Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report

Main Difference –  Research Proposal vs Research Report

Research proposal and research report are two terms that often confuse many student researchers. A research proposal describes what the researcher intends to do in his research study and is written before the collection and analysis of data. A research report describes the whole research study and is submitted after the competition of the whole research project. Thus, the main difference between research proposal and research report is that a research proposal describes the proposed research and research design whereas a research report describes the completed research, including the findings, conclusion, and recommendations.

This article explains, 

1. What is a Research Proposal?
     – Definition, Purpose, Content, and Characteristics

2. What is a Research Report?
     – Definition, Purpose, Content, and Characteristics

3. What is the difference between Research Proposal and Research Report?Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report - Comparison Summary

What is a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a brief and coherent summary of the proposed research study, which is prepared at the beginning of a research project. The aim of a research proposal is to justify the need for a specific research proposal and present the practical methods and ways to conduct the proposed research. In other words, a research proposal presents the proposed design of the study and justifies the necessity of the specific research. Thus, a research proposal describes what you intend to do and why you intend to do it.

A research proposal generally contains the following segments:

Each of these segments is indispensable to a research proposal. For example, it’s impossible to write a research proposal without reading related work and writing a literature review. Similarly, it’s not possible to decide a methodology without determining specific research questions.

Main Difference - Research Proposal vs Research Report

What is a Research Report

A research report is a document that is submitted at the end of a research project. This describes the completed research project. It describes the data collection, analysis, and the results as well. Thus, in addition to the sections mentioned above, this also includes sections such as,

  • Findings
  • Analysis
  • Conclusions
  • Shortcomings
  • Recommendations

A research report is also known as a thesis or dissertation. A research report is not research plan or a proposed design. It describes what was actually done during the research project and what was learned from it. Research reports are usually longer than research proposals since they contain step-by-step processes of the research.

Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report

Difference Between Research Proposal and Research Report


Research Proposal: Research Proposal describes what the researcher intends to do and why he intends to do it.

Research Report: Research report describes what the researcher has done, why he has done it, and the results he has achieved.


Research Proposal: Research proposals are written at the beginning of a research proposal before the research project actually begins.

Research Report: Research reports are completed after the completion of the whole research project.


Research Proposal: Research proposals contain sections such as introduction/background, literature review, research questions, methodology, aims and objective.

Research Report: Research reports contain sections such as introduction/background, literature review, research questions, methodology, aims and objective, findings, analysis, results, conclusion, recommendations, citation.


Research Proposal: Research proposals are shorter in length.

Research Report: Research reports are longer than research proposals.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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