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University of Vaasa Industrial Management

Author Date Version

Petri Helo 2006-10-10 01

Template for Research Proposals PhD Studies at University of Vaasa, Industrial Management

A template of research proposal is a frequently asked question by many MSc and PhD student candidates. This document has been prepared to answer at least some key points what Research Proposal or Research Plan should include. Generally, a research proposal is: A sales document for applying funding for a project A project management document for yourself to keep track what you initially planned and where are you today A short document between 5 10 pages (including cover page and TOC) describing the key points of your research and highlighting the potential outcomes.

The research plan needs to be approved by the supervisor. For the PhD candidate applicants, research plan is the most important document in application for studies. In addition to plan, a generic contact information form needs to be filled in as well as a plan for other studies in addition to the thesis. Although, not a necessity, the applicant should prepare a short cover letter (no more than one page) stating the purpose for aiming a PhD degree.

1 Cover page
The most important issue: Title of the research plan describing the topic All documents should contain the basic metadata: o o o o o Author name Target degree Date Version status (draft, approved, submitted) Document version

In case of extensive documentation, the following page may include a short Executive Summary which is an abstract maximum of 100 words.

2 Introduction
The introduction section should introduce to background of the research area The key issue is to state: o The overall research problem, which is discussed during the entire thesis process o Specific research questions: Between 1-3 separate questions connected to research problem area Should be formulated in a very clear language in a form of a question o Research question has a strong connection to method part. Generally, there are two types of questions, which define very much the applied research methodology: Descriptive How things are? Normative How things should be? In the introduction chapter, the applicant may briefly describe what the previous stages of the research are.

3 Justification for the research


This is a very short section justifying the research problem area. Basically, the author states on this part why the research is important for: o the research community o managerial implications for the industry o national economic competitiveness This part should include references to journal and newspaper articles pinpointing the importance of the research area. Also estimations of economic value of solving the problem may be stated.

4 Existing literature
This section is a one page literature review with a lot of references. The author lists recent literature dealing with the area and shows that he or she is already familiar with the problem domain.

5 Method
Methodology chapter should describe in detail how the study will be conducted. For example, what type of methods may be used: o Case studies (n = 1>5)

o Questionnaires (n>30) o Interviews o Mathematical modelling o Computer simulation o Statistical analysis of industrial or economic data The methods need to be described in detail that shows the connection to research question and where you are going to get the actual data. A good method chapter describes the data collection in such detail, that somebody else could conduct this part as well based on instructions.

6 Expected outcomes of the project


State briefly what are the expected outcomes of the research and what is the significance of potential results.

(1) Contributions for the research community (2) Potential new managerial implications

7 Budget and schedule


Schedule a rough-scale schedule for PhD studies including o Literature review o Data collection o Data analysing o Conferences o Other milestones such as Licentiate thesis. Budget o How you are going to finance your studies? o Full time PhD? Part-time? o What does your employee think about this? Do you have time and authorisation from your company? Your work may be connected to PhD, but a separate PhD Plan is needed since much of the work is done individually and the requirements may differ very much what your company expects you to deliver. o Potential funding applications.

8 References
List key references here for your study. This list should include all references made in sections justification for research and existing literature, but may also contain more topics which may be related to the proposed research.

Use standard Harvard style (for automated reference processing, theres a lot of software available as Word plug-ins, e.g. Biblioscape)

Finally, Good Luck!