Writing A Dissertation Prospectus: A Quick Guide


A dissertation prospectus is required by most universities in which students are pursuing a research based program of study. The exact requirements of dissertation prospectuses vary according to institutional requirements but there are some basic guidelines that are generally followed by everyone. Read on to find a quick guide on how to write a prospectus.

  1. Cover Page
  2. Every prospectus must include a cover page that includes a title for the paper, the author’s name, names of the department and institution, names of the supervisor or supervisory committee and the date of submission. Depending on the university, you may also be required to designate a space for approval signatures.

  3. Table of Contents
  4. This will list all the major chapters and the major headings within each chapter. The table of contents should provide the audience with a concise look into what is contained within the paper. The headings and subheadings should be an indication of the main dimensions of what the topic is about.

  5. Abstract
  6. This is a summary of the proposal. It is usually one page only and is usually limited to a few hundred words, in most cases being only about 200 to 300 words.

  7. A Description of the Research Problem
  8. This is the main and most important part of the paper. Here you describe what the research problem is. The difficulty with this part is that you have to present a problem that is by turns important to you, acceptable for your supervisor or the decision making committee and relevant for the wider scientific community that will be the audience for the research. It is also important to know, given your sources and the resources available to you, whether the research is even possible to be done.

    Your research statement or thesis statement will be contained here and should be written down in a single sentence. Any longer than one sentence and it is not focused enough and is too broad.

    You will also be required to show the importance and relevance of the research to your area of study.

  9. Literature Review
  10. No research is possible without giving it context of what has already been done in the subject area. In this section you provide a description of what studies have and have not been done to enable you to create a space and describe the need for your research.

  11. Methodology
  12. Here you describe how you are to conduct your experiment, what the setting is, what the tools are, who your participants are and how you will recruit and if needed, compensate them.

  13. References and Timetable
  14. List your reference and provide a timetable for each section of your paper.

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