Dissertation Proposal Information

Dissertation proposal guidelines, written proposal.

Each Ph.D. candidate must submit a written dissertation proposal (approximately 10-15 pages long), which must be approved by the candidate’s Reading Committee. The proposal should be written and submitted before the student undertakes the bulk of the dissertation research. It establishes the background, feasibility and interest of the proposed research, and it details the procedures for accomplishing it in a timely manner.

A dissertation proposal will clearly specify the leading research questions and hypotheses, the data relevant to answering those research questions, the theoretical framework and the methods of analysis. It will provide a brief literature review, elucidating the relationship of the proposed research to other current research, and a clear work plan. The proposal should also present and interpret progress to date if the research is already underway. Finally, it should briefly discuss any research costs involved and the anticipated sources of funding.

The written proposal is modeled on the project description for an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG) in Linguistics. The project description is a major part of the full grant application, so the dissertation proposal can serve as a stepping stone towards a complete DDRIG application, if desired. For those who choose not to seek NSF funding, the proposal format will still be helpful for other types of fellowship and funding applications.

An example of a dissertation proposal that was also submitted for an NSF DDRIG:

  • Scott Grimm NSF proposal   ( references )

Abstracts of successful NSF DDRIG proposals:

  • NSF-awarded dissertation proposals

Proposal Meeting

After the approval of the written dissertation proposal, each student is required to meet with their reading committee plus one or more faculty members who are not members of the reading committee, who can provide a fresh perspective on the research. The purpose of the meeting is to provide the student with further guidance on how best to undertake the dissertation research and complete the dissertation in a timely matter. Topics to be discussed might include priorities among possible research avenues, the best formulation of the research questions and hypotheses, the design of experimental, corpus, or field studies, sources of research funding, and the preparation of grant applications.

For More Information

Further details about the dissertation proposal and the proposal meeting, including timeline for completion and the selection of additional faculty for the proposal meeting, can be found in the PhD Handbook available via the Resources for Graduate Students web page.

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There are many ways to write a good proposal. These two, from Spring 2009, will give you some sense of what other successful proposers have done:

To see a sample individual study proposal for a scholarly project, click here: sampleISprplscholarly  or  here: SampleISprplscholarly 2 .

To see a sample individual study proposal for a creative writing project, click here: sampleISprplcreative .

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Research Proposal Template for Linguistics and Literature

Profile image of Muhammad Asif

Give a relatively brief introduction of the general idea of study and also signify the discipline(s) within which it falls

Related Papers

Fiaz Hussain

sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

Wan Mohd Farid Wan Yusof

Taiwo Abioye

Aksha Memon

A research proposal is a pre-written document which gives an overview of the research tactics. It gives a general idea of the objectives to be achieved and the ways and means to achieve it. Writing research proposal is however a challenging feat. Due to lack of clear guidance from any source, there are many substandard research proposals which are placed before evaluation committee. The researcher came across various people who had no clear understanding of the process and structure of research proposal or research design. This problem has led the researcher to develop a framework to guide the prospective researchers in framing their research design based on the following research questions.1) what is the procedure of writing the research proposal 2) what are the components of the research proposal.So, to give a clear picture about the problem the paper is divided into two parts I) Procedure of writing the research proposal II) Components of the research proposal. The procedure for writing the research proposal is discussed with regards to: 1) Identifying the problem 2) Deciding on the topic 3) Deciding the locale of study 4) Deciding on the data needs 5) Planning the source of data collection 6) Plotting down ways to collect data 7) Identifying methods for analyzing data collection 8) Establishing a basis for designing the Proposal. While the components of research proposal are discussed with regards to : 1) Cover page 2) Abstract 3) Keywords 4) Introduction 5) Review of literature 6) Statement of problem 7) Objectives of the study 8) Hypothesis of the study 9) Period of study 10) Methodology 11) Data analysis 12) Limitation of the study 13) Chapter framework 14) References 15) Appendices.

Dewinta Vikantari

Pleasery Myman

This is a guidelines to dissertation thesis for UPSI student.

Gezahegn Gezmu

Nelleke Bak

Some practical steps to consider when developing a research proposal

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Applied Linguistics PhD

  • Full-time: 48 months
  • Part-time: 96 months
  • Start date: October 2024, February 2025
  • UK fees: £5,100
  • International fees: £21,500

Research overview

Applied linguistics offers a fascinating opportunity to study the interaction between language and the real world. 

Our staff are specialists in the areas of psycholinguistics, language development, second language acquisition and motivation theories of language learning. 

We host research in discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, with particular specialisms in health communication, professional communication, and language, gender and sexuality. We are unique in offering opportunities to do research in literary linguistics, narratology and cognitive poetics.

Students will benefit from joining the  Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics , with a long tradition of research on language use in authentic contexts. You will have the opportunity to:

  • gain access to placement and knowledge transfer opportunities
  • join a reading group, or one of the  active research groups
  • assist with live research projects
  • attend guest talks by linguistics scholars

Follow your intercultural research interests to a deeper level, in a department ranked 6th nationally in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

Course content

A PhD is mainly made up of independent study, with supervision meetings spread throughout the year.

There are no taught credits attached to a PhD, although it is compulsory for full-time students to attend the Arts Faculty Researcher Skills training programme.

Some PhD students also choose to audit masters modules taught by their supervisors where appropriate, though this is not compulsory, nor does it involve any formal assessment.

Part-time students

Part-time students are expected to attend at least two face-to-face meetings in the School of English each year. Most supervision meetings can be held online (e.g. via Teams). Students are asked to attend the initial induction sessions during welcome week in-person if possible, and have their first supervision meeting face-to-face with their supervisory team.

Part-time students are required to take part in all required research training, which in many cases is available online, attend postgraduate seminars where possible, and one postgraduate researcher (PGR) symposium over the period of their registration. Wherever possible the final viva examination will be face-to-face. Students who cannot meet this requirement would need to request to transfer to remote study .

You will complete a written thesis of up to 100,000 words, with expert support and advice from your academic supervisor(s). You will also take a verbal examination called a viva voce, where you explain your project in depth to an examination panel.

A PhD thesis should not normally exceed 100,000 words in length. It is expected that the creative element would usually comprise 50,000-70,000 words. The critical analysis component will normally be 15,000-30,000 words in length.

What is the thesis pending period?

All periods of registration are followed by a period of writing-up, called the thesis-pending period, when tuition fees are not paid and students are writing up their thesis.

Find out more in the university's Quality Manual

Progression review

All PhD students take part in progression review assessments to ensure that their project is progressing satisfactorily. A progression review consists usually consists of written reports from both the student and the supervisory team. 

All students have an independent assessment interview for their Stage 1 and Stage 2 reviews (end of years 1 and 2 for full-time students, years 2 and 4 for part-time students).

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2024 entry.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our  Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us .

You will be required to provide a PhD proposal with your application, which will set out the structure of your project.

The basis of a good proposal is usually a set of questions, approaches, and objectives which clearly outline your proposed project and what you want to accomplish. The proposal should also clearly demonstrate how you are going to accomplish this.

A PhD proposal should be a minimum of 1000 words. There is no upward limit for proposals, although successful proposals are often not much longer than about 2000-3000 words. You should consider:

  • The methodologies that you will use in your project (as appropriate)
  • The necessary resources and facilities you will need to carry out your project

It is also helpful to include:

  • A summary of any further research experience, in addition to your academic qualifications. This could include work undertaken at undergraduate or masters level, or outside the educational system
  • The name of the supervisor who may supervise the project (see the full list of supervision areas in the school )

Find out more about how to write a research proposal.

Potential applicants are strongly advised to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice .

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (i.e. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).

Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership

The University of Nottingham has joined with five other universities across the Midlands to form the Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

The partnership offers postgraduate studentships across the full breadth of social sciences.

Find out more on our webpage

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Regular supervision

You will have a team of at least two supervisors. Full-time students will meet with their supervisory team at least 10 times each year (six times for part-time students).

Your supervisors will help you to realise your research project and to guide you through your research. Many students will also attend conferences and publish papers in conjunction with their supervisors, to gain valuable experience and contacts in the academic community.

Professional development

Research students in the School of English benefit from:

  • Opportunities to teach in the school and develop related skills
  • Student-led fortnightly research seminars and an annual symposium
  • Research networks created by the research centres and individual research projects
  • Research council-funded international research exchange visits with leading universities
  • Co-authorship with members of staff
  • Dedicated staff-postgraduate reading groups
  • Support for participation in international conferences and seminars

Postgraduate seminars and conference attendance

A fortnightly seminar series is run by and for the postgraduate students in the school during term time.

The seminars provide a forum for students to share work in progress with staff and peers, to hear from invited speakers, and to explore key academic and career topics in a supportive atmosphere.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • socialising
  • computer work
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services , including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer .

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

University park campus.

University Park Campus  covers 300 acres, with green spaces, wildlife, period buildings and modern facilities. It is one of the UK's most beautiful and sustainable campuses, winning a national Green Flag award every year since 2003.

Most schools and departments are based here. You will have access to libraries, shops, cafes, the Students’ Union, sports village and a health centre.

You can walk or cycle around campus. Free hopper buses connect you to our other campuses. Nottingham city centre is 15 minutes away by public bus or tram.

sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

Benefit from three psycholinguistic labs

Labs 1 and 2 have eye-tracking facilities, where you can examine the ways people interact with texts and what aspects of language are more difficult to process. Both labs also have PCs for behavioural research, such as reaction time studies or decision making studies.

Lab 3 is our psychophysiology lab, measuring things like moisture levels in the skin and facial muscle movements, which tell us about the degree and type of emotional responses to a text or other stimulus. Find out more about our labs .

sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

English PhD - dedicated study space

Our research students benefit from dedicated office space with networked PCs, social and communal space, and kitchen facilities.

sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

Library facilities - School of English

  • manuscripts from the 12th-15th centuries and books in Old and Middle English, Old Icelandic, Viking Studies, and runology
  • the  English Place-Name Society  library and archive
  • Hallward Library's  DH Lawrence archive (containing Lawrence family papers, manuscripts, first editions, and books owned by Lawrence)
  • the Cambridge Drama Collection (over 1,500 items including plays and works about the British theatre from 1750-1850)

Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route . Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

PhD study will build a range of key transferable skills, including:

  • strong communication skills
  • the ability to carry out independent and original research
  • the ability to present your research in a variety of academic and professional contexts

100% of postgraduates from the School of English secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £37,402.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022 . The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on data from graduates who completed a full-time postgraduate degree with home fee status and are working full-time within the UK.

Related courses

Applied linguistics with english language teaching phd, english phd, creative writing phd, research excellence framework.

The University of Nottingham is ranked 7th in the UK for research power, according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • We are proud to be in the top 10 UK universities for research into English, while our ranking of 9th by 'research power' reflects our research excellence
  • 90%* of our research is classed as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally
  • 51% of our research is assessed as 'world-leading' (4*) for its impact**

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 12 September 2023 . Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.

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PhD in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (MLAL212)

The nature of the phd degree.

In British universities the PhD ('Doctorate of Philosophy') is traditionally awarded solely on the basis of a dissertation, a substantial piece of writing which reports original research into a closely defined area of enquiry. Candidates for the PhD in Cambridge are guided by a Supervisor, though they will normally also discuss their work with a number of other experts in their field. The nature of the work depends on topic. Within linguistics, some PhD students may do most of their work in libraries, or spend part of their time collecting and analysing data, or carry out experiments in the  phonetics laboratory  or psycholinguistics laboratory. The dissertation must make a significant contribution to learning, for example through the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory or the revision of older views. The completion of a PhD dissertation is typically expected to take three to four years full-time, or five to seven years part-time.

PhD Topics and Supervisors

Students registered for the PhD in the Section of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics will normally have one of the staff of the Section as Supervisor, though sometimes specialists outside the Section will fulfill this role.

Prospective applicants can get an idea of the range of topics which can be supervised from the following lists of people:

  • Staff and their Research Interests
  • Full Section Staff List
  • Members of the Faculty
  • Current PhD Students

However, since by doctoral research is by definition original, they should not hesitate to discuss ideas within or across areas of linguistics which are not explicitly represented in these places with the Section.

Please direct any enquiries regarding entry requirements and academic matters to the Postgraduate Secretary in the MMLL Postgraduate Office: [email protected] , and any enquiries regarding the technicalities of applying to the Postgraduate Admissions Office .

