Writing a research proposal



one of the things we asked for when you apply to the University of Birmingham is a research proposal and to understand what a research proposal is think plain and simple what is the area of research and what is the thing that really matters it is definitely a proposal you don't need to have the answers yet but it's setting out for us that you have got your own ideas that you have a research area that you want to shape and that it's part of your passion as to why you really want to address the questions that are big in that area the best piece of advice I can give you for writing a research proposal is to bear in mind what we call the four peas that means the person your preparedness your project and the place to think about those a little bit more we need to know a bit about you as a person where you've come from in your academic adem ik background your aro interests your preparedness we need to know about what kind of study you've done before what kind of skills you developed on those study programs you might have related skills from outside of study that shows how prepared you are for that particular research program but crucially the project does it add up does it make sense and finally does that project need to take place here so think about the place think about the University of Birmingham what's important to write a good research proposal you need to include enough information that means not just setting out the general area but crucially what are the one or two really significant questions for your area of research that can be quite a challenge to start to decide how big or how small you go work with a potential supervisor on that but always have one or two really striking research questions in your research proposal you should also include some of the context what is going on in the field and it's really really useful to think about what's going on now and what's missing so for some areas that will mean that nothing's been done since the 1950s and now is the time where we need to update it in other areas there's a lot going on but there's still a gap or angle of approach or particular way of researching it that has been missed so think about what's going on there already so there's the question and the context there are two other useful elements that should go into the research proposal the element of how you're going to actually answer your question what people call the methodology what is it what actually are you going to do and don't be afraid to think of that as just the nuts and bolts bit it's okay to say that you're just going to sit down and read and write with a pencil but often there'll be types of research that involve interviewing or types of research that might involve some field work or trips to an archive think about what the method is not just that you're going to sit in the archive and look at pretty books or pretty images but what you're going to do to actually interrogate that information and finally you need to think in your research proposal about what your research and what your analysis will uncover you definitely don't need to have the answers yet but you need to have a good idea as to where it might lead and what the kind of conclusions might be think of it really as what original contribution might you make to that research area before you start writing a research proposal the most important thing you do is make contact with a potential supervisor typically to do that you might want to draft of an idea and to give a flavor as to what your academic experience is up till that point crucial is if you make contact with us we can help advise you on your research proposal and that's a really important step with a research degree program

12 thoughts on “Writing a research proposal

  1. Pls i need someone ro help me with this. I am really interested in Cancer biology and genetics and i want to do my PhD in that field. However i find it very hard and time consuming to know what is going on in that field and im not able to pinpoint a specific interest!!! So is it ok to approach a potential supervisor and ask to explain the latest going on in his/her lab?! And do supervisors help students out to find the perfect research interest or not?!!!!

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