Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Dissertation Proposal

Writing a dissertation is no easy feat. As such, we won’t advertise the process as a ride through the park rather highlight various tools that can help you brave various challenges that come with writing a dissertation, making the process manageable. 

Among various challenges you face from the get-go of writing a dissertation, preparing a dissertation proposal tops the list. A dissertation proposal is a crucial item that allows you to gauge your aims and objectives and test the relevance of the methods you’ll use to analyze your hypothesis. 

The dissertation proposal usually gives your readers a gist of the research you’ve conducted and highlights the problem you intend to tackle. Read on for tips to employ when writing and presenting your dissertation proposal defense.

What is a dissertation proposal?

A dissertation proposal is a paper written to inform your readers, instructors, and tutor about what your paper will entail and the methods you will employ in testing your hypothesis. 

This paper is crucial as it allows you to get relevant feedback on the feasibility of your paper and guidance on the items to rectify before you start writing your essay. The paper also gives you clarity on your goals and helps you sort the ideas in your paper, escaping various pitfalls associated with writing a dissertation.

As such, the dissertation proposal can be termed as the start point of your essay as it guides you on what to do in various stages of writing your dissertation. 

Dissertation proposal template

The dissertation proposal comprises some key areas of a thesis with some sections of your argument summarized to give your reader a gist of what the sections will entail. The dissertation proposal outline entails the:

  1. Abstract
  2. Definition of the topic
  3. Introduction
  4. Research questions
  5. Literature review
  6. Methods
  7. Timeline
  8. Conclusion

You should however consult the dissertation handbook provided by your institution to determine the areas to which you should pay more focus. 

How to write a dissertation proposal

Like all other academic writing tasks, writing a dissertation proposal can prove a daunting task if approached poorly. When writing the proposal, 

  1. Come up with an abstract

The abstract is the initial element of your dissertation research proposal. This section offers a summary of your paper and highlights the hypothesis, relevance of your study, and the research methodology in a single paragraph.

It is thus key to prepare this section after you’ve prepared your outline as you are better acquainted with the scope of your paper. 

  1. Select a topic

Finding a narrow topic that falls within the general research question can prove a challenging task for many students. For this, search for a topic that evokes your curiosity and unveils new data in your field. 

Note that your topic should be feasible with the resources at your disposal. You may consider engaging your librarian and supervisor on various topics you’ve come up with. 

These people are exposed to the field and can thus gauge how well your topic can be handled per the expectations of the faculty. Finally, come up with a title that encapsulates the key idea of your paper and hooks your readers in. 

  1. Pen your introduction down

The introduction should cover the background information of your topic and justify the relevance of your study. Ideally, the introduction should hook your readers and cover the main argument for your paper. 

  1. Present your literature review

Here, presents an analysis of the sources you’ve used in your work and analyze the weaknesses and strengths of each source. 

  1. Methodology

This is a vital section of your proposal that highlights the data you intend to collect for your study and the methods you’ll employ to collect it. You should also highlight various approaches that will be employed to test your hypothesis, helping the faculty gauge the extent to which you shall cover the dissertation.

  1. Show your timeline

How many weeks do you need to finalize your dissertation proposal? This section should comprise a Gannt chart, a task list, or another form of a schedule to help the committee gauge the duration of covering your study. 

  1. References

Although some institutions provide a conclusion, it is not relevant for the dissertation proposal as the study has not been conducted yet. However, the references are crucial for the research proposal. 

References help the panel to gauge how well you’ve conducted your research, thus determining if you can exhaust the topic you’ve selected. 

How many pages is a dissertation proposal?

A dissertation proposal ranges between 1500 and 4000 words, which translates to between six and sixteen pages. These pages can be divided as:

  • 2/3 pages for the introduction
  • 6/10 pages for the literature review
  • 3/6 pages for the methodology
  • One page for the timeline

Tips for the dissertation proposal presentation

  • Proofread your paper for any grammatical errors as it may put your faculty off, resulting in rejection. 
  • Master the topic and make short notes for the presentation. This will help you engage the panel in a conversational tone and avoid the verbatim reading of the notes which may make you seem disconnected from your work. 
  • Rehearse the presentation with friends to help beat the anxiety that comes with presenting the proposal to the panel. 

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