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Writing a research proposal.

Developing a research proposal is a necessary part of the application process it:

  • provides a basis for decision-making;
  • helps to make sure that you get the most appropriate supervisor for your research.

Your research proposal does not commit you to researching in a specific area if your application is successful. 

Following a successful application, you need to provide a more comprehensive proposal which will be useful reference as your research develops.

How to write a research proposal

Organise your proposal should around a small set of ideas or hypotheses that you would like to investigate. Provide some evidence of relevant background reading if possible.

A typical research proposal might look something like this:

  • Rationale for the research project, including: a description of the phenomenon of interest, and the context(s) and situation in which you think the research will take place; an explanation of why the topic is of interest to the author; and an outline of the reasons why the topic should be of interest to research and/ or practice (the 'so what?' question); a statement of how the research fits in with that of potential supervisor(s) in the School of Economics.
  • Issues and initial research question. Within the phenomenon of interest: what issue(s) do you intend to investigate? (This may be quite imprecise at the application stage); what might be some of the key literatures that might inform the issues (again, indicative at the application stage); and, as precisely as you can, what is the question you are trying to answer?
  • Intended methodology: How do you think you might go about answering the question? Do you have a preference for using quantitative methods such as survey based research, or for qualitative methods such as interviews and observation?
  • Expected outcomes: how do you think the research might add to existing knowledge; what might it enable organisations or interested parties to do differently?
  • Timetable: What is your initial estimation of the timetable of the dissertation? When will each of the key stages start and finish (refining proposal; literature review; developing research methods; fieldwork; analysis; writing the draft; final submission). There are likely to overlaps between the stages.

An initial research proposal that forms part of a PhD application should be between 600 and 1,000 words in length.

Browse Course Material

Course info, instructors.

  • Prof. Esther Duflo
  • Prof. Benjamin Olken

Departments

As taught in.

  • Developmental Economics
  • Microeconomics

Learning Resource Types

Development economics, research proposal.

The maximum length of the write-up should be 3 pages single-spaced (but less is fine). The goal of this research proposal is to give you a “jump start” on working on a topic that you could (ideally) work on for your second-year paper (or a future paper for your dissertation). If you are in the second year, it is okay for you to talk about the topic that you will be working on for your second-year paper. It should be development though… (but as you know development is a big tent). 

You can co-author the proposal with any student(s) in the program. However, we would like to  see as many proposals as people in the class. 

Note that the deadline is the last possible date that we are allowed to accept assignments under end  of term regulations, so we will not be able to provide extensions. Please therefore budget your time wisely. 

The proposal should include 

  •  A clear statement of your research question       
  • Brief motivation of your research question       a. Why is this question important?        b. What is the policy implication?        c. What (if any) economic theory it is testing? 
  • (Short) Review of the relevant theoretical and/or empirical literature. 
  • Description of your proposed empirical strategy and proposed (realistic) data sources.        a. You can propose an RCT where you’d collect the data, as long as it is realistic for a PhD student (not necessarily in the scope of a second year paper).        b. If you project is empirical, write-out clearly and in detail what are the proposed        regression specifications.  
  • Clear discussion of your contribution to the prior literature.       
  • Clear discussion of what challenges you expect to encounter. 

Think of this project as the shell of a research paper that contains everything but your findings: you will motivate the question; place it in the literature; and lay out your data sources (if any) and your research design. We do not expect to see any preliminary results (for empirical papers) or fully fledged model (for theory paper).

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  • Department of Economics
  • Postgraduate study
  • PhD Programme in Economics
  • How to apply

Research proposal

How to write your research proposal.

Your research proposal is an essential component of your application, regardless of whether you are self-funded or seeking a studentship. Please adhere to the provided guidelines to ensure its proper preparation.

Why is your research proposal essential and what purpose does it serve?

  • The research proposal serves to determine your expertise to back your chosen research field, in terms of knowledge of the existing literature, and the mastering of theories, data and methodology suitable to develop your research project.
  • It plays a significant role in evaluating your overall application.
  • It is crucial to understand that the submitted research proposal is merely a starting point, as your ideas and proposed research are likely to evolve over time.
  • Regarding its length, your research proposal should be within the range of 2,000 to 3,500 words (approximately 4 to 7 pages).
  • Make sure to discuss your research proposal with an academic in our department before formally applying through the online system.

Template for your research proposal.

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The University of Manchester

School of Social Sciences

Writing your economics research proposal

If you are applying to the Economics postgraduate research programme, you will need to submit a research proposal with your application.

The nature of your proposal will depend on when you apply.

The role of the proposal

For entry into Year 1 of the programme, the proposal is used to:

  • identify your broad areas of interest;
  • see if you have consulted relevant literature beyond the standard textbooks;
  • obtain an impression of your ability to think critically;
  • assess what motivates you to pursue a research degree in economics.

Proposal guidelines

For entry into Year 1 of the programme, the research proposal is expected to include the following:

  • The  research area  with which you would expect to be affiliated;
  • The member(s) of staff you would like to provide supervision (this information is also requested in the online application form under ‘Proposed research supervisor’); You are strongly encouraged to contact a preferred supervisor in advance of submitting an application to get their input into developing your research proposal.
  • A description of the area in which you expect your eventual research to be. This should describe possible research questions you might address, and describe why you find them interesting and relevant. In so doing, you should relate the possible research questions to the extant literature in this area of economics;
  • You should identify and address any potential ethical considerations in relation to your proposed research. Please discuss your research with your proposed supervisor to see how best to progress your ideas in line with University of Manchester ethics guidance, and ensure that your proposed supervisor is happy for you to proceed with your application;
  • A bibliography of any journal articles and books to which you have referred;
  • No more than 1500 words.

