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Proposal Writing for International Research Projects

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Reference citations are needed for any statement in your proposal which is not of common knowledge and that requires information on the source. Focus on the few most relevant and most recent references, preferably those of international research journals. Avoid “grey” literature, text books and online or web references.

Some rules when citing references in the proposal text document:

  • Single author publications: “author (year)” or “(author, year)”.
A summary of green manure effects on soil parameters is presented by Becker (1987) Green manure effects on soil parameters have been summarized previously (Becker, 1987)
  • Two-author references: “author1 and author2 (year)” or “author1 and author2, year”.
A extensive review of Holocene palaeoenvironmental research in the central Sahara is given by Schütt and Krause (2009). A review of Holocene palaeoenvironmental research in the central Sahara already exists (Schütt and Krause, 2009).
  • Publications by more than two authors: “author1 et al. (year)” or “(author1 et al., year)”.
The geomorphology of the Nam Co Basin is examined by Schütt et al. (2007) An geomorphological analysis of the Nam Co Basin already exists (Schütt et al., 2007).

Pfeiffer Library

Writing a Research Proposal

  • Parts of a Research Proposal
  • Structure of a Research Proposal
  • Common Proposal Writing Mistakes
  • Proposal Writing Resources

The following sources were used in the creation of this guide:

Academic Writer—Browse learn objects . (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2021, from/learn/browse?group=QG

Al-Riyami, A. (2008). How to prepare a research proposal. Oman Medical Journal , 23 (2), 66–69.

Locke, L. F., Spirduso, W. W., & Silverman, S. J. (2007). Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals (University of Cincinnati; 5th ed.). Sage Publications.

McCombes, S. (2019, May 2). How to Write a Research Proposal | Guide and Template . Scribbr.

Robbins, S. P. (2016). Finding your voice as an academic writer (and writing clearly). Journal of Social Work Education , 52 (2), 133–135.

Van Ekelenburg, H. (2010). The art of writing good research proposals. Science Progress , 93 (4), 429–442.

Wallwork, A., & Southern, A. (2020). 100 Tips to Avoid Mistakes in Academic Writing and Presenting . Springer International Publishing.

What are the three elements of Academic Voice What steps will you take to | Course Hero . (n.d.). Retrieved February 8, 2021, from

Wong, P. (2002). How to write a research proposal. Dr. Paul T.P. Wong , 5.

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Thesis, major paper, and major project proposals

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how to write references in project proposal

The RRU Writing Centre has extensive APA Style resources (see below in Resources ), and if you're a RRU student, please contact us via the WriteAnswers contact form if you have any APA Style questions.

how to write references in project proposal

  • Extensive resources on APA Style (7th ed.), including the APA Style (7th ed.) Help Guide , checklists, sample papers, and much more.

APA Style Blog

  • Posts by APA Style Experts from the American Psychological Association on a variety of APA Style (7th ed.) topics, including references.

Legal Citation

  • Information on using the rules of the McGill Law Journal's  Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation , which is also referred to as the  McGill Guide.


  • RRU Writing Centre's searchable knowledge base with extensive APA Style FAQs; also a contact point for RRU students to send questions to the Writing Centre.

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Project proposal guidelines

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1. Abstract of max 200 words. It should be indicative of the methodology and the expected outcome 2. Introduction : Any existing technology /state of the art , existing applications, products 3. How is it linked to Digital communication systems ? 4. Deliverables/expected outcomes 5. References: You must convey in one or two sentences the contents of the reference which is relevant in your project 6. List of references The reference list should appear at the end of your document. Begin the list on a new page. The title References should be either left justified or centered on the page. The entries should appear as one numerical sequence in the order that the material is cited in the text of your assignment.

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—These instructions give you guidelines for preparing papers for IEEE TRANSACTIONS and JOURNALS. Use this document as a template if you are using Microsoft Word 6.0 or later. Otherwise, use this document as an instruction set. The electronic file of your paper will be formatted further at IEEE. Define all symbols used in the abstract. Do not cite references in the abstract. Do not delete the blank line immediately above the abstract; it sets the footnote at the bottom of this column. Index Terms—About four key words or phrases in alphabetical order, separated by commas. For a list of suggested keywords, send a blank e-mail to [email protected] or visit the IEEE web site at

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What to include in a research proposal

You should check with each department to find out whether they provide a specific template for submission.

The word count for research proposals is typically 1,000-1,500 words for Arts programmes and around 2,500 words for Birmingham Law School programmes. Each subject area or department will have slightly different requirements for your research proposal, such as word length and the volume of literature review required. It is a good idea to contact the department before you apply. 

Typically, your research proposal should include the following information:

2. Research overview

3. research context.

