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Examples of research proposals

How to write your research proposal, with examples of good proposals.

Research proposals

Your research proposal is a key part of your application. It tells us about the question you want to answer through your research. It is a chance for you to show your knowledge of the subject area and tell us about the methods you want to use.

We use your research proposal to match you with a supervisor or team of supervisors.

In your proposal, please tell us if you have an interest in the work of a specific academic at York St John. You can get in touch with this academic to discuss your proposal. You can also speak to one of our Research Leads. There is a list of our Research Leads on the Apply page.

When you write your proposal you need to:

  • Highlight how it is original or significant
  • Explain how it will develop or challenge current knowledge of your subject
  • Identify the importance of your research
  • Show why you are the right person to do this research
  • Research Proposal Example 1 (DOC, 49kB)
  • Research Proposal Example 2 (DOC, 0.9MB)
  • Research Proposal Example 3 (DOC, 55.5kB)
  • Research Proposal Example 4 (DOC, 49.5kB)

Subject specific guidance

  • Writing a Humanities PhD Proposal (PDF, 0.1MB)
  • Writing a Creative Writing PhD Proposal (PDF, 0.1MB)
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How to write a research proposal

What is a research proposal.

A research proposal should present your idea or question and expected outcomes with clarity and definition – the what.

It should also make a case for why your question is significant and what value it will bring to your discipline – the why. 

What it shouldn't do is answer the question – that's what your research will do.

Why is it important?

Research proposals are significant because Another reason why it formally outlines your intended research. Which means you need to provide details on how you will go about your research, including:

  • your approach and methodology
  • timeline and feasibility
  • all other considerations needed to progress your research, such as resources.

Think of it as a tool that will help you clarify your idea and make conducting your research easier.

How long should it be?

Usually no more than 2000 words, but check the requirements of your degree, and your supervisor or research coordinator.

Presenting your idea clearly and concisely demonstrates that you can write this way – an attribute of a potential research candidate that is valued by assessors.

What should it include?

Project title.

Your title should clearly indicate what your proposed research is about.

Research supervisor

State the name, department and faculty or school of the academic who has agreed to supervise you. Rest assured, your research supervisor will work with you to refine your research proposal ahead of submission to ensure it meets the needs of your discipline.

Proposed mode of research

Describe your proposed mode of research. Which may be closely linked to your discipline, and is where you will describe the style or format of your research, e.g. data, field research, composition, written work, social performance and mixed media etc. 

This is not required for research in the sciences, but your research supervisor will be able to guide you on discipline-specific requirements.

Aims and objectives

What are you trying to achieve with your research? What is the purpose? This section should reference why you're applying for a research degree. Are you addressing a gap in the current research? Do you want to look at a theory more closely and test it out? Is there something you're trying to prove or disprove? To help you clarify this, think about the potential outcome of your research if you were successful – that is your aim. Make sure that this is a focused statement.

Your objectives will be your aim broken down – the steps to achieving the intended outcome. They are the smaller proof points that will underpin your research's purpose. Be logical in the order of how you present these so that each succeeds the previous, i.e. if you need to achieve 'a' before 'b' before 'c', then make sure you order your objectives a, b, c.

A concise summary of what your research is about. It outlines the key aspects of what you will investigate as well as the expected outcomes. It briefly covers the what, why and how of your research. 

A good way to evaluate if you have written a strong synopsis, is to get somebody to read it without reading the rest of your research proposal. Would they know what your research is about?

Now that you have your question clarified, it is time to explain the why. Here, you need to demonstrate an understanding of the current research climate in your area of interest.

Providing context around your research topic through a literature review will show the assessor that you understand current dialogue around your research, and what is published.

Demonstrate you have a strong understanding of the key topics, significant studies and notable researchers in your area of research and how these have contributed to the current landscape.

Expected research contribution

In this section, you should consider the following:

  • Why is your research question or hypothesis worth asking?
  • How is the current research lacking or falling short?
  • What impact will your research have on the discipline?
  • Will you be extending an area of knowledge, applying it to new contexts, solving a problem, testing a theory, or challenging an existing one?
  • Establish why your research is important by convincing your audience there is a gap.
  • What will be the outcome of your research contribution?
  • Demonstrate both your current level of knowledge and how the pursuit of your question or hypothesis will create a new understanding and generate new information.
  • Show how your research is innovative and original.

Draw links between your research and the faculty or school you are applying at, and explain why you have chosen your supervisor, and what research have they or their school done to reinforce and support your own work. Cite these reasons to demonstrate how your research will benefit and contribute to the current body of knowledge.

Proposed methodology

Provide an overview of the methodology and techniques you will use to conduct your research. Cover what materials and equipment you will use, what theoretical frameworks will you draw on, and how will you collect data.

Highlight why you have chosen this particular methodology, but also why others may not have been as suitable. You need to demonstrate that you have put thought into your approach and why it's the most appropriate way to carry out your research. 

It should also highlight potential limitations you anticipate, feasibility within time and other constraints, ethical considerations and how you will address these, as well as general resources.

A work plan is a critical component of your research proposal because it indicates the feasibility of completion within the timeframe and supports you in achieving your objectives throughout your degree.

Consider the milestones you aim to achieve at each stage of your research. A PhD or master's degree by research can take two to four years of full-time study to complete. It might be helpful to offer year one in detail and the following years in broader terms. Ultimately you have to show that your research is likely to be both original and finished – and that you understand the time involved.

Provide details of the resources you will need to carry out your research project. Consider equipment, fieldwork expenses, travel and a proposed budget, to indicate how realistic your research proposal is in terms of financial requirements and whether any adjustments are needed.

Bibliography

Provide a list of references that you've made throughout your research proposal. 

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How to write a successful research proposal

As the competition for PhD places is incredibly fierce, your research proposal can have a strong bearing on the success of your application - so discover how to make the best impression

What is a research proposal?

Research proposals are used to persuade potential supervisors and funders that your work is worthy of their support. These documents set out your proposed research that will result in a Doctoral thesis. They are typically between 1,500 and 3,000 words.

Your PhD research proposal must passionately articulate what you want to research and why, convey your understanding of existing literature, and clearly define at least one research question that could lead to new or original knowledge and how you propose to answer it.

Professor Leigh Wilson, head of the graduate school at the University of Westminster , explains that while the research proposal is about work that hasn't been done yet, what prospective supervisors and funders are focusing on just as strongly is evidence of what you've done.

This includes how well you know existing literature in the area, including very recent publications and debates, and how clearly you've seen what's missing from this and so what your research can do that's new. Giving a strong sense of this background or frame for the proposed work is crucial.

'Although it's tempting to make large claims and propose research that sweeps across time and space, narrower, more focused research is much more convincing,' she adds. 'To be thorough and rigorous in the way that academic work needs to be, even something as long as a PhD thesis can only cover a fairly narrow topic. Depth not breadth is called for.'

The structure of your research proposal is therefore important to achieving this goal, yet it should still retain sufficient flexibility to comfortably accommodate any changes you need to make as your PhD progresses.

Layout and formats vary, so it's advisable to consult your potential PhD supervisor before you begin. Here's what to bear in mind when writing a research proposal.

Your provisional title should be around ten words in length, and clearly and accurately indicate your area of study and/or proposed approach. It should be catchy, informative and interesting.

The title page should also include personal information, such as:

  • academic title
  • date of birth
  • nationality
  • contact details.

Aims and objectives

This is a summary of your project. Your aims should be two or three broad statements that emphasise what you want to achieve, complemented by several focused, feasible and measurable objectives - the steps that you'll take to answer each of your research questions.

