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Kits: Presubmission Proposal Writing Checklist

Presubmission Proposal Writing Checklist

Continuity in presentation of ideas (APA 7, Sections 4.1-4.3). Ensure the following:

  • proper punctuation is used
  • transitional words are used, where necessary, to introduce new topics
  • where new ideas are introduced, each paragraph has a topic sentence
  • each paragraph ends with a summary/transition to the next paragraph


Smoothness of expression (APA 7, Sections 4.4, 4.10, and 4.12). Check the following:

  • The writing is clear and logical.
  • Verb tenses are accurate and consistent.
  • Past tense is used for reporting the literature.
  • The future tense is used for describing elements of the study the student has yet to conduct prior to committee and IRB approval.


Academic tone (APA 7, Section 4.7).

  • Remove any idiomatic expressions, clichés, informal or casual language, and jargon.
  • Avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs.


Economy of expression (APA 7, Sections 4.4-4.6). Edit for

  • wordiness (remove extra or unnecessary words)
  • unneeded repetition of descriptions or study components
  • paragraph length (check for long paragraphs that span multiple topics)


Precision and clarity (APA 7, Sections 4.10, 4.11, 4.16, 4.19, 4.21, and 4.24). Revise for

  • parallel form in grammatical structure
  • the use of “I” for self-reference (use "I" when appropriate)
  • clarity of pronoun use
  • the use of the second person (remove any instance of “you”)
  • anthropomorphism
  • precise use of "which" and "that," "who" and "that," "while" and "although," and "since" and "because"


Paragraph structure

  • Review the placement of citations in the narrative to ensure sentence flow.
  • Ensure there are punctuation marks after citations that appear at the end of a sentence.
  • If there are any quoted passages of 40 words or more, make sure they are set as block quotations and that the parenthetical citation appears outside the final period of the passage, with no punctuation after the citation.
  • For information about citing multiple authors, see APA 7, Section 8.12.


Other APA guidelines for narrative and document formatting

  • Review hyphenation. Anti, non, inter, intra, pre, re, semi, mini, pseudo, and under do not generally require hyphens. See APA 7, Tables 6.1 and 6.2.
  • Review capitalization. Except for proper nouns, the following are not capitalized: names of laws, theories, hypotheses, diseases, disorders, or therapies.
  • Review numbers. For guidance, see APA 7, Section 6.32.
  • In general, spell out numbers less than 10.
    • Use Arabic numerals for all numbers 10 and above, unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence.
    • Exceptions: Use Arabic numerals to indicate a place in a numbered series (e.g., Grade 1, Chapter 3, Table 1, research Question 1) and for numbers preceding exact elements of time or measurement (e.g., 2 years, 6 months). Spell out any number that begins a sentence. For more information, see APA 7, Sections 6.32-6.33.
  • Any new, key term appearing for the first time in the narrative should be italicized (see APA 7, Section 6.22).
  • Check that data is treated as a plural noun: “The data are….”
  • Set statistical abbreviations in italics (e.g., n, t, SD, p.).
  • Remove contractions.
  • Report the literature in the past tense.
  • Take care to avoid bias when writing about identity (see APA 7, Chapter 5).