Preparing Your Research Proposal

Preparing your research proposal correctly is crucial to the acceptance of your thesis by your academic institution’s research committee. There will be very strict criteria applied to all proposals and you will be in competition against others who are studying just as hard as yourself, so you need to make your proposal as strong and effective as possible. For your doctoral proposal to succeed you need to convince the board of the following points as the absolute minimum requirements:

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  • The originality of your proposal – this is crucial as you need to make it clear that what you are researching has never been done in the particular way you are doing it before. As was mentioned earlier, you need to give the research committee a real idea of how you have identified gaps in the field of knowledge upon which you are embarked and how your research will fill these gaps, adding to the body of knowledge on the subject. If you can do this, you have a greater chance of having your proposal accepted.
  • The strength of your methodology – again, this is extremely important because the structure of your Ph.D. thesis is built upon the methodology you apply. The methodology needs to be sufficiently strong and flexible to give you the manoeuvrability to encompass new thoughts and ideas as your research progresses but firm enough to establish and maintain a stable framework for your thesis. Methodology will be discussed in more detail later but it is essential that you recognise from the beginning that your ability to structure will be assessed as part of your research proposal.
  • The breadth and depth of your reading – if you have prepared your research well and made thorough notes as suggested earlier, you should be able to convince the research board that your Ph.D. thesis proposal is well grounded in your knowledge of the subject’s central texts as well as giving evidence that you have extended your reading from this to the most recent publications on the subject, including electronic sources.  

Remember that your Ph.D. proposal has to convince a board of academics that is very familiar with the textual knowledge to which you are hoping to add so your proposal needs to be sufficiently comprehensive and innovative to show such persons the origin of your ideas and where you hope your research will lead.

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