Step 6: Writing a Dissertation Proposal
Why is this step important?
A dissertation proposal persuades your committee that your dissertation will pursue an interesting and worthwhile question;
furthermore, the proposal demonstrates that you are a scholar clearly capable of:
- explaining the significance of your question
- setting out a plan for gathering data and assembling information
- pursuing substantive examination of materials gathered
- locating materials germane to your focus
- investigating promising hypotheses
- presenting a sound analysis of ideas to an academic audience
The proposal also helps you clarify your thoughts, arguments, and approach to your topic. The proposal is not
a time to prove or claim you have read every article, book and monograph related to your proposed dissertation focus. Consider
these questions when first drafting a proposal:
- What problem are you going to tackle?
- Why is it a problem?
- Why is it important to solve it?
- Where are you going to look for answers?
- Why are you going to look there?
Be sure to make clear and explicit the ways in which your conclusions or hypotheses follow from the assumptions, ideas
and research you have outlined in the proposal – and locate your own work within the field of study.
- Determine your department's timelines and content requirements.
- Determine which of the following resources can most usefully serve as guides while you draft your proposal.
- Return to your Research Questions
- Determine that you have, indeed, developed a good central question and that you have thought through your basic ideas
for pursuing this question and any auxiliary questions
- Go to S. Levine's handbook and see the "Thinking About It"
stage (points 1-7) and the shaping of good questions (point 14)
- As you develop the proposal, determine how you will work with your primary advisor, your dissertation chair, and your