How to write a dissertation proposal

How to write a dissertation proposal
Table of Contents
  1. How to write a dissertation proposal
  2. Why students write dissertation proposals
  3. Pre-writing tips
  4. Helpful motivational ideas
  5. Using a dissertation proposal template
  6. Questions to answer
  7. How to structure a dissertation proposal
  8. 1. Introduction
  9. 2. Main body / Problem statement
  10. 3. Aims & Objectives
  11. 4. Anticipated results
  12. 5. Methodology
  13. 6. Conclusions and bibliography / literature review
  14. Useful writing your successful paper tips
  15. Helpful basics
  16. Interesting ideas about dissertation proposal structure
  17. Final Thoughts
  18. Sample Research Proposal
  19. A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management
  20. 1. Introduction
  21. 2. Problem Statement
  22. 3. Objectives
  23. 4. Preliminary Literature Review - Anticipated Results
  24. 5. Methodology
  25. References

Before you start writing your dissertation project, you require a detailed plan or - dissertation proposal outline. What is its purpose? Your dissertation proposal should describe any information you want to investigate or how you will do that in your future dissertation. Don't know how to write a dissertation proposal without a coach or need professional dissertation writing service? It should include:

  • Overview of your literature;
  • Research questions;
  • Problem statements;
  • Research methodology;
  • References;
  • Sources you use.

Why students write dissertation proposals

Writing your dissertation proposal depends on your institution or university, it’s your helpful exercise, especially if it’s not part of your academic assessment. When to write proposals? Some courses require them within final dissertation submissions, but you should talk to your tutors to get required instructions or understand if you need to complete your assignment based on them. Read this review to approach your work correctly.

Pre-writing tips

This paper aims to provide basic sections, including:

  • Your future dissertation purpose or nature;
  • Possible questions that you will examine;
  • References to any theoretical background;
  • Research methods that you use;
  • Potential outcomes of your study.

Helpful motivational ideas

How to write a proposal for a dissertation? Spending enough time on this academic task is your wise investment because you’ll reap rewards, stop procrastinating, and form your future basis. This type of writing is worth practicing. Submit your dissertation proposal to get valuable feedback from tutors or ask them for helpful guidance about your style or tone.

Stay open-minded and flexible, show your willingness to adapt all ideas or methods as your research dictates you. Be firm and flexible! Say everything you want confidently to adapt your balanced view or suggest that you determined the best way to carry out your case study. Use this dissertation proposal outline to succeed. Follow all grammar rules in this paper while staying consistent, check supervisors for their confirmation, provide your future written model.

Using a dissertation proposal template

Ensure that any successful dissertation proposal sample helps you identify literature, research questions, problem statements, investigation methods (quantitative or qualitative research methods), data sources, references, analysis outcomes.

  • Read current literature. Look for reliable sources on your chosen topic to motivate your search for related details or facts, examine everything done, find any unanswered questions.
  • Formulate your list of research questions and problem statements. Identify existing problems in your field, determine major research questions that you want to explore in the next dissertation proposal writing stage.
  • Create your research methodology. Explain how you’ll answer all research questions, include helpful materials, write down effective methods.
  • Identify data sources and outline where you get your important data.

Questions to answer

Find any effective dissertation proposal template. Find key phrases or words to identify important questions because your answers will help you determine the best content. Why is your research necessary? Consider where or when you’ll conduct it, relevant information, problems, expected outcomes or results, valuable suggestions. Your format depends on disciplines, like social sciences.

How to structure a dissertation proposal

Your first step is planning a future dissertation proposal structure because it requires its main section, introduction, conclusion. How to write a dissertation proposal? Read a brief description of every paragraph and don’t forget to pick your catchy title to increase your chances to get higher grades.

1. Introduction

Introduce your chosen topic in the first paragraph that offers an overview of your more specific research, exploring its background to your wider subject area. Lay out your thesis. Explain why you think that your research in this area is significant, how it can impact future studies, what effects it will bring.

2. Main body / Problem statement

It consists of several subsections. Use your methodology for dissertation to outline different methods to process or college relevant data in your research. Explain what you will do. If your research is quantitative, include references to related surveys, questionnaires, and other data sources. Make its scope clear to readers.

Share your realistic description of why you choose specific research methods before switching to further paragraphs. In your objectives and aims, highlight major issues that you attempt to explore or questions that you will answer in your paper. What do you want to achieve?

Your literature review gives you a great opportunity to make good arguments for your research importance, connect it to similar projects, present it as some extension to relevant studies in this field. How to write it? List significant sources, explain how they help you guide your research, place your work alongside other projects, show how it contributes to or elaborates a more general field.

You’ll prove your adequate preparation. You have your potential to include any flaws identified within your dissertation proposal, determine how you’ll avoid them in your future dissertation project. Include sources that can add value to your research.

