How to prepare a dissertation proposal?

By Reshma Parveen & Abhinash on September 20, 2022

A dissertation proposal is a persuasive statement that seeks dire attention to a problem and the necessity to investigate it. A dissertation proposal should present a proper structure and should outline the process of collecting and analysing information for the investigation. A dissertation proposal is a well-organized document outlining a planned study endeavour.

Explain a problem that requires investigation

The first step in conducting research is to give a brief introduction to the topic to be investigated. For a research topic to be effectively justified, it should be both original and significant (Sheppard, 2020). The proposal should begin with the introduction section. This section specifically explains what the researcher will be looking into and how the researcher will approach the inquiry.

Give a brief background by reviewing existing literature on the topic and most importantly present the research objectives and hypotheses. The objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. The research aim and anticipated outcomes are presented as a hypothesis. In particular, a hypothesis can start with a question that could be further investigated through a background investigation (Sudheesh et al., 2016).

Define the stakeholders of the research in the dissertation proposal

Stakeholders are groups or individuals who are interested in, have an impact on, or are impacted by the research findings. Stakeholders involved in the research may be supportive and unsupportive or can be even critical of it. The process of conducting a stakeholder analysis involves:

  • identifying each stakeholder,
  • describing their needs or preferences concerning the project,
  • determining whether they are primary or secondary stakeholders, and
  • determining their level of interest in and influence over the project’s outcomes.

Every stage of the project should include stakeholder analysis so that the researcher can continuously evaluate and monitor each stakeholder’s stance (Boaz et al., 2018).

A dissertation proposal proposes a scientific approach to a problem

Taking a scientific approach to a problem requires outlining a strategy to handle an investigation to address research questions. The methodology of the research proposal describes the steps for data collection and processing. A researcher should lay out strategies to achieve desired and probable outcomes. If the research is quantitative, this will frequently incorporate a reference to a survey as a method, a questionnaire as the instrument and the primary source of information. The researcher should be clear about the scope of the investigation such as the number of participants in a survey. The researcher should give a rationale for their choice of methodologies, including why they are more relevant to the investigation (Terrell, 2015). 

The dissertation proposal should demonstrate the necessity of the research, its contribution to the existing knowledge and the gap that the investigation will fill. Highlight ethical considerations and keep the participants informed. Reassure the participants that their personal information about identity will be kept confidential and not misused (Locke et al., 2013). 

Include a plan to complete the project

Provide a realistic timeline or timetable to complete the project. The audience should get a sense of how and when the researcher plans to finish the investigation. The schedule for the research should include a divided time frame for the various phases of the investigation (Abramson, 2015).

A research plan helps to coordinate stakeholders and guarantees that everyone is informed of the project’s timeline, scope, and goals.

While there isn’t a single “best” way to design research, there are four general steps that must be taken to complete a dissertation proposal (Baron, 2008):

Steps to complete a dissertation proposal
Steps to complete a dissertation proposal
  • Don’t choose a research topic that is too broad and has no specific focus. When the proposed topic is deemed to be too broad, dissertation proposals are rejected.
  • Don’t misalign the research aims and objectives, as well as the research questions.  As these three components must closely relate to one another, this issue could result in the proposal being rejected.
  • Cite facts, concepts, and statistical data. The indicated research gaps may be made worthwhile investigation by accurate citation of other writers’ work.
  • Articulate the research design well.

I have completed a Bachelor of Arts that included English as one of my degree subjects. I am doing freelance academic writing for two years. I have extensive experience in writing academic assignments, research proposals, essays, reports, and dissertations, business plans. I have sound knowledge of common referencing styles such as APA, Harvard and MLA. I have commendable knowledge of various online search engines and libraries. I am proficient in using MS Word, and PowerPoint. I can produce documents without any plagiarism, or grammatical errors.

I am currently working as a Research Associate. My work is centered on Macroeconomics with modern econometric approach. Broadly, the methodological research focuses on Panel data and Times series data analysis for causal inference and prediction. I also served as a reviewer to Journals of Taylor & Francis Group, Emerald, Sage.