The abstract is a brief summary of your Ph.D. Research Proposal, and should be no longer than 200 words. It starts by describing in a few words the knowledge domain where your research takes place and the key issues of that domain that offer opportunities for the scientific or technological innovations you intend to explore. Taking those key issues as a background, you then present briefly your research statement, your proposed research approach, the results you expect to achieve, and the anticipated implications of such results on the advancement of the knowledge domain.
To keep your abstract concise and objective, imagine that you were looking for financial support from someone who is very busy. Suppose that you were to meet that person at an official reception and that she would be willing to listen to you for no more than two minutes. What you would say to that person, and the pleasant style you would adopt in those two demanding minutes, is what you should put in your abstract.
The guidelines provided in this template are meant to be used creatively and not, by any means, as a cookbook recipe for the production of research proposals.
Chapter 1 Introduction
The introduction gives an overview of the research project you propose to carry out. It explains the background of the project, focusing briefly on the major issues of its knowledge domain and clarifying why these issues are worthy of attention. It then proceeds with the concise presentation of the research statement, which can take the form of a hypothesis, a research question, a project statement, or a goal statement. The research statement should capture both the essence of the project and its delimiting boundaries, and should be followed by a clarification of the extent to which you expect its outcomes to represent an advance in the knowledge domain you have described.
The introduction should endeavour, from the very beginning, to catch the reader’s interest and should be written in a style that can be understood easily by any reader with a general background. It should cite all relevant references pertaining to the major issues described, and it should close with a brief description of each one of the chapters that follow.
Many authors prefer to postpone writing the Introduction till the rest of the document is finished. This makes a lot of sense, since the act of writing tends to introduces many changes in the plans initially sketched by the writer, so that it is only by the time the whole document is finished that the writer gets a clear view of how to construct an introduction that is, indeed, compelling.
Chapter 2 Literature Review
(Brief overview of the main lit review document to lead to the gaps and research questions)
The Literature Review (or Foundations), serves a cluster of very important aims. First of all, it demonstrates that you have built a solid knowledge of the field where the research is taking place, that you are familiar with the main issues at stake, and that you have critically identified and evaluated the key literature. On the other hand, it shows that you have created an innovative and coherent view integrating and synthesising the main aspects of the field, so that you can now put into perspective the new direction that you propose to explore. The Literature Review must give credit to the authors who laid the groundwork for your research, so that when, in the following chapter, your research objectives are further clarified, the reader is able to recognise beyond doubt that what you are attempting to do has not been done in the past and that your research will likely make a significant contribution to the literature.
The Literature of Art is usually the more extensive part of a research proposal, so it will expectedly develop over various paragraphs and sub-paragraphs. It should be accompanied by comprehensive references, which you list at the end of the proposal. Ideally, all influential books, book chapters, papers and other texts produced in the knowledge domain you are exploring which are of importance for your work should be mentioned here and listed at the end of the proposal.
Chapter 3 Research Objectives and Approach
The chapter Research Objectives and Approach clarifies the research objectives of your project, taking as its background your description of the literature review, and describes the methodological approaches you have in mind to face the key research challenges of your project. The clarification of the research objectives should build solidly on the Literature review and relate your research to the work carried out by others. It should elucidate the measure to which your work develops from their work and the extent to which it diverges from theirs to open up new and yet unexplored avenues. In essence, the chapter Research Objectives and Approach explains what you plan to do to tackle your research problem, why you plan to do it that way, and how you are going to do it.
Chapter 4 Methodology
The “how to” component of the proposal is called the Research Methods, or Methodology, component. It should be detailed enough to let the reader decide whether the methods you intend to use are adequate for the research at hand. It should go beyond the mere listing of research tasks, by asserting why you assume that the methods or methodologies you have chosen represent the best available approaches for your project. This means that you should include a discussion of possible alternatives and credible explanations of why your approach is the most valid.
Chapter 5 Current Work and Preliminary Results
This chapter of the research proposal gives a concise outline of the work you have carried out so far and of the progress you have made toward the aims of the project. You should concentrate on the parts that contribute specifically to the goals of the proposal, avoiding detailed descriptions of digressions you may have attempted in the earlier, more exploratory, phases of your work. If you have already obtained preliminary results, this is the chapter where you should provide them, in a structured manner that helps supporting the rest of the proposal.
Chapter 6 Conclusions
The Conclusions briefly restate the objectives of your research project, recap the research approach you plan to follow, and clarify in a few words what you expect to find out, why it is scientifically valuable to find it out, and on what basis you expect to evaluate the validity of your results.
Please take into consideration the following:
1.The links between your core concepts need better justification/explanation. See comments by reviewer, who was confused what your thesis was focusing on. Is it focusing on “internal communications and performance management of employees in a hotel setting?” or is the focus on “hotel employees’ communication processes in events held at hotels from a consumer perspective”?
- The key contributions of your research need to be stated more explicitly. The reviewers need to be able to see that your project makes an original, significant and extensive contribution to knowledge and understanding in the relevant field of study (i.e. how it builds on the previous literature or gaps in the literature).
- The overall philosophical framing of the research is not adequately addressed (for the reviewers it read more like a consultancy not a PhD, where knowledge creation is a fundamental part). It is worthwhile to do more readings into “philosophical contribution”, i.e. explain key terms such as paradigm, ontology, epistemology and how they apply to your research project.