Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: September 15, 2023


Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report

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Research is a detailed study on a subject or topic the researcher is passionate about or needs to work on. It is a quest to find an answer to a question or a solution to a problem. Research is done by students to complete their course requirements, by Ph.D. scholars to earn their doctorate on a particular subject, by scientists to prove a theory, or by organizations for various purposes. Individuals who conduct research are commonly known as researchers.

Research proposals and research reports are very integral parts of a research study. A research proposal is a written plan of the research one wants to conduct. It shows the gist of the research problem and why it is necessary to conduct the research. It is on the main used to get the approval to conduct research. Only when a research proposal gets approved a researcher can start the research work.

The research report, on the other hand, is made after the research process is complete. It is a written document of the whole research work. It consists of all the facts and findings from the research work that may be useful in the future. Research cannot be complete without a research report.

Research Proposal vs Research Report

Research proposals and research reports play very distinctive roles in the research work. While a research proposal is the first step toward research, a research report is prepared after all the research work is complete. The research proposal describes what the researcher intends to do with research and how. The research report is documentation of the whole research process and the result. Likewise, there are many other differences between the two.

Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report in Tabular Form

ParameterResearch ProposalResearch Report
MeaningIt is a short introduction to the research problem and why it needs to be done.It describes the complete research work from the beginning to the end.
OrderIt is prepared at the beginning of a research project.It is prepared at the end of the research study.
PurposeIt is prepared to express the need for the research and get the approval to conduct research.It is prepared to document all the parts of the research and make it accessible to a wider audience.
FocusIt focuses on the research problem.It puts its focus on the results of the research study.
ComponentsIt contains contents like an introduction, literature review, aims and objectives, research questions, and methodology.It contains components such as introduction, literature review, research questions, methodology, aims and objectives, findings, analysis, results, conclusions, recommendations, and references.
LengthIt is shorter than research reports. It can be 4-6 pages long.It is longer than research proposals. It can be 100-300 pages long.

What is Research Proposal?

A research proposal is a brief introduction to a proposed research study and the intentions behind it. It gives us a glimpse of what the actual research would be like. It also mentions where the researcher wants to conduct research and how the research problem is relevant to this area. It is prepared at the very beginning of the research work. This step is necessary, and one cannot start working on the research without going through this process.

A research proposal is required to help scholars and university students to start their thesis or dissertation. It may involve getting funding for the research, especially for research scholars. To get the approval to conduct research, one needs to convince the authority that research is necessary to be conducted.

A research proposal must clearly explain the motive of the research and what kind of impact it will make on society at large. Only through a well-written research proposal can one get approval and start the research work.

A research proposal is not lengthy but it needs to be carefully written. It needs to be clear and organized. Hence, even preparing a research proposal of 4-6 pages can take some days.


The format of a research proposal may differ in different fields or according to various universities when it comes to applying for a Ph.D. Nevertheless, most of the research proposals comprise the following components:


The introduction also contains many components. In this section, one needs to-

  • Introduce the problem the researcher is targeting to study on
  • Describe the intention of the study
  • Describe the importance of the study in the required area
  • Describe why the readers need to be concerned about the results of the study

The title of the research and its objectives may change a little, even after the proposal gets selected. The guidance of supervisors or mentors may bring more insight to the research, which could lead the change in some parts of the already planned research study. It would still have the same essence as the earlier topic/s.

Background Information

Background information can either be incorporated into the introduction or can be written separately according to the researcher's wish. It mainly includes the context of the study, the problem statement, its scope, the extent to which it was studied before, and how further the researcher will study it.

Literature Review

It is the review of past studies or published information about subjects relating to the topic the researcher wants to study. It also includes a critical evaluation of the articles if they are found to have some limitations or errors.


The objectives are goals that the researcher wants to achieve through the study. These are the major statements that give direction to forming the questions of the study.

Research Questions

These arestatements that are used toguide the research and get results.

Research Design and Methodology

Research design is like a plan on how to go about the research. It is a framework of the research study.

Research methodology is the complete strategy of the research. It contains the topic, objectives, area of research study, research population, sample, type of research, method of data collection, source of data, etc.


