Composing a Good Research Paper Proposal Cover Page

Your proposal paper for your dissertation or thesis may be the most important first impression you’ll ever make. It can be the deal maker or deal breaker for your plans for graduate school. The cover page, or title page as it is sometimes called, is how you present your proposal to the institution in a standardized manner.

It’s all about the standards

Your cover page is the first thing your audience will see. It must be complete, must meet the standards of the institution to which you are submitting your proposal, and it must meet whatever individual specifications your department or program demands. It should also include a title that provides the focus of your investigation.

General tips: Regardless of your topic, some elements of a fantastic cover page are standard.

  • Be sure the title emphasizes the most important aspects of the investigation.
  • Keep your title concise, around 10 words or 60 characters maximum.
  • Use a subtitle if you need it to distinguish the focus of the proposal.
  • Avoid use of common jargon or local vernacular.

Components to include

Exactly what information is to be included on the title page may vary from instructor to instructor, from department to department, and from university to university. Make sure you obtain specific guidelines from the committee or individual who will be judging your proposal.

There are some components of a cover page that are basically universal, however. We’ve compiled a list here of the most frequently included ones and a brief description of what needs to be included in each.

  • Personal data: While this should be fairly self-explanatory, there are certain components that need to be included here. You name and academic title should be listed. You should also include your position at the university (if any), and your contact information.
  • Working title. This should be the title of your planned dissertation or research thesis. This may not be your final title but the working title at the beginning is acceptable. Choose the title with great care. The title should be accurate, descriptive and as comprehensive as possible but also brief and clear.
  • Faculty mentor(s). Your title page should include the name and contact information for your faculty mentor(s). Avoid the fancy fonts. Stick to professional fonts, such as Times New Roman or Arial. Don’t embellish with fancy cursive or calligraphy fonts.

Your proposal is the key to fulfilling your dreams of graduate school and that advanced degree. The cover page of your proposal is your foot in the door. Make sure you give it the attention it needs.

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