TIPS FOR WRITING AN EXCEPTIONAL DISSERTATION PROPOSAL
You will need to think of a subject area that you are passionate about, research the literature on this topic and select a research gap, problem or issue that you can investigate in more detail. This has to be novel addition to literature that has not been considered by previous authors. Although the structure of an ideal dissertation proposal could be vary across various universities, this is an ideal way to construct your proposal using the following headings and prompts as a useful guideline.
Give a concise title with not more than 20 words in length. The reader should be given a clear picture of the project topic, what the research will do (e.g. evaluate or test something) and where (i.e. give it a geographic context such as the country or continent where your research would be based on if necessary).
Provide the background of the research topic selected. Conduct a mini literature survey of the key studies that have been undertaken till date in the chosen topic and indicate the research ‘gap’ or problem/issue that your research aims to address. Ensure you add current researches to your context in order to demonstrate that you are up to speed with the current researches in your area of interest. Note that in order to obtain a good grade in your dissertation at masters level, it is essential to identify a research gap and address it adequately.
Provide the main research questions that you will attempt to address in your dissertation based the research gap/problem issue identified earlier.
Aims and Objectives
State the main aim for your research and list the objectives (about 3 or 4). These objectives should reflect how you intend to accomplish the aim of the research and address your research questions. Your objectives should provide a platform for the subsequent methods section by enabling you to break your research down into discrete parcels. Ensure that your objectives are measurable and achievable within the time frame of the dissertation. The objectives should be numbered and appropriate action verbs should be employed.
For a marked dissertation proposal, note that this section carries the highest mark, as up to 40 percent could be allocated to this section. A justification and rationale for your dissertation design must be provided in details.
Your methods must be clearly defined and they should be closely linked with your research objectives. Ideally, a flow chart should be appropriate.
Your research methods should state the data collection process and how you intend to analyse it. You must justify your choice of data collection and data analysis based on what is obtainable in literature.
You must specifically state what you intend to do, e.g. what specific sources of information and/or data will be used (and why), which sampling techniques will be used (if relevant), how samples will be collected or questionnaires issued (and where), how many samples will be taken or questionnaires issued (and why), etc. Maps and simple diagrams may also be
useful in explaining where and how you will undertake any proposed fieldwork. If you intend to use secondary data, you need to specify the particular data sets that will be accessed, the sources of this data and justify their use.
You must also indicate what you intend to do with the data and/or information. Provide details on how you will analyse and evaluate the collected information and/or data (both primary and secondary), which may include: content analysis, and the specific criteria to be used; development of a theoretical framework; specific statistical analysis of numerical data, etc. NB: it is not sufficient just to mention use of EXCEL or Eviews only.
You need to tell the examiner exactly what you intend to do and when you intend to do it (timeframe). You may wish to include a Gantt chart in your proposal
Ethics & Risk Assessment
Your proposal must highlight any potential ethical or health and safety issues associated with your data/information collection and how these will be addressed.
Provide references for all the sources you have cited in your proposal, following the guidelines provided by your institution. Sufficient good quality, up-to-date, academic and/or technical sources should be used.