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How to Write a Concept Paper for a PhD: A 10-Step Guide

Adela B.

Table of contents

You’re ready to enroll for your Ph.D. studies but feeling anxious. You don’t know whether your application will be accepted or what it would take to be accepted.

Aside from your academic qualifications, a concept paper is one of the most critical determinants. If you’re planning to pursue a Ph.D., you need to learn how to write an effective concept paper to convince your professors.

Writing a concept paper requires strong analytical skills, advanced research knowledge, and excellent writing skills.

This blog post will give you a step-by-step guide on how to write a concept paper for a Ph.D. to get you a step closer to becoming a doctor of philosophy.

What is a concept paper for Ph.D.?

A concept paper for a Ph.D. is a written statement outlining the objectives and concepts of a proposed research study. It acts as an introduction to your dissertation or full thesis.

It is also an important part of the application process for Ph.D. programs and helps the admissions committee evaluate a student's research potential.

It typically includes background information on the topic to be studied, an overview of existing research, and the proposed research design. It also highlights potential results from the proposed study and their practical applications.

Ultimately, concept papers for Ph.D. programs help determine whether a student is qualified to pursue doctoral-level work in their chosen field.

How long is a Ph.D. concept paper?

The length of your concept paper will depend on your field of study and the requirements set by your university. Generally speaking, most universities expect concept papers to be between 3-5 pages long. Some papers may be longer or shorter depending on how much detail your project entails.

Key takeaways

A concept paper for Ph.D. includes:

  • Background information on the topic;
  • Overview of existing research;
  • Proposed research design;
  • Potential results from the study;
  • Practical applications of the study.

How to Write a Concept Paper for Ph.D.?

An effective concept paper will help you get approval from your professor or adviser to begin your doctoral work.

What are the characteristics of a good concept paper?

A good concept paper should present an idea or topic in a clear and concise manner. It should provide an overview of what the research project will cover and explain why it’s important.

Additionally, it should highlight any potential implications of the research study and how they can be addressed or minimized. The goal of the paper is to convince the reader that your proposed project is worth pursuing and that it contributes new knowledge to your field of study.

What are the 5 elements of a concept paper?

The five elements of a concept paper are:

  • Background;
  • Purpose statement;
  • Problem statement;
  • Research questions or hypotheses;
  • Significance or implications for practice.

These elements work together to provide a comprehensive overview of your proposed research project and show why it’s worth pursuing.

Here are the steps to write an outstanding concept paper that stands no chance of being rejected.

1. Define the title and purpose of your study

The first step in writing a concept paper is defining the title and purpose of your study. What will your research be about? And what are you trying to accomplish through it?

The title and purpose of your study will set the foundation for your concept paper. This part should be concise and clear so that readers understand the basis and significance of your research. When formulating the title, ensure it accurately reflects the main focus of your entire research study.

2. Describe the background and scope of your study

The next step is to provide an overview of the background information of your study topic and explain how it relates to your proposed project.

When describing the background of your study, you need to provide some context about why this topic is important enough to warrant academic inquiry.

Highlight any existing studies or theories related to your topic so that readers understand why you have chosen it as part of your dissertation research.

3. Identify the problem statement

Next, identify a problem statement that outlines what issue or gap in the knowledge you are attempting to address through your research project. Every good concept paper should include a well thought problem statement.

Your problem statement should be precise and concise so readers can easily understand what they can expect from reading further.

Here, you should make it clear why there’s a need for further investigation in your chosen field and how your research will contribute new insights into existing knowledge.

4. List your goals and objectives

Now that you’ve established your problem statement, you need to outline the specific goals and objectives that will guide you through your research.

Here, you outline what steps you’ll take and what specifically you hope to achieve in every stage of the study. This could mean anything from creating new theories, testing existing theories or models, exploring the techniques used in other studies, etc.

Your goals and objectives will give the readers a heads-up about what outcomes they can expect from the project.

Ensure whatever goals and objectives you list are measurable and achievable within the scope of your research study.

5. Formulate research questions

Next, formulate detailed research questions (and accompanying hypotheses) based on the topic you plan to explore.

These questions should include the variables you plan to manipulate or measure during data collection. Ensure the questions are clear and written in simple language so readers can understand what you’ll address through the study.

Also, don’t forget to create hypotheses for every research question you write. These are specific claims that will act as the starting points for further inquiry and potential conclusions for the study.

6. Explain the theoretical framework of the study

Once you’ve formulated your research questions, the next step is to explain the theoretical framework or foundational concept of the study.

Identify and briefly explain the theories that inspired you and connect them back to your intended study.

This will set out the context of your project and show that you’ve read and understood existing knowledge on the subject. This theoretical knowledge will come in handy if your application is accepted.

7. Write the literature review

The next step is to write the literature review . Here, you identify information and existing knowledge from previous studies and other published articles.

Your literature review should also include summaries or reviews of key texts related to your topic. You can get information for this section from peer-reviewed articles and online journals like OpenDOAR and CORE.

Remember, all the facts, statistics, and other relevant information must be accompanied by appropriate citations and references.

8. Describe the proposed research methodology

After writing the literature review, go ahead and describe the research design and methodology you’ll be employing.

Some of the critical details to include in this section include:

  • What data collection methods you’ll use? (e.g., surveys, interviews, or questionnaires).
  • How many participants will form your sample size?
  • What data analysis methods will you use? (e.g., qualitative versus quantitative).

Be sure to highlight any ethical considerations involved in your research methodology. For instance, explain the informed consent procedures you’ll use if your research involves human participation.

Also, explain how you’ll minimize the potential risks associated with participating in your research activities.

9. Explain the significance of the study (and its implications)

Now that you’ve explained the methodology, it’s time to let the readers understand why this study is important and why it makes a significant contribution to existing research.

Additionally, explain how this study will impact theory development and its significance for policymakers or practitioners in your field of study.

You should also discuss any potential implications of conducting this research (e.g., ethical considerations or political ramifications).

10. Include references/bibliography

Finally, include references or a bibliography at the end of your concept paper to build credibility for your research paper.

A bibliography enables you to give credit where it belongs by recognizing the owners of your reference materials.

Ensure you format references properly according to the style specified by the institution you’re applying to. This could be for example APA , MLA, or  Harvard referencing style .

What is the difference between a concept paper and a research paper?

A concept paper outlines what you plan to do (in future tense), while a research paper explains what you did (in past tense) after completing your research project. In other words, a concept paper serves as an introduction to your research, while a research paper provides evidence-based results from experiments conducted during your study.

Final thoughts

The thought of writing a concept paper for your Ph.D. can be intimidating at first. However, once you know the right approach to take and invest enough time, the writing process becomes hassle-free.

Start by brainstorming your ideas, researching related topics, and creating an outline. Also, ensure you clearly define your concept and know the exact approach you’ll be taking. This way, you won’t find yourself stuck when your concept paper has been approved for further research.

After completing the paper, revise it to ensure everything is clear and accurate with no typos. In the end, you’ll have an excellent concept paper that will pave the way for you to pursue your doctoral studies.

If you need help writing a concept paper for your Ph.D., turn to Writers Per Hour for assistance. With expert Doctoral writers on the team, we can draft a compelling concept paper that is 100% original and written from scratch as per your requirements.

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How to Write a PhD Concept Paper

format of a phd concept paper

A concept paper – or concept note – is one of the initial requirements of a PhD programme. It is normally written during the PhD application process as well as early on in the programme once a student has been admitted.

A concept paper is basically a shorter version of a research proposal – in most cases between 2,000 and 2,500 words – that expresses the research ideas of the potential PhD student.

Besides being short, it should be concise yet have adequate details to convince the Department the student is applying to that he/she is worth being admitted to the programme.

