Guidelines for writing a PhD/DBA/DBL Research Proposal

When applying to study for either of the NBS’s doctoral programmes, in addition to the standard application form, applicants must also provide a research proposal for consideration by the doctoral programmes admissions tutors. This is essential to ensure: • • The proposed research topic fits with the research strategy of the NBS and of its specific subject groups, the proposed research topic is within the areas of expertise of the NBS staff and potential supervisors can then be identified, that the topic chosen by the applicant is likely to lead to an original contribution in an area of business/management and, in the case of the DBA and DBL, contributes and extends understanding of an issue linked to professional practice, evidence of preliminary reading and research has been undertaken as a justification of the research proposal.

In terms of content, the research proposal should: • • • be approximately 1000 words in length. identify a subject for research with an indication of the research question/objective to be considered. contextualise the problem by reference to published sources of information (texts, journals, reports, internet sources, personal experience etc.), leading to a justification as to why a gap currently exists in the research undertaken to date, and/or why the problem is worthy of detailed investigation. This might also include reference to relevant literature relating to theories that demonstrate comprehension of key models and arguments. an indication of the overarching methodologies that underpin the proposed research and the associated methods of data collection (e.g. observations, interviews, surveys, historical analysis etc). It is helpful if the applicant can identify likely contacts and organisations (and in which country) that will be targeted in the research. Any secondary sources of data collection should also be suggested. an indication of how this research might contribute to a further understanding of viewpoints and discussions in a particular research area. For a PhD, this entails providing an indication of the original contribution that the research can potentially make in the academic arena being investigated; for DBA and DBL, it is important to link the outcomes of the research with its potential to impact and influence practice in a particular profession, work practices, organisational development etc. a reference/bibliography listing in a standard format (e.g. Harvard) demonstrating a range of publications and sources of information detailed in the proposal.

It is strongly recommended that the above guidelines are followed as failure to do so may result in further requests for more detail and this can delay the application process. In the situation where a proposal is particularly unusual and/or innovative, with a lack of published material to date, consideration will still be given to the proposal, provided it broadly adheres to the above guidelines. Dr Sandra Corlett – PGR Programme Director

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