You'll need to clearly and briefly outline:

  • how your research addresses a gap in, or builds upon, existing knowledge
  • how your research links to the department that you're applying to
  • the academic, cultural, political and/or social significance of your research questions.

Literature review

This section of your PhD proposal discusses the most important theories, models and texts that surround and influence your research questions, conveying your understanding and awareness of the key issues and debates.

It should focus on the theoretical and practical knowledge gaps that your work aims to address, as this ultimately justifies and provides the motivation for your project.

Methodology

Here, you're expected to outline how you'll answer each of your research questions. A strong, well-written methodology is crucial, but especially so if your project involves extensive collection and significant analysis of primary data.

In disciplines such as humanities, the research proposal methodology identifies the data collection and analytical techniques available to you, before justifying the ones you'll use in greater detail. You'll also define the population that you're intending to examine.

You should also show that you're aware of the limitations of your research, qualifying the parameters you plan to introduce. Remember, it's more impressive to do a fantastic job of exploring a narrower topic than a decent job of exploring a wider one.

Concluding or following on from your methodology, your timetable should identify how long you'll need to complete each step - perhaps using bi-weekly or monthly timeslots. This helps the reader to evaluate the feasibility of your project and shows that you've considered how you'll go about putting the PhD proposal into practice.

Bibliography

Finally, you'll provide a list of the most significant texts, plus any attachments such as your academic CV .

Demonstrate your skills in critical reflection by selecting only those resources that are most appropriate.

Final checks

Before submitting this document along with your PhD application, you'll need to ensure that you've adhered to the research proposal format. This means that:

  • every page is numbered
  • it's professional, interesting and informative
  • the research proposal has been proofread by both an experienced academic (to confirm that it conforms to academic standards) and a layperson (to correct any grammatical or spelling errors)
  • it has a contents page
  • you've used a clear and easy-to-read structure, with appropriate headings.

Research proposal examples

To get a better idea of how your PhD proposal may look, some universities have provided examples of research proposals for specific subjects, including:

  • The Open University - Social Policy and Criminology
  • Queen's University Belfast - Nursing and Midwifery
  • University of Sheffield - Sociological Studies
  • University of Sussex
  • University of York - Politics
  • York St John University

Find out more

  • Explore PhD studentships .
  • For tips on writing a thesis, see 7 steps to writing a dissertation .
  • Consider your PhD, what next?

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scientific phd research proposal example

How to Write a PhD Research Proposal

  • Applying to a PhD
  • A research proposal summarises your intended research.
  • Your research proposal is used to confirm you understand the topic, and that the university has the expertise to support your study.
  • The length of a research proposal varies. It is usually specified by either the programme requirements or the supervisor upon request. 1500 to 3500 words is common.
  • The typical research proposal structure consists of: Title, Abstract, Background and Rationale, Research Aims and Objectives, Research Design and Methodology, Timetable, and a Bibliography.

What is a Research Proposal?

A research proposal is a supporting document that may be required when applying to a research degree. It summarises your intended research by outlining what your research questions are, why they’re important to your field and what knowledge gaps surround your topic. It also outlines your research in terms of your aims, methods and proposed timetable .

What Is It Used for and Why Is It Important?

A research proposal will be used to:

  • Confirm whether you understand the topic and can communicate complex ideas.
  • Confirm whether the university has adequate expertise to support you in your research topic.
  • Apply for funding or research grants to external bodies.

How Long Should a PhD Research Proposal Be?

Some universities will specify a word count all students will need to adhere to. You will typically find these in the description of the PhD listing. If they haven’t stated a word count limit, you should contact the potential supervisor to clarify whether there are any requirements. If not, aim for 1500 to 3500 words (3 to 7 pages).

Your title should indicate clearly what your research question is. It needs to be simple and to the point; if the reader needs to read further into your proposal to understand your question, your working title isn’t clear enough.

Directly below your title, state the topic your research question relates to. Whether you include this information at the top of your proposal or insert a dedicated title page is your choice and will come down to personal preference.

2. Abstract

If your research proposal is over 2000 words, consider providing an abstract. Your abstract should summarise your question, why it’s important to your field and how you intend to answer it; in other words, explain your research context.

Only include crucial information in this section – 250 words should be sufficient to get across your main points.

3. Background & Rationale

First, specify which subject area your research problem falls in. This will help set the context of your study and will help the reader anticipate the direction of your proposed research.

Following this, include a literature review . A literature review summarises the existing knowledge which surrounds your research topic. This should include a discussion of the theories, models and bodies of text which directly relate to your research problem. As well as discussing the information available, discuss those which aren’t. In other words, identify what the current gaps in knowledge are and discuss how this will influence your research. Your aim here is to convince the potential supervisor and funding providers of why your intended research is worth investing time and money into.

Last, discuss the key debates and developments currently at the centre of your research area.

4. Research Aims & Objectives

Identify the aims and objectives of your research. The aims are the problems your project intends to solve; the objectives are the measurable steps and outcomes required to achieve the aim.

In outlining your aims and objectives, you will need to explain why your proposed research is worth exploring. Consider these aspects:

  • Will your research solve a problem?
  • Will your research address a current gap in knowledge?
  • Will your research have any social or practical benefits?

If you fail to address the above questions, it’s unlikely they will accept your proposal – all PhD research projects must show originality and value to be considered.

5. Research Design and Methodology

The following structure is recommended when discussing your research design:

  • Sample/Population – Discuss your sample size, target populations, specimen types etc.
  • Methods – What research methods have you considered, how did you evaluate them and how did you decide on your chosen one?
  • Data Collection – How are you going to collect and validate your data? Are there any limitations?
  • Data Analysis – How are you going to interpret your results and obtain a meaningful conclusion from them?
  • Ethical Considerations – Are there any potential implications associated with your research approach? This could either be to research participants or to your field as a whole on the outcome of your findings (i.e. if you’re researching a particularly controversial area). How are you going to monitor for these implications and what types of preventive steps will you need to put into place?

6. Timetable

PhD Project Plan - PhD research proposal

We’ve outlined the various stages of a PhD and the approximate duration of a PhD programme which you can refer to when designing your own research study.

7. Bibliography

Plagiarism is taken seriously across all academic levels, but even more so for doctorates. Therefore, ensure you reference the existing literature you have used in writing your PhD proposal. Besides this, try to adopt the same referencing style as the University you’re applying to uses. You can easily find this information in the PhD Thesis formatting guidelines published on the University’s website.

Finding a PhD has never been this easy – search for a PhD by keyword, location or academic area of interest.

Questions & Answers

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we’re asked about the Research Proposal:

Can You Change a Research Proposal?

Yes, your PhD research proposal outlines the start of your project only. It’s well accepted that the direction of your research will develop with time, therefore, you can revise it at later dates.

Can the Potential Supervisor Review My Draft Proposal?

Whether the potential supervisor will review your draft will depend on the individual. However, it is highly advisable that you at least attempt to discuss your draft with them. Even if they can’t review it, they may provide you with useful information regarding their department’s expertise which could help shape your PhD proposal. For example, you may amend your methodology should you come to learn that their laboratory is better equipped for an alternative method.

How Should I Structure and Format My Proposal?

Ensure you follow the same order as the headings given above. This is the most logical structure and will be the order your proposed supervisor will expect.

Most universities don’t provide formatting requirements for research proposals on the basis that they are a supporting document only, however, we recommend that you follow the same format they require for their PhD thesis submissions. This will give your reader familiarity and their guidelines should be readily available on their website.

