Suggesting own research proposal?

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In summary: I've never been the one proposing research topics before, so I'll give it a try.In summary, the student is considering proposing their own research topic, but is worried about the potential consequences. The student plans to talk to their supervisor about the topic and outlines their interest in plasma physics in case the supervisor has other ideas.
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ohannuks
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I'm currently a graduate student in Finland and I'll be moving abroad to study for an MPhil degree. I have knowledge of space plasma physics and computational physics, since I have worked in that field, and some basic knowledge of cosmology. I wanted to ask for advice on how smart it is for one to suggest their own research topic.

Since I'll be mainly studying a subject I don't know so much about, cosmology, I would like it to be somewhat related to things I have more knowledge of; plasma physics and computational physics. I know my supervisor would give me a topic if I didn't come up with one.
 
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Unfortunately, I think this is something that can be either really really great, or really really terrible. It can be great - it can be well tailored to your expertise, and you can have a great feeling of ownership over the project. It can be terrible - if it's too far away from your supervisors field and they can't give good advice; if (due to inexperience) you pick too ambitious a project or if the hypothesis is just not thought through right.

This is where you need to talk to your supervisor.
 
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  • #3
Essentially as a student, when you meet with your supervisor to discus a project, you should come to the table with some ideas about what you would like to do. Some students will come to the table with only vague notion of the sub-field and not much else. Others will be well-read, and have a general idea of what problem they would like to work on, and the methods they want to use to work on it.

In the former case, what tends to end up happening is that the student will get thrown into a project that the supervisor has on hand. This can be good or bad, but as a student it forces you to place a lot of faith in your supervisor to match you with a project you'll be successful with.

In the latter case the student won't always have a good idea of what can be accomplished in the timeframe available, and the student will need guidance with specific details of the project, but in general, I think supervisors tend to like this scenario a lot more. When the student is driving the direction of the project, he or she knows what step will happen next and these students tend to make a lot more progress in a short amount of time.
 
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  • #4
Thank you for your replies. I have one interesting subject which is fairly specific (active galactic nuclei), so as suggested by e.bar.goum I'll ask my supervisor what he thinks of it. I'll also try to outline generally my interest in plasma physics just in case he has some other ideas. I've written a research proposal before, but I figured it doesn't make sense to go through the effort in case he's not interested.

I also think the supervisor might like it if I take initiative.
 
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Related to Suggesting own research proposal?

1. What is a research proposal?

A research proposal is a document that outlines a proposed research project. It typically includes a statement of the research problem, a review of relevant literature, the research objectives and methodology, and a budget and timeline for conducting the research.

2. Why is it important to suggest your own research proposal?

By suggesting your own research proposal, you have the opportunity to explore a topic that interests you and aligns with your skills and expertise. It also allows you to contribute new knowledge to your field and potentially make a significant impact.

3. How do I choose a suitable research topic for my proposal?

When choosing a research topic, it is important to consider your interests, skills, and expertise. You should also conduct a literature review to ensure that your topic is relevant and has not already been extensively researched. Additionally, consider the potential impact and feasibility of your proposed research.

4. What should be included in a research proposal?

A research proposal should include a clear and concise statement of the research problem, a review of relevant literature, the research objectives and methodology, a budget and timeline for conducting the research, and potential outcomes and implications of the research.

5. How do I ensure the success of my research proposal?

To ensure the success of your research proposal, it is important to thoroughly plan and prepare your project, including conducting a literature review, clearly defining your research objectives and methodology, and obtaining any necessary resources or approvals. It is also important to regularly communicate and collaborate with colleagues and seek feedback and guidance from experts in your field.

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