Question: What should my research proposal in the application package include?
Answer: In your application package, we ask you to submit a one-page PhD proposal.
The one pager serves as short note for us to see what you are interested in, and evaluate if that interest suits our institute. We aim to accept fellows with a research interest that fits with our institute’s research interest, since that way we can best offer support during your process.
We thus encourage you to include clearly your research interest, or research question in the proposal, as well as shortly your explanation why this is a relevant question and how you aim to answer it in your research.
Question: During the course of the first year, I may want to modify my focus/topic (in consultation with the faculty). Would that be ok?
Answer: Yes, changing topics is fine during the year. The first year of the PhD programme is dedicated to draft a proposal that you feel confident working on for the PhD thesis.
Question: How do I start writing a research proposal?
Answer: For the application process, we only require a one-page proposal. This one page in length will not at all be sufficient to cover all aspects of a full PhD research proposal. In year one of the programme we spend a lot of time to assist you in drafting a full proposal.
The one-page proposal should include the topic of your interest, why you believe it is relevant to research and how you aim to answer your RQ. We understand that in one page you cannot add a lot of information, you will have to prioritise.
In order to get ideas of questions, we recommend you to look at the working paper series of the institute, select a few you like in the field you aim to study, and review how the authors formulate their research objectives and questions.
Question: Is it possible to obtain the degree via cumulative work?
Answer: It is possible to obtain the degree via cumulative work or a monograph. A paper based dissertation includes minimally four of (to be) published articles, based the same theme, database or country, where all paper contributions read as separate papers. In this set up you do not need not read the previous book chapters to understand the next chapter. A PhD monograph is written in book-format, designed to read chapter 1 before reading chapter 2, etc. In your proposal you draft in the first year, you need to indicate what contributions you aim to make, and why these are innovative and relevant. Your potential promoters will need to agree on the format and content that you propose. There is no difference in the PhD process of monograph or paper based PhDs, and the final degree completion requirements are identical.
Question: Aside from defending the final dissertation, are there other written or oral exams the candidates have to pass?
Answer: The PhD degree is awarded, if the candidate completed the required coursework and successfully defended the dissertation. In the first year of GPAC2, we require participants to join classes. Participation will be sufficient to obtain an audit on the certificate. If you opt to take an exam, and obtain a sufficient grade, you will also receive ECTS credits for that course. In addition to joining the classes, we require you to submit a proposal at the end of year one, which needs to be approved. You are only accepted in the second year of the programme is you completed the coursework (participation in the workshops) and submitted a proposal that is accepted by the academic review committee at the end of the first year.
Question: How detailed should a research proposal be?
Answer: The proposal we request for the application is about 1 page. This means the level of detail we ask for is very limited. What we would like to know is what you would want to research (the topic of your interest) and if you have, ideas on how you want to research it. We understand it will not be a full proposal. In the first year of the programme, we will develop a full proposal with you.
A proposal is indicated to be one-page long. As we read many applications, we will not be able to process long proposals. If you exceed the one page by a little, we will read it. If it becomes 3-4 pages, it already becomes too large and if 10 pages, we will not read it. We are not counting the words, but please realise we impose the page limit to encourage you to be brief and only mention the key elements, as well as enable us to actually read the page with more care.
Question: What would be my title upon defense?
Answer: The GPAC2 programme will offer you a PhD title. In the Netherlands, PhD degrees are not linked to a discipline, so it will not be a PhD in governance, or economics, in public policy or in technology. It will be a PhD degree from Maastricht University, mentioning on the degree your name and the title of your dissertation. The degree would be similar to the degree a full time PhD fellow obtains, and the requirements in terms of quality of submitted manuscript, as well as the assessment process for this manuscript are exactly the same as well.
The degree awarding institution is Maastricht University. You are registered as Maastricht University PhD fellow, and affiliated as research fellow at UNU-MERIT. However, UNU is not a PhD degree awarding institution. For GPAC2, this means that irrespective your specialisation within the programme, you will always graduate from the Dual Career PhD programme at Maastricht University / Graduate School of Governance / UNU-MERIT, and obtain a PhD degree from Maastricht University.
Question: Can my supervisor or a MGSoG/UNU-MERIT staff member review my PhD proposal before the application?
Answer: The PhD proposal, as is requested in your application, is one of the documents we use to review all applications, and select the fellows in the programme. The document is requested so we can review your interest, as well as research approach, as input in the selection process.
If our institutes staff members would support you in drafting the proposal, and afterwards evaluate your application – among others based on the proposal – that would potentially lead to conflicts of interest. Therefore, the people in the selection committee will not assist in drafting the proposals for the applicants, and we recommend all people working in the institute to refrain from assisting as well, to keep the selection process as transparent as possible.
In order to see if your proposal fits our institute’s interest, we recommend you to review our working paper series and dissertation series publications, which are posted on our website. In addition, you are obviously free to request input / feedback in your application process from academics not working in our institute.
Only once you are accepted in the programme, we will support you in writing a full PhD proposal. And only once your full PhD proposal is approved, we will formally assign a supervisory team to support you with your PhD research.