Research proposal guidelines

General guidelines

  • Proposal should be 4-6 pages in length (double-spaced). This page limit does not include references, additional figures, timeline, etc.  Do not include a cover page or your abstract in the proposal document.
  • Name your documents with your last name, your first name, dash, and what the document is (e.g. smithjoan-proposal.doc, smithjoan-budget.pdf)
  • Submit your proposal via the online application form as a Word document or as a PDF.  Be sure your file has the appropriate extension (.doc or .pdf).
  • If you use the track changes feature to get feedback on your proposal, be sure to accept or reject the changes and turn off reviewing and turn off comments (and re-save the document) before submitting. Close the document and reopen it to be sure that all tracking and comments have actually been removed.
  • Your application will not be considered for funding unless your research mentor confirms that he/she has seen the final version of your proposal.  It is your responsibility to consult with your research mentor about your proposal and to ensure that he/she has seen the final version before the application deadline.


Your proposal must be divided into sections as described below (be sure to clearly label the sections):

1.  Project information

  • state what the project is
  • explain why the project is important
  • discuss relevant literature and/or previous work in the area
  • describe the project: what exactly are you planning to do
  • Additional information:
    • describe how your background in academics and/or other areas has prepared you to do this project
    • describe any language and/or cultural barriers as well as potential safety concerns you may encounter in the course of your project

2.  Timeline for the project

  • include a timeline for your research (for example, list what you expect to be doing each week during your project)
  • if you plan to travel off campus for your research, provide an itinerary for where you plan to be and when you will be there

3.  Additional information

    • Confirm that you will be working on this research full time throughout the funded term.
    • If you will be doing anything else during the term of your proposed research (e.g. employment, personal travel, extracurricular activities) explain what these are and specify number of hours per week that you will be devoting to them.
    • If the research is related to your senior honors thesis, explain the relationship of the research to your honors thesis (proposed or in progress) and also specify whether your research advisor is also your thesis advisor
    • Describe your understanding of the Shoals Marine Lab facility and how you will adapt to the island's relative isolation