Swati Mittal, PhD Student,University of Canterbury for full proposal writing support
Hi there! I am Swati Khurana, PhD candidate at University of Canterbury, New Zealand. In this testimonial, I am sharing about my journey of application process, all the hurdles that I faced and how Indian Research Academy helped me get through this phase. Having worked in the Academia after my masters, I realised pursuing doctoral studies would be the right step towards becoming a researcher. Applying for PhD could be a tedious and a daunting task, especially when you are not headed towards the right track. I started thinking about applying abroad in the year 2016 and begun working on my proposal- the utmost crucial thing (among many others). But, as we all know, the beauty of research is getting lost in the ocean of ideas and prospective topics and same happened with me. I kept on changing my proposal and working on different topics for approximately a year. However, I never felt that the quality of my drafts was satisfactory enough to apply at any university. It was at that time I came across an advertisement about the Indian Research Academy and registered myself on the website.
Soon I got in touch with Dr Shabana Khan to whom I am and will be immensely grateful and thankful to make things work for me. I told her that although my area of interest is broadly Education Economics but I am not able to think about a topic which has already not researched upon or is good enough to do a thesis on. With numerous discussions that followed, I got a direction towards which I could move ahead upon. She gave a formal structure of how to write a proposal as well as help me edit endless number of drafts I used to mail her. Moreover, she throwed light upon as to how I should approach the professors and what should I write to them. I was also guided well about how should I edit my CV. Indian Research Academy also gave me an opportunity to interact with other prospective PhD students who were undergoing the same pressure and struggle. Isn’t it always good to have some helpful peers! One of my such friends guided me as to how should I prepare for IELTS and how to score well, I used to have discussions with the other one as to which countries we should apply to.
I will talk briefly about the process now and share a few things which might help you in the application process. First, ask yourself why do you want to do a PhD. If you have a valid answer to this question, think about the broad area of research you want to work in. Then, look for the Universities across the globe which might provide you excellent exposure in the same area. You might also start with choosing a country which attracts you and looking for the best universities there (QS rankings -both department-wise and university-wise might be helpful!).
Visit as many university fairs as you can, meet the university representatives, professors and try to understand the eligibility criteria, application process, the specific requirements for your studies and funding opportunities like studentships and scholarships. Appear for the required exams such as IELTS, TOEFL, GRE if required. Focus as much as you can on your proposal because that is how your prospective supervisor will get to know that you have ability to conduct independent research. After selecting the country, the universities and the department within, start browsing through the profiles of the academicians who can supervise your research. There is generally a section called “research interests” on the university website for all the faculty staff. If you feel that your broad area of research interest matches with the academician, write to them. You can read two- three research articles written by them and mention how they interested you. At this stage you’ll have to be very patient as they might take long to get back to you or might not reply at all! But, you can always follow up with them! Once they get back to you, apply formally to the university and finally, apply for scholarships. I hope this helps my fellow budding researchers.
Stay happy, stay focused and you will get there!