If you are seeking entry into Year 2 you are expected to have more developed research ideas. Your proposal will be used to assess:

  • the quality and originality of your ideas;
  • whether you are able to think critically;
  • if you have a grasp of the relevant literature.

It will also give us:

  • important information about the perspectives you intend to take in your research area;
  • how you fit into the Economic department’s research profile;
  • an idea how to allocate a supervisory team.

For entry into Year 2 of the programme, the research proposal is expected to include the following:

  • The member(s) of staff you would like to provide supervision (this information is also requested in the online application form under ‘Proposed research supervisor’); You are strongly encouraged to contact a preferred supervisor prior to submitting your application to get their input into your research proposal.
  • A detailed description of the area in which you expect your eventual research to be. This should describe the specific research questions you plan to address, the research methods you expect to use, and the expected data source for any empirical work planned.

The proposal should also:

  • Describe why you find these research questions interesting and relevant, and relate the specific research questions to the extant literature in this area of economics;
  • You should identify and address any potential ethical considerations in relation to your proposed research. Please discuss your research with your proposed supervisor to see how best to progress your ideas in line with University of Manchester ethics guidance, and ensure that your proposed supervisor is happy for you to proceed with your application.
  • Around 1500 words. In exceptional cases proposals significantly exceeding the word limit will be accepted.

The University uses electronic systems to detect plagiarism and other forms of academic malpractice and for assessment. All Humanities PhD programmes require the submission of a research proposal as part of the application process. The Doctoral Academy upholds the principle that where a candidate approaches the University with a project of study, this should be original. While it is understandable that research may arise out of previous studies, it is vital that your research proposal is not the subject of plagiarism.

Allocation of supervisors

For Year 1 entrants, the proposal is used to allocate a preliminary supervisor to act as mentor during the first year of study. This person will normally also act as a supervisor and may also become your MSc-dissertation supervisor. The exact composition of your supervisory team will be decided by the end of Year 1.

You will not be forced to follow the proposal exactly once you have started to study. It is normal for students to refine their original proposal over time.

With this in mind, the composition of your supervisory team may also change. Please note that members of staff are only expected to provide supervision in areas that are of interest to them and admittance to the programme does not imply the provision of supervision on any topic devised by the student.

Further information

  • How to write a personal statement
  • Economics research area groups
  • Find an economics supervisor

If you need help and advice about your application, contact the Postgraduate Admissions Team.

Admissions contacts

University guidelines

You may also find it useful to read the advice and guidance on the University website about writing a proposal for your research degree application.

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Research proposals

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Writing a research proposal requires students to demonstrate a high level of knowledge and analytical thought. Students must choose a specific aspect of the course material to investigate, and ask an original question, which can increase their engagement and interest. This assesses students' understanding of the subject area, their capacity to perform a literature review, their evaluation of possible research tools, and their development of a research question. In addition, the course can require the student to carry out the project they propose, as another assessment task. Assessing the proposal as a separate task earlier in the year ensures the students are on a productive path, helps the students to plan their time, and can also deter academic misconduct by demonstrating authorship. Research-related assessments can support the students' later work on a dissertation.  This can be in terms of skills alone or both skills and content the research proposal informs the final-year dissertation.

Advantages of research proposals

Learning through research can lead to more engaged, critical and informed students than teaching by more didactic methods.

Learning about research methods can help students understand other courses more fully, and the 'nuts and bolts' of their discipline.

Becoming 'expert' in an area can increase students sense of autonomy in their learning, and can develop their confidence in articulating original arguments.

Developing a wider variety of types of writing and communication is useful for students' longer-term employability skills.

As a research proposal can be relatively short, it can be combined with peer feedback or presented in a different format such as a poster or an oral presentation.

Can be a good opportunity to introduce group work

Challenges of research proposals

Students more used to exams and essays may find a new format initially confusing.

Students may feel unsure of how to excel in this assessment method.

When students choose their own specific area to investigate, it carries the risk that the area will not be as productive as one pre-determined by their tutor as existing research literature on a topic may be sparse, for example.

How students might experience research proposals

Students may value the autonomy of creating a research proposal, and appreciate the insight it offers into their other courses, but experience anxiety at the novel assessment format. When students have undertaken specific, personal work, they can appreciate the opportunity of sharing their work with peers. LSE students in this situation report a sense of pride in their own and their cohort's work.

Reliability, validity, fairness and inclusivity of research proposals

As with any assessment, the learning outcomes of the course need to be well served by the method - setting clear criteria and communicating them with students. The weighting of the task also requires consideration. An essay may be a more substantial writing task, but a research proposal requires additional time to find relevant readings, and understand and evaluate research tools. If peers are expected to comment on one another's work, guidance on this should also be provided. As the projects will be varied, students may make more use of office hours or other one-to-one guidance from tutors. Students from educational backgrounds which do not prioritise 'original argument' may particularly struggle to understand what is required of them by an open-ended and personalised project. Putting students in contact with their relevant library liaison is another form of support for when they are locating material.

How to maintain and ensure rigour in research proposals

Research proposals should be marked and moderated in accordance with departmental practice. Criteria should be established in advance and shared with students. Research proposals can provide a chance to excel in one area and underperform in others (e.g. a strong original argument combined with weak use of sources) therefore a clear marking system should help keep students (and staff) working (and marking) in line with the expected outcomes. Individual markers should take steps to avoid the problems which affect batch marking, such as the 'halo' effect where one or two positive characteristics of a student overly influence the marker.

