How to Write a Dissertation Proposal?

By Editor on Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 1 Comment

A dissertation proposal is the culmination of your entire Masters or PhD studies. Naturally, therefore, it needs to be as detailed as possible so that the reader may deduce that you’ve worked day and night on it and given your best shot.

In addition, it’s probably going to be the longest piece of academic writing you’ve worked on based on research conducted all by yourself; this fact itself can be quite intimidating.

But before you begin working on the dissertation proposal itself, your supervisor may ask you for a dissertation writing sample.

Now, it’s very likely for you to feel plagued by numerous questions such as what a dissertation proposal is. How to write it? How long a dissertation proposal has to be? And a gazillion other questions. At times you might even be afraid to ask a question deeming it to be too silly.

However, if it’s your first time working on a dissertation proposal, we’d recommend you ask as many questions as necessary so that you don’t end up doing something wrong.

However, who would you turn to for guidance? Sure, you can refer to your supervisor, but they probably got tons of things on their plate and won’t be able to get back to you promptly. Hence, we’re here with this step-by-step guide to make writing a dissertation proposal easy peasy for you.

What is dissertation proposal?

Before we start with writing a dissertation proposal, we need to make sure that you have a strong foundation to march forward and attempt this thing with a confident mindset.

Firstly, your dissertation topic is something you have to decide by yourself, and it’s the main key to your entire research. So, what you are supposed to do in your dissertation proposal is to go in-depth about the research topic you have narrowed down.

Then, you’re to elaborate briefly on how you’ll be providing a solution to the proposed question, which is the basis of your dissertation.

Your dissertation can mainly focus on the topic instead of discussing the background and the domain to give some context to your jury.

Lastly, you have to keep in mind that you must discuss your proposed ideas with your supervisor and get their opinion so that they know what to expect in the proposal.

Because if you hand them a proposal directly without discussing it with them beforehand, there’s a possibility the topic you’ve picked out for your dissertation is not suitable and may get rejected, which would be an immense waste of time and effort on your part.

Writing a dissertation proposal

While working on your dissertation proposal, make sure to address any possible criticism that you expect may get thrown at you regarding your choosing the topic to not get marked unjustly.

Also, include any limitations that hinder your research so that the jury can know why certain aspects took place and why it might’ve not been addressed properly.

Furthermore, explain the ethical considerations and reasons for the data sample you chose to base your study on.

This may come as a piece of news to you, but some departments in the university do not require a dissertation proposal at all. However, to be on the safe side, you should ask your supervisor whether you need to deliver one or not.

It is possible that you may get suggested to pick out a different topic altogether; however, once we tell you how to pick the right topic, you won’t have to face such a rejection.

Importance of a dissertation proposal

A dissertation proposal plays an integral part in your dissertation journey. First, you get to start working on it way ahead of time so that your mind is mentally prepared for what they have to deal with in the near future.

Instead, you could’ve dived into the dissertation without any preparation, which might lead you to writer’s block at the last moment.

Furthermore, a dissertation proposal allows you to get started, and once you’ve started, you can overcome most fears in terms of writing a dissertation.

Given there’s always room for improvement, you must remember your proposal doesn’t have to be the final word. If you’re having second thoughts on your topic, you may opt for a different one that might prove to be a better choice.

Generate a Table of Content

Now this section of the dissertation might be easily overlooked by you but pay attention to it closely. There are two ways to deal with this section. First, you may opt to write the table of contents manually, or you may rely on Google Docs or template word to do the job for you.

Both the applications offer the open to generate a Table of Contents based on the formatting Headings used by you. You are recommended to look at a few examples used by other authors to know which headings you must incorporate in your dissertation proposal.

However, one of the common mistakes committed by authors often is when they forget to update their table of contents at the end of their work, which is like an open invitation for the jury to deduct your marks.

How to Structure a Dissertation Proposal

One of the important aspects of your dissertation proposal has to be its structure. For more appropriate and reliable guidance, you may look up example dissertation proposals.

They ought to set you on the right track to document your research. After looking at a couple of example dissertation proposals, you should be able to get an idea of how to structure your own.

However, each example may differ, so you must look up similar examples to keep the domain in mind. Therefore, we can guide you only if you intend to fully cooperate with our instructions.

Because even though you may study examples, you might not learn much until you attempt by yourself. Hence, allow us to guide you.

Select a Topic

Long gone are the days when all you had to do was put your pen to paper and let the words flow independently. But those golden college days are over as now you have to deal with the headache of deciding a topic all on your own.

The more worrisome issue happens to be that your dissertation topic may just be the line that could make it or break it. Hence, it is not a child’s play at all.

We’d suggest you to play to your strengths and pick a topic that’s of most interest or makes you curious so that you can indulge yourself in the research as well and enjoy it even.

Make sure you’re keeping notes of every single publication you’re studying while searching for the topic because a compiled work will surely help you in the future.


You must’ve been writing abstracts for your research reports back in school for every project of yours. So it’s a possibility you might have an existing idea of how and what an abstract needs to be. But if you don’t, that’s all right.

We’ll give you a helping hand. An abstract needs to be a brief summary of your entire write-up. It needs to talk about the domain you’re tackling and what’s the issue.

Hinting a bit regarding your method of resolving the said issue would intrigue the reader, so that’s a good choice as well. Don’t get carried away, though. An abstract needs to be short and to the point. So keep yourself in check.


