Research proposal and confirmation of candidature
Within six months (FTE) of first enrolment, you must submit your Statement of Agreement with a comprehensive research proposal as part of the formal requirement for completing your research degree.*
The research proposal will be loosely based on the research outline you prepared for admission to your degree but it will provide a more comprehensive guide to the literature, method, methodology, structure and timeframe of your research.
The research proposal is used to assess whether your research program is feasible and whether your progress has been satisfactory. It is:
- an action plan for candidature and a major reference point for the Reviews of Progress
- aligned with the Statement of Agreement and will explain how you will develop the Research Degree Graduate Qualities.
Your supervisors' input into the development of your research proposal is crucial.
- Provisional enrolment and confirmation of candidature
- Preparing your research proposal
- Submission and review of your research proposal
Your Statement of Agreement and research proposal must be approved by the Division or Institute Research Management Committee for confirmation of candidature to occur and before you can proceed with your research.
Until the Statement of Agreement and research proposal are accepted, commencing doctoral and masters by research students are enrolled provisionally. The length of provisional candidacy is counted as part of the total time to undertake the degree:
- Doctoral students have a maximum of 4 years (FTE) to complete but should aim to complete their degree within a maximum of 3 years (FTE)
- Masters by research students have a total of 2 years (FTE) candidacy to complete their degree.
For students in research professional doctorate programs, confirmation of candidature requires the completion of 18 units of the coursework component, approved by the Program Director, within six months (FTE) of commencement.
Australian and New Zealand citizens and permanent residents of Australia (domestic) students, please note that if you exceed your 4-year time limit you are required to pay tuition fees to the University.
See the academic regulations for your degree for more details.
The Confirmation of candidature form - RTF (for pcs) and Word (for Macs) - is to be completed by the Chair of the Research Proposal Confirmation Panel (or equivalent) and forwarded to the Graduate Research Centre when finalised.
For guidelines on preparing your research proposal, see Appendix 3 of the academic regulations for research degrees. 'The proposal should contain the following sections, and should normally be between 10 to 20 pages in total length.'
- Statement of the research topic and rationale for the research
- Research methodology
- Trial table of contents
- Brief bibliography
University guidelines stipulate that a PhD will make 'a significant original contribution to knowledge and/or the application of knowledge within the field of study' and a Masters by research will make 'a contribution to knowledge and/or the application of knowledge within the field of study'.
The University recognises that each research degree student may require specific equipment, e-research infrastructure, laboratory or studio space and funds adequate for the completion of the research program. Expenses may include travel arising from field work, experiments and data collection and the cost of consumables. You and your supervisor will need to identify these project-specific costs when preparing your research proposal. Where your project is a subset of your supervisor's funded research project, these costs could be allocated from the project's budget. Costs must be presented and negotiated with the head of school/institute director prior to confirmation of candidacy and included in the Statement of Agreement which is submitted with the research proposal. See the Statement of minimum resources for higher degree by research students for more details.
You can deposit your research proposal or its abstract in the password protected eResearch Degree Candidate Proposal Collection (Library).
You can search the eResearch Degree Candidate Proposal Collection to see what other students have done. To access the full text of a proposal you will need to log into the Library Catalogue using your UniSA username and password.
Divisions, institutes, schools and the Centre for Regional Engagement differ in their procedure for approving research proposals. Consult the academic regulations, your supervisor or your Research Degree Coordinator / Research Education Portfolio Leader for details.
The following steps are typically involved in research proposal development and review:
You and your supervisors complete a Research Induction Plan, outlining the negotiated timeframe for getting the research proposal approved, including lodgement of drafts and return of comments by the supervisor.
If a timely research proposal cannot be lodged you must request permission to extend the timeframe - at least one month in advance and normally for a maximum of three months.
Following approval by your supervisors, copies of your written research proposal and your Statement of Agreement are lodged with the Research Degree Coordinator / Research Education Portfolio Leader.
A panel reviews the proposal and makes a determination that either:
- the proposal is accepted and the Statement of Agreement is appropriate for supporting the research project and timelines OR
- amendments are required for the proposal and/or Statement of Agreement to be accepted and candidature to be confirmed OR
- the research proposal and/or Statement of Agreement should not be approved and the research degree student may be suspended
- the research proposal and/or Statement of Agreement should not be approved and the research degree student should be transferred to another program.
The research proposal and Statement of Agreement, along with a recommendation from the review panel regarding confirmation of your candidature, goes to the Dean of Graduate Studies. You are advised of the outcome via your student email.
- If the research proposal is accepted, date of confirmation of candidacy is reported to the Graduate Research Centre.
- If the research proposal is not considered acceptable, it is returned to you with written information indicating why it was not acceptable. You will have to make revisions in conjunction with your supervisor and re-lodge the proposal for further consideration in a given timeframe.
If you do not have your research proposal approved within the maximum time allowed, your candidature will be suspended, but you may apply for readmission. Refer to the academic regulations for details.
FTE = Full Time Equivalence
If you are doing a Doctor of Philosophy (by Portfolio of Publications), you will submit a research statement. Enrolment and re-enrolment conditions still apply. See the academic regulations