Do You Need a Research Project for a Study Abroad Application?

As a research mentor, I often conduct webinars for students and Study Abroad aspirants to discuss research projects and proposals. Several questions come up during those sessions which have prompted me to write this Blog based on several years of my own experience as faculty in India and abroad. I am currently also an academic advisor for Study Abroad. The Study Abroad application as you know comprises several components apart from your grades or GPA (Grade Point Average), CV, and Statement of Purpose (SOP), sometimes specified as a Personal Statement, are key components.

So is volunteering experience or social service. In general, universities in the US and Canada have slightly more elaborate requirements for assessing a student’s personality, values and other talents, apart from their academic credentials. For undergraduate courses, requirements across universities may not vary much. But Graduate programs, MSc degree programs and so forth require additional evidence of a student’s calibre. This is the part about research. Some universities may require proper publications, for others a research project is sufficient. In this blog, I will discuss that do you need a Research Project for a study abroad application or not.

Must Read: How Studying Abroad Can Help Make You a Global Citizen

Do you Need a Research Proposal/Project For your University Applications?

First, let me clarify these terms. 

Research Project: This is an idea that you wish to investigate further. It should address a problem or a question which needs ‘research’ to provide a solution or an explanation as to why this problem exists and if any solutions can be offered. 

Research Proposal: This is a formal document which explains the ideas of the Research Project in a structured way. It requires specific sections devoted to Methodology, Literature Review etc. It can vary from 5-20 typed pages depending on the program you are applying to.  A long Research Proposal may refer to a project which has many investigators and may be conducted over several months in a given region. Medical research is an example of such lengthy proposals. Sometimes this document is also referred to as the Research Project (in the written form).

Research Paper: This is a formal paper which follows rules of formatting, structure and layout. It is a self-contained paper which is based on original research done and has strict rules for including an Introduction, Literature Review, Findings, and Conclusion Research papers also have formatting requirements (footnotes/ endnotes, bibliography etc.). Research papers may remain unpublished but their value lies in being accepted by reputed journals. There are also several journals which take money from authors to publish their research papers. However, these are regarded very poorly and a scholar’s reputation suffers if they publish in such journals.

Tip: If you are a researcher before you submit your paper for publication, check if the journal is well-reputed and has high academic standards.  

Also Read: How to Choose a Research Topic

Is a Research Experience/ Project Required for Study Abroad Application? 

It depends. The requirement related to a research project or research experience depends entirely on what level you are at a Graduate, PhD Or Post-doc fellowship. An advanced level program requires students to demonstrate that they have research skills. Therefore, for M.Sc, some universities like to see potential in the candidate who is coming in for a graduate program. 

At PhD level, it is necessary to show evidence that you are a researcher and that you either have publications or are on the path. At least you need to show that some paper has been accepted by a reputed journal. 

For a Post-Doc program, having research publications is non-negotiable. You must have published research. Because many Post-Doc programs especially Study Abroad ones provide good funding or paid teaching to the candidate. Therefore, the university wants the Post-Doc candidate to be a scholar who is already on the research path and has the potential to add to the research teams which they already have. 

Tip: If you are applying for a Post-Doc you should study the research programs which exist at that university. Then emphasize how your work will fit into existing research at that university and how you expect to learn as well as, contribute to that intellectual ethos. 

A Study Abroad application at an advanced level will specify what they require in terms of research levels. Requirements for Applications need to be checked several months (even a year) in advance because research papers can take a year to get published. Research experience also takes several months even if you can find a mentor who will accept you as an assistant or intern for their research support. We will be back next Friday with another amazing blog from Dr.Maina Chawla Singh. Till then, if you have any questions or suggestions, just drop us a comment and we will get back to you. Want to study abroad? Our Leverage Edu experts are ready to assist you in narrowing down the best course and university options according to your interests and preferences.