A Comprehensive Guideline to Writing a PhD Level Research proposal

The most common question Ph.D. application asks is how to write an excellent research proposal for Ph.D. admission. A research proposal is like a golden ticket that lets you show your thought procedure, research approach, methodologies, etc. It should be well-structured and properly articulated to convince the funders and supervisors that your work is worth their support. The purpose of research proposals is to share your interest or passion on a specific subject by defining a problem in that field of study and coming up with ideas and approaches to solve it.

The research proposal may create a road map for their entire research paper, but it also lets the reviewer evaluate the candidate. Only after the reviewer’s response, the candidate can continue with the research proposal.

Essential Features of a Ph.D. Proposal

  • Stick to the guidelines

You need to follow the exact instructions of using spacing, margins, fonts. Make sure that you provide all the supporting information given to you.

  • Define the research problem

Give a short description of the problem and state the causes of the problem. Also, state if the problem can be solved or not.

  • State the proposal clearly

Share arguments that are in favor of your solution and also give hints showing how you have implemented the solution.

  • Share alternative proposals

Give alternate solutions to the problem you have described. Give proper reasons for acceptance or refutation of each alternative solution.

  • Use sensible tone

You should handle the counter arguments reasonable and fairly without attacking the ones who disagree with your point. Avoid using any kind of sarcasm and irony.

  • Length

The length of research proposals should not be more than 2000 words. However, make sure that you check the requirements of your supervisor or your degree.

  • Be persuasive

You must be persuasive throughout the content. Your purpose should be to convince the readers about the significance of the study.

What Should You Include?

  • Title page

The length of the provisional title should be around ten words. It should accurately state the area of your study. It must be informative, interesting and catchy. It must include other personal information like name, academic title, nationality, date of birth and contact details. When you indicate the proposed research topic, make sure it highlights some keywords like the fundamental approach and the key question.

  • Research supervisor

You must provide your name, department, and school or faculty of the academic who agreed to supervise you. Include these details only when some supervisor has agreed to supervise you. Your supervisor will work with you to refine it before the submission date.

  • Review of literature

There should be a short review on the topic, which describes how far you have gone with your work. It must contain details of the literature, existing knowledge, data, etc., covering the topic. It must identify the research gap you want to focus on and theories, texts, and knowledge that influence your research question. The purpose of the literature review is to give a research status in the specific field. It helps with identifying the gaps and shows the future prospect.

  • Aim or Objective

This section will cover what you want to achieve with the research. It should mainly describe the research question and the reason you are going through the research. Explain what exactly you are trying to do with the study. Your aim or objective should briefly outline the following:

  • How your research successfully addresses a gap in existing knowledge
  • The connection between your study and the department you are applying to
  • The cultural, social, academic, and academic significance of your research questions


  • Methodology

The methodology will outline how you are planning on answering each of the research questions. The research proposal’s methodology will identify the analytic techniques and data collection that are available to you. Further, you will also define the population you want to examine in your research. Find out the resources and equipment required for conducting the research. Describe how you are planning to perform the experiments and the process necessary for your data collection. Also, explain how it will be analysed and represented.

The section must also describe the rationale for choosing those methods. Also, explain how the method will be better than other methods. Mention if there are any limitations and explain how they can be tackled. This section sometimes includes budgets that specify the expenses in data collection, resources, equipment, travelling, etc. This will make your PhD proposal look more realistic and also reflect your passion for the research.

  • Expected results

Reveal the result you are expected to have at the end of the research. It is necessary to carry a detailed discussion on this to establish the originality of the work. You must emphasise the existing knowledge gap and show how your research will solve the existing knowledge problem.

  • Synopsis

This is a summary of your proposed research. It will outline all the investigation’s essential features, such as what is being studied, why you choose to explore this area, and how you plan to do the study. You must also describe the expected outcome and its significance briefly.

  • Bibliography

In the bibliography, you must enlist all the references of the sources. You can also add attachments like your academic CV. You must select only the most appropriate resources by demonstrating your skills in critical reflection. You will either have to reference the material in MLA or APA format.

Wrapping up,

Your true purpose should be to convince the readers that your research question is worth answering. The language that you are using must show that you are fully knowledgeable in your field. You want the reviewer to feel confident in your research proposal by showing you are an expert in your field.


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