STAGE 2 PROPOSAL GUIDELINES
OVERVIEW OF PROCESS
The Stage 2 milestone is intended to provide you with an opportunity to present a research proposal prepared with the guidance of your supervisory team. The process of creating the proposal provides you with a unique opportunity to demonstrate:
The critiquing and research skills you have developed in the early months of candidature; The original and significant contribution to knowledge your project will make; and Your readiness to take increasing responsibility for your project.
As with all milestones the expectation is that this will be a living document that will evolve over the term of your candidature becoming part of your Confirmation document and final thesis.
The University requires the submission of the Stage 2 proposal to the Faculty within 3 months of full-time candidature or within 6 months of part-time candidature. The proposal must normally be no more than 3,600 words excluding the appendices and reference list. This length has been set to ensure:
Consistency in student expectations about the submission requirements;
That reviewers are able to read and provide feedback in a timely way (usually no more than 10 working days); and
Student experiences academic writing (specific and restricted to a word limit) as expected in grant and publication writing.
CONTENT OF THE PROPOSAL
Include a Table of Contents and page numbers and use the following headings, noting the suggested word limits for each part:
1. THE PROPOSED TITLE (MAXIMUM 15 WORDS) Your title should be concise and contain the key words of your topic – it is not binding and should be considered as a working title. You can change the title at any time, subject to approval (by Supervisors, Faculty reviewer and….). While minor changes are swiftly approved, changes that imply a shift in topic and/or have resource implications may require detailed consideration. The final title of your thesis is usually confirmed at the time of your Final Seminar.
2. THE PROPOSED SUPERVISORS AND THEIR CREDENTIALS (MAXIMUM 50 WORDS PER SUPERVISOR) Describe the knowledge and skills of each supervisory team member to explain how they will support:
oYour research candidature (i.e. their supervisory experience) o Your research topic (i.e. their disciplinary knowledge and skills)
3. BACKGROUND AND LITERATURE REVIEW (MAXIMUM 2000 WORDS ensuring the overall document does not exceed 3,600 words)
. 3.1 Introductory Statement A brief statement of the focus of the research to be conducted and the intended contribution to knowledge which will define the scope of the literature review that follows.
3.2 Literature Review This preliminary review needs to: summarise and critically analyse the most relevant literature describe an existing gap in the knowledge derived from the analysis of the literature, and discuss how addressing this gap will make a significant and original contribution to knowledge.
The detail required varies between faculties and you should be guided by your supervisors – usually a range of sources, normally between 25-40 is required. You should ensure that at least some of the sources discussed are from the most current literature. The literature discussed must include any relevant prior research that you may have conducted either individually or as part of a group in academic or work based settings.
3.3 Research Problem (e.g., aims, questions and/or hypotheses)
A short paragraph is needed that clearly states your research problem and the key research question/s (and sub questions if appropriate) or hypothesis or key issue/s that you are going to test or address.
4. PROGRAM AND DESIGN OF THE RESEARCH INVESTIGATION (MAXIMUM 2000 WORDS ensuring the overall document does not exceed 3,600 words)
4.1 Objectives, Methodology and Research Plan This section takes the form of a proposed methodology and research plan, as appropriate to your discipline. The descriptions here:
Should clearly identify the tasks to be undertaken and how these address the research questions/hypothesis/aims;
May be organised in relation to each of the individual aims or questions, and identify specific methods of experimentation for those conducting laboratory based work; and
Should include a clear statement of the theoretical/experimental framework underpinning how you are going to carry out the design / plan. Where possible it is appreciated if the research plan can set out clearly your data collection methods and your approach to data analysis. You may list the specific tasks you will be completing when you undertake the research and how you intend to do the tasks and complete your projects. This would normally take the form of a Design of the Study or Strategy statement. The details of the plan will develop as your candidature progresses, but it is critical here that you have a clearly articulated idea of what you are attempting to do. Where the research plan and data collection methods are still being developed it is important to provide an indication of the theoretical frameworks being used to inform consideration of the plan. This research plan may include:
some methodological options and/or theoretical frameworks to be considered;
strategies being followed in order to determine the plan;
a clear statement of how the development of the research plan is to be progressed.
4.2 Resources and Funding Required
Includes a statement on how the method/plan is going to be resourced/funded including the technical support to be provided; and the key equipment required. Examples of requirements to be considered may include, but are not limited to, funding and/or access to: laboratory equipment and/or specialist facilities overseas data collection or experimentation data sets specialist software or equipment specialist services (e.g., transcription or translation, analytical services). For Engineering and laboratory based researchers this is an essential section.
4.3 Individual Contribution to the Research Team If your investigation is related to or dependent upon the work of a research team or a larger research project being carried out in your research centre or school, you need to indicate clearly your individual contribution. You would need to provide a statement explaining what your individual research activities and responsibilities are, the extent to which your work is to be carried out in collaboration with others, and if you are reliant on materials from external organisations or people. If your study is part of or related to an externally funded project (e.g. Industry or ARC) include the name of the project using its registered project title.
4.4 Timeline for Completion of the Program
Your schedule for completing the various aspects of your program needs to be illustrated by a timeline so that you, your supervisors and the Research Degrees Committee can see your expected rate of progress. The time-line includes each of the tasks identified in Section 4.1 and should normally include 3 or 6 monthly targets. As well as your significant milestones including your scheduled Annual Progress Report dates and planned Confirmation Seminar and Final Seminar dates, it should include your coursework requirements, and proposed conference attendance and field trip travel. Research Degrees Committee will expect to see a proposed three year full time equivalent completion timeline.
Your proposed timeline is to support you in maintaining progress as well as ensuring that your project is realistically scoped. Approaches to creating a timeline are many and varied but this is an important section of your application.
For a simple and generic example that includes details that you should be incorporating into your own timeline see the sample at:
3. REFERENCE LIST (WORD COUNT NOT INCLUDED FOR PROPOSAL) Include a substantial reference list which is up-to-date and presented in a style appropriate for your discipline. For further assistance please visit:
4. APPENDIX (WORD COUNT NOT INCLUDED FOR PROPOSAL) Include appendices addressing the following issues relevant to your project and candidature.
FORMAT OF THE PROPOSAL
How long should the proposal be
The proposal may be up to a maximum of 3,600 words in length. The word count excludes appendices and references. A maximum word count for sections of the proposal is provided in this document. The length of each section will vary depending on disciplinary requirements. If you use the maximum word length in one section (i.e. 2,000 words) you must reduce the length of other sections to comply with the maximum word length stipulated for the overall document.