How to Write a Dissertation Proposal

Writing GuidesDissertation
Mar 21, 2019

There is a confusion between a thesis and a dissertation , so for starters, it is imperative to understand that “thesis” and “dissertation” can be interchanged in some countries, however, most commonly, “thesis” is used to refer to a research document written by college students to acquire a bachelor’s degree (undergraduate), whereas “dissertation” is termed for the same research document which is required from students taking up their doctor’s degree (post-graduate). Therefore, the main difference lies only on when you are writing the most tedious research paper that a school requires. The preparation and the process do not differ so much, hence, regardless if you are finishing a thesis or a dissertation, these key points on how to write a dissertation proposal can help you.

How do you write a dissertation proposal?

The most important tip you need to practice in knowing how to write a dissertation proposal is to not let it overwhelm you. Sure, a dissertation or a thesis is a very important academic document, but, you have to remember that writing a dissertation proposal is just like writing a research proposal – you just have to research, and put into words what you learned. Like any other research proposal, you need to start with preparing a dissertation proposal outline.


This is the rockiest part in determining how to write a dissertation proposal, because you are just about to create your line of thought, and the very first step you need to take is to read, and you need to read a lot. Be it books every college student should read , newspaper clipping, or research articles, one can never go wrong with reading a lot. The number one characteristic of every dissertation or research proposal is that the dissertation topic must be unique to open doors for future research. So, how do you find that topic? Again, read. Visit your school library, and browse through the dissertations made available by the university, and hunt down a concept that interests you the most. This is important – you have to ensure that you are interested with what you are writing about because if you do not have enough gusto towards your topic, you will not have enough curiosity to rummage through valid data-gathering. Hint: Pay attention to the Scope and Limitations and/or Recommendation for Future Research sections of the dissertation you will read because more often than not, these sections can give you the answer you are looking for

Zero in on a specific topic

Do not write every single thing you discover, you will not finish your dissertation that way. Knowing how to write a dissertation proposal involves choosing a single aspect of the topic and formulate your research questions around that. An excellent proposal for a dissertation aims to address a question, not just summarize facts that your readers can read somewhere online. For instance, you wish to write on the most effective marketing technique – you will probably be able to write the length of a book, and still you will not be done. Instead, write on the most effect marketing technique for young adults aged 18 to 25 in La Candelaria, Bogota. From there, you can start with discovering social media techniques and modern advertisement designs that captures your age group living in a single locale. Why is this effective? You cannot possibly take a survey from all 18 to 25 year-olds from Colombia on a limited time frame, which is why you need to take control of your target respondents.

Make the dissertation proposal outline

Once you have decided on your topic, you can finally weave together what you aim to present in your dissertation and form an outline, the most basic structure in writing dissertations and research papers. Commonly, dissertation proposals are limited to the following parts:

  • Introduction
    The premise of your research or dissertation must always be able to stand alone. This means that your introduction should be able to point out your aim and the importance of your topic – you have to justify that it is worth the extensive research. Learning how to write the introduction properly is crucial. While you are at it, ensure that you also clarify the scope of your dissertation, this means writing down which aspect of your topic you are going to cover, and which parts will be excluded in your study (Scope and Limitation). This is to give your panel and better overview of your research direction, and for your research to not lose focus. A good example of a PhD proposal always discusses the study’s scope and limits, again, for clarity – the should-be priority aim of every researcher.
  • Hypotheses or Research Questions
    The term ‘hypothesis’ is usually utilized for quantitative research papers, but being it as an educated guess, qualitative and mixed method dissertations also need hypotheses or research questions. Commonly, researchers have something in mind that they want to either prove or disprove. However, sometimes, a dissertation only aims to be informative of a specific topic, but a good dissertation always pushes forth a challenging idea.
  • Methodology
    The methodology consists of your plans on how you will execute your research, and the number one item you need to ponder on is your research design - will it be qualitative, quantitative, or mixed ? What will be your variables, who will be your respondents, how large or small is your sample, what would be your variables’ profile? All the answers to these questions must be included when you write a proposal for a dissertation. Your panel will determine the feasibility of your dissertation through your dissertation proposal, which is why you need to plan it out carefully, so they can understand that what you plan is doable.
  • Other elements
    Some educators do not require a student theoretical and conceptual frameworks to be included in the proposal, but to be sure, it is best to include both elements within the proposal. Now, there is a confusion regarding these two frameworks, and even those who are done with their bachelor’s degree dissertation still need a review about the key differences of the two.

Literature Review

Your initial review of related literature should support your hypotheses or lead on your research objectives. A tip – if you cannot find at least three academic journals (peer-reviewed reading materials) about your topic, then you should consider changing the angle of your study to avoid a dead-end, unless, you are aiming to pioneer a study on that topic (not advisable due to time constraint).