Example of a title with a sub-title

References/bibliography, why do phd programmes require applicants to submit a concept paper.

A concept paper serves four main purposes:

  • It gives the Department the student is applying to an idea of the student’s research interests.
  • Based on point one, it informs the Department whether the student will be a good fit to the Department or not. To be a good fit, the research interests of the applicant should match those of the Department’s faculty.
  • Based on the two points above, it enables the Department to offer support to the student throughout his/her PhD studies in the form of supervision and mentorship.
  • Because the concept paper is written – and must be accepted – before the full proposal, it saves the student time and effort that would otherwise be spent on topics that may end up being rejected by the Department. A concept paper is therefore the first step to writing the PhD thesis/dissertation (see the figure below).

how to write a phd concept

Format of a PhD Concept Paper

The format of a concept paper might vary from one university to another. A PhD student should therefore read the guidelines provided by his/her University of interest before writing a concept paper.

In general, the following is a common format of a concept paper:

Title of proposed study

The title of the proposed study is the first element of a concept paper.

The title should describe what the study is about by highlighting the variables of the study and the relationship between the variables if applicable.

The title should be short and specific: it is best to have a title that is not more than 15 words’ long.

Example of a title:

Use of Mobile Phone Applications for Weight Management in the United States

In order to add more specificity to the title, you can add a subtitle to the main title. The title and subtitle should be separated by a full colon.

Use of Mobile Phone Applications for Weight Management in the United States:

A Behavioural Economics’ Analysis

Background to the study

The background to the study contains the following elements:

  • The history of the topic, both globally and in the proposed location of your study.
  • What other researchers have found out from their own studies.
  • What the gaps in the existing literature are, that is, what the other researchers have not addressed.
  • What your study will contribute towards filling the identified gaps.

The implication of the above is that one must have conducted some literature review prior to writing the background to the study.

Statement of the problem

The statement of the problem is a clear description of the issue that the study will address, the relevance of the issue, the importance (benefits) of addressing the issue, and the method the researcher will use to address the issue.

Goal and objectives of the study

Once you have identified the problem of your study, the next step is to write the goal and objectives of the study. There is a difference between these two:

The goal of the study is a broad statement of what the researcher hopes to accomplish at the end of the study. The goal should also be related to the problem statement.

Any given project should have one goal because having many goals would lead to confusion. However, that one goal can have multiple elements in it, which would be accomplished through the project’s objectives.

The objectives of the study, on the other hand, are specific and detailed statements of how the researcher will go about accomplishing the stated goal.

The objectives should:

  • Support the accomplishment of the goal.
  • Follow a sequence, that is, like a step-by-step order. This will help you frame the activities needed to be undertaken in a logical manner so that the goal is achieved.
  • Be stated using action verbs, for instance, “to identify”, “to create”, “to establish”, “to measure”, etc.
  • Be about 3-4: having too few of objectives will limit the scope of your PhD dissertation, while having too many objectives may complicate the dissertation.
  • Be SMART, that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.

The video below clearly explains how to set SMART goals and objectives:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAhs-m6cNzY

Important tip 1: depending on your PhD programme, you may be required to have at least 3 journal papers to qualify for graduation. Each of your objectives can be converted into a separate journal paper on its own.

Research questions and hypotheses

Every PhD dissertation needs research questions. Research questions will help the student stay focused on his/her research.

The aim of the research is to provide answers to the research questions. The answers to the questions will form the thesis statement.

Examples of research questions:

In the title example given earlier about use of mobile phone applications for weight management in the United States, a student may be interested in the following questions:

  • To what extent do adults in the United States use mobile phone applications to manage their weight?
  • Is there any gender disparity in the use of mobile phone apps for weight management in the United States?
  • How effective are mobile apps for weight management in the United States?

Good research questions are those that can be explored deeply and widely as well as defended using evidence. Questions with ‘yes” or “no” responses are not academic-worthy.

When developing research questions, you also need to think about the data that will be required to answer the questions. Do you have access to that data? If no, will your time and financial resources allow you to collect that data?

Important tip 2: Your PhD study is time-limited therefore data requirement issues need to be thought through at the initial stages of your concept paper writing so that you don’t waste too much time either collecting the data in the future or trying to access the data if it already exists elsewhere.

Preliminary literature review

At the concept paper stage, a preliminary literature review serves three main purposes:

  • It shows whether you have knowledge of the current state of debate about your chosen topic.
  • It shows whether you are familiar with the experts in your chosen topic.
  • It also helps you identify the research gaps.

Proposed research design, methods and procedures

This sections provides a brief overview of the research methodology that you will adopt in your study. Some issues to consider include:

  • Will your study use quantitative, qualitative or mixed-methods approach?
  • Will you use secondary or primary data?
  • What will be the sources of your data? Will you need any ethical clearance from your university before collecting data?
  • Will the data sources be readily accessible?
  • Will you use external assistance for data collection? Or will you do all the data collection yourself?
  • How will the data be analysed? Which softwares will you use? Are you competent in those softwares?

While the above issues are important to think through, please note that the research design and methods will be informed by your research objectives and research questions. As an illustration:

A research question that aims to measure the effect of one (or more) variable(s) on another variable will definitely require quantitative research methods.

On the other hand, a research question that aims to explain the existence of a phenomenon will render itself to the use of qualitative research methods.

Contribution to knowledge

This is perhaps the most important aspect of a PhD dissertation. Your concept note needs to briefly highlight how your project will add value to knowledge.

Making significant contribution to knowledge at the PhD level does not mean a Nobel prize standard of knowledge (this you can do after your PhD when you’ll have all the time in the world to do so). You can achieve this in various ways:

  • New applications of existing ideas.
  • New interpretations of previous ideas.
  • Investigating an existing issue in a new location.
  • Development of a new theory.
  • Coming up with a new technique, among others.

The last section of the concept paper is the reference list or bibliography. This is the section that lists the literatures that you have reviewed and cited in your paper.

There is a slight difference between a reference list and a bibliography:

A reference list includes all those studies that have been directly cited in the paper.

A bibliography, on the other hand, includes all those studies that have been directly cited in the paper as well as those that were reviewed and consulted but not cited in the paper.

When creating the reference list/bibliography, one should be mindful of the referencing style that is required by their PhD department (that is, whether APA, MLA, Chicago, Havard, etc).

Final Thoughts on Writing a PhD Concept Paper

The concept paper is the first step to writing the PhD dissertation. Once accepted, the student will proceed to writing the proposal, which will then be defended before proceeding with writing the full dissertation.

The concept paper is a mini-proposal and has most of the components expected in the proposal.

However, the concept paper should be short and precise while at the same time have adequate information to enable the PhD Committee of the PhD Programme the student is applying to judge if the student will be a good fit to the programme or not.

Related posts

How To Choose a Research Topic For Your PhD Thesis (7 Key Factors to Consider)

Comprehensive Guidelines for Writing a PhD Thesis Proposal (+ free checklist for PhD Students)

Grace Njeri-Otieno

Grace Njeri-Otieno is a Kenyan, a wife, a mom, and currently a PhD student, among many other balls she juggles. She holds a Bachelors' and Masters' degrees in Economics and has more than 7 years' experience with an INGO. She was inspired to start this site so as to share the lessons learned throughout her PhD journey with other PhD students. Her vision for this site is "to become a go-to resource center for PhD students in all their spheres of learning."

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Concept Papers in Research: Deciphering the blueprint of brilliance

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Concept papers hold significant importance as a precursor to a full-fledged research proposal in academia and research. Understanding the nuances and significance of a concept paper is essential for any researcher aiming to lay a strong foundation for their investigation.

