This blog is written by Ritabrata Roy who is a Doctoral Tutor at University of Sussex Law School. His research interests are topics on honour crimes, gender studies and sexuality issues.
TIP 1. Have a clear title ….
Always begin with a CLEAR title. Oh its an absolute must!
Let’s look at it in this way. Suppose the reviewer (research admission committee) is looking into your proposal. What do you think will catch their eyes????
No no … its not one of those flashy words of English which you are tempted to use to flaunt your language skills. Your IELTS score is enough to prove that bit. But it is the title of your research which has to be clearly mentioned on your proposal.
1.1. Okay … What is a good title for my research proposal?
That’s an interesting question. Well .. from my experience the following things makes a good title:
This is extremely important!!!! No reviewer should get confused about the clarity of your research. To generate interest in your proposal and to attract potential supervisors please clearly mention your topic … include the most important keywords and phrases which can easily communicate your idea.
For example: If I want to conduct a research on male victims of honour crimes in India, my title can be …
“No more on the periphery: Hearing voices of male victims of honour crimes in India”.
Let’s analyse this title now. The first thing that strikes you is clarity about the topic and the scope of my research. It not only indicates that honour crime is the issue that I will conduct my research on but at the same time tells the reader what is the scope (geographical, social and legal) of my research.
TIP 2. Spell out the scope of your research in your proposal
This point is equally important.
Always remember these valuable tips. YOUR RESEARCH IS NOT GOING TO COVER EVERYTHING ON THE ISSUE.
Yes! you need to understand the scope of your research within the issue and address that. Remember that your thesis cannot cover everything. Or to put it this way … Your thesis NEED NOT cover everything. So all you need to do is to understand the limited scope of your research and address that properly.
2.1. Tips to determine the scope ….
a. The thumb rule (that I follow) is to find out a GAP in the existing literature on the issue and offer to address that in your research proposal.
b. Doing this will also help you to present your research as NOVEL. Remember this is a MUST!
The scope MUST also include your RESEARCH QUESTION and HYPOTHESIS. I will soon write separate blogs on these topics too. So stay tuned.
TIP 3. Explain the methodology of your research clearly
Research methods are the key to a good research proposal. These methods not only explain how you are going to conduct the research but at the same time tell the supervisor whether the methods are practically doable and whether, you are competent enough to conduct it. (A Secret Tip!)
This section methods also generate interest among the potential supervisors and help them to decide if they are willing to supervise you.
Let me share an experience here!
Back in 2014, I had applied for PhD at University of York. One professor was kind enough to show interest on the topic and invited me for an interview. But… during the interview she made it clear that she would love to supervise my research only if I conducted it through quantitative methods. But I was keen on doing a qualitative research. Thus …. we parted ways.
Morale of the story … ASK yourself which methods do you want to adopt and why? NEVER EVER compromise on this!
TIP 4. Are theories important for your research proposal?
That’s a debatable one!
Some researchers say its a MUST! Others say .. its NOT.
I feel its a completely personal choice of the researcher. If you ask me …. I would say that I ALWAYS prefer to situate my research within some theories to give it LEGITIMACY.
So its completely up to you whether to include theories or not. But if you do EXPLAIN why you chose that theoretical framework and not others.
REMEMBER! Answers such as I like it!!! I am very moved by this theory!! DOES NOT COUNT for a good research proposal.
What counts is how you connect your theory to the RESEARCH QUESTION and your HYPOTHESIS.
TIP 5. Does your research proposal need to have a timeline?
Timelines are very important in a research proposal. No one expects you to provide a strict month by month timetable. But a rough practically doable idea is the key.
Here are some examples of good research proposals.