Effective Suggestions for Writing a Dissertation Proposal

Many students today who work on a dissertation are being required to submit the dissertation proposal before they begin the bulk of their research. The purpose of the dissertation proposal is to provide your advisor and/or dissertation committee a “preview” as it were of the work you will complete. It is designed as a slightly larger version of an outline, one which shows the advisor that you have done enough research to prove that there is enough information and there are enough sources out there for you to complete a thorough job.

The dissertation proposal can be an informal thing or a formal thing depending on your institution. If you are unsure of what formatting requirements your proposal requires it is best to ask your advisor.

Generally speaking, the informal proposal will consist of:

  • A description of your topic
  • Some background to your topic
  • Your thesis
  • A synopsis of the main literature you have found
  • What avenues you plan to pursue

In many cases, the literature section functions the same as an annotated bibliography. The purpose of it is to catalogue the basic literature you have found during a rudimentary search and to explain to your advisor or dissertation committee why that is important. You should have short paragraphs beneath the main literature you have included which explain what is contained in the piece and how it relates to your thesis.

Generally speaking, the formal proposal will consist of

  • A formal cover sheet
  • An abstract
  • An introduction
  • A literature review
  • A synopsis of the direction you will take and your thesis

Much the same as the informal proposal, the literature section of your proposal is important because it showcases the information you have already found in a rudimentary search and how that information relates to your thesis.

If you conduct a general search in one day and the results do not flood your screen, then chances are you have picked a topic that is too narrow or one that is too specific. If this is the case, you won’t be able to fulfil the requirements of your paper or meet the page length requirements for it. This is the main reason for the literature section of the proposal.

Once you submit your proposal, all you need do is wait for a response. If your proposal is approved, then you can get to work. If it is not, then you can tweak it accordingly and then start.

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