3. Aims & Objectives

Why are limitations important? Recognizing any limits in your ability to present or explore valuable findings is a part of writing your informative or effective dissertation proposal. Some limitations in research refer to your assigned word count, others explain further issues that you may face.

Why should you complete this section? Do that to clearly show that you engaged with your chosen subject matter to prove that you’re familiar with wider concepts in this discipline. Think about any relevant ethical considerations.

4. Anticipated results

Anticipated results include everything you want your study to uncover or possible gaps in your knowledge. Your approach should add to existing knowledge. Proposals often include their estimated timeframes for delivering finished work to supervisors or instructors.

Some teachers ask to submit every dissertation proposal chapter for its approval separately, others require to start with actual research before moving on to writing about it. Ensure that you’re realistic. Set your schedule to allocate enough time for initial steps before jumping straight into writing down any ideas you have in your mind.

5. Methodology

The methods section describes actions to be taken to investigate a research problem and the rationale for the application of specific procedures or techniques used to identify, select, process, and analyze information applied to understanding the problem, thereby, allowing the reader to critically evaluate a study’s overall validity and reliability. The methodology section of a research paper answers two main questions: How was the data collected or generated? And, how was it analyzed?

The information regarding methodology should be comprehensive and detailed enough to permit replication of the study by other researchers. The writing should be direct and precise and always written in the past tense.

6. Conclusions and bibliography / literature review

Writing your bibliography is a must. It’s a list of any references related to your proposals for thesis research, format it based on citation styles appropriate for your academic discipline.

Any conclusion requires you to round off your dissertation proposal with some reminders of reasoning to choose topics, research types, expected outcomes.

The literature review will list the books and materials that you used to do your research. This is where you can list materials that give you more background on your topic, or contain research carried out previously that you refer to in your own studies. It’s also a good place to demonstrate how your research connects to previous academic studies, and how your methods may differ from or be building upon those used by other researchers. While it’s important to give enough information about the materials to show that you have read and understood them, don’t forget to include your analysis of their value to your work.

Useful writing your successful paper tips

Be original. What does it mean? Highlight interesting or unique ways to show future readers that you’re creative, innovative, resourceful, talented, skilled. Demonstrate relevance or explain how your dissertation proposal will impact your chosen area or general public.

Showcase your knowledge. Don’t be humble about personal academic achievements, use your dissertation proposal to provide strong evidence to prove them. Being over-ambitious is a common pitfall, be sure that you can complete your study within required deadlines or with available resources.

Advertise yourself. If you plan to apply for external funding for your project, adapt it to fit funding requirements, key themes, rules. Do you want to work with specific supervisors? To increase your chances, tailor your proposal to their areas of expertise, preferences, instructions, interests.

Helpful basics

Treat this academic assignment not only as your document that should be submitted within agreed deadlines, but also as something that can help you plan your future winning dissertation. Writing it without any plan is your big mistake. The structure of this paper is quite different from other academic assignments because you don’t need to prove any thesis or give answers to major research questions in it.

Give readers only general ideas. Use it as your map of subjects that you’ll investigate. Your dissertation proposal should explain how your arguments will fit together perfectly, put forward their bones, give readers better ideas of your methods, explain how it will fit into any wider area.

Interesting ideas about dissertation proposal structure

Consult with your department. Some educational departments have strict proposal formatting rules that all students must stick to, others are more easy going about structuring basics. Consider these elements because they’re quite likely to be covered.

Include your overview of the chosen subject in your project introduction, pick only prominent theories, choose relevant empirical studies. This paragraph should cover your reasoning. Explain your dissertation proposal structure, briefly, determine its significance, outline research objectives or aims clearly.

When you write your literature review, don’t go in detail about all texts because you should give your brief description of chosen academic literature. Suggest research questions in it. Include identified gaps in your dissertation proposal, modern studies if they’re relevant to your work, roles played by different theories. Want to conduct your primary research? Include your brief section to discuss any methods that you’ll use, explain your rationale for them, and offer their short description. Present, format, and structure all ideas to ensure that this section is free of grammar or spelling mistakes because they affect your future grades dramatically. Discuss your data analysis and ethics.

Final Thoughts

Follow these helpful tips to develop your perfect dissertation proposal that will increase your chance to succeed at any type of degree. It’s your effective road map! Proofread every section to submit your error-free and well-polished proposal to demonstrate your academic skills. In any other case (lacking time, feeling like encountering a way too difficult task etc.) - feel free to turn to a pro academic writing service!


