How to write an effective concept paper?

How to write an effective concept paper?

How to write an effective concept paper?

Concept paper, meaning 

A concept paper refers to an academic or research paper that is written with the primary purpose of identifying and explaining an idea or a concept related to a particular scholarly field or discipline before conducting a research. It is an unbiased research written in the form of a theory or hypothesis using relevant and impartial methods of research. It unravels and explains the positive and negative aspects of a research study utilizing various opposing theories to reveal gaps and criticisms.

In technical terms, a concept paper provides an overview of the project. Concept paper helps us to have a detailed knowledge on what is the process of paper works, projects, business proposals, research paper, etc. Concept paper is very useful for both students during university projects and entrepreneurs working on a business proposal.

What is concept paper in research? 

A concept paper in research or academia refers to a critical and detailed summary of a research project by reflecting the interest and issues pertinent to a particular academic field or study. In academia, concept papers are usually written by a university student who is on the verge of conducting a research. A concept paper outlines the research about to be conducted with the purpose to have a structured goal and direction while conducting research.

Concept papers are also known to be rare proposals, which on average consists of 5000 words or less and is considered the first crucial step in proposal development. It is written by a professional, student, or a researcher in an institution or organization with the intention of providing a brief summary about a research project during the course of being conducted. It forms an assessment of an idea in a balanced manner, giving an in-depth explanation of a particular idea.

What is a concept paper in general? 

1. It clarifies a concept: Dissecting or breaking ideas into parts to give a collective idea about a concept.

2. It conveys the essence of an idea and explains it.

Point of view 

 There are two types of point of view in a concept paper

  • Subjective (personal) – light, informal, familiar, or literary: This point of view is usually found in newspaper articles where the information presented is informal for the reason that the audience can understand the language easily and enjoy having a brief overview or general idea about a particular subject without the need to emphasize deep learning. For example, articles that present concepts related to everyday living, such as inspirational philosophy written with the purpose to correlate with the common man.
  • Objective (impersonal) – serious, formal, or literary: Objective point of view refers to information that is mostly part of academic journals, academic books, and scholarly magazines that are written and presented in a highly analytical tone. For example, journal essays, articles based on philosophy, or any subject related to the academic discipline that is written with the purpose of study and reflects subject-matter expertise, contributing to scientific discussions and theories. It involves enumerating of parts, structure, levels, stages, etc. of the concept being dealt with, as well as explaining of various supporting details and stating of implications.

How to create a concept paper? 

A concept paper requires an academic format to structure and follow in order to explain a concept appropriately. The following consists of 11 fundamental ways on how a writer can explain an idea or concept in a professional and organized manner.

Patterns of development 

1. Defining: Giving the meaning of the concept

2. Describing: Characterizing the concept by providing its characteristics.

3. Comparing: Equating with other concepts to ascertain similarities between concepts.

4. Making an analogy: This is similar to comparing, but also includes any deduction about of what has been compared.

5. Contrasting: Pairing or linking it with another concept with the purpose of identifying the differences between the concepts.

6. Classifying: Arranging concepts into groups, based on ways they are alike.

7. Illustrating: Giving proof or evidence, so the reader could understand the concept.

8. Narrating: Talking about the concept elaborately in a narrative manner.

9. Explaining a process: Explaining the different aspects of the process.

10. Analyzing cause and effect: Giving a critical explanation about the causes and effects of the idea or concept.

11. Listing: Enumerating, trying to take a rundown about what these kinds of concepts are.

These patterns of developments are necessary so that the reader of your academic paper can understand with much ease, such as your arguments or not necessarily arguments but the definitions or the ideas you wish to either explain or extrapolate in your paper.

Examples of a concept paper 

The following is an example of an explanation of a concept (as part of a concept paper):

“There are five main types of food chemicals: Carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Carbohydrates include such things as sugars and starches and consists of carbon and hydrogen only. Fats contain oxygen and are found in dairy products and fatty meats. Together, carbohydrates and fats form the main energy-giving part of the human diet.

A protein contains nitrogen as well as carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Every day, more than 1 million cells die in the human body, but the proteins carefully rebuild them.  Proteins are found in foods such as meats, eggs, and cheese.”

As you can see, the author of the short selection is trying to explain something about food chemicals by classifying them into carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. The author then directed himself (or herself) to explain food chemicals by breaking down what makes up such food chemicals. He goes on by explaining the sub-ideas, just so he or she could give more insight on what food chemicals are and what they do to the human body.

It is evident that there is no added reaction to or reflection on how the selection has been written. Everything is pure and simple definition of terms and explanations. This goes to show that concept paper in its plain sense is more of a discussion-type written work by following the necessary steps on how to write an academic paper.

Why concept paper is important 

Concept papers are known for their use in different fields such as business, sciences, technology, and academics. Specifically, this output can be used while preparing for a business proposal, product, or research proposal. These are the reasons which gives concept paper its significance.

