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I am applying for a marine biology orientated PhD in Denmark and they ask for the following:

A research proposal/description of your approach to the above project (max one page excluding references)

The project already has a defined topic although it is quite vague. I am unsure what is expected in terms on content and format for the research proposal.

Has anyone successfully applied for a DK PhD and has submitted this type of documents? Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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3 Answers 3

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In general (I have no knowledge of DK procedures), when assessing such proposals it is normal to look for:

A title that captures the main theme.

A description of the main theme and its wider context (existing knowledge, why the theme matters).

How your proposal will fill gaps in knowledge.

The methods you hope to use or develop.

The difficulties and risks you foresee, and how you think you might overcome them or change your work to avoid them.

Evidence that the work timetable is suitable for the time needed for a PhD.

Your present expertise and qualification, and the sort of collaboration and help you need from supervisors.

It is possible to do this in one page if you discipline yourself to be concise and not to get carried away with descriptive prose.

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  • Thank you! So helpful!
    – Karl
    Jan 5 at 20:28
  • @Karl Thanks. I add a personal opinion based on my own experience as an employer of marine scientists of all sorts. Too many marine biologists lack numerical skills, for various reasons, If you have any competence with numbers or mathematics, be sure in application or interview to let people know you are able to tackle some numerical/quantitative/statistical/mathematical work, no matter how small. It will put you at an advantage in research and in jobs.
    – Anton
    Jan 5 at 22:22
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It is clear to me that whatever you will write, it will be part of your application evaluation.

Follow guidelines to write scientific proposals, and compress whatever you write in one page, then you are done.

Please avoid survivorship bias: let's say that this proposal compose 20 points over 100 of the applicants rating system. A succesful applicant, who obtained only 1 point of the 20 available may provide you their proposal, and you may find yourself getting 1 point by "getting inspired" by their proposal, rather than 5 points for "finding your inner creativity" for the proposal...

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yes, I have been through this process myself and recently finished a PhD at a Danish university. The already defined topic is purposefully vague -- a PhD is not about following someone else's ideas, but learning how to cultivate and carry through your own ideas. The requested short research proposal is meant to give the evaluation committee an idea of what direction you would like to take, research-wise, but more importantly, it is for them to get a glimpse of your critical thinking skills and baseline knowledge of the topic area. Perhaps specify methods you think are suitable, or highlight gaps in knowledge that could be filled by your research during the time frame of your PhD? Good luck.

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