Writing Dissertation Proposal

Dissertation Proposal presents students with a chance of finding out if their research aims and objectives are valid and if the methods they are planning to use are suitable and feasible.

The Proposal needs to be able to communicate the following 3 important points to the supervisor:

Firstly, you already did your homework in terms of reading a large amount of relevant secondary data.

Secondly, there is a need for this research.

Thirdly, the research will eliminate a gap in the literature


The total wordcount requirement for a Research Proposal can range between 1500 – 4000 words and the proposal can be prepared in the following format:

  1. Title Page
  1. Introduction. This part is a brief introduction to the research area with some background information. Some universities require proposal abstract or summary to be included as well. Please refer to the Dissertation Handbook.
  1. Statement of the Problem. Research problem needs to be explained in a detailed manner in at least 2-3 pages.
  1. Aims and Objectives. These need to comply with SMART principle where the acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.
  1. Justification for the Topic. These can relate to the elimination of gap in the literature, practical benefits of the research, and its contribution to your long-term career objectives.
  1. Scope of the Research and its Limitations. It is important to make it clear what specific issues are going to be explored during the research process, as well as, what relevant issues will be left out.
  1. Preliminary Literature Review. Definitions of main terms, explanation of search strategy for the literature and, brief outline of the most relevant models and theoretical frameworks need to be included in this part.
  1. Methodology. This part includes explanations of methods of data collection and analysis. Moreover, proposal methodology needs to address research philosophy, research approach, its design and sampling issues.
  1. Ethical Aspects of the Study. You have to explain how you are going to address issues of ethics related to the study. In studies that involve primary data collection ethical issues can be addressed by including the following statements in your proposal, and staying true to these statements:

a) Respondents are going to participate in the survey voluntarily;

b) Questionnaire/Interview/Focus group questions are not going to contain offensive, discriminatory,  or other unacceptable language;

c) Privacy and anonymity of sample group members are going to be maintained etc;

d) The works of other authors that are going to be used in any part of the proposed study are going to be acknowledged with the use of Harvard/APA/Vancouver referencing system according to the Dissertation Handbook;

e) The author will attempt to maintain high levels of objectivity in discussions and analyses           throughout the research.

In studies that do not involve primary data collection, on the other hand, ethical issues are going to be limited to the points d) and e) above.

  1. Research schedule. Gantt-Chart is one of the most effective, yet simple tools to illustrate research schedule. See Chapter 8 of the e-book for details. Alternatively, you can use simple tasks lists, network diagrams or advanced dashboard software.
Research schedule you present in proposal is not ‘set in stone’ and it is most likely to change to a certain extent
  1. References. Appropriate referencing is critically important for Dissertation Proposal the same way as it is important for the final draft of the work.


Writing Dissertation Proposal

My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance offers practical assistance to complete a dissertation with minimum or no stress. The e-book covers all stages of writing a dissertation starting from the selection to the research area to submitting the completed version of the work within the deadline.

John Dudovskiy