Applications must be accompanied by a research proposal of approximately 500 to 1,000 words. This should outline a topic of research which the applicant has chosen, and the method for investigating it. The research proposal will form the basis of a PhD student's research, but naturally may be modified as the research proceeds.

Candidates are advised to apply  well in advance of  the funding deadlines listed on the Postgraduate Office  'Applying to MMLL ' page.

Research Areas

All students belong to two of the Section’s  research areas.  One of these will be the primary area of research and the other a related field. Each area organises two half-day events per year which provide the opportunity to hear invited speakers and to present students' work. Students are also be expected to get involved in organising the events for their major area.

Research Training

All students must attend a prescribed amount of research training each year. Their personal programme for each year should be discussed with their supervisor. The Faculty's research training programme provides many useful courses, some of which are compulsory. In addition, the department organises two research training sessions per term with topics of particular interest to linguistics PhD students. These are compulsory for all PhD students registered in the Section. All enquiries about these should be made to Prof Brechtje Post , the Linguistics PhD Coordinator.

There are a limited number of places available on the Section's Quantitative Methods for Analysing Language Data (QMALD) statistics training lectures.

Information on training sessions are circulated to current students with details on how to sign up.

Search form

sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

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Linguistics and English Language PhD thesis collection

sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

By Issue Date Authors Titles Subjects Publication Type Sponsor Supervisors

Search within this Collection:

This is a selection of some of the more recent theses from the department of Linguistics and English Language.

The material in this collection must be cited in line with the usual academic conventions. These theses are protected under full copyright law. You may download it for your own personal use only.

Recent Submissions

Information structure of complex sentences: an empirical investigation into at-issueness , 'ane end of an auld song': macro and micro perspectives on written scots in correspondence during the union of the parliaments debates , intervention, participation, perception: case studies of language activism in catalonia, norway & scotland , aspects of cross-variety dinka tonal phonology , attitudes and perceptions of saudi students towards their non-native emi instructors , explanatory mixed methods approach to the effects of integrating apology strategies: evidence from saudi arabic , multilingualism in later life: natural history & effects of language learning , first language attrition in late bilingualism: lexical, syntactic and prosodic changes in english-italian bilinguals , syntactic change during the anglicisation of scots: insights from the parsed corpus of scottish correspondence , causation is non-eventive , developmental trajectory of grammatical gender: evidence from arabic , copular clauses in malay: synchronic, diachronic, and typological perspectives , sentence processing in first language attrition: the interplay of language, experience and cognitive load , choosing to presuppose: strategic uses of presupposition triggers , mechanisms underlying pre-school children’s syntactic, morphophonological and referential processing during language production , development and processing of non-canonical word orders in mandarin-speaking children , role of transparency in the acquisition of inflectional morphology: experimental studies testing exponence type using artificial language learning , disability and sociophonetic variation among deaf or hard-of-hearing speakers of taiwan mandarin , structural priming in the grammatical network: a study of english argument structure constructions , how language adapts to the environment: an evolutionary, experimental approach .

sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

  • Short report
  • Open access
  • Published: 24 June 2016

An exploratory genre analysis of three graduate degree research proposals in applied linguistics

  • Bin Yin   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-5557-8983 1  

Functional Linguistics volume  3 , Article number:  7 ( 2016 ) Cite this article

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This exploratory study investigated the rhetorical structure of three research proposals written by students who successfully sought entry into MA/PhD programs in applied linguistics at a Singapore university. Despite the abundance of research on published academic texts (such as the research article), not much is known about research proposals written for degree admission purposes, which are identified as an occluded genre. Following the Swales tradition of genre analysis, the proposals were analyzed in terms of their rhetorical “move” structure, complemented by interviews with the proposal writers and one expert informant to elicit contextual factors such as intended readership, authorial positioning, and institutional expectations for this genre. The results show that the rhetorical structuring and the realization of moves were shaped by the communicative purpose of research proposals and disciplinary expectations. Differences between subfields of applied linguistics can be seen in the presence/absence of moves such as those related to proposed methodology. While exploratory in nature, this study sheds light on an important, occluded genre, with pedagogical implications.


The study of academic discourse in its various aspects has attracted much attention in genre analysis over the past two decades, to make explicit the values upheld and practices endorsed in various academic communities (Samraj 2004 ). The academic genres that have been investigated include various types of published texts, such as the much valorized research article (RA) (e.g., Swales 1990 ; Anthony 1999 ; Samraj 2002 ; Yang and Allison 2003 ; Lin and Evans 2012 ; Martín and León Pérez 2014 ), dissertations (e.g., Hopkins and Dudley-Evans 1988 ; Bunton 2002 ; Kwan 2006 ; Thompson 2009 ), data commentaries, research reports, abstracts and posters (Swales and Feak 1994 , 2000 ). However, research proposals written for entry into degree programs as an exemplar of occluded genres (Swales 1996 ) have so far not been looked into, partly due to the lack of access to this type of texts. Nonetheless, the importance of the research proposal as a means to gauge the competence of students and its gate-keeping role in selecting future players in the academic world is clear. This exploratory study investigated three research proposals written by successful applicants to MA/PhD programs in applied linguistics at a Singapore-based university. The study seeks to account for the rhetorical structure of the graduate degree research proposal in terms of its communicative purpose, institutional expectations and represented disciplinary culture. In the next section, I look in more detail at the Swalesian tradition of academic genre analysis, focusing on the CARS model (Creating a Research Space) and discussing its applications and adaptations. Then, I argue for the importance of examining the graduate degree research proposal as a genre.

Genre analysis of academic discourse in English for Specific Purposes (ESP)

Genre analysis of academic texts can operate at both micro and macro levels. At the micro level, researchers examine the way certain grammatical or lexical features are employed in writing, such as the use of hedging, modality and reporting verbs (Thompson and Ye 1991 ; Salager-Meyer 1992 ; Hyland 1996 ), metadiscourse markers (Hyland 2008 ), and lexical verbs (Williams 1996 ). At the macro level, especially within the English for Specific Purposes (ESP) tradition, researchers deal with the patterns of rhetorical organizations of academic texts in various disciplines. The rhetorical organization of a text is often described as being made up of series of rhetorical “moves”, defined as a segment of text that is shaped and constrained by a specific communicative function (Holmes 1997 ). Therefore, when a stretch of text is identified as containing a coherent rhetorical function, it will be analyzed as a move whose labeling unambiguously indicates its function. Within each move there are one or more further realizations known as “steps” or “strategies”. These functional components (moves, steps or strategies) can be identified for each genre and such knowledge (e.g., presence, absence, and sequence of components) can then be used in the context of ESP instruction.

The most prominent model for rhetorical moves analysis is Swales ( 1990 )’s Creating a Research Space (CARS) invented to capture the rhetorical content of research article introductions (see Table  1 ). As seen in Table  1 , Move 1 Establishing a territory is realized by three strategies: Claiming centrality , Making topic generalizations and Reviewing items of previous research . The other two moves: Establishing a niche and Occupying the niche are likewise realized by further steps. The labeling of the moves in CARS reflects the persuasive nature of article introductions: namely, readers are being persuaded to accept the research being presented. Rhetorical analyses inevitably come with some degree of subjectivity (Crookes 1986 ). In cases where a sentence or a chunk of text could be analyzed as serving more than one rhetorical function (move or step), the conventional practice in the field is to assign the most salient move or step (Crookes 1986 ; Holmes 1997 ). Another important point to note is that the original model was based on RAs in the disciplines of sciences and engineering, but has since been applied and adapted for different genres and disciplines, resulting in further refinements or modifications to the model. Here, I briefly discuss some of the well-known adaptations of the CARS model in the literature (Anthony 1999 ; Samraj 2002 ; Bunton 2002 ).

Anthony ( 1999 ) was concerned with the extent to which the CARS model can accurately account for article introductions in software engineering. He noted three aspects of the model that need modification to accommodate his corpus of 12 papers. Specifically, many steps in CARS appear to be redundant for software engineering writing (e.g., Step 1-1, 2-1A, 2-1C, 2-1D, and 3-1A; see Table  1 for the steps). Second, papers in his corpus included definitions of key terms and concepts in their introductions, a strategy that is not accounted for in CARS. Lastly, most of the papers in the corpus utilized a rhetorical strategy whereby the paper authors evaluated the research being presented either with respect to the practical applicability or the novelty of the research. Anthony ( 1999 ) termed this strategy Evaluation of research and included this as a new step under Move 3 ( Occupying the niche ). The near obligatory presence of this step and its prominent proportion in Move 3 was explained by the central concerns of the field of software engineering (models being developed need to be applicable; and authors may also need to show uniqueness).

Samraj ( 2002 ) is another well-known adaptation of the CARS model whereby two related sub-disciplines within environmental science were examined in 12 RA introductions: Wildlife Behavior and Conservation Biology. First, it was found that Reviewing items of previous research (Step 1-3 in CARS) does not occur just in the first move, but can be embedded within other steps, such as gap-indicating (Move 2) or goal specification (Move 3). Therefore, Samraj ( 2002 , 16) proposes removing Reviewing items of previous research as a step under Move 1, and instead treating it as a “free-standing sub-step that can be employed in the realization of any step in the introduction”. Further, Samraj ( 2002 ) found that centrality claims (in Move 1) and gap indications (in Move 2) can be couched in terms of both the phenomenal (real) world or the epistemic (research) world. Here, disciplinary variations were detected: while Wildlife Behavior tends to employ rhetorical strategies referring to the epistemic world, Conservation Biology tends to emphasize issues in the real world. Samraj ( 2002 ) suggested that the variations were due to the fact that Wildlife Behavior is a theoretical, disciplinary field with an established historical depth whereas Conservation Biology is an applied, interdisciplinary area that was still emerging. These new insights, and others were incorporated into a modified CARS model in Samraj ( 2002 , 15).

Lastly, Bunton ( 2002 ) adapted the CARS model for the analysis of 45 PhD theses written by students from a variety of disciplinary fields at the University of Hong Kong. While using the same moves in the CARS model (and those in Dudley-Evans 1986 ), Bunton ( 2002 ) developed 10 additional steps, mostly for Move 3 ( Announcing the present research or Occupying the niche ). Some of the additional steps include Defining terms (Move 1), Method , Materials or Subjects , Product of research/Model proposed , Chapter structure and Theoretical position (all under Move 3). Bunton ( 2002 ) notes that, compared with research articles, PhD introductions are necessarily more elaborate, given their more extensive scope.

These, together with numerous other works drawing on the CARS model (e.g., applied linguistics, Kwan 2006 ; Ozturk 2007 ; sports science and medicine, Zeng 2009 ; agricultural sciences, del Saz Rubio 2011 ; management, Lim 2012 ) have both demonstrated the usefulness of CARS as a framework of rhetorical descriptions for academic texts, and shown the existence of variations in text types and disciplines (Samraj 2002 ; Ozturk 2007 ). Another point to note is that the RA remains the text type receiving the most attention in rhetorical genre analysis due to its status in the academic community as the vehicle of knowledge production and transmission, and therefore the lifeblood of the academy (Hyland 2000 ). Nevertheless, a discourse community necessarily engages in a plurality of genres (Bhatia 2002 ), and understanding texts beyond the research article is important to uncovering the discourse community’s values and practices. In the two sections that follow, I discuss research proposals as an important, but occluded genre that forms part of the academic genre system.

The research proposal as an occluded academic genre

One important academic genre that has not been given due attention is the graduate degree research proposal (Swales 1996 ). It belongs to a group of “research process” texts written for a small-group audience (typically the admission committee), but may nonetheless be “seriously invested with demonstrated scholarship and . . . representing their authors in a favorable professional light” (46). As a genre hidden from the public, existing studies on research proposals written for graduate admission purposes are practically non-existent, although there is research on related genres, such as grant proposals written by established or junior researchers (Connor and Mauranen 1999 ; Connor 2000 ; Myers 1990 ; Feng 2008 ; Cheng 2014 ) or proposals written by existing graduate students as part of their candidature advancement requirements (Cadman 2002 ). It is evidently important to understand this genre both for theoretical and pedagogical reasons. Besides being part of a genre system that constitutes a discipline’s culture, research proposals serve an important gate-keeping role in higher research degree admission, and by implication, entry into the academic/discourse community. However, because the requirements for this genre are usually implicit, student applicants may have difficulties in matching their texts with the expectations of their targeted audience. This is especially so for students writing across linguistic and cultural boundaries, and who could therefore benefit from the findings of research into this occluded genre.

