How do I write a one-page research plan for a postdoc application in the humanities?
October 28, 2009 8:48 AM   Subscribe

What should be included in a "one-page research plan" for a postdoc application (in the humanities)? What should the format be? I can find a lot of advice and samples for the sciences, but not for a humanities position. Advice and links would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
posted by Original 1928 Flavor to Education (1 answer total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Above all,, look at the terms of reference and make sure you hit the points they want - at least if it is a funded post-doc, or is this to work with a particular professor as a one-off funded position? For the former, if for example they ask for the institution at which you will hold the post-doc, make sure you include it, that sort of thing.

The generic advice I give for research plans/proposals, especially short ones, is to focus on the three Ds:

1. Doable? can the research be done? Does a collection exist to work on, a text, a library where the stuff resides? Do you have access to what you need to study?

2. Has it been Done before? Is this original research? What kind of context does it exist in? A iterature review focused on the gap in knowledge you identify is necessary to show you (a) know the field and (b) aren't going to replicate the work of Smith & Jones 2003 and (c) you have the requisite background to do it (usually clear from the CV so can keep that part short)

3. is it worth Doing? Stuff that is doable and hasn't been done before might be trivial. Why is this research important? Situate the research inside some bigger problem.

I'm not in the humanities (maybe obviously) but as a frequent reviewer of research proposals, I'd say, make it as clear as humanly possible. Make it scholarly -- include references. I reccommend subheadings even for a single page, hence so the reviewer can find what they need and also recognize you are a logical sort of person (maybe that wouldn't really be important in your field but you get the idea - the proposal is like a microcosm of your abilities) - the following is clear and also has a sort of narrative progression that makes sense at least to me. (I've sat on a national board that reviewed doctoral fellowship applications that included a two page research proposal in social science, so I have read probably 500 of these with some attention).

1. Gap in Knowledge/Statement of Problem (very general single sentence at first)
2. Literature Review (Done before?)
3. More specific statement of problem
4. Is it worth doing? Statement of significance of the problem
5. Is it doable? Statement of the logisitics, access, permissions, methods, etc
6. Summary: one sentence - if I am granted this position/money, I will go to X, study Y, anticipate results Z, to be published in Substantial Journal/Book form by year 20xx
posted by Rumple at 9:19 AM on October 28, 2009 [1 favorite]

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