Sample Research Proposal


A Conceptual Framework for Scheduling Constraint Management

1. Introduction

     Every construction project is unique and has its own operating environment and sets of technical requirements. As a result, the execution of a construction project is subject to numerous constraints that limit the commencement or progression of field operations, which invariably have significant negative impact on overall project performance. By definition, constraints refer to any condition, such as temporal/spatial limitations and safety/quality concerns, which may prevent a project from achieving its goals. Successful execution and control of a construction project relies on effective identification and management of constraints through master planning and short-term look-ahead scheduling. While the master schedule provides a global view of a project and the overall execution strategy, a look-ahead schedule offers a detailed account of operational constraints and a detailed plan showing work to be done within a relatively short time window. Ideally, these detailed schedules should reflect actual field conditions and provide field personnel with operation instructions free of constraints and conflicts (Hinze 2008). This look-ahead scheduling and constraint analysis procedure is also a critical component of the last-planner methodology proposed by Ballard (2000). This research project will provide an overview of state-of-art schedule constraint analysis practice during look-ahead scheduling. In addition, it will propose a conceptual framework for managing constraints. 

2. Problem Statement

     The importance of developing a constraint-free and reliable work plan has long been recognized by the industry. However, numerous construction projects are still plagued by delays and cost overruns, which can frequently be traced to ineffective identification and treatment of constraints. First, when a constraint is not properly identified during scheduling, subsequent conflicts in the field are inevitable. Today’s projects are becoming more and more technically complex and logistically challenging, which exposes construction operations to even more complex constraints. Second, the traditional scheduling methods, bar charts and Critical Path Method (CPM) which are widely used as a basis for constraint analysis, greatly limit our capability in modeling and resolving constraints during look-ahead scheduling. These methods have long been blamed for their limitations in modeling and communicating constraints, including inability to cope with non-time-related precedence constraints and difficulty to evaluate and communicate inter-dependencies at the field operation level (e.g. Sriprasert and Dawood 2002; Chua and Shen 2001). In summary, there is a need for a better understanding of constraints in construction and a structured approach in identifying and modeling constraints to ensure a constraint-free work plan. More specifically, the following research questions need to be addressed:

  1. What are the typical constraints found in various construction projects?
  2. How to classify these constraints for easier identification and modeling?
  3. What are the current industry practices as well as research advancements in modeling and resolving constraints?

How to unify the constraint classification knowledge and various constraint modeling efforts into a framework for total constraint management?

3. Objectives

     The long term goal of the research is to develop a formalized constraint management system. Constraint management is defined herein as the process of identifying, classifying, modeling, and resolving constraints. The objective of the current study is to provide a comprehensive review of literature and industry practices in relation to constraint analysis and outline a conceptual framework for constraint management. Particularly, the study has the following sub-objectives:

  1. To provide a comprehensive review of sources and characteristics of constraints typically found in construction projects;
  2. To develop a constraint classification method for easier constraint identification and modeling;
  3. To review current industry practices and researches in regards to constraint modeling;
  4. To outline a conceptual framework for total constraint management. The result of this study will be valuable to the industry practitioners as well as related software providers in developing better practice and tools for constraint management and look-ahead scheduling.

4. Preliminary Literature Review - Anticipated Results

     A preliminary literature review shows that past studies are primarily focused on understanding and modeling a particular type of constraint, such as technological, contractual, resource, spatial, and information constraints. Limited progress has been made on classifying various constraints according to their characteristics in a comprehensive manner. In terms of modeling and resolving constraints, various approaches have been recommended. For example, many CPM-based methods are applied to deal with time-related constraints; knowledge-based systems were used to automate work plan generation; network-based optimization algorithms were developed to resolve constraints; and databases and visualization techniques, such as 3D, 4D, and Virtual Reality (VR), are used to communicate and visualize constraints. What is missing from the past studies is a comprehensive and structured approach in managing constraints in construction projects.

5. Methodology

     The primary research method for this study is literature review and conceptual modeling. Constraint identification and classification through a structured approach is the very first step toward a “zero-constraint” environment. This study will first review various types of constraints in construction and their characteristics. Based on this understanding, a classification method will be developed to categorize constraint factors for the purpose of constraint identification and modeling. In the second stage of this study, existing constraint modeling methods will be identified based on a comprehensive review of current industry practices and academic researches. Finally, once the constraint classification and modeling techniques are identified, a conceptual framework for total constraint management will be outlined. This study will be conducted between September 2010 and May 2011.


Ballard, G. (2000). “Last planner system of production control.” Ph.D. Dissertation. Univ. of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.

Chua, D. and Shen, L. J. (2001). “Constraint modeling and buffer management with integrated production scheduler.” Proceedings of International Conferences on Lean Construction 2001, Singapore.

Hinze, J. W. (2008). Construction planning and scheduling, 3rd ed. Pearson, NJ.

Sriprasert, E. and Dawood, N (2002). “Requirements identification for 4D constraint-based construction planning and control system.” Proceedings of CIB W78 conference – distributing knowledge in building, Aarhus, Danmark.