The application process, including developing your research proposal, can take time. It is important to get started early.
To launch your research project, you will complete the following steps, though not necessarily in this order. For more information about each element of research projects, please consult the Research Subject Guide.
Develop a topic
Define your research interest and personal goals.
Research is both rewarding and challenging. Give yourself the best chance of success by ensuring your project aligns with your past studies, existing research skills, interests and career goals. Use the resources below to find inspiration, get information about what the subjects entail and what can be realistically achieved. Remember that supervisors will have advice on topics that are feasible to research within a small project, and often seek students to undertake specific projects. It will help to speak with several potential supervisors as you define your research area.
Find a supervisor
Finding the right supervisor can make a successful research project that much easier. Identify potential academic supervisors by:
- Asking lecturers or a fellow OEP student for recommendations,
- Using the find an expert search tool,
- Viewing the information on Faculty research webpages:
Check the academic’s homepage or publications to see whether their research interests align with your project. Supervisors are typically full-time University staff (sometimes Associates or Fellows, rarely sessional i.e. casual staff). Joint academic supervision is possible and may be required depending on the disciplinary scope of a project.
Once you have identified a potential supervisor, send them an email and ask for an appointment. In your email make sure you describe your research interests, your background knowledge of the area, and your existing research training or skills.
Important matters to consider/discuss with potential supervisors include:
- Your research interest, potential questions and personal goals
- The size (number of points) and duration (1 or 2 semesters) of subject you’re considering
- Your background knowledge and skills (e.g. recent subjects and grades)
- The supervisor’s capacity and interest in supervising your project
- The supervisor’s availability to supervise (any planned absences?)
- Compatibility: do you think you can work well together?
Potential supervisors may not have previously supervised an OEP student and may have questions about the process and support provided. Invite them to contact OEP-research if they have further questions.
Strategies for finding an industry supervisor include:
- Approaching an organisation via a letter and a phone call
- Working through an academic with existing industry contacts
- Responding to a project opportunity advertised through the OEP website
- Collaborating with their employer, whilst still studying, to develop and undertake a research project.
It is advised that students facilitate a meeting between industry and academic supervisors prior to the submission of the application.
Supervisors can find information specific to them here.
Choose a subject
Choose a subject that fits within your study plan and is large enough to facilitate the research required to answer your proposed research questions. Discuss your options with potential supervisors.
Industry Research subjects facilitate working with an Industry Partner and require an industry supervisor. Industry subjects require additional legal paperwork to protect the student and govern the use of intellectual property. Please note:
- Developing a relationship with an industry partner can take considerable time
- It is critical that that all parties have realistic expectations of the project scope
- The project must be completed within University timelines for assessment
- It is advised that projects be ‘of mutual interest, but not time crucial’
Environmental Research Review
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS: Review of relevant academic literature.
Environmental Research Project (25)
Environmental Industry Research (25)
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS: Some original research, perhaps analysis of an existing data base, document analysis or collection of small amount of original data. Includes literature review, methodology, interpretation of data, findings.
Environmental Research Project: 25 Long
Environmental Industry Research: 25 Long
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS: As for ENST90007 and ENST90025.
Environmental Research Project (50)
Environmental Industry Research (50)
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS: More substantial original research, data collection might include fieldwork, sampling, interviews. Report includes literature review, methodology, interpretation of data and findings.
Environmental Research Project: 50 Long
Environmental Industry Research: 50 Long
GENERAL EXPECTATIONS: As for ENST90016 and ENST90020.
Write a proposal
There is no set format for research project proposals. The purpose of proposal writing is to demonstrate that you are sufficiently prepared to commence a research subject in the following semester and complete that project on time.
Your supervisor should be closely involved with the development of the proposal. They should provide advice about the appropriate scope of a project, read at least one draft and sight the final version of your proposal before it is submitted along with the signed research proposal application form.
You can view a model proposal here.
A list of some of the research projects available throughout the University can be found here.
In around 300 words you should:
DEFINE THE TOPIC
What is the context that has led you to this research topic? What is interesting, topical or currently changing that makes your inquiry significant and relevant? Make sure you cite relevant literature.
This is the why question.
IDENTIFY KEY RESEARCH QUESTION(S)
What is the specific question (or questions) you are asking? i.e. What do you want to know?
OUTLINE THE SCOPE OF THE PROJECT
Discuss the specific parameters of your research – timelines, scale, location. Indicate your plan for finding out the answers to research questions in time available.
DETAIL METHODOLOGY AND SPECIFIC RESEARCH TASKS
Demonstrate that your research approach is logical and will produce information that enables you to answer your questions.
Consider the financial or other resources (labs, vehicles, access to sites) required to conduct the research as your project cannot proceed if you do not have adequate resources.
ETHICS AND RISK ASSESSMENT
At the proposal stage you need to indicate awareness about ethics and fieldwork processes as required by your particular research project.
WHAT ARE THE EXPECTED OUTCOMES?
What is the contribution of your research? What will we know at the end of it?
OUTLINE ANY NECESSARY FUNDING More information can be found here: https://environment.unimelb.edu.au/current-students/subject-options/research-projects/research-project/funding
Submit an application form
The Research and Industry Subject application form (R1) should be completed in consultation with your supervisor and requires signatures from the supervisor(s) and head of department before it will be considered. The form is quite detailed and it can also take some time to get HoD signatures so start early to ensure a timely submission.