Last, try to have someone within the same academic field or discipline area to review your proposal. The key is to confirm that they understand the importance of your work and how you intend to execute it. If they don’t, it’s likely a sign you need to rewrite some of your sections to be more coherent.

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How to write a PhD proposal

How to write a good PhD proposal

Study tips Published 3 Mar, 2022  ·  5-minute read

Want to make sure your research degree starts smoothly? We spoke with 2 PhD candidates about overcoming this initial hurdle. Here’s their advice for how to write a good PhD proposal.

Writing your research proposal is an integral part of commencing a PhD with many schools and institutes, so it can feel rather intimidating. After all, how you come up with your PhD proposal could be the difference between your supervisor getting on board or giving your project a miss.

Let’s explore how to make a PhD research proposal with UQ candidates Chelsea Janke and Sarah Kendall. 

Look at PhD proposal examples

Chelsea Janke quote

Look at other PhD proposals that have been successful. Ask current students if you can look at theirs.

Nobody’s asking you to reinvent the wheel when it comes to writing your PhD proposal – leave that for your actual thesis. For now, while you’re just working out how to write a PhD proposal, examples are a great starting point.

Chelsea knows this step is easier if you’ve got a friend who is already doing a PhD, but there are other ways to find a good example or template.

“Look at other PhD proposals that have been successful,” she says.

“Ask current students if you can look at theirs.”

“If you don’t know anyone doing their PhD, look online to get an idea of how they should be structured.”

What makes this tricky is that proposals can vary greatly by field and disciplinary norms, so you should check with your proposed supervisor to see if they have a specific format or list of criteria to follow. Part of writing a good PhD proposal is submitting it in a style that's familiar to the people who will read and (hopefully) become excited by it and want to bring you into their research area.

Here are some of the key factors to consider when structuring your proposal:

  • meeting the expected word count (this can range from a 1-page maximum to a 3,000-word minimum depending on your supervisor and research area)
  • making your bibliography as detailed as necessary
  • outlining the research questions you’ll be trying to solve/answer
  • discussing the impact your research could have on your field
  • conducting preliminary analysis of existing research on the topic
  • documenting details of the methods and data sources you’ll use in your research
  • introducing your supervisor(s)  and how their experience relates to your project.

Please note this isn't a universal list of things you need in your PhD research proposal. Depending on your supervisor's requirements, some of these items may be unnecessary or there may be other inclusions not listed here.

Ask your planned supervisor for advice

Alright, here’s the thing. If sending your research proposal is your first point of contact with your prospective supervisor, you’ve jumped the gun a little.

You should have at least one researcher partially on board with your project before delving too deep into your proposal. This ensures you’re not potentially spending time and effort on an idea that no one has any appetite for. Plus, it unlocks a helpful guide who can assist with your proposal.

PhD research isn’t like Shark Tank – you’re allowed to confer with academics and secure their support before you pitch your thesis to them. Discover how to choose the right PhD supervisor for you.

For a time-efficient strategy, Chelsea recommends you approach your potential supervisor(s) and find out if:

  • they have time to supervise you
  • they have any funds to help pay for your research (even with a stipend scholarship , your research activities may require extra money)
  • their research interests align with yours (you’ll ideally discover a mutual ground where you both benefit from the project).

“The best way to approach would be to send an email briefly outlining who you are, your background, and what your research interests are,” says Chelsea.

“Once you’ve spoken to a potential supervisor, then you can start drafting a proposal and you can even ask for their input.”

Chelsea's approach here works well with some academics, but keep in mind that other supervisors will want to see a research proposal straight away. If you're not sure of your proposed supervisor's preferences, you may like to cover both bases with an introductory email that has a draft of your research proposal attached.

Sarah agrees that your prospective supervisor is your most valuable resource for understanding how to write a research proposal for a PhD application.

“My biggest tip for writing a research proposal is to ask your proposed supervisor for help,” says Sarah.

“Or if this isn’t possible, ask another academic who has had experience writing research proposals.”

“They’ll be able to tell you what to include or what you need to improve on.”

Find the 'why' and focus on it

Sarah Kendall quote

One of the key aspects of your research proposal is emphasising why your project is important and should be funded.

Your PhD proposal should include your major question, your planned methods, the sources you’ll cite, and plenty of other nitty gritty details. But perhaps the most important element of your proposal is its purpose – the reason you want to do this research and why the results will be meaningful.

In Sarah’s opinion, highlighting the 'why' of your project is vital for your research proposal.

“From my perspective, one of the key aspects of your research proposal is emphasising why your project is important and should be funded,” she says.

“Not only does this impact whether your application is likely to be successful, but it could also impact your likelihood of getting a scholarship .”

Imagine you only had 60 seconds to explain your planned research to someone. Would you prefer they remember how your project could change the world, or the statistical models you’ll be using to do it? (Of course, you’ve got 2,000 words rather than 60 seconds, so do make sure to include those little details as well – just put the why stuff first.)

Proofread your proposal, then proof it again

As a PhD candidate, your attention to detail is going to be integral to your success. Start practising it now by making sure your research proposal is perfect.

Chelsea and Sarah both acknowledge that clarity and writing quality should never be overlooked in a PhD proposal. This starts with double-checking that the questions of your thesis are obvious and unambiguous, followed by revising the rest of your proposal.

“Make sure your research questions are really clear,” says Sarah.

“Ensure all the writing is clear and grammatically correct,” adds Chelsea.

“A supervisor is not going to be overly keen on a prospective student if their writing is poor.”

It might sound harsh, but it’s fair. So, proofread your proposal multiple times – including after you get it back from your supervisor with any feedback and notes. When you think you’ve got the final, FINAL draft saved, sleep on it and read it one more time the next morning.

Still feeling a little overwhelmed by your research proposal? Stay motivated with these reasons why a PhD is worth the effort .

Want to learn more from Chelsea and Sarah? Easy:

  • Read about Chelsea’s award-winning PhD thesis on keeping crops healthy.
  • Read Sarah’s series on becoming a law academic .