Table of Contents

What Is Concept Paper

A concept paper can be defined as a concise document which outlines the fundamental aspects of a grant proposal. It outlines the initial ideas, objectives, and theoretical framework of a proposed research project. It is usually two to three-page long overview of the proposal. However, they differ from both research proposal and original research paper in lacking a detailed plan and methodology for a specific study as in research proposal provides and exclusion of the findings and analysis of a completed research project as in an original research paper. A concept paper primarily focuses on introducing the basic idea, intended research question, and the framework that will guide the research.

Purpose of a Concept Paper

A concept paper serves as an initial document, commonly required by private organizations before a formal proposal submission. It offers a preliminary overview of a project or research’s purpose, method, and implementation. It acts as a roadmap, providing clarity and coherence in research direction. Additionally, it also acts as a tool for receiving informal input. The paper is used for internal decision-making, seeking approval from the board, and securing commitment from partners. It promotes cohesive communication and serves as a professional and respectful tool in collaboration.

These papers aid in focusing on the core objectives, theoretical underpinnings, and potential methodology of the research, enabling researchers to gain initial feedback and refine their ideas before delving into detailed research.

Key Elements of a Concept Paper

Key elements of a concept paper include the title page , background , literature review , problem statement , methodology, timeline, and references. It’s crucial for researchers seeking grants as it helps evaluators assess the relevance and feasibility of the proposed research.

Writing an effective concept paper in academic research involves understanding and incorporating essential elements:

Elements of Concept Papers

How to Write a Concept Paper?

To ensure an effective concept paper, it’s recommended to select a compelling research topic, pose numerous research questions and incorporate data and numbers to support the project’s rationale. The document must be concise (around five pages) after tailoring the content and following the formatting requirements. Additionally, infographics and scientific illustrations can enhance the document’s impact and engagement with the audience. The steps to write a concept paper are as follows:

1. Write a Crisp Title:

Choose a clear, descriptive title that encapsulates the main idea. The title should express the paper’s content. It should serve as a preview for the reader.

2. Provide a Background Information:

Give a background information about the issue or topic. Define the key terminologies or concepts. Review existing literature to identify the gaps your concept paper aims to fill.

3. Outline Contents in the Introduction:

Introduce the concept paper with a brief overview of the problem or idea you’re addressing. Explain its significance. Identify the specific knowledge gaps your   to address and mention any contradictory theories related to your   .

4. Define a Mission Statement:

The mission statement follows a clear problem statement that defines the problem or concept that need to be addressed. Write a concise mission statement that engages your research purpose and explains why gaining the reader’s approval will benefit your field.

5. Explain the Research Aim and Objectives:

Explain why your research is important and the specific questions you aim to answer through your research. State the specific goals and objectives your concept intends to achieve. Provide a detailed explanation of your concept. What is it, how does it work, and what makes it unique?

6. Detail the Methodology:

Discuss the research methods you plan to use, such as surveys, experiments, case studies, interviews, and observations. Mention any ethical concerns related to your research.

7. Outline Proposed Methods and Potential Impact:

Provide detailed information on how you will conduct your research, including any specialized equipment or collaborations. Discuss the expected results or impacts of implementing the concept. Highlight the potential benefits, whether social, economic, or otherwise.

8. Mention the Feasibility

Discuss the resources necessary for the concept’s execution. Mention the expected duration of the research and specific milestones. Outline a proposed timeline for implementing the concept.

9. Include a Support Section:

Include a section that breaks down the project’s budget, explaining the overall cost and individual expenses to demonstrate how the allocated funds will be used.

10. Provide a Conclusion:

Summarize the key points and restate the importance of the concept. If necessary, include a call to action or next steps.

Although the structure and elements of a concept paper may vary depending on the specific requirements, you can tailor your document based on the guidelines or instructions you’ve been given.

Here are some tips to write a concept paper:

Tips to Write Concept Paper

Example of a Concept Paper

Here is an example of a concept paper. Please note, this is a generalized example. Your concept paper should align with the specific requirements, guidelines, and objectives you aim to achieve in your proposal. Tailor it accordingly to the needs and context of the initiative you are proposing.

 Download Now!

Importance of a Concept Paper

Concept papers serve various fields, influencing the direction and potential of research in science, social sciences, technology, and more. They contribute to the formulation of groundbreaking studies and novel ideas that can impact societal, economic, and academic spheres.

A concept paper serves several crucial purposes in various fields:

Purpose of a Concept Paper

In summary, a well-crafted concept paper is essential in outlining a clear, concise, and structured framework for new ideas or proposals. It helps in assessing the feasibility, viability, and potential impact of the concept before investing significant resources into its implementation.

Role of AI in Writing Concept Papers

The increasing use of AI, particularly generative models, has facilitated the writing process for concept papers. Responsible use involves leveraging AI to assist in ideation, organization, and language refinement while ensuring that the originality and ethical standards of research are maintained.

AI plays a significant role in aiding the creation and development of concept papers in several ways:

1. Idea Generation and Organization

AI tools can assist in brainstorming initial ideas for concept papers based on key concepts. They can help in organizing information, creating outlines, and structuring the content effectively.

2. Summarizing Research and Data Analysis

AI-powered tools can assist in conducting comprehensive literature reviews, helping writers to gather and synthesize relevant information. AI algorithms can process and analyze vast amounts of data, providing insights and statistics to support the concept presented in the paper.

3. Language and Style Enhancement

AI grammar checker tools can help writers by offering grammar, style, and tone suggestions, ensuring professionalism. It can also facilitate translation, in case a global collaboration.

4. Collaboration and Feedback

AI platforms offer collaborative features that enable multiple authors to work simultaneously on a concept paper, allowing for real-time contributions and edits.

5. Customization and Personalization

AI algorithms can provide personalized recommendations based on the specific requirements or context of the concept paper. They can assist in tailoring the concept paper according to the target audience or specific guidelines.

6. Automation and Efficiency

AI can automate certain tasks, such as citation formatting, bibliography creation, or reference checking, saving time for the writer.

7. Analytics and Prediction

AI models can predict potential outcomes or impacts based on the information provided, helping writers anticipate the possible consequences of the proposed concept.

8. Real-Time Assistance

AI-driven chat-bots can provide real-time support and answers to specific questions related to the concept paper writing process.

AI’s role in writing concept papers significantly streamlines the writing process, enhances the quality of the content, and provides valuable assistance in various stages of development, contributing to the overall effectiveness of the final document.

Concept papers serve as the stepping stone in the research journey, aiding in the crystallization of ideas and the formulation of robust research proposals. It the cornerstone for translating ideas into impactful realities. Their significance spans diverse domains, from academia to business, enabling stakeholders to evaluate, invest, and realize the potential of groundbreaking concepts.

Frequently Asked Questions

A concept paper can be defined as a concise document outlining the fundamental aspects of a grant proposal such as the initial ideas, objectives, and theoretical framework of a proposed research project.

A good concept paper should offer a clear and comprehensive overview of the proposed research. It should demonstrate a strong understanding of the subject matter and outline a structured plan for its execution.

Concept paper is important to develop and clarify ideas, develop and evaluate proposal, inviting collaboration and collecting feedback, presenting proposals for academic and research initiatives and allocating resources.

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What is a Concept Paper and How do You Write One?

DiscoverPhDs

  • By DiscoverPhDs
  • August 26, 2020

Concept Paper

What is a Concept Paper?

A concept paper is a short document written by a researcher before starting their research project, with the purpose of explaining what the study is about, why it is important and the methods that will be used.

The concept paper will include your proposed research title, a brief introduction to the subject, the aim of the study, the research questions you intend to answer, the type of data you will collect and how you will collect it. A concept paper can also be referred to as a research proposal.

What is the Purpose of a Concept Paper?

