1. An introduction precisely defining the research question.
The research question to be addressed by the project should be precisely worded. If you have a main research question and several sub-questions, this should be indicated. The type of thesis should also be stated: a monograph or articles. If the thesis consists of articles, the application should contain an extra section (that should be placed after the methods section, i.e. after section 4) that briefly outlines the contents of the articles.
2. A section providing an overview of the most important research in the field
Here, the applicant should provide an overview of the most important research in the field and place the project in the context of this research. What is new about the project in relation to existing research in the field?
3. A section setting out what theory/theories will be used.
The point of this section is not that the applicant should set out everything he/she knows about theory, but to describe, briefly and precisely, which theory or theories will be used to shed light on the research question. It is a weakness in many applications that the presentation of theory is too imprecise.
The theory presentation should be concentrated in this section, even if you are writing articles.
4. One section on methods.
The important thing here is to describe the data material as precisely as possible, how it will be collected and analysed and how any informants will be recruited. It is less important to include extensive references to methodological literature. The references should nonetheless be extensive enough for those who are going to assess the application to decide whether the applicant knows what he/she is talking about.
The description of methods should be concentrated in this section, even if you are writing articles. (If relevant, a separate section can be included here describing the content of the articles.)
5. A section discussing ethical considerations.
One problem that arises in all empirical projects is what to do with the data that have been collected. The applicant should state what he/she intends to do with the data.
Some projects need approval from a Research Ethics Committee. In such case, the applicant should state whether approval has been obtained, applied for or will be applied for.
Otherwise, there are many issues that can be addressed in this section, depending on the nature of the project.
6. A section describing the applicant's academic environment/academic network.
The applicant's institutional affiliation and any proposed supervisor or supervisors should be mentioned.
If you are going to work as part of a network, the network must always be documented through declarations from those who will take part in it.
7. A precise progress schedule.
The progress schedule should contain a description of when during the project you plan to take the courses that are part of the training component and when you plan a study stay abroad. In the case of article-based theses, the applicant should state when the articles are expected to be completed, any co-authors and similar. Progress schedules can be for a year at a time or for a semester at a time.