How to Keep your Doctorate on Track
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How to Keep your Doctorate on Track

Insights from Students’ and Supervisors’ Experiences

Edited by Keith Townsend, Mark N.K. Saunders, Rebecca Loudoun and Emily A. Morrison

The path of a doctoral student can feel challenging and isolating. This guide provides doctoral students with key ideas and support to kick-start a doctoral journey, inspire progress and complete their thesis or dissertation. Featuring observations from experienced supervisors, as well as the reflections of current and recent postgraduate researchers, this intimate and entertaining book offers vital insights into the critical moments in any doctoral experience.
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Chapter 3: ‘Begin at the beginning’: identifying ideas for a PhD

Graeme Dobson


Within the UK, the PhD proposal is a key part of the application process to a university. If a student wishes to conduct doctoral research, this usually involves starting with constructing a well-written and clearly articulated research proposal. A good proposal will critically evaluate key research in the area of study, identify what existing work has not been considered, outline proposed questions and suggest a methodology that may be best used to investigate these. The chapter outlines the author’s own experiences of coming up with a PhD topic, discussing the topic with a few professional colleagues, drafting proposals, convening a meeting with two academics and finally submitting his work. It concludes with a number of useful lessons for potential PhD applicants.

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