The following points provide benefits of a concept paper to understand its value and importance as well as clarification on when to write a concept paper:

1. Clarification of product value: Using a concept paper can help define the importance of a certain product feature or research development. Also, the product or research impact on society and economy can be discussed and explained in this output.

2. A better definition of the duties and responsibilities: A concept paper helps to identify the main stakeholders involved in the project. Starting with the sponsor, who will then pick the project leader, who then assembles the core team and supporting teams at the start of the project. Creating the necessary stability inflow to facilitate the execution.

3. Improvement in communication: A concept paper is an expression of what leaders, sponsors, and the core team have in mind. It involves sharing information with those who will support the project by creating the necessary engagement and communication with those who are not fully dedicated to the project.

4. Maintaining focus during the execution: A timeline is clearly defined and visualized in concept papers. These allow teams to keep the project on track and maintain the discipline of daily management routines, designer views, and event management.

Always take into consideration that the flow of a concept paper depends on what kind of output you are working on.

Why write a concept paper? 

A concept paper has several uses:

1. First, it is the basis of the full proposal.

2. Second, it helps determine whether a certain project is attainable or not.

3. Third, it is used to draw the interest of a potential funding agency or client.

4. Lastly, it is used to receive informal feedback on the ideas during the discourse of preparing a full proposal.

In short, a concept paper is a preliminary document for a proposal. It shows a preview of the improvement that the proposer would like to implement.

Additional information on explaining a concept:

There are three ways of explaining a concept

1. Definition – It is a method of identifying a given term and making its meaning clearer: its main purpose is to clarify and explain concepts, ideas, and issues.

Definition can be presented in 3 ways: informal, formal, or extended.

1. Information definition – Done through brief explanation.

2. Formal definition – Explains a term by indicating where that term came from and the quality that makes the term different from others.

3. Extended definition – It is composed of at least one paragraph, providing full description and complete information.

To better present an idea, one should identify the important elements contained in a definition: for example, as defined, for instance, meaning, to define, for example, is defined as, such as, to illustrate.

2. Explication – It is a method of explanation in which sentences, verses, quotes, or passages are taken for a literary or academic work and then interpreted and explained in a detailed manner.
3. Clarification – It is a method in which the points are organized from a general abstract idea to specify and concrete examples are given.

 Parts of a concept paper 

A concept paper usually ranges from 500 to 2000 words. The following sections discussed in a concept paper comprise the content of the paper.

Two outlines of concept paper:

1. Concept paper for a project

Use the following structure when you want to present a business project: 

1. Cover page

  • State the name of the proponents and their affiliations.
  • State the personal data of the proponents.
  • State the date of submission and the head of that project.

2. Introduction

  • Present what the topic contains and why they need to support the project.

3. Rationale or background

  • State the importance of the project and what are the problems that need solution.

4. Project description

  • Provide the goals and objectives of the project, timeline expressed in months and years, as well as the benefits and the possible outcome.
  • State the methodology (action, planning, project activities, or approach).

5. Project needs and cost

  • State the outline of the main budget, the description, and the amount.
  • Explain how the budget will be used.
  • List the personnel or equipment needed for the project.
2. Concept paper for academic research

Use the following structure to present an idea or concept for a research you would like to pursue.

1. Title page

  • State the proponent’s name, institution, the title of the project, and date of submission.

2. Background of the study

  • Provide the current state of the field you are researching on, knowledge and problems to be addressed by the research.
  • Supply the site of the previous study that can prove your claims, and the reason why you want to investigate the topic.

3. Preliminary literature review

  • Provide a theoretical framework, related literature that supports your topic.

4. Statement of the problem/objectives

  • State the general problem in one sentence, including the research questions and objectives.

5. Abridged methodology

  • Provide the data analysis scheme to be used, data collection procedure, instruments to be used, and the participants of the study

6. Timeline

  • Provide a timeline that is set in months and years.

7. References

  • Provide the list of all sources like books, journals, and other resources cited in your paper.

Guidelines in writing a concept paper

1. Cost and methodology should be reasonable.

2. The budget, methodology, and timeline should be clearly mentioned.

3. Use statistics and figures when discussing the rationale for the project.

4. Use no more than 5 pages (single-paced) excluding the cover page. Do not overwhelm the readers with unnecessary details.

5. Never request funding for planning the proposal.

6. Adjust your language based on the intended readers. You may use technical terms for target readers composed of scholars and scientists. However, refrain from using jargon when your targeted readers are not professionals or experts.

7. Include the overview of the budget if it is required. If not, then skip the budget section. Instead, you may simply include the type of support you require or need, such as personnel, travel expenses, and communication equipment.

8. Be sure that the basic format details are incorporated, such as page numbers.

9. Cite your references.


The aforementioned analysis will help readers to write effective concept papers for business project and academic research papers.

Relevant links

How to write an effective literature review for academic publishing – Author Assists Blog

Difference between thesis and dissertation: Main components of writing an effective thesis paper – Author Assists Blog

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