8+ Typical Mistakes in PhD Research Proposal Writing

Before you start writing your PhD research proposal, get to know more about the most typical mistakes you are almost doomed to make.

Did you choose the first topic offered or the first topic which came to your mind? Mistake!

The primary mistake you can make is all kind of errors related to the topic of your research proposal. Don’t take the first one that comes to your mind, dig deeper, don’t agree with the first offered option just to deal with it faster. Later you will regret not taking all the aspects of this topic into account. Choose wisely, offer several topics to your advisor, show their benefits and limitations.

Did you start writing without confirming a plan with your advisor? Mistake!

When you confirm your topic and your writing plan with a supervisor, you share responsibility with him or her. Before you start writing even a page of text, confirm your outline, even if it is a raw version of your actual plan. this way you won’t lose time rewriting.

Did you start making literature review before confirming the preliminary list of sources with your advisor? Mistake!

Not many students do it, but it is truly a great way to ensure the final quality of your literature review. Often, supervisors give relevant tips on books and articles, so you save much time on extra research.

Do you ignore a library and science databases your college or university has contracts with? Mistake!

Often students ignore libraries and specific scientific databases and keep leaning on Google search, which is a critical mistake. The most valuable sources and references are still in libraries. You may not believe it, but a good librarian can make half of your work for you.

Do you use old sources to support your argument? Mistake!

You should use only the most recent studies to support your argument. When you write a research proposal it should be based on the problem that wasn’t solved before you for hundreds of other scholars.

Do you feed your Procrastination Monkey and wait for a Panic Monster? Mistake!

If you still don’t know about the Procrastination Monkey and Panic Monster you should immediately watch this video. Find a solution to make yourself work on your research proposal at least several hours a day. Even half an hour is better than nothing, as it will keep you going.

Do you neglect proofreading? Mistake!

Even if the idea of your research proposal is creative and simply super impressive, grammar and spelling mistakes can spoil everything. Use online grammar checkers, ask a friend to look through your paper and read your text aloud to spot too long and awkward sentences.

Do you leave formatting to the last day before submission date? Mistake!

Formatting truly is time-consuming even if you are very experienced in academic writing. Make it a rule to deal with formatting after finishing each part of your research proposal. Use up-to-date citation generators to make it faster.

Here is an a exhaustive list of mistakes you can make when writing your PhD research proposal:

  • Tasks do not match the problem
  • Objective stages of any scientific work were formulated as tasks (study the literature on the topic, master the methodology, develop recommendations).
  • Too many tasks/objectives
  • Too general overview, which sets out well-known facts.
  • In the review there are no links to the source of information.
  • Unscientific writing style.
  • The introduction does not prove relevance.
  • The introduction does not formulate the purpose and objectives of the work.
  • Inaccurate registration of competitive work (irregular paragraph indents, non-centered headings, etc.).
  • Too much review and too few personal results.
  • Excessive amount of work.
  • Aggressive reaction to questions and criticism.
  • “Know-it-All Syndrome”.
  • Performing scientific (research) work without an understanding of its essence.
  • Focusing on the preparation of competitive work, and not on the development of the competence of its authors.
  • Inadequate methodology, i.e. It would be better to solve the problem in another way.
  • Incorrect method, i.e. the technique is planned so that it does not allow to obtain the necessary data.
  • Insufficient / excessive description of the methodology.
  • There is no control group.
  • The paper provides primary and secondary data.
  • Data is not presented graphically.
  • Figures and tables rendered in the application.
  • Figures and tables are poorly read (overloaded or poorly signed).
  • There is no data discussion.
  • Too many conclusions.
  • The findings are too global.
  • The findings are too insignificant.

Try to avoid at least half of these mistakes at any cost and you will come with a quality PhD research proposal right on time. If you are not up to a challenge yet, or you have other things which require your attention now, it is a good idea to address a professional research proposal writing service for help.

Written By: Mark Holland

I love tech and gaming, and am always looking for the 'next big thing'...