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Welcome to the on-line version of the UNC dissertation proposal collection. The purpose of this collection is to provide examples of proposals for those of you who are thinking of writing a proposal of your own. I hope that this on-line collection proves to be more difficult to misplace than the physical collection that periodically disappears. If you are preparing to write a proposal you should make a point of reading the excellent document The Path to the Ph.D., written by James Coggins. It includes advice about selecting a topic, preparing a proposal, taking your oral exam and finishing your dissertation. It also includes accounts by many people about the process that each of them went through to find a thesis topic. Adding to the Collection This collection of proposals becomes more useful with each new proposal that is added. If you have an accepted proposal, please help by including it in this collection. You may notice that the bulk of the proposals currently in this collection are in the area of computer graphics. This is an artifact of me knowing more computer graphics folks to pester for their proposals. Add your non-graphics proposal to the collection and help remedy this imbalance! There are only two requirements for a UNC proposal to be added to this collection. The first requirement is that your proposal must be completely approved by your committee. If we adhere to this, then each proposal in the collection serves as an example of a document that five faculty members have signed off on. The second requirement is that you supply, as best you can, exactly the document that your committee approved. While reading over my own proposal I winced at a few of the things that I had written. I resisted the temptation to change the document, however, because this collection should truely reflect what an accepted thesis proposal looks like. Note that there is no requirement that the author has finished his/her Ph.D. Several of the proposals in the collection were written by people who, as of this writing, are still working on their dissertation. This is fine! I encourage people to submit their proposals in any form they wish. Perhaps the most useful forms at the present are Postscript and HTML, but this may not always be so. Greg Coombe has generously provided LaTeX thesis style files , which, he says, conform to the 2004-2005 stlye requirements.
Many thanks to everyone who contributed to this collection!
Greg Coombe, "Incremental Construction of Surface Light Fields" in PDF . Karl Hillesland, "Image-Based Modelling Using Nonlinear Function Fitting on a Stream Architecture" in PDF . Martin Isenburg, "Compressing, Streaming, and Processing of Large Polygon Meshes" in PDF . Ajith Mascarenhas, "A Topological Framework for Visualizing Time-varying Volumetric Datasets" in PDF . Josh Steinhurst, "Practical Photon Mapping in Hardware" in PDF . Ronald Azuma, "Predictive Tracking for Head-Mounted Displays," in Postscript Mike Bajura, "Virtual Reality Meets Computer Vision," in Postscript David Ellsworth, "Polygon Rendering for Interactive Scientific Visualization on Multicomputers," in Postscript Richard Holloway, "A Systems-Engineering Study of the Registration Errors in a Virtual-Environment System for Cranio-Facial Surgery Planning," in Postscript Victoria Interrante, "Uses of Shading Techniques, Artistic Devices and Interaction to Improve the Visual Understanding of Multiple Interpenetrating Volume Data Sets," in Postscript Mark Mine, "Modeling From Within: A Proposal for the Investigation of Modeling Within the Immersive Environment" in Postscript Steve Molnar, "High-Speed Rendering using Scan-Line Image Composition," in Postscript Carl Mueller, " High-Performance Rendering via the Sort-First Architecture ," in Postscript Ulrich Neumann, "Direct Volume Rendering on Multicomputers," in Postscript Marc Olano, "Programmability in an Interactive Graphics Pipeline," in Postscript Krish Ponamgi, "Collision Detection for Interactive Environments and Simulations," in Postscript Russell Taylor, "Nanomanipulator Proposal," in Postscript Greg Turk, " Generating Textures on Arbitrary Surfaces ," in HTML and Postscript Terry Yoo, " Statistical Control of Nonlinear Diffusion ," in Postscript

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

How to write a phd research proposal.

In order to help you with your application, the information below aims to give some guidance on how a typical research proposal might look.

Your research proposal is a concise statement (up to 3,000 words) of the rationale for your research proposal, the research questions to be answered and how you propose to address them. We know that during the early stages of your PhD you are likely to refine your thinking and methodology in discussion with your supervisors.

However, we want to see that you can construct a fairly rigorous, high quality research proposal.

We use your research proposal to help us decide whether you would be a suitable candidate to study at PhD level. We therefore assess your proposal on its quality, originality, and coherence. It also helps us to decide if your research interests match those of academics in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) and whether they would be able to provide suitably qualified supervision for your proposed research.

Format of the research proposal

Your proposal should include the following:

Title. A short, indicative title is best.

Abstract. This is a succinct summary of your research proposal (approximately 200-300 words) that will present a condensed outline, enabling the reader to get a very quick overview of your proposed project, lines of inquiry and possible outcomes. An abstract is often written last, after you have written the proposal and are able to summarise it effectively.

Rationale for the research project. This might include a description of the question/debate/phenomenon of interest; an explanation of why the topic is of interest to you; and an outline of the reasons why the topic should be of interest to research and/ or practice (the 'so what?' question).

Aims and initial research question. What are the aims and objectives of the research? State clearly the puzzle you are addressing, and the research question that you intend to pursue. It is acceptable to have multiple research questions, but it is a good idea to clarify which is the main research question. If you have hypotheses, discuss them here. A research proposal can and should make a positive and persuasive first impression and demonstrate your potential to become a good researcher. In particular, you need to demonstrate that you can think critically and analytically as well as communicate your ideas clearly.

Research context for your proposed project. Provide a short introduction to your area of interest with a succinct, selective and critical review of the relevant literature. Demonstrate that you understand the theoretical underpinnings and main debates and issues in your research area and how your proposed research will make an original and necessary contribution to this. You need to demonstrate how your proposed research will fill a gap in existing knowledge.

Intended methodology. Outline how you plan to conduct the research and the data sources that you will use. We do not expect you to have planned a very detailed methodology at this stage, but you need to provide an overview of how you will conduct your research (qualitative and/or quantitative methods) and why this methodology is suited for your proposed study. You need to be convincing about the appropriateness and feasibility of the approaches you are suggesting, and reflective about problems you might encounter (including ethical and data protection issues) in collecting and analysing your data.

Expected outcomes and impact. How do you think the research might add to existing knowledge; what might it enable organisations or interested parties to do differently? Increasingly in academia (and this is particularly so for ESRC-funded studentships), PhD students are being asked to consider how their research might contribute to both academic impact and/or economic and societal impact. (This is well explained on the ESRC website if you would like to find out more.) Please consider broader collaborations and partnerships (academic and non-academic) that will support your research. Collaborative activity can lead to a better understanding of the ways in which academic research can translate into practice and it can help to inform and improve the quality of your research and its impact.

Timetable. What is your initial estimation of the timetable of the dissertation? When will each of the key stages start and finish (refining proposal; literature review; developing research methods; fieldwork; analysis; writing the draft; final submission). There are likely to overlaps between the stages.

Why Bristol? Why – specifically – do you want to study for your PhD at Bristol ? How would you fit into the School's  research themes and research culture . You do not need to identify supervisors at the application stage although it can be helpful if you do.

Bibliography. Do make sure that you cite what you see as the key readings in the field. This does not have to be comprehensive but you are illustrating the range of sources you might use in your research.

We expect your research proposal to be clear, concise and grammatically correct. Prior to submitting your research proposal, please make sure that you have addressed the following issues:

  • Have you included a clear summary of what the proposed research is about and why it is significant?
  • Have you clearly identified what your proposed research will add to our understanding of theory, knowledge or research design?
  • Does it state what contributions it will make to policy and/or practice?
  • Does the proposal clearly explain how you will do the research?
  • Is the language clear and easy to understand by someone who is not an expert in the field?
  • Is the grammar and spelling correct?

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Moray House School of Education and Sport

Writing your PhD research proposal

Find guidance on how to write your PhD research proposal and a template form for you to use to submit your research proposal.

By asking you for an outline  research proposal we hope to get a good picture of your research interests and your understanding of what such research is likely to entail.

The University's application form is designed to enable you to give an overview of your academic experience and qualifications for study at postgraduate level. Your outline research proposal then gives us an idea of the kind of research you want to undertake. This, together with information from your referees, will help us assess whether the Moray House School of Education and Sport would be the appropriate place for you to pursue your research interests.

At  the application stage, you are unlikely to be in a position to provide a comprehensive research proposal; the detailed shaping up of a research plan would be done in conjunction with your supervisor(s). But it is important for us to appreciate what you are hoping to investigate, how you plan to carry out the research, and what the results might be expected to contribute to current knowledge and understanding in the relevant academic field(s) of study. In writing your proposal, please indicate any prior academic or employment experience relevant to your planned research.

In your research proposal, please also ensure that you clearly identify the Moray House research cluster your proposal falls under, as well as two to three staff members  with expertise in this area. We also encourage you to contact potential supervisors within your area of proposed research before submitting your application to gauge their interest and availability.

How to write your research proposal

The description of your proposed research should consist of 4-5 typed A4 sheets. It can take whatever form seems best, but should include some information about the following:

  • The general area within which you wish to conduct research, and why (you might find it helpful to explain what stimulated your interest in your chosen research field, and any study or research in the area that you have already undertaken)
  • The kind of research questions that you would hope to address, and why (in explaining what is likely to be the main focus of your research, it may be helpful to indicate, for example, why these issues are of particular concern and the way in which they relate to existing literature)
  • The sources of information and type of research methods you plan to use (for example, how you plan to collect your data, which sources you will be targeting and how you will access these data sources).

