Online sources often use "research plan" and "research proposal" interchangeably.

Two months after getting accepted into a PhD program, I was asked to do a research plan. Is this the same as doing a research proposal?

  • What does your advisor say?
    – Bill Barth
    Mar 11, 2015 at 12:15
  • I would say, a research proposal is what you would do applying for a PhD position or for funding to explain what you want to do, a research plan is what you would do to show you know where you a going with your research.
    – skymningen
    Mar 11, 2015 at 12:45
  • 2
    Ask older students in your program. If it's a general requirement, then they must have done one as well, so they can tell you what to do. Mar 11, 2015 at 13:06
  • Even confined to only one term, each of them can be interpreted differently by different institutions. The best bet and ask for a style/format guide from the department, or consult previous students' submissions. Mar 11, 2015 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


Neither a research plan nor a research proposal is a "super specific thing you need to know about".

A proposal, on any subject, generally includes things like objectives, background, potential challenges, and a vague schedule.

A plan often includes all of the above, in greater detail, as well as necessary resources, a specific schedule with milestones, and perhaps additional project specific elements (e.g. which programming languages you might use).

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