10 Things to avoid when writing your proposal – Part 2

As we noted in part one, it is important to make your proposal as strong as possible. This is the second of a two part article that lists 10 things you should try to avoid when writing a PhD proposal. Avoiding the common failings contained in this list will help you to write a strong proposal and make it more likely that your application will be accepted. The second half of the list is:

6. Avoid empty jargon

Part of the academic process is to create terms that may be used as a shorthand for more complex concepts. The danger of these terms is that they become disconnected from the underlying concept and used as a way of creating the illusion of meaning. At this point they become jargon and should be avoided. Do not use a term for the sake of it, but do use it where it succinctly conveys meaning

7. Avoid making vague, unsubstantiated claims

This is crucial. Part of the purpose of the proposal is to demonstrate your critical ability, which means showing that you can construct well developed arguments. Claims that are vague, or overly general, and claims that are not backed by good reasons why they should be accepted, are evidence that you lack the necessary critical ability.

8. Avoid making exaggerated claims that you will not be able to answer, or claims that cannot be answered by the proposed method

One purpose of the proposal is to show that you are capable of answering your research question. This requires an honest and realistic proposal that sets out a research project that may feasibly be completed using the proposed methods within the three year time-frame of the PhD.

9. Avoid using weak sources of information

A good rule is to always use the strongest source you can access. Primary sources are preferable. Secondary sources should be peer reviewed or otherwise authoritative.

10. Avoid including irrelevant material

Irrelevant material wastes words, which will usually be limited and precious. Everything you include in a proposal should be relevant to its purpose. The inclusion if irrelevant material shows a lack of critical ability and will count against you.

If you need help with your application , or research proposal, the PhD Consultancy has a wide range of experts who can guide and support you through the process.