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How to Write a Dissertation Proposal - Template & Examples

Dissertation writing is an important academic assignment for your bachelor’s and master’s degrees. It is considered the most demanding and daunting assignment because it involves extensive research and analysis.

Professors usually assign this task to students to evaluate their research and writing skills. Thus, the writing process is indeed challenging and time-consuming. From choosing the right topic to writing all the sections of a dissertation, it needs a lot of effort.

Before submitting a dissertation, a dissertation proposal is written for approval. When the proposal is approved, the research on the topic begins. Learn how to write a professional dissertation proposal by going through this detailed guide.

What is a Dissertation Proposal?

A dissertation proposal is similar to a research proposal. It is written to comprehend a statement on the nature of the student’s research interest. This proposed idea must be submitted to the dissertation advisor, who can either approve or reject it.

Moreover, a dissertation proposal presents the methods for data collection and describes hypothetical outcomes. It is mainly used to convince the experts that your research is worthy enough to make a difference in the field. Therefore, make sure to write an impressive and well-structured proposal.

A dissertation proposal is a major step in your master’s or doctoral degree. It provides an outline of the future work you will do to complete that degree.

The length of a dissertation proposal varies from field to field. However, a lengthy proposal usually takes up to 20 pages, while the shorter one is around 9 to 10 pages.

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Dissertation Proposal Outline

Below is a detailed dissertation proposal outline for you to follow while writing your own:

Chapter 1 - Introduction

  • Significance of Problem
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Problem Statement
  • Research Questions
  • Hypothesis

Chapter 2 - Literature Review

  • Historical Background
  • Relevant Theoretical Models

Chapter 3 - Research Methodology

  • Participants
  • Measures
  • Research Design
  • Procedures
  • Data Analysis

Chapter 4 - Results

  • Descriptive Statistics
  • Numerical Statistics
  • Tables And Figures

Chapter 5 - Discussion

  • Summary
  • Conclusion
  • Limitations
  • Recommendations for Future Research

Chapter 6 - References

Chapter 7 - Appendices

Check out the following document to understand a dissertation proposal format.

Dissertation Proposal Template

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How to Write a Dissertation Proposal?

A dissertation proposal describes what you want to do, what the study is about, and how you will conduct it. It includes the steps given below.

1. Come Up With an Idea

Before starting to write a proposal, you should come up with a strong topic idea. It is better to find an area of your field that may interest you. Also, conduct thorough research work before utilizing the idea and consider the following questions.

  • What are the major concerns of other research experts?
  • How do they suggest the areas of future research?
  • Why has a literature gap grabbed your attention?

After you finalize the idea, narrow it down. Never work on a vague theme and be as specific as possible.

For Example

Russian literature - 19th-century Russian literature - The novels of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky

2. Present the Idea in the Introduction

Like other academic assignments, a dissertation proposal also starts with an introduction. This section introduces the topic, provides background information, and presents objectives and research questions.

Consider writing a hook statement related to your chosen topic. Present more background and area context to understand the proposed questions. Also, discuss the existing research on the topic idea and what your dissertation will contribute to the field area.

Remember, if you are planning to include a literature review, avoid adding too much detail at this point. Instead, just provide a brief overview of the research study.

Furthermore, the research aims and objectives must be identifiable and specific. Avoid too broad and too many questions.

3. Explore Research in the Literature Review

In this section, explore existing research work and identify what is missing from the literature. Ensure that you are not working on something that has already been discussed.

Thus, thoroughly analyze the relevant sources in your review. Also, summarize the findings of other researchers and highlights the limitations in the previous work.

4. Describe the Methodology

Describe the proposed methods to collect and analyze data. Make sure to convince the reader that your methodology is realistic to carry out. However, this section will vary in length depending on the field of your study.

A writer can use the following research types to collect the data.

Empirical Research

This type involves collecting data and analyzing it to answer a specific question. It can be quantitative, qualitative, or a combination of both.

Here, you will collect data by using surveys, lab experiments, and interviews. Nevertheless, consider the variable that you will measure and the sample size before conducting empirical research.

Theoretical Research

Theoretical research does not involve collecting original data. Instead, the method focuses on the theory you have planned to work with. You can also refer to the same theorists that you have discussed in the review. But here, the emphasis must be placed on how you will use their contributions in your study.

5. Outline the Implications of Your Research

Conclude the proposal by discussing what you expect the research work to achieve. If you are unsure about the final results, consider the possible implications of your dissertation that include:

  • Develop or test a theory.
  • Providing new data to the organizations.
  • Challenge a common belief.
  • Suggest a future recommendation.

6. Create a Referencing List

Lastly, you must reference all sources that you have used in your dissertation proposal. For this, include a properly formatted reference list at the end.

Different educational institutions have different referencing styles, including Harvard, APA, MLA, and Chicago. If the professor does not specify the requirements, choose a style yourself, and apply it.

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Writing the Dissertation Proposal - Do’s and Don’ts

Here are the dos and don’ts of writing a dissertation proposal.

  • The structure of the dissertation is very important. Always present your idea in a hierarchic order with the most important opinions placed first.
  • Identify the topic at the beginning of the proposal and state the central argument.
  • Make sure to distinguish between the central questions and the subsidiary ones.
  • Identify the main interest of the reader to find out how the writer will address the topic.
  • Do not present the topic in multiple versions. Instead, state it clearly and concisely at the start.
  • Always identify what is missing in the existing literature and how your research will contribute to the field.
  • State a clear connection between the how and what of the presented topic.
  • Give enough historical background of the topic for the readers to understand.
  • Limit the scope of the research work because too many goals will not be easy to accomplish in the future.
  • Never forget to write an abstract that will relate the opening paragraph to the final outcomes.

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Dissertation Proposal Examples

Refer to the following dissertation proposal examples to write your own.

Masters Dissertation Proposal Example

Sample Dissertation Proposal in Education

Nursing Dissertation Proposal Example

HR Dissertation Proposal Example

Undergraduate Dissertation Proposal Example

PhD Dissertation Proposal Example

Corporate Social Responsibility Dissertation Proposal

Now you must have understood the structure and the writing process of a dissertation proposal. We understand that drafting a perfect dissertation is a daunting task for many students.

The grades and degrees solely depend on this academic assignment. Nevertheless, some get overburdened and end up producing low-quality work.

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