Given these, the present study investigated three graduate degree research proposals submitted by students applying for admission to a research degree program at a Singapore-based university. The objective of the study is to describe the rhetorical structure of the research proposals, how it relates to the communicative purposes and the expectations of the institutional context, and how the above facets may vary along disciplinary lines. Informed by current understandings of genre theory which stress the relationship between text and context (Swales 1990 ; Bhatia 1993 ), this study combines textual analysis of research proposals (rhetorical moves) with interview data from an expert informant as well as the authors of the proposals to achieve a preliminary understanding of research proposals in applied linguistics in a specific academic setting.

Existing studies on research proposals

In this section, I review existing genre studies on research proposals: Myers ( 1990 ), Connor and Mauranen ( 1999 ), Connor ( 2000 ), Feng ( 2008 ), Cheng ( 2014 ), Cadman ( 2002 ). The first five studies were actually on grant proposals, a type of research proposal written to request government or private funding. Only the last study by Cadman ( 2002 ) examined research proposals written by students for their degree programs and bears the closest resemblance to the present study.

As one of the earliest studies on the research proposal, Myers ( 1990 ) described grant research proposals as “the most basic form of scientific writing” (41) since researchers need to secure funds before engaging in their research projects. He studied drafts and final versions of two US biologists’ research proposals and examined their writing processes through interviews and observations of their writing activities. Myers ( 1990 )’s study highlighted the difficult balance that researchers try to strike between being original in their proposed research and being compliant with the existing body of literature in their field. Myers ( 1990 ) argues that the rhetoric of the proposal varies with each discipline (in this case, two subfields in biology) and also in terms of the researcher’s relation to the discipline.

Compared with Myers ( 1990 ), Connor and Mauranen ( 1999 )’s study of grant proposals is more textually grounded. Their study is concerned with the identification and description of rhetorical moves of grant proposals written by 34 established scientists from the European Union (EU). Drawing on the CARS model, the authors were able to identify 10 moves in the grant proposals: Territory , Gap , Goal , Means , Reporting previous research , Achievements , Benefits , Competence claim , Importance claim , and Compliance claim. Connor and Mauranen ( 1999 ) found that some of these moves, such as the competence and compliance claims are specific to grant proposals while others like Territory , Gap , and Means can be found in research articles as well. A follow-up study (Connor 2000 ) in the US context found that, compared with their European counterparts, US grant proposal writers tended to explicitly specify their research purpose by a Research question or Research hypothesis move. Connor ( 2000 ) speculated that this might be explained by stronger expectations about precise research question formulation on the part of American proposal reviewers, causing US researchers therefore to “pretend that their research is farther along than it actually is” (19).

While the studies reviewed above had been conducted in Western contexts, Feng ( 2008 ) took a comparative approach and examined the grant proposals written by nine social sciences/humanities Chinese scholars between 1996 and 2001. It was found that while the Chinese language proposals shared similarities with English language ones from a comparable study conducted in Canada (Feng and Shi 2004 ), stark differences emerged as well. For instance, in realizing the Niche move, while English language proposals offered detailed discussions and critiques of previous items of research, the Chinese language proposals provided vague criticisms on uncited work, which was interpreted as a practice of “face-saving”. The Means (i.e., methodology) move in the Chinese proposals also lacked specificity compared with the English language texts, which was interpreted as reflecting a lack of understanding on empirical research methodology in the Chinese research community.

Different from the above research on grant proposals by faculty members, Cheng ( 2014 ) looked at two US-based English as second language doctoral students’ process of writing dissertation grant proposals for biophysics and musicology. Cheng ( 2014 ) studied proposal writing through the metaphor of “game-playing” – namely that academic writing involves the learning of rules and conventions, as well as repeated participation. By mainly analyzing interviews with the two students, Cheng ( 2014 ) identified four themes in the two doctoral researchers’ writing process: “learning how to play”, “following or bending the rules”, “deciding whether to play”, and “identifying who to cite in the grant proposals”. The fact that one student eventually succeeded in obtaining grant funding whereas the other did not was tentatively attributed to the presence or absence of seasoned researchers who could guide the student in the writing process. Overall, the study showed the importance of the agentive role students play in negotiating through the grant genre system during their transition from the coursework to the dissertation stage of their graduate training.

Lastly, unlike the studies above which examined texts to some degree, Cadman ( 2002 ) focuses exclusively on the “context of situation relating to the research proposal as a definable genre” (90), instead of the text itself. Cadman ( 2002 ) surveyed faculty supervisors across various disciplines in an Australia university, asking them to prioritize the particular features they expected in a successful student research proposal. Some of the features uncovered include: "feasibility", " updated knowledge of the field ", and "appropriateness of methodology". In addition, the study reveals that the “discoursally constructed self” was considered more important than the substantive content of the proposal itself.

These studies, with their different approaches to the research proposal, have produced useful insights into this genre, such as the C ompetence claim and Compliance claim of the EU grant proposals in Connor and Mauranen ( 1999 ), Research question and/or hypothesis in Connor ( 2000 ), the “game-playing” metaphor in Cheng ( 2014 ) and the assessment of "discourse persona" in Cadman ( 2002 ). They have advanced our understanding of both the textual and contextual aspects of this genre and also provided a rough schema for the present study. Nonetheless, our knowledge of the research proposal is still in its infancy. Not excepting Cadman ( 2002 ), there are currently no genre investigations of student-written research proposals for purposes of gaining entry into graduate programs. The present study aims to fill the gap by adopting an integrative approach that combines textual and contextual analyses of student written research proposals.

Textual data

The three research proposals for this study were collected from three research students in 2006. They were at varying stages of pursuing a research degree in applied linguistics at a leading Singapore university where the working language is English (see Table  2 for author information). The proposals that participants provided are those that they had submitted when applying to the research programs to which they were eventually accepted. The respective authors signed consent forms to take part in the research project and their proposals are coded as P1, P2 and P3 in this paper.

Interview data

Interviews were conducted with the three authors for two purposes. One was to confirm with them the accuracy of the labeling of rhetorical moves/strategies. During the interview, I checked my analysis and labeling with each author, wherever I had doubts about the rhetorical purpose for a given stretch of texts. Where the authors disagreed with my reading and labeling of their text components, discussion followed to resolve such disagreements and arrive at the most accurate way of labeling each move/strategy. The second purpose of the interview with the authors was to elicit their perceptions on the research proposal as a genre. Questions were designed to elicit their understanding of the overall communicative purpose of the research proposal, its intended readership, prominent features of proposals and the rationale behind specific moves/strategies. In addition, data from an interview conducted with an established faculty member in linguistics research (Prof W) is also reported here. Footnote 1 Prof W was from the Department of English Language and Literature of the University and had a wealth of experience reading research proposals submitted for graduate degree applications. Questions designed for the faculty member were intended to elicit expert expectations and perceptions on the production and evaluation of this genre. Footnote 2

The institutional role of the research proposal

Historically, the research proposal for graduate degree admission represented part of the older graduate degree program structure at this University which used to adhere to a British style of graduate degree education. This meant that postgraduate programs by research consisted solely of a dissertation with practically no coursework component. In that context, the research proposal used to be a compulsory requirement for admission into the Department’s research degree programs. However, Prof W noted that the submission of a graduate degree research proposal was no longer required for application purposes, as a result of the “Americanization” of the university’s curriculum.

Though no longer formally obligatory, research proposals were important for applicants who applied for the competitive university research scholarship where evaluation of the applicant’s potential to conduct research became a decisive factor in the admission process. Since most applicants requested scholarship funding, the research proposal was considered a de facto requirement in their application. According to Prof W, the communicative purpose of the research proposal in the context of admission evaluation was generally to see that the applicant was able to construct a research project relevant to the program being applied for. Specifically, he highlighted that faculty members would like to see clear formulation of research questions, display of background knowledge and signs of compatibility to the department’s research profile.

Analytical framework

The present study follows the Swalesian tradition of rhetorical analysis, specifically the CARS model that was discussed earlier (see Table  1 ). To reiterate, the essential construct underlying Swales’ rhetorical analysis is the “move”, defined as “a text segment made up of a bundle of linguistic features, (lexical) meanings, propositional meanings, illocutionary forces, etc., which give the segment a uniform orientation and signal the content of discourse in it” (Nwogu 1997 , 114). Within each move, there are further smaller rhetorical units, referred to as “strategies Footnote 3 ” in this study. The naming of moves and strategies is largely in keeping with existing studies (e.g., Swales 1990 ; Connor 2000 ; Yang 2001 ). However, since CARS and its adaptations (see discussions in the introductory sections) were intended to describe a single section of the RA (i.e., introduction), they cannot fully accommodate the rhetorical structuring of full-length research proposals. Therefore, new moves and strategies have been identified in this study, as will be seen in the results/analysis section below. In addition, following existing practice (Crookes 1986 ; Holmes 1997 ), where a sentence/chunk of text seemed to denote more than one rhetorical function, the solution adopted was to assign the most salient rhetorical function to the text.

Results and analysis

Table  3 summarizes information on move structure, strategies and textual space allocated to each move across the three proposals. Textual space was measured in terms of the number or percentage of sentences for the move/strategy, following existing practice (e.g., Anthony 1999 ; Ozturk 2007 ). A sentence is defined here as a main clause with all its associated dependent clauses, and for the purposes of analysis, is identified by orthographical cues (i.e., begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop, Aarts 2014 ). Tables  4 , 5 and 6 present the individual move sequence of the three proposals. In the analysis below, I focus on the prominent trends and contrasts observed across the three texts in terms of the use of rhetorical moves or strategies, while acknowledging that not all variations can receive a satisfactory explanation, given existing literature pointing to both inter- and intra-disciplinary variations in the generic structure of academic texts (e.g., computer engineering, Anthony 1999 ; applied linguistics, Ozturk 2007 ; environmental science, Samraj 2002 ). Most importantly, this is an exploratory study with a small corpus size, and attempting to remark on all aspects of rhetorical patterns in the three texts would seem to risk inappropriate generalization. Consequently, only the prominent trends and contrasts will be focused on.

With this caveat in mind, an examination of Table  3 in terms of allocation of textual space reveals Move 1 and Move 3 to be relatively important rhetorical components: the average textual space for Move 1 ( Establishing a territory ) across the three proposals is 46 % on average, and for Move 3 ( Occupying the niche ), 21 %. They constitute the two moves that take up the most space (67 %) in the three proposals. The textual prominence of Move 1 ( Establishing a territory ) is probably due to the importance and indispensability in displaying knowledge about the field.

Both published resources and the specialist informant in this study highlighted the importance of demonstrating familiarity with existing literature in the research proposal. In Allison ( 2002 ) for examples, prospective graduate degree applicants are advised to justify their proposed research by referring to existing knowledge, belief, or practice, including relevant research that already exists on the topic (222). Prof W likewise remarked that the applicant needed to demonstrate an understanding of the current state of art. It is therefore not surprising that, on average, Move 1 ( Establishing a territory ) occupies a proportionally large rhetorical space. Nevertheless, there is a noticeable difference between P3 (with 80 % of textual space devoted to Move 1) and the remaining two proposals (27 % for P1 and 32 % for P2). The first point to note is that, as already alluded to above, variation exists even within a single discipline in terms of rhetorical structure (e.g., Anthony 1999 ; Connor 2000 ; Samraj 2002 ; Ozturk 2007 ). For instance, one biology proposal studied in Connor ( 2000 ) contained 3.01 % of textual space for Move 1 (termed Territory in Connor 2000 ) compared with another biology proposal with 16.2 % of textual space for the same move. In the case of P3 in this study, the high percentage of textual space for Move 1 may have to do with the interdisciplinary topic being proposed which has to do with the linguistic construction of women in crime reports, a topic that encompasses several areas of study, including language, ideology, media, gender, and criminology. Indeed, it has been suggested that researchers working on interdisciplinary topics tend to provide more theoretical background to help the reader become familiar with “related or parent disciplines about the issues investigated” (Ozturk 2007 , 34).

Therefore, the author of P3 felt it necessary to provide a comprehensive overview of all relevant fields in the proposal, resulting in a substantial literature review section. Also, P3 is the shortest proposal in the data set, containing fewer than 1500 words, and it has been shown that shorter texts tend to contain proportionally more text for establishing territory (Connor 2000 ).

