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Guidelines for writing a good dissertation proposal

By HWA | Publish On: September 7, 2010 | Posted In:

Guidelines For Writing A Good Dissertation Proposal

The most important guideline for the proposal is the marking grid and feedback sheet available from the assessment folder. This shows EXACTLY what is required to achieve full marks in each section. I have reproduced it here to show how the assessment is organised

This is what would be expected for a proposal table of contents

  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • Background
  • Literature review
  • Research questions
  • Methodology
  • Project plan

Lets  go through the main sections

1) Title page and 2) Table of contents – should be self explanatory!!

3) Background and 4) Literature review and 5) Research questions

The background and literature review and research questions are assessed using the first THREE sections of the marking grid.

Guidelines for writing a good dissertation proposal
Guidelines for Proposal –

In the background, you need to give the background to the proposed study. This might be (but is not limited to) a personal discussion of why you are interested in this area, data and/or information from trade journals,/magazines/newspapers/news media, secondary research reports on the area you are studying, internet sources (NOT Wikipedia!!) and so on. The purpose of the background section is to show why your area of study is valuable or interesting and to give some background on the context of your study

The literature review looks at the peer reviewed academic literature (books and journal articles) on your area of study. This is the place you begin to look at the academic conversations about your area of interest, identify the key writers and the main arguments and suggest a possible contribution that your research might make. There is no clear cut answer to the question “how many sources do I need?” the answer is enough to show an appreciation of the area you are studying and the main academic discussions taking place.

Markers are looking for research that is shown through these sections to be interesting, timely, valid and offers a real contribution to knowledge of this particular area. Please bear in mind that “no-one has done research on this” is not a well thought out research gap or potential contribution; do not use this as your main argument for pursuing your research. There might be a good reason it has not been done, it might not be very interesting or necessary!!

Your research questions must clearly tackle the engagement with the literature that you have claimed. A research question follows on from the background and literature review and is turning an interest stimulated through those sections into a question (or series of questions) questions should have a question mark at the end!! Try not to write too many questions, 3 should be the maximum, 1 is acceptable as long as it clearly tackles the engagement with the literature.

For more help on Dissertation writing or porposal writing please feel free to contact

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