How to limit possible misconduct in research proposals

Possible misconduct is comparable to other written assessment methods. The requirement for students to select their own sub-topic to work on means that assistance from previous cohorts will be of less use. As it is a novel form of assessment, students will also be less able to find existing examples online. Requiring students to submit early stages of the project – for example, an area of interest, an early research question - will require students to demonstrate authorship (and also allow tutors to intervene in projects which appear off-topic). Final submissions can make use of Turnitin to check against other student submissions, and against other possible sources (for example, article abstracts).

LSE examples

SO221 Researching London: Methods for Social Research

AN298 Research Methods in Social Anthropology

MY428 Qualitative Text and Discourse Analysis

Further resources

Healey, M. and Jenkins, A. (2009) Developing undergraduate research and inquiry

https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/developing-undergraduate-research-and-inquiry

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  • How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates

Published on October 12, 2022 by Shona McCombes and Tegan George. Revised on November 21, 2023.

Structure of a research proposal

A research proposal describes what you will investigate, why it’s important, and how you will conduct your research.

The format of a research proposal varies between fields, but most proposals will contain at least these elements:

Introduction

Literature review.

  • Research design

Reference list

While the sections may vary, the overall objective is always the same. A research proposal serves as a blueprint and guide for your research plan, helping you get organized and feel confident in the path forward you choose to take.

Table of contents

Research proposal purpose, research proposal examples, research design and methods, contribution to knowledge, research schedule, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about research proposals.

Academics often have to write research proposals to get funding for their projects. As a student, you might have to write a research proposal as part of a grad school application , or prior to starting your thesis or dissertation .

In addition to helping you figure out what your research can look like, a proposal can also serve to demonstrate why your project is worth pursuing to a funder, educational institution, or supervisor.

Research proposal length

The length of a research proposal can vary quite a bit. A bachelor’s or master’s thesis proposal can be just a few pages, while proposals for PhD dissertations or research funding are usually much longer and more detailed. Your supervisor can help you determine the best length for your work.

One trick to get started is to think of your proposal’s structure as a shorter version of your thesis or dissertation , only without the results , conclusion and discussion sections.

Download our research proposal template

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Writing a research proposal can be quite challenging, but a good starting point could be to look at some examples. We’ve included a few for you below.

  • Example research proposal #1: “A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management”
  • Example research proposal #2: “Medical Students as Mediators of Change in Tobacco Use”

Like your dissertation or thesis, the proposal will usually have a title page that includes:

  • The proposed title of your project
  • Your supervisor’s name
  • Your institution and department

The first part of your proposal is the initial pitch for your project. Make sure it succinctly explains what you want to do and why.

Your introduction should:

  • Introduce your topic
  • Give necessary background and context
  • Outline your  problem statement  and research questions

To guide your introduction , include information about:

  • Who could have an interest in the topic (e.g., scientists, policymakers)
  • How much is already known about the topic
  • What is missing from this current knowledge
  • What new insights your research will contribute
  • Why you believe this research is worth doing

As you get started, it’s important to demonstrate that you’re familiar with the most important research on your topic. A strong literature review  shows your reader that your project has a solid foundation in existing knowledge or theory. It also shows that you’re not simply repeating what other people have already done or said, but rather using existing research as a jumping-off point for your own.

In this section, share exactly how your project will contribute to ongoing conversations in the field by:

  • Comparing and contrasting the main theories, methods, and debates
  • Examining the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches
  • Explaining how will you build on, challenge, or synthesize prior scholarship

Following the literature review, restate your main  objectives . This brings the focus back to your own project. Next, your research design or methodology section will describe your overall approach, and the practical steps you will take to answer your research questions.

To finish your proposal on a strong note, explore the potential implications of your research for your field. Emphasize again what you aim to contribute and why it matters.

For example, your results might have implications for:

  • Improving best practices
  • Informing policymaking decisions
  • Strengthening a theory or model
  • Challenging popular or scientific beliefs
  • Creating a basis for future research

Last but not least, your research proposal must include correct citations for every source you have used, compiled in a reference list . To create citations quickly and easily, you can use our free APA citation generator .

Some institutions or funders require a detailed timeline of the project, asking you to forecast what you will do at each stage and how long it may take. While not always required, be sure to check the requirements of your project.

Here’s an example schedule to help you get started. You can also download a template at the button below.

Download our research schedule template

If you are applying for research funding, chances are you will have to include a detailed budget. This shows your estimates of how much each part of your project will cost.

Make sure to check what type of costs the funding body will agree to cover. For each item, include:

  • Cost : exactly how much money do you need?
  • Justification : why is this cost necessary to complete the research?
  • Source : how did you calculate the amount?

To determine your budget, think about:

  • Travel costs : do you need to go somewhere to collect your data? How will you get there, and how much time will you need? What will you do there (e.g., interviews, archival research)?
  • Materials : do you need access to any tools or technologies?
  • Help : do you need to hire any research assistants for the project? What will they do, and how much will you pay them?

If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

Methodology

  • Sampling methods
  • Simple random sampling
  • Stratified sampling
  • Cluster sampling
  • Likert scales
  • Reproducibility

 Statistics

  • Null hypothesis
  • Statistical power
  • Probability distribution
  • Effect size
  • Poisson distribution

Research bias

  • Optimism bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Implicit bias
  • Hawthorne effect
  • Anchoring bias
  • Explicit bias

Once you’ve decided on your research objectives , you need to explain them in your paper, at the end of your problem statement .

Keep your research objectives clear and concise, and use appropriate verbs to accurately convey the work that you will carry out for each one.

I will compare …

A research aim is a broad statement indicating the general purpose of your research project. It should appear in your introduction at the end of your problem statement , before your research objectives.