The research report must consist of references to articles or books providing relevant information for the research.

What is Research Report?

The preparation of research report begins after the completion of a research study. It is the written documentation of every part of the research in an orderly manner, from the introduction to the conclusion and references. This report is the final product of the research work and is the heart and soul of the research. It contains all the valuable information gathered through the research.

It includes a record of interaction between the researcher and the respondents/cases. It contains facts and findings that can be useful to gather new knowledge.

When a research report is published, it reaches a wider audience who could use the information shared through the research report. A research report is necessary to let the readers know the procedure of the research conducted and find out the results of the research. It can be used for future references for people interested to study the same subject.

Since a research report has many components, it is much lengthier than a research proposal. It takes a lot of time and effort to gather all the information and place them in the required format in the research report. Hence, this is the reason a research report is a valuable asset to the researchers.


A research report is lengthier and consists of more components than a research proposal. It contains most of the contents that are part of the research proposal like introduction, background information, literature review, objectives, research questions, research design, and methodology. Additionally, it contains the following sections:

Interpretation and Analysis

This is the part where the information found after data collection is analyzed carefully and interpreted by the researcher. In a quantitative research study, it would be displayed through tables and figures. In a qualitative study, however, it would be described through case studies.

Major Findings

After the interpretation and analysis, the major findings are noted down. This includes forming major points from the facts gathered from the analysis and interpretation of the research.


This part describes sampling errors, time constraints, lack of previous studies on the topic, inability to access data, and other limitations of the research.


In this part, the researcher notes down some suggestions as to what can one do to solve the problem that the researcher studied. Here the researcher lists out strategies and plans of action. These suggestions may be of use to have a good impact on the area covered by the researcher for his study. These recommendations may be directed toward the public, policymakers, or individuals in the research area.


Here the researcher concludes the research work by writing a gist of what he learned through the research. It would describe what the situation of the problem is and how things can get better.


This part contains the list of names of the books and the links to the sites from where the researcher gathered the information for the research study.


This section is for additional information. It may not be immediately necessary for the research but can be included to provide some raw data like pictures, questionnaires or interview schedules, maps, drawings, etc. This part does not contain the necessary information, and the research must be able to stand alone without an appendix.

Main Differences Between Research Proposal and Research Report in Points

  • A research proposal introduces the research problem and the strategies planned to conduct the research. A research report, however, contains all the information gathered during and after the research.
  • Since a research proposal is a gist of the actual research, it is brief if we compare it to a research report. A research report, however, is lengthier as it contains all the parts of a research.
  • A research proposal aims at getting approval to conduct the research, whereas a research report aims to show the result of the research. 
  • A research proposal is prepared to describe why it is necessary. However, a research report is prepared to document all the parts of the research and keep it for future use.
  • A research proposal is prepared before the research begins, whereas a research report is written after the research is conducted.
  • A research proposal consists of fewer chapters as it is just a gist of what needs to be done. A research report, however, has more sections as it contains everything about the research from the start to the end.
  • A research proposal describes the future actions that need to be taken to conduct the research, whereas research report documents all the past actions taken by the researcher to complete the research study.
  • A research proposal is written in the future tense, whereas a research report is written in the past tense.


Research proposal and research work are both necessary documents in research. A research cannot be conducted without a research proposal, and the research is incomplete without a research report.

A research proposal is the plan of the research that shows why it is necessary to conduct the research study and how it will be conducted. It is used to convince the authority to approve the research study.

On the other hand, a research report is a documentation of the whole research process, including facts and findings gathered during the research process. To a researcher, it would be like a final product of all the efforts put into the research.

Both the research proposal and research report have a few similar components. Introduction, background information, literature review, objectives, research questions, research design, methodology, and references are components in both research proposal and report. But a research report contains additional information gathered during and after the research work. This is why a research proposal is shorter and a research report is comparatively lengthier. Nevertheless, preparing both a research proposal and a research report takes effort and a lot of studying.

It is undeniable that both the research proposal and research report are distinctive, and both are integral to the research work.


  • https://research.com/research/how-to-write-a-research-proposal
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037942/


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"Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sun. 03 Mar. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-research-proposal-and-research-report>.

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