How to write a dissertation research proposal? A quick guide for students

The end of your academic year is near and it’s time to submit your dissertation.

Do you know where to start from? Before writing your dissertation, you will probably be asked to select a topic and hand in your dissertation research proposal. Research proposal is the recipe of your dissertation.

And, if you want to master in writing a dissertation research proposal, make sure you check out any sample dissertation proposal available online. The other smart way to educate yourself on research proposal writing is by following our dissertation research proposal template.

In this blog you will learn:

  • What a dissertation research proposal is?
  • What does your proposal consist of?
  1. Introduction
  2. Literature Review
  3. Research Designs/Methods
  • How long should your dissertation research proposal be?

What is a dissertation research proposal?

“Research proposal is an organized formal document that contains all the whereabouts of your research”

Those whereabouts include all the information on what is your research (your problem statement), reasons to carry out your research (your argument on the topic), and how are you planning to carry your research (research design and methods).

To precise this definition even more, you can say that your dissertation research proposal includes;

dissertation research proposal includes

Everything requires negotiation. Your dissertation is the same. You need to make a proposal for it, asking your superiors (professors) if you can add your research to the field. And what’s the better way to learn about anything with the help of an example so let’s look at the dissertation proposal example given below;

Example: Your research could be anything from the field of your study, and your own area of interest. The topic itself should be very specific without any biasness or favoritism. Following is the research proposal example business management specific;

“Investigation of modern business models for small companies due to the increased trust in technology, London based”.

As shown above, following are the main pillars of this research topic;

  • What Investigation of modern business models of London – specified.
  • Why Reasons for the increasing trust in technology.
  • How Investigation will be held – either qualitatively or quantitatively ( or methods which are optional to discuss)

Make sure to keep your dissertation topic clear and concise. A successful dissertation proposal sample always explain everything within your research. They leave no stones unturned. So, you may learn from them as well.

Why is there a need to write a dissertation proposal?

“To propose for your research topic, and how will you defend your viewpoints in your research”

We write dissertation proposal to give strong justifications to our research. Make sure you put in every little detail. You need to be confident in your dissertation proposal. If you are not, it will reflect in your whole dissertation. It is mandatory to write dissertation proposal because it answers the following questions;

  • What research gap will your work fill?
  • How will it affect the society or domain of the study?

Your dissertation proposal writing should be able to advocate for itself.

The contents of a dissertation proposal

Let’s get into the contents of your dissertation proposal. The format for a dissertation proposal differs from university to university. Therefore you need to follow the set of rules that must be provided to you by your professors.
But generally, there are main four contents that dissertation proposals usually have. They are as follows:



Your dissertation is your baby, it deserves the proper introduction. It should give the initial overview of your work. An introductory section of your proposal must include the following elements;

  • checked Give a detailed and descriptive title for your research.
  • checked Explain what is the scope of your research? The main benefits of doing this research.
  • checked Give a short background of your research that helped you in identifying the research gap of your research.
  • checked Also, explain ‘’what, why, and how’’ of your research which we have discussed earlier in our guide.

Literature Review

“A literature review is extracted from all the articles, newspapers, books, previous dissertations, published researches, magazines and internet websites that were written on past researches”

All these written material will help provide information on your research. Work is created upon work and these past papers are only going to aid your dissertation. Why do you need literature review and how can you get them?


  • checked Let’s look into a marketing dissertation proposal example. The amount of time and funding it will take a student of marketing to conduct a new research on BTL marketing will be reduced if he/she looks into previous researches done.
  • checked Another example is the research proposal methodology example. Methodology dilemma can be solved. When you look into previous researches, you identify the methods used to conduct the research. You evaluate if the method were helpful to research. If not, what type will you use now?


  • checked Investigate for the best and closest researches done to yours
  • checked Organize the researches according to use to your work
  • checked Understand each research with the keenest eye.

Methodology and design

Your proposal will consist of the technical strategies that you will follow. Therefore, you should have complete knowledge of the research designs. There are five research designs:

  • checked Descriptive Research Design
  • checked Co-relational Research Design
  • checked Diagnostic Research Design
  • checked Experimental Research Design
  • checked Explanatory Research Design

The questions that you will answer in this section will be:

  • checked What research methodology will you use, will it be Quantitative or Qualitative?
  • checked How do you plan on collecting your data? What method of data collection will you follow?
  • checked What type of questions would you be considering. Will they be open-ended or close-ended?
  • checked Will there be one on one interviews?
  • checked What will your analyzing strategy be?

Bibliographic List or Reference List

Before we want to get into the bottom of how can we write a bibliographic and reference list. Let’s understand a basic and minor difference between these two terms;

Bibliography Vs Reference!

Reference is when you have given the due credits to all the scholarly authors whose work and words you have used in your dissertation.


And the Bibliography is basically a list of all those references under one heading.

Now, there are certain ways and methods to style your citations:

  • checked Harvard referencing (Parenthetical referencing)
  • checked Chicago referencing
  • checked Vancouver System
  • checked APA style
  • checked MLA style & few more

To enlighten yourself on each referencing style you can take help from dissertation, and you can get the detailed guide on how you can write your references or even get your references done.

How long should a dissertation proposal be?

In most universities a standard for a Masters level dissertation proposal consists of 3000 words and a PHD level dissertation proposal can be comprised of 5000 to 7000 words.

BUT! As long as you cover all the elements of dissertation proposal properly, you should have no trouble in setting limits to your proposal. Remember that scheme QUALITY OVER QUANITTY.

You have made it to the end! Let’s just quickly sum up all the things we have discussed above;

Do’s & Don’ts of a dissertation research proposal


Final Verdict

Did this guide help you? Have you understood the main elements of a dissertation research proposal?

Writing a dissertation proposal can be quite nerve racking and confusing. As a student you are worried about many things and are just too tired to give in another paper that will consume your time and energy. Or maybe you are just not a fan of writing then you can look for the services like write my dissertation proposal online to relieve yourself of the burden.

It has proven to be the best alternative, since a professional writer will be able to provide dissertation proposal help without mistakes. They are familiar with writing techniques and follow the rules. Now it is your time.

Good Luck!

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Free presentation slides

If you are a course instructor willing to educate your class or a student who wants to learn then refer to our free presentation slides available for Google slides and Microsoft PowerPoint.

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About R.Watson

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