HOW TO WRITE A PhD RESEARCH PROPOSAL

[Music] okay so in this video I want to talk you through how to put together a killer research proposal for your PhD application before I start obviously it’s worth noting that all programs have their own specific formats and requirements so make sure you check these out before submitting yours these tips though should help you to think about your ideas and frame them in a way that’s exciting and attractive to potential supervisors and potential departments in this video I look at the content and structure of a research proposal and remember when designing which applications take further admissions teams are looking for a select number of things firstly are you a candidate that has good knowledge of the topic that you want to research second do you have an interesting research question third do you know how to examine your research question inappropriate weight number four is would your proposed research tell a nice and coherent story that would add value to your specific field and the fifth and final one is will you finish your PhD in the time allowed and we’ll go through each of those in turn now okay so number one is knowledge of the field it’s a good idea to spend the first portion of your research proposal setting the context of your area of research what’s already known are there any major theories or researchers that play a key role in how your topic is understood probably a good idea to mention these here when you’re trying to do with this section is to set yourself up as a knowledgeable and academic candidate by doing this you’re demonstrating a range of skills like literature searching bringing together research and evaluating what is currently known number two your research question needing um from your review of the area you should be able to set yourself up for stating what your research question is identify what the gaps are in current knowledge and pose an interesting question related to why this might be your question can be theoretical in nature or it can be geared around the particular problem so that doesn’t really matter which approach you take the key is to make it sound impactful important and grounded in the literature that you’ve just reviewed so number three is choosing your methods it’s crucial at this stage that you demonstrate that you know exactly how you’re going to try to research question that you set there may even be sub questions with different methods attached to them and that’s absolutely fine but in this section what you need to demonstrate is that you have a few key skills so first an understanding of the constraints of your research question and by this what I mean is what are the limits to what your question can answer don’t overstretch and try and explain issues that are only tangentially related to what you want to look at second you need to demonstrate that you realize that different questions require different methods if you’re looking at causality for example then experimental methods may be best well if you just want to look at the links between different issues which is quite common in the social sciences then larger scale surveys may be the best approach the important things to do is to demonstrate an awareness of the different research methods that you can use and to justify why you’ve chosen the approach that you have number four is telling a story now the key piece of advice that my PhD supervisor passed on to me was that your thesis should tell a story now this story can take one or two forms and the first is perhaps the easiest to understand that’s the story of discovery your thesis could move from one city to the next with each study adding incrementally to the answer that you’re trying to give to your main overarching research question with this approach each study will flow into the next make an easy to see the links between them and the second approach to storytelling in your thesis is your development as a researcher this is where you have a set of studies that you have lined up from the outset and reveal what you’ve learned throughout your journey of conducting these pieces of work each of these stories are fine and which story your thesis will take will become clear as you actually conducting the research but for the person who you proposed what’s probably easier to go for the first story to show a clear coherent story of what your research might look like in the end this and final thing you need to address is timing you close your proposal by setting out how you’ll be able to complete each study on time each institution in each country will have a different time limit for the ph.d process and it’s important that you check out what these timelines are this isn’t just about making a chart of milestones and word counts although this might be important to really show how committed you are to finishing and good sign lay out the potential hurdles that you’ve got to overcome for example is obtaining ethical approval for your project I’ll at least take a long time if so what will you be doing while waiting for it to come through do you have any contingency plans for when things go wrong which inevitably throughout the course of a PhD they will including this level of detail might seem a little bit like overkill but it will really make you look methodical in your planning and you’ll stand out as a result so there you have it there my five top tips for putting together a killer PhD research proposal after formatting just present it professionally there are guides online that you can follow but the key thing is to make sure that the structure makes sense to your specific project I put together a video of my research proposal which I’ll link to in the description hopefully this video has been really helpful to you and if so please do like and share it and subscribe to the channel using the button below post your comments to update everyone on your progress and the best of luck with your application [Music]

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