Introduction to research

Choosing your topic

A research project is an opportunity to explore a specific topic that is of particular interest to you. However because you must have a supervisor you’ll need to take account of the expertise and availability of academic staff.

Before enrolment

Discuss your plans with a Graduate Adviser - your topic must be viable and you will need a supervisor. Your disciplinary area may also require you to submit a research proposal by a specified date in order for your enrolment to be approved.

Research proposals

Research proposals are the starting point for most large research projects. A research proposal helps to clarify your ideas, and provides a clear statement of your topic and the methods that you will use to collect and analyse information. Your supervisor or Graduate Adviser will give you guidance about preparing a research proposal if you are required to do so.

Ethics approvals

If your research involves human participants in any way, you must obtain ethics approval from The University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee. Your supervisor or Graduate Adviser will be able to advise you. The University website also provides information about ethics applications.


Your supervisor will help you to determine your topic, the methodologies to use, and the primary and secondary material to investigate. He or she will read and comment on drafts of your work, and you will meet regularly.

Supervision is a close working relationship that will have a considerable influence on your experience of postgraduate study, as well as the end result. Both students and supervisors have responsibilities.

For information about supervision see the University's supervision web page.

Academic integrity

The University’s policies on plagiarism also apply to postgraduate research. In any submitted work, unacknowledged copying (or plagiarism) is regarded as a form of cheating. For more information:Visit University's web page on academic honesty and plagiarism.

Third party editing and proof reading

The University has a policy governing third party editing and proof reading of theses and dissertations.

More information

You can find more information relating to postgraduate research on the University website. This includes information about copyright and third-party editing and proof reading.