Despite containing a proportionally large textual space for Move 1 ( Establishing a territory ), P3 is missing Move 2 ( Establishing a niche ), in contrast to the other two proposals. This is perhaps not surprising, given existing findings that Move 2 seems to be optional in student written texts especially when the writing is for an immediate target audience (e.g., Soler-Monreal et al. 2011 ). Namely, when the text is not intended to be highly self-promotional or in need of demonstrating novelty, there is a trend for Move 2 to go missing.

As for Move 3 ( Occupying the niche ), both the faculty informant and proposal authors agreed that it is extremely important for research proposals to have clear and unambiguous research objectives and also to strengthen the statement of purpose by spelling out the significance of the proposed research (Move 3), hence the relatively high proportion of textual space assigned to this move. There is again some variation across the three proposals for this move too. Proportionally, P2 devotes almost twice as much textual space (30 %) to Move 3 than P1 (17 %) and P3 (16 %). The difference between P2 and P1 in the proportion of Move 3 is simply due to the difference in overall length of proposals (the two proposals are comparable in the number of sentences for Move 3; see Table  3 ). As to the difference between P2 and P3, two proposals of similar length and from the same discipline, I observe that P2 fulfills Move 3, Strategy 1 ( Outlining purposes ) by not only stating the overall objective, but also in the form of two main questions and seven specific questions, thereby resulting in a substantial Move 3. In comparison, P3 only states the overall objective. In this respect, P3 seems closer to the norm of humanities proposals than P2, in light of the observation that science disciplines, but not humanities tend to include both objectives and specific questions in their research proposals to occupy a research niche (Connor 2000 ).

Apart from the textual space devoted to particular moves/strategies, the absence of certain rhetorical components also deserves attention. For example, Strategy 3 of Move 1, Reviewing items of previous research is not present in P2. Although the author does make some general remarks regarding the status of knowledge in the field, the effort to specify previous findings and attribute them to specific researchers was not found in this proposal. Considering the importance of citing peers’ work to establish rapport and self-identity in the academic community, the absence of such rhetorical effort in P2 calls for an explanation, which I offer below where I discuss Strategy 3 of Move 1 ( Reviewing items of previous research ).

Spelling out methodology (Move 5) is another site where variation occurs across the three proposals. P1 seems to set itself apart from the other two proposals in having quite a detailed methodology move, making use of five rhetorical strategies. P2 contains a methodology section, but its rhetorical realization is not as complex, amounting to three strategies. Lastly, P3 contains only one strategy ( Indicating analytical framework ) in this move. The contrast between P1, on the one hand, and P2 and P3, on the other, could be attributed to the differences in the mode of enquiry in the research subfields. Namely, P1 is concerned with educational phonology. As a field that combines educational studies and phonetics, two areas that rely on well designed experiments to elicit research data, the writer has to present a rather detailed methodology section in the proposal to convince the reader that she does have a viable research design. In comparison, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), the research area of P2 and P3, being a non-experimental field, relies more on problematizing issues in society and their reflection in discourse than in executing any experiment or defining any variables, which accounts for the lower textual emphasis given to the methodology move in these two proposals Footnote 4 (P2 and P3).

Having observed the distribution of moves in the three research proposals and explaining the prominent trends, the sections below offer a detailed description of and explanation for the realization of strategies.

Establishing a territory

Establishing a territory is a move in the research proposal that maps out the general research area in which the proposed research is located. It sets up the larger intellectual or real world background for the proposed topic via the use of four mutually inclusive strategies: Claiming centrality , Making topic generalizations , Reviewing items of previous research , and Stating personal interest . The first three strategies are from the CARS model (see Table  1 ). The last was formulated specifically for this study. The four strategies can occur together or independently as Tables  4 , 5 and 6 show.

Claiming centrality

According to Swales ( 1990 ), one rhetorical vehicle to establish a research territory is the centrality claim. This is a strategy where the author “makes appeals to the discourse community whereby members are asked to accept that the research about to be reported is part of a lively, significant or well-established research area” (Swales 1990 , 142). Centrality claims are signaled by such lexical items and their variants as “important ” , “central ” , “interesting ” and “indispensable ” . Centrality claims were found in P2 and P3, as shown by examples (1) and (2) below (emphases in all examples are mine):

… As such, it is important to denaturalize these ideologies which … The newspapers of societies play a powerful role in … (P3)
…I think it is significant and worthwhile ( imperative even for somebody like me who …) to make explicit this relationship and show how the most “natural” and “common-sensical” of discourses are … and potential harm if their assumptions are not questioned or challenged (P2)

In both examples, the authors assert the importance of their proposed research by using the positive evaluative words such as “important”, “powerful”, “significant”, “worthwhile” and “imperative”, thereby attempting to convince the reader that the research field is justified on account of its prominence. In addition, P2 also highlights the negative consequences (“potential harm”) in the event that the current status quo is allowed to continue, thereby indirectly conveying the importance of the proposed topic.

Making topic generalizations

A second rhetorical device used for territory establishing, according to Swales ( 1990 ), involves making topic generalizations about the field. This is a neutral statement where the writer expresses “in general terms the current state of the art – of knowledge, of technique…” (Swales 1990 , 146). Following Samraj ( 2002 ), a further distinction is made between topic generalizations in the research world as opposed to the real world, which can be seen in examples (3) and (4) respectively.

(3) Making generalization in research:

For the most part, I subscribe to its main tenet that there is a …, that any use of language is informed or influenced by…, that language and one’s use of it are always ideological. (P2)

(4) Making generalization in real world:

Singapore is an Asian society strongly grounded in its eastern values. …Marriage is seen as a partnership where the woman serves the husband, is a mother and caregiver to the children and is a comfort provider for the home. These constructs of women lie within the ideology of patriarchy. (P3)

The bolded phrase “main tenet” in (3) serves as a lexical signal that what follows is a description of the beliefs and practices in the field being proposed for study. In the subsequent three parallel that-clauses, the writer spells out the basic theoretical underpinnings that constitute her proposed field – CDA. In (4), the author is not so much referring to the status of knowledge in the field but rather making generalizations on the social conditions surrounding the subjects she wishes to analyze. Throughout the two examples, words such as “be” and “lie”, known as relational processes in Systemic Functional Linguistics and which are usually used to denote incontestable truths, serve to remind the reader that topic generalizations are being made, either about the research world or about the real world.

Reviewing items of previous research

Reviewing items of previous research is a rhetorical device where writers specify previous findings, attribute the findings to their authors, and adopt a stance towards the findings (Swales 1990 ). It is an important rhetorical strategy in the sense that this is the place where writers demonstrates their familiarity with the field and also seek to establish rapport and self-identity within the community by citing peers’ works. Two proposals (P1 and P3) make use of this strategy (see Table  3 ). Indeed, it is the opening sentence in P1 (see Table  4 ):

Jenkins (2002, 195) calls for a major reconsideration of the way in which pronunciation is currently dealt with, not only in L2 English classrooms but also in phonology teacher education and in research. (P1)

By referring to a recognized expert, the author conveys the message that her proposed area is relevant because even experts are emphatically demanding work to fix this particular issue in the field. By doing so, the author maps out the terrain for her research. Reviewing items of previous research is a strategy used by P3 as well, though not in the initial position of the proposal. This strategy seems to feature rather prominently in terms of textual space in the two proposals that employ it: 27 and 64 % of sentence count in P1 and P3 respectively.

Curiously this strategy seems to go completely missing in P2. Although the author does make some mention of the current status of knowledge in the field, the attempt to cite specific research is absent in P2. Generally, scholars would view the lack of this rhetorical feature in a negative light, as indicated by the comment made by Prof W in the interview:

“…it (lack of reference to literature) would be bad, right? I mean, this is postgraduate work; so you need to indicate some awareness or at least some attempt in trying to understand what is going on in terms of the current state of art”

P2 author explained that she was pressed for time and therefore was not able to include a detailed literature review in the proposal. Interestingly, the author also indicated that she did not think it was important to cite relevant works in the proposal and that showing a basic understanding of the field would be sufficient Footnote 5 , a comment that seems to reveal some discrepancy between this student’s perceptions of research proposals and faculty’s expectations. When pressed on this point, Prof W noted that the Department reviewed an application in its totality, and that other factors such as grades and reference letters might be able to make up for possible deficiencies in research proposals. Future research on occluded genres should therefore look into examining a cluster of text types (e.g., research proposals, personal essays, reference letters) to understand how they might interact and complement with each other in these relatively high-stakes situations.

Stating personal interest

This study has identified a new strategy to realize Move 1 in graduate degree research proposals: Stating personal interest . This is the place where the author explicitly expresses his/her own interest in the proposed subject and by doing so introduces the field into the discourse. This is different from the Claiming centrality strategy which points to the research community as being collectively interested in the proposed subject. Examples of Stating personal interest are shown below in examples (7) and (8):

For years now, I have been interested in the notions of female identity, subjectivity, and agency … (P2)
I am particularly concerned with the workings of language in these discourses… More to the point , I am interested in the connection between discursive change and social change …  In the end , I’d like to see how female identity has been transcribed, … (P2)

It is interesting that the author resorted to personal interest to carve out a research territory in applied linguistics, given the façade of scientific research generally being impersonal and detached. On expressing interest in developing a research proposal, Allison ( 2002 , 166) notes that evidence of a researcher’s expressed interest could be “positive” in an proposal for small scale projects but he cautions that a personal interest would “not be sufficient in itself to justify admitting a student to a higher degree by research”. Perhaps there are two reasons for the occurrence of such a strategy in P2 that had been accepted into a PhD program. First, statement of personal interest in P2 is complemented by the avowed potential contribution of the proposed research to the current state of knowledge, thereby making the proposed research relevant to the larger academic community as well. As will be shown below, P2 makes use of Strategy 2 of Move 3 ( Spelling out contribution/significance of proposed research ), whereby the author argues that among other things, her proposed research will attempt to address the structural limitations of CDA. Fusing personal interest with potential contribution to knowledge is desirable, as remarked by Prof W: “… you need to say that, why your personal interest is worth translating into an actual research project is because it is also relevant to on-going debates or issues”. Second, as revealed during the interview, the author of the proposal said she wished to foreground the sustainability of the proposed research arising from her strong interest in the topic:

“…if I am not interested in it, I don’t think I will be able to do it. I mean, given, for instance, the extent of PhD…, one could be spending a few years dealing with the same thing. I think you have to be personally invested in it before you can actually start doing it…”

Having examined Move 1, Establishing a territory , I now turn to Move 2, Establishing a niche .

Establishing a niche

Establishing a niche is the move where the author, after having identified a general research area, goes on to lay the rhetorical foundation for the research to be announced or presented. Such foundation work can be achieved using any of the four strategies suggested in the CARS model, namely, Counter–claiming , Indicating a gap , Question-raising or Continuing a tradition .

As shown in Table  3 , two of the three proposals (P1 and P2) utilized the niche establishing move. Although the CARS model identifies four strategies for the Establishing niche move, I observe only one strategy in my data, namely Indicating a gap . This confirms previous research where Indicating a gap was found to be the most common strategy used to realize Move 2 (e.g., Chin 1993 ) possibly because it sounds less confrontational to academic reviewers than other possible options, say, bluntly countering a previous claim.

For the Indicating a gap strategy, this study makes a distinction between a real-world gap and a gap in research, following Samraj ( 2002 ). P1, a proposal on educational phonology, makes use of both types of gaps. The proposed research is supposed to fix a real world problem (namely, current classroom instruction) and at the same time, add to the understanding of research in phonology pedagogy; hence, the occurrence of the two types of gap indication. P2, a proposal on CDA however, contains only an indication of a gap in research. This is interesting, given that CDA does seek to solve real-world problems relating to power and ideology. An example of a real-world gap in P1, and an example of a gap in research are provided below in (9) and (10):

In the Malaysian school curriculum very little attention is paid to the teaching of pronunciation as … (Rajadurai, 2001). (P1)
…in CDA which proposes history as a helpful framework in the study of language, diachronic studies are still underrepresented … Much of CDA continues to be synchronic … (P2)

Most gap-indicating, either in the real world or in research, is signaled by negative or quasi-negative quantifiers (Swales 1990 ) such as the bolded “little” in (9). In (10), the adjective “underrepresented” serves to indicate a gap in research. In addition, the bolded verb “continue” serves to remind the reader that despite the presence of problems, the research community has yet to fix these problems, thereby justifying the proposed research. I found that most signals of gap indicating are neutral (“little”, “few”, “however”, “under-represented”, “continue to”…), as opposed to potentially confrontational signals via the use of negation words such as “not”, “rarely” and “ill” as noted by Swales ( 1990 ). The fact that the writers in this study have refrained from using such highly confrontational gap-signaling could be interpreted as an effort to sound duly cautious, especially so as an academic apprentice who has yet to acquire membership in the community in order to speak authoritatively.

