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Preparing a Proposal

All applications to join the Research Degree Programme must be accompanied by a high-quality research proposal. The proposal must provide evidence of an applicant’s ability to plan and organize independent research whilst also demonstrating the relevance of the proposed research topic to the interest and expertise of a potential academic supervisor within Trinity Business School.

All research proposals must adhere to the specific guidelines outlined below. Failure to adhere to these guidelines may result in an application being rejected by the Research Degree Programme Committee.

Specific Guidelines

There is no expectation that an applicant should be in a position to write a perfect proposal at this preliminary stage in the application process. Neither is there an expectation that an applicant will adhere closely to his or her initial proposal as their ideas will almost certainly change once the programme of studies gets underway.

Notwithstanding the caveats noted above, an applicant is expected to produce a research proposal organized under the following key headings:

  • Title – outline the title of the proposed study and indicate the academic domain within which it falls (e.g. strategic management, organization development, information systems, financial management, etc).
  • Research topic / question – outline the boundaries of the proposed research topic and more specifically elaborate on the importance of the central research question(s) around which the study is organized.
  • Research contribution – outline how the study builds on existing research and clarify the unique contribution envisaged. Also, clarify the unique contribution to practice where such a contribution is envisaged.
  • Research context and background – drawing on existing literature, outline the context and background to the proposed study.
  • Overviews of consulted and reviewed literature – focusing on the central research question(s), outline the various strands of literature that have been consulted and / or reviewed for this study. Indicate how such literature will be used as the study unfolds.
  • Research model / hypotheses – outline the key features of the research framework that will be used to guide the design and collection of relevant research data.
  • Research methodology – outline the key elements of the proposed research strategy (e.g. interviewing, case study, grounded theory, action research, process study, longitudinal study).
  • Research plan and timeline – outline the major activities and milestones envisaged throughout the research journey.
  • References and bibliography – include all references throughout the text and / or the wider bibliography used to inform the proposed study.
  • Prospective supervisor(s) – identify one or more academic supervisors who have an interest in the proposed research.

The research proposal should be limited to approximately 2,500 words excluding Appendices, References, and Bibliography.

Learning from Experience

The submission of a high quality proposal from a well qualified applicant does not automatically guarantee acceptance on the Research Degree Programme. From past experience, it is clear that proposals from well qualified candidates fail to be accepted when:

  • The research proposal is not structured in accordance with the specific guidelines noted above.
  • The research topic and question(s) are poorly specified. Questions must be precisely defined and all elements of the research proposal must be congruent with the study as envisaged.
  • The proposal identifies a practical managerial problem without any reference to academic underpinnings of the problem domain. A good proposal must engage with the academic literature and demonstrate critical insight in one or more academic disciplines to succeed.
  • The focus of the proposed research does not fit with the competencies of potential supervisors within the School of Business.

Proposal Review

While an applicant is encouraged to engage with a potential supervisor to discuss and explore further his or her research interests, he or she should not expect a potential supervisor to formally review any proposal in the absence of a completed online application with all the relevant supporting documentation.

The Research Degree Programme Committee will only consider completed online applications with all supporting documentation, including a well developed research proposal.  

The closing date for receipt of completed applications to join the Research Degree Programme is as follows:

  • 30 June for September entry.
  • 31 December for March entry.