Research objectives are more specific than your research aim. They indicate the specific ways you’ll address the overarching aim.

A PhD, which is short for philosophiae doctor (doctor of philosophy in Latin), is the highest university degree that can be obtained. In a PhD, students spend 3–5 years writing a dissertation , which aims to make a significant, original contribution to current knowledge.

A PhD is intended to prepare students for a career as a researcher, whether that be in academia, the public sector, or the private sector.

A master’s is a 1- or 2-year graduate degree that can prepare you for a variety of careers.

All master’s involve graduate-level coursework. Some are research-intensive and intend to prepare students for further study in a PhD; these usually require their students to write a master’s thesis . Others focus on professional training for a specific career.

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

The best way to remember the difference between a research plan and a research proposal is that they have fundamentally different audiences. A research plan helps you, the researcher, organize your thoughts. On the other hand, a dissertation proposal or research proposal aims to convince others (e.g., a supervisor, a funding body, or a dissertation committee) that your research topic is relevant and worthy of being conducted.

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. & George, T. (2023, November 21). How to Write a Research Proposal | Examples & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/research-process/research-proposal/

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Writing your research proposal

research proposal phd economics example

The purpose of the research proposal is to demonstrate that the research you wish to undertake is significant, necessary and feasible, that you will be able to make an original contribution to the field, and that the project can be completed within the normal time period. Some general guidelines and advice on structuring your proposal are provided below. Research proposals should be between 1,000 and 3,000 words depending on the programme (excluding the reference list/bibliography).

Title sheet

Topic statement, research aims, review of the literature, study design / theoretical orientation, research methods, tentative chapter outline, references/bibliography.

research proposal phd economics example

Applying for a research degree

research proposal phd economics example

  • Graduate School

Oxford PhD Proposal Sample: The Best Proposal

Oxford PhD Proposal Sample

An Oxford PhD proposal sample, like Oxford personal statement examples , should give you an idea of how to structure and write your own PhD proposal, which is a key element of how to get into grad school . Should you pursue a master's or PhD , you should know that, with few exceptions, all graduate programs require that applicants submit a research proposal. It can vary in length (usually between 1,000 and 3,000 words) and must outline your main research goals and methods and demonstrate your facility with the topic. The almost 35,000 applications Oxford received in a recent year should give you some idea of how competitive getting into a master's or PhD program is.

Writing a stellar proposal is important to make your application stand out, so, to that end, this article will show you an expert-approved Oxford PhD proposal sample based on the actual requirements of an Oxford graduate program. 

>> Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here . <<

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Oxford phd proposal sample.

PhD Program : DPhil in Migrant Studies

Research Proposal Length: minimum 2000 - maximum 3000 words

To: Matthew J. Gibney, Professor of Politics and Forced Migration

Name: Adrian Toews

Title: Wired and Hungry Masses: Social Media, Migrants and Cultural Bereavement in the Digital Sphere

Proposed Research Topic: Does social media help migrants cross the cultural barriers of their adopted home and succeed in helping them preserve touchstones of their home culture? 

Abstract: The ascendance of social media platforms has increased and, strangely, decreased interconnectedness among disparate groups in society. But, while social media has been implicated, rightly, as a catalyst for the rise of disinformation, hate speech, and other anti-social behaviors, I would argue that its ubiquity and prevalence provide those experiencing cultural bereavement with a more-effective coping mechanism, as social media is able to replicate, in a non-physical space, the culturally specific mechanisms they know and which, prior to digital communications, could not be replicated in new, adopted countries and cultures.

Objective: I want to present social media as an informal networking tool, expressive outlet, and cultural road map with which migrants who are experiencing cultural bereavement can engage for two specific reasons: 1) to assuage the grief that accompanies anyone who has left their homeland as a migrant or refugee, and 2) to help them assimilate into their new identity by giving them a window into the cultural norms and practices of their new country or culture. 

Wondering if you should go to grad school? Watch this video:

An Oxford PhD proposal sample like this one is only one version of what a proposal can look like, but it should contain at least these basic elements. You should know how to choose a PhD topic at this point in your career, but if you still feel like you need help, then you can hire PhD admission consultants to help you choose your topic and research interests.

Above all, you should know why you want to do a PhD . Answering this question first will be effective in helping you ultimately decide on a program, which can then make it easier for you to write any number of different doctorate-related texts, such as a PhD motivation letter and a statement of intent .

Understanding your true motivations, passions, and research interests is doubly important when pursuing a PhD since you do not want to invest so much time and resources in a subject you are only partially interested in. If you can honestly answer why you want to pursue a PhD, you can then take concrete steps toward defining your research goals and how they can be fulfilled by the program you choose.

Your Oxford PhD proposal should adhere to the requirements set forth by the program you wish to enter. Regardless of your discipline or field, almost all PhD programs at Oxford require that you submit a research proposal of between 2,000 and 3,000 words. 

A statement of intent is another type of essay that applicants are often asked to submit to graduate schools. It involves talking about your past academic experiences and achievements, what you intend to do in graduate school, and why you want to go there. A PhD proposal, on the other hand, contains no personal details or experiences.

Instead, a PhD proposal should be a focused, concrete road map built around a specific research question. In your proposal, you list the theoretical approaches that you are going to use, research methods, past scholarship on the same topic, and other investigative tools to answer this question or present evidence from this research to support your argument. 

A statement of purpose is another common essay that graduate school applicants must submit. The line between a statement of purpose and a statement of intent is a fine one, but the line between a statement of purpose and a PhD proposal is much more prominent, and there is no mistaking the two. So, you should not read over graduate school statement of purpose examples to learn how to write a PhD proposal.

