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The Best Dissertation Proposal Outline and Example

We have had students asking us for sample psychology dissertation proposal outline. Well, a research proposal culminates into a study which then culminates into a dissertation. Find out about how to write the best dissertation proposal from our previous posts.

dissertation proposal writing

There are some dos and don’ts when writing a dissertation proposal:

  1. The dissertation should be written in future tense.
  2. Choose a dissertation topic that you can narrow down your research.
  3. Consider the availability of resources when designing your dissertation proposal.
  4. Your introduction should be clear, concise, and information loaded.
  5. Do not choose a topic that falls out of the field of study.
  6. If you are not sure to seek dissertation help from the best dissertation writing service-Gradecrest.
  7. Consult widely and never do anything in doubt.

Dissertation Proposal outline for a Doctorate Students

Wondering how to write a dissertation? Are you writing a dissertation in education or psychology? Our proposal template could help. Write the best dissertation outline using our dissertation proposal template.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Your introduction should describe the research questions or the research problem. It should feature your theoretical argument. The aim of the introduction is to contextualize your dissertation. Besides, it also gives justification of the study or describes the issue at hand.

The introduction to a dissertation should be 3-4 paragraphs long. Get the APA manual for full details on how to structure a dissertation. A dissertation proposal outline always comes first.

The significance of the Study

In the significance of the study section, include:

  • The importance of conducting the study.
  • Reasons why the study is likely to answer the research question.
  • Outline the audience of the research findings.
  • Indicate the practical or theoretical reasons why the study has to be conducted.

When stating the significance of the study, you should be brief. However, make it a powerful section to keep the readers entertained.

Analysis of the Theoretical Basis for the Study

This section of the introduction should give a snapshot of the variables to be considered in the dissertation.

Here, you should explicate the theoretical perspective to help contextualize your study. If there are competing theoretical perspectives, they should be compared and presented.

Problem Statement

Here, your dissertation should outline the purpose of the research. Be succinct yet critical. It should also be connected to the introduction and the title of your dissertation.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

Ordinarily, after stating the problem, the next step is to have the research questions or hypotheses.

It is always not advisable to operationalize variables in this section. Instead, use the theoretical hypotheses and research questions in the language of constructs.

A good research question for a dissertation or dissertation proposal should be:

  • In the form of a question. That is, it should have a question mark at the end.
  • Should connect the different constructs identified in the theoretical framework part of the dissertation.
  • Should be testable, empirically.

Research questions should not exceed four.

But what is a hypothesis?

The hypotheses are declarative statements that are written in a predictive fashion. In other words, it is what the researcher anticipates but is just yet to prove through research. As such, they are also called theoretical, scientific, or research hypothesis.

Unlike research questions, hypotheses are statements. They do not require question marks at the end. The terms in a hypothesis should never be operationalized.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

When writing a sociology dissertation proposal outline, or any other proposal, the literature review is very important.

The literature review should cover the relevant literature to the study.

It is always good to use Google Scholar, Psych Net, EBSCOhost, Science Direct, or any other University Library databases.

The literature review includes past related studies that are relevant to the current study. Hence, the literature used in this section should be in support of the theoretical argument of your dissertation.

When writing the literature review, identify the gaps in the literature that your dissertation will fill.  Here are some of the sub-sections:

Historical Background

This section helps to put issues into perspective. It has to highlight the chronological sequence of issues or the problem at hand. Furthermore, it should highlight the controversies, major issues, and the introduction to the variables.

Theory Relevant to Research Questions/Hypotheses.

The literature review should also highlight some of the models you will be used in research. You should compare and contrast the theories. Also, be sure to justify the theoretical or structural basis of your dissertation. Furthermore, it is here that you connect the problem to your dissertation.

Current Empirical Literature 

Fundamentally, you should use current empirical literature when writing any dissertation or dissertation proposal.  Mostly, it is good to use sources that fall in the 5-years bracket. That is, use sources five years back from the time you are writing your dissertation.

Here, kindly include the literature that is relevant to explaining the variables.

