Requirements for the Ph.D. proposal
The Ph.D. proposal provides at least clarity with respect to the following aspects:
1. Probem definition and sub questions of the research
- Which central question would the Ph.D. candidate like to answer with his/her research?
- How does the Ph.D. candidate unfold her/his central question into a number of sub questions, so that the joint answers will generate the answer to the central question?
- Which answers does the Ph.D. candidate expect to be able to give at the end of her/his research?
- Which conclusions does the Ph.D. candidate expect to be able to make at the end of the research?
2. Definition of central theoretical concepts of the research
- Which theoretical concepts will be central to the dissertation and how does the Ph.D. candidate define these concepts?
- What is the relation between the theoretical concepts used in the relevant research and other theoretical concepts in the social sciences?
3. Main features of the theory of the research
- Which scientific literature is relevant to the domain of research and how can this literature be meaningfully summarized? (what is expected here is an overview of the main features of the literature relevant to the research topic)
- Which theory is (theories are) central in the research?
- How does this theory (do these theories) relate to other theories in the social sciences, in particular in communication science?
- How can the theory be unfolded into a number of more concrete hypotheses? Or, if the term ‘hypothesis’ is to be avoided: How can the theory be worked out into a number of more concrete expectations?
4. Research design
- Which methodology will the Ph.D. candidate follow in her/his research? What is the epistemological position from which the Ph.D. candidate will do the research?
- Which methods and techniques of observation, of data collection, will the Ph.D. candidate use? (document analysis, interviews, participant observation, experimentation, survey research, content analysis, text analysis, etc.)
- What research materials will be collected and used in the Ph.D. project? (which ‘cases’, which texts, which ‘respondents’, which historical sources, which statistical sources, etc.)
- Which methods and techniques and which approaches to concept operationalization does the Ph.D. candidate use?
- Which methods and techniques of argumentation, of ‘testing’ of hypotheses, does the Ph.D. candidate use?
5. Book format
- Detailed, preliminary grouping of chapters of the dissertation (detailed means: up to a grouping of paragraphs)
- If a promotion on the basis of articles is planned: A detailed catalogue of the articles that should lead to the promotion.
6. Time schedule
- Detailed, quarter of a year to quarter of a year, planning of the research
The volume of the Ph.D. proposal as is meant here is approximately 30-40 pages.