A well-written introduction is an efficient way of getting your reader’s attention early on. This is your opportunity to answer the questions you considered when preparing your proposal: why is your research important? How does it fit into the existing strengths of the department? How will it add something new to the existing body of literature?

It is unlikely that you will be able to review all relevant literature at this stage, so you should explain the broad contextual background against which you will conduct your research. You should include a brief overview of the general area of study within which your proposed research falls, summarising the current state of knowledge and recent debates on the topic. This will allow you to demonstrate a familiarity with key texts in the relevant field as well as the ability to communicate clearly and concisely.

4. Research questions

The proposal should set out the central aims and key questions that will guide your research. Many research proposals are too broad, so make sure that your project is sufficiently narrow and feasible (i.e. something that is likely to be completed within the normal time frame for a PhD programme).

You might find it helpful to prioritise one or two main questions, from which you can then derive a number of secondary research questions. The proposal should also explain your intended approach to answering the questions: will your approach be empirical, doctrinal or theoretical, etc.?

5. Research methods

How will you achieve your research objectives? The proposal should present your research methodology, using specific examples to explain how you are going to conduct your research (e.g. techniques, sample size, target populations, equipment, data analysis, etc.).

Your methods may include visiting particular libraries or archives, field work or interviews. If your proposed research is library-based, you should explain where your key resources are located. If you plan to conduct field work or collect empirical data, you should provide details about this (e.g. if you plan interviews, who will you interview? How many interviews will you conduct? Will there be problems of access?). This section should also explain how you are going to analyse your research findings.

A discussion of the timescale for completing your research would also beneficial. You should provide a realistic time plan for completing your research degree study, showing a realistic appreciation of the need to plan your research and how long it is likely to take. It is important that you are not over-optimistic with time frames.

6. Significance of research

The proposal should demonstrate the originality of your intended research. You should therefore explain why your research is important (for example, by explaining how your research builds on and adds to the current state of knowledge in the field or by setting out reasons why it is timely to research your proposed topic) and providing details of any immediate applications, including further research that might be done to build on your findings.

Please refer to our top tips page for further details about originality.

7. References

  Read our top tips for writing a research proposal

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Candid Learning

Candid learning offers information and resources that are specifically designed to meet the needs of grantseekers..

Candid Learning > Resources > Knowledge base

How should I cite sources in a grant proposal?

Your goal is to make it easy for your readers to find and refer to your original source, so that they can confirm the information that you presented and judge its quality for themselves.

If the funder hasn't given specific instructions about how to cite your sources, provide the full citation in a footnote on the same page where you quoted or paraphrased the material. Aim to find and cite the original source, instead of an article that summarized the data or results.

To know what information to include in a citation, use the style guide typically used for your field. Most nonprofits would probably follow American Psychological Association (APA) style . Reference or citation management software can also be a useful tool to help format citations for grant proposals.

Henry Flood, senior grant management advisor for The Grantsmanship Center in Los Angeles, further suggests that organizations should have a grants policy that requires citations in all proposals and someone to review and verify sources.

Have a question about this topic? Ask us!

Candid's Online Librarian service will answer your questions within two business days.

Explore resources curated by our staff for this topic:

Staff-recommended websites.

See "Reference Examples" section to learn how to cite common types of sources.

Grants: Guarding Against Application Fraud

Whether your organization is a large, multifaceted university or a small family service center, guarding against fraud in grant proposals is a responsibility of good management.

Purdue OWL: Grant Writing

This resource provides guidelines for grant writing in general and in the scientific disciplines. Note that the specific requirements of funding agencies vary significantly, and should always be consulted carefully before a grant proposal is begun.

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How to write References in your Final Year Project

How to Write References in your Final Year Project

References in your final year project form a vital part of your work or any other academic writing piece. Citing your information source by acknowledging a book, journal and author is very important. And that is what a good reference covers. References can be written wrongly for people who do not understand how it works.

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Your final year project is going to be all about presenting evidence that you are ready to enter your chosen field. So how can you make sure your references sound natural and relevant? Writing references is an important component of any academic final year project. To get the best marks and recommendations for your work, it is important to include the right kind of references.

In this article, I will share some helpful tips on how to write a good reference for a final year project or any academic writing piece. But before we go into that, I would like to explain what reference entails in academic writing briefly.

Table of Contents

What is a Reference?

The reference in the thesis is the main source of support that demonstrates the validity of your claims. It is often written as a bibliography list, in which the source citation is included at the end of the paragraph. It’s important to cite all sources that support the claims you make. Remember that citations are not just the author’s last name; they are also the title, publication date, and page numbers.

Reference refers to the citing of a document or source that inspires a particular passage in writing. It is applicable in books, magazines, websites, and all forms of academic writing. Any quote, transportation, or information that you write from a research project must be referenced at the end of the report.

