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I want to apply for a Ph.D. position in a group where there is only their research summary written on the homepage. An applicant should write a research proposal and if the PI likes it then they will offer a position. I have gone through their publications and tried to figure out what can be done more. This is a very big research group so the number of publications is huge too and they work on so many topics. Every time I came up with an idea I found that it's already done or other groups are working on that. Now I am wondering if I write the same thing, they might think I copied the idea when it is not the case. Also, some of the techniques I have done earlier and some never. Now while writing the proposal can I write some methods I never did? Can they ask questions like if you have never did it before how can you do it during Ph.D.?

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  • Keep searching, of course. But maybe think about what they have done that might be extended.
    – Buffy
    Dec 31, 2019 at 13:40
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    You might consider reaching out to the PI directly to discuss possible research avenues, and if the PI has no time, then to one of the grad students in the group. They will have a much better idea of where the research can be taken, and can even brainstorm with you a bit about merging your interests & experiences with the group’s previous work & expertise. Granted, some PIs won’t entertain such conversations before you apply, but if you can build a personal connection with the PI, you’ll have a better chance of getting admitted and definitely you can be sure you’re proposing something relevant
    – J. Tylka
    Jan 4, 2020 at 0:52

2 Answers 2

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I want to apply for a Ph.D. position in a group where there is only their research summary written on the homepage.

A good starting point is the rationale for wanting to join this group. Is it the prestige of the institute/group leader, the topics they work on, or something else? If it is the first (possibly not ideal), then you can narrow the search by identifying a specific sub-topic that is currently active. This would help because you can identify specific researchers (currently active), who can give you some sharp insights into the current requirements of the research area.

On the other hand, if you want to join the group because their area of work resonates with you, then the problem reduces to making a deeper and more exhaustive search. That brings up:

I have gone through their publications and tried to figure out what can be done more.

This is absolutely on the right track. While its not trivial, being able to assess a research area to find a niche is key to being a good researcher. This skill may well be on their assessment rubric. The only suggestion I can share here is to be systematic with your survey, assiduously document your findings and spend enough time analyzing what you've found.

Every time I came up with an idea I found that it's already done or other groups are working on that.

That's alright. A lot of research does happen concurrently. What you should be able to demonstrate is that you have an understanding of what is happening already, and ideally propose some addition/extension to it. This may be incremental, but it still shows that you've done your homework and put in some critical thought.

Now I am wondering if I write the same thing, they might think I copied the idea when it is not the case.

This won't be a problem if you include the existing/ongoing work in your proposal.

Also, some of the techniques I have done earlier and some never. Now while writing the proposal can I write some methods I never did? Can they ask questions like if you have never did it before how can you do it during Ph.D.?

No, that may be a concern for a post-doctoral position, certainly not here. You're not really expected to have a full-fledged plan and the entire skill set required, just the appropriate understanding and some idea about what you'd like to achieve.

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First of all, the research suggestion does not reach to be able to contribute to the ​​professional environment. In fact, this condition is not required for your degree in now. And, this isn't searched. However, while will give any suggestion to the environment; you have to especially interpret the same topics by a high-level English and the using technical tools which no one minded upon them in more before.

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    Can you please try to clean up the English/grammar of this answer? I’m sorry, but I find it very difficult to understand.
    – J. Tylka
    Jan 4, 2020 at 0:54
  • Where is the problem? I can't see, perhaps. In fact: {Please, can you try to cleaning the mistakes of grammar of the answer. So sorry, but I'm finding it very difficult that its being understood.}
    – user117873
    Jan 5, 2020 at 2:05
  • The response is unclear. I suggest simplifying your language as much as possible so that it is less ambiguous. This makes it easier to understand what you want to say, even if the grammar is imperfect. May 30, 2020 at 0:05

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