You’ve decided to pursue an advanced degree, but the prospect of writing your thesis proposal can seem overwhelming. You have all these papers to read, reference materials to synthesize, and instructions from your advisor to follow, and you haven’t even started writing yet! If you’re wondering how to write a thesis proposal, then this guide will help you understand exactly what you need to do before you start writing your first draft. By following these steps, you’ll be able to write your proposal in less time than it took for you to read this article.
Your proposal should include the following:
- Title page of Thesis
A thesis proposal is a document that contains all of your ideas, findings, and arguments regarding your thesis. You should be aware that every university has its own rules about how to write a thesis proposal, so you will need to study these carefully. You should not attempt to include everything in your provisional title because it is much too long and it means having too many pages in your dissertation. You should aim for around ten words in length and write. If you are writing on an important topic, then you may need more than ten words. It should not be unnecessarily vague; make sure that it is something that people can identify with easily and describe why they would want to read what follows in more detail.
- Aims and objectives
This is a summary of your project. You should aim for about 1 paragraph explaining what you’re trying to achieve. It will also usually give a brief description of your method and any hypothesis you have. It’s worth noting that there are different types of thesis proposals, so make sure you read up on how it’s done in your field.
- Literature review
Here, you should focus on theoretical and practical knowledge gaps that your work aims to address. At this stage, don’t stress over getting all of your research just right; instead, focus on writing what you know. Keep in mind that scholars write literature reviews for publication in scholarly journals or as stand-alone publications; if you decide to write yours for public consumption, consider how best to convey your findings succinctly. Consider using an information graphic or including supplementary materials such as data visualizations or diagrams.
A strong, well-written methodology is crucial, but especially so if your project involves extensive collection. Even if you’re just taking pictures for an art project, for example, it’s a good idea to consider how each image will look and how you want your project to ultimately come together. This can help ensure that all of your work has a purpose and that there are no half-baked pieces in your portfolio. For example, if you don’t have photos of dogs hanging out with pigs in your collection then don’t take any just because they might be cute or funny.
If you’re planning to write your thesis in 3 months, you’ll need to identify how long each step will take. If you have an idea of how long each step will take (in bi-monthly timeslots), you can determine when it’s best to start working on them. A schedule is really important if writing your thesis takes longer than anticipated. If it does, don’t hesitate to adjust your timetable to avoid overworking yourself or having setbacks. Simply adding more free time before the deadline date will help keep you on track. To make sure that your timetable is achievable, consider breaking down tasks into smaller chunks and focus on getting one thing done at a time.
Your bibliography, at the end of your essay, is a list of every word you’ve consulted as part of your research. This can include academic essays and books that are directly relevant to your subject matter. But also, less obvious texts such as Aristotle’s Poetics and Webster’s Dictionary. Make sure you have the complete titles, dates of publication, and publishers listed for each one. If you’ve read an online version of a text rather than an actual book or paper printout, make sure you say so.
You may also want to list works that weren’t explicitly used in your research, but are relevant and/or influential on you or your topic as a whole. These are known as secondary sources, and again it’s good form to give them full citations both of their authors and of where you found them. Again, make sure you indicate if you read them online or have an actual printed copy. To take these citations further still, some writers include tertiary sources such as scholarly articles about academic essays that don’t directly address their primary topic.
- Contributions to knowledge
Many in our field believe that understanding how to efficiently and effectively write effective thesis proposals is integral to ensuring high-quality research within higher education. While there are many tools available for writing and reviewing such proposals, very few of them take into account what it takes to produce quality research. Moreover, none of them have been adapted for other disciplines outside of natural sciences. To address these needs, I will be adapting an existing program for use by students in my department; my work will contribute directly to improving undergraduate research opportunities within our field of study as well as elsewhere.
- Explanation of data
Understanding how your data will be structured is vital in writing a thesis proposal. You’ll need to know what variables you’ll collect, and what you’ll do with them once you have them. Do you plan on conducting statistical analysis? Do you want to compare results from different groups? Are there any ethical considerations that may limit what you can collect or do with it? These are all questions that need answers before writing a thesis proposal, as they can impact whether or not your project has merit and should be funded.
If your university requires you to write a full thesis, then it’s likely that you need specific research methods training before writing your proposal. Professors and universities usually provide relevant classes for students who want to write a thesis, but if not, find out what kinds of skills you need before proceeding. If your professor has any requirements or suggestions for writing an effective thesis proposal, be sure to follow them accordingly; professors know what will work well and what won’t with these projects. They know that for you to do well on your project and final presentation, you have to have an idea of how everything will be structured as well as where it should go. These steps can help lead you in that direction.
Write an abstract as a summary of the paper. An abstract is a summary of the paper that precedes the main body of the work. Your abstract should be a concise summary of the paper, but it should still have all the pertinent information included within it. You can find examples of abstracts on other papers written by other students within your school or on websites such as Scribd or Read Write Think. Remember that you need to write your paper in APA format if you are using the APA style for writing. If you are not sure how to create an APA format, there are many sources online where you can get APA manuals, guides, and instructions for creating and formatting a paper in APA style.
The reference list is a complete list of the resources used to create your thesis. Each item should be written as Last name, First name. Title. (Year Published). In-text citation: (Author’s Last name, First Name) with no comma in between first and last names. Title with no capitalization of any word after a colon; italicize the title if it has text that is normally italicized; all else is left in regular font.
Information from (Author’s Last name, First Name)’s work fits well within your paper because _____________. Specifically, ___________________________ _________________________________________________________________________________ has found that ______________ [provide relevant example]. Other sources also provide context for your work by finding similar results on_______________________________ (Author’s Last name, First Name) creates a comprehensive context of how they relate to each other. Although I used ideas and methods from each of these sources, I did not directly use information from any of them in my thesis proposal. Instead, I used what they found to show why an important issue is relevant or how other approaches have failed. Each contributed something different through their examination of one aspect of my topic or its application into an existing research field.
Proofreading your proposal
Make sure you don’t have any errors or grammar mistakes in your proposal. Proofread it multiple times, and read it out loud to catch any awkward phrasing or grammar errors. Before you submit it, have someone else proofread it as well. Your proposal must be clear and easy to understand for those who are unfamiliar with your field of study.
Present an easy, professional method to make sure you get your Ph.D. Writing a thesis proposal can be intimidating and confusing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We have plenty of resources on how to write a thesis proposal, including books and articles on writing proposals in general or specific guides for different disciplines.