What Is A Dissertation Proposal?

If you’re nearing the end of your degree program and your thesis or dissertation is about to be written, or if you’re considering applying to a graduate program, you probably need to develop a solid research proposal. If you’re on this page, you probably don’t know what a research proposal is. Well, you’ve come to the right place.

What is a dissertation

A dissertation/thesis is a written work that complements higher education. “The dissertation should demonstrate the doctoral student’s ability to work independently and creatively, master the methods of scientific work, and should contribute new knowledge to the scientific field in which the doctoral student specializes”. You can learn more about writing a dissertation at https://studycrumb.com/dissertation-vs-thesis, and there is a lot of other useful information as well.

In the thesis, the doctoral student demonstrates the level of knowledge acquired. When writing a thesis, doctoral students ensure that the result is published. As such, their work is subject to high standards of content and methodology. Great attention is paid to the form of the dissertation.

Writing an essay

The essay is structurally similar to a diploma. The introductory part consists of an introduction, a summary (in the national language and in a foreign language) and the content. Its core consists of theoretical and practical parts. In the theoretical part, the author describes and classifies the issues studied. Unlike the final thesis mentioned, the theoretical part does not require any structural difference from the practical part.

The practical part of the thesis is the application of the knowledge to the studied issues. There is also a discussion, which consists of a comparison between the expected results and the research results presented in the thesis.

The dissertation is assigned to doctoral students at the beginning of their studies. It is the most demanding dissertation in this hierarchy, so the doctoral student has the entire study period (i.e. 4-5 years) to prepare it. The dissertation must be between 80 and 120 pages long.

What is a research proposal for a dissertation?

A research proposal is simply a formal, structured document that explains what you plan to research (e.g., your research topic), why it is worth doing (e.g., your rationale), and how you plan to do it (e.g., your practical approach). 

The goal of a research proposal (so to speak) is to convince your supervisor, committee, or university that your research is appropriate (to the requirements of your program of study) and manageable (given the time and resource constraints you will face). 

What’s in a research proposal?

As stated in the text above, a proper and quality thesis or dissertation proposal should cover such words as “what,” “why,” and “how” of research. So let’s take a closer look at each of these word paragraphs:

“WHAT” – the topic of your research

Your proposal should clearly state the topic of your research. It should be specific and unambiguous. Your research topic should clearly state what you plan to study and in what context. Here is an example: Topic: Exploring the factors that influence the likelihood of Gen Y women promoting a particular cosmetic brand to their peers: the UK context. As you can see, this topic is very clear. From this line, we can see exactly:

What is being studied – the factors that motivate people to promote a cosmetic brand.

Who is concerned – women of the generation Y

In what context – UK

So make sure your research proposal contains a detailed explanation of your research topic. This goes without saying, but don’t start writing your proposal until you have a crystal clear topic or you’ll end up wasting several thousand words.

“WHY” – your rationale

As we said earlier, it’s not enough to propose a research topic – you have to justify the originality of your topic. In other words, what makes it unique? What gaps does it fill in the current literature? If it is simply a repetition of an existing study, it probably won’t be approved – it must be new.

But originality alone is not enough. After checking this box, you will also need to justify the importance of your proposed topic. In other words, what value will it bring to the world if you can find answers to your research questions?

For example, consider the example research topic we mentioned earlier (factors affecting brand promotion). In this case, if the research could identify the relevant factors, these results would be very useful to marketers in the cosmetics industry and therefore have commercial value. This is a clear justification for the research.

So, when developing your research proposal, remember that it is not enough for the topic to simply be unique. It must be useful and create value – and you must convey that value in your proposal.

“HOW” – your methodology

It’s all well and good to have a good, original and important topic, but you won’t convince anyone to approve it without discussing the practicalities, in other words:

How will you conduct your research? 

Is your research design consistent with your topic? Is your plan manageable given your constraints (time, money, expertise)? While you are not normally expected to have a fully specified research strategy at the proposal stage, you will need to provide an outline of your research methodology and some key design decisions.

Some important questions to answer in your proposal include:

  • Will you choose a qualitative or quantitative approach? 
  • Will your design be cross-sectional or longitudinal? 
  • How will you collect your data (interviews, surveys, etc.)? 
  • How will you analyze your data (e.g., statistical analysis, qualitative data analysis, etc.)?

So make sure you have thought through the practicalities of your research and have at least a basic understanding of research methodologies before you start writing your proposal.

How long does a research offer last?

This varies greatly depending on the university, the field of study (e.g. social sciences or natural sciences), and the level of the degree (e.g. Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Ph.D.), so it is always best to check with your university exactly what they need. requirements before you start planning your proposal. 

As a rough guide, a formal research proposal at Masters’s level is often between 2,000 and 3,000 words, while a proposal at the Ph.D. level can be much more detailed – between 5,000 and 8,000 words. In some cases, a rough outline of the topic is sufficient, while in other cases universities expect a very detailed proposal that essentially constitutes the first three chapters of the thesis. 


Remember to consult your institution before you start writing.

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