One of the most common questions asked by PhD applicants is “How do I write a research proposal”? In order to response this question it is significant to understand the following.
What is a research proposal?
A research proposal is a document of around 3000-4000 words outlining the research you are going to undertake. The majority of universities require PhD applicants to submit a research proposal when applying for a PhD position.
Why a research proposal?
Apart from being an essential requirement for PhD entry, a research proposal helps your future supervisors to better understand your line of thinking, practice in doing research and how you are planning to go about writing your thesis. In addition to this, a research proposal is a good device that can help you to structure your thinking and outline the path you would like to go after during your PhD studies.
What should I include in a research proposal?
Before you embark writing a research proposal, cautiously check the website of the university you are applying for. Many universities provide guidelines on writing research proposals that will help you both to structure your thinking and meet the requirements of a specific university.
Regardless of university specific requirements, most of the research proposals usually include:
- Title and abstract: In case of predefined PhD projects, a title is usually provided by the university. In other cases, an applicant is expected to provide a preliminary title which will be further elaborated in the process of thesis writing. An abstract should usually be no longer than a page, and provide a brief summary of what you are going to cover in your research proposal.
An demonstrable but very significant point is the format of your research proposal. Make sure that the formatting of the document is consistent across and that the structure is clear. If possible, it can be a good idea to give the document to your academic tutor or colleague for revision.
It is significant to recall that a research proposal is a provisional rather than a definitive document. It will most likely switch extensively during the very first several months of your PhD programme. Nevertheless, at the stage of application it is an essential document that helps evaluators make their decision in relation to your application. Therefore, it is worth investing time and effort in it!