Focus on literature from scholarly sources that are related to your current study. It does not mean that you just list studies.

However, you should write critically. For example, compare the findings of different studies. Write why the findings of one study differed from the other.

It is also wise to include the strengths and weaknesses of the previous studies. Demonstrate how you will overcome the shortcomings of the past studies.

In the literature review, it is best that you use deductive reasoning. Undeniably, this means starting broad and narrowing down into the real issue as the research progresses.

Making a concept map before writing the literature review helps you have a good organization.

If you want a dissertation chapter, our dissertation writers can help you write one.

Chapter 3. Methodology

In the methodology section of the dissertation, make the reader understand how the data is collected, the research design, and data analysis.

Participants

Indicate the sample you will be using in your dissertation research. Consider getting a clearance from the IRB before engaging the human participants.

This subsection of your dissertation should explain the characteristics of the participants.

You should also outline the sampling method and the inclusion criteria for the dissertation. Mostly, these are already outlined in the dissertation proposal.

It is also here that you state the actual number of participants who participated in the study. If there is any attrition, be sure to indicate the same.

Measures

In this subsection, you should indicate the method of data collection used and detail the instrument.

If the instrument was used in previous related studies, be sure to quote and cite the studies. It should already be in your literature review.

Explain the reliability and validity of the measures used in the study.

Research Design

The research design is informed by the research philosophy that underpins your dissertation. It is best that you include a description of the chosen design. Besides, also include the threats to external and internal validity of the design.
It is only here that you can operationalize the definition of the dependent and the independent variables. If there is a diagrammatic representation of the relationship between variables, the better.

Procedures

The procedures section of your dissertation proposal should have:

  • How the data collection instrument was administered.
  • If there was an issue in data collection.
  • Copies of the materials used. (if in the appendix, be sure to indicate)

Data Analysis

Here is where you restate either the research question or the hypotheses.

Outline the statistical analysis used when addressing a given hypothesis.

Your dissertation should also include an outline of the assumptions when using the statistical analyses.

Be sure to state the alpha levels used in determining the statistical significance.

Chapter 4: Results

Your dissertation outline should have the results section. When writing the dissertation, your findings should come here. Indicate the results of your interpretation including the statistical analyses results.

Organize the section into:

  • Descriptive statistics
  • Preliminary statistical analysis
  • Statistical analyses result for every hypothesis or research question

When reporting the statistical analysis results to answer the hypothesis or questions:

  • Restate the particular research question or hypothesis.
  • Report all the effect sizes and the statistical power of the tests.
  • Use figures and tables to organize your data.

Chapter 5. Discussion

This section of the dissertation should expound on the research findings. Mainly, you should discuss the findings with reference to the literature review. Ensure that the relationships between variables are well-established.

Briefly, have a summary of the results and do not use statistics. It is where you display how your research answers the hypothesis or research question.

The Conclusion of a Dissertation

The conclusion of your dissertation proposal outline should offer a summary of each section of your dissertation. Be very systematic when writing the conclusion.

It should not be complicated. Make sure you focus on the major points of the dissertation.

Majorly, relate the findings to the previous studies and report. Also, direct the readers to specific sections where they can get a full explanation of facts.

The conclusion should be short, clear, and informative.

Limitations

Here is where you address the shortcomings of the research.

The limitations should be those that the researcher could not complete.

Recommendations for Future Research

This should come last after the conclusion. Its gist is to offer recommendations for future studies based on identified weaknesses of your dissertation.

If there are shortcomings, address how future studies can overcome such and be perfect. Look at this dissertation proposal outline example.

Get Help with Writing Your Dissertation

This dissertation proposal outline can inform. However, if you lack dissertation writing skills, writing one can be hard. “Can someone write my dissertation,” is a common question among masters and doctorate students.

Our custom writing service offers dissertation writing help. In this, you get to have a writer write the proposal. After approval of the proposal, the writer will work with you in drafting the dissertation. We have professional writers who can handle dissertations in psychology, criminology, psychology, and business management. Make an order now.

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