Nobody knows the future. At least not the scientists and students. They are not “peer-fakeer” or prognosticators. Yet, many students already know what will be the result of their research. I tell them, “If you already know the result of your investigation, there is no point in doing it in the first place.” Predicting the future also shows that you have zero curiosity about the topic. You might ask what is the purpose of expected results if no one cannot predict anything.

The aim of “expected results” is to tell the reviewers what would happen if the hypothesis is accepted and what if it is rejected. Let’s explain that with an example. The hypothesis of your study is this “life is possible on Mars.” There could be two results of this study; 1) accept the hypothesis, meaning yes, life is possible on Mars. You can then go on to explain how this will help humanity etc. But the other possibility, which is almost always neglected in proposals, is this. 2) Rejection of the hypothesis means life is not possible on Mars. Now you have to explain how your study would help humankind if this is the result. For example, this study would save a significant amount of time and resources for space missions, which would otherwise have to go to Mars and test for living conditions there.  

Writing about the rejection of your hypothesis is painful and needs some kind of vulnerability. However, vulnerability is powerful in science, as in life. It shows that you are more open to science than being right. It shows that you are curious and you have the fundamental integrity needed to perform quality research; hence you are a good Ph.D. candidate.

A paragraph about future applications of your study is also appreciated in this section. This is something that you are not exactly doing but contributing to. In our example, you can write about how it could be possible to have human colonies on Mars in the future. Although you are not sending humans to Mars or making human colonies there, your study indirectly contributes to that bigger purpose. Reviewers love seeing the bigger picture. It makes them feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves. However, stop yourself from exaggerating and stay humble. You are not sending humans to Mars but just contributing a tiny aspect by doing this research. In addition, stay focused on the data and previous evidence. Cite other authors heavily here instead of just writing as you are not writing science fiction.

That is it for our blog series about writing a proposal. I would appreciate it if you leave your feedback in the comments below.

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