A research proposal is generally required for any research opportunity that you wish to pursue. This document is a clear account of the research that you plan to undertake. It is your chance to explain what you want to study and its significance. It is also an occasion to show the expertise you already have in the field.
Your research proposal describes the who, what, where, when, and why of your project. It should:
- establish your research question;
- explain why the research is important to your field;
- say where you and with whom you will work;
- describe how you will answer your question; and
- discuss the wider impact of your research.
Research is almost never done in a vacuum. Plan to talk with your professors and other students about your questions and plans.
Leave enough time to write several drafts of the research proposal. Show it to your professors, other students, and URF advisers for constructive feedback. Having a range of opinions is useful since review committees for fellowships are not always made up of specialists in your field. How your work impacts the wider world is important.