A dissertation prospectus is a document that outlines the rationale and proposed research methods for executing a doctoral reference project. Dissertation prospectuses must be submitted to a doctoral student's department and committee before that student can proceed with the actual reference project. Dissertation prospectuses are similar to thesis prospectuses in their purpose; however, typically dissertation prospectuses must include a long and comprehensive research component known as a literature review. Not all thesis prospectuses require such a component. In addition, some universities require that dissertation prospectuses go through a formal defense process.
A dissertation prospectus is a precursor to the project, and is therefore sometimes thought of as the first step. This is because, despite the fact that a dissertation prospectus is a preliminary document, it contains the foundational aspects of the complete reference project. Thus, sometimes a dissertation prospectus will take months to prepare.
Often, a dissertation prospectus contains three sections: an introduction, a literature review, and a methodology. These sections will later be revised into the first three chapters of the final document. The introduction of a report prospectus outlines the research objective. In other words, the first chapter states the purpose of the researcher's proposed study. Therefore, the chapter should provide any necessary background information on the topic and should also explain why the topic is deserving of study. This chapter should also outline the researcher's expectations or hypotheses regarding the outcomes of the study.
The literature review is the second component of a report prospectus. In this section, the writer must present a comprehensive overview of existing research related to his or her assignment topic. The compilation and study of this research will be very time consuming; the literature review section is therefore often the longest section to complete, simply because of the time it takes to perform the required research. Once the research is complete, the writer should organize the relevant research studies in the report prospectus, presenting a summary of each study. The literature review should close by suggesting areas in the research that are incomplete or not yet fully explored.
The methodology section of a report prospectus outlines the proposed way in which the study will be carried out. The entire process of the study should be explained in extreme detail so that the student's university can determine whether or not the study will be adequate for researching the topic.
To ensure that the student is on the right track, each section of a report prospectus should be submitted to the student's committee or advisor for review before moving on to the next chapter.
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