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Writing a Dissertation Proposal

What should I include in a dissertation proposal?

❶There are several things that you will need to include that have not already been mentioned above, however:.

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How to Write Your Best Dissertation: Step-by-Step Guide
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The Main Idea of a Thesis Proposal

Notice that everything leading up to the Introduction does not have to be numbered here. If you do number the pages, the numbering would be in Roman numerals. Be very careful when making your final draft that all of the page numbers given in the Contents are correct. You will need to include a List of figures, a List of illustrations or even both if your dissertation has the following items:. Include these in a citation next to the figure itself and in your Reference List or Bibliography. If you are doing a design or fine arts subject, it is likely that you will include photographs, drawings, paintings or illustrations in your dissertations.

These would normally be included in your List of illustrations. In other subjects, it is common to include all tables, charts, graphs, photographs, drawings, etc.

However, if you have a great deal of information presented in tables, it may be best to have a both a List of tables and a List of figures everything that's not a table. When labelling, number these separately Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.

The List of illustrations is positioned after the Contents page on a separate page and before the Introduction. The introduction serves as an expansion of your title and is included in every dissertation. The introduction comes at the beginning of the paper, after the abstract, acknowledgements and contents lists.

The Literature Survey is also known as a Literature review. The Literature Survey is not in every dissertation. Sometimes the literature survey can be embedded in the main body of your writing.

The general idea is that, should someone else choose to carry out the same or a very similar type of study, they should be able to understand and copy your methods from your descriptions. Your thesis or dissertation will involve a large body of research so it is important to explain what research methods you used to collect your information.

Do not include your questionnaires, interview transcripts, etc. All of this discussion must be framed within the purpose you stated in your title and introduction. Check with your tutor or department whether you should be including recommendations in your dissertation or not. If the dissertation provides information on an area for which future decisions will need to be made, then you should include recommendations on what decisions to make.

Do not go back to a longwinded explanation of your results but instead give a brief and clear statement of what these results show. Some dissertations have a reference list, some have a bibliography, some have both.

Ask your supervisor, and look at past papers in your subject to find out which one to use. An appendix normally includes research related material that does not fit easily or suitably in the body of the paper:. The following pages give you advice on:. The advice on this site is general. Always check the specific requirements of your School or department.

Ask if they can provide you with dissertation writing guidelines. As your dissertation is a larger piece of writing you should have a title page. Your School should provide you with a standard Solent University dissertation cover. Position the window carefully in the centre of the page. You could either create a moveable text box on the page in order to do that, or use our template which has the window positioned correctly. Plan your work carefully so you have plenty of time to get these last details right.

Work backwards from your deadline and leave yourself a few days to print and bind. Everyone else will be too! Good academic writing is about ease of understanding.

Numbering the sections makes it easy to know where you are in the dissertation at any one time. It also means that your reader can use the contents page to find any particular part of the text they are interested in.

Numbering sections in your dissertation. Continue to add sub-sub sections by increasing the number of decimal points. Avoid doing this excessively as you may make the structure too complicated. If including a figure or table, refer to it in the body of your paper at the point where it appears.

As far as page numbering goes, there are four sections to your dissertation: Title page Your title page should have no number.

Preamble The preamble is everything between the Title page and the Introduction:. All these sections, with correct numbering, appear in the general dissertation template which can be accessed below.

Look at the example title page above. It has the dissertation details in the correct place to appear through the cover window. If your dissertation is in any way different to the normal format as, for example, some design dissertations may be , consult your supervisor for correct presentation.

Professional binding For advice and guidance, email the university's Print Centre at print. Opening hours are 8am Online orders including posters, dissertations and a wide range of printing, finishing and binding options can also be placed using this Canon Print Centre link. Before submitting check that you have completed all required details. If in doubt check with your supervisor but as a minimum you should include: Plagiarism is taking the words, theories, creations or ideas of another person and passing them off as your own.

