Research proposal guidelines

General guidelines

  • Proposal should be 4-6 pages in length (double-spaced). This page limit does not include references, additional figures, 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 (e.g., how the project will contribute to your academic development)
  • describe how your background in academics and/or other areas has prepared you to do this project
  • discuss relevant literature and/or previous work in the area done by you and by others
  • describe the project: what exactly are you planning to do
  • 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

  • Personal circumstances: if you would like the committee to know of any financial needs or other circumstances, you may include that information
    • If you do not plan to work on the research full time during your leave term, state this specifically and note the amount of time you intend to devote to the project
    • If you will be doing anything else during the term of your proposed research (e.g. internship, employment, personal travel) explain the other activities and specify number of hours per week that you will be devoting to those.
    • 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