How to Write a Dissertation Proposal

Updated: June 12, 2023

Defending a dissertation is a long and complicated process. This is evidenced by many facts, including the need for a dissertation proposal. During it, the members of the dissertation council consider and discuss the main points of scientific work, and the external doctorate student rehearses the future basic defense.

This article will tell you the main goal of the dissertation proposal and how to write a doctoral dissertation proposal correctly.

What Is a Dissertation Proposal: Quick Explanation

The defense of a dissertation, as you know, takes place in two stages:

  1. Presentation at a meeting of the department (proposal).
  2. The defense itself at a scientific (dissertation) council.

To begin the proposal preparation, you must obtain the consent of the scientific supervisor. His task is:

  • To approve the date of the proposal.
  • To collect the text of the dissertation, the author’s abstract, the scientific publications of the external doctorate student, and reviews for the work.

The result is the protocol of the dissertation proposal, which indicates those who will be present at the proposal, the characteristics of the applicant, the topic of the dissertation, the supervisor, and opponents.

How to Start a Dissertation Proposal

After the date appointment, the external doctorate student can start preparing for the dissertation proposal. To do this, he should divide all the things that need to be done into two main categories.

  1. First includes organizational measures.
  2. Second – personal preparation for proposal.

Organizational activities imply:

  • Printing of the abstract and sending it following the established mailing list. The mailing must be carried out one month before the appointed day of the proposal;
  • Submission of the dissertation and abstract to place where the defense will be;
  • Sending the dissertation and its copies to the official opponents;
  • Obtaining from the academic council copies of the reviews of the official opponents.

The text of the report should briefly convey the main thought of the dissertation. However, a simple retelling of the text will not highlight at the proper level the most valuable findings of the work, emphasize its originality, tell about its specifics, and will not draw attention to the novelty of the proposal.

The applicant can solve these tasks better if the message is based on the findings and their creative presentation (which may help the supervisor’s recommendations).

It seems appropriate to devote the beginning of the speech to the content of the problem under study, setting the goals and objectives of the study, substantiating its relevance, scientific and practical significance against the background of previously performed studies. It is also good to emphasize the originality of the applied research methods.

How to Structure a Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal consists of 6 successive stages:

  1. Reading a report on the topic.
  2. Description of the research methodology and answers to the incoming questions of the commission.
  3. Reviewers’ word.
  4. Response of the external doctorate student to the comments and suggestions from the reviewers.
  5. Word to those who wish to speak about the dissertation topic.
  6. Summing up the results of the dissertation proposal.

How to End a Dissertation Proposal

In conclusion, the external doctorate student summarizes all sections of the dissertation. On the university’s website, you can find a template and execute the end of the proposal appropriately, and it is important to adhere to the established template.

After making a report and answering questions, the participants start to vote. Acceptance of dissertation proposal happens only of over 65% of the voting participants said “yes”

Dissertation Proposal Outline

A dissertation proposal is a document with a generally accepted clear structure, including:

  • Theoretical information on the topic.
  • Consideration of acute problems related to the subject and object of the research project.
  • Main theses of the work.
  • List of results with an assessment of theoretical and practical significance.

Dissertation Proposal Introduction

You should not worry about writing the introduction to the dissertation, as there are dozens of ready-made templates. The total volume of the introduction is 10% of the entire text.

Most often, the introduction writing template has the following structure:

  • Justification of the relevance of the topic.
  • Problem and the degree of topic knowledge.
  • Goals and objectives of the work.
  • Object and subject of research.
  • Methodology of scientific research in the dissertation.
  • Working hypothesis.
  • The novelty of the main goal and the personal contribution of the scientist to the development of science.
  • Results and provisions submitted to the dissertation.
  • The theoretical and applied value of the research.
  • Approbation of results and list of publications.

Dissertation Proposal Conclusion

For protection to be successful, common mistakes must be avoided. Often, the external doctorate student simply rewrites the main things from each chapter of the dissertation work, which is fundamentally wrong. The level of preparation of the author is determined by his ability to correctly, succinctly, and briefly characterize the work done and prove the relevance of the study:

It is important to use scientific terminology along with the simplicity and accessibility of speech turns. Each conclusion needs to be presented differently than in the main part.

The structure of the conclusion should logically follow the questions posed in the introduction, briefly cover each chapter, and end with a general conclusion regarding the scientific inquiry.

When writing a conclusion for a Ph.D. thesis, the emphasis is placed on the prospects for practical application, solving a scientific problem, and using the identified reserves.

All data presented in the final part should answer the questions posed in the introduction—this requirement is a postulate and will be monitored by the dissertation council for sure.

What You Shouldn’t Write in Your Proposal

Quite often, the external doctorate student tries to use the main time of the report to present the text of the dissertation written in chapters and paragraphs, which takes a lot of time, while the listener still does not understand what the author of the dissertation actually did, what new he introduced into science and practice, what are the most valuable results of work. Therefore, pay special attention to the speech of conclusions.

Not all dissertations contain references to the works of official opponents. However, opponents, as a rule, are specialists in the field that is under study. The dissertation should be based on a deep theoretical analysis of primary sources in the studied field of science. Without this, there will be a lack of continuity of the results of scientific research, together with the inconclusiveness of argumentation.

What You Should Write in Your Proposal

The speech can and should be illustrated with the help of diagrams, tables, graphs, slides, photo and video materials, computer equipment, etc.

For a dissertation proposal, the external doctorate student must provide all the scientific works he has ever published and declared in the abstract. It is also necessary to provide acts of implementation and approbation if any.

As for the design of scientific work, it must strictly comply with the established rules and regulations, and such requirements must be clarified with the academic secretary at the university.

More Dos & Don’ts


It seems appropriate to devote the beginning of the speech to setting the goals and objectives of the study, substantiating its relevance, scientific and practical significance against the background of previously performed studies. It is also good to emphasize the originality of the applied research methods.

The speed of speech should not be too high or too low (1 page of typewritten text—2.5 minutes of speech). Also, do not forget to leave a reserve of time for explanations of the demonstration material.

How to properly allocate time:

  • 2–