Guidelines for Research Proposal

A research proposal should be prepared and typed by each graduate student for review by their research committee. The proposal should be largely the work of the graduate student and will not be written by the advisor. This proposal should not be the same proposal used to fulfill the Comprehensive Examination requirement. This proposal should be distributed to the student's graduate committee, and the proposal should document the reason(s) why the work is important, how the work is novel, and should demonstrate that the proposed research can be accomplished within the time frame of the degree. Students are encouraged to state a hypothesis in the proposal.

Cover page

Include a title, primary investigator name and dates of proposed work performance.

Research Plan

Organize Sections A-D of the Research Plan to answer these questions. (A) What do you intend to do? (B) Why is the work important? (C) What has already been done? (D) How are you going to do the work?

  1. Specific Aims: State the broad, long-term objectives and describe concisely and realistically what the specific research described in this application is intended to accomplish and any hypothesis to be tested. No more than one page is recommended.
  2. Background and Significance: Briefly sketch the background to the present proposal, critically evaluate existing knowledge, and specifically identify the gaps which the project is intended to fill. State concisely the importance of the research described in this application by relating the specific aims to the broad, long-term objectives. No more than two pages are recommended.
  3. Research Design and Methods: Outline the research design and the procedures to be used to accomplish the specific aims of the project. Include the means by which the data will be collected, analyzed, and interpreted. Describe any new methodology and its advantage over existing methodologies. Although no specific number of pages is recommended for this section of the application, the total for Sections A-D should not exceed 15 pages.
  4. Timetable: Provide a tentative sequence or timetable for the investigations, including starting and completion dates.


Use citations from sections 2 a, b, and c according to format of either the Journal of Nutrition or the Journal of Nutrition Education.


Identify the most critical items, including personnel, materials and supplies, equipment, equipment usage fees, travel expenses, publication costs, etc. and provide a short justification for any budget items. Limit the itemized budget to no more than 1 page and the justification to no more than 2 pages.


Identify key collaborators and/or consultants necessary to complete the proposed work.

* (items apply only to proposals prepared for Student Competitive Research Awards.)