A blog post for those about to submit a Research and Industry Subject proposal and application.
Dr Natalie Jamieson: Research and Industry Subject coordinator
So the proposal deadline is Monday 18th May – three working days and a weekend away. You have been working hard on your proposal – writing, sending drafts to supervisors and responding to their feedback, trying to work within the 500 word limit to best convey the ideas you have for your project.
You are still not sure though. You have been reading and writing as much as you can but feel that you haven’t quite captured what you are trying to do yet. You are not sure if you want to use more than 500 words or less. Your supervisor keeps making suggestions and adding ideas – where do you put those? What happened to the original ideas – are they still there? Does it all make sense as an idea for a research project?
Unless you haven’t written your proposal at all yet (!), it is probably time to sit back, take a break and cast a reflective eye over the work you have done, do some editing and submit it on Monday.
Here is what you should be looking for as you review your proposal.
Word limits: Around 500 words should be enough to address the main elements of the research proposal. It is not the end of the world if your proposal is a little more or a little less. Remember this proposal is the first step. I will be able to see if you have a researchable question and a method for answering that question if you have addressed the key elements of a research proposal outlined in the model proposal.
Statement of aims/objectives and research question/hypothesis: These elements capture the intention of your work and they communicate to me that you know you are investigating an issue of interest to you.
Research context: a sentence or two here will tell the reader of your proposal (i.e. me and your supervisor) that you have done some reading and are able to locate your inquiry in an academic debate relevant to your particular topic. In providing the context you will also be addressing the importance and relevance of your work in contemporary environment and sustainability debates (in your chosen field of course).
Method: this is the bit where you identify how you are going to go about answering your question. A general idea of what you intend with some examples is required. For example, interviews with people who participate in a community garden is a start but I really want to see “six to eight interviews with participants, the co-ordinator and the local council officer responsible will be conducted’. Or ‘data from Melbourne water about environmental flow information on the Thomson River will be analysed from 1999 to 2008’.
Know this: I can read between the lines and I know that projects change and develop over time. I am expecting to see a clearly outlined start to your project – such that I will have a strong sense that your project is achievable in the time available. If I have queries I will follow up with you and your supervisor. I may ask you to re-submit. All this is part of the process.
The OEP R1 Application form: Must be completed in full by Monday 18th; all signatures, budget, assessment details. If there are gaps I will follow up with you but they will delay my ability to process your application towards acceptance and then enrolment.
FYI: ethics, fieldwork risk assessment, travel risks, budgets are elements you discuss with your supervisor. All this is detailed at Research and Industry Subjects home page, but I have had many questions in recent days hence this reminder. Assessment should be specified by your supervisor – if they are not sure, tell them to read Information for Supervisors.
Submit your proposals and forms: hard copy to the OEP, electronic copies to OEP-Research@unimelb.edu.au. Scanned signatures are okay.
I will acknowledge receipt of your proposal and application in due course. You can assume if you gave it to Lyn or sent an email that I received it. Let me get on with working through them as quickly as possible.
The end result of this early preparation for a Research Subject is a confident student with a clear research plan who finishes successfully on time. This is a great thing to see.
I look forward to once again being amazed at the extraordinary range of OEP student interests and skills when I start to read your proposals next week!