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How to Format a PhD Synopsis (India)

Qamar Mayyasah


This article will answer common questions about the PhD synopsis, give guidance on how to write one, and provide my thoughts on samples.

A PhD synopsis is a detailed summary of your proposed research project which justifies the need for your work. It is used to convince academic committees that your project should be approved.

If you are wondering how to write a synopsis for a PhD, then there are several things you must make sure your synopsis includes. Firstly, the reader must be able to read your synopsis and understand what contribution it would make to the research area. You should also explain the research objectives, methodology, data analysation and presentation format. Finally, you should conclude with limitations of your study and how you envisage others building on the findings you make.

PhD Synopsis format for a project

Although the format of a PhD synopsis report may differ between universities, there are many universal recommendations I can give. First, the research project synopsis format must include several fundamental sections which allow you to clearly detail your proposed project.

These sections are outlined below:

Research project title

Clearly define the title of your research project.


Include an introduction which summarises the current knowledge in your research area. This section should explain where gaps in knowledge are, and briefly what your project aims to do to address these gaps.

Literature review

A literature review will be a summary of published literature including journals, papers and other academic documentation which relate to your project. You need to critically appraise these documents: What have others done? What did they find? Where could their work be expanded on?

Aims & Objectives

Clearly define what the purpose of the PhD project is. What questions are you trying to answer? How will you measure success?

Research Methodology

Explain how you will achieve your objectives. Be specific and outline your process; the equipment you will use, data collection strategies, questionnaires you will distribute and data analysation techniques you will employ. This is a critical part of the research synopsis as it demonstrates whether your project is achievable or too ambitious.


You must provide references and citations to any sources you use. Reference materials are needed to acknowledge the original source, allow further reading for those who are interested and avoid claims of plagiarism. A number of different referencing systems exist, so it is important that you use the referencing system outlined in your university guidelines.


Provide a conclusion which should briefly summarise what your PhD research project is and why it is needed. You should also comment on the limitations of your work so that the scope of your study is clear.

In addition to the synopsis format for a PhD, we have outlined the styling rules you should follow:

  • Approximately 1” margins on top, bottom, and right of page.
  • Approximately 1.25” margin on left of page to allow space for binding.
  • Sans serif font (for example Times New Roman).
  • Black colour font.
  • Size 11pt or 12pt font.

It is important to remember this is general advice to assist with PhD synopsis writing. You must check your university guidelines first as they may have particular rules which you should follow.

PhD Synopsis Samples

I would not recommend using a PhD synopsis sample. This is because every research project is different, and the purpose of a synopsis report is to demonstrate the uniqueness of your project. Instead you should use the above format, and ensure you address each of the sections.

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