Once you start on your Ph.D., it is almost impossible to imagine that the day will come and you will be through it. However, for most of the Ph.D. students, this day comes eventually, and some of them are strongly willing to continue with the post-doctoral research. To do so, a student needs to provide a committee with the post-doctoral research proposal and get it approved. Unfortunately, it sounds much easier than it is in reality and there is not much you can do to make it as easy as pie, but there are some rules and tricks which might help you deal with this task faster and with less stress involved.
Rule #1. Stay in touch with a Research Support team
They know this process inside out and can help you greatly once they understand how committed you are. We don’t mean you should lay siege to their office, ask for a feedback for every idea, follow each member on Facebook and send the greetings card (by the way, there are students doing it for real!). What you really need to do is to have an appointment, discuss your findings and preliminary goals and ask for some detailed information about the previous successful applications relevant to your topic or your type of study. This kind of information is preserved by the Research Support department and should be accessed for free. Analyse it, change your proposal accordingly, repeat.
Rule #2. Don’t be a lone wolf
Find yourself a partner, as it is the simplest way to get everything done in time. Of course, you want the full credit for the research, but in the real world, it doesn’t work this way. You need a small team or at least a partner holding your back in case of emergency, inspiring you, providing fresh ideas and valuable feedback. More of it, small groups receive funding more often because they are rightfully considered to be much more stable in the long run.
Rule #3. Realistic plans work better than the optimistic ones
It both relates to your plan of the research you present to the committee and to the personal plan for doing the research. You are not a Superman, and literally, no one expects you to act like one. The classic student’s mistake is to promise more than you can do based on the hope that later it can be changed. The trick is it just leads you to a complete disaster. Make realistic plans and make them look bold regarding grand ideas and cautious concerning their realization.
Rule #4. Early birds have better chances
You might consider yourself to be the best regarding solving the academic crises, but, unfortunately, it is not what really works when it comes to writing a postdoctoral research paper proposal. Mostly, they should be submitted far in advance, so you have to start working on it even before finishing your Ph.D. endeavor. Of course, not every research committee asks for such vigorous efforts, but mostly, you need about 6 months before the due date to do it right. You cannot just pull the all-nighter and get everything done in 3 weeks.
Rule #5. Get some relevant feedback
Don’t neglect any valuable feedback you can possibly get. It doesn’t mean you should change your proposal every time someone criticizes it or provides you with ideas, but it means that you should determine the circle of people whose feedback might be beneficial to the result of your work. Don’t be shy, address everyone you find valuable. If they refuse, don’t insist and find another expert. Ask questions clearly, don’t ask for just general feedback. Structure even your first drafts as much as you can to make it easier for the expert or your project partner to read and evaluate it. Save their recommendations even if you don’t apply them immediately, you might need them later.
The structure of the document might differ greatly, depending on the university, the goal, the topic and dozen of other factors. However, these principles stay valid for almost any postdoctoral research writing process. It is important to invest yourself fully into this process as it might determine your future. We wish you all luck on your way!
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