Plagiarism can be deliberate — copying a passage from a book or journal or pasting something from the internet into an assignment without referencing the original source. You can also commit inadvertent plagiarism which is where you unintentionally repeat some of the information you have read in the course of your research. You must ensure you do reference ALL material that comes from another source so question yourself as to whether you have read the information elsewhere and go back to your sources to locate the reference.

Watch this video to find out more about avoiding plagiarism:. Plagiarism is a serious issue that can result in failing an assignment, failing the year or even having to leave the course.

All forms of plagiarism will be taken seriously - deliberate or not! Plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct. Southampton Solent University has clear guidelines on student academic conduct and procedures for dealing with academic misconduct.

Make sure you are familiar with these by looking at the links on this webpage:. To avoid plagiarism , make sure you include references within your assignment to all sources you use and then include full details of all the sources in a reference list at the end of your work. To find out more, download the Avoiding plagiarism summary below.

Test your understanding of what plagiarism is by clicking on the links below. Subject specific books and ebooks http: If you'd like some more help with dissertation proposals and writing dissertations you can:. If you have any feedback about dissertation proposals and writing dissertations. Thank you to all staff and students at Southampton Solent University who contributed to this course.

Solent Online Learning Course: Friday, 14 September , What sections go into a dissertation? This book will cover: The first step is to put together your proposal. Dissertation proposals What are the essential elements to a good dissertation proposal?

Dissertation Proposal Template Word doc. Title You need a working title to focus on throughout your research. Introduction Set out your reasons for undertaking this particular study in your Introduction.

Outline the problem — what is the key issue? Explain why you think this is worth investigating Describe the nature and purpose of your research Indicate what you hope to achieve. If you are unable to complete your statement then you are not yet ready to begin.

Aims and objectives The primary focus of your research project is usually expressed in terms of aims and objectives. Aim An intention or aspiration; what you hope to achieve. Aims are statements of intent, written in broad terms. Aims set out what you hope to achieve at the end of the project. Objective A goal or a step on the way to meeting the aim; how you will achieve it.

Objectives use specific statements which define measurable outcomes. Objectives should be S. A less ambitious but completed objective is better than an over-ambitious one that you cannot possible achieve.

Realistic — do you have the necessary resources to achieve the objective? Time constrained — determine when each stage needs to be completed. Is there time in your schedule to allow for unexpected delays? Use strong positive statements which use strong verbs.

There are no fixed number of aims or objectives. Some tutors are happy with one clear strong aim, whilst others like to see a main aim supported by at least two subsidiary aims. Data sets will be extracted from the known historical record of tectonic-plate movement Data sets will be extracted from astronomical tables detailing the various alignments of the major planets covering the same period as data from the geological record.

The data from both sets will be synthesis ed to establish if correlation points exist between major geological events and planetary alignments. Methodology Remember to do the following when writing your Methodology: It is important to explain what research methods you used to collect your info.

Discuss with your project supervisor the extent and level of detail required; original research will obviously require a more detailed description than a project based solely on secondary research. Not every dissertation proposal contains a Literature survey. Literature survey summary PDF opens in new window. Scope and constraints Set the boundaries clearly in this section.

Examples of boundary setting: Resources List resources that you will need to complete your study in the Resources section. Timetable Below is a proposed timetable for your dissertation.

It should also be sufficiently detailed for your supervisor to identify any areas of weakness in order to provide you with appropriate guidance: Academic calendar week no. Activity 10 Receive clearance from supervisor to proceed. Christmas break Review literature and start work on first draft. Aim to complete chapter one. Receive feedback on previous work. Easter Write up final draft of dissertation - begin drafting out conclusion. Check if your faculty has any specific requirements.

References The reference list at the end of your work demonstrates the depth of your research. Find out which sections you need to include by asking your supervisor, by identifying what is standard practice in your discipline or by reading papers written by other students: Cover page All dissertations and theses submitted at Southampton Solent University must be bound and have an official cover page.

