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How to Write a Dissertation Prospectus

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❶Further, this study seeks to establish that a greater depth of professional development occurs when graduate students embody spaces of teaching and tutoring, as opposed to embodying one or the other throughout their graduate experience.

Georgia State University

Tips to Writing a Good Dissertation Prospectus
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Statement of the Research Problem and Major Questions This part of the prospectus describes a research problem that is clearly relevant to the field of Social Welfare with a logical progression to the candidate's research aims.

The research problem must be described in sufficient detail to ensure that any Social Welfare Faculty member reading the prospectus can become acquainted with the problem and its relevance to the field. After the introduction of the problem, a brief review of the state of theory and knowledge about the problem in the field of Social Welfare is provided, along with citations from the most pertinent literature.

This section concludes with a small set of research questions and research aims that are clearly linked to the problem and to the field's state of theory and knowledge about the problem. The dissertation prospectus should clearly articulate how the dissertation is relevant to social work's mission to enhance social justice. For example, a student may illustrate in the prospectus, as well as in the dissertation or the oral defense, some or all of the following: Methodology This section explains how the candidate plans to produce original knowledge that is clearly responsive to the research questions posed.

Although a variety of qualitative and quantitative methods may be appropriate, this section must provide a detailed and unambiguous description of the research methods to be used. The exact methods chosen must be consistent with a clearly established epistemological perspective and must be of sufficient scope and rigor to clearly show strong potential for a significant advancement in the state of knowledge relevant to the research questions.

Whatever the methods used, key concepts are to be clearly articulated and defined in operational terms. Sampling methods, measures, data collection, and data analysis techniques must be described in sufficient detail to allow some assessment of their appropriateness, both to the questions and the overall epistemological approach. Where human subjects are involved in the production of data, the student needs to identify the sources of risk to the subjects and the methods that will be used to ensure the participants are protected from harm and abrogation of basic rights.

The section should demonstrate a critical evaluation of the social justice implications of the proposed research methods. Examples may include the use of participatory research methods, creating a plan for dissemination of research findings to communities, or engaging in public scholarship.

Timeline and Resource Considerations This section provides a timeline for the completion of all phases of the dissertation and the resource requirements of each phase, thereby providing a series of benchmarks for both the candidate and committee to assess the progress of the dissertation research. The timeline and resources required will vary by the type of dissertation research, and the candidate is encouraged to be both thorough and realistic.

In particular, some margin should be built in for the unanticipated difficulties that are common to this level of research. In assessing a student's prospectus, the Supervisory Committee will bear in mind the following criteria:.

The dissertation prospectus must be independently reviewed by all Supervisory Committee members who are to be on the Dissertation Reading Committee. The chair and student together will review the evaluations and use the appropriate section on the chair's evaluation form to outline a plan for how any concerns raised in the evaluations will be addressed and how changes will be monitored.

Include a brief review of the appropriate scholarly literature. Specify the particular scholarly contribution you hope to make to that literature. What is the relationship of the proposed research to scholarship in American Studies?

Your dissertation will be directed by a member of the American Studies faculty and categorized as a dissertation in American Studies in Dissertation Abstracts.

It is important that you be able to place your work within a context of previous American Studies scholarship and to be able to say how your research meets the aims of the field. What is the relationship of the research to scholarship in American Studies? The prospectus should address the following in sufficient detail for your committee to understand how you propose to proceed, using what sources: What are your sources?

What kinds of evidence will you use? Are your sources accessible? Explain how your sources are adequate for completing the proposed research. Discuss any anticipated gaps in the sources or difficulties in using the sources. What is your framework of inquiry and analysis? What theories or assumptions or both will organize your research processs and your interpretation of your sources?

How will you proceed? What will your research process actually consist of? Where will it take place? What special tools or resources, if any, will you need to conduct your research?

How will you organize your findings? Include a tentative chapter outline and a rationale for that outline.


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The dissertation prospectus is the formal document you present to your PhD Supervisory Committee once you have achieved candidacy and are preparing to move on to the dissertation as your full-time project.

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A dissertation prospectus is written prior to dissertation writing and is commonly considered the first step of writing a dissertation. However, to write a successful dissertation you must proceed in a step by step manner and focus at one step at a time.

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A dissertation prospectus is a paradoxical piece of writing. It is not an abstract (which is to say, a summary of a completed dissertation) or an introductory chapter of a dissertation, but rather an attempt to describe what . The prospectus, either for the M.A. Thesis or Ph.D. Dissertation, is a written plan for the research the student intends to complete. At the Ph.D. level, students must defend the prospectus in an oral examination after passing the Ph.D. exams.

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Dissertation Prospectus Outline The following outline should be helpful to the student in preparing a proposal for the dissertation research. Each proposal will likely diverge somewhat from the outline depending on the type of study. The dissertation prospectus is a brief document ( pages) prepared by PhD students who have advanced to candidacy and are prepared to undertake their dissertation research.