Your research will take you in directions that are hard to predict. New questions emerge, new insights lead to hunches, and pre-conceived ideas turn out to be false.

That’s just how research work.

The thing is, we go into our PhDs with research proposals that map out the entire project in one elegant plan.

If you’re anything like I was when I was doing my PhD, you get anxious about the fact that you research is deviating from this original research proposal.

I was worried that the thesis I submitted would look very little like the research I had proposed.

I had no need to be. That’s how research works, and it’s entirely natural for the finished text to be different.

We can’t predict the future, so a proposal is somewhat of a hunch or a guess about what you think may happen over the next three, four, five years or longer. Then, when we start the research proper and enter the field, we face reality and see how things really are.

What’s more, when we plan our research, we often have lofty ambitions about revolutionising our field. Then, as time goes on, we develop a sense of pragmatism and realism such that our project becomes much more specialised.

Seen in that light, it’s entirely understandable that the project evolves over time.

So if you’re one of those worrying about deviating from your proposal, try not to. That’s because, provided that it’s based on a sound reading of the data and literature, such deviation is an entirely normal part of the research process.

Good luck!

Hello, Doctor…

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