Occupying the niche

Occupying the niche is the third move in Swales’ CARS model. Its rhetorical function is to “turn the niche established in Move 2 into a research space that justifies the present article” (Swales 1990 , 159). Typically, this move is realized by three strategies, with two further sub-categorizations within Strategy 1 (1A and 1B). The strategies are: Strategy 1A: Outlining purpose , where “the author or authors indicate their main purpose or purposes” (Swales 1990 , 159); Strategy 1B: Announcing present research where “the author or authors describe what they consider to be the main features of their research” (Swales 1990 , 159); Strategy 2: Announcing principal findings where the main findings of the research are presented; and, Strategy 3: Indicating RA structure , where the RA structure is presented for an overview of the content of the whole article. Strategies 2 and 3 are only relevant to published articles and therefore, are not found in my data, consisting of research proposals with ideas about research yet to be executed. In addition, one new strategy for Occupying the niche is found in my data, which is labeled: Spelling out contribution/significance of proposed research , where the author talks about the potential worth of the proposed research.

In terms of the sequence of Move 3 in relation to the other moves, it is observed that in P2 (see Table  5 ), two out of four times, Move 3 ( Occupying the niche ) follows Move 2 ( Establishing a niche) . Researchers elsewhere have noted such a “slot-and-filler” relationship between Move 2 and Move 3 (e.g., Swales 1990 ; Connor 2000 ). This relationship is also attested in the present study. Below, I discuss in more detail the two strategies of Move 3 in the research proposals: Outlining purposes and Spelling out contribution/significance of proposed research .

Outlining purposes

As shown in Table  3 , 4 , 5 and 6 , Outlining purposes is characterized by its obligatory presence, a tendency to occur early and also to recur. All three proposals make use of this strategy, thus offering grounds to postulate its obligatory presence in research proposals generally. In terms of the position of this strategy, there is a trend to foreground Outlining purposes in both P2 and P3. In P2, this strategy initially occurs in the fifth sentence of the proposal. P3 emphasizes this strategy even more, by placing it in the very first sentence of the research proposal. Besides the relatively early positioning of this strategy, I also noted its recursion. In both P2 and P3, this strategy occurs three times (see Tables  5 and 6 ). In addition, in both P1 and P2, Outlining purposes occurs as an independent section, titled “Objectives of Study” and “Preliminary Research Questions” respectively.

The obligatory presence, early positioning, recursion and clear sectional signaling of the Outlining purposes strategy observed in the proposals point to a rhetorical prominence assigned to this strategy. The foregrounding of this strategy is very likely a generic characteristic of research proposals in that a graduate degree research proposal serves, above all, to inform future supervisors and the admission board of the research being proposed. Supervisors are most concerned about whether the student researcher has a viable research question to pursue (Cadman 2002 ), a concern shared by the specialist informant in the present study. As Prof W remarked:

“… I think the student needs to make sure that s/he has a clear sense of what kind of questions they want to answer… I think this (research purpose/question) is the most important thing. Whether the answer itself is satisfactory or appropriate, correct, or whatever, this is of course something which will be evaluated later on, but if the student does not have a clear idea of what kind of questions he is trying to grapple with, then there is a problem...”

Two of the proposal writers likewise mentioned that they consider getting their research purpose/objective across as the most important element in constructing a research proposal. Examples (11) – (13) illustrate the Outlining purposes strategies from my data:

…I am particularly concerned with the identities, subjectivities, and agencies … To show the connection between discursive change on the one hand and social change on the other, I would like to propose a diachronic study, which will cover roughly ten years of policy making as engaged in, and/or initiated or challenged by the CATW. (P2)
The broader concern of this study is with how sociocultural ideologies are constructed and maintained in the mass media…(P3)
The specific concern of this study is to determine whether women’s representation and construction in the Straits Times, Singapore’s oldest newspaper, are congruent to the ideologically determined roles of women in Singapore (P3)

The word “concern”, the purposive infinitive phrase “to show the connection…” and the deictic “this” as in “this study” are clear indications that the writers of P2 and P3 are about to announce the purpose of the proposed research. In addition, when this strategy is repeated in P3 (12 and 13), the specificity in terms of content increases, as indicated by the adjective “specific” (13) and the more complex propositions expressed than those in the first appearance of Outlining purposes in P3.

Spelling out contribution/significance of proposed research

This strategy sets out to persuade the reader that the proposed research can make a contribution or be of significance to the research community. This strategy is found in P1 and P2, as shown in Table  3 . Its appearance deserves comment and explanation since previous researchers (e.g., Allison 2002 ) have found this rhetorical strategy to be quite visible in proposal writing. The following examples are instances of this strategy in my data:

The findings from this research will be especially beneficial to curriculum designers, … It is hoped that this study will provide insights into the nature of ILT, …Eventually, the study hopes to make suggestions on the improvement on…. (P1)
I would like to see, … how my own study would perhaps challenge it. Maybe, what I actually fear is that in the end, after CDA, after having identified and made sense of these notions of identity, subjectivity, and agency in discourse, I will be left with once again only discourse and no real possibility of changing it or getting out of it . My study, therefore, hopes to engage with CDA’s notion of discourse, that which not only locates language in its sociopolitical context, but also which provides it with a conceptually more powerful theorization that inscribes in it the possibility of change while, at the same, defining its structural limitations . (P3)

In these examples, lexical signals for this strategy include “beneficial to…”, “provide insight into…”, “make suggestion on…”, “challenge…”, and “provide… with more powerful theorization”. In (15), the author first announces her intention to “challenge” the subjectivity in CDA, which could be construed as a proposed contribution to the field. However, note how the challenge is made with a modal adverb “perhaps”, which tones down what might otherwise be perceived as a presumptuous aim, since challenging an existing research paradigm is no small enterprise. In the next sentence, the writer acknowledges the formidable task she has set for herself, and admits there might be “no real possibility of changing it or getting out of it”. After acknowledging the possible negative outcome, she nonetheless re-asserts the significance of her proposed research, which, to sum it up, is to “provide (CDA) with a conceptually more powerful theorization” and also to “define its structural limitations”. It would seem that when authors highlight the potential contribution of their proposed research, they might do so with much qualification so as not to sound too ambitious and to avoid the risk of offending expert members of the community. Such a rhetorical strategy could be construed as a reflection of the writer’s awareness of the sensitivities and expectations of the academic community. Insofar as research students are still apprentices yet to be inducted into the academic community and the proposed research has not been put to the test of actual execution, it is important to be cautious when advancing claims on proposed research.

Establishing theoretical basis

I now turn to the fourth move identified in the proposals: Establishing theoretical basis , as shown in Table  3 . The main purpose of this move is to “explicate the theories on which the proposed research is based” (Yang 2001 , 86). Of the three proposals, only P1 showed this move, which is not surprising since it is more relevant to experiment-based fields. This move seems to be realized by three strategies, namely, Reviewing literature relevant to theory , Defining theory and Explaining theory . The development and sequencing of such rhetorical strategies is found in Table  5 , which details the move/strategy sequence in P1. In terms of textual space, the strategy of Explaining theory occupies more textual space than the other two strategies. In terms of move development, there is a cyclic pattern here where strategy 2 and strategy 3 tend to recur together. This is because more than one theory is being provided. Therefore, repeated patterns of definition and explanation are necessary to provide clear and adequate ground for the theories being adopted in the proposed research.

In Yang’s ( 2001 ) analysis of published RAs, she found other rhetorical elements in this section as well, such as Evaluating theory and Relating theory and proposed research . These rhetorical elements are missing from P1. The discrepancy between Yang’s observation and my data can be explained on the grounds that Yang examined published RAs whose authors command more rhetorical diversity and force than the author in the present study, who are apprentices, yet to be initiated into the community and who may therefore not have command of the full range of rhetorical capabilities.

Spelling out methodology

In this move, the authors discuss in varying details, the planned procedures for data collection, analysis and interpretation. This move was found in all three proposals. There were altogether seven strategies found within this move: Delimiting the scope of study , Defining terms , Describing data , Describing subjects , Describing experiment , Describing analytical procedure and Indicating analytical framework . The distribution and textual space assigned to those strategies can be found in Table  3 . As shown in Table  3 , P1 uses significantly more Move 5 strategies than P2 and P3 (5: 3: 1), likely because P1 involves an experiment and thus needs to include such extra information as subject selection and experimental procedures. Below I describe the seven strategies in detail.

The first strategy in Spelling out methodology is Delimiting the scope of study , where the author unambiguously states the specific variable, among many possible others, that she intends to examine, as shown in (16)

This study will only look at the phonological factors that affect intelligibility as opposed to factors that are related to grammar and lexis… (P1)

As the example shows, there are other competing factors that could contribute to the problem the author intends to investigate. Therefore, it is important that irrelevant factors be ruled out to bring out the focus of study. The bolded adverb “only” is a lexical signal that the author is narrowing down the research variable.

Defining terms is a strategy found in P1 where all the important terms and concepts used in the proposal are defined and explained. Some instances of Defining terms appear in (17)

… Intelligibility refers to the production and recognition of the formal properties of words and utterances and the ability to produce and receive phonological form… (P1) … NNS refers to non-native speakers of English with a ‘reasonable competence’ in English … (P1)

As revealed during the interview with the author of P1, the employment of this strategy is related to the state of affairs in the proposed field where one term could be used in different senses. By explicitly stating the meanings of technical terms used in the proposed research, the author avoids unnecessary ambiguity/confusion surrounding usage of terminology, which will likely translate into a more positive evaluation of the proposal by potential supervisors or admission board members.

Describing data is a strategy that describes data sources in some detail, wherever possible, thus specifying the scope of data selection as example (18) demonstrates:

My time frame will be from the time CATW first came out with its newsletter (1994) to the present time. (P2)

Describing subjects provides details with regard to the specifics of subjects for the experiment to be conducted. The difference between Describing data and Describing subjects is that the former applies to non-human sources of data (texts, for example) whereas the latter refers to human participants. Describing subjects is achieved by the author’s stating the background of subjects, explicating the criteria and providing justification for subject selection, as the following 2 examples show:

The subjects of this study will be 30 students of various races (Malay, Chinese and Indians) aged between 16 and 17 years of age. (P1)
Subjects will have to be from different classes so that they are not familiar with each other. Subjects will need to have a ‘reasonable’ competence in English but … (P1)

Describing experiment is where the author describes in detail the experiment designed in the research proposal. By this strategy, the author not only introduces the experiment procedures but also explains the rationale of the experiment, as example (21) shows.

Subjects will be divided into pairs. Each subject will be required to interact in two conditions, i.e. same L1 and different L1 …Subjects will be given visual cues. Each pair will … They will then be instructed to …

Describing analytical procedure is found in both P1 and P2. It sets out in some detail how the author would treat the data elicited either from experiments and/or discourse in light of the aim of research. While Describing experiment explicates experimental details, Describing analytical procedure is related to post-experiment analysis. Two examples appear below for illustrative purposes:

All interactions … will be transcribed… However, only sounds that are identified as phonological errors will be transcribed phonetically … …Non parametric tests will be carried out …The tests will be carried out …This will be to look at the features that are most recurrent in the breakdown of communication between NNS-NNS. (P1)
I will examine how identity, subjectivity, and agency of women in prostitution are constructed and made sense of …I will also examine … In the end , I’d like to see… In the context of this diachronic study, I will look into… Then , I will examine … On a more global level , I would like to make sense of these constructions vis-à-vis the global issue of trafficking Filipino women. (P2)

Understandably, this move is characterized by the future tense as indicated by the bolded auxiliary “will ” across both examples, since it denotes events that will happen after the reference time of the writing. Also, the bolded meta-discourse signals that imply logical sequence such as “also”, “in the end”, “then”, and “on a more global level” are indicative of the procedural details being spelt out.

Indicating analytical framework , the last strategy identified for the move Spelling out methodology , is where the author explicitly states the theoretical framework to be used for the analysis of data, as shown in the following example:

Using a critical linguistic approach ( a combined/modified framework based mainly on the works of Michael Halliday , Norman Fairclough and Sara Mills ) to analyze the language used in crime reports, I hope to foreground the patriarchal ideologies surrounding women in Singapore. (P3)

By stating the well established models, the author conveys an impression that she is familiar with the existing theories and that her research is not blindly re-inventing the wheel.

