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How to write a synopsis for research

What is a Synopsis?

A synopsis is a thorough summary of the research you will be conducting for your doctoral degree. It is a document you submit at the beginning of your research, along with your thesis title. It is important to note that a synopsis is distinct from an abstract.


What is the Difference between Synopsis and Abstract?

In simpler terms, a synopsis is a written document that explains what you will be researching, why it's essential to the field, and how you will conduct your research. You submit this document before you start your actual research as a summary of your planned work. On the other hand, an abstract is a summary of your entire research thesis. It is written after you have completed your research and is included in your thesis.

Why do you need a synopsis for your doctoral research?

The reason you need to submit a synopsis is that it helps convince the academic committee at your university to approve your research proposal. The synopsis includes the importance and impact of your research in that specific field. In other words, it shows them why your research is important and why they should support it.

Get A Perfect Synopsis For Your Research Paper

How to Write an Impressive PhD Synopsis?

A research synopsis summarises the work you have done during a specific period. The format for writing a synopsis can differ depending on the institution and field of study. It's important to follow the specific format provided by the institute you are applying to when writing your research synopsis.

Step-By-Step Process Of Crafting An Effective Research Synopsis

  • step 1Understand the guidelines provided by your institution.
  • step 2Start with a clear and concise title that reflects your research.
  • step 3Craft a brief abstract summarizing the background, problem, methodology, expected results, and impacts.
  • step 4Introduce the research by providing background information and stating the research problem.
  • step 5Clearly state the objectives and research questions your study will address
  • step 6If applicable, mention any hypotheses or assumptions to be explored and highlight limitations.
  • step 7Describe your research methodology, data collection, and analysis techniques.
  • step 8Discuss the expected contribution of your research and its implications for the field.
  • step 9Address ethical considerations and potential risks while conducting your research.
  • step 10Conclude the synopsis by summarizing the main points and include a list of references.

How to format a synopsis for PhD?


Writing a synopsis for your PhD may sound intimidating, but it becomes easier when you know exactly what you want to research. The structure and style of your synopsis will depend on the specific guidelines provided by your university. However, we can give you a general outline of the format of a synopsis to help you get started.

A typical synopsis has at least the following sections

1. Title
2. Abstract
3. Introduction
4. Literature Review
5. Objectives
6. Hypotheses
7. Methodology and methods
8. References


The title should be a concise and informative statement that accurately represents the focus of your research. It should ideally be around 10-15 words.


The abstract is a concise summary of your research. It should provide a brief overview of the background, problem statement, objectives, methodology and key findings or expected outcomes of your study. Aim for around 150-250 words for the abstract.


The introduction section introduces the research topic, provides background information on the subject area and states the research problem or objective. It sets the context for your study and establishes its significance. Keep the introduction between 200-400 words.


The literature review section summarizes and critiques the existing research and literature related to your topic. It highlights the key theories, concepts and findings, and identifies gaps or areas for further investigation. The literature review should be approximately 500-1000 words, depending on the scope of your research.

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The objectives section lists the specific goals or purposes of your research. Objectives should be clear, specific, and measurable. Aim for 2-4 concise objectives, each explained in 1-2 sentences.


If applicable to your research, hypotheses are statements or assumptions that you will test or investigate. They provide a focus for your research and guide data analysis. State your hypotheses clearly, ideally in 2-3 sentences.


This section outlines the research design, methodology and specific methods you will use for data collection and analysis. Briefly describe the study area, participants or sample selection, data collection instruments or techniques and data analysis procedures. Keep this section within 300-500 words.


The references section provides a list of sources cited in your research synopsis. Follow the citation style specified by your institution or discipline. Include all the sources you have referenced in your literature review or any other section.

* Remember, the word counts provided here are approximate and can vary depending on the specific requirements of your institution or research field. It's essential to review the guidelines provided by your institution to ensure you meet their specific requirements for each section.

What is the ideal size of the synopsis?

The ideal size of a synopsis is typically around 30-40 pages. It is recommended to use 1 ½ spacing on A4 size paper. Opt for a good quality white paper, preferably not lower than 80 gsm.

What are the Do's and Don'ts of writing a synopsis?


  • Do write a narrative summary of your novel, avoiding dialogue whenever possible.
  • Do include the premise of your story.
  • Do clearly state the ending of your novel; don't withhold it thinking it will generate more interest.
  • Do ensure that you cover the key plot points in the synopsis.
  • Do remember that a synopsis is a sales tool, so make it as engaging as possible.
  • Do depict the emotions and motivations of your characters for their actions.
  • Do introduce your main character first and include their age and gender if necessary.
  • Do provide a sense of the time period, setting, and mood of your novel.


  • Don't write the synopsis in the form of a list or outline; it should be a narrative summary.
  • Don't provide a detailed breakdown of each chapter.
  • Don't include every scene from your story.
  • Don't include most, if any, of the subplots.
  • Don't include minor characters.
  • Don't include any dialogue.
  • Don't write it in any tense other than the third person, present tense, even if your book is written differently.
  • Don't ramble and stick to the guidelines.