Designing a PhD Project from Scrap to Craft

A PhD project is the complete set of information of the subject, topic, budget, program, university and supervisor you select and the comprehensive overview of your whole research. 

After finishing your master’s if you wonder how to get started for a PhD, start writing a PhD project. Don’t waste your time on finding positions, seats and funding agencies instead. 

After all when you apply for any PhD program, your PhD project will be taken into account first. Writing a PhD project is a bit tough thing! You will have some experience or good writing skills. 

If you have published some research paper or worked on some projects previously that is fine, you can do it. But if you are a novice, you need to pay attention. 

I can suggest you to take advice from some subject expert or check your PhD with whom you know. 

In the present article we are going to discuss how you can make your PhD project from scrap to craft. 

Also we will focus and talk about the topics that help you to make a good PhD project and to choose your topic. 

Identify your interest to research: 

Whistl preparing a PhD project you should have to start by identifying your interest, which technique, method or subject you most like. For instance, for a student of science the option to opt for a PhD are biology, ecology, genealogy, evolution and molecular studies and lot more. 

You have to work on a particular topic for at least 5 to 7 years, you will have to do trial and errors, face failures and setbacks , in those conditions if your subject interest is not satisfactory, you will have to suffer a lot. 

 So choose a broader subject area you wish to study, you like the most and you love to do. 

Make it more narrow and research specific. 

Don’t do research by taking a whole subject in account. For example, you can’t do genetic research using PCR, DNA sequencing, DNA microarray and FISH on all organisms like plants, animals and microbes though, all studies and techniques are considered in genetics. 

Henceforth, choosing only ‘genetics’ as a subject is not enough. Likewise, choosing only cell biology or ecology is not enough at all. In the next step of designing the PhD project, you should have to narrow down your interest. 

Don’t panic, it’s not that hard. Ask yourself several questions. 

Which technique do you like the most?

On which method you have expertise? 

What organisms or subjects you love to interact with or like to work?

Is your topic or subject you wish to choose for your PhD project associated with your master’s project? 

Are you willing to make it continue in your PhD? Or you can’t find any hope in our previous research work? 

What is your vision to get this topic for a PhD program? 

These simple self counselling will definitely help you to pick a topic for a PhD project. 

Suppose if you have a good publication in your previous M Phil or master’s program, it can make your PhD project more valuable which ultimately convinces an evaluator to select you. 

Research your topic online: 

Once you have decided with which subject, technique, method and study subject you will have to go for! Do some online research on it. Try to find out good research and review articles. Read it and extract information, outcome of studies and satback of it. 

It helps you to make a decision on whether to go with all these or to change the entire project. See article review is critical at prime level, if you have chosen to do electron microscopy for any of the samples, it is costlier, trust me if those facilities will not be there in your organisation, you will have to pay for outsourcing it. 

In this condition, even though you have expertise in electron microscopy and interested in doing it, you have to think twice or else, make a back up idea. 

While you are presenting your PhD project to authority, they will ask you regarding what if they don’t have that facility. 

There you will have to reveal your backup plan. So research your topic and related things properly and prepare accordingly. 

Find out a research problem: 

A research problem or a research gap in someone other’s work generates a pipeline for you to start your work. 

Identify gaps, lacks, setbacks and problems in pre-existing research and try to correlate it with the real world problem and go ahead. 

Once you identify the problem you will automatically find a link from where to start. I can suggest you some point: 

  • Analyse the study population, subject or organism previous researchers have selected. 
  • Focus on the setbacks and limitations of method or technique they utilized. 
  • Analyse the sample volume. 
  • Observe their results carefully and note down what they have not reported or fail to identify. 

This critical analysis will surely help you to find a research gap. 

Prepare a beautify research proposal: 

A good sense of research writing will make you stand above all, though the topic and content of the PhD project is also important. 

Write a good, professional, errorless and catchy research proposal. Make a working title and briefly describe your research area, technique and how you will use it and what outcomes you will get. 

Also don’t forget to mention it’s usage in the real-world and application is society, it will make a different impact. 

Spoiler: Use graphs and infographics to make your research proposal eye catchy.

Pick a program, college, school or university

Searching a research program related to your PhD project is indeed a headache trust me. It’s a boring process but let me tell you our real struggle starts from here. 

After completing a written draft of your PhD project start searching for the positions, school or university which offer PhD in your study area. 

Submit your research proposal or apply for an examination. Usually, nowadays, universities prefer an entrancing example first before enrolling PhD students

Meanwhile you also have to pay attention on reputiona of the university or affiliate PhD program and funding consistency. Also, the fees structure, facilities, available guides and funding agencies associated with the program is taken into account too. 

Most of the time, your PhD research proposal got rejected even before presenting it, the rest of the time, you will fail to present it and none of the supervisors are interested in it. All these things will happen but don’t lose hope. Try hard, focus on the suggestion given by the experts during the evaluation. 

Getting a PhD is not an overnight process, it may take a year to two years from preparing for PhD to admission. Be ready for that!

Searching a PhD guide/supervisor or advisor:

A healthy relationship between a PhD candidate and a PhD supervisor matter’s a lot in the whole process. Put one thing in your mind if you fail to convince a PhD guide or no one is interested in your PhD project, Your project is a waste, you can’t get admission!

After all, the PhD depends on whether a guide is willing to guide you or not!

So start approaching supervisors who are allotted by universities. Contact them on linkedIn, try to arrange a meeting with them, send them email and request them. 

However, it is also important that the guide you want to select must have a regular faculty at the college or university you will select. 

If you want to learn more on how to select a PhD supervisor or guide, we have written a dedicated article on it. It will answer all your questions. Read it here: 

Spoiler: Apply at multiple locations and approach multiple guides, don’t select one and wait for their reply. Do things fast!

Get funding: 

 Now, this is important. Everyone wants to do fancy and high-end research, to do so you need funds. Unfortunately, getting funds is not as easy. Firstly let me give you some of the funding options. 

  • University research fund
  • Private companies and organization funding 
  • Third-party funding 
  • Government funding 
  • Private funding 

These are some of the options, usually, private companies, university and government research funds are easy to get, if they are interested in your PhD project. 

Make sure to prepare a budget-friendly project having a strong outcome. They will invest in your project if it helps society, organization, company or government

 In addition to this, research fellowship and scholarship are reserved for some categories of students. 

Read more: What is a PhD?

Bifurcating/ planning and plotting of research work:

If you have completed all these steps, your project work is not done yet. Planning and plotting can make your work easy. Although it is also very crucial to mention year wise planning of your research work in the research proposal. 

Bifurcate your work in six months duration and plan things accordingly, i know some goals can’t be achieved from time to time because it’s research we don’t know what outcome we will get!

But still try to complete your goals every six month. If you fail to do it your workload will get increased and so the time duration. 

This is your PhD project until now you just have got admission in PhD! So your work is yet not completed. 

Soon after you will have to state your PhD title, complete course work and so many things. But if you prepared your PhD project so correctly and sincerely, I think your 60% PhD burden got completed. 


Designing a PhD project is yet another challenging task for your PhD. But if you prepare it well, trust me your 70% work will be done.

Furthermore, while preparing the PhD project make sure to contact your PhD supervisor to convince them.

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