Achieving closure

Two proposals, P1 and P2 contain explicit concluding sections that signal the end of writing, though with varying content and degree of specificity. In terms of the actual section heading used, P1 uses “Limitations” and P2 “Concluding Statement”. I have analyzed both section headings as serving the function of bringing closure to the research proposal, and discuss them together under the move labeled Achieving closur e. Achieving closure is realized through the use of three strategies: Reiterating purpose , Restating significance of proposed research and Indicating limitation of proposed research , as shown in Table  3 .

Restating purpose of proposed research serves to recap and remind the reader of the focus of proposed research, as shown in (25):

Given that female offenders are viewed in their traditional female roles within the study of criminology, this study of language used in media reporting of crimes committed by female offenders should reveal the types of gender attributes and roles assigned to these offenders by society and so uncover the hidden sociocultural ideologies of that society. (P3)

As explained earlier, the importance of having a clear purpose is acknowledged by both the proposal authors and the specialist informant and is reflected textually in terms of the positioning and frequency of the Outlining purposes strategy in Move 3. Reiterating this rhetorical content in the concluding section of the proposal represents further evidence that having a clear purpose is the fulcrum around which the whole proposal is constructed.

Restating significance of proposed research is a place where the value of the proposed research is mentioned again, the first time being in Move 3, Strategy 2, as illustrated by (26):

In the end, this research proposal will attempt to do what Critical Discourse Analysis sets out to do… in the hope that such an attempt will work not only toward a more engaging and engaged theorizing of discourse and feminism in the country but also toward a better set of conditions and choices for those for whom all this theorizing is meant. (P2)

This strategy once again puts the proposed research in proper perspective in terms of justification, thus likely increasing the persuasive and rhetorical force of the proposal.

Indicating limitation of proposed research is found in the concluding remarks section of P1. This element has been found in the concluding sections of RAs where reference is usually made to factors such as the size of the sample, an aspect of research that the author tends to have less control over (Yang 2001 ) rather than any real serious defects in conceptualization or research design. By acknowledging limitations, the author brings balance to the overall argument and also preempts possible criticisms from readers. In P1, this is achieved by indicating the limited focus in research design, as (27) shows:

The focus of this study is on the phonological variations of ILT. Therefore any breakdown in communication by lexical items and/or grammar will not be taken into consideration. The phonological breakdowns that will be considered are only those based on the five features of the Lingua Franca Core as proposed by Jenkins (2000, 2002). (P1)

The exclusion of factors such as lexical items and grammar from analysis is already implied in P1’s avowed research aim that examines only the phonological aspect of communication breakdown. One wonders if criticisms would actually be leveled at a research design for excluding areas that the researcher has already declared as outside the focus of study. Staying focused in one’s research design is more likely considered a merit rather than a limitation. However, the author chooses to declare her focused aim as a limitation. As revealed by the proposal author during the interview, in this part she is actually indirectly showing her awareness of other research possibilities:

“I know there are other factors that are important. But for my purposes, I can only look at phonological variations and not these two others… This is what I mean by limitation”

Therefore, by showing the “limitation” of her proposed research, the author is restating the focus of her research as well as showing her familiarity with research conventions, which might translate into a positive reading of the proposal as one coming from a scholar rhetorically and academically competent.

Based upon and expanding Swales’ ( 1990 ) rhetorical analysis, this study has presented a genre investigation of three research proposals submitted to a Singapore-based university for the purposes of securing admission to graduate research programs in applied linguistics. Although textual analysis forms the main part of the study, interviews conducted with both the proposal authors and one faculty member provide valuable insight into the context and expectations for the graduate degree research proposals, thus complementing and enriching the textual analysis.

In addition to those already existing in the CARS model (Table  1 ), new moves/strategies have been observed in the student written proposals, reflecting both the relevance of the CARS model to my study and the necessity of amendments in order to fully account for the graduate degree research proposal. New moves identified in the data set include Establishing theoretical basis (Move 4), Spelling out methodology (Move 5), and Achieving closure (Move 6). I have explained the occurrence of these moves in terms of the communicative purpose, institutional expectations and disciplinary epistemology.

Looking closely at the moves/strategies, there seems to be a resistance to rigid structuring and categorization of graduate degree research proposals, in terms of the move structure and realizations. In addition, the realization of each move in terms of strategies shows great degrees of latitude in each proposal. The absence of fixed structures in these proposals is not surprising, as flexibility in realization is one key characteristic of the academic genre (e.g., Kwan 2006 ).

However, the occurrence of certain moves/strategies seems to follow loose trends. For example, it has been observed that Move 2 tends to occur between Move 1 and Move 3, due to the transitional status of Move 2, and the slot-and-filler relationship between Move 2 and Move 3, as has been observed elsewhere (e.g., Chin 1993 ; Connor 2000 ). Besides Move 2, Moves 1 and 3 also exhibit some common behavior across the three proposals. These two moves seem to be assigned rhetorical prominence in terms of early positioning, recursion, obligatory presence, and relatively high textual space assigned. The relative textual prominence assigned to Moves 1 and 3 might point to a rhetorical rationale to display familiarity with existing state of the art and also to articulate one’s own clear research objectives, both of which seem to be valued in the academic discourse communities, as evidence by comments from the expert informant.

Common to all three proposals is an effort of the author to project a persona of a competent researcher. Such a persona is constructed through the use of moves/strategies related to epistemic knowledge (all three authors), and occasionally also through non-epistemic appeals (P2). The research proposals in this study have attempted to demonstrate the writers’ familiarity with literature via the use of Move 1, their ability to carve out a research niche via Move 2, and their ability to formulate research questions by the use of Move 3, which are three elements emphasized in all standard research genres (such as the RA). In addition, the author of P2 resorted to non-epistemic appeals as well, through for example, Stating personal interest to prove the sustainability of one’s research topic in terms of strong motivation. However, aware of their status as apprentices, proposal writers sound duly cautious when advancing their own claims and indicating gaps in existing research, in order not to sound too bold or arrogant.

The realization of moves in terms of strategies is reflective of disciplinary proclivity as well. Specifically, the use of strategies seems to be conditioned by the concerns of discipline/subfields. In this regard, P1, representing educational phonology, seems to set itself apart from the other two texts. Educational phonology is a field concerned with both real world problems (namely, classroom instruction) and also with theoretical issues in acquisition research. This dual purpose of the discipline predisposes the author of P1 to indicate gaps in both the real world and research world in Move 1; as well as pointing out research contributions to both real and research worlds. In addition, as an experiment-based field, P1 instantiates a much more elaborate Move 5 (methodology) than the other two proposals whose discipline is text-based and interpretation-driven.

The rhetorical structures identified in this study could be used by English for Academic Purposes instructors as examples of possible ways of structuring graduate degree research proposals. Students could benefit from explicit instruction on which elements seem to be valued by faculty members so that they could construct their proposals with this in mind. Most importantly, students could benefit from an explicit understanding of the communicative purpose and faculty expectations of the graduate degree research proposal: to convey a persona of a budding and yet relatively competent researcher with sufficient motivation and focus, to undertake long-term research projects.

Although two specialist informants were interviewed for this project, one from linguistics and the other literature, I focus on the commentary from the linguistics faculty member here, given the focus of the present paper.

Data collections took place in 2006. Therefore, observations regarding the role of the research proposal in graduate degree admission reflect policies/expectations at that time. As noted in the paper, research proposals were not mandatory for the batch of students in this study. Therefore, no official university documentary requirements existed at that time for the applicants to consult for writing a proposal. The “institutional expectations” laid out in this paper therefore had to rely on interviews with faculty members. The departmental policies of the university in this study have since changed. At present (2016), applicants are required to submit a “Preliminary Research Proposal” of 2000–5000 words. Though the topic of the proposal can be tentative, the applicant must demonstrate “seriousness and ability” through this document. This additional information regarding present institutional expectations is provided here for completeness only. Since such requirements were not in effect at the time of the research conducted for the present study, they will not be commented on or referred to further in the paper.

As shown in the introduction and literature review, such small units were originally called “steps” in the CARS model. However, in keeping with more recent literature (e.g., Kwan 2006 ), the term “strategy” is used in lieu of “step” in this study. The difference between step and strategy is that the former tends to refer to “obligatory and sequential constituents” of a Move whereas the latter refers to the “non-obligatory and non-sequential constituents” (Kwan 2006 , 34). However, as shown in the results/analyses section, none of the constituents simultaneously fulfill the two conditions of being “obligatory” and “sequential”, to merit the status of “step”. Therefore the term Strategy is adopted to label and describe the different realizations of moves in this study.

As an anonymous reviewer pointed out, there is a difference between P2 and P3 in the proportion of text for Move 5, even though they belong to the same field (CDA). While iterating the exploratory nature of the study, and the existence of intra-disciplinary variation observed in the genre analysis literature (e.g., Anthony 1999 ; Connor 2000 ; Samraj 2002 ; Ozturk 2007 ), I also note that the discrepancy here is at least partially due to the method of analysis adopted for this study. It is well known in genre analysis that a sentence/chunk of text may denote more than one rhetorical functions (e.g., Crookes 1986 ; Holmes 1997 ; Anthony 1999 ; Ozturk 2007 ; Graves, Moghaddasi, and Hashim 2014 ). As indicated in the section on “Analytical framework”, when faced with such situations in the analysis, I followed Crookes ( 1986 ) and Holmes ( 1997 ) in assigning the most prominent rhetorical function to the sentence/chunk of text. This also consequently means that the secondary rhetorical function is ignored, which explains the depressed proportion of Move 5 in P3. Specifically, some of the text in P3 assigned Move 1 ( Establishing a territory ) also serves a secondary function of indicating methodology of research (i.e., Move 5). Future research should look into the possibility of accounting for both (or even multiple) functions in a sentence/chunk of text.

I also speculate that the lack of explicit citations in P2 might be due to a lack of access to the most recent literature, which is not uncommon for applicants from developing countries (see Belcher 2007 ’s discussion of problems faced by off-network scholars ). While journals may not accept a paper lacking adequate citations, when it comes to research proposals for admission purposes, difficulties in accessing the latest research literature are generally “sympathetically understood” (Allison 2002 , 223), but the applicant is still needed to demonstrate a “reasonably good” knowledge of the research field.


Creating a Research Space

Critical Discourse Analysis

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Yin, B. An exploratory genre analysis of three graduate degree research proposals in applied linguistics. Functional Linguist. 3 , 7 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40554-016-0032-2

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Writing quality and professional research proposals is an indispensable part of the research process. A well-written proposal guarantees successful award winning or admission into a higher degree research program. In some Research Methods Courses students are presented with some basic and preliminary knowledge and skills to write a research proposal. However, writing quality and professional research proposals require higher levels of expertise and therefore specific guidelines. This book takes proposal writers through certain steps that can guarantee quality proposals.

Each of the chapters in the book focuses on a significant aspect of proposal writing. The first two chapters discuss the research process and how a research proposal may be structured. Building on the current literature and identifying gaps is a critical step in defining new research projects. Chapter 3 covers major issues related to situating research questions within the context of relevant literature and how to approach and structure a literature review in research proposals. Chapter 4 elaborates on how to formulate research questions and/or research hypotheses. The distinction between research questions and research hypotheses is delineated in Chapter 4, and writing appropriate research questions or hypotheses are linked to theories and research paradigms.

Chapter 5 attends to the crafting of research proposals and addresses other significant issues such as audience, tone, and style of writing, citing other works, revising and editing, and observing rules of submission. Chapter 6 covers issues of making coherent arguments, building on authority but adding one’s perspective as an interplay of voices. Chapter 7 reviews choosing an appropriate methodology while Chapter 8 discusses choosing appropriate supervisors and developing effective relationships with them. The role of ethics in research and thinking of ethical issues from the early stages of writing proposals are elaborated on in Chapter 9. Filling out forms for ethics committees and responding to queries from ethics committee members are also discussed in this chapter. The final chapter of the book, Chapter 10, discusses writing research proposals within the larger context of research grants. Three major issues of preparation, writing, and submitting of research grants are discussed in this chapter.

Each chapter of the book ends with a set of reflective learning tasks which enable readers to reflect on the content of each chapter as relates to their own research project. The book also includes three appendices which present three sample proposals with three research orientations, namely, quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods; a sample of an ethics form with commentaries on each section of the form; and a sample of a grant application form with added commentary on each section.