A statement of purpose can also be research-focused, but in an undefined way. A PhD proposal combines theory and practice and requires that you demonstrate your knowledge of proper scientific research, investigative methods, and the existing literature on your topic. 

You should include a title page where you list your name, the program you are applying to, and a title for your research project. You should address it to a specific faculty member, who can perhaps, if they agree, show you how to prepare for a thesis defense . The proposal itself should include an abstract, an overview of the existing scholarship on your topic, research questions, methods, and a bibliography listing all your sources. 

The usual length of PhD proposals is between 1,000 and 3,000 words, but your program may have different requirements, which you should always follow. 

There are up to 350 different graduate programs at Oxford, all with their own particular requirements, so the university does not set forth a universal set of requirements for all graduate programs. Many of these programs and their affiliated schools offer students advice on how to write a PhD proposal, but there are few, if any, stated requirements other than the implied ones, which are that you have familiarity with how to conduct graduate-level research and are knowledgeable in the field you are researching. 

A majority of programs do, yes. There are always exceptions, but a fundamental part of pursuing a PhD involves research and investigation, so it is normal for any PhD program to require that applicants write a PhD proposal. 

It is quite possible for your research interests and direction to change during your research, but you should not be discouraged. Graduate programs understand that these things happen, but you should still do your best to reflect the current state of research on your topic and try to anticipate any changes or sudden shifts in direction while you research. 

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research proposal phd economics example

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Research Proposal Example/Sample

Detailed Walkthrough + Free Proposal Template

If you’re getting started crafting your research proposal and are looking for a few examples of research proposals , you’ve come to the right place.

In this video, we walk you through two successful (approved) research proposals , one for a Master’s-level project, and one for a PhD-level dissertation. We also start off by unpacking our free research proposal template and discussing the four core sections of a research proposal, so that you have a clear understanding of the basics before diving into the actual proposals.

  • Research proposal example/sample – Master’s-level (PDF/Word)
  • Research proposal example/sample – PhD-level (PDF/Word)
  • Proposal template (Fully editable) 

If you’re working on a research proposal for a dissertation or thesis, you may also find the following useful:

  • Research Proposal Bootcamp : Learn how to write a research proposal as efficiently and effectively as possible
  • 1:1 Proposal Coaching : Get hands-on help with your research proposal

Free Webinar: How To Write A Research Proposal

FAQ: Research Proposal Example

Research proposal example: frequently asked questions, are the sample proposals real.

Yes. The proposals are real and were approved by the respective universities.

Can I copy one of these proposals for my own research?

As we discuss in the video, every research proposal will be slightly different, depending on the university’s unique requirements, as well as the nature of the research itself. Therefore, you’ll need to tailor your research proposal to suit your specific context.

You can learn more about the basics of writing a research proposal here .

How do I get the research proposal template?

You can access our free proposal template here .

Is the proposal template really free?

Yes. There is no cost for the proposal template and you are free to use it as a foundation for your research proposal.

Where can I learn more about proposal writing?

For self-directed learners, our Research Proposal Bootcamp is a great starting point.

For students that want hands-on guidance, our private coaching service is recommended.

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Research - PhD Economics Programme

We take pride in the Department of Economics’ outstanding placement record and it’s our ambition to place our PhD students in the best institutions worldwide. Our placement record is comparable with the top economics departments in the world, as shown by some of our recent placements which include MIT, UC Berkeley, Columbia, Stanford and Northwestern.

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The LSE Department of Economics is committed to an individualised and contextual review of each application to the MRes/PhD Economics programme. 

Each year the Department of Economics admits around 20 funded students to join our vibrant doctoral programme, consisting of over 100 students from many countries and backgrounds. Our PhD students pursue research in all economic fields, closely supervised by a variety of faculty . We have a Chair and committee for both PhD Admissions and PhD Recruitment, as well as a dedicated professional staff at School and Department level managing funding and admissions.

The  LSE Economics PhD Programme  is grounded in two years of rigorous coursework through the MRes component and by a strong research element. You can find information about the individual  research courses  offered through our programmes.

As is the norm with top economic departments in the US, students entering the LSE PhD Economics programme are typically offered five years financial support; for more information please visit our Cost and Financial Aid page.

Research Centres in the Department of Economics

The LSE Department of Economics is somewhat unique for its major  Research Centres . PhD students benefit from these centres both in terms of getting access to research funds as well as other facilities which complement their doctoral research.

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General Information for prospective research students

Guidelines for submitting Research Statement

An application for 2024 entry to the PhD Economics should include a Research Statement, along with other required information (Note: A separate sample of Written Work is not required as part of the PhD Economics application).

Your Research Statement should be submitted in place of the Outline Research Proposal, along with your application form and other required supporting documents, via the LSE online application system (see the  PhD Economics Admissions FAQs ).

What should my Research Statement contain?

Please answer the following questions clearly and concisely. Max 200 words per question.

1.      Why do you want to do research in economics?

2.      Can you explain how your studies and experience make you suitable to do research in economics?

3.      Which aspect of the PhD do you think you will like the most? Which will you dislike the most? Why?

4.      Tell us about your favourite paper in economics. What do you like about it? How would you improve it?

5.      Write a comment for a general audience on ONE of the following topics (i) Is inequality good for growth?  (ii) Do immigrants take the jobs of native workers?  (iii) Is CEO compensation excessive? (iv) Is universal minimum income a good idea? (v) Overall, has central banks' move to inflation targeting been a success? (vi) Is culture an important determinant of differences in income per capita across countries? (vii) Markets function well as information is aggregated efficiently through prices. (viii) Elections are effective at disciplining politicians who do not have the public interest as their main goal.

