A Brief Guide
The Learning Centre • http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au
This guide is for students who are enrolled in a postgraduate research degree and who have been asked to submit a thesis proposal. Aims The aim of the thesis proposal is to convince your school that: • • • • • • there is a need for the research; it is significant and important; you are contributing something original to the field; the topic is feasible in terms of availability of funding, equipment, supervisors, and data; The research can be completed in the expected time period. UNSW recommends completing a PhD in six Semesters (3 years) for full-time candidates. Ethical issues have been considered and approval for the research has been given by the UNSW Ethics Committee; the topic matches your interests and capabilities.
What is the difference between a Masters and a Doctorate thesis proposal? Your post graduate coordinator and your supervisor are best placed to give detailed clarification of your school’s expectations. While differences are likely to be in the length and complexity of the research, the main difference is that a Ph. D. must contain something new.
The thesis proposal helps you focus your research aims, clarify its importance and the need, describe the methods, predict problems and outcomes, and plan alternatives and interventions.
Who is my audience?
The proposal will be presented as a written report and is usually presented in a seminar as well. It can be presented to a Postgraduate Committee or to staff more directly involved in your candidature, such as your supervisor, co-supervisor and your school`s postgraduate coordinator.
Getting it done
Preparing your proposal will be an iterative process. You will discuss a number of drafts with your supervisors. You should be writing regularly to have your proposal completed by the due date. This can vary from the first 3-9 months of your candidature.
Your work will make a worthwhile contribution to the field if it fulfils one or more of the following: • • • it provides evidence to support or disprove a concept, theory, or model; it contributes new data/information, a new improved solution, analysis procedure or research methodology; it results in a new or improved concept, theory or model.
How should I structure the proposal? The following sections are recommended for your thesis proposal report. Check with your supervisors for optional sections, variations and additional sections that may be required. Routine Information This can be a full cover page or a quarter page header. • • • • • • Name Address, telephone and email details Degree for which you are a candidate Supervisor’s and co-supervisor’s names Thesis proposal title Date
Statement of Topic Introduce the reader to the recognised general subject area and how your topic is related. Briefly point out why it is a significant topic and what contribution your work will make. Aims of the thesis/dissertation Set out specific objectives of the research. Review of the literature
This, together with the following section on the theoretical orientation, will be the main substance of the proposal and will lay the basis for your discussions of your methods and your total research program. The literature review should explain the relation of your topic and research aims to significant literature and recent (and current) research in your field. The form of the literature review may vary according to the nature of the field: experimental, philosophical, theoretical, comparative, etc., but its purpose will be the same in all fields. The literature review should place your proposed research topic clearly in its relevant research context, and should demonstrate your awareness of significant similar or relevant research.
You may need to make qualitative judgements concerning the literature. Be careful not to allow the evaluation of previous work to become a large open-ended task. You...