In addition to the above, please include any comments you are able to make concerning:

  • The approach that you will take to analyse your research data
  • The general timetable you would follow for carrying out and writing up your research
  • Any plans you may have for undertaking fieldwork away from Edinburgh
  • Any problems that might be anticipated in carrying out your proposed research

Please note: This guidance applies to all candidates, except those applying to conduct PhD research as part of a larger, already established research project (for example, in the Institute for Sport, Physical Education & Health Sciences).

In this case, you should provide a two- to three-page description of a research project you have undertaken, to complement information in the application form. If you are in any doubt as to what is appropriate, please contact us:

Email: Education@[email protected]

All doctoral proposals submitted as part of an application will be run through plagiarism detection software.

Template form for your research proposal

All applicants for a PhD or MSc by Research must submit a research proposal as part of their application. Applicants  must   use the template form below for their research proposal. This research proposal should then be submitted online as part of your application. Please use Calibri size 11 font size and do not change the paragraph spacing (single, with 6pt after each paragraph) or the page margins.

scientific phd research proposal example

  • Department of Sociological Studies

Writing a research proposal

Guidelines on preparing a thesis proposal to support your application.

Student in seminar typing on laptop

These guidelines are intended to assist you in developing and writing a thesis proposal. Applications for admission to a research degree cannot be dealt with unless they contain a proposal.

Your proposal will help us to make sure that:

  • The topic is viable
  • That the department can provide appropriate supervision and other necessary support
  • You have thought through your interest in and commitment to a piece of research
  • You are a suitable candidate for admission

The process of producing a proposal is usually also essential if you need to apply for funding to pay your fees or support yourself whilst doing your research. Funding bodies will often need to be reassured that you are committed to a viable project at a suitable university.

The research proposal – an outline

Your proposal should be typed double-spaced, if possible, and be between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Your PhD proposal can be added under the 'Supporting Documents' section of the Postgraduate Applications Online System .

Your proposal should contain at least the following elements:

  • A provisional title
  • A key question, hypothesis or the broad topic for investigation
  • An outline of the key aims of the research
  • A brief outline of key literature in the area [what we already know]
  • A description of the topic and an explanation of why further research in the area is important [the gap in the literature - what we need to know]
  • Details of how the research will be carried out, including any special facilities / resources etc. which would be required and any necessary skills which you either have already or would need to acquire [the tools that will enable us to fill the gap you have identified]
  • A plan and timetable of the work you will carry out

For more detailed information on each element of your research proposal, see our extended guidance document .

Three additional points:

  • Try to be concise. Do not write too much – be as specific as you can but not wordy. It is a difficult balance to strike.
  • Bear in mind that the proposal is a starting point. If you are registered to read for a PhD you will be able to work the proposal through with your supervisor in more detail in the early months.
  • Take a look at the Department’s staff profiles, research centres, and research clusters. Can you identify possible supervisors and intellectual support networks within the Department?

Examples of Successful PhD Proposals

  • PhD sample proposal 1
  • PhD sample proposal 2
  • PhD sample proposal 3
  • PhD sample proposal 4
  • PhD sample proposal 5
  • PhD sample proposal 6
  • PhD sample proposal 7
  • PhD sample proposal 8

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  • Research Process

Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

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Table of Contents

The importance of a well-written research proposal cannot be underestimated. Your research really is only as good as your proposal. A poorly written, or poorly conceived research proposal will doom even an otherwise worthy project. On the other hand, a well-written, high-quality proposal will increase your chances for success.

In this article, we’ll outline the basics of writing an effective scientific research proposal, including the differences between research proposals, grants and cover letters. We’ll also touch on common mistakes made when submitting research proposals, as well as a simple example or template that you can follow.

What is a scientific research proposal?

The main purpose of a scientific research proposal is to convince your audience that your project is worthwhile, and that you have the expertise and wherewithal to complete it. The elements of an effective research proposal mirror those of the research process itself, which we’ll outline below. Essentially, the research proposal should include enough information for the reader to determine if your proposed study is worth pursuing.

It is not an uncommon misunderstanding to think that a research proposal and a cover letter are the same things. However, they are different. The main difference between a research proposal vs cover letter content is distinct. Whereas the research proposal summarizes the proposal for future research, the cover letter connects you to the research, and how you are the right person to complete the proposed research.

There is also sometimes confusion around a research proposal vs grant application. Whereas a research proposal is a statement of intent, related to answering a research question, a grant application is a specific request for funding to complete the research proposed. Of course, there are elements of overlap between the two documents; it’s the purpose of the document that defines one or the other.

Scientific Research Proposal Format

Although there is no one way to write a scientific research proposal, there are specific guidelines. A lot depends on which journal you’re submitting your research proposal to, so you may need to follow their scientific research proposal template.

In general, however, there are fairly universal sections to every scientific research proposal. These include:

  • Title: Make sure the title of your proposal is descriptive and concise. Make it catch and informative at the same time, avoiding dry phrases like, “An investigation…” Your title should pique the interest of the reader.
  • Abstract: This is a brief (300-500 words) summary that includes the research question, your rationale for the study, and any applicable hypothesis. You should also include a brief description of your methodology, including procedures, samples, instruments, etc.
  • Introduction: The opening paragraph of your research proposal is, perhaps, the most important. Here you want to introduce the research problem in a creative way, and demonstrate your understanding of the need for the research. You want the reader to think that your proposed research is current, important and relevant.
  • Background: Include a brief history of the topic and link it to a contemporary context to show its relevance for today. Identify key researchers and institutions also looking at the problem
  • Literature Review: This is the section that may take the longest amount of time to assemble. Here you want to synthesize prior research, and place your proposed research into the larger picture of what’s been studied in the past. You want to show your reader that your work is original, and adds to the current knowledge.
  • Research Design and Methodology: This section should be very clearly and logically written and organized. You are letting your reader know that you know what you are going to do, and how. The reader should feel confident that you have the skills and knowledge needed to get the project done.
  • Preliminary Implications: Here you’ll be outlining how you anticipate your research will extend current knowledge in your field. You might also want to discuss how your findings will impact future research needs.
  • Conclusion: This section reinforces the significance and importance of your proposed research, and summarizes the entire proposal.
  • References/Citations: Of course, you need to include a full and accurate list of any and all sources you used to write your research proposal.

Common Mistakes in Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

Remember, the best research proposal can be rejected if it’s not well written or is ill-conceived. The most common mistakes made include:

  • Not providing the proper context for your research question or the problem
  • Failing to reference landmark/key studies
  • Losing focus of the research question or problem
  • Not accurately presenting contributions by other researchers and institutions
  • Incompletely developing a persuasive argument for the research that is being proposed
  • Misplaced attention on minor points and/or not enough detail on major issues
  • Sloppy, low-quality writing without effective logic and flow
  • Incorrect or lapses in references and citations, and/or references not in proper format
  • The proposal is too long – or too short

Scientific Research Proposal Example

There are countless examples that you can find for successful research proposals. In addition, you can also find examples of unsuccessful research proposals. Search for successful research proposals in your field, and even for your target journal, to get a good idea on what specifically your audience may be looking for.

