Writing a Research Proposal
The research proposal is an integral part of your application, as it informs us of your research plans and enables us to identify supervisors who have an interest in the area proposed.
The research proposal will be evaluated in terms of whether you have the key skills to carry out the work, the academic reasons why you have chosen Durham School of Medicine and Health, the clarity of your research questions, and the importance of the topic.
Your PhD research proposal of between 1,500-2,000 words should cover the following topics:
A working title of the topic area
This should do more than convey the key words associated with the proposed research.
General overview of area
By way of introduction this should take the form of a relatively brief abstract of the general area of study and identify the discipline(s) within which it falls. You might also point here to the way in which your background gives you competences in your chosen area.
Identification of the relevant literature
In this section you should develop your proposal to demonstrate that you are aware of the debates and issues raised in relevant bodies of literature. References to key articles and texts should be made to show both that you appreciate their relevance to your research area. A PhD is an original piece of research and so you should demonstrate that you proposed area has not been studied before. So you need to identify your niche, which will lead on to the thesis preparation.
Key Research Questions
Since you need to demonstrate that the topic can be completed within the normal time period allowed, you need to demonstrate that it is manageable and so focus on key questions within your niche area.
You need to demonstrate an awareness of the methodological tools available to you and show some understanding of which would be suitable for your research. It may be that qualitative methods, such as the analysis of interviews, are appropriate. Alternatively your approach may involve statistical and analysis; in other cases you may be combining methodologies. You need to specify the approach you feel will be most appropriate.
You need to demonstrate an awareness of the need for planning and the timescale of the research.
You should include a short list of references to key articles and texts included in the application.