How can I demonstrate research potential?

If you have served as research assistant for an economist please ask that person to write a letter focussing on your research skills and describe your experience – reference point 2 (above) of the research statement.

If not, please list any evidence you think would be valuable. Examples include but are not restricted to: experience working autonomously under stress without any guidance, demonstration of creativity in any form, experience of writing original research.

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Examples of research proposals

How to write your research proposal, with examples of good proposals.

Research proposals

Your research proposal is a key part of your application. It tells us about the question you want to answer through your research. It is a chance for you to show your knowledge of the subject area and tell us about the methods you want to use.

We use your research proposal to match you with a supervisor or team of supervisors.

In your proposal, please tell us if you have an interest in the work of a specific academic at York St John. You can get in touch with this academic to discuss your proposal. You can also speak to one of our Research Leads. There is a list of our Research Leads on the Apply page.

When you write your proposal you need to:

  • Highlight how it is original or significant
  • Explain how it will develop or challenge current knowledge of your subject
  • Identify the importance of your research
  • Show why you are the right person to do this research
  • Research Proposal Example 1 (DOC, 49kB)
  • Research Proposal Example 2 (DOC, 0.9MB)
  • Research Proposal Example 3 (DOC, 55.5kB)
  • Research Proposal Example 4 (DOC, 49.5kB)

Subject specific guidance

  • Writing a Humanities PhD Proposal (PDF, 0.1MB)
  • Writing a Creative Writing PhD Proposal (PDF, 0.1MB)
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Preparing a Research Proposal

Considering applying for a PhD? Explore our advice on everything you need to consider - from finding a supervisor to drafting a research proposal.

All applicants to our PhD programme should follow the simple steps below:

Identify a potential supervisor

Before making a formal application to our PhD programme you should discuss your ideas with a potential supervisor within the School. 

Develop your research proposal

Your research proposal (of no more than 2000 words) is an important element of the selection process. You should work closely with your potential supervisor to develop this.

Gather the necessary documents

Your application will need to be supported by a number of other documents. Before applying online, make sure you have prepared the following documents:

1. Completed application form (see step 4) 2. CV 3. Research proposal (2000 words excluding references) 4. Statement of purpose (one A4 side) 5. Full transcripts 6. Two academic references 7. Proof of English language ability (for applicants from non-English speaking countries)

Complete the online application form

All applications are to be  submitted online to the Admissions and Recruitment Office at Queen Mary, in the first instance. 

Identifying a Topic

Before applying for a PhD, there are a number of questions you need to consider. Most important amongst these are:

  • Does your proposed PhD topic fit with the broader research interests of the School?
  • Does the School include members of staff with specialist expertise in your chosen area of research?

If you think your proposed project fits within the broad interests of the School, the next step is to identify a member of academic staff who may be able to supervise you, and who can help you develop your research proposal. You can do this by viewing the individual research interests listed on our   staff pages ,  or through the   find an expert tool .  You can also find information by  viewing the   Research Centre   pages.

Finding a Supervisor

Finding the right supervisor.

If you think your proposed project fits within the broad interests of the School, the next step is to identify a member of academic staff who may be able to supervise you, and who can help you develop your research proposal. You can do this by viewing the individual research interests listed on our   staff pages ,  or through the   find an expert tool .  You can also find information by  viewing our  Research Centre   pages.

Your research proposal is a key part of your application. It is one of the key criteria that the School (and funding bodies) uses to differentiate between different applicants. 

The research proposal should not exceed 2000 words. Bibliography, references and appendices are excluded from the wordcount. If your proposal goes over the word limit, you may be marked down.

Before making your final application, it is likely that you will need to revise your proposal several times. Whilst your potential supervisor may help you do this, it is important that you present them with as clear a proposal as you can, when you first make contact with them.

The keys to writing a strong research proposal are:

  • To formulate a precise, interesting research question; this may take the form of a hypothesis to be tested, or a more open-ended enquiry.
  • To establish the relevance and value of the proposed research question in the context of current academic thinking.
  • To outline a clear and practical methodology which enables you to answer the research question, and to describe and evaluate any data or source material you will draw upon.
  • To suggest what you hope to discover at the end of your research and what new areas it might open up.
  • To demonstrate that your research will not take longer than three years.

Statement of Purpose

Applicants must also submit a Statement of Purpose within their application.

Candidates should use the Statement of Purpose to set out information which is NOT set out in their Research Proposal. The Statement of Purpose should be a one side A4 document, containing the following information:

  • Previous academic and other experience relevant to your proposed research.
  • Why you wish to undertake this research at Queen Mary (thinking about where the project fits with the School and supervisors research interests).
  • What research training and professional preparation you have already received.
  • Any further training you think you may need to complete the PhD.
  • Any ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking your research.

Entry Requirements

We are committed to appointing only the very best candidates to our PhD programme. Applications are accepted based on their previous academic performance, the quality of their research proposal and the availability of two suitable members of staff to supervise the chosen topic. Our current entry criteria are:

  • Undergraduate degree with First Class Honours.
  • Masters (MA, MSc or MRes, usually not an MBA) at Distinction level in Business, Management or discipline related to your research topic.
  • Overall IELTS score of 7 with 6.5 in writing at the time of application, if English is not your first language.
  • Applicants must be based in London for the duration of the programme.

We normally expect to see examples of First Class academic work (marks of 70 or above).

Borderline cases are considered when applicants have relevant work experience.

Funding your PhD

Fees and funding.