An introduction should begin with you giving a backdrop for your dissertation topic or question. You should mention the domain and the issue in depth so that the reader can get an idea of what they’re getting into.

You do not need to address the solution in your introduction. Instead, you need to explain why you pick this topic in particular and why further research in this field is necessary.

The introduction of your dissertation proposal should also address your thesis statement so that you can go on to elaborate upon it in the latter sections of the dissertation proposals. You may add a few relevant keywords as well.

Adding a citation or two would probably help back your topic so go for it as well.

Aims & Objective

In this section of the dissertation proposal, you have to outline the aims and objectives associated with your dissertation. What do you hope to achieve through this dissertation apart from the fact that you’d like to get your doctoral degree and impress the jury in one shot?

Your aims don’t need to be too broad as long as they are along the lines of making a meaningful contribution to the vast field you have picked and your attempt to make a name in the industry.

Furthermore, if you have chosen a research question for your dissertation, you may refer that you want to cross out that mystery to move forward and have no regrets.

Literature review

Remember when we mentioned you ought to make notes of all the research papers you’re using to look up your topic? Well, this is where the notes should pay off. Your bibliography section needs to show that you’ve read multiple papers and looked up various sources in order to reach your observations.

This is your chance to make use of referencing and mention similar research to your dissertation to assert the relevancy of your topic. Talk about the renowned authors and how they seek to resolve the issue you’re currently handling, and how your methods differ from them. A comparison in this section can significantly help you gain good marks.

Slightly touch upon the discrepancies and shortcomings of your topic. However, emphasize more on the point of how you’ll deal with them in an efficient manner.


This section of your dissertation proposal deals with discussing the approaches you’re going to use for your dissertation. You have to outline the methods, the collection of data and how you’ll process the entire thing.

Depending upon your research, if it happens to be quantitative, it gives you the freedom to include surveys, questionnaires, and other similar ways of data collection.

Furthermore, you can opt for different approaches. Defining your scope would also be a good aspect so the jury can know how broad your research has been. Explain the reason for each method as well because you need to justify that to the jury too.

Empirical research

If you have given an exam of a paper that asked you the difference between qualitative and quantitative data, you will handle this section like a pro. This type of research is based on quantitative data analysis, which means it’s heavily focused on numbers and statistics.

In order to conduct this research, you may drive data from surveys or questionnaires or even hold group discussions. However, make sure the data collection is from relevant and reliable sources; otherwise, your data may not be of much use.

You have to plan it all out, such as drawing up that questionnaire so that it can be relevant to your research and field of study. The variables and samples need to be the focus and the sort of outcomes they’re bringing out.

Theoretical research

This research is based on qualitative data and depends upon the proof-of-concept ideas. Therefore, there is no need to conduct an actual data collection methodology. Instead, it focuses on relevant models and theoretical observations and how they impact your research.

Here you can make use of past research papers and refer to them and how each author’s opinion varies on each subject. You can also pose your stance and what’s your take on the past researchers. You can even criticize their methods of conducting the research. Whatever rocks your boat.

On the other hand, if you agree with any of the authors, you should mention why and how their findings contribute to your dissertation.


One of the important aspects of any research is to know where you’re lacking and address it duly. If the jury happens to be the one to find faults in your seemingly perfect dissertation, then it might be an issue. So don’t give them a chance.

Don’t worry; you won’t be betraying your degree by just highlighting the minor issues; as long as you explain how you’ll be taking care of them, you should be on the safe side.

Being able to find faults within your research will give the jury the impression that you explored all your options before hitting a dead-end.

Ethical considerations

Ethical considerations come into play when you have to acquire all the material for your research legally or consensually. For instance, if you interviewed someone, did they know what and why they were being interviewed and if they consented whether the information provided them can be used for research purposes.

Even the most ground-breaking theories can be debunked if the ethical considerations are not given much thought. Here are a few steps on how you can incorporate this aspect into your dissertation:

  1. A solid basis for the research is a must
  2. The participants must be informed
  3. Their anonymity and confidentiality must be upheld


Most dissertation proposals include a timeframe. It doesn’t have to be anything precise; it can be just an estimate which lets the reader know about the period in which your entire dissertation will be completed and shall be ready to be delivered.

If you exclude this section, your supervisor will probably notice and tell you to include that as well. If you’re uncertain how long it will take you, you should discuss it with your supervisor in detail. You can even provide a chapter-by-chapter deadline to be at ease.

Steps of dissertation proposal

Now, we’ve let you know everything you need to know about dissertation proposals and how they work. All you need to do is follow the steps closely, and you should be good to go.

In case you have any queries, you can refer to a dissertation writing service that will probably make your life a lot easier by taking the headache upon itself.

But in order to present yourself before the jury, we would recommend you to work this one out by yourself because we believe you can.

Dissertation Proposal Formatting

At the end of your dissertation proposal, you should go through the guidelines shared by your supervisor to ensure you have adhered to all the mentioned specifications. For instance, if you’ve used the correct referencing style, whether your table of contents is updated or not, and so on forth.

Furthermore, the formatting really matters as you wouldn’t want to give a lame or silly reason for the jury to cut off your marks.

Finally, your dissertation acknowledgements should highlight the maximum people who contributed to the research and anyone who helped you out of this mess, including your supervisor.

A service for dissertation writing presents you with a dissertation proposal that’ll make sure it gets approved for you to proceed to the next step easily.

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