The role of the dissertation proposal

The dissertation proposal marks the beginning of doctoral research.

The main role of dissertation proposal is to:

  1. Allow the student chance to share their interest and enthusiasm in an area of their field of study by undertaking an in-depth research project that would be worthy of warranting investigation and exploration at doctorate level. The target of the research problem should crystal clear and well defined. The more information that the student puts into the proposal, the easier it is for the student to share their interest with their supervisor and the Advisory Committee.

  2. Allow the student to accumulate information for the proposal through the study of similar work that has already been undertaken and published. This information can be presented through a Literature search or Critical Review.

  3. Allow the student to provide a methodology of how they would take the research forward, based on the information gathered through the Literature Search or Critical Review. The methodology would also include the criteria needed to illustrate the targets that would be needed to met in order to determine if the outcome of the research was successful. A detailed time lines should also be part of the proposal.

The research proposal at doctorate level needs to be a very impermeable document. At this level the student is no longer only dealing with their tutor for approval regarding a piece of work, as the dissertation proposal gets presented in an open forum, which will involve an oral presentation. In order for the dissertation to have the go-ahead, it has to contain enough information to convince at least 75% of the Advisory Committee that the work it entails is sufficient to meet doctoral standards.

The role of the Advisory Committee, is to evaluate if the student has identified and isolated the proposed research sufficiently for it to be credible for Doctoral Research. They can also advise if other background information should be considered or the proposal should be modified, if the research methods should be adapted in any way.

If the Advisory Committee agrees that the proposal meets the criteria for Doctorate Research then they may suggest changes to the methodology, proposal. So another major role of the dissertation proposal is that it provides the Advisory Committee with information as to the progress of the research by the student and it also informs the student of the feedback and opinions of the Advisory Committee on his work.

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