Dissertation Proposal Writing
Dissertation Proposal Writing – Step by step guide
Dissertation proposal writing is a daunting task that causes anxiety and stress to many students. Our step-by-step guide will give you the insight to write a remarkable proposal that will astound your committee.
- Choose a topic
This is the first step. As easy as it sounds, it is one of the hardest parts. So, where do you get a dissertation topic? You have various options such as brainstorming, consulting your dissertation advisor, borrowing from your interests, attending talks and seminars, reading magazines and newspapers, consulting the school librarian, and browsing through past dissertations. It is advisable to have more than one idea since some may be unfeasible.
- Narrow down
With a few topics in mind, it is now time to focus your attention from general to specifics. By looking at your topic’s existing literature, you are bound to find something that can be researched further, and therein lies your title, problem statement, literature review, and research questions.
- Choose the methodology
When choosing a research methodology, consider your dissertation’s validity and reliability. You should consider the following: whether you are using deductive or inductive reasoning; Quantitative, qualitative, or both; Primary or secondary sources of data.
- Check feasibility
- It is crucial that you consider your dissertation’s practicability before going to the next step. For feasibility purposes, there are three things to consider:
- Completion within the stipulated time frame.
- Approval by the university’s ethics board.
- The willingness of a professor to supervise your project.
The last process is getting down to business and writing your proposal. Please take into consideration the proposal structure above when writing it. When writing, use the future tense because the primary research will take place in the future. Also, use a passive voice to maintain coherence in all your sentences. Where practical use visual aids such as graphs, charts, and diagrams. Remember to keep the appropriate length.
After writing your proposal, you must take your time to proofread it. Check and correct any grammatical, spelling, or structural mistakes. It would create a wrong impression if the faculty/committee read your proposal and found it ridden with errors. A helpful method is reading your proposal out loud. You can also give it to your classmates or friends for proofreading.
Here’s a clear outline for most Dissertation Proposals contain these sections.
This is the early pitch of the research project. It precisely describes what you want to do. Your readers should understand your research and share your enthusiasm for the topic and the potential results on reading the introduction. Normally, Dissertation Proposal introductions should be two to four paragraphs long. This section introduces your topic, gives a brief background, defines the research problem, highlights the relationship between the topic and research problem, states the method used to analyze the research problem, and the importance/significance of your study. Keep in mind that these should be succinct.
- Background and significance
This section extensively details why your proposal is important and its aims. In some instances, it part of the introduction, and in others, it is a separate section on its own. Your readers do not know about the research problem as you do. This is the section to highlight the pertinent aims of your research. To do so, you should:
- State and explain the research problem. Go into more detail than you did in the introduction
- Provide the grounds of your proposed study and why it is worth conducting
- Explain the main problems to be conducted in your research
- Detail the methods you plan to use to conduct the research
- Describe the boundaries of the proposed research.
- If necessary, define terms and key concepts
- Literature review
A literature review serves as the foundation of your research by demonstrating to the readers that your research is backed by existing knowledge. This section requires you to review and synthesize previous studies related to your topic and specifically your research problem. Since the literature review is information-heavy, it is important to structure it correctly to help the reader understand the key concepts and follow the contents with ease. You can choose to arrange your literature review conceptually, systemically, or chronologically. To effectively write an outstanding review, consider the following:
- Cite – the appropriate literature to keep it focused on the research problem.
- Compare – various theories, arguments, concepts, and findings in the literature review.
- Contrast – highlight and explain major areas of disagreement among scholars.
- Critique- the literature by looking at what (and why different) approaches, findings, and methodologies are most reliable and persuasive.
- Connect – the literature to your own areas of research and how your research contributes to your field.
- Research design and methods
The research design and methods should be directly tied to your study’s aims. Special attention should be paid when writing this section. This is because you have not done your research yet, but you are convincing your readers your study research design and analysis methods are appropriate to address the research problem. Be as specific as possible in explaining the methodological approaches you plan to obtain information. You should also describe how you will analyze data, how you will test for validity, expected potential barriers, and how you will address them.
Depending on the study’s objectives, indicate the implications of your research on the future of scholarly research, theory, and practice. Highlight how your research will advance, refine, or revise existing knowledge in your area of study. Do not delve into idle speculations and opinions. The objective here is to consider the gaps in the current literature and how your study positively contributes to understanding your research problem.
Reiterate your proposal’s significance and provide a brief and concise summary of the entire document. It should be one or two paragraphs long. After reading this section, the reader should understand the study’s aims, the study’s specific purpose, research design and methods and rationale, implications of your research, and if the study is relevant to the research problems.
As in all scholarly pieces, you must list the sources you have used. This section can either include references or bibliographies. References list only the literature used in your proposal, and bibliographies list everything used in writing your proposal with extra citations to key sources. Consult your professor on which one is preferred for your proposal.
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