October 13, 2017

How to Write a Good Dissertation Proposal Outline

There are a lot of things that are associated with a dissertation, and one of the most important of them is a dissertation proposal. Before you start with your dissertation, check if your university or college requires a dissertation proposal for approval so that you can proceed with writing your dissertation. At this point, you might wonder why is a dissertation proposal so crucial if the only thing that matters is the dissertation that will fetch the grades.

Definitely, your dissertation proposal fetches no grades, but it is of vital importance. Before we move on further with the discussion, let us know what a dissertation proposal is. A dissertation proposal is a scholarly document which you have to write before you start with your dissertation. It is in this document you state what you intend to write in your dissertation, the ideas that you are going to place, how you plan to proceed with your dissertation, etc.

Now you will ask how does this help? Well, once you submit your dissertation proposal, your professor will evaluate and scrutinize your ideas. They check if your research will be fruitful one that will contribute new knowledge to the subject and the concerned area. Your professor will also consider the time and if the study is feasible within the deadline.

If your dissertation proposal meets all the criteria and pleases your professor, they will permit you to proceed with your research and do the dissertation else you have to come up with a new idea. This is the prime reason that writing a dissertation proposal is so important. It saves time and restricts you from doing anything unnecessary. The feedback helps you to improve your dissertation and how you write and present it.

Outlining of the dissertation proposal brings forward the difficulties that you might face while writing the actual dissertation. Hence you can take the necessary steps to avoid them.

Moreover, a dissertation proposal helps your professor to understand if you are capable enough to carry out the study that you have proposed. This also prepares you for your final dissertation. Seeing the dissertation proposal that you have submitted, your professor and supervisor will guide you through the procedure. Remember that it is best if your dissertation proposal is a unique one.

And now the biggest question that you have is how you can write the dissertation proposal so that it will be accepted. Many aspects come into consideration when you start with your dissertation. It is not only about composing the paper, i.e. writing the words but there is more to it. Since a dissertation proposal is vital for a dissertation, it takes a lot of preparations to compose a dissertation proposal too. Your dissertation proposal is not directly relevant, but indirectly it holds a lot of importance.

Let us see the ways through which you can outline and write an impressive dissertation proposal

  • Just like every academic paper has a definite structure on which it is based; your dissertation proposal too has a structure. Remember that the first step to start with your dissertation proposal is to structure the paper and outline it accurately. A typical dissertation proposal has the following structure.
  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Aims and objectives
  • Methodology
  • Literature review
  • Research constraints
  • Conclusion
  • Time frame
  • References

This structure is just an example. You must check with your university what structure they have suggested or require and frame your dissertation proposal accordingly.

