As part of applying to a postdoc fellowship, I need to write the following:

"Please describe your planned research activities for your postdoctoral studies (up to 650 words)".

I'm not sure whether the intentions are to describe my future research plan (as in what research questions I'm going to tackle) or what research activities I plan to have (e.g., conducting simulations, reviewing papers, collaborations or organizing workshops).

I suspect that the answer is trivial, yet I'm not familiar with this academic terminology. Any help?

Edit: following Nathan's answer, I add the other questions:

  • Please provide a summary of your dissertation (up to 450 words). 

  • Please provide a summary of your present research, if different from your dissertation (up to 400 words).

  • Please describe your planned research activities for your postdoctoral studies (up to 650 words). 

  • Explain, in some detail, the reasons for your choice of country, institution and academic supervisor abroad, and the connection, if any, with your present and planned future work (up to 130 words). 

  • Please describe in one paragraph (10-12 lines) what you hope to have achieved at the conclusion of your post-doctoral studies. 

2 Answers 2


The best answer may depend on what other questions are asked on the application form. These types of questions are usually used to assess whether you have a clear research line moving forward, but it is also helpful to know how you are going to break your research line into smaller goals. This is typical for grant applications -- high level research questions followed by measurable research activities.

So, if the 650 words gives you space, I would suggest providing both answers. The high-level research questions you want to answer and the first few research activities that will support this.

I wouldn't spend too much time talking about general service activities such as reviewing papers, but organizing a workshop to support those working in your research area would be worth mentioning, as this demonstrates broader impact.

After the edit:

As I suspected, the other questions are related to the first question you asked about. So, my overall advice doesn't change, but you can spread the answers across your questions as appropriate.

For instance, what you hope to achieve is related to the planned activities, but is looking for a broader answer - here is where you can talk about the expected impact of your work on the field.

In your dissertation or present research summary you can introduce some of the higher-level questions being answered, leaving more space to talk about specific activities in the response to that question.

  • Thanks for the answer. I added the other questions too, would be greatful if you could address it. Thanks! Jul 11, 2019 at 4:56

My interpretation:

  • What results will you obtain?
  • How will they be published?
  • Why are the results important?

What you do and how you will do it should be stated only to support the answers to those questions.

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