The primary aim of a research concept paper is to convince the reader that the proposed research project is worth doing. This means that the reader should first agree that the research study is novel and interesting. They should be convinced that there is a need for this research and that the research aims and questions are appropriate.

Finally, they should be satisfied that the methods for data collection proposed are feasible, are likely to work and can be performed within the specific time period allocated for this project.

The three main scenarios in which you may need to write a concept paper are if you are:

  • A final year undergraduate or master’s student preparing to start a research project with a supervisor.
  • A student submitting a research proposal to pursue a PhD project under the supervision of a professor.
  • A principal investigator submitting a proposal to a funding body to secure financial support for a research project.

How Long is a Concept Paper?

The concept paper format is usually between 2 and 3 pages in length for students writing proposals for undergraduate, master’s or PhD projects. Concept papers written as part of funding applications may be over 20 pages in length.

How do you Write a Concept Paper?

There are 6 important aspects to consider when writing a concept paper or research proposal:

  • 1. The wording of the title page, which is best presented as a question for this type of document. At this study concept stage, you can write the title a bit catchier, for example “Are 3D Printed Engine Parts Safe for Use in Aircraft?”.
  • A brief introduction and review of relevant existing literature published within the subject area and identification of where the gaps in knowledge are. This last bit is particularly important as it guides you in defining the statement of the problem. The concept paper should provide a succinct summary of ‘the problem’, which is usually related to what is unknown or poorly understood about your research topic . By the end of the concept paper, the reader should be clear on how your research idea will provide a ‘solution’ to this problem.
  • The overarching research aim of your proposed study and the objectives and/or questions you will address to achieve this aim. Align all of these with the problem statement; i.e. write each research question as a clear response to addressing the limitations and gaps identified from previous literature. Also give a clear description of your primary hypothesis.
  • The specific data outputs that you plan to capture. For example, will this be qualitative or quantitative data? Do you plan to capture data at specific time points or at other defined intervals? Do you need to repeat data capture to asses any repeatability and reproducibility questions?
  • The research methodology you will use to capture this data, including any specific measurement or analysis equipment and software you will use, and a consideration of statistical tests to help interpret the data. If your research requires the use of questionnaires, how will these be prepared and validated? In what sort of time frame would you plan to collect this data?
  • Finally, include a statement of the significance of the study , explaining why your research is important and impactful. This can be in the form of a concluding paragraph that reiterate the statement of the problem, clarifies how your research will address this and explains who will benefit from your research and how.

You may need to include a short summary of the timeline for completing the research project. Defining milestones of the time points at which you intend to complete certain tasks can help to show that you’ve considered the practicalities of running this study. It also shows that what you have proposed is feasible in order to achieve your research goal.

If you’re pitching your proposed project to a funder, they may allocate a proportion of the money based on the satisfactory outcome of each milestone. These stakeholders may also be motivated by knowing that you intend to convert your dissertation into an article for journal publication; this level of dissemination is of high importance to them.

Additionally, you may be asked to provide a brief summary of the projected costs of running the study. For a PhD project this could be the bench fees associated with consumables and the cost of any travel if required.

Make sure to include references and cite all other literature and previous research that you discuss in your concept paper.

This guide gave you an overview of the key elements you need to know about when writing concept papers. The purpose of these are first to convey to the reader what your project’s purpose is and why your research topic is important; this is based on the development of a problem statement using evidence from your literature review.

Explain how it may positively impact your research field and if your proposed research design is appropriate and your planned research method achievable.

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How to write a phd concept paper, bob cardens.

  • November 30, 2023
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Are you struggling with writing a PhD concept paper? Don’t worry, I’m here to help you master this skill and create an impactful concept paper. Writing a PhD concept paper can be challenging, but with a step-by-step process and proper organization, you can effectively communicate your research ideas.

At StudyingHq.com, we understand the importance of a well-written PhD concept paper. That’s why we provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to write a PhD concept paper . Whether you’re a graduate student or an aspiring researcher, this guide will equip you with the necessary knowledge and techniques to excel in your academic journey.

What You'll Learn

Key Takeaways:

  • Reading and organizing sources multiple times is essential for synthesizing information.
  • Identify relevant concepts and supporting sources to strengthen your PhD concept paper.
  • Restructure your notes by concept and organize them into an outline.
  • A PhD concept paper serves as a roadmap and framework for your research study.
  • Include essential elements such as a clear problem statement, research objectives, and methodology in your concept paper.

The Importance of a PhD Concept Paper

A PhD concept paper holds immense significance in the research journey. It serves as a roadmap, providing a framework for your study and guiding you towards successful completion of your PhD. This document plays a pivotal role in articulating and refining your research question, identifying gaps in current knowledge, and establishing the significance of your proposed research.

When creating a PhD concept paper, it is essential to include certain key elements. These elements ensure that your paper is comprehensive and effectively communicates the value of your research. A well-written concept paper should encompass a clear problem statement, research objectives, a theoretical framework, methodology, expected outcomes, and a timeline. By including these essential components, you can demonstrate the feasibility and value of your research project.

Key Elements of a PhD Concept Paper:

  • Problem statement: Clearly state the research problem or gap in knowledge that your study aims to address.
  • Research objectives: Outline the specific goals and objectives of your research.
  • Theoretical framework: Provide a theoretical foundation that will guide your research methodology and analysis.
  • Methodology: Describe the research methods and data collection techniques that you plan to use.
  • Expected outcomes: Highlight the anticipated results and contributions of your research.
  • Timeline: Present a clear timeline for the different phases of your research project.

By including these elements, you can create a comprehensive and compelling PhD concept paper that showcases the significance and potential impact of your research.

Crafting an Effective Structure for a PhD Concept Paper

When it comes to writing a PhD concept paper, having a well-structured document is essential. A clear and organized structure not only helps you communicate your ideas effectively but also enables readers to navigate through your research seamlessly. In this section, I will guide you through the best practices for structuring your PhD concept paper to ensure its clarity and coherence.

Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for your concept paper and should grab the reader’s attention from the start. Begin with a compelling opening statement that highlights the intersection between your research and the funder’s mission. This will immediately engage the reader and emphasize the relevance of your work. Additionally, you can introduce any partners or collaborators involved in your project and highlight their motivations for participating. This helps establish credibility and demonstrates the collaborative nature of your research.

Purpose or Need

The purpose or need section of your concept paper is where you provide a rationale for your research. Here, you need to address existing gaps in knowledge and explain why your project is the best solution. Clearly articulate the problem you are addressing and emphasize its significance in the field. Support your claims with evidence from relevant literature and explain how your research will contribute to filling these gaps. It is important to demonstrate the value and potential impact of your work in this section.

Project Description

The project description is the heart of your concept paper and should outline your approach, goals, objectives, methodology, and anticipated outcomes. Break down your project into clear and concise sections, providing detailed explanations of each aspect. Use subheadings and bullet points to enhance readability and make it easier for readers to follow your argument. Be sure to highlight any innovative or novel aspects of your research that set it apart from existing studies. This section should be comprehensive and provide a complete overview of your research project.

By following these best practices, you can craft a well-structured PhD concept paper that effectively communicates your research and captivates your audience. Remember to review and revise your document to ensure clarity and coherence throughout. In the next section, we will discuss tips for effective writing and communication to further enhance the impact of your PhD concept paper.

