Writing a Dissertation or PhD Thesis Proposal
You are at the point where you will soon be graduating from a graduate school. The only thing left is your final thesis or dissertation. The proposal is not something that a student begins and finishes in a few weeks. It takes time to do it correctly. It is a process of planning and researching a topic until it is completed. Often the proposal is the first part of the dissertation or thesis. The instructor decides from the proposal if you have a worthy research project.
The first part in writing the proposal is finding credible documentation for the topic. Often the instructor wants the proposal and an annotated bibliography to look at before making any decisions. The first step is deciding what concept or research topic will be worth researching. These concepts must be well articulated when writing the proposal. What is the nature of the research you plan to do? What will be the timetable for finishing the thesis or dissertation? What is your hypothesis? What do you think the results will be? Why is the research important?
Begin with an executive summary of the research project. Explain what you plan to research and why. State the steps you plan to take to research this project? Why is this research necessary? What will be the nuts and bolts of implementing and evaluating the research project? Give some background information about the topic. What has studies have been completed on the topic?
The first page of the proposal is one of the most important parts. If it does not grab the interest of the instructor, then there is no sense in completing it. This first page should provide the reader with a "nugget value" of the proposal. It should summarize all the key information about the research project. In many ways this first page is like a sales document in that it should sell the instructor on the project. It needs to convince the audience why the research is important and why it is important to you.
A brief statement of the problem should be stated. This should take at least two or three paragraphs. A short description of the project should be described. Tell the audience what will take place and how many people might benefit from the research. A brief statement about past history and research of the topic should be provided.
Research to find facts and statistics about the research project. Check the statistics for accuracy. Tell the instructor why this research is important to you. Why do you want to do the research project? Why are you qualified to do the research? What do you hope to find?
Often the instructor wants an annotated bibliography to go with the proposal. Have you researched a variety of articles, books, government and educational documents, and previous dissertations? What does the research show? How will your project be different than previous dissertations?
Give careful consideration to each part of the proposal. Check statistics for accuracy. What anecdotes can you use on the proposal to show a need for the project? What facts are available to show the importance of the research? Have you carefully explained why you want to do this research proposal other than the fact that it is required?
Put the proposal away for a couple of days. Try not to even think about it.
Now read the proposal out loud. Listen to any mistakes. Have you misspelled any words? Are there any grammar mistakes? Have you used transitions from paragraph to paragraph? Do you believe that your argument will convince the instructor? Does this proposal state why further research is needed?
Go through and revise the proposal. Check for mistakes in spelling and grammar. Is each of your thoughts and ideas clearly presented? Ask a friend to read the proposal. What does your friend think about it? Have you written a conclusion that clearly states why you want to do the research project? Revise as necessary. Now you are ready to turn in a great proposal!