Writing a Dissertation Proposal According to Academic Norms

writing a dissertation proposal

Graduate students and others who aspire to become one should know that writing a dissertation proposal isn’t the same as writing the paper. And in most cases, even in your first draft your supervisor can cross out text you wrote a dozen times. And you will have to redo the manuscript almost from scratch.

So, as you have already understood, many graduate students will have to forget about their egocentrism, their principle of seeing the subject of the dissertation in a particularly narrow way, and have to rewrite and reconstruct their dissertation proposal under the remarks of the supervisor. And those who can not do this will have to leave the graduate school and, at best, be content with the diploma of the research teacher on the occasion of the “successful” completion of the postgraduate study without a defense.

So, in order to avoid being expelled from graduate school or remaining without the defense of a thesis, all reasonable graduate students are forced to repeatedly edit the text of their dissertation proposal. This must be done after all the valuable remarks of the supervisor introducing numerous corrections, additions, and clarifications. But that’s not enough – corrections are almost always necessary after the comments of the reviewers at the pre-defense, in the dissertation council, and even on the recommendation of official opponents!

Dissertation Proposal Template

And for an illustrative example, we’ll provide a dissertation proposal template:

  • Title
  • Introduction
  • Statement of the problem
  • Significance of the study
  • Research objectives or questions
  • Literature review

Many post-graduate students ask the following question: “How much text should be in the dissertation proposal?” The answer is unambiguously very difficult, because there are no standards for this. Nevertheless, there are established norms. Usually, it is one page long with size 14 font and one and a half interval spacing.

The design of the dissertation proposal is a serious matter, since unprofessional formatting of a proposal will cause derision. The requirements that must be adhered to when writing a dissertation proposal are few. A proposal should be printed on one side of a standard sheet of white single-grade paper in A 4 format through two intervals for a typewriter and computer text editors with the MS-DOS operating system, or with one and a half intervals for the Microsoft Word editor and with fields around the text. Each page should contain approximately 1800 characters – 30 lines of 60 characters per line, counting each punctuation mark and a space between words. All dissertations use the end-to-end numbering of the composition elements of the work. It is strictly forbidden to start your own numbering for applications located after the main text or conclusion. Any text inserts and additions placed on separate pages or on the reverse side of the sheet are not allowed.

The thesis is only stitched from the left side to the hard cover, and the orientation of the paper must be of a book, that is, the lines of the text should be perpendicular to the side of the sheet of paper. No other types of stitching are allowed. Each new chapter of the main part of the thesis begins with a new page. The same rule applies to its main compositional elements – introduction, conclusion, list of used sources and literature, applications, etc. The distance between the title of the chapter and the subsequent text must be three line intervals. The same distance is maintained between the title of the chapter and the title of the paragraph (three line intervals are also separated from the text of the previous paragraph and the title of the subsequent paragraph).

In the headings of structural elements of the written work (if the names are long and printed in several lines), the line spacing should be the same as in the text. There should not be a full stop at the end of the title. Emphasizing headings and transferring words in them is not allowed. Also, it is prohibited to use graphics (pictures, vignettes, etc.) for a more graphic separation of one composition part of the work from another.

Phrases beginning with a new line in the dissertation proposal template, the main text, and in the footnotes are printed with a paragraph indent from the beginning of the line equal to five characters (for computers – 1.25 cm).

Tables, drawings, and graphics, both in the main part of the thesis and in the annexes, should be executed on standard sheets of A4 paper (in the presence of large format tables, A3 paper is allowed), and signatures and explanations to them should be on the front side. The text of the work itself, drawings, and graphics must be without notices, pencil corrections, spots, or bends.

The textual material of any dissertation is very diverse. In addition to elements of composition and classification, it includes citations, references, notes, and other elements. In the text of the written work, citations are usually given for the exact reproduction of the author’s thoughts of a particular study, the norms of legislation, and the definition of the context of any scientific position, for confirming the author’s arguments by reference to an authoritative source or for a critical analysis of a scientific work.

When citing, each borrowed phrase should be accompanied by a reference to the source, the bibliographic description of which should be made in the list of sources and literature used. Academic etiquette requires accurately reproducing the quoted text, because the slightest distortion of words in it can change its meaning. Only the following deviations are permissible:

  • Modernization of spelling and punctuation, if the spelling and placement of punctuation marks is not an individual feature of the style of the author cited.
  • The expansion of arbitrarily shortened words to complete ones with the conclusion of an additional part of the word in direct brackets.
  • The omission of particular words and phrases in the quotation, provided that the author’s opinion of the quote is not distorted, which will be indicated by an ellipsis.

With indirect citation, when interpreting the thoughts of other authors in one’s own words (borrowing), which results in considerable economy of the text, it is necessary to be extremely precise in the presentation of other people’s thoughts and correct in evaluating these thoughts, while giving appropriate references to sources. There is an important rule for citations in the main text of the work: the text is enclosed in quotation marks and is given in the grammatical form as it is given in the source, while preserving the features of the author’s writing.

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