Tips for Effective Writing and Communication in a PhD Concept Paper

When it comes to writing a PhD concept paper, effective communication is key. Your ability to clearly convey your ideas and research is crucial for making a strong impact. Here are some tips to help you improve your writing and communication skills:

  • Be clear and concise: Use simple and straightforward language to ensure that your ideas are easily understood. Avoid using complex jargon or technical terms that may confuse your readers. Keep your sentences and paragraphs concise to maintain a clear flow of information.
  • Provide evidence and engage with literature: Back up your claims with relevant evidence from scholarly sources. Cite the literature that supports your research and engage in a critical analysis of existing knowledge. This will strengthen the credibility of your concept paper and showcase your understanding of the field.
  • Pay attention to formatting and grammar: Present your concept paper in a professional manner by paying attention to formatting, grammar, and punctuation. Use proper citations and references according to the required citation style. Proofread your paper carefully to eliminate any typos or grammatical errors.
  • Develop effective presentation skills: Communication extends beyond the written word. Practice your oral communication skills for presentations and conferences. Use visual aids such as slides or graphs to enhance your presentation. Engage with your audience by encouraging questions and discussions.

By implementing these tips, you can enhance your writing and communication skills, ensuring that your PhD concept paper is impactful and effectively conveys your research objectives and findings. Remember to continuously refine and revise your paper to make it even stronger.

“Effective writing and communication are essential skills for any researcher. By presenting your ideas clearly and engaging with relevant literature, you can communicate the significance and value of your research to both academic and non-academic audiences.”

Table: Comparison of Writing and Communication Skills

By developing and honing both your writing and communication skills, you can effectively convey your research in your PhD concept paper, ensuring that your work is understood, valued, and recognized by others.

Writing a PhD concept paper is a challenging task that requires a systematic approach and effective communication skills. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can confidently write a PhD concept paper that showcases your research goals and objectives.

Start by organizing your notes and ideas, then identify relevant concepts and supporting sources. Restructure your notes by concept and create an outline to synthesize your information effectively. Remember to provide a clear problem statement, research objectives, theoretical framework, methodology, expected outcomes, and a timeline in your concept paper.

Writing and communication skills are crucial in creating an impactful concept paper. Use clear and concise language, avoid jargon, and provide evidence to support your claims. Pay attention to formatting, grammar, and punctuation to maintain a professional tone. Additionally, practice your oral communication skills and engage with your audience when presenting your research.

Mastering the art of writing a PhD concept paper can greatly contribute to your success as a doctoral student. Continuously refine and revise your concept paper based on feedback from advisors and peers. With dedication and practice, you can create a concept paper that stands out and sets the foundation for your future research endeavors.

What is the purpose of a PhD concept paper?

A PhD concept paper serves as a roadmap and framework for your research. It helps refine your research question, identify gaps in current knowledge, and establish the significance of your proposed research.

What essential elements should be included in a well-written PhD concept paper?

A well-written PhD concept paper should include a clear problem statement, research objectives, theoretical framework, methodology, expected outcomes, and a timeline.

How can I enhance clarity and coherence in my PhD concept paper?

To enhance clarity and coherence, start with an introduction that highlights the alignment between your research and the funder’s mission. Structure your paper with sections on purpose/need, project description, support/budget, and contact information.

What are some tips for effective writing and communication in a PhD concept paper?

Present your ideas clearly and concisely, avoiding jargon. Provide evidence to support your claims and engage with relevant literature. Pay attention to formatting, grammar, and punctuation. Develop effective presentation skills for conferences and group meetings.

How can I continuously improve my PhD concept paper?

Continuously refine and revise your concept paper based on new insights and feedback from advisors and peers. Practice and dedication are key to confident and impactful writing.

Source Links

  • https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker/step-step-synthesis
  • https://ovpr.uconn.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/2557/2018/09/How-to-Write-a-Concept-Paper.pdf
  • https://www.ru.nl/publish/pages/988872/masteringyourphd.pdf

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How to Write PhD Concept Paper Assignment?

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Table of Contents

A PhD concept paper is a paper written by a PhD aspirant to summarize the research project for the benefit of the dissertation committee that examines the validity of the project across at least four dimensions. They are:

  • Does the candidate present his research aims and objectives clearly?
  • Has the candidate shown his or her proficiency in understanding the theoretical aspect of the research area?
  • Does the candidate show a clear understanding of the research methodology which is selected to answer the research questions formulated in the concept paper?
  • Is the contribution original? Does it make a relevant contribution to the larger field of research?

Sounds serious? No need to worry as MyAssignmenthelp.com now brings you a complete guide to writing a PhD concept paper .

Understanding the ‘concept’ behind a concept paper

A concept paper writing is like a proposal which is submitted to the PhD committee in order to seek its approval for starting the research project. A candidate must be able to convince the committee through its concept paper that:

  • He or she is capable of handling the research project
  • He or she has a good command over all the theoretical and practical aspects of the research to be undertaken
  • He or she willread the relevant secondary literature on the subject and is cognizant of the debates in his or her area of specialization
  • Finally the research will make an original contribution to the field of study.

Timeline for a PhD concept paper

Each country has its own set of rules for PhD. For instance, in the US, a PhD takes anywhere between 5 to 7 years of study. This includes one to two years of coursework or graduate study along with independent research for the rest of the time period under the supervision of a professor. However, this set of rules is applicable only for science and humanities subjects. For MBA and law, separate set of rules is followed. The time limit for a PhD project in management and law is typically shorter.

A PhD concept paper is usually submitted at the end of the coursework and before the beginning of the independent research work. By that time, the student must have a clear idea about the research topic, the research question he is going to undertake and the research methodology he is going to follow.

Components of a PhD concept paper

A concept paper must contain all the major components of a proposal. The major parts include:

1. Introduction :

Introduction or exposition is the most crucial property of your concept paper. It introduces the topic of research and narrates an introductory account of your research. There are few tips you must keep in mind while writing a concept paper:

  • Never make an introduction lengthy
  • Avoid writing convoluted sentences which can confuse your readers
  • After making few general comments, come straight to the point
  • Try to avoid errors (proofing or factual) since they create a negative impression on your readers
  • Try not to make any ambitious claims while writing your introduction. Keep your aims and objectives realistic.

2. Research aims or objectives :

Next, we come to the research aim. A research aim is a statement which justifies the very purpose of conducting the research. Research aim should be clear and unambiguous. It is best not to make any grandiloquent statement which defies the purpose of carrying the research. Here are a couple of things which you must keep in mind:

  • Research aim should be clear to you. If you are not convinced about your own project no one else will be either
  • The written statement should reflect your personal conviction
  • You should be able to justify the validity of the project and let your committee know why conducting a research work on the mentioned subject is so important.

3. Research question :

A research question must contain the gist of your argument. It can either be framed as a question or may be formulated as a statement. Here is the way forward:

  • Try framing a question that summarizes the whole project in one or two lines
  • The research question or statement (if you prefer to call it that) must not contain the details of your research. Those may come later
  • Finally, the research question must contain the essence of the project.

4. Research methodology :

Methodology refers to the method or the set of methods which you would be using while writing your PhD dissertation. They are the tools which you would be using in order to conduct your research. A variety of tools are now available. You can choose from the following list:

  • Interviews – Interviews are usually preferred tools of research in subjects like psychology, marketing, sociology, anthropology etc. They reveal the insights into the psychological aspects of human behaviour.
  • Questionnaires – This method is preferred when a behavioral pattern is to be noted among a number of respondents. This method is preferred in subjects like psychoanalysis which analyses various patterns of human behavior.
  • Surveys – When quantitative data is preferred from a large number of respondents (typically a large sample group), then surveys are used. Sample surveys are preferred in marketing, statistics, demography etc.
  • Theoretical analysis – It is preferred in subjects like philosophy, languages, comparative literature and cultural studies. Theoretical analysis tries to grapple with a problem by using a set of existing theories.
  • Lab based experiments – Almost all science based subjects prefer laboratory experiments. Scientific hypotheses are established on the basis of direct inference on the basis of the findings of a lab based research.
  • Archival research – An archive is a place where old historical documents are kept. Historical research often requires analysis on the basis of a thorough exploration of the archive.

