Sunday, November 9, 2008

Writing a PhD Synopsis/Summary/Proposal

Writing a PhD Synopsis/Summary must count as one of the biggest stumbling blocks for a number of aspiring scholars. One of my former students asked me if I could assist him with ideas so that he could write his PhD synopsis. I thought it would be best to put it on my blog so that a number of people could benefit. This post is not about writing a synopsis geared towards an English literature PhD. It talks in general about how a synopsis might be written. I have collected a number of interesting links on the issue.

The first link is from IIT Bombay, (Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India), where they have this PDF form and the fifth page of the document makes it clear what might be required from a PhD synopsis for their institution. It states that the synopsis should be between 1000 and 4000 words and should be accompanied by relevant tables and figures. It also states that the primary objective of the synopsis is to ensure that the reader could judge if prima facie there exists a case for the researcher to begin work in the selected area.

The second link is from The College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Australia, which states that the synopsis [they call it the proposal] should be between 1000 and 2000 words and should establish the research are, present the central 'research question' and show the methods to be employed while conducting the research. It gives you the structure to be followed while writing the proposal for PhD and it also gives you a link for further reading. This link can be accessed at

The third link is from University of the Punjab in Pakistan, where there is a Word document that gives you details on how to write a PhD synopsis. This is really helpful and quite detailed.

The fourth link is from Arizona University, which is quite sketchy.

The link at the University of Ortago, New Zealand, is quite helpful and detailed.

Here, you can find a live example of a PhD synopsis from the Department of Neurology, Faculty of General Medicine and the link can be accessed at

Semmelweis University in Hungary has a very helpful Word document that lists the formal requirements of a PhD thesis.

I hope you folks found it somewhat helpful. If you need any further information, please do let me know.