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Research proposals may vary in length, so it is important to check with the department(s) to which you are applying to check word limits and guidelines.Generally speaking, a proposal should be around 3,000 words which you write as part of the application process.Please check carefully with each department to find out whether a specific template is provided or required.
Make sure that your title goes beyond simply describing the subject matter – it should give an indication of your approach or key questions.
In this section you should provide a short overview of your research and where it fits within the existing academic discourses, debates or literature.
Be sure to include specific techniques, not just your general approach.
This should include: kinds of resources consulted; methods for collecting and analyzing data; specific techniques (ie statistical analysis; semi-structured interviewing; participant observation); and (brief) rationale for adopting these methods.
Think very carefully about the scope of your research and be prepared to explain how you will complete it within this timeframe.
Research proposals are also used to assess your expertise in the area in which you want to conduct research, you knowledge of the existing literature (and how your project will enhance it).
Moreover, they are used to assess and assign appropriate supervision teams.
If you are interested in the work of a particular potential supervisor – and especially if you have discussed your work with this person – be sure to mention this in your proposal.
Remember that this is not simply a bibliography listing ‘everything written on the subject’.
Rather, it should show critical reflection in the selection of appropriate texts.