When I had to write a dissertation proposal for my post-graduate studies, I had no idea what a dissertation proposal was. I asked a couple of friends and wrote a half-hearted dissertation proposal. But my instructor rejected it because it did not fulfill the academic criteria. I consulted some books to understand how to write a dissertation proposal, and finally, my supervisor accepted it.
But it was a time taking task which could have been if I had access to a well-written how-to guide. It compelled me to write this article to inform students on how to write a flawless dissertation proposal. This article will explain the step-by-step procedure and tips for writing a dissertation proposal.
What is a dissertation proposal?
A dissertation proposal is an outline or blueprint informing your supervisor and department about your research. Think of it as a business proposal. For example, when someone intends to start a new business and wants to secure funding for the project. Similarly, a dissertation proposal informs the following things to the supervisory committee:
- What is it you want to research?
- What type of research do you want to do?
- How will you do it?
- What is the significance of your research?
A dissertation proposal is essential for getting departmental approval for writing an master’s and PhD dissertation.
What are the contents of a research proposal?
A dissertation proposal includes the following contents:
- Research problem
- Research questions
- Aims and objectives of the Study
- Literature review
- Research methodology
- Outline of different sections of the research
- Tentative discussion of research results and findings
- References and bibliography
It is important to remember that every university and department has separate guidelines for the dissertation proposal. It is important to consult with your department first before writing the proposal. However, the contents mentioned above are common in every type of dissertation proposal.
What are the five essential tips to follow to write a dissertation proposal?
Let’s walk you through the five simple steps for writing a perfect dissertation proposal.
Step 1: Unique Topic Selection and Formulation of Research Problem
The first step in writing an impressive dissertation proposal is to develop a unique topic idea for your proposal. Also, after identifying the research topic, you will have to develop a strong research problem. A dissertation proposal requires a strong topic idea. The topic idea must be unique and add value to the literature. You can do the following things to develop a unique topic idea for the dissertation proposal:
- Find some topics that match your interests.
- Do some preliminary research on them and identify gaps in the literature
- Identify whether there is ample evidence available on the chosen few topics
- Select the most interesting topic and identify the gaps you can address through your research
- Do some brainstorming and breakdown the topic into various components
- Brainstorming will help you narrow down the focus of your topic and focus on one or two key issues
- The dissertation proposal topic must be specific, and it should not be vague
- Develop a strong and coherent research problem
- A research problem is an arguable claim that you can support through evidence and explanation
Step 2: Write the Introduction
The next step after identifying the topic is to write an introduction to the dissertation proposal. The introduction section is the part where you will introduce your topic’s main idea. It is the most integral part of a dissertation because a good start builds the flow of ideas. Make sure to use attention grabbers in the introduction section to keep the reader engaged. Furthermore, the introduction section requires incorporation of the following things:
- Provide some background information on the topic of your research
- The background information should be brief. Write it to inform the readers about the context
- Clearly articulate your research problem in the introduction section
- Write down the aims and objectives of the study
- State the key research questions
- Research questions must be specific and straightforward
- Write down the significance and scope of the research
- The significance of the research must justify the rationale for conducting research
Step 3: Literature Review
Here comes the central part of the dissertation. A literature review is the steel frame of the entire dissertation. A literature review is important in a dissertation proposal because it helps you justify the significance of your research. It entails the identification of gaps in the existing studies. Furthermore, it requires explaining how your research will address those gaps. A literature review is a thorough analysis of the existing body of literature. You will have to consult various sources relevant to your topic area.
A literature review involves analysis and evaluation of sources. You will have to justify the relevance of your research problem and strengthen it with corroborating evidence. A literature review also requires incorporating those sources that contradict your central argument. Place the sources in the context and compare them as if two speakers with different opinions discuss an issue. But remember, the language must be formal.
Step 4: Explain the Research Methodology
The fourth part of the dissertation proposal involves explaining the chosen research methodology to the reader. You will have to inform the following things to the reader:
- What methods will you use to address the key research question?
- What tools will you use for data collection and analysis?
- Why did you choose this research method?
- How credible and relevant the chosen methodology is for your research?
- How will you ensure data validity in your research?
Step 5: Discuss the tentative implications of your research
When writing a dissertation proposal, you do not have a clear idea of your findings. It is because you have not started collecting the data yet. But you can provide hints and indications of the possible implications of your research. You can predict your findings and inform the reader about the intended results of your research.
The five tips mentioned above are essential to incorporate in the dissertation proposal. If you follow each step, you can write a flawless dissertation proposal. It is important to remember that a dissertation proposal must have coherent and logical ideas. Make sure that you use correct grammatical structure, punctuation, and spelling.