.
  3. While it is true that many non-native speakers have done well, anecdotal evidence does not prove that some students are not struggling.
  4. While it is true that each additional language adds an expense, these costs are no different from those spent to help students with physical or emotional disabilities, family challenges, or other individual needs.

Note that this argument is not set in stone: you can modify your thesis, objections, sub-points, and replies as you engage in research and learn more about your topic. That is part of a well-run research process.