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Dissertation Proposal:
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Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is a carefully drafted document written by a student seeking approval for his or her dissertation topic. The dissertation proposal must present a compelling argument on how the student's topic relates to the field of study and why the student should be allowed to pursue a stated research goal in great depth and detail. The dissertation proposal is submitted to the student's faculty advisor and often reviewed by a dissertation committee. The student's advisor may advise on a particular format for the dissertation proposal. Consulting with the advisor is the first step in the proposal-writing process.

Dissertation proposals follow a format much like actual dissertations. In the introduction, the student states the proposed research topic and briefly states the reasons why it is worthy of in-depth study. In the problem statement, the student presents the research question in greater detail, defines any terms relevant to the discussion of the question, and argues for the question's relevance in the student's field of study.

In the literature review, the student discusses research papers and dissertations on related topics and shows how they suggest or leave room for study of the student's own dissertation topic. In the methods section, the student outlines the actual research to be performed. The subjects to be studied, the methods of gathering data, and the way in which the data will be analyzed are all discussed in detail. Dissertation proposals may also include bibliographies detailing the sources consulted, appendices describing preliminary research conducted, or any other information that might support the student's case.

First, and foremost, the dissertation proposal must be a persuasive argument in favor of the student's proposed research topic. The student must present the topic in a way that highlights its importance to the body of knowledge in the student's field. The student's primary audience is his or her dissertation committee, and the primary goal is selling this committee on the student's proposed topic. If the student keeps this key point in mind, the dissertation proposal process will be coherent, directed, and successful.