• How to make your dissertation proposal shine

    Most universities require dissertations before they award doctorate degrees. Those universities also require that their students write a dissertation proposal before they are allowed to begin working on the actual paper. You want your proposal to be approved, so you want to get it right the first time. Here are a few tips to help you succeed by making your proposal shine:

    Think of the proposal as a plan. This paper is your plan of action. It is your way of telling the dissertation committee what you expect to do in order to get the results that you are planning to see. Your university will help you accomplish your plan by providing the necessary resources, so you want to be clear in what you expect to do and have happen.

    Do not think of the proposal as an essay. Your proposal might look like an essay, but it really is not one at all. At this point, you are not trying to prove a thesis - which is what an essay does. In a proposal, you are trying to show a committee that your thesis is worth proving. You will prove it later, in a different paper.

    Do not think of the proposal as the actual dissertation. It is not a mini-dissertation. The proposal is more like a map that will help the dissertation committee see what you are planning to do. The dissertation is where you create what you put on the map.

    Provide glimpses of the argument. You do not write the full argument, because you have not researched it enough to do so. You want to provide a few exquisite details about the argument without giving so much that you create a distraction. You want to demonstrate, not prove the argument in the proposal.

    Show how the puzzle will fit. Your dissertation will put the puzzle together, but the proposal will lay out the pieces. You want to show how you will sequence the dissertation and the examples you will use in that sequence. It is also helpful to include a list of chapters and what those chapters will do to help prove the argument.

    Include your methodology. Without making the argument, you want to show the committee what methods you will use to prove the argument. Explain what tools you will need to prove the argument and explain the approach you will take with those tools.