5. Chapter structure :

Your concept proposal must contain the skeleton of all the proposed chapters and the major points of research you are about to undertake in that chapter. Here is a list of things you might consider while preparing the chapter summaries:

  • No details are required since the chief aim is to give an idea about what the research is all about
  • Chapters summaries should be brief and to the point
  • Each chapter summary must contain its own research question that it seeks to answer.

6. Bibliography and References :

Although concept paper does not require a detailed list of works consulted or to be consulted, a small bibliography appended to the paper cannot hurt. If anything, it is sure to impress your committee. Beware of certain things though:

  • Never mention books which you have not read or do not plan to read. You would be asked questions on them
  • Always mention the primary reference texts which are essential for your research
  • Secondary reference works or works which are not directly related may be mentioned briefly
  • Try to stick to the standard referencing styles. You may choose from the following:
  • Harvard referencing style which incorporates the name of the author along with the publication date within the text
  • Chicago style which includes the reference details as foot notes or endnotes
  • MLA style which includes just names and page numbers within the text.

Writing a concept paper

Now that you are well aware of how to write a paper , here is how you should proceed.

  • Think of a research topic. You may come up with an original idea or can come up with the same by consulting your supervisor
  • Read the primary and secondary texts to have an idea of the subject
  • Set a time table of preparing a concept paper
  • After you have written the first draft, show it to your supervisor to make necessary changes
  • Incorporate the changes in your paper
  • Give it a thorough reading for detecting possible proofing errors
  • Submit and wait for your interview.
  • Your committee will go through the copy and make useful suggestions. Once they are done, they give the green signal to the project.

Learn to write a PhD concept paper with MyAssignmenthelp.com

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Hi, I am Mark, a Literature writer by profession. Fueled by a lifelong passion for Literature, story, and creative expression, I went on to get a PhD in creative writing. Over all these years, my passion has helped me manage a publication of my write ups in prominent websites and e-magazines. I have also been working part-time as a writing expert for myassignmenthelp.com for 5+ years now. It’s fun to guide students on academic write ups and bag those top grades like a pro. Apart from my professional life, I am a big-time foodie and travel enthusiast in my personal life. So, when I am not working, I am probably travelling places to try regional delicacies and sharing my experiences with people through my blog. 

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How to Write a Concept Art for a PhD: A 10-Step Guide

Adela B.

Table of contents

You’re finalized to enroll for respective Ph.D. research but feel anxious. You don’t know about your application will be accepted or what it would take to be accepted.

Aside for your academic qualifications, a concept color is one from aforementioned most critical design. Are you’re planning at jagen a Ph.D., you need to learn how to write an actually concept paper till convince respective lecturers. Instructions to Write adenine Ph.D. Concept Paper | Synonym

Writing a concept hard requires powerful analytical skills, advanced research general, and excellent writing core.

This blog post will give you a step-by-step guide about how to write a concept paper with a Ph.D. to get you a step closer to becoming a doctor of philosophy.

What is a concept paper for Ph.D.?

A concept article for ampere Ph.D. is a written instruction outlining the objectives and concepts concerning a dates search study. It acts such an introduction up your dissertation or full thesis.

It is furthermore an important part of the application process for Ph.D. prog and benefits the admissions council evaluate a student's research potential. A concepts paper is a document written before starting a research project, explaining about the study is about, why it's needed both the methods that will be utilised.

It common includes background information go the topic to be studied, an site of available research, also the proposed research design. Items also highlights potential results from an proposed study and their hands-on request. Writing a PhD concept paper assignment becomes easier if you follow the writing guide describing basic concepts and conventions and types of go paper composition.

Ultimately, concept posts for Ph.D. related support determine whether a student is qualified toward pursue doctoral-level work are hers chosen field.

How long is a Ph.D. concept paper?

The length of your concept newspaper will depend on your field of study and the need set by your univ. Total speaking, most campuses expect idea papers to be between 3-5 pages length. Some books may be longer alternatively shorter depending on how way detail your project include.

A concept paper by Ph.D. incl:

  • Background information set the topic;
  • Overview of already research;
  • Proposals research design;
  • Potential results for the study;
  • Practical applications of who study.

How to Write a Conceptually Paper available Ph.D.?

An efficient concept paper will help you get licensing away your professors or adviser to begin thine doctorial work.

What are the characteristics of an good concept papers?

ONE good concept paper should present an idea button choose in adenine transparent and concise manner. It should provide in synopsis on what the explore project determination cover also explain conundrum it’s vital. Learn how on write an concept paper for a Ph.D. with our 10-step guide and craft an impressive concept paper to get your Ph.D. agreed.

Also, to should highlight any potential implications of the research study and how they sack be addressed oder minimalised. The goal of the paper is to win the reader that your proposed project can worth pursuing real that it contributes new knowledge toward get pitch of study.

What been the 5 elements of a concept paper?

The five elements of a concept paper are:

  • Background;
  • Purpose declaration;
  • Problem statement;
  • Research a or hypotheses;
  • Significance or implications forward practice.

That elements work collective to provide a all-inclusive overview of will proposed research project furthermore display why it’s values pursuing.

Here are the steps to write an outstanding concept paper that stands no chance in being rejected.

1. Define this title and purpose the your study

The first step inches print a concept paper belongs defining the title plus purpose in your study. What will your research be about? And what live you trying to accomplish through it?

The cover and destination of your study will set the foundation used insert concept paper. This part should be concise and clear so that readers understand the foundational also significance of your conduct. Although formulating aforementioned designation, ensure a rightly show the main focus the your entire research study. A good PhD concept paper should be able toward give your advisor (or grad committee) confidence that you can successfully complete the project (and with originality).

2. Label the background and scope of choose study

The next step is to furnish an overview are the background information in your study topic and explain what to relates to insert proposed project.

When portraying the background of your study, you need to provide some context about why to topic is important enough go warrant academic inquiry.

Highlight any existing studies alternatively theories associated to your theme so that readers understand why they have selecting it as part of your dissertation research. A concept art is an initial stage of a Ph.D select where the candidate student submitting a proposal of what they wish to study and research than part of their doctorate. A concepts hard is normal two on triplet pages in length and coverings, broadly, the resources problem, the context and methods of research. The concept ...

3. Identify the problem statement

Nearest, identify a problem statement that draft what edition or gap in the knowledge you are attempting to address throug your resources project. Every good concept printed should enclose a right thought problem statement.

Will problem declare should remain precise and concise so readers capacity easily understand which they can expect upon liest further.

Here, you should make it clear why there’s a need for further investigation in choose chosen field plus how your research will contribute news acquiring into existing knowledge.

4. Catalog own aspirations the objectives

Go that you’ve established your problem statement, you need in outline that specific goals and objectives that will guidance you through your research.

Klicken, you outline what steps you’ll get the what specifically you hope to achieve in anything stage of the study. This could mean anything from generating new theories, testing existence theories or models, exploring the techniques uses in other studies, etc. About exists an Theory Paper plus How do You Post One? | DiscoverPhDs

Your destinations and objectives will give the readers a heads-up about what outcomes they can expect from one project.

Ensuring whatever goals and objectives you list are measurable and achievable interior the scope out your research study.

5. Frame research questions

Next, formulate extended research questions (and accompanying hypotheses) based on the topic you plan to explore.

These questions shall include the variables you plan go manipulate or measure during data gathering. Ensure the questions are clear and written in simplicity language so readers can understand what you’ll address through to study. Concept papers vary stylish format and particularities depending on the university, but are generally concise documents containing accurate relevant information and ...

Also, don’t forget to creation hypotheses for every research question you compose. These are specific claims that will behave the the starting scored in furthermore inquiry and potential conclusions for the study.