Importance of writing references in your final year project

In general, a reference is simply a piece of writing, usually written by another author, that provides additional, relevant information to the reader about a topic. When you refer to something, you are providing the reader with extra information about the topic.

This makes your writing more interesting, informative, and engaging. A reference is a great way to demonstrate your research skills and knowledge in your writing. References are also useful if you’re writing about a specific event or situation that happened in the past.

One of the most common mistakes I see first-time students make is not providing enough evidence to support their argument. In a persuasive essay, this means that the author has to demonstrate that the reader believes them. The best way to accomplish this is to show the reader why your argument is true.

The best way to demonstrate your argument is to provide evidence or examples of how your argument is true. This doesn’t mean you need to provide an entire research paper, but it does mean you need to provide a sufficient amount of evidence for the reader to accept your argument.

Writing references in your final year project must not be overlooked for the following reasons;

  • It gives credit and cites the source of your information.
  • It gives the reader easy access to your project’s information. References in a project work also build a reader’s trust in any writing.
  • Referencing other sources in your project helps to support your work academically.
  • This practice shows signs of your professionalism and scholarship.
  • It makes sure that you do not violate any copyright restrictions

Tips on Writing References in Your Final Year Project

The biggest challenge when referencing in your final year project is how to organize your references in a manner that makes sense for your project. I recommend using the following guide to help keep your reference list organized:

  • Keep it short. Don’t list more than what is necessary.
  • Keep them consistent with your academic style.
  • Use a mix of books, magazines, articles, web pages, etc.
  • If the source you cite also supports your stance, you should explain why the ideas should be trusted.
  • On the other hand, if the source contradicts your stance, you should explain why they should trust your idea is very necessary.
  • Finally, if your sources contradict each other’s views, you must take a stand on one of these views and explain your reasons.

How do you Cite Resources? 

So, how do you cite sources? This is a very common question in final-year projects. The answer is easy: use APA style. However, there are many different types of sources and each requires a different citation style. There are many different citation styles in academic writing. Some of them include APA, MLA, Turabian, Chicago, and others.

The APA citation style is considered the most popular style. It is suitable for almost any type of academic writing. Most teachers will accept it, so you can be confident that it will work well.

So, which style of source citation should you use? That depends entirely on the format of your project. If you’re writing an article, your citations should follow the MLA guidelines. However, if you’re writing a book, you should follow the Chicago Manual of Style.

A standard for referencing is to use Harvard, APA, or MLA format. While there are many differences between these styles, one commonality among them is that all three require that you include page numbers (numbering only) within your text. The way this is done varies depending on the style being used. All three styles have sections and subsections.

1-Use APA Style

APA style is the one used in most universities and academic institutions. The format of APA style includes a title page, an abstract, the main text with a bibliography, and a reference list. These elements should appear in that order.

An APA citation begins with an author, a title, and an appropriate page number. These items appear in the same order within the reference. References are a little tricky to get right, but with some practice, they’re easy to format and insert into the text. Here are a few examples of the steps that go into creating a proper citation:

Kabir, J. M. (2016). Factors influencing customer satisfaction at a fast food hamburger chain: The relationship between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty (Publication No. 10169573) [Doctoral dissertation, Wilmington University]. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.

Miranda, C. (2019). Exploring the lived experiences of foster youth who obtained graduate level degrees: Self-efficacy, resilience, and the impact on identity development (Publication No. 27542827) [Doctoral dissertation, Pepperdine University]. PQDT Open.

Zambrano-Vazquez, L. (2016). The interaction of state and trait worry on response monitoring in those with worry and obsessive-compulsive symptoms [Doctoral dissertation, University of Arizona]. UA Campus Repository.

2-Use Harvard Style

It is important to note that the Harvard- style referencing system is the most popular. It is slightly different from the APA style, but they all have the same purpose. Below is some information on how to write the reference section of your project using the Harvard referencing style.

To cite a Harvard paper, you need to include the author’s surname (and any initials), the year of publication, the page number(s) and the volume number, and the issue number.

Harvard’s Style of Referencing a Book:

  • The Author’s surname and initials
  • Year of Publication and title of the book
  • Edition or volume
  • The place of the publication and the publisher

Example; MOHAMMED, Y., AND ADAM, G., 1989. A long walk from a step 2nd Edition Niger; Newswatch.

Harvard’s Style of Referencing an Article in a Journal

The elements to be cited include;

  • Author’s name, initials
  • Year of Publication
  • Title of the article
  • Volume and part number in bracket
  • Page number of contributions

Example; JAMES, T.B., 2007. Approaches to intelligent information retrieval.  Information processing and management, 7 (2), 147-168.