While there’s no one example that will show you everything you need to know, looking at a few will give you a good idea of what you need to include in your own research proposal. Talk, also, to colleagues in your field, especially if you are a student or a new researcher. We can often learn from the mistakes of others. The more prepared and knowledgeable you are prior to writing your research proposal, the more likely you are to succeed.

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One of the top reasons scientific research proposals are rejected is due to poor logic and flow. Check out our Language Editing Services to ensure a great proposal , that’s clear and concise, and properly referenced. Check our video for more information, and get started today.

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Writing a research proposal

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The research proposal is the main way in which we evaluate the quality of your research plans. You should aim to make your proposal about 1500-2000 words long.

Your proposal should include the following:

The title indicates the overall question or topic of the PhD. It should include any key concepts, empirical focus, or lines of inquiry that you aim to pursue, and it should be concise and descriptive. You can normally discuss changes in the title with your supervisor(s) should you be successful but it is important to try to choose a clear and engaging title.

Research questions

What are the questions or problems for politics or international relations that you are trying to understand and solve? In explaining these, it will be helpful to spell out what else we need to know in order to understand why you are framing the problem this way.

Research aims

In answering these questions, what will your research project do? What will it shed light on or help us to understand that we don’t really understand better?

Contribution

Why this project? Explain why your project is interesting, what its broader implications are, and – if you think this is relevant – why you are particularly well placed to tackle it. It is also valuable to reflect on who has worked on the topic before and to provide a brief literature review. Are there any good approaches to the topic, or particular articles or books, that you are drawing on or bad ones you want to push back against?

What are the sources you plan to use to answer your research questions? These will vary according to the nature of your research but may include study of particular texts, interviews, published or unpublished data, archival or policy documents, or field site visits, among others. Try to be as specific as you can and assess the possibility of access to relevant sources.

This includes thinking about the research methods you will use to analyse empirical sources (e.g., sampling, survey or interview design, data collection, discourse analysis) but may also include setting out the kind of theoretical framework you will employ or your approach to history or political ideas. What prior knowledge and skills do you bring to the project? What extra training may you need?

Structure and timetable

Include a provisional chapter structure and timetable to completion, covering the three years of the full-time programme or six years of the part-time programme, as appropriate.

To help you with your application here are some examples of PhD proposals which were successful in obtaining funding:  PhD sample research proposal 1 (PDF , 96kb) PhD sample research proposal 2 (PDF , 79kb) PhD sample research proposal 3 (PDF , 197kb)

Apply for a PhD now

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  • Graduate School

Oxford PhD Proposal Sample: The Best Proposal

Oxford PhD Proposal Sample

An Oxford PhD proposal sample, like Oxford personal statement examples , should give you an idea of how to structure and write your own PhD proposal, which is a key element of how to get into grad school . Should you pursue a master's or PhD , you should know that, with few exceptions, all graduate programs require that applicants submit a research proposal. It can vary in length (usually between 1,000 and 3,000 words) and must outline your main research goals and methods and demonstrate your facility with the topic. The almost 35,000 applications Oxford received in a recent year should give you some idea of how competitive getting into a master's or PhD program is.

Writing a stellar proposal is important to make your application stand out, so, to that end, this article will show you an expert-approved Oxford PhD proposal sample based on the actual requirements of an Oxford graduate program. 

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Oxford phd proposal sample.

PhD Program : DPhil in Migrant Studies

Research Proposal Length: minimum 2000 - maximum 3000 words

To: Matthew J. Gibney, Professor of Politics and Forced Migration

Name: Adrian Toews

Title: Wired and Hungry Masses: Social Media, Migrants and Cultural Bereavement in the Digital Sphere

Proposed Research Topic: Does social media help migrants cross the cultural barriers of their adopted home and succeed in helping them preserve touchstones of their home culture? 

Abstract: The ascendance of social media platforms has increased and, strangely, decreased interconnectedness among disparate groups in society. But, while social media has been implicated, rightly, as a catalyst for the rise of disinformation, hate speech, and other anti-social behaviors, I would argue that its ubiquity and prevalence provide those experiencing cultural bereavement with a more-effective coping mechanism, as social media is able to replicate, in a non-physical space, the culturally specific mechanisms they know and which, prior to digital communications, could not be replicated in new, adopted countries and cultures.

Objective: I want to present social media as an informal networking tool, expressive outlet, and cultural road map with which migrants who are experiencing cultural bereavement can engage for two specific reasons: 1) to assuage the grief that accompanies anyone who has left their homeland as a migrant or refugee, and 2) to help them assimilate into their new identity by giving them a window into the cultural norms and practices of their new country or culture. 

Wondering if you should go to grad school? Watch this video:

An Oxford PhD proposal sample like this one is only one version of what a proposal can look like, but it should contain at least these basic elements. You should know how to choose a PhD topic at this point in your career, but if you still feel like you need help, then you can hire PhD admission consultants to help you choose your topic and research interests.

Above all, you should know why you want to do a PhD . Answering this question first will be effective in helping you ultimately decide on a program, which can then make it easier for you to write any number of different doctorate-related texts, such as a PhD motivation letter and a statement of intent .

Understanding your true motivations, passions, and research interests is doubly important when pursuing a PhD since you do not want to invest so much time and resources in a subject you are only partially interested in. If you can honestly answer why you want to pursue a PhD, you can then take concrete steps toward defining your research goals and how they can be fulfilled by the program you choose.

Your Oxford PhD proposal should adhere to the requirements set forth by the program you wish to enter. Regardless of your discipline or field, almost all PhD programs at Oxford require that you submit a research proposal of between 2,000 and 3,000 words. 

A statement of intent is another type of essay that applicants are often asked to submit to graduate schools. It involves talking about your past academic experiences and achievements, what you intend to do in graduate school, and why you want to go there. A PhD proposal, on the other hand, contains no personal details or experiences.

Instead, a PhD proposal should be a focused, concrete road map built around a specific research question. In your proposal, you list the theoretical approaches that you are going to use, research methods, past scholarship on the same topic, and other investigative tools to answer this question or present evidence from this research to support your argument. 

A statement of purpose is another common essay that graduate school applicants must submit. The line between a statement of purpose and a statement of intent is a fine one, but the line between a statement of purpose and a PhD proposal is much more prominent, and there is no mistaking the two. So, you should not read over graduate school statement of purpose examples to learn how to write a PhD proposal.

A statement of purpose can also be research-focused, but in an undefined way. A PhD proposal combines theory and practice and requires that you demonstrate your knowledge of proper scientific research, investigative methods, and the existing literature on your topic. 

You should include a title page where you list your name, the program you are applying to, and a title for your research project. You should address it to a specific faculty member, who can perhaps, if they agree, show you how to prepare for a thesis defense . The proposal itself should include an abstract, an overview of the existing scholarship on your topic, research questions, methods, and a bibliography listing all your sources. 

The usual length of PhD proposals is between 1,000 and 3,000 words, but your program may have different requirements, which you should always follow. 

There are up to 350 different graduate programs at Oxford, all with their own particular requirements, so the university does not set forth a universal set of requirements for all graduate programs. Many of these programs and their affiliated schools offer students advice on how to write a PhD proposal, but there are few, if any, stated requirements other than the implied ones, which are that you have familiarity with how to conduct graduate-level research and are knowledgeable in the field you are researching. 

A majority of programs do, yes. There are always exceptions, but a fundamental part of pursuing a PhD involves research and investigation, so it is normal for any PhD program to require that applicants write a PhD proposal. 

It is quite possible for your research interests and direction to change during your research, but you should not be discouraged. Graduate programs understand that these things happen, but you should still do your best to reflect the current state of research on your topic and try to anticipate any changes or sudden shifts in direction while you research. 