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Research Proposals for MA in Linguistics by Research

In the 'Research Proposal' section of the main application form, please include only 100 words outlining your topic, and upload a fuller research proposal as a separate document, in the 'supporting documents' section.

This proposal should be between 1500 and 2500 words in length , and should contain at least the following:

1. Title of proposed research project

This should allow the reader to place the research, at a glance, within an academic sub-field, as well as identifying the main issue to be addressed.  It should not be more than 20 words long.

2. Background

Outline the linguistic area in which you propose to conduct research.  Why is it important and interesting? What is the need for further research in this area? You should provide a context for your research.  Do this by referencing and briefly reviewing a number of key works in your chosen field, showing how your work is built on this prior research.

3. Research questions

You should give at least one overarching research question, plus a number of more specific sub-questions.  Make sure these questions all emerge from and are firmly grounded in the literature you have reviewed.  Ensure that these questions - particularly the specific sub-questions - are researchable; that is, they should not be too broad or too general.  You should also explain how these research questions can be considered original.

4. Data and data analysis

All projects will involve the collection of data of some kind.  In some cases, this will be based on native-speaker judgements.  Other projects will require experimental data, the use of existing or specially-created corpora, longitudinal observation, or sociolinguistic interviews - to name but a few data sources.  Will you be able to gain access to the data in the quantities required? Are there ethical concerns which need to be overcome? You should also be as specific as you can at this stage about the kinds of analysis you will perform.  What specific techniques will you use? What statistical analyses will you be performing (if any)? Mention any software you envisage using.

5. Fit with Departmental Research Interests

Before you formulate your proposal, you should look carefully through the Department of Language and Linguistic Science web pages to identify staff members who might be able to supervise your research.  You may mention the person or people by name.  You are also encouraged (though you are not obliged) to contact individual staff members to find out if they believe your ideas to be viable and if they would in principle be interested in supervising your project.

6. References

You should provide a list of the works you have referred to in your proposal. Don't list other works which may be relevant: this is to assure the reader that you have read and understood the literature you have cited.

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Home > School, College, or Department > CLAS > Applied Linguistics > Dissertations and Theses

Applied Linguistics Dissertations and Theses

Theses/dissertations from 2023 2023.

Critical Analysis of Anti-Asian Hate in the News , Benardo Douglas Relampagos

A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of NASA's Instagram Account , Danica Lynn Tomber

Theses/Dissertations from 2020 2020

A Computer Science Academic Vocabulary List , David Roesler

Variation in Female and Male Dialogue in Buffy the Vampire Slayer : A Multi-dimensional Analysis , Amber Morgan Sanchez

Theses/Dissertations from 2019 2019

Differences in Syntactic Complexity in the Writing of EL1 and ELL Civil Engineering Students , Santiago Gustin

A Mixed Methods Analysis of Corpus Data from Reddit Discussions of "Gay Voice" , Sara Elizabeth Mulliner

Relationship Between Empathy and Language Proficiency in Adult Language Learners , Mika Sakai

Theses/Dissertations from 2018 2018

College Student Rankings of Multiple Speakers in a Public Speaking Context: a Language Attitudes Study on Japanese-accented English with a World Englishes Perspective , John James Ahlbrecht

Grammatical Errors by Arabic ESL Students: an Investigation of L1 Transfer through Error Analysis , Aisha Saud Alasfour

Foreign Language Anxiety, Sexuality, and Gender: Lived Experiences of Four LGBTQ+ Students , James Donald Mitchell

Verb Stem Alternation in Vaiphei , Jesse Prichard

Theses/Dissertations from 2017 2017

Teacher and Student Perceptions of World Englishes (WE) Pronunciations in two US Settings , Marie Arrieta

Escalating Language at Traffic Stops: Two Case Studies , Jamalieh Haley

Lexical Bundles in Applied Linguistics and Literature Writing: a Comparison of Intermediate English Learners and Professionals , Kathryn Marie Johnston

Multilingualism and Multiculturalism: Opinions from Spanish-Speaking English Learners from Mexico, Central America, and South America , Cailey Catherine Moe

An Analytical System for Determining Disciplinary Vocabulary for Data-Driven Learning: an Example from Civil Engineering , Philippa Jean Otto

Loanwords in Context: Lexical Borrowing from English to Japanese and its Effects on Second-Language Vocabulary Acquisition , Andrew Michael Sowers

Theses/Dissertations from 2016 2016

The Effect of Extended Instruction on Passive Voice, Reduced Relative Clauses, and Modal Would in the Academic Writing of Advanced English Language Learners , Audrey Bailey

Identity Construction and Language Use by Immigrant Women in a Microenterprise Development Program , Linda Eve Bonder

"That's the test?" Washback Effects of an Alternative Assessment in a Culturally Heterogeneous EAP University Class , Abigail Bennett Carrigan

Wiki-based Collaborative Creative Writing in the ESL Classroom , Rima Elabdali

A Study of the Intelligibility, Comprehensibility and Interpretability of Standard Marine Communication Phrases as Perceived by Chinese Mariners , Lillian Christine Holland

Theses/Dissertations from 2015 2015

Empowering All Who Teach: A Portrait of Two Non-Native English Speaking Teachers in a Globalized 21st Century , Rosa Dene David

A Corpus Based Analysis of Noun Modification in Empirical Research Articles in Applied Linguistics , Jo-Anne Hutter

Sound Effects: Age, Gender, and Sound Symbolism in American English , Timothy Allen Krause

Perspectives on the College Readiness and Outcome Achievement of Former Intensive English Language Program (IELP) Students , Meghan Oswalt

The Cognitive Development of Expertise in an ESL Teacher: A Case Study , Lyndsey Roos

Identity and Investment in the Community ESL Classroom , Jennifer Marie Sacklin

Theses/Dissertations from 2014 2014

Code Switching Between Tamazight and Arabic in the First Libyan Berber News Broadcast: An Application of Myers-Scotton's MLF and 4M Models , Ashour S. Abdulaziz

Self-Efficacy in Low-Level English Language Learners , Laura F. Blumenthal

The Impact of Wiki-based Collaborative Writing on English L2 Learners' Individual Writing Development , Gina Christina Caruso

Latino Men Managing HIV: An Appraisal Analysis of Intersubjective Relations in the Discourse of Five Research Interviews , Will Caston

Opportunities for Incidental Acquisition of Academic Vocabulary from Teacher Speech in an English for Academic Purposes Classroom , Eric Dean Dodson

Emerging Lexical Organization from Intentional Vocabulary Learning , Adam Jones

Effects of the First Language on Japanese ESL Learners' Answers to Negative Questions , Kosuke Kanda

"Had sh'er haute gamme, high technology": An Application of the MLF and 4-M Models to French-Arabic Codeswitching in Algerian Hip Hop , Samuel Nickilaus McLain-Jespersen

Is Self-Sufficiency Really Sufficient? A Critical Analysis of Federal Refugee Resettlement Policy and Local Attendant English Language Training in Portland, Oregon , Domminick McParland

Explorations into the Psycholinguistic Validity of Extended Collocations , J. Arianna Morgan

A Comparison of Linguistic Features in the Academic Writing of Advanced English Language Learner and English First Language University Students , Margo K. Russell

Theses/Dissertations from 2013 2013

The First Year: Development of Preservice Teacher Beliefs About Teaching and Learning During Year One of an MA TESOL Program , Emily Spady Addiego

L1 Influence on L2 Intonation in Russian Speakers of English , Christiane Fleur Crosby

English Loan Words in Japanese: Exploring Comprehension and Register , Naoko Horikawa

The Role of Expectations on Nonnative English Speaking Students' Wrtiting , Sara Marie Van Dan Acker

Hypothetical Would-Clauses in Korean EFL Textbooks: An Analysis Based on a Corpus Study and Focus on Form Approach , Soyung Yoo

Theses/Dissertations from 2012 2012

Negative Transfer in the Writing of Proficient Students of Russian: A Comparison of Heritage Language Learners and Second Language Learners , Daria Aleeva

Informal Learning Choices of Japanese ESL Students in the United States , Brent Harrison Amburgey

Iktomi: A Character Traits Analysis of a Dakota Culture Myth , Marianne Sue Kastner

Theses/Dissertations from 2011 2011

Motivation in Late Learners of Japanese: Self-Determination Theory, Attitudes and Pronunciation , Shannon Guinn-Collins

Foreign Language Students' Beliefs about Homestays , Sara Racheal Juveland

Teaching Intonation Patterns through Reading Aloud , Micah William Park

Disordered Thought, Disordered Language: A corpus-based description of the speech of individuals undergoing treatment for schizophrenia , Lucas Carl Steuber

Emotion Language and Emotion Narratives of Turkish-English Late Bilinguals , Melike Yücel Koç

Theses/Dissertations from 2010 2010

A Library and its Community: Exploring Perceptions of Collaboration , Phoebe Vincenza Daurio

A Structural and Functional Analysis of Codeswitching in Mi Vida Gitana 'My Gypsy Life,' a Bilingual Play , Gustavo Javier Fernandez

Writing Chinuk Wawa: A Materials Development Case Study , Sarah A. Braun Hamilton

Teacher Evaluation of Item Formats for an English Language Proficiency Assessment , Jose Luis Perea-Hernandez

Theses/Dissertations from 2009 2009

Building Community and Bridging Cultures: the Role of Volunteer Tutors in Oregon’s Latino Serving Community-Based Organizations , Troy Vaughn Hickman

Theses/Dissertations from 2007 2007

Beyond the Classroom Walls: a Study of Out-Of-Class English Use by Adult Community College ESL Students , Tracey Louise Knight

Theses/Dissertations from 2004 2004

A Dialect Study of Oregon NORMs , Lisa Wittenberg Hillyard

Theses/Dissertations from 2003 2003

The Acquisition of a Stage Dialect , Nathaniel George Halloran

Self-perceptions of non-native English speaking teachers of English as a second language , Kathryn Ann Long

The Development of Language Choice in a German Immersion School , Miranda Kussmaul Novash

Theses/Dissertations from 2002 2002

Writing in the Contact Zone: Three Portraits of Reflexivity and Transformation , Laurene L. Christensen

A Linguistic Evaluation of the Somali Women's Self Sufficiency Project , Ann Marie Kasper

Theses/Dissertations from 2001 2001

Attitudes at the Bank : A Survey of Reactions to Different Varieties of English , Sean Wilcox

Theses/Dissertations from 2000 2000

A Comparison of the Child Directed Speech of Traditional Dads With That of Stay-At-Home Dads , Judith Nancarrow Barr

Error Correction Preferences of Latino ESL Students , John Burrell

The Relationship Between Chinese Character Recognition Strategies and the Success of Character Memorization for Students of Mandarin Chinese , Hui-yen Emmy Chen

Portland dialect study: the story of /æ/ in Portland , Jeffrey C. Conn

On Communicative Competence : Its Nature and Origin , Mary Lou Emerson

The Influence of Cultural Backgrounds on the Interpretations of Literature Texts Used in the ESL Classroom , Barbara Jostrom Gates

Chinese Numeratives and the Mass/Count Distinction , David Goodman

Learning, Motivation, and Self : A Diary Study of an ESL Teacher’s Year in a Japanese Language Classroom , Laura Ruth Hawks

Portland Dialect Study - High Rising Terminal Contours (HRTs) in Portland Speech , Rebecca A. Wolff

Theses/Dissertations from 1998 1998

The Bolinger Principle and Teaching the Gerunds and Infinitives , Anna Maria Baratta-Zborowski

Training for Volunteer Teachers in Church-Affiliated English Language Mission Programs , Janet Noreen Blackwood

Šawaš ılıˀ--šawaš wawa: A Participant Observation Case Study of Language Planning by the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon , Gregry Michael Davis

Phonological Processing of Japanese Kanji Characters , Randy L. Evans

Academic ESL Reading : Semantic Mapping and Lexical Acquisition , Jeffrey Darin Maggard

The Representation of Gender in Current ESL Reading Materials , Kyunghee Ma

Perception of English Passives by Japanese ESL Learners : Do Adversity Passives in L1 Transfer? , Koichi Sawasaki

Theses/Dissertations from 1997 1997

Non-Literate Students in Adult Beginning English as a Second Language Classrooms - A Case Study , Sandra Lynn Banke

A Case Study of Twelve Japanese ESL Students' Use of Interaction Modifications , Darin Dooley

The Home-School Connection: Parental Influences on a Child's ESL Acquisition , Catharine Jauhiainen

