How to Structure a PhD Dissertation Proposal


Your dissertation will likely be one of the most important academic research projects you ever embark on. And before starting you are asked to present a proposal to your advisor for approval. Besides being a requirement it is also an important step in figuring your project has any holes or is lacking a critical piece of information that would make your dissertation worthy of a PhD. Here is the basic structure of a PhD dissertation proposal:

Title Page

This should generally look just like the title page of your completed dissertation with the exception that it should be labeled dissertation proposal instead.

Abstract

This is a brief paragraph or two (not more than 350 words in most cases) that summarizes all of the following information: introduction, problem statement, background, and methods and procedures of your dissertation. It’s probably a good idea to write this after you have written all subsequent pieces.

Introduction

Your introduction should let your advisor know the general overview of the issues, circumstances, and reasons that have led up to the problem or area you will investigate.

Problem Statement

This section should briefly identify the dissatisfaction or uncertainty of the present and accepted knowledge in your discipline of study. Then it should precisely and clearly show your advisor the purpose of your study and how it will advance the discipline.

Background

Your PhD dissertation shouldn’t be an undertaking that is considered isolated within your field, but a piece of work that will have a place in some larger scope of academic knowledge. You should include relevant empirical and theoretical works which provide the background from which you are basing your inquiry.

Methods/Procedures

In this section you want to show your advisor how you plan to conduct your study, what type of information you plan on using and how you expect to find your data. This section will be highly scrutinized so be sure you are clear and don’t leave any area of confusion for your advisor to question.

Limitations

Though your in-depth research has yet to start, you should have some idea of what weaknesses or shortcomings your findings may have. The best way to present this is to show what it is you can’t include in your dissertation because of your research methods or procedures or because it falls outside of your scope of study.

References

Put in your preliminary list of proposed references. List these works at the end of your proposal using a consistent citation method in whatever format your discipline recommends or requires.

Dissertation writing

Follow these academic guides and manuals to write great thesis papers or edit your written graduate projects.

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