How to write a Dissertation Proposal

How to write a Dissertation Proposal-Tips That Work

A dissertation proposal is the first step to writing a dissertation. In it, you will define the problem you will solve and what your research will be about. The proposal structure is similar to the dissertation structure. Still, you need to include more details in a proposal to give your professor or editor enough information to understand.

The main purpose of this proposal is to convince your professor that your topic of interest is worthy of study and allows you to prove yourself—that you have a good idea that has not been studied before and can complete it successfully.

What is a dissertation proposal?

A Dissertation proposal is a written document that contains a vivid and detailed description of what your dissertation will be about, the research questions answered, the thesis statement and the methodology to be used.

A dissertation proposal is a document you present to an academic institution, usually before writing your actual dissertation. It is designed to convince other researchers and students that you have a worthwhile research project and have the competence and work plan to complete it.

The purpose of this document is twofold:

  • It helps the academic community decide if your topic presents a worthwhile contribution to your field of study.
  • It gives an overview of your entire dissertation project, which allows supervisors and other parties involved in the process to give early feedback about whether or not you’re on the right track.

Why do students write dissertation proposals?

Students are asked to submit a proposal because it helps them define their research goals and helps the department assess whether they have the skills to complete their project. It also ensures that you will have access to any relevant sources and experts and permission from your institution.

Why is a dissertation proposal important?

  • A dissertation proposal is a crucial step in your journey towards publishing and earning your degree.
  • It’s a way to demonstrate to your advisor that you’ve decided to undertake a serious project worth her time and attention. The proposal will lay out the details of your project, including your methods, goals and conclusions.
  • It’s also an opportunity for you to show off your research skills, so include any particularly interesting methods or findings. Your advisor will read this document with great care and make suggestions for its improvement.
  • Writing the proposal is also a great excuse for one-on-one time with your advisor, who can help you refine what you’re researching, why it’s important and how long it should take. When you’re finished with the whole process, you’ll be ready to start working on gathering data. So don’t delay! Start writing your dissertation proposal today!

How to begin your dissertation proposal

You might be apprehensive about beginning your dissertation proposal because it can feel like an overwhelming task, but don’t lose hope. This task should become much more manageable by breaking it down into components and following a few simple tips.

First, make sure you know what a dissertation proposal is. It’s a clear and concise representation of the ideas you’ll discuss in your dissertation, making it important for the reader to understand what will come next in your paper.

Once you have that information covered, it’s time to consider a topic. One way of doing this is coming up with keywords or themes related to the broader area of study that interests you most.

Next, look at narrowing down those topics until one stands out from the others as being the best fit for your thesis statement—the key idea or claim that will guide your entire project.

1. Narrow the topic down 

  • Choose a dissertation topic that you are passionate about. If you want to write a dissertation, you first need to choose a broad area of interest in your field, then narrow it down to a specific question and finally select your topic. It should be an interesting area so that you can enjoy writing about it. Likewise, it should be something that excites and interests other people. You will spend several months or years researching this topic; therefore, it will be most helpful if you choose one that inspires you to keep going even when the process gets tedious.
  • Choose a manageable dissertation topic. As important as choosing a topic that is interesting to study, make sure your idea fits within the parameters of the project assigned by your teacher or professor. There is no point in selecting something too large for what is expected of you in terms of time commitment and workload (unless given explicit permission) or something so small nothing substantial can be written about it.
  • Find an original (or at least not overly researched) topic and focus question which has not been completely answered before (or at least not thoroughly answered). As stated above, there is no point in choosing something which others have extensively covered; therefore, you must find some degree of originality within your topic/idea—even if just in how new/interesting questions are posed or explored from existing data! For example, biology might mean looking more deeply into evolutionary theory through fossils rather than working with current organisms being studied today, whereas·within mathematics could translate·into studying complex numbers instead·of simple integers—so long as these areas have not already been dissected fully!
  • Choose a dissertation topic relevant to your field of study and academic level – A final consideration when deciding what subject matter suits you best come from having some sense·of relevance towards one’s career path ahead–not only.

2. What should I include in a dissertation proposal?

A dissertation proposal includes the following sections:

  • A title
  • An introduction
  • Background of the problem
  • A review of the literature
  • Research questions or hypotheses
  • Sample, participants, or instruments used (or to be used) and procedures for gathering data (depending on your study)
  • Data collection plan (if applicable) (depending on your study)
  • Data analysis plan (if applicable) (depending on your study)
  • Anticipated results include a discussion of expected outcomes, research findings, and policy changes due to your work. This can also be part of a conclusion. The conclusion should not simply summarise what you have done but should include implications for future research or action based on what you have done. This is also where you will point out strengths and limitations in your work that may affect how others interpret the results from this project. This can include suggestions for future research. It is important to note that the length of these sections depends upon whether you are proposing qualitative or quantitative research, so be sure to discuss which type with your advisor.* References

How to structure a dissertation proposal

It’s important to have a clear, easy-to-follow structure when writing your proposal. This helps you organise the foundation and development of your dissertation, providing coherence. While the exact structure of your dissertation depends on your subject area and topic, there are some general considerations to bear in mind.

