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Confirmation of candidature

Prior to beginning data collection you will need to have your candidature confirmed. This involves preparing your research proposal and a subsequent seminar where you will explain your proposed research, obtain feedback and getting your ethics approved.

Reviewers appointed by the school will make a formal recommendation as to your proposal completion. Confirmation of candidature is expected within four months for Masters by Research degrees and six months for Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Professional Doctorate degrees.

What is a research proposal?

The research proposal is a detailed document on what you propose to research. It must describe what your proposed research is about, including a literature review, and state the research questions that you will address, and how you will address them.

The research proposal should be prepared after:

  • finalising the research questions;
  • conducting a literature review; and
  • selecting an appropriate research design.

The research proposal is a blueprint for the development of your research project. A well-prepared proposal places boundaries on the study, enables the supervisor to guide and assist you, and helps you remain focused on addressing the research questions.

Sections of a research proposal can be incorporated into the final thesis.

Research proposals vary in detail and scope depending on the discipline and level of the degree in which the Candidate is enrolled. But they should all:

  • ensure that the problem has been adequately defined;
  • ensure that the research questions or hypotheses are defined and able to be answered;
  • justify the significance of the research and the original contribution that is expected to be made by the research;
  • access and summarise literature relevant both to the research questions and methodologies;
  • detail data collection methodologies most appropriate to answer the research questions;
  • consider issues of reliability and validity in the collection and analysis of data; and
  • explain approaches to the analysis of the collected data.

While no restrictions are placed on the length of a research proposal, your supervisor can advise on the length required by the school. The research proposal should be written in sufficient detail to ensure that others can fully understand the proposed research study.

The research proposal seminar

All Masters by Research, PhD and Professional Doctorate candidates are expected to present a seminar based on their proposal. At this seminar, to which staff and fellow candidates are invited, the research proposal is outlined and feedback sought on the research design and methodology. Your supervisor can assist with the procedure for scheduling research seminars in your school.

Reviewers are appointed to provide reports and recommendations on your proposal. Reviewers are appointed by the supervisor(s) and approved by the Dean of School. Proposals are reviewed by two reviewers. It is preferred that at least one reviewer is external to the University.

After the seminar, you should revise the proposal (taking account of feedback from the Reviewers) submit it to the Associate Dean (Research), via your supervisor, for formal approval. Supporting documents must accompany the revised research proposal.

The research proposal must be approved prior to submission for ethics approval.

The research proposal approval process

After your research proposal has been reviewed, you must discuss the suggestions made by the reviewers with your supervisor. We expect that the reviewers will give you some verbal feedback at your seminar and written feedback through the review’s reports. In consultation with your supervisor, make the necessary adjustments to your research proposal and draft an outline of changes and/or, if necessary, a defence of the reviewer’s recommendations.

Once you have revised your research proposal, please ensure your supervisor is satisfied with the final document.

The revised research proposal can now enter the approval process. Please submit the following documentation to the Student Information Office for the Associate Dean (Research) to approve:

  • research proposal checklist form
  • reviewer’s reports
  • outline of changes
  • risk assessment and management plan
  • revised research proposal (hard or soft copy acceptable)
  • Confirmation of the Graduate Research Induction Program (GRIP)
  • Report and receipt confirmation that you have submitted your final copy of your proposal through 'TURN IT IN'
  • Preparation of an Application to Undertake Research Involving Human or Animal Subjects or Ethics Declaration; and
  • A learning plan, with skills analysis and outline of training and development goals discussed with supervisor.

When the research proposal has been approved by the Associate Dean (Research), the documentation is forwarded to Research Assessments, Student Services Centre (SSC) where it will be on executively approved by the Dean Graduate Research School on behalf of the Research Students and Scholarships Committee.

Candidates may begin applying for ethics clearance via STREAM.

Please contact the  Student Services office at if you have any queries.

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