Common Mistakes Committed by Pre-Service EFL Teachers in Writing Research Proposals: A Case Study at Universitas Kristen Indonesia

Parlindungan Pardede

Universitas Kristen Indonesia


The ability to write a research proposal is very essential for the students in higher education because it establishes their first step in conducting and publishing the research required to complete their study. This study was conducted to investigate the difficulties encountered by pre-service English teachers in writing their research proposals. Fifty-four research proposals submitted by the students to be reviewed at the English Education Department of Universitas Kristen Indonesia in 2014/2015 and 2015/2016 academic year were analyzed to identify the common mistakes in terms of contents committed by the authors. Neuman’s content analysis procedure was employed as the analytical framework of the study. The results showed that the students confronted problems in presenting the contents of various sections of the proposals. , Based on the mistakes frequency and appropriateness/relevancy level, the seven top problems faced by the students in writing the proposals are, respectively, summarizing and synthesizing the literature, writing the conceptual framework, justifying for studying the problem, describing the research scope, stating the topic area, and describing the materials, and describing the research procedures.

Keywords: research proposal, introduction, literature review, method, pre-service English teachers

Free PDF File


Ahmed, F., & Mahboob, U. (2016). An analysis of research proposals and challenges faced by postgraduate trainees in internal medicine and allied disciplines during fellowship training program: A qualitative study. Khyber Medical University Journal, 8(2), 82-87.

Chandrasegaran, A. (2012). Empowering second-language writers through rhetorical move analysis. In C. Gitsaki, & R. B. Baldauf Jr. (Eds.), Future directions in applied linguistics: Local and global perspectives (pp. 10-25). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Fudhla, N., Rozimiela, Y., & Ningsih, K. (2014). An analysis of students’ research proposal introduction based on Cars model at Stain Sjech M. Djamil Djambek Bukit Tinggi. Journal of English Language Teaching, 2(2), 66-77.

Iqbal, J. (2007) Learning from a doctoral research project: Structure and content of a research proposal. The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 5(1),11–20.

Kikula, I.S. & Qorro, M. A. (2007). Common mistakes and problems in research proposal writing. Special Paper 07.24 Dar Es Salaam, REPOA.

Krippendorff, Klaus. Content Analysis: An Introduction to its Methodology (2nd ed.). (California: Sage Publications, Inc., 2004).

Manchishi CP, Ndhlovu D, and Mwanza S.D. (2015). Common Mistakes Committed and Challenges Faced in Research Proposal Writing by University of Zambia Postgraduate Students. International Journal of Humanity and Social Science Education. 2(3), pp. 126-128

Neuman, W. L. (2011). Social research methods: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Pardede, P. (2015). ELT Research Proposal Writing Guidelines. A paper presented in the ELT Research Workshop by the English Education Department of Universitas Kristen Indonesia Jakarta. Retrieved August 2016 from

Paul, T.P.W. and Psych. C. (2012). How to write a research proposal. Langley, BC: Trinity Western College.

Pietersen, C. (2014). Content issues in students’ research proposals. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(20), 1533-1541.

REPOA (2007). ‘Common Mistakes and Problems in Research Proposal Writing: An Assessment of Proposals for Research Grants Submitted to Research on Poverty Alleviation REPOA in Tanzania.’ Special Paper 07.24, Dar-es-Salaam, REPOA

Stapa, S.H., Maasuma, T.N.R.T.M. and Aziz, M.S.A. (2014). Identifying problems in writing thesis introductions in research methodology class. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 112, pp. 497 – 502 

Wang, X., & Yang, L. (2012). Problems and strategies in learning to write a thesis proposal: A study of six MA students in a TEFL program. Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics, 35(3), 324-341.

Yusuf, M. (2013) Students Problems In Writing Research Proposal: A Case Study of the Fifth Semester Students of English Education Department, State Institute for Islamic Studies Sunan Ampel Surabaya.Undergraduate thesis, UIN Sunan Ampel Surabaya.

Note: This article was presented in UKI English Education Department Collegiate Forum held on Friday, Augustus 12, 2016


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.