Entry Phase: Writing the Research Proposal

Every project has to be planned from the beginning on in order to be completed successfully – also and especially in scientific work. The entry and concept phase is meant to concretize the dissertation project and to write a research proposal. The length of the entry phase depends on the stage of development of your dissertation project. Ideally doctoral students have already a concrete idea at the admission what kind of research they wish to do in the next years and have already contacted a potential supervisor (or even have an acceptance from a supervisor).

The research proposal plays a major role when planning your research and doctoral thesis project. It is a thematically and methodologically concise description of your doctoral thesis project. Moreover the research proposal is an important planning instrument that helps you to structure your perennial dissertation project and to realize your doctoral thesis step by step. The clearer you define your research questions, approach and goals, the easier you will manage the realization.

Guidelines for a research proposal

Dimensions of your proposal depend on the current practice in your research discipline; please note that it should not exceed the extent of ten pages (European A4 size with 15,000 to 20,000 characters). A research proposal has to include the following information:

  • description of the topic of the doctoral thesis project including a clear research question,
  • outline of the state of research,
  • illustration of the chosen research methods,
  • relevant literature,
  • choice of supervisors,
  • time and work schedule, possibly financial budget and overview of resources.

 Important Information

The research proposal and the presentation at the faculty are normally the requirement for the approval of the dissertation project and the conclusion of the doctoral thesis agreement.

Many doctoral schools provide subject-specific guidelines for the preparation of the exposé or offer trainings for the preparation of the public presentation. Contact your doctoral school to find out more about what they offer.