Undertaking a PhD is a serious financial commitment, and involves careful financial planning at the time of application and for the duration of the programme. Prices will almost inevitably rise and you must allow for this when planning your finances. Your costs will comprise both tuition fees and living costs.

Tuition fees

Full tuition fee information is available on Queen Mary's tuition fee pages .

A number of University and external funding opportunities are available to PhD research students. Find out more on the University's  scholarships web page .

Get in touch

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Research proposal guidelines

Your research proposal is an essential part of your application that will be used to assess your suitability for the PhD programme, and link you to an appropriate academic colleague who can support you throughout your studies.

Proposal requirements

When submitting your proposal please make sure it meets the following requirements so we can properly assess your suitability for the programme. It should:

  • Have a title
  • Explain your particular topic or question you wish to study
  • Briefly summarise existing research on the topic, making reference to publications as appropriate
  • Give a clear outline of the research you intend to do, with a timeframe where possible

Please ensure your proposal meets our word limit requirements. These are different depending on which PhD programme you are applying for, so please ensure you check this carefully.

For those applying to PhD with Integrated Study in Accounting/Finance/Management or to the MSc by Research in Management, the research proposal must be between 1,000 and 1,500 words (excluding references and appendices).

For those applying to PhD Business Economics/Financial Technology/Management Science and Analytics the research proposal must be between 3,000 and 5,000 words (excluding references and appendices).

If you have any questions about the proposal word limit please contact the PGR Admissions Team at [email protected]

Important points

  • If accepted, you are not committed to following your research proposal exactly, although any major changes must be agreed with your supervisory team
  • Applications received without a research proposal will not be considered
  • A personal statement does not meet the requirements of a research proposal
  • Your research proposal may be submitted to the Turnitin plagiarism detection system

Writing an effective proposal

A weak proposal can lead to an application being unsuccessful. To help you stand out from the crowd we have created a detailed guide on how to get started.

How to write a good research proposal

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  • Essay on Wealth

Good Example Of Research Proposal On Economics

Type of paper: Research Proposal

Topic: Wealth , Distribution , Population , Information , Education , Finance , Study , Investment

Words: 1500

Published: 12/28/2020

ORDER PAPER LIKE THIS

Distribution of Wealth

Research Question The distribution of wealth is an elemental component of the determination of the equality or inequality of wealth within a population. Wealth is equated with the net worth or the sum total of the assets less the liabilities. As such, the wealth is a significant indicator of the economic situation and the well-being in the US, which is the focus population for this research. For this reason, this research seeks to answer the question; what is the status of the wealth distribution in the United States?

Significance of the Study

The types of the assets, which the households hold can be different across the distribution of the net worth. For this reason, the division of the total net worth into parts could provide insights into the well-being of every segment of the distribution. Since certain business cycles vary with time, the variations could have differential impacts on the wealth of the various groups and can facilitate the evaluation of the changes of the well-being for various households. As such, this study is significant because it provides the insights into the elements of the distribution of wealth in the United States and the impact of the differences to the economy of the country. This study is also important because it provides some of the reasons contributing to the status of the wealth distribution in the country in terms of the equality or inequality in distribution. This study is significant because it evaluates the changes in the relative wealth or net worth with time. Last, this study is elemental because it provides insights into the effects of the equality or inequality in the wealth distribution in the United States to the ways of life of individuals in the country.

The study hypothesizes a variety of aspects with reference to the background information on the wealth distribution in the country. For this reason, the following are the hypotheses for the study:

Hypothesis 1

The gap in the distribution of wealth between different households on the United States has accumulated more extremely since the period of the Great Depression.

Hypothesis 2

The distribution of wealth among the households in the country is based on the socio-economic factors of the households. Hypothesis 3 Race, age, Hispanic origin, and educational attainment are among the leading factors for the gap in the wealth distribution in the country.

The study will encompass a mixed methods approach in the collection and analysis of the data. The quantitative and qualitative elements of the study will be essential in the combination of the results and the data in evaluating and discussing the research question and hypotheses. The qualitative aspect will encompass the phenomenological component while the quantitative will include the statistical data on the same, including the percentages of the wealth distribution and the changes in the percentages over time. Data collection methods using the qualitative approach will encompass the secondary research materials from past studies on the distribution of wealth. The qualitative data analysis will encompass such avenues as the documentation, examining of the relationships and displaying the required data, and authenticating conclusions. On the other hand, the quantitative data analysis will encompass such elements as the tabulations.

Expected Findings

The expected findings are based on the background information and the trends of the gap in the wealth distribution in the country over the past few years. First, there is an anticipated wealth inequality in the country based on the findings. That is, the wealth distribution in the United States is expected to be unequal among the households. Second, the unequal wealth distribution and the gap between the highest or the wealthiest household and the lowest earning household are expected to be more than 25%. The gap in the wealth distribution among the household has also increased since the experience of the Great Depression, which is expected to be fueled by the changing or fluctuating economic conditions both locally and globally. Last, the social class forms the most significant element contributing the gap. The race, the age, the social status, political influence, and the educational attainment are the social aspects related to the wealth distribution.

Limitations

The first limitation of the study is the use of information from secondary sources. In most cases, it is possible to find that the information presented in some of the sources has been doctored to fit the preferences of the authors. The element of bias often affects the credibility of the information especially in cases where the authors want the set of data acquired from the field to suit certain hypotheses and preconceived conclusions. Secondly, the distribution of wealth is diverse and varied in terms of its applicability. Populations have different definitions of the term wealth and limiting the scope to income does not help much. In this context, it points to the distribution of income and financial assets among the population in a certain nation or region. However, it is important to note that the limited scope in terms of the definition is unfit because the population has some intangible wealth that cannot be quantified in terms of financial assets (Schneider 2004). For instance, the presence of a well-developed security system is an incentive for the accumulation of wealth. However, such services and incentives are not considered when measuring the distribution of wealth yet they play a critical role in the presence of wealth within the population.

