For a piece of writing that is as important as dissertation proposal, planning is crucial. You need to very carefully consider each element, and to understand precisely how each element develops the overall document. But given that you are unlikely to have spent much time writing dissertation proposals, it is a good idea to do some research before starting to write. Then, you need to produce a strong outline. But, what should this include? Here are a few suggestions:
When you produce the actual proposal, it will need to include an introduction. In your outline, write as comprehensive and succinct an intro as you can, to guide you in your initial thinking.
Once you demonstrate an understanding of the larger field of study, the crucial stage is to outline and plan how to express the relevance of your particular topic to the field in general. Thinking very carefully about this before the proposal stage will help to prepare you.
One way to understand the field and your context is to read and review as much literature as you can. In your outline, include a detailed literature review, which can be edited when needed, but which you can have to guide your next steps.
An outline should also include the kinds of sources and some examples of the evidence that you will use in your argument. Be as comprehensive as possible in this, and the wider your evidence base the better.
You need to spend time deciding which methods you will use and how you will go about researching your paper. In the outline, include detail about precisely the kinds of methods that you will need to discuss in your proposal.
You can also, in your outline, start thinking about what you expect the findings of your paper to be; what is the overall direction of the study? Having an outline of this will really help to give your proposal focus.
There is a lot to take into consideration in a dissertation proposal, and there is even more to take into consideration in the outline, because this will contain much more information than will go into the final document. But spending time to outline will save time in the long run!
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