Example cover page Dissertation Template Word doc In the template above, the title page is formatted correctly. Give yourself plenty of time to get your printing and binding done. Lots of other people will be submitting around the same time, so the printers are likely to be busier than usual. Acknowledgements The acknowledgments is a paragraph which thanks everyone who has helped you whilst you have been researching and writing your dissertation.

Abstract The Abstract is a summarise d version of your complete paper. Briefly outline what your paper aims to do Briefly outline the results and the conclusions you have reached. Contents page A dissertation or a thesis is an extended piece of writing. Example contents page Usually, the Contents page will come after the Acknowledgements and Abstract, and before the List of figures if you have one and the Introduction. List of figures or illustrations You will need to include a List of figures, a List of illustrations or even both if your dissertation has the following items: It should give the number of the page that it appears on.

You do not need to give reference details here. Check what is the normal practice in your discipline. Main body - introduction The introduction serves as an expansion of your title and is included in every dissertation. Why are you writing this dissertation? When numbering the pages, start at 1 on the introduction. Main body - literature survey The Literature Survey is also known as a Literature review. A Literature Survey uses a descriptive writing approach is positioned after the introduction and before the methodology describes the existing and established theory and research in your report area.

You are providing a context for your work. Check whether to include this seperately or not with your department or tutor. Main body - methodology The general idea is that, should someone else choose to carry out the same or a very similar type of study, they should be able to understand and copy your methods from your descriptions.

Main body - results The Results section may also be called 'Findings'. Do not include any discussion, argument or conclusions — these come later. Main body - discussion The Discussion section: Do not draw out your conclusions here, but open up the discussion of possibilities. Main body - recommendations Check with your tutor or department whether you should be including recommendations in your dissertation or not. Including a Recommendations section depends on purpose.

Always check with your tutor first. Main body - conclusion The Conclusion should reach your point. Consider the following questions: What, in your conclusion, did your research show in relation to your aims? Did you meet your aims, go beyond them, or in fact fail to reach your aims?

Did you prove your own hypothesis or disprove it? Example references page A Reference list: Make sure that you make notes of all publications that you use in your research, as you will need to include these in your bibliography later on. Depending upon the referencing system preferred by your university department, you will need the following information:.

It could be that you identify one particularly interesting study, but realise that its findings are outdated, or are not easily applicable to modern times. You may decide that you want to investigate whether the findings would be the same in more recent research. The date of publication — is the source outdated? Has there been any significant development that would affect the field of research since the study was carried out? Can you identify any methodological errors that would undermine the results that the authors presented?

Are there any ethical concerns that you believe should be rectified in any future studies of the same topic? Putting pen to paper: With the guidance of your supervisor, you will be able to alter the direction of your research as you go. Although by now, you should have a clear idea of the potential for your research, and what your conclusions might be. Depending upon whether your course is of a scientific or mathematical nature, meaning that you are likely to be dealing with experiments providing you with definitive results and quantitative analysis; or a more theoretical nature, meaning that your research will mainly be qualitative; your hypothesis will be proven or disproven throughout the course of your dissertation.

The first step in creating your dissertation proposal should be planning its structure. Like the dissertation itself, your proposal will require an introduction, a main section and a conclusion. As a brief guide:. Methodology The methodology section is where you will outline the methods through which you will collect and process your data. You should include how and what you are going to do. If your research is quantitative in nature, this will probably include a reference to a questionnaire, survey, or data source, and you should make clear the scope of your research e.

You will also need to explain why you have selected the methods that you have — are they more specific to your research area? Aims and Objectives Here you will highlight the main issues that you are attempting to explore. What is it that you want to achieve? What are the main questions that you are looking to answer? What predictions can you make?

