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UK vs. US SOP/Research Proposal


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I'm looking at applying to a PhD program in the UK and have some questions about the research proposal that normally accompanies the application. I hope this is the right section. I'm used to writing grant proposals and I've written several research proposals now, but the length is much, much shorter. I'm wondering how specific I need to be (explaining exact data sets, methods, etc.) and how important these details are as opposed to the general intent of the project and demonstrating  background knowledge. Also I'm adapting it from a much larger proposal and am concerned about feasibility, especially for the site of the field research. If the timeline is too aggressive or the amount of data collection, activities, etc. too much for just a few years, will I be given the benefit of the doubt and/or counseled on this later? Is it reasonable to run it by prospective supervisors first and asking, or should I have it completely together before making contact? It seems like in US applications they expect you to change but UK programs are shorter so I am thinking that the proposal should really be the one you carry out? Thanks!

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I would run some of those questions by your prospective supervisors. I think it makes a lot of sense to make initial contact to verify that they are accepting students and are generally interested in your application. Everything having to do with scope, length, how much background you can assume vs. have to spell out, methods, etc is fair game, in my opinion. I am not sure I would ask about feasibility per se, but you could ask something like "does such and such question studied at such and such site seem appropriate to you?". Hopefully this interaction will also teach you something about how likely this person is to read a full draft and comment on it. 

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