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What’s Included: Research Proposal Template

Our free dissertation/thesis proposal template covers the core essential ingredients for a strong research proposal. It includes clear explanations of what you need to address in each section, as well as straightforward examples and links to further resources.

The research proposal template covers the following core elements:

  • Introduction & background (including the research problem)
  • Literature review
  • Research design / methodology
  • Project plan , resource requirements and risk management

The cleanly-formatted Google Doc can be downloaded as a fully editable MS Word Document (DOCX format), so you can use it as-is or convert it to LaTeX.

PS – if you’d like a high-level template for the entire thesis, you can we’ve got that too .

Research Proposal Template FAQS

What types of research proposals can this template be used for.

The proposal template follows the standard format for academic research projects, which means it will be suitable for the vast majority of dissertations and theses (especially those within the sciences), whether they are qualitative or quantitative in terms of design.

Keep in mind that the exact requirements for the introduction chapter/section will vary between universities and degree programs. These are typically minor, but it’s always a good idea to double-check your university’s requirements before you finalise your structure.

Is this template for an undergrad, Master or PhD-level proposal?

This template can be used for a research project at any level of study. Doctoral-level projects typically require the research proposal to be more extensive/comprehensive, but the structure will typically remain the same.

How long should my research proposal be?

The length of a research proposal varies by institution and subject, but as a ballpark, it’s usually between 1,500 and 3,000 words.

To be safe, it’s best to check with your university if they have any preferences or requirements in terms of minimum and maximum word count for the research propsal.

How detailed should the methodology of the proposal be?

You don’t need to go into the fine details of your methodology, but this section should be detailed enough to demonstrate that your research approach is feasible and will address your research questions effectively. Be sure to include your intended methods for data collection and analysis.

Can I include preliminary data or pilot study results in my proposal?

Generally, yes. This can strengthen your proposal by demonstrating the feasibility of your research. However, make sure that your pilot study is approved by your university before collecting any data.

Can I share this template with my friends/colleagues?

Yes, you’re welcome to share this template in its original format (no editing allowed). If you want to post about it on your blog or social media, we kindly request that you reference this page as your source.

What format is the template (DOC, PDF, PPT, etc.)?

The research proposal template is provided as a Google Doc. You can download it in MS Word format or make a copy to your Google Drive. You’re also welcome to convert it to whatever format works best for you, such as LaTeX or PDF.

Do you have templates for the other chapters?

Yes, we do. We are constantly developing our collection of free resources to help students complete their dissertations and theses. You can view all of our template resources here .

Can Grad Coach help me with my dissertation/thesis?

Yes, you’re welcome to get in touch with us to discuss our private coaching services .

Further Resources: Proposal Writing

The template provides step-by-step guidance for each section of your research proposal, but if you’d like to learn more about how to write up a high-quality research proposal, check out the rest of our free proposal-related resources:

  • Research Proposal 101
  • Examples of research proposals
  • How To Find A Research Topic
  • How To Find A Research Gap
  • Developing Your Golden Thread
  • How To Write A Research Proposal
  • 8 Common Proposal Writing Mistakes

You can also visit the Grad Coach blog for more proposal-related resources.

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

If you’d prefer 1-on-1 support with your research proposal, have a look at our private coaching service , where we hold your hand through the research process, step by step.

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NSF101

NSF 101: The Mentoring plan

The postdoctoral mentoring plan has been an NSF requirement since 2009, recognizing the important role that mentorship plays in the postdoctoral experience and their future career paths. As of 2024, the mentoring plan has been expanded to include postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. While you will find many templates online, NSF does not endorse a prescriptive format and encourages researchers to lead the way in creating unique strategies for supporting their mentees.

According to the NSF Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide: "Examples of mentoring activities include, but are not limited to, career counseling; training in preparation of grant proposals, publications and presentations; guidance on ways to improve teaching and mentoring skills; guidance on how to effectively collaborate with researchers from diverse backgrounds and disciplinary areas; and training in responsible professional practices."

At the heart of mentoring are personal relationships that are unique to every mentor and mentee. In that spirit, consider the questions below as you create a mentoring plan to build the foundation for a fruitful working relationship between you and your mentee.

Set and communicate your expectations

  • What are your expectations for your mentee, and how will you communicate these expectations for the mentoring relationship?
  • How will you clearly communicate your mentoring philosophy, working environment and culture, policies and other important considerations to a mentee working with you and your team?

Convey your responsibilities as a mentor

  • What can a mentee expect from you throughout the mentoring relationship?
  • Can they expect timely feedback on their work, regularly scheduled meetings, assistance in making connections/networking or notifications about relevant opportunities?

Tailor your plan

  • Can you personalize your mentoring plan if/when a mentee has been chosen?
  • How will your plan be responsive to your mentee's needs, interests and goals?
  • How does the plan recognize that there are multiple pathways to success and ensure the plan is tailored to what success would look like for the mentee?

Promote a supportive work environment  

  • What steps can you take to promote a work culture where mentees feel valued and supported and to foster a sense of belonging as an authentic member of the team?
  • How will you create an environment where mentees feel comfortable taking calculated risks?
  • How will mentees be empowered to learn from mistakes?
  • How will conflict be managed and communicated, particularly among trainees with different personal and cultural identities?
  • How will the contributions of all team members be recognized?
  • How are the research teams' values and priorities decided upon and conveyed?

Strengthen a broader ecosystem of support

  • How will you identify opportunities for your mentee that lie outside of your strengths as an individual mentor?
  • Can you form mentoring teams that can advise on different disciplines, career or life paths, connect postdocs/graduate students excluded due to their ethnicity or race with mentors that have similar identities, further develop your knowledge and skills as a mentor?

Assess progress

  • How will progress towards goals and mentorship quality be evaluated? Individual development plans can provide one route to goal setting that work well in some environments, or you and your mentee may find another method that is better suited to your goals, values and working styles.
  • How will you plan to co-create, revisit and revise your mentoring plan over time with your mentee?

Intentionality in designing a mentoring plan can provide a foundation for the success of postdoctoral and graduate student researchers who are vital to the scientific enterprise. Mentoring is key in enabling postdocs and graduate students to bring forth their innovative ideas and reach their full potential while overcoming numerous barriers, particularly for those who have been excluded due to their ethnicity or race. Mentees may also be facing additional common challenges, such as separation from support systems, immigration challenges, caregiver responsibilities or financial difficulties.

Mentoring is a powerful opportunity to broaden your impact on the scientific community. If you are interested in learning more about strategies to improve mentoring, you can find the latest NSF-funded research on the topic through the NSF award search !

About the Authors

Stephanie Gage AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow

Stephanie Gage is an interdisciplinary neurobiologist working in science and technology policy. She earned a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Arizona studying olfactory-guided behavior and applied this expertise at the USDA – ARS and at the Georgia Institute of Technology. As a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, Stephanie now works at the National Science Foundation in the Information and Intelligent Systems Division in the CISE directorate, and the Integrative  Organismal Systems Division in the BIO directorate.

Julia Gerson AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow

After completing her Ph.D. in Neuroscience, Julia completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan. Afterward, she joined the National Science Foundation as an American Association for the Advancement of Science Science and Technology Policy Fellow in the Advancing Informal STEM Learning Program within the Division for Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings in the Directorate for STEM Education.

Xoco Shinbrot AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow

Xoco Shinbrot is a conservation social scientist by training, now working in national and international policy spaces. She earned a PhD in Ecology investigating how individuals and communities adapt to climate change, how to improve participation in public science, and the socio-economic impact of forest carbon offset programs. Following her post-doc at Cornell University, she now works in the Arctic Sciences Section in the Office of Polar Programs at the National Science Foundation as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow.