6. Explain the theoretical scope of to studying

Once you’ve formulated yours research questions, the next step lives till explain and theoretical framework or foundational graphic of the featured.

Identify and briefly explain the theory which inspired you or connect them back to your scheduled learning.

Save will set out the context of your go and show that you’ve read press understood present knowledge on the subject. This theoretical knowledge will come in handy if your application is approved. pending approval of the student's dissertation committee. FORMAT. The student should describe similar core for each of the three building papers in a.

7. Write the literature review

The next step is go write the literature check . Here, you identify information furthermore existing knowledge from previous surveys and other published articles.

Your literature review should also include summaries alternatively reviews of key texts related to your topic. You can get information for this section from peer-reviewed articles and online journals like OpenDOAR and CORE.

Remember, all who facts, statistics, and other appropriate information must be accompanied until appropriate citations and references.

8. Describe the proposed research methodology

After writing and references review, go ahead and describe the research design and methodology you’ll be employing.

Some of the critical details to include in on section included:

  • What data collection methods you’ll use? (e.g., surveys, media, either questionnaires).
  • How many participants wishes build your test size?
  • What data analysis methods will you use? (e.g., qualitative versus quantitative).

Be sure until highlight any ethical things intricate in autochthonous research methodology. For instance, explain to informed consent procedures you’ll use if own study involves human participation.

Other, explain how you’ll minimize which potential risks associated with participatory stylish my choose activities.

9. Explain the reality of the study (and its implications)

Now that you’ve explained the methodology, it’s laufzeit to let the our understand why this study is important also why it makes a significant contribution to actual research.

Additionally, explains how this study determination how theory development furthermore its key for policymakers or practitioners in your field of study.

You shall also discuss any potential implications off conducting this research (e.g., ethics considerations with political ramifications).

10. Include references/bibliography

Finally, include references or a bibliography at which end of your concept printed to build credibility for thine research cardboard.

A reading enables her to give credit where itp belongs by recognizing to owners of your quotation materials.

Save you format references properly according to the choose specified by the institution you’re applying to. These could be for example APA , MLA, or  Harvard referencing style .

What is the difference between a concept white and a research paper?

A concept white outlines what you map to do (in future tense), when adenine research paper explaining how thee did (in historic tense) after completing your exploring project. In various words, a concept cardboard serves as an introduction to your research, while ampere research paper provides evidence-based results from experiments conducted during your study.

Final thoughts

The thoughtful of writing a concept paper for autochthonous Ph.D. can be intimidating at first. However, once you know the law technique to take and invested enough time, the writing process becomes hassle-free. How to Indite a Concept Paper for a Ph.D. [10-Step Guide]

Start by brainstorming your ideas, researching related topics, and creating an rough. Also, ensuring you clearly define your concept and know the exact approach you’ll be taking. This way, you won’t find yourself stuck when will concept paper has been approved for further research. This article offering some tips and guidance on wherewith to write a concept paper for PhD because well as the general format of an concept glass.

After completing the photo, revise it to ensure choose is clear and accurate with no typos. In the finalize, you’ll take an excellent draft paper that will pave the way for you go pursue your doctoral studies.

If you need help writing a concept paper for your Ph.D., rotate to Writers Per Hour for assistance. With expert Doctoral writers on the team, we can draft a compelling concept paper that is 100% original press written from scratch as per your job.

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how to write a phd concept

How to Write a Ph.D. Concept Paper

Stuart robertson.

The concept paper is often the first step of a lengthy research process.

A concept paper is an initial stage of a Ph.D program where the candidate student submits a proposal of what they wish to study and research as part of their doctorate. A concept paper is typically two to three pages in length and covers, broadly, the research problem, the context and methods of research. The concept paper is submitted to the Ph.D. candidate's doctoral committee, who may provide some feedback on the concept paper.

Describe the setting of your study or research. Identify geographical locations relevant to your research, as well as individuals, groups or communities that you will be studying or who will be affected by your study.

Identify questions that you will attempt to answer with your research. Consider developing a central question to pursue, as well as several subquestions that will contribute to an overall understanding of the central question.

Describe what method you will use to conduct your research or study. Describe the activities, such as interviews or observational studies, that you will use to gather data and insights.

Research relevant literature on your proposed area of research and list any relevant literature that you will be consulting when writing your dissertation. Similarly, research any studies or other relevant research that has already been completed.

Identify experts, researchers and professionals in your area of study that may be able to provide you with insights and information.

Describe the hypothesis of your research, if you have developed one. At this stage a hypothesis is not necessary, but is something that you should at least be thinking about.

Develop a time line for your research or study. Set goals and dates at which you will have certain aspects of your research completed.

About the Author

Stuart Robertson has been freelance writing since 2008, covering topics such as health, environmental issues and technology for websites such as Chiff.com and Environmental Graffiti. He has a bachelor's degree in political science.

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How to write a PhD in Biological Sciences: a guide for the uninitiated

Chapter 30 creating a conceptual framework of your phd thesis.

Explaining your PhD is going to be a constant throughout the duration, and beyond. Getting that explanation correct, and being able to do it for audiences at different levels will be really critical from the outset. The best way that you can do this is to get the conceptual framework for your thesis straight in your own mind as soon as you can.

Once completed, your PhD will have an audience of examiners , but eventually you’ll get to publish all the chapters of your PhD to an audience of scientists and potentially a much greater audience of people around the world. In each case, if you can contextualise your work and how it fits into your thesis, it will help increase your confidence.

30.1 Planning your thesis as a concept and a practical timeline

An important phase at the outset of your PhD project is to plan the chapters that are going to be in it. Think about the contents of your PhD and commit as many thoughts and ideas as you can to paper. If you aren’t sure how to get started, then think about how to answer the following questions:

What questions are you going to ask?

What is your study system?

How will you collect your data?

What are the most important variables that you will measure?

What techniques will you use?

Do you have hypotheses?

All these ideas (and more) are going to be swirling around your mind at the beginning of your PhD and you’re going to need to commit them to paper, and doing this right now at the start is the best time. If you haven’t done so already, write them all down. If you can do a mind map or some kind of graphical representation, this will be good for you if it suits the way that your mind works. Otherwise, you can use a series of lists and bullet points, if that is more your style. The important point here is be able to move from a jumble of ideas and thoughts into a formal plan for your thesis.

A thesis typically has five data chapters that are presented in a linear fashion (book format), bookended by an introduction and conclusion . At the heart of each chapter is going to be a hypothesis , a question or a technique that the following chapters implement in order to get their results.

It may help you to use distinct colours and short titles (just a couple of words) for each chapter so that you can efficiently communicate them to your advisor, and use them as file names for the sections (don’t use “Chapter 1” as your chapter name!). You should then use these same colours and short titles in your thesis timeline (Gandt diagram) used in your proposal .

Once you have some rough ideas for your thesis plan, discuss it with your advisor and get their opinion. Then map it out on a piece of paper. But, be warned, it probably won’t be anything simple or linear - it’s likely to be more complex that the one illustrated in Figure 30.1 . It should have a lot of links and arrows that join all of the chapters to each other in different ways. It may help to code these links so that it’s clear what they represent. For example, you may want to use one colour for data and another for techniques and results. Although the detail is important, remember that the conceptual thesis plan is supposed to give an overview of the way in which the thesis works. This means that you might need to remove some of the minutiae in order to provide a clearer overall picture that others can easily follow.

A conceptual thesis plan will be placed in the introduction to your thesis. In this (fictional) example, I show how how the different chapters are linked by a single technique (developed as a chapter of the thesis: grey arrows), and data that results from each of the chapters (blue arrows).

FIGURE 30.1: A conceptual thesis plan will be placed in the introduction to your thesis . In this (fictional) example, I show how how the different chapters are linked by a single technique (developed as a chapter of the thesis: grey arrows), and data that results from each of the chapters (blue arrows).

