Guidelines for writing a PhD/DBA Research Proposal
When applying to study for either of the NBS’s doctoral programmes, in addition to the
standard application form, applicants must also provide a research proposal for consideration
by the doctoral programmes admissions tutors. This is essential to ensure:
the proposed research topic is within the areas of expertise of the NBS staff and
potential supervisors can then be identified,
that the topic chosen by the applicant is likely to lead to an original contribution in an
area of business/management and, in the case of the DBA, contributes and extends
understanding of an issue linked to professional practice,
evidence of preliminary reading and research has been undertaken as a justification
of the research proposal.
In terms of content, the research proposal should:
be approximately 1000 words in length.
identify a subject for research with an indication of the research question/objective to
contextualise the problem by reference to published sources of information (texts,
journals, reports, internet sources, personal experience etc.), leading to a justification
as to why a gap currently exists in the research undertaken to date, and/or why the
problem is worthy of detailed investigation. This might also include reference to
relevant literature relating to theories that demonstrate comprehension of key models
an indication of the overarching methodologies that underpin the proposed research
and the associated methods of data collection (e.g. observations, interviews, surveys,
historical analysis etc). It is helpful if the applicant can identify likely contacts and
organisations (and in which country) that will be targeted in the research. Any
secondary sources of data collection should also be suggested.
an indication of how this research might contribute to a further understanding of
viewpoints and discussions in a particular research area. For a PhD, this entails
providing an indication of the original contribution that the research can potentially
make in the academic arena being investigated; for DBA, it is important to link the
outcomes of the research with its potential to impact and influence practice in a
particular profession, work practices, organisational development etc.
a reference/bibliography listing in a standard format (e.g. Harvard) demonstrating a
range of publications and sources of information detailed in the proposal.
It is strongly recommended that the above guidelines are followed as failure to do so may
result in further requests for more detail and this can delay the application process. In the
situation where a proposal is particularly unusual and/or innovative, with a lack of published
material to date, consideration will still be given to the proposal, provided it broadly adheres to
the above guidelines.
Dr Sandra Corlett – PGR Programme Director