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Suggestions for the content of the PhD project description

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The typical content of a PhD project description within the humanities at Danish universities.

This presentation forms part of AU Studypedia's guide to applying for a PhD, which can be found on The typical content of a PhD project description within the humanities at Danish universities.

This presentation forms part of the Study Metro's guide to applying for a PhD, which can be found on http://studypedia.au.dk/en/preparing-a-phd-project/.
AU Studypedia (http://studypedia.au.dk/en/) is a free online study tool that supports university students in building academic skills. It is developed and maintained by the Centre for Teaching Devlopment and Digital Media, Arts, Aarhus University, Denmark.

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Suggestions for the content of the PhD project description

  1. 1. www.studypedia.au.dk/en Suggestions for the content of the PhD project description within the humanities at Danish universities Based on input from Professor Stig Hjarvad, former leader of the Danish National Research School for Media, Communication, and Journalism, and translated from Unni From and Nete Nørgaard Kristensen: Proces og struktur i ph.d.-forløbet, Samfundslitteratur, 2005.
  2. 2. General guidelines (1) • Be clear, concise and thorough • Write so that non-specialists can understand the entire project description; the applications are often assessed by persons from very different areas of specialisation • Emphasise the ways in which your project is innovative in comparison to previous research www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  3. 3. General guidelines (2) • Be both ambitious and realistic: outstandingly examining only one problem is better than examining many different themes mediocrely • Arrange for a senior researcher within the field to read through and comment on your application well in advance of submission www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  4. 4. Generally, the project description consists of the following parts 1. Introduction 2. The project’s background 3. The project’s theoretical frame 4. Methods used in the project 5. Work plan or schedule for the project 6. Expected results 7. List of references www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  5. 5. 1. Introduction • Title of project: specific and interesting • Initial motivation for the project: relevance, topicality, specific characteristics, etc. • Delimitation of the project: thematic, historical, geographical, institutional, etc. • What kind of project is it – filling in an empirical blind spot, tackling a (well-defined) theoretical problem or something else • The thesis statement www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  6. 6. 2. The project’s background • Previous research in the field – both in Denmark and abroad – most important works • How is this project situated in the context of prior research • Own research within this field, if any • The social relevance of the project, if any • Relevant research environments, nationally and internationally, into which the project can be integrated • Association with graduate schools www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  7. 7. 3. The project’s theoretical frame • Explanation of and reasons for the chosen theories • Epistemological choices: hermeneutics, phenomenology, cognition, etc. www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  8. 8. 4. Methods used in the project • Give a short explanation of methods you may use, for example: quantitative/qualitative, discourse analysis, qualitative interviews, media ethnography, survey • Short explanation of reasons behind the choice of methods – and maybe the methods you did not choose • Selection of empirical material: what is being examined, for example groups of films, respondent groups, documents • Access to empirical material: possible access to archives, permission for interviews, etc. • Possible ethical conditions concerning the methods/empirical material: anonymising, etc. www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  9. 9. 5. Work plan for the project (including a timetable for the 3-year period) • A clear specification of timetable for reading stages, empirical analysis, writing stages, etc. • When do you plan to participate in courses and meet your teaching obligations? • Staying abroad: Where? Contacts? • Participation in courses: write down a few of the first courses where possible • Special expenses tied to the project (for example questionnaires, travel, etc.) www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  10. 10. 6. Expected Results • What are the results – in general – you expect to obtain through this project? • In what way will they be of use for future research in the field and society in general? • How do you expect to communicate them? www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  11. 11. 7. List of references • The literature referred to in the application should be listed here www.studypedia.au.dk/en
  12. 12. www.studypedia.au.dk/en Supporting students in building academic skills

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