Literature Review

Salas-Fumás& Sanchez-Asin (2013) carried out a longitudinal study in which they explored the role played by the presence of entrepreneurs in the creation and eventual distribution of wealth in a population. The authors assert that that the entrepreneurial level of a population is determined by the manner in which the nations has distributed its wealth and it influences the distribution of wealth in later years. Entrepreneurship is determined by the consumption and saving patterns of the populations such that lesser consumption and incremental saving increases the rate of investment. As the investments increase, a larger section of the population has the opportunity to generate access income, which leads to changes in the investment and saving patterns. In the end, investment will increase and create an opportunity for more people to access wealth or income. The cyclical effect is regarded as the management function of entrepreneurs given the role they play in the distribution of wealth. According to Linda Levine (2012), the distribution of wealth or net worth among the various households in a population has been an issue in various congressional deliberations. It also covers the social welfare and taxations given that taxes affect the rate at which investment takes place and the quality of services that the society receives from the government. Determining the mean and the median of the net worth of every household over a certain number of years can be used in the analysis of the change in the distribution of wealth in the population. The mean and the median are the fundamental variables used to measure the changes in the distribution of wealth in the population. As such, they can be used in the prediction of poverty levels based on the growing or declining ability of the society to save and invest in the economy. Calomiris, Longhofer, & Miles (2012) argue that the characteristics of the demographics of a nation have an effect on the distribution of wealth. Particularly, the authors argue that nations that have a higher number of young people have the tendency to be constrained in terms of the application of credit. On the other hand, states that have a larger adult population are characterized by higher income and asset stability and there is a higher rate of credit applications due to the improved ability to repay the borrowed capital. As such, age has an effect on the distribution of wealth in the sense that nations with a larger adult population have a better distribution of wealth than one in which, there are a higher number of youth. They are often seeking a form of generating income unlike most of the adults who have a variety of assets and raise the net worth of the population. Schneider (2004) also agrees that the consumption of wealth in terms of assets such as housing and stock also has an effect on the rate at which investment trickles back into the society, which has an effect on the distribution of wealth in the end.

Calomiris, C. W., Longhofer, S. D., & Miles, W. (2012). The Housing Wealth Effect: The Crucial Roles of Demographics, Wealth Distribution and Wealth Shares. Levine, L. (2012). An Analysis of the Distribution of Wealth Across Households, 1989-2010. Salas-Fumás, V., & Sanchez-Asin, J. J. (2013). The management function of entrepreneurs and countries’ productivity growth. Applied Economics. doi:10.1080/00036846.2012.663476 Schneider, M. (2004). The distribution of wealth. Cheltenham, UK: E. Elgar Pub.

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    The PhD in Applied Economics is designed to meet academic, government and industry demand for research-oriented graduate training in applied economics. A PhD in Applied Economics makes particular sense at the University of Saskatchewan given the applied nature of the participating units. A focus on the application of economics to real world

  16. Research Proposal Example (PDF + Template)

    If you're getting started crafting your research proposal and are looking for a few examples of research proposals, you've come to the right place. In this video, we walk you through two successful (approved) research proposals, one for a Master's-level project, and one for a PhD-level dissertation.

  17. Research

    An application for 2024 entry to the PhD Economics should include a Research Statement, along with other required information (Note: A separate sample of Written Work is not required as part of the PhD Economics application). Your Research Statement should be submitted in place of the Outline Research Proposal, along with your application form ...

  18. Examples of Research proposals

    Research Proposal Example 1 (DOC, 49kB) Research Proposal Example 2 (DOC, 0.9MB) Research Proposal Example 3 (DOC, 55.5kB) Research Proposal Example 4 (DOC, 49.5kB) Subject specific guidance Writing a Humanities PhD Proposal (PDF, 0.1MB) Writing a Creative Writing PhD Proposal (PDF, 0.1MB)

  19. Preparing a Research Proposal

    Preparing a Research Proposal Your research proposal is a key part of your application. It is one of the key criteria that the School (and funding bodies) uses to differentiate between different applicants. The research proposal should not exceed 2000 words. Bibliography, references and appendices are excluded from the wordcount.

  20. PhD Research Proposal Guidelines

    For those applying to PhD Business Economics/Financial Technology/Management Science and Analytics the research proposal must be between 3,000 and 5,000 words (excluding references and appendices). If you have any questions about the proposal word limit please contact the PGR Admissions Team at [email protected].

  21. PDF SAMPLE RESEARCH PROPOSAL

    SAMPLE RESEARCH PROPOSAL TITLE: WHAT SECTORS CAN BE ENGINES OF GROWTH?: AN ANALYSIS OF MANUFACTURING IN INDIA INTRODUCTION The manufacturing sector is the engine of growth according to the traditional economic literature, and the impetus to growth in developed countries emanated from this sector.

  22. (PDF) PhD Research Proposal

    PDF | On Apr 11, 2021, Abhinav Dutta published PhD Research Proposal | Find, read and cite all the research you need on ResearchGate.

  23. Free Economics Research Proposal Examples

    Good Example Of Research Proposal On Economics Type of paper: Research Proposal Topic: Wealth, Distribution, Population, Information, Education, Finance, Study, Investment Pages: 5 Words: 1500 Published: 12/28/2020 ORDER PAPER LIKE THIS Distribution of Wealth Research Question