There is a range of support you can access to help you submit a high quality research proposal.

Your supervisory team will provide you with support to prepare your research proposal document which should be 15 pages or less in length. The Graduate Education Officers also offer support for writing this document.

You will upload your research proposal document to HDRhub as part of your Research Proposal application.

Research Proposal Advice

Project Title and Summary

  • Title: Choose a title for your project that reflects your research question in one succinct phrase. Your title should include your key words. You may find it useful to review some thesis titles in your research area in the UWA Research Repository. Your title can be revised over the course of your candidature.
  • Summary: Provide a succinct overview of your project and clearly indicate why your proposed research is important, what your project aims to address, and how the project will be undertaken. Often it is easiest to write the summary after you have completed the research proposal as you can more easily identify your key points at this stage. Include only these key points in your summary - do not include anything new.

Research Project

You have the freedom to structure this section of your research proposal (aims, background and research project) in whatever way is most appropriate for your project and for your discipline.

You will need to describe the purpose of your project and what it aims to achieve. Clearly indicate how the project is significant and addresses an important problem. State the topic of your research. Frame this as a problem or question that you will answer. Provide an overview of the project.

Also provide the background or context from which your project has emerged. This concise literature review should lead your reader to your research question. You will be providing information that assists in understanding the significance of the work, strengthening a claim to originality and showing you have engaged with the relevant literature and can therefore justify the worth of the project.

As your proposal is only 15 pages in total, refer only to the key references in your chosen research area. A more comprehensive literature review will be required for your thesis.

Students enrolled in PhD programs should also clearly indicate how the project is original. One of the assessment criteria for a PhD is that is provides "an original contribution to knowledge of the subject with which it deals"

Philips (1992) has listed different definitions or originality that might be useful (see Phillips, E. 1992. The PhD: Assessing quality at different stages of its development in Zuber-Skerritt, O (ed.) Supervising Beginning Researchers. Tertiary Education Institute, University of Queensland, Brisbane):

  • Carrying our empirical work that hasn't been done before.
  • Making a synthesis that hasn't been done before.
  • Using already known material but with a new interpretation.
  • Trying out something in this or another country that has only previously been undertaken in other places.
  • Taking a particular technique and applying it to a new area.
  • Bring new evidence to bear on an old issue.
  • Being cross-disciplinary and using different methodologies.
  • Looking at areas that people in the discipline haven't been done before.
  • Setting down a major piece of new information in writing for the first time.
  • Continuing (extending) a previously original piece of work.
  • Providing a single original technique, observation, or result in an otherwise unoriginal but competent piece of research.

Also include in this section an outline of the conceptual framework, design and/or methods. Describe the specific techniques or procedures you propose to use to collect and analyse your data. Convince your reader that these techniques or procedures are appropriate for the type of study your are proposing and show how these distinct techniques will be used.

Because the person reviewing your research proposal is unlikely to have expert knowledge of your research field, it is highly recommended you mention research similar to your own that has successfully employed the same methods or methodology. In this way, you can justify the approach you have selected for conducting your investigation and assessing your evidence.