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Research Proposals for PhD in Linguistics

In the 'Research Proposal' section of the main application form, please include only 100 words outlining your topic, and upload a fuller research proposal as a separate document, in the 'supporting documents' section.

This proposal should be between 1500 and 2500 words in length, and should contain at least the following:

1. Title of proposed research project

This should allow the reader to place the research, at a glance, within an academic sub-field, as well as identifying the main issue to be addressed.  It should not be more than 20 words long.

2. Background

Outline the linguistic area in which you propose to conduct research.  Why is it important and interesting? What is the need for further research in this area? You should provide a context for your research.  Do this by referencing and briefly reviewing a number of key works in your chosen field, showing how your work is built on this prior research.

3. Research questions

You should give at least one overarching research question, plus a number of more specific sub-questions.  Make sure these questions all emerge from and are firmly grounded in the literature you have reviewed.  Ensure that these questions — particularly the specific sub-questions — are researchable; that is, they should not be too broad or too general.  You should also explain how these research questions can be considered original.

4. Data and data analysis

All projects will involve the collection of data of some kind.  In some cases, this will be based on native-speaker judgements.  Other projects will require experimental data, the use of existing or specially-created corpora, longitudinal observation, or sociolinguistic interviews - to name but a few data sources.  Will you be able to gain access to the data in the quantities required? Are there ethical concerns which need to be overcome? You should also be as specific as you can at this stage about the kinds of analysis you will perform.  What specific techniques will you use? What statistical analyses will you be performing (if any)? Mention any software you envisage using.

5. Fit with Departmental Research Interests

Before you formulate your proposal, you should look carefully through the Department of Language and Linguistic Science web pages to identify staff members who might be able to supervise your research.  You may mention the person or people by name.  You are also encouraged (though you are not obliged) to contact individual staff members to find out if they believe your ideas to be viable and if they would in principle be interested in supervising your project.

6. References

You should provide a list of the works you have referred to in your proposal. Don't list other works which may be relevant: this is to assure the reader that you have read and understood the literature you have cited.