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How to Write a PhD Research Proposal

Understand and harness the key elements of a succinct research plan while preparing your PhD proposal.

9,373 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    5 hours

Learn how to develop a successful PhD proposal

Successful PhD research requires preparation, planning, critical thinking, and dedication. On this course, you will explore the key elements in a research proposal and solve common planning and writing challenges.

You will learn how to structure, define, and present your research idea in writing. You will develop your own research objectives and sub-questions and outline the context of the study. You will also learn how to manage a project. This course focuses on health sciences, but the content of the PhD proposal and the planning process of a research study is relevant to other disciplines.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 1 second Do you want to take a major and the final educational step? Do you want to explore things that are unknown to you and others? Do you want to become a researcher? I feel as if the PhD is very important in my career so that in the PhD I can learn a lot of things which I can use in my future life. During this course, we will guide you through the initial steps of becoming a researcher. You will learn about the key elements needed to describe a research plan. Together, we will work hard to write, plan, and prepare the first draft of your proposal.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds Join us because we know, from many years of experience, what it takes to develop a successful research plan. We know how you can become a postgraduate student. I remember the first day I started to write my PhD proposal. And even if I do have an idea, I didn’t know where to start and what to write, and I was lost.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 seconds We will show you how to present and argue for your innovative idea, how to outline your ideas as a realistic research plan. During the next four weeks, you will learn how to develop your research statement, formulate a clear research objective, and write relevant subquestions.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds We want research to be beneficial for society. So what are you bringing with your research?

Skip to 1 minute and 46 seconds You will collaborate with peers and discuss how to choose the most useful research design and method, how to answer your subquestions analytically, and how to plan the data collection for your future PhD study. We want to work with you. Together with you and your peers, other aspiring researchers worldwide, we can help you create your PhD proposal. Why not take the first step towards becoming a researcher? Welcome to this mooc on how to write the PhD proposal developed by us at University of Oslo in Norway, together with our partner, Jimma University in Ethiopia.

What topics will you cover?

  • Defining the research idea and writing a research statement with objectives and sub-questions
  • Identifying and writing a literature summary and review
  • Empirical, conceptual, or theoretical foundations of a research study
  • Research ethics, fraud, and plagiarism in research
  • Research design and methodological approaches
  • Data collection strategies, sampling, instruments, and biases
  • Fieldwork and contingency planning
  • How to organize your PhD project

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop your research statement with objectives and sub-questions
  • Discuss sample data collection strategies and analysis of the empirical material that you will collect
  • Assess ways to ensure that the proposed PhD-study will follow conventions that help ensure reliability, validity, and ethical conduct
  • Evaluate and use what you have learned by submitting and receiving feedback on your proposal draft each week
  • Evaluate and reflect on your work with help from your peers, course educators, and mentors
  • Collaborate with your peers and find ways to solve possible challenges during your PhD studies
  • Explain how you will organize and structure your PhD
  • Identify previous relevant research to discover gaps and why your research matters

Who is the course for?

The course will give future PhD students insight into developing a PhD proposal and improving their skills in research proposal writing and junior researchers working on harnessing their small research grant application skills.

Who will you learn with?

Associate Professor, lead educator in "How to write your PhD proposal".

Who developed the course?

University of Oslo

Founded in 1811, the University of Oslo (UiO) is the highest ranked institution of education and research in Norway.

Learning on FutureLearn

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Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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