Helpful Dissertation Proposal Writing Guidelines

Posted on
Helpful Dissertation Proposal Writing Guidelines

Writing a dissertation proposal is an inevitable part of receiving your degree. It is an obligatory part of the research you are going to conduct. If you are following the right rules and recommendations, your proposal will be effective even without a coach. In addition to the knowledge of general principles of academic writing, a thorough analysis of a dissertation proposal structure will be required. It takes time to compile a well-structured proposal of a high-quality dissertation

The main aim of the proposal is to present the layout of the research. In short, it gives the main objectives, scope, dissertation methodology, literature review, and general relevance of the study. By this time, you should have a working title for the proposal. Although a lot of content will be changed and modified in the process of writing the actual research, the proposal shows the sketch. Treat it as a draft of the research plan. Even though it is a draft version, and still eligible for modification, it should be presented on a proper level. The value of the dissertation proposal for the research should not be underestimated. 

With the help of the dissertation proposal, you can understand the relevance of the research, its volume, and its scope. All these points should be researched within the timeframe you were given. The proposal will serve as an alert in case the topic you have chosen is too extensive to cover within your time capacity. Following the steps discussed below, you can conduct a reality check on your research plans. 


At the stage of writing the dissertation proposal, the title wording is not final. It is related to the fact that the research has not been conducted yet. It might happen that not all the objectives and aims will be covered in it. Yet, whatever type of title you have, it should reflect the content of the research. A good title is not restrained by the number of words. It should contain a name for the scope researched and indicate the type of study conducted. The title should contain whatever method you are using whether it is analysis or comparison, or any other methodology. 


The type of research will require to add certain sections. However, there is a standard list of sections that every dissertation proposal contains regardless of the topic or type of research. 


The abstract section is written at the request of the instructor. At times, the length of this section may be as little as 50 words. For sure the level of informativeness of the section is not high. However, it tells about the research in a very short, descriptive way. 


The opening section of the proposal is the introduction. It presents the research, gives its overall review and background. With the introduction, you present the place of your research within the framework of other studies of this topic. In the introduction, the basis for your research is described along with its importance and the need. Optionally, you may include the sections that your paper contains.

Research Questions or Aims

It is probably one of the most time-consuming sections of the proposal. The chances that you will be coming back to change it are high. To save time and fuss, try to establish key points of the research. Later on, the number of aims and research questions might decrease or increase but start with those that will not change in the course of conducting your study. By stating the research questions, the student provides a clear scope of the study. The instructors usually pay careful attention to it. It gives them an understanding of how thorough and realistic the researcher is. As an option, you can add the points that your study is not going to cover. It will filter all the unnecessary questions. 

List of References 

The literature review or list of references contains the written, audio, electronic or visual aids that were used for the study. Selecting the information for the study is vital. It should first of all correspond to the criteria that the instructor provided you with. Also, the relevance of the sources will be assessed. The literature used, provides the basis for the theoretical part of the dissertation. Hence, make it clear and distinct that your analysis is provided as well. One of the main principles of dissertation writing is a unique material. All the resources you read, analyze or use for the analysis should be enlisted. By looking at the list of the resources used the instructors hope to understand the level of depth of your research. 

Research Limitations

As it was mentioned above, the title and the research need to have clear limits. Ensure that you provide enough constraints to show that your research does not cover every single topic in the field. It is done with the help of writing clear titles, objectives, and describing the research focus in the introduction. Last but not least, provide the section with research constraints to be on the safe side. The section is optional depending on the type of research you are conducting. 

Sample Structure of a Dissertation Proposal

This sample structure can be used as a foundation to build up the proposal layout. The person supervising your research will most probably provide you with the specific requirements. These basic elements will be present either as separate or integrated into other sections.  

  • Abstract (Optional)
  • Introduction
  • Research Questions or Aims
  • List of References
  • Research Limitations

The research writing takes a lot of time for proofreading and revisions. Get ready for drafting and redrafting the paper an unlimited number of times. Applying the tips mentioned above should smooth the writing of your paper and make you succeed at any type of degree.