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IMAGES

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  2. 🌱 Examples of research proposals topics. Communication Research

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  3. FREE 10+ Scientific Research Proposal Samples in MS Word

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VIDEO

  1. How To Write Research Proposal For Phd

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  4. How to write Research proposal for phD? PhD interview

  5. How to Write a Good Research Proposal

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COMMENTS

  1. Examples of Research proposals

    Show why you are the right person to do this research; Examples of research proposals. Research Proposal Example 1 (DOC, 49kB) Research Proposal Example 2 (DOC, 0.9MB) Research Proposal Example 3 (DOC, 55.5kB) Research Proposal Example 4 (DOC, 49.5kB) Subject specific guidance. Writing a Humanities PhD Proposal (PDF, 0.1MB) Writing a Creative ...

  2. How to Write a Research Proposal

    Research proposal examples. Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We've included a few for you below. Example research proposal #1: "A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management".

  3. How to Write a Great PhD Research Proposal

    Written by Mark Bennett. You'll need to write a research proposal if you're submitting your own project plan as part of a PhD application. A good PhD proposal outlines the scope and significance of your topic and explains how you plan to research it. It's helpful to think about the proposal like this: if the rest of your application explains ...

  4. Research Proposal Example (PDF + Template)

    Detailed Walkthrough + Free Proposal Template. If you're getting started crafting your research proposal and are looking for a few examples of research proposals, you've come to the right place. In this video, we walk you through two successful (approved) research proposals, one for a Master's-level project, and one for a PhD-level ...

  5. PDF A Guide to Writing your PhD Proposal

    Therefore, in a good research proposal you will need to demonstrate two main things: 1. that you are capable of independent critical thinking and analysis. 2. that you are capable of communicating your ideas clearly. Applying for a PhD is like applying for a job, you are not applying for a taught programme.

  6. How to write a research proposal for a strong PhD application

    A research proposal should present your idea or question and expected outcomes with clarity and definition - the what. It should also make a case for why your question is significant and what value it will bring to your discipline - the why. What it shouldn't do is answer the question - that's what your research will do.

  7. How To Write A Research Proposal (With Examples)

    Make sure you can ask the critical what, who, and how questions of your research before you put pen to paper. Your research proposal should include (at least) 5 essential components : Title - provides the first taste of your research, in broad terms. Introduction - explains what you'll be researching in more detail.

  8. PDF Writing a research proposal

    Guidance for PhD applicants Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. The 1,500 word research proposal is an important element of your application to doctoral study, whether full-time or part-time. It offers you the opportunity to outline the research you intend to conduct, including how you plan to go about it, and how your research might ...

  9. How to write a successful research proposal

    Research proposals are used to persuade potential supervisors and funders that your work is worthy of their support. These documents set out your proposed research that will result in a Doctoral thesis. They are typically between 1,500 and 3,000 words. Your PhD research proposal must passionately articulate what you want to research and why ...

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    1. Title. Your title should indicate clearly what your research question is. It needs to be simple and to the point; if the reader needs to read further into your proposal to understand your question, your working title isn't clear enough. Directly below your title, state the topic your research question relates to.

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  12. What Is A Research Proposal? Examples + Template

    Research Proposal Examples/Samples. In the video below, we provide a detailed walkthrough of two successful research proposals ... As a rough guide, a formal research proposal at Masters-level often ranges between 2000-3000 words, while a PhD-level proposal can be far more detailed, ranging from 5000-8000 words. In some cases, a rough outline ...

  13. CSSA Sample PhD proposals

    CSSA Sample PhD proposals. Purpose. Welcome to the on-line version of the UNC dissertation proposal collection. The purpose of this collection is to provide examples of proposals for those of you who are thinking of writing a proposal of your own. I hope that this on-line collection proves to be more difficult to misplace than the physical ...

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    Your research proposal is a concise statement (up to 3,000 words) of the rationale for your research proposal, the research questions to be answered and how you propose to address them. We know that during the early stages of your PhD you are likely to refine your thinking and methodology in discussion with your supervisors. However, we want to ...

  15. PDF Annotated Sample Research Proposal: Process and Product

    The basic purposes of all research proposals are to. convince. the reader that: (a) the research project has clear objectives; (b) the research project is worth doing (it is significant. / important in some sense and will make an original. contribution to knowledge / understanding in the. field)

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    All applicants for a PhD or MSc by Research must submit a research proposal as part of their application. Applicants must use the template form below for their research proposal. This research proposal should then be submitted online as part of your application. Please use Calibri size 11 font size and do not change the paragraph spacing ...

  17. Writing a research proposal

    The research proposal - an outline. Your proposal should be typed double-spaced, if possible, and be between 1,000 and 2,000 words. Your PhD proposal can be added under the 'Supporting Documents' section of the Postgraduate Applications Online System. Your proposal should contain at least the following elements:

  18. Writing a Scientific Research Project Proposal

    Abstract: This is a brief (300-500 words) summary that includes the research question, your rationale for the study, and any applicable hypothesis. You should also include a brief description of your methodology, including procedures, samples, instruments, etc. Introduction: The opening paragraph of your research proposal is, perhaps, the most ...

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    PhD sample research proposal 1 (PDF , 96kb) PhD sample research proposal 2 (PDF , 79kb) PhD sample research proposal 3 (PDF , 197kb) Apply for a PhD now . Department of Politics and International Relations University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK Tel: work +44 (0) 1904 323542 | Fax: fax 01904 323563. Legal ...

  20. Research Proposal Examples for Every Science Field

    While the exact structure may vary depending on the science field and institutional guidelines, a research proposal typically includes the following sections: Problem, Objectives, Methodology, Resources, Participants, Results&Impact, Dissemination, Timeline, and Budget. I will use this structure for the example research proposals in this article.

  21. Oxford PhD Proposal Sample: The Best Proposal

    An Oxford PhD proposal sample, like Oxford personal statement examples, should give you an idea of how to structure and write your own PhD proposal, which is a key element of how to get into grad school. Should you pursue a master's or PhD, you should know that, with few exceptions, all graduate programs require that applicants submit a research proposal.

  22. Free Download: Research Proposal Template (Word Doc

    What's Included: Research Proposal Template. Our free dissertation/thesis proposal template covers the core essential ingredients for a strong research proposal. It includes clear explanations of what you need to address in each section, as well as straightforward examples and links to further resources. The research proposal template covers ...

  23. PDF Sample Research Proposals

    Sample Research Proposals. You will find here two examples of proposals for postgraduate research from the Department of Social Policy and Criminology. They both give good indication of the sorts of things that need to be included. The first, on fathering after divorce or separation, represents first thoughts on the proposed topic, but sets out ...

  24. NSF 101: The Mentoring plan

    The postdoctoral mentoring plan has been an NSF requirement since 2009, recognizing the important role that mentorship plays in the postdoctoral experience and their future career paths. As of 2024, the mentoring plan has been expanded to include postdoctoral researchers and graduate students. While you will find many templates online, NSF does ...

  25. 2024 Digital Humanities Research Showcase

    12:30-3:30 pm -- DH Research Fellows' Showcase. 12:30 - 1:50 PM : The Meaning and Measurement of Place. with presentations from: Matt Randolph (PhD Candidate in History): "Bringing AI to Archibald Grimké's Archive: A Case Study of Artificial Intelligence for Histories of Race and Slavery". This digital project builds upon two years of research ...