Reference to a contribution to a book:

  • Contributing Author’s Surname and Initials
  • Publication year and title of the contribution made.
  • Initials, surname, of the author or publication
  • Title of the book
  • Place of Publication and Publisher.
  • Page(s) of contribution.

Example; Bantz, C.R., 1995. Social dimensions of software development. In: J.A. Anderson, ed. Annual review of software management and development. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, 502–510.

FAQ- Frequently Asked Questions

What is a reference list.

What is a reference list? A reference list is a list of the sources you have used in your writing. The purpose of the list is to show your readers that you have been thorough when you wrote your paper. Your sources will be listed in order from the most relevant source to the least relevant one. The reason for listing the sources is to let your readers find your sources easily. The reader will know exactly which source has influenced your paper.

To create a good academic paper, you will need to write down everything that you need to say in your paper. You need to include your sources in the reference list. Your sources are the materials that you used to gather information for your paper. Your sources may include articles, websites, books, etc.

These are all the things you refer to in your paper. You need to make sure that these items are listed in the correct order and that they are placed in the correct place in your paper. You also need to include a bibliography at the end of your paper to show all the sources you used.

How to format your references

If you’re using research, your references need to have titles, headings, and subheadings. References can range from academic studies to news articles to business reports. Some academic journal websites have links to the online versions of articles, allowing you to see the citation and making it easier to find what you’re looking for.

Citations should have the author name (including author affiliation), title, year, page number, volume number, and any other relevant information. Headings and subheadings are a great way to organize the material and make it easier for readers to find what they’re looking for.

Final Thoughts: How to Write References in your Final Year Project

In conclusion, references are a significant part of academic writing. They give credit to authors whose ideas you have discussed, either directly or indirectly. They are often cited by other scholars who cite your work. You are expected to name all your sources. In general, you should try to give credit where it’s due.

Referencing your final year project and other academic writing is essential. It provides a great deal on the credibility of your work.

There are a few things to keep in mind when writing references. Make sure to include the author’s name and the title of the book or article. Be sure to include the page number(s) of the book or article. Include the publisher. In a journal, include the volume number and issue number. In a magazine, include the year. In books, include the page numbers.

Also, include a summary of the information you are referencing. For example, “This is the first time I’ve ever seen this happen.” Or, “This is the second time I’ve ever seen this happen.” In your summary, include the context. What is it that you are writing about? How does it fit into the broader scope of your paper?

Although there are various referencing styles, the APA and Havard’s kinds of references are one of the most popular and widely used in the world. That is why I have used it in this article.

Edited and Updated by Brook Abebe

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University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Writing a research proposal @ pitt: writing & citing.

  • Getting Started
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When it's Time to Write . . .

  • Write clearly. Don't make your readers guess what you mean.
  • Write concisely. Don't waste limited space on repetition or unnecessary text.
  • Write from the reader's point of view. Make reasons, assumptions, and connections explict. 
  • Assume non-experts in your field will also read your proposal. Knowledgeable "lay" readers should understand the introductory and general sections. Avoid jargon.
  • Have a professional colleague read your draft for content.
  • Have a non-expert read and critique your draft for readability and comprehensibility.
  • If English is not your native language, have a native speaker review your draft for grammar and expression.
  • Check factual data -- numbers, dates, names, etc. -- when you enter them in the document. It may be easier than catching mistakes later.
  • Proofread very carefully!

Citing Sources Using a Citation Manager

Keep track of all of your reference lists and bibliographies. Pitt's library resources work with citation management tools and allow you to import citations from sources like PittCat and article databases. 

  • Mendeley Mendeley manages your reference lists and serves as an academic social network. Organize your research, collaborate with others online, and discover the latest research.
  • EndNote EndNote allows you to search online bibliographic databases, organize references and create and format instant bibliographies. It's integrated with Microsoft Word as well.
  • Zotero Zotero is an application that collects, manages, and cites research sources. It's easy to use, connects with your web browser to download sources, and best of all it's free.
  • Citation Help Need help with formatting citations? Use this brief guide to five major styles.
  • EndNote Guide (ULS)
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  • Sign up for a ULS training session

Style Guides and Manuals

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  9. What to include in a research proposal

    sources that may be relevant to your project. Read our top tips for writing

  10. How should I cite sources in a grant proposal?

    Reference or citation management software can also be a useful tool to help format citations for grant proposals. Henry Flood, senior grant management advisor

  11. How to Write References in your Final Year Project

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  12. Writing a Research Proposal @ Pitt: Writing & Citing

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    For example: “Another important study in the area (Chan and Gibbs, 2003) found that…” Later on, in the bibliography, you will provide a full citation to all the

  14. Citations and References

    How to Write a Research Proposal Using APA Style. Rules of Presentation. The APA Publication Manual not only specifies a format; it also describes the style