Email potential with draft research ideas or research proposal

09-May-19, 15:10
Avatar for Ann_TU_09
posted about 1 year ago
Hi all,

I got 2:1 in my MSc with more than 10 years of working experience in the industry (including some research tasks, but research was not my biggest tasks). Now I'm looking to switch to academia and currently working on my research proposal. I'm also working on my first journal paper (to hopefully add weight to my PhD application as I understand a Merit MSc degree for international student is not strong enough to get studentships)

I've got some draft ideas of what I'm interested in doing for my research, but the prob is that I'm not sure if these ideas are worthwhile to invest further. So I'm thinking of emailing a few potential supervisors with these draft ideas. I believe their feedback would be of great help for my research proposal.

Do you think they'll feedback on the initial research ideas or they'll only read the research proposals? Will emailing them will draft ideas make them think I'm lazy? Any advice would be much appreciated. Many thanks all!

09-May-19, 20:58
edited about 1 minute later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 1 year ago
I am assuming that you are in the UK. How are you funding your PhD? Generally PhDs are funded by the supervisor writing a grant for a specific project and then advertising for that project. Applying for a PhD that way is much like applying for a job and no research proposal required but you don't choose the project. I would say most PhDs are funded this way (I may be wrong and hopefully someone corrects me).

Alternatively, you can get funding yourself through a research council. It is a lot more competitive but you can write your own proposal on your own idea. You will need the support of a university but most lecturers are more than happy to accept you. You can email lecturers directly saying you want to work in their filed/area, a vague of general direction. After which (if they reply) you can send them a draft proposal and talk with them about it. They would not appreciate a list of random ideas, they want to see some enthusiasm and effort. The first email should be about showing an interest followed by a serious conversation.

Having a publication is very good on your application! The 2:1 doesn't matter as you have 10 years experience and should make you a strong candidate on paper. I hope I have answered the right question and goodluck.
10-May-19, 04:19
Avatar for Ann_TU_09
posted about 1 year ago
@rewt thanks much for your detailed response. I finished my MSc in the UK but I'm currently not in the UK.

Right, so they want to see some enthusiasm and effort. I'll work on a draft research proposal then (probably more than 1)

I'd like to apply for studentships. Yes I understand that most funded PhDs are from granted projects and I've looked at quite many of them in my areas but unfortunately I'm not interested in those. And pursuing a 3-year-PhD on a project that I'm not really interested in doesn't sound right to me

So I'm actually aiming to apply for studentships at small universities where they tend to offer more studentships compared to those prestigous universities (and I know I'm not capable of applying to more established universities either). I'm in social science and from what I understand, granted PhD projects are more in the STEM. I haven't seen many granted PhD projects in social science. Please correct me If I'm wrong.

From what you're saying it seems that my rich working experience does have some value in my PhD application then? I always assume research experience carries more weight when it comes to academic research jobs? My work experience is directly related to my MSc and (hopefully) my coming PhD research.

And yes, I'm working on shortening and editing my MSc dissertation to try to get it published and I know that getting it published is a long journey ahead


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