30.1.1 Dependencies

Make sure that your conceptual thesis diagram makes clear exactly where and how chapters depend on each other to provide data, the outcome of results and/or the successful development and implementation of techniques. These dependencies must be very clear to you and your advisor at the outset so that you are able to make contingency plans in case any of these don’t work out in the way that you think that they will.

30.1.2 Your thesis must add up to more than the sum of its parts

You can’t just have a thesis that consists of five manuscripts bound together. Your PhD must be something greater, and you will need to be very clear about how it does this from the start. Indeed, this is a key requirement in the rubric of most universities for you to pass your PhD examination. To do this, the thesis is definitely going to have the kind of interconnectedness shown in Figure 30.1 from the outset.

30.1.3 Using your conceptual thesis plan

Once you’ve got your conceptual thesis plan, and both you and your adviser agree on it, keep it. It’s going to be a figure in the introduction of your thesis (like Figure 30.1 ). You are also going to be able to use this conceptual plan as a reference guide for your own explanation to yourself, and anyone else that you propose your thesis to. If you have a thesis committee, this may well be a diagram that you use in every meeting to remind them of what your thesis is about and how it fits together. As you progress along the course of your thesis timeline, you will be able to demonstrate what has been done. It may also be useful if you need to raise funds for your work, and to anyone who needs to understand your entire thesis such as an ethics committee.

Perhaps the most important need for your conceptual thesis plan will be to explain to you PhD examiners , the layout of your PhD and how the chapters relate to each other.

30.1.4 Evolving your thesis concept plan

Don’t be afraid of making changes to your plan during the course of your thesis. If you need to rely on one of your contingency plans, it is likely that you will have to change the layout of your timeline as well as your conceptual plan. This is normal in the course of any PhD thesis.

30.2 Your thesis timeline

Whether or not you are used to managing your own time, you are going to need to learn how to plan your time during your PhD. This is not only because you will need to know what you must do on a month to month basis, but more that you will need to plan what you need (materials, chemicals, equipment, etc.) and when you will need it. If you plan to do a lot of fieldwork, then you may also need other people to help you with this. Thus you will need to know when to train and organise this group.

30.2.1 Producing a Gantt chart

The timeline of your thesis will be an important guide throughout the 3 years that you are conducting your PhD. This means that it is worth getting this onto the record as soon as you are able. One of the standard ways of doing this is to produce a Gantt chart. This takes each of the chapters along the entire timeline of your PhD and shows when you will work on each one. It may be that you want to break down each of these chapters into sub areas such as literature review, data collection, data analysis, write-up.

Below you will find a very simple version of a Gantt chart (Figure 30.2 ) that I put together for a fictional PhD. Note how the colours used for each chapter are the same as the thesis concept diagram (Figure 30.1 ). It’s always useful to follow such colour conventions once you’ve started them. Maintaining consistency throughout your thesis will help you when you explain it to others, such as during your proposal or whenever you present to your thesis committee.

A Gantt chart used to help thesis plan how you will use your time during your PhD. In this (fictional) example, I show how how the different chapters (Q1, T1, Q3, Q4, Q5) will take up different time during the three years of a PhD. Each year (1 to 3) is divided into four quarters (Q1 to Q4). This example is set out to show the need for seasonal sampling (in the second quarter of each year). Stars represent goals that you have set.

FIGURE 30.2: A Gantt chart used to help thesis plan how you will use your time during your PhD . In this (fictional) example, I show how how the different chapters (Q1, T1, Q3, Q4, Q5) will take up different time during the three years of a PhD. Each year (1 to 3) is divided into four quarters (Q1 to Q4). This example is set out to show the need for seasonal sampling (in the second quarter of each year). Stars represent goals that you have set.

As you’re doing your thesis in the biological sciences, you’re much more likely to have some kind of seasonal quotient that constrains the work that you’re doing. So in Figure 30.2 I’ve used the second quarter of each year as the key field period that is needed for all of the chapters.

You will note that as soon as you build in a seasonal aspect to your timeline, your life will get much more complicated, especially if you have more than one chapter that depends on the results from a field season. This should help you know when you need to plan each field campaign well in advance of actually going to do it.

30.2.2 Set yourself goals

It’s really useful to set down goals that you want to achieve on the Gantt chart plan, and to share these with your advisor. Milestones in your PhD are really useful when planning, and psychologically enhance your ability to finish different components.

Note that none of the goals occur in the same quarter as any other goal. This is important as it enables you to know where to concentrate your time and when. Note also that the goals don’t occur in the same order as the chapters. Part of this is the need to be realistic about what you need to achieve and the time that it will take to do this.

30.2.3 Map on significant events

If you plan to attend workshops or conferences during your PhD (or even plan to organise these yourself), you should plan such significant events onto your timeline. For example, If you are presenting the results of your first chapter at a conference, you need to make sure that you have the necessary results well in advance of needing to write the abstract. In Figure 30.2 , the first conference is in the third quarter of the second year and you should have already achieved your main goal for this chapter well in advance to write the abstract. You might also be able to add in the results of the second year’s seasonal field work to present at the conference. Similarly, for the second conference, you should have all the results from the third chapter well in advance to write the abstract.

30.2.4 Contingency planning

If you can, it’s a good idea to build in some contingency planning during this planning stage so that you know where you have options, and especially if your thesis relies on weather or having a particular set of results to continue.

In Figure 30.2 I have shown how a contingency might be mapped onto Chapters Q1, Q3 and Q4 with the potential addition of another field season in the second quarter of the third year in case one of the previous field seasons fails.

30.2.5 Dynamic timeline

As your thesis progresses, so too might you need to change your timeline to reflect changes in its implementation. Make sure that your advisor (and possibly your thesis committee) is aware of any significant changes to your timeline.

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how to write a phd concept

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    GUIDELINES OF CONCEPT PAPER DEVELOPMENT BY PhD APPLICATNTS 1. INTRODUCTION A concept paper is meant to give the university an informed idea of the applicant's areas of research interest in order to avail the necessary assistance for them to develop a full research proposal and allocate supervisors to give the necessary assistance.

  3. How to Write a PhD Concept Paper

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  4. How to Write a Concept Paper

    Key elements of a concept paper include the title page, background, literature review, problem statement, methodology, timeline, and references. It's crucial for researchers seeking grants as it helps evaluators assess the relevance and feasibility of the proposed research.

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    You'll need to write a research proposal if you're submitting your own project plan as part of a PhD application. A good PhD proposal outlines the scope and significance of your topic and explains how you plan to research it. It's helpful to think about the proposal like this: if the rest of your application explains your ability to do a PhD ...

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    ONE concept paper for an Ph.D. is a written statement outlining the objectives additionally basic for a proposed research study. It laws the an introduction to your dissertation or full thesis. It is also an important part of the application process for Ph.D. applications the helps the admissions committee evaluate a student's research possible.

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    When writing your PhD proposal you need to show that your PhD is worth it, achievable, and that you have the ability to do it at your chosen university. With all of that in mind, let's take a closer look at each section of a standard PhD research proposal and the overall structure. 1. Front matter.

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    A concept color be therefore and firstly step to writing the PhD thesis/dissertation (see which figure below). Steps of a PhD Thesis: Resourceful Scholars' Hub Format is a PhD Concept Paper The format is a concept paper might vary from neat university until another.

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    You don't have to be a genius to write a PhD. It will always involve a lot of hard work and dedication, but the process of writing up is a whole lot easier if you understand the basic ground rules. This book is a guide specifically for writing a PhD in the biological sciences. It will guide you from deciding whether or not you should actually do a PhD, provide practical, up-to-the-minute ...

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