Dissertation Proposal Writing
Before a doctoral student undertakes his or her assignment—an original, usually book-length research document in the student's area of study—the student must submit a dissertation proposal to his or her institution, department, and dissertation committee. The department will then review the report and determine if the student may go forth with the study. Because a proposal is a template of the project itself, it must be well-researched and well-planned.
When writing dissertation proposals, learners should keep in mind that the style of dissertation proposal writing is different than dissertation writing itself in that a dissertation proposal will refer to the proposed study in future tense. This differs from dissertations, which are typically written in the past tense because the research and study have already taken place.
Effective dissertation proposal writing requires that the author fully explain his or her study by including three primary sections: an introduction of the topic, a literature review, and a methodology section.
The introduction often includes four primary components: (1) a presentation of the problem the report will address, (2) the research questions the report will seek to answer, (3) hypotheses regarding the study's answers to those research questions, and (4) an overview of the limitations of the study. This section is often known as the "purpose" section because it describes why the proposed study is relevant. This is important, so be sure to address it when writing dissertation proposals. This section may also include a listing of terms relevant to the study and their definitions.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of writing dissertation proposals is effectively completing the second section—the literature review. This requires the researcher to present a survey of research relevant to the proposed reference project. Each study discussed should be clearly and thoroughly explained in its own paragraph or set of paragraphs, and should give a complete description of the findings of each study. The literature review should conclude by pointing to holes in the research that the proposed dissertation study will seek to fill.
The third major component of dissertation proposal writing is a detailed explanation of the methodology the proposed study will follow—the procedure or plan of the researcher's study. This should include information about the participants of the study, the instruments that will be used, and the methods of data collection and analysis that will be implemented.
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