Conceptual Framework

A conceptual framework is basically the connection between your variables and how each supports or negates the other. This is where you tie up all your elements to form one cohesive idea. The dissertation proposal serves as the map for the entire dissertation, while the conceptual framework serves as the map as the researcher goes through with the study. For example, the dissertation claims that those how spend more time on their cellular phones develop optical issues earlier than those who do not due to various factors including blue light. In this case, your variables are all explicitly noted – (1) the optical issues caused by (2) the blue light emitted by cellular phones and the (3) gravity of the effect in accordance with (4) the duration an individual uses a cellular phone.

Theoretical Framework

As the counterpart framework, theoretical framework serves more of a guide for a study because it does not require to have your elements all tied up. You may choose to utilize one known theory and that theory will serve as your anchor. For instance, your theory is intermittent fasting is known as the most effective diet plan for weight loss. Your variables will then revolve around this theory such as a respondent who takes south beach diet, another respondent who takes keto diet, and another respondent who takes intermittent fasting. Now, conceptual and theoretical frameworks can go hand in hand. In this case, you may insert a hypothesis that revolves around dieting such as the best diet depends on the compatibility of the plan to the individual.

Summary of your thesis proposal

In theory, dissertations end with the discussion of the results or findings from the investigation, whereas a dissertation proposal ends with a summary of all the elements aforementioned. Do not be scared of writing a conclusion which results are nowhere to be found, because this is just a proposal, which means your primary data were not gathered yet, however, like your introduction, it must be well-written, non-verbose, and direct to the point. Your conclusion is where you show that you are very much certain that you can push through with your study, and that your panelists only have to approve your topic. Overall, however, keep in mind that you will need to learn how to m ake the essay sound more formal.

How long does it take to write a good PhD dissertation proposal?

The amount of time allotted for a dissertation proposal is relative to the amount of time given by a university. Most of the time, an entire academic year is given to the students to complete a thesis or a dissertation, but there are cases where only months are given, hence, how long one will take to know how write a dissertation proposal depends on how well-versed the student is about the topic. The activities which take longest to address are the initial readings and research and the data-gathering processes. In most cases, it takes two to three months to finalize a good PhD proposal including the research phase. This is to ensure that the research topic has enough data to anchor from, and that the direction of the investigation is clear. It is normal for writing a dissertation proposal to take time, and it is inevitable for school works to pile up causing panic and distress to the student. This is why CustomEssayMeister exists – to offer the busy students the dissertation proposal writing service they need.

How long does it take to write a research proposal?

To recap, here is a dissertation proposal example (outline):

Title: Title Must be Written in Standard Capitalization and Must Include All Variables of the Study

  • Introduction
    Introduce your topic; Discuss its significance; Clarify the scope of your study; Mention the limitations drawn from your variables.
  • Research Questions (or) Hypotheses
    Enumerate your claims – list down the questions that your study aims to answer or list down the ideas that you want to prove or disprove through your study.
  • Review of Related Literature
    Synthesize at least three peer-reviewed reading materials pertaining to your topic and strengthen your research goals.
  • Methodology
    Specify the type of data-gathering you will implement, which techniques you are going to utilize, and the primary qualifications of your variables (quantitative) or respondents (qualitative).
  • Conceptual Framework or Theoretical Framework
    If you are required to write both, then separate each framework to two different sections.
  • Conclusion
    Reiterate the significance of your study, and mention the benefits it can bring either to academic research, or to the concerned topic. Do not just summarize your dissertation proposal, instead, utilize this section to put forward more convincing statements for your panelists to agree with you.

Note that this outline is not standardized which means that your university may require you to follow their format, but basically, these are the elements which you need to focus as you start your dissertation.

Custom dissertation writing service for students

Above everything else, we understand that stress will fall upon every student who is writing this important research document, but, the best advice we can give you is to do your best to stay on top of everything. The more you sulk into this overwhelming research writing, the more you will attract problems. So, find that topic that you know you will enjoy reading about, so you won’t burn out yourself as soon as you start writing on it.

We hope our post is more than enough to know how to write a dissertation proposal. But if the mere thought of beginning to read already adds to your stress, your quest in learning how to write a dissertation proposal is already doomed. We cannot blame you, because after all, you also have other academic commitments and extracurricular activities to devote time to. If writing a dissertation proposal is already taking away much of your time, then it simply means you could use some help from a writing service, preferably from an online ghostwriting firm like CustomEssayMeister. While we should be able to alleviate your stress, it does not mean that your learning will stop. Come to us and let one of our expert academic writers do the work for you. As you correspond with our writer, you will surely learn in the process, and the only catch is that you won't do the work. Dissertation help is only one of our many strengths; essay help, research paper help, and academic writing help in general for pressured students are the central focus of our company. Allow us to be part of your academic growth. 

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