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Using a Dissertation Sample Proposal to Guide Your Own

April 24, 2015 - Posted to Dissertation topics and examples

Content 9

The real work on a dissertation begins with the proposal. Certainly, there has been some work prior to this moment – you have completed some initial research related to your topic; you have generated a research question; and you have already read some dissertations that other researchers have produced that relate to your topic and question. Perhaps you have even found one sample dissertation that sparked just the interest you needed to come up with your question and to get you excited about pursuing your research – that is a great feeling!

Creating the Dissertation Proposal

There are some general “rules” about what all dissertation proposals should include. If your advisor has not covered them with you, or if you do not have a departmental guide for producing this document, then you have a bit more work in store. At a minimum, your proposal must include:

  • A well-written statement of your research question. This must be scholarly in tone and style. If you are not certain how to do this, look at sample dissertations proposals to get a “feel” for wording. They are not written in the form of a question, so be careful here.
  • You must provide a short summary of the initial research you have done related to your question – this is important, because you need to demonstrate that you know something about the topic that has informed the research you intend to pursue.
  • A statement concerning the value of your intended research. Why is it important to your field that someone pursue this study? What do you hope to achieve (your objectives) as a result of your study? Again, if you are unclear about language and structure, study a sample of dissertation proposal writing in your field – a proposal that resulted in a successful and published dissertation.
  • You will need to speak to your methodology. How do you intend to implement this study that you propose? What will be your design and procedures? You may not have your instruments devised, but you should give a general idea of what they will contain.
  • A general timeline for completion should be included. This is not “carved in stone,” of course, but once you have put it in writing, you will be far more motivated to stick to it.

Finding Sample Dissertation Proposal Writings

There are multiple sources for locating dissertation proposal samples. Begin by asking your advisor for some. S/he should be willing to provide you with some samples that gained committee approval within the department. Other sources might be:

  1. Conduct a Google search with the keywords, “how to write a dissertation proposal sample” and add your academic discipline to the search as well. You will be able to pull up lots of samples, as well as suggestions and tips for preparing your own. And remember, 30 years ago this would not have been possible, so you are lucky to be writing your dissertation in this era.
  2. You will also find dissertation proposal samples on specific academic websites, such as “Purdue Owl.” Again, they will also give lots of tips and suggestions.

Once the Proposal is Approved

The first hurdle has been cleared, and you will be on your way to the “real deal.” It’s both exciting and scary. However, as you proceed, you will be reading a great deal of research by others who successfully completed their dissertations. As you read this research, keep in mind that you are seeing more than just the data and study results they are presenting. You are also seeing a sample of dissertation writing that can serve as a model for yours in structure, tone, and style. In fact, most all of your research can be viewed as more than just data gathering. All of these works are sample dissertations that can serve as models for your own.

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