A Comparison of Two Second Language Acquisition Models for Culturally and Linguistically Different Students , Karen Dorothy Kuhn

ESL CD-ROM Principles and their Application: A Software Evaluation , Stephanie Burgi LaMonica

Developing a Language in Education Policy for Post-apartheid South Africa: A Case Study , Nancy Murray

Video Self-Monitoring as an Alternative to Traditional Methods of Pronunciation Instruction , P. C. Noble

Analysis of Rhetorical Organization and Style Patterns in Korean and American Business Fax Letters of Complaint in English , Mi Young Park

The Importance of Time for Processing in Second Language Comprehension and Acquisition , Jennifer Lee Watson

Theses/Dissertations from 1996 1996

The Constraints of a Typological Implicational Universal for Interrogatives on Second Language Acquisition , Dee Anne Bess

An Assessment of the Needs of International Students for Student Services at Southern Oregon State College , Molly K. Emmons

The relationship between a pre-departure training program and its participants' intercultural communication competence , Daniel Timothy Ferguson

Correction of Classroom Oral Errors: Preferences among University Students of English in Japan , Akemi Katayama

An Analysis of Japanese Learners' Comprehension of Intonation in English , Misako Okubo

An Evaluation of English Spoken Fluency of Thai Graduate Students in the United States , Sugunya Ruangjaroon

A Cross-cultural Study of the Speech Act of Refusing in English and German , Charla Margaret Teufel

Theses/Dissertations from 1995 1995

An Examination of the English Vocabulary Knowledge of Adult English-for-Academic-Purposes Students: Correlation with English Second-Language Proficiency and the Validity of Yes/No Vocabulary Tests , Robert Scott Fetter

English in the Workplace: Case Study of a Pilot Program , Kim Roth Franklin

English-Speaking Three-Year-Olds in a Spanish Language Immersion Program , Alice Golstein

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Linguistics Research Proposals Samples For Students

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While studying in college, you will definitely have to compose a lot of Research Proposals on Linguistics. Lucky you if putting words together and turning them into relevant content comes easy to you; if it's not the case, you can save the day by finding an already written Linguistics Research Proposal example and using it as a template to follow.

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International Trade and Human Rights Research Proposal

Should english be made the official language of the usa research proposal examples, should english be made the official language of the usa, a study of some grammatical errors made by arab learners of english research proposal sample, problem statement.

Arab students learning English language in UK universities often commit grammatical errors in their written English. The reasons are far other than issues associated to the fact that the students are non-native English speakers and that is why this research study focuses on thorough investigation of the patterns of Arabic students’ grammatical errors in their writing.

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Research Proposal On Two Languages, One Nation

[Client’s Name] [Client’s Professor] [Client’s Subject] [Date Passed]

Proper Research Proposal Example About Research Plan

[Subject/Course] [Submission Date] #1001168032 LIN200TUT5203

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Cultural psychology bilingualism and its effect to emotional regulation research proposal example, example of research proposal on using cognition to enhance classroom effectiveness, a study of teaching english, english as a second language.

The influence of Arabic as a language is profound on many languages especially the influence on vocabulary. Indeed, many languages derive their vocabulary from Arabic in spite of the fact that the latter is largely used in Islamic countries. 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide employ the use of Arabic language in religious citations and prayers (Carter & MnCarthy, 2009).

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Communication Theory

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Philosophy of Transformation: Differentiation or Subtraction Summary in Key Words Philosophy of transformation; Deleuze; Badiou; differentiation, subtraction, (re-, de-) territorialization; folding; plane of consistency; events (interventions); truth procedure; subject; the capitalism; the democratic materialism

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Sample research proposal on ielts test, questions: the first step in crafting a proposal.

What social factors lead a live language to become a dead language, or lead languages to stop evolving and fall out of use?

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How has globalization changed local culture?

Globalization has diluted and compromised most local cultures in developing countries

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The research aims to determine the extent to which globalization has diluted local cultures in developing countries. The accomplishment of this goal will employ three research instruments, including; the statistical data method, comparative and field methods.

Statistical data Method

Research Proposal On The Case of the Kurdish Minority

The field of struggle for state power to understand of ethnic group in the southeast turkey.

The Kurdish community is a minority group living in Turkey. They are believed to be the largest ethnic group that are not recognized by any state. Because of this reason, they have been involved in a continuous struggle with the government of Turkey. They have been fighting for the right to be recognized and appreciated by the Turkish government (Kaya, 2011, p.15). This paper will give an insight look into the causes behind the struggle in relation to Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the field.

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Bloomsburg, PA 17815-1301

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Media Policy Analysis Introduction BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is one of the leading national media groups in the United Kingdom and it operates under the Royal Charter. BBC was considered to be the most watched news channel in the country until 2005. Later on, ITV Plc became fully operational and grabbed a major place in media industry and stock exchange of the country. BBC is considered as one of the largest media groups in the world and it offers a wide range of services and channels for its both domestic and international viewers.

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  1. Phd Research Proposal Template

    sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

  2. Phd Research Proposal Template 4 Facts That Nobody Told You About Phd

    sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

  3. ️ Oxford phd proposal sample. Writing a Good PhD Proposal. 2019-02-25

    sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

  4. (PDF) “Research Proposal and Thesis Writing: Narrative of a Recently

    sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

  5. (PDF) Sample Initial PhD Research Proposal

    sample research proposal for phd in linguistics

  6. ≡ ISSUU ᐈ Sample Phd Research Proposal ebook pdf

    sample research proposal for phd in linguistics


  1. Research Proposals for PhD in Linguistics

    Research Proposals for PhD in Linguistics. In the 'Research Proposal' section of the main application form, please include only 100 words outlining your topic, and upload a fuller research proposal as a separate document, in the 'supporting documents' section. This proposal should be between 1500 and 2500 words in length, and should contain at ...

  2. PDF A Guide to Writing a Senior Thesis in Linguistics

    As a linguistics concentrator at Harvard, you will have many opportunities to under-take research in theoretical and experimental linguistics, or to conduct interdisciplinary research involving linguistics Among these opportunities are sophomore and junior . tutorials (Ling 97r and Ling 98a), a research-oriented seminar (Ling 98b) and the senior

  3. Dissertation Proposal Information

    The proposal should also present and interpret progress to date if the research is already underway. Finally, it should briefly discuss any research costs involved and the anticipated sources of funding. The written proposal is modeled on the project description for an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG) in Linguistics.

  4. Guidelines for the Dissertation Proposal Document

    Research Proposal (no more than 25 pages, double-spaced, excluding references) The research proposal is a detailed presentation of the problem, a review of the literature, the presentation of preliminary data analyses, and the description of the proposed project. It should include the following sections, with headings. Page limits are suggestive.


    Your proposal should be a maximum of 2000 words long (excluding the list of references). There is no specific minimum but generally it should be at least 4 pages or 1500 words. There is also no formula for writing the proposal, but you are strongly advised to cover all of the points listed below. You may want to structure your proposal by using ...

  6. Research Proposal

    Research Proposals for MPhil and PhD in Language and Communication. In the 'Research Proposal' section of the main application form, please include only 100 words outlining your topic, and upload a fuller research proposal as a separate document, in the 'supporting documents' section. This proposal should be between 1500 and 2500 words in ...

  7. PDF Research Proposal for PhD in Linguistics

    The research proposal is one of the requirements for admission to the PhD in Linguistics program offered by the Department of Linguistics, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the Philippines Diliman. Your proposal should contain the topic of research that you intend to pursue during your stay in the program.

  8. PDF S02-33 Program Proposal Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Linguistics and

    Department of English, Iowa State University. S02-33. 1. Name of the proposed major: Applied Linguistics and Technology. The name "applied linguistics" is known world-wide to denote analytic and empirical linguistic approaches for investigating topics related to second language acquisition and language use in context.

  9. "Research Proposal and Thesis Writing: Narrative of a Recently

    PDF | On Jan 1, 2008, Joseph Benjamin Afful published "Research Proposal and Thesis Writing: Narrative of a Recently Graduated Researcher in Applied Linguistics." | Find, read and cite all the ...

  10. Sample Proposals for Individual Study

    Sample Proposals for Individual Study. SAMPLE PROPOSALS. There are many ways to write a good proposal. These two, from Spring 2009, will give you some sense of what other successful proposers have done: To see a sample individual study proposal for a scholarly project, click here: sampleISprplscholarly or here: SampleISprplscholarly 2. To see a ...

  11. Research Proposal Template for Linguistics and Literature

    The procedure for writing the research proposal is discussed with regards to: 1) Identifying the problem 2) Deciding on the topic 3) Deciding the locale of study 4) Deciding on the data needs 5) Planning the source of data collection 6) Plotting down ways to collect data 7) Identifying methods for analyzing data collection 8) Establishing a ...

  12. Applied Linguistics PhD 2024

    The proposal should also clearly demonstrate how you are going to accomplish this. A PhD proposal should be a minimum of 1000 words. There is no upward limit for proposals, although successful proposals are often not much longer than about 2000-3000 words. You should consider: The methodologies that you will use in your project (as appropriate)

  13. PhD in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics

    Applications must be accompanied by a research proposal of approximately 500 to 1,000 words. This should outline a topic of research which the applicant has chosen, and the method for investigating it. The research proposal will form the basis of a PhD student's research, but naturally may be modified as the research proceeds.

  14. PDF A Guide to Writing your PhD Proposal

    Therefore, in a good research proposal you will need to demonstrate two main things: 1. that you are capable of independent critical thinking and analysis. 2. that you are capable of communicating your ideas clearly. Applying for a PhD is like applying for a job, you are not applying for a taught programme.

  15. Linguistics and English Language PhD thesis collection

    This is a selection of some of the more recent theses from the department of Linguistics and English Language. ... This PhD project investigates the sentence-structural and information-structural features of complex sentences. ... The corresponding research project presents linguistic ethnographic and discourse analytical research in the ...

  16. An exploratory genre analysis of three graduate degree research

    This exploratory study investigated the rhetorical structure of three research proposals written by students who successfully sought entry into MA/PhD programs in applied linguistics at a Singapore university. Despite the abundance of research on published academic texts (such as the research article), not much is known about research proposals written for degree admission purposes, which are ...

  17. How to Write a Great PhD Research Proposal

    More 'generic' research proposal examples can offer guidance, but they won't be tailored to your specific project. The best place to look for a PhD proposal sample is your university. Consider asking your supervisor if they can share a good proposal from a previous student in your subject - or put you in touch with a current student you can ask.

  18. Writing Research Proposals in Applied Linguistics

    In some Research Methods Courses students are presented with some basic and preliminary knowledge and skills to write a research proposal. However, writing quality and professional research proposals require higher levels of expertise and therefore specific guidelines. This book takes proposal writers through certain steps that can guarantee ...

  19. Recent PhD Dissertations

    Recent PhD Dissertations. DeLoge, Alana Nicole (2022) Quechua Ethnolinguistic Vitality: A Perspective on and from Health . Advisor: Shelome Gooden. Naismith, Benjamin S (2022) Examiner judgments of collocational proficiency in L2 English learners' writing . Neumann, Farrah (2021) When Phonological Systems Collide: The Role of the Lexicon in ...

  20. Research Proposals for MA in Linguistics by Research

    This proposal should be between 1500 and 2500 words in length, and should contain at least the following: 1. Title of proposed research project. This should allow the reader to place the research, at a glance, within an academic sub-field, as well as identifying the main issue to be addressed. It should not be more than 20 words long.

  21. Applied Linguistics Dissertations and Theses

    Theses/Dissertations from 2003. The Acquisition of a Stage Dialect, Nathaniel George Halloran. Self-perceptions of non-native English speaking teachers of English as a second language, Kathryn Ann Long. The Development of Language Choice in a German Immersion School, Miranda Kussmaul Novash.

  22. Linguistics Research Proposals Samples For Students

    22 samples of this type. While studying in college, you will definitely have to compose a lot of Research Proposals on Linguistics. Lucky you if putting words together and turning them into relevant content comes easy to you; if it's not the case, you can save the day by finding an already written Linguistics Research Proposal example and using ...

  23. PDF Research Proposal for a PhD thesis in English Literature

    Research Proposal for a PhD thesis in English Literature. perception that spans from Ezra Pound to John Ashbery. More recent criticism has similarly. undervalued women poets' contribution to the scope of the visual in contemporary poetry. Ian. between 'eye' and 'I', and the gendered implications of observing and being observed.