Literature Review The literature review gives you the opportunity to make a really good argument for the importance of your research, and connect it to similar research, or present it as an extension to other existing studies. You will need to list the most important sources that you have consulted thus far in your research, and how they helped you to guide your own research.

If you can, placing your work alongside others to show how it further elaborates or contributes to the more general field will show that you have adequately prepared for your proposal. There is potential to include any flaws that you may have identified within this existing work, and how you will avoid this in your own dissertation.

Only include sources that you can show will add value to your work. Limitations Part of writing an effective and informative piece of research is recognising the limits that are imposed upon your ability to explore and present your findings.

Some limitations may refer directly to the word count, explaining that there are further issues that you will not have a chance to or space to address. Completing this section clearly shows that you have engaged with your subject matter and are familiar with the wider concepts relating to your topic.

Ethical Considerations Are there any ethical concerns relating to your research? More information on ethics can be found in the following section below. Timeframe Often, dissertation proposals will include an estimated timeframe for the delivery of work to their supervisor. This may be on a chapter-by-chapter basis, or you may begin with the actual research, so that you are able to perfect this part before moving on to writing about it.

Make sure that you are realistic, and allow some time for your initial research before jumping straight in to getting words on the page. After having identified the limitations of previous studies in this field, I have worked on producing a methodology that will avoid these same pitfalls, and predict that the research will portray a strong enough relationship between the two factors to encourage further scholarship.

Although this might sound complicated, once you begin to go over the basics, and continue to repeat the process for each of the studies you incorporate into your work, it will soon become second nature.

When writing a PhD thesis proposal, however, you must remember that you are now expected to do more than simply regurgitate the theories and studies of others. You are now required to show that you are able to adequately extend the existing literature, rather than simply interpret and criticise it. This may mean that you spend a lot longer searching for a topic, as you will want to identify a concept that still has room for exploration. There are several things that you will need to include that have not already been mentioned above, however: As a PhD research proposal is usually submitted directly to your department of choice, you should make clear your reasons for choosing that particular university over other competitors.

Does this department have a history of research in the specific area you are writing in? Is there a research grant you are hoping to apply for? Within your methodology section, it is important to include a description of the research techniques that you are planning to use.

Or have they been used effectively in similar studies previously? Again, be sure to follow any departmental guidance in terms of word count, and if you are applying for a research grant be sure to relate everything back to the aims and objectives outlined within the accompanying details. In summary Concentrate on what your research will achieve, why it is important, and what it will add to your field of study. Be sure to include a bibliography detailing any sources you have used or literature you have referred to in writing your dissertation proposal.

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Writing a dissertation proposal, even if it’s not a requirement, is still worth doing. You can submit the proposal to your supervisor (with her agreement) and get some valuable feedback. Ask your supervisor for guidance about the tone and style of your research proposal.

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Guidelines to Writing Dissertation Proposals and How to Outline Them. One of the most difficult tasks involved in dissertation writing is the formulation of dissertation proposals which involves creating something out of nothing at all. The whole point of a dissertation is to create and bring about something new, new ideas or new theories, and all of this is to be presented in the form of dissertation proposals.

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The dissertation proposal is an important first step towards writing your final dissertation on a taught or research masters course, or a PhD level course. Your proposal needs to be unique and it sets the stage for your research and should help you make a clear plan for your final project. "A dissertation proposal is essential in preparing you for the writing process and will actually serve to make beginning your dissertation decidedly less frightening." Beginning to plan a dissertation is an undoubtedly daunting task.

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III. Order in which to write the proposal. Proceed in the following order: Make an outline of your thesis proposal before you start writing; Prepare figures and tables; Figure captions; Methods; Discussion of your data; Inferences from your data; Introduction; Abstract; . General tips for writing a dissertation. So, if you decided to write your dissertation proposal on your own, you can use a few helpful tips we got for you. First of all, you should understand that writing a paper differs from revising it. Please, remember this fact. Also, you should avoid any type of distractions while writing your dissertation.