Commencing series

Sciences, health sciences, engineering and technology (Mawson Lakes)

Planning candidature and writing the proposal

The way you plan your project will to a large extent determine how much stress you experience along the way. Your plan needs to have achievable goals that act as signposts on your path to achievement. To achieve success during your candidature and in the years that follow you need to develop a range of skills that complement your discipline-specific skills.

The commencing series is presented by Lecturer in Research Education Dr Judy Ford.


Three sessions - Developing a mind map and planning your candidature and general research methods

So where do you start? The essence of completing your PhD successfully and ‘on time’ relies on your planning and organisation as well as quite a bit of luck.  You can greatly influence your success by being well prepared, especially in your choice of research methods, support software, data management and understanding/application of time management.

Since many others have gone before you, we take an early opportunity to look at what is expected in your proposal: what works well and what doesn’t work so well. This is the time to draw a mind-map of your proposed research – start out broadly and then narrow your focus as you progress.

When you use a mind map for planning research you should think broadly and include aspects of your 'big' topic that might be outside your immediate expertise and interest. It is advisable to do this because you may discover other elements of your topic that you would like to and/or should include.

Once you have drawn your mind map and identified the main elements of your project, we will have individual discussions of your projects. Students always find that taking this early opportunity to outline and discuss their proposed projects is extremely helpful in planning for success. Even if your ideas are fairly unfocussed at this stage, sharing them will help you greatly.

Session 4. How to go about undertaking and writing your Literature Review

The aim of this workshop is to show you how to apply critical thinking and evaluation when you are reading scientific articles, how to store the information from each article and how to write the review of the literature.

Session 5. How to think and write about methods

Writing very detailed methods will allow you to make sure that everything you do is repeatable. Another person should be able to read your methods and follow them exactly.

Your proposed methods may require you to obtain animal and/or human ethics clearance. Make sure that you plan methods that you can actually undertake - you need to have appropriate resources and back-up. Depending on your topic you might need to plan for the weather and if you need human subjects you will have to plan exactly how you will recruit them.

Session 6. Craft your draft

You start with the ideas and the layout and then you start writing in earnest. Don't try to write perfect English until you have your ideas and content planned.

Effect oral presentation of your proposal (later sessions)

At the end of six months you will be required to give an oral presentation of your proposal. Two workshops will help you develop your general presentation skills as well as the special elements of a proposal presentation.