  • The next thing which cannot be described as a ‘way’ to write a good dissertation proposal but very important in other ways is that you should have a helpful supervisor. Your supervisor is your guide, and you must remember that without him, chances of success gets low. So in a case where you need help from him/her, and you find that he/she is not that helpful, you can right away place a request to your university for a change mentioning the reasons and why you want it. Never compromise on this.
  • Another thing which you must stick by, which is also a way to get through your dissertation proposal successfully, is always clarify doubts from your professor whenever you have any. Also do not ever feel shy to ask for clarification. You might hear a giggle from your friends, but when the question is about your career, the best way is to ignore.
  • After you come to know the structure of the dissertation proposal, start thinking on the topic. For your dissertation, you generally have to choose your topic. So when you have this option to choose topic, research and write on something that interests you. This will help you to research more, and you will be able to gain a lot of knowledge through this. Increasing your knowledge in turn will help you to present with substantial evidence for the arguments that you will be placing in your paper.
  • Narrow down the topic. Choose to prove a single idea. If your topic is too broad, there are high chances that your idea will be generalized. This will make you run out of word count in your final dissertation. With this, check if the idea is backdated. You need something recent, something advanced. So plan accordingly on what you want to write your paper. If the findings are outdated, change the topic. To deal with this problem you just need to keep few topics ready and do a little bit of research before finalizing one. In this way, you will save time. The more you read, the more you will be able to pinpoint and refine your research question.
  • A significant way to proceed with your dissertation proposal and outlining it is studying samples of a dissertation proposal. Search for sample papers on the Internet and in your university library. Go through them and make a good study on them. You will get an idea on how you can proceed with your dissertation proposal. Take your time in studying. Note down important things which might be helpful in some way.
  • Now speaking about time, you should remember that it is limited. Your professor will tell you the deadline to submit your dissertation proposal. Act accordingly so that you do not miss it. Time management is a tough job, and you need to do it wisely. So do not procrastinate with doing your work. Start from day one. Your dissertation is the most important thing in your life for the moment and keep in your mind that it decides your career and in the long run your future. So start giving more time to your writing. Let your phone, friends, and social networking stay aside till you have fulfilled your target.
  • Again speaking about time and its management for outlining your dissertation proposal and doing it, divide the work into sections. Allot a certain period to these tasks and complete them within that allotted timeframe strictly. This will help you to submit your dissertation proposal within the deadline.
  • Another way of outlining and writing your dissertation paper properly is to plan it first according to the structure. Make a draft first and start with the corrections. Mapping out the entire paper helps you to stay on the track. This will work as your guide in moving with the writing smoothly. This is important because while you are making drafts and correcting it, you can insert and delete items according to their necessity.
  • Your dissertation will have some main points on which you must focus. These are the points that will make a difference in your dissertation. It is essential that you mention them while you are writing your dissertation proposal. Your professor will look forward to seeing these points in your dissertation. So if you need to get your dissertation approved, always address those points precisely. With this, it is vital that you attend your everyday class and also pay attention when your professor is taking classes because he/she will tell you what he/she expects to see in your dissertation proposal. Write them down and proceed accordingly.

The above-said points contribute directly to writing your dissertation proposal. It is like creating a base for a perfect writing.

  • Moving on to the next phase, the following points are also very important to abide by while writing your dissertation proposal. This part is where you have to pay attention to the structure of the paper. Merely putting the headings does not work. You have to give a brief explanation under the headings about what you are going to write.

Title: There is no need to frame a big and a suitable title and mention it in the dissertation proposal. A short and to the point title is best for a dissertation proposal. You just need to show on what topic you are doing your paper.

Introduction: Introduce the reader what your study is about. This acts as a backdrop to the dissertation. Mention why you are doing this study, the present state of knowledge in the subject, how your study will contribute to the subject, what are the gaps present that needs to be fulfilled.

Aims and objectives: State the central question in this section which you are going to prove. Mention the principal issues that you will be exploring. Also, mention what do you predict and attempting to prove through the dissertation paper.

Literature review: Here you must mention the arguments mentioning why your research is important, how you connect it to any similar study or fulfils a gap in another study which is formerly done. Mention here how the sources of information have helped and guided you to do further research of your own. You can make a comparison here and show how your dissertation will be at par with the already published works. Be careful to mention only the sources that will put forward your dissertation as a valuable piece of work.

Methodology: Here you have to mention the methods that you will be using in your study. There are different methodologies which are needed to make a study. The use of these methods depends on the subject and the topic. The methods might be non-empirical, i.e. you are providing the supporting documents which are researched from already published writings. It can also be empirical where you do a study, collect data, take interviews etc. You can just use bullet points to mention what method you are going to use.

Research constraints: Mention the limitations that you will be facing like word count. Say that you have something more to say but cannot due to the word count. Mention that you have more issues to address that are directly linked to your study but cannot due to space constraint. This section must show that you have totally engaged yourself in doing the dissertation and writing the dissertation proposal. This section must also reflect that you have extensive knowledge on the topic

Conclusion: Mention what result you expect from the study. Do not simply come to the conclusion and write the result with inference. Mention who your target audience is and how to hope to facilitate them with this study. Essentially there is nothing of writing a conclusion in a dissertation proposal. But you can always utilize this section to remind why you have chosen this topic, what type of research you will do and what outcome do you expect.

