How to write a dissertation proposal?

How to write a dissertation proposal

Dissertation proposals seem to like your research’s table of contents. It assists in explaining what needs to be examined and how you will analyze and collect your data. You will not require anything exactly planned out for your topic because, during the course of your research, it is possible that your topic may slightly change.

What is dissertation proposal?

A dissertation proposal is needed while writing the final dissertation paper. It is an exclusive document that lets its readers know about the objectives and aims of your dissertation research. It also provides knowledge to its readers about the intended actions of the researcher.
Mainly, your proposal should assist you in identifying the direction of your dissertation. It includes the general scope of your project, with basic components, like:

  • Your basic research questions
  • Research methodology
  • Your study’s overall significance

Following are the few steps for planning a dissertation proposal:

Choose a topic

Before getting near your research proposal, first, you should have a topic in your mind. Meanwhile, mind mapping is a wonderful way for visualization and organization of your initial ideas while developing your dissertation topic. Similarly, online tools can come in handy to discuss potential topics with your online colleagues.

Research and reading

There are heaps of research tools available online that can help you with research and reading. Meanwhile, your bibliography’s compilation in the required format can be a time-consuming task near the end of the dissertation. So, it is best to keep it in a structured way right from the beginning, especially if you don’t keep a proper writing track.

Time planning

Time management is very vital in big projects, such as dissertation writing. It can be beneficial to plan backward from the deadline for your work. Also, allow additional time when it is essential for revisions and unforeseen delays. Further, there are plenty of free tools that can assist you with proper time planning for academic writing.

Dissertation proposal

Writing dissertation proposal is a key milestone towards the final step of the dissertation for a research degree or Ph.D. It is best to write your dissertation proposal in the present tense. In it, you should cover:

  • the conceptual framework
  • literature review
  • introduction
  • methodology
  • appendices
  • bibliography.

Your introduction should be the summary of issues and concepts, and also include your main research questions.

Dissertation proposal example

A dissertation proposal plans the whole thing you want to do while writing your complete dissertation. Ideally, it should describe your work plan and the way you hope to accomplish your selected research goals.
The ideal structure of your dissertation proposal depends on your course’s specific requirements. Maybe some of the courses specify the objectives and aims of your research, while others might not. Either way, there is no need to add a literature review or methodology section in your proposal.
When you figure out which sections you need to add and which ones you do not need to add, it will assist you in focusing on your writings. Here are some tips that should ease the writing process as a good starting point:

  • Break down your proposal into several different headings, and handle each of them separately.
  • Feel free to include a proposed topic.
  • Try to narrow down your topic to a specific idea, instead of a vague general one

When you look at dissertation proposal examples for ideas, you will see that they comprise of various headings. You can tackle it either in the form of sections or in the form of chapters.

Writing a dissertation proposal

Here are some key things that you need to keep in mind while writing the dissertation proposal:

  • It demands strong organization and effective time management skills for achieving high standards.
  • When your dissertation proposal topic is selected, you have to make sure that it is suitable for your field of study.
  • Narrow the topic down in terms of time available for your course/degree.

What should you add in dissertation proposal?

While each dissertation proposal varies considerably, a lot of key aspects can form the basic structure. These important key aspects are:

  • Methodology
  • Introduction
  • Literature review
  • Objectives
  • Aims
  • Research constraints

You can add or remove any of them in order to give your supervisor a comprehensive proposal.

Deciding the structure

The proposal paper’s main purpose is to show your members or supervisor of the dissertation committee that your research will increase the importance of existing knowledge in your area study.
Dissertation proposal structures can vary, and it depends on your academic subject, academic level, and required length. Despite these differences, the structure will stay more or less the same.
However, before starting your dissertation proposal, you can consult with your supervisor(s) and learn about the guideline, structure, and formatting requirements. It is possible that you might lose some score if your work is not according to your department rules.

How long should a dissertation proposal be?

Again, this will vary from subject to subject. Most of the proposals are not less than 10 pages. The average length of proposals should be between 15 – 20 pages.
Add a table of contents and other preliminary pages to give it a structured look, but they won’t count in the actual dissertation proposal length.
If you have a strong hypothesis, then you should identify the significance of your prior research and the appropriate methodology that you intend to use.
Your proposal’s length depends on your topic of research and your degree program. Dissertation proposals of PhD are longer as compared to masters and bachelor level proposals.

  • Dissertation proposals of bachelors are almost 5-6 pages long.
  • Length of PhD and Master level proposals are about 15-25 pages long. It depends on the degree program and academic subject specifications.
  • If the length and word count of your proposal is not mentioned on university’s websites or in your guidelines, then you should consult your program coordinator or supervisor for a better understanding of this specific requirement.

Key points

An effective dissertation proposal will set the tone and direction for your actual research. For a general reader, the proposal should keep them interested while conveying a complete sense of your topic.
Putting in efforts to write a well-structured dissertation proposal is important because it will help in determining and defining your research. It also gives your instructors an idea about what and how you want to accomplish. This way, they can make sure that you have appropriate advice and guidance from the concerned people for your assistance in completing your research.