1. Introduction

The introduction should provide a brief overview of the proposed topic and the reasons behind the choice of the topic. It should be clear, concise and focused. The first paragraph of your dissertation proposal should present a brief but precise background for the research question you have chosen to investigate. You can go into more detail about why your research question is important in this section. A good introduction will also give an overview of key points addressed in each section.

2. Problem statement

Your problem statement should be a clear, precise, and compelling articulation of your research problem:

  • Why is the problem important?
  • What are the key variables being studied?
  • What are the dependent and independent variables?
  • What previous research has been done on this topic, and how has it informed your approach to this project?

3. Aims & Objectives

These are the basics of the purpose and goals of your dissertation. To achieve these aims, you will need to decide on specific objectives. You can have multiple objectives for each aim.

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How will you achieve that?
  • Why is this important?
  • How will you know when you have achieved your aims and objectives?

5. Literature review

The literature review section of your proposal provides a background to your topic, showing the research already done in your area and highlighting key facts, problems, and concerns.

Your literature review should be well-structured, allowing a reader to follow along easily from one point to another. It should also be reasoned and evidence-based rather than opinionated. When discussing different perspectives on an issue or explaining what others have said about a particular topic or argument, try to keep it objective rather than simply stating your opinion in terms such as “I think” or “It is my belief”. Remember that you explain what other authors have said about the topic.

You may choose to do this with shorter paragraphs or by presenting related information together within one paragraph. Either way, make sure that the relationship between different paragraphs is clear and flows well for the reader – there’s nothing worse than struggling through reading something because of poor organisation!

4. Anticipated results

The main purpose of this section is to show the readers what you expect to find through your research. Your expectations should be clearly stated and supported with relevant arguments concisely. Avoid being too lengthy and too specific in this section.

5. Dissertation methodology

Next, you will have to discuss your dissertation methodology. The methodology is the approach you will use to investigate the problem. It would help if you showed that you know how others have investigated similar problems and how these approaches are insufficient for your own research needs.

This section should also highlight what type of data you need to collect (quantitative or qualitative), how you will collect it and why (through interviews, surveys, experiments, etc.), and what data analysis techniques you intend to use.

6. Constraints and limitations of your research

It’s important, to be honest about what you can and can’t do. Nobody’s perfect, and it’s perfectly ok to admit that your research has some drawbacks. Honesty is always the best policy, even if you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. If there are limitations to your research, it’s best to admit them so that you don’t set yourself up for failure by promising something you can’t deliver.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when writing this section:

  • Can we capture all the data we need?
  • Do we have enough time?
  • Will our sample size be large enough?

7. Ethical considerations

You need to know that doing a dissertation is more than just writing a huge research paper. You will also be doing original research, which means you need to know about ethical considerations in your field.

A common part of a dissertation proposal is the ethical considerations section. This section will let your committee know that you are aware of issues that could arise and how to deal with them if they do.

Here are three things you want to mention in your dissertation proposal:

  • Informed consent – this needs to be written out as a letter for participants and needs to include everything about the study (i.e., why it’s being done, possible risks, confidentiality) in plain language
  • Legal issues – any legal authority or regulations that apply to the study should be included here (i.e., privacy laws)
  • Research ethics – you should mention any ethical issues surrounding participants’ rights or well-being here

8. Conclusions and bibliography

The conclusion should summarise the key elements of your proposed research (e.g. what you aim to examine and why), briefly summarise the literature review, describe your methodology, and indicate potential outcomes/findings.

The bibliography should list all the sources you have used during the research stage for your proposal. The particular style may vary depending on the institution you’re applying to but will usually be in either a Harvard or American Psychological Association (APA) format. List each source in alphabetical order according to the author’s surname, with multiple works by an author listed chronologically by date of publication (starting with the earliest)

Final Thoughts

Dissertation proposals aren’t just about getting your degree; proposals will make you think more critically about your topic. In writing a dissertation proposal, you’ll learn to define your research question, consider possible methodologies and how structure the final dissertation.

If you’re studying at a university abroad or even in a different city from where you live, this is an easy way to connect with professors and mentors without putting on pants!

Get Help from our Experts with your Dissertation proposal

Our experts are here to help. They will work with you to define your proposal and establish how you will go about proving whether or not your hypothesis is correct.

They can also help you create the research questions and the methodology and help write the literature review chapter of your proposal.

In this way, they can provide an entire dissertation proposal that has been written by a professional who has written many others before and knows exactly what it needs to contain to be accepted by your university.