Timeframe: Give a Gantt chart over here to show what your planning is in managing to do the research and writing the dissertation. Remember to make it realistic.

References: This section is very important for a dissertation, and it must be carefully done. But in a dissertation proposal just roughly mention the sources and how much more you expect to include. Check if this section is compulsory. If required, then only do it.

  • The methodology section of your dissertation proposal is important, and you must be careful about the method that you are going to write here. You must provide a strong methodology and maintain consistency throughout. Keep in mind the fact that the methods of study that you are going to mention in your dissertation proposal cannot be changed in the dissertation. So, while outlining the dissertation proposal, be sure of the methods that you are going to use.
  • If you are choosing a certain sample for your study, mention why you chose so. Mention the ethical considerations that you will undertake while doing the dissertation. Focus on the research question, understand what you have to do and then proceed. A dissertation is not just finding writing and writing them in your own words and neither a dissertation proposal such a thing.
  • Use the triangulation concept to make your study. This is commonly known as the Kipling test where you use the 5 Ws and 1 H (who, what, why, when, where, how) which will help you to justify the reason for choosing a particular research method. This way you can determine different research strategies for your study. This method provides you with unbiased and accurate results. Try to see if you can include three methodologies for your study.
  • Once you are done with outlining your dissertation and jotting down the main points with notes on what you are going to write, it is the time that you should start with writing the dissertation proposal. Again before starting actually to write or type the words on your computer, there are few more important things that you must remember.
  • As said before that, writing a dissertation proposal is not only about putting down relevant content but it requires few more things, here are few words more on them. Apart from the research work and bringing all the things together and logically arranging them, you must be careful about the language that you will be using in writing your dissertation proposal.
  • You must have a professional tone in language. If you are confused, consult your supervisor and ask him/her to guide you on this. Use proper English grammar while you write. Be very careful about the tense and future tense is the best for a dissertation proposal. Confirm this with your supervisor before you proceed with the writing.
  • Note that you must submit a flawless paper to your professor. So in case you are in doubt, get a professional editor to edit and proofread your paper.
  • Always be open-minded and flexible about your dissertation so that you can change your writing wherever required. Your writing must reflect that fact that you are open to changes and ready to accept if your dissertation requires. Your way of writing must show that you are confident in your work. Hence, choose words accordingly. It is actually your choice of words and how you place them that determines how impressive your dissertation proposal will be. It should indirectly persuade your professor to your proposal and accept it. So it can be concluded that along with appropriate and relevant content, presentation of the dissertation proposal has the same importance if you want to get it passed.
  • Another good way to get your dissertation proposal done is to be open to criticism. Do not feel that you are being scolded. Use this chance to improve your dissertation proposal and make the necessary changes. Your professor or supervisor, might suggest you alternate methods for study. Accept them. They might also ask you to change your outlook and take a different approach. Do it because you know that they are experienced people, so they know what will fetch the best marks. So let them suggest the changes and ask them to show how and where you can incorporate those changes.

On a concluding note, there are no shortcut and best ways to write a dissertation proposal and make an outline of it. To produce a successful dissertation proposal with an outline, different ways are there which have their own contribution to the paper. Leaving out any one of them is like roughening the path to a smooth dissertation proposal.

Some ways have to be followed before you start writing the dissertation proposal and outlining it because it acts as a base to your proposal, some while writing the dissertation proposal and some after you have written the dissertation proposal. Do not ditch on any of the ways. It is that that all the methods come together in creating a whole, reliable and productive content and a dissertation proposal.

So why jeopardize your dissertation proposal when you have the ways of writing a good dissertation proposal in your hand which you can adopt and follow? So follow all the mentioned ways and write a proper and impressive dissertation proposal that will get accepted and you can move on to write your dissertation. Follow these paths and be successful in your writing.

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