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Tips for writing a good dissertation proposal

A dissertation proposal is the first document that a PhD student submits before working on the final research dissertation. The dissertation proposal is prepared after you have narrowed down on your specific research topic that you plan to work on, and should contain information specific to the planned research. Your dissertation proposal is the sole document that should convince your university personnel that you are the right person to conduct this research and should reflect your profound understanding of your field of study.

Although the structure of your proposal can evolve over the period of your research, a good proposal must contain the following elements:

  • Introduction

The introduction must state your specific research question, its importance, along with a brief background of this subject. In addition to including the relevant keywords, your introduction should provide clarity on the major approaches you plan to use to proceed with your research work.

A short overview of your research must highlight how your planned research fits into existing academic discourses and literature.

  • Aims and objectives

Every dissertation proposal should contain the aims and objectives of conducting this research work. Provide a summary of the outcome that you hope to establish through this research. This element of your proposal should indicate you have complete theoretical understanding of the problem in hand.

  • Literature review

This should contain all the relevant research material that you have used to determine your research work. This section connects your planned research to previous studies that have been performed, thus providing validity to your chosen area of research. Additionally, you can demonstrate your understanding of research work by providing your own analysis of the existing research.

  • Research constraints

Including constraints in your dissertation proposals will display your understanding of external constraints that can hamper your research.

  • Research methodology

The methodology section in your dissertation proposal should mention and justify the specific research technique that you plan to use. This can include a brief rationale of the data collection methods and the required resources.

The dissertation proposal, however well written, cannot answer every question of your research, but should provide a clear idea of your research work. Avoid common mistakes of proposal writing by articulating a well-written research question that can address current gaps in research, and by researching if your chosen research subject would potentially interest the personnel of your university department.

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