Developing Your Dissertation Proposal
An Overview of the Dissertation Proposal Process


     Once you’ve chosen a dissertation topic or idea and have solidified a research question you will need to take the necessary steps to develop your dissertation proposal. In order to write a decent dissertation proposal you need a firm grasp of the proposal topic. We provide some guidelines here to help you write a strong dissertation proposal. 

Why is the Dissertation Proposal Important?
     The dissertation proposal gives you a chance to organize the specifics of your dissertation. A solid dissertation proposal is like a detailed road map of the necessary steps you will take to complete the dissertation. This is extremely important to the completion of your dissertation requirements.  

What are the Necessary Pieces of the Dissertation Proposal?
     When writing the dissertation proposal, do not be concerned about length. A dissertation proposal can be 20 pages or more. What’s important is that you address all of your dissertation committee’s points and concerns in your dissertation proposal. The major sections of the dissertation proposal include an introduction, a statement of the dissertation research problem and question, a dissertation literature review, dissertation methodology, references and appendices. More information about each of these dissertation proposal sections is presented below. 
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Developing Your Dissertation Proposal Introduction Section
     In the introduction section of your dissertation proposal, you should briefly summarize your major dissertation research questions. In the introduction section of your dissertation proposal, tell the reader what you are attempting to do in your research. 

Developing the Dissertation Proposal Research Problem Statement
     In this section of the dissertation proposal, tell the reader what major problems your dissertation will address and how your dissertation will fill any research gaps. Discuss how your dissertation might inform academic and or social contexts. Through writing, show the reader why your dissertation matters and how it might help your field of study. 

Developing the Literature Review of the Dissertation Proposal
     In this section of the dissertation proposal, you inform the reader what has been already been investigated in your area of study. Try to be as thorough as possible in the literature review section of your dissertation proposal. For this section of the dissertation proposal, develop, read and summarize the literature relevant to your dissertation. This will show your dissertation committee that you know what work has already been conducted in your area and are ready to move to the next step.  

Developing Your Dissertation Proposal Methodology Section
     In this section of your dissertation proposal, summarize the methodology you will use in your dissertation. The methodology section of the dissertation proposal can be the easiest part to write. Although it can be easy, it is crucial to the completion of your dissertation. In this section of the dissertation proposal, discuss what you will do, how you will do it and why you will do it. Include a lot of details in this section of your dissertation proposal. In this part of the dissertation proposal, mention who your participants will be and the instruments you will use. Include a timeline of the various components and research procedure. You should also include a data analysis plan if applicable. 
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Developing Your Dissertation Proposal References and Appendices
     In this last section of the dissertation proposal, you need to construct a reference section of your citations. You should keep track of the work you plan to cite to make this process smoother. In the dissertation proposal appendices, include dissertation instruments or measures, pilot data and a timeline. You will be able to refer back to the dissertation timeline to help keep you on track.  


     As a previously mentioned, your dissertation proposal is a detailed road map of the necessary steps you will take to complete the dissertation. A well-developed dissertation proposal shows your committee that you understand your dissertation topic and have developed your own approach to a research problem.  


     A well developed dissertation proposal will make the course of your dissertation much smoother. For example, when you are ready to analyze your dissertation data, you will look back at the data analysis plan from your dissertation proposal. You can literally cut and paste certain dissertation proposal sections into your dissertation (e.g. the dissertation proposal methods section) to assist with the completion of other sections. 

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