Before you start working on your PhD or Master’s thesis project, you would need to write up a research proposal. This is a short (about 6-10 pages) write up that discusses the topic of your research, why it is important to the existing literature (i.e. its theoretical contribution and implications), and how you will do it (i.e. the methodology). The precise format of a research proposal would very from discipline to discipline, but the general outline typically includes an introduction, problem statement, research questions and objectives, literature review, methodology, preliminary (or expected) results, and the implications and contributions to the existing body of knowledge on the topic.
Generally speaking, a research proposal establishes if it is worthy for you to continue working on this particular project, and whether your supervisor or superior supports it. So it needs to be clear, well-written, and convincing as to whether it would sufficiently contribute to the available literature. So you need to make it as convincing as possible that the project is worthy to work on, and is expected to achieve promising results or outcomes. Don’t worry though, even though it would act as your guide at the start of your PhD thesis writing journey, proposals typically change as you make progress. The concepts, ideas and frameworks are refined and improved as you go along. Sometimes you would even deviate in a completely different direction, based on the results you come up with. If your supervisor is fine with you moving in that direction, then you know you are headed in the right direction.
You would also need explicit research objectives and questions that are relevant/recent, precise and researchable. This means that they need to map on to your problem statement (pointing out gaps in the literature), and demonstrate how they would solve this problems discussed. They would also need to address a core problem in the field, and they must be available in previous papers, so that you are able to use these in your literature review.
Once done with the research proposal, you would need to defend it in front of a panel of experts in the same area. If you were able to convince them that your work is promising, and they were happy with your proposal, you start your official PhD thesis writing process. This is a lengthy process and takes between three to five years, depending on your topic of interest. You would use your initial proposal as a guideline during the first few months of your research work.
Another important step to take is hiring a professional PhD proposal proofreader or editor. They would be able to proofread and edit your academic proposal and ensure it is free of any grammatical issues, well-written and concise. This is crucial, as it would also have an impact on the overall decision of the panel judging your proposal.