Creating Your Dissertation Proposal

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If this is the semester that you are eligible to create a dissertation proposal, it means you are probably just a few years away from earning your doctorate’s degree. It is normal to feel proud and excited, but it is also normal to be quite apprehensive.

The dissertation is going to be a process more difficult than any of your past researches, and it is just about to begin. So do read on to learn more about making your dissertation proposal.

What it is

A dissertation proposal presents the research that you plan on doing. It should already include the reason behind the particular research (including ethical reasons for why it must be done), the questions you want to answer, the literature you have seen so far, how you plan on tackling it (methodology), and the limitations of what you are about to do.

The proposal then becomes the basis for approval or rejection of your plan. If done well, you’ll already have a basic blueprint for your dissertation. If rejected, it means that certain aspects must be redone.

1. The initial steps

Choosing your dissertation topic requires a lot of reading. Because the academic level of it is much higher than a Master’s degree, you should expect that the committee will not agree to something “easy” or heavily researched already.

As you read, take note of what interests you and what has already been done. If there are any gaps in the research, such as an area not yet explored or a population group that has not been studied, you may consider these as possible topics for your paper.

2. Organize as you read

A smart tip is to already organize everything into an annotated bibliography. This means taking down the publication’s information (e.g. author, date published, and so on) and making a summary of the important ideas you found in that source. Doing this right away saves you from returning to the task in the future for your paper’s Bibliography.

3. Narrow down your questions

Once your topic is set, consider narrowing down the questions of your research. If your questions are too broad, you will have difficulty as it may take too long, or you might not have enough sources.

Read some more to ensure your research has enough supporting literature. As you read, be critical about your sources. Consider the limitations in the researcher’s methodology, possible biases that may have come in, and variables that could not be controlled. Knowing these can help you tweak your questions to something you know you can complete.

4. Write it out according to the given format

After narrowing things down, it is time to write the necessary parts of the proposal such as your Introduction, Methodology, objectives, Literature Review (most important ones), the limitations of your study, any ethical considerations, and the timeframe.

Remember, as a proposal, many of these things can still change, including your hypothesis. But the dissertation committee still needs to see the listed sections to ensure your plan is on the right track.


Though it entails much reading and studying, your dissertation proposal already has the key elements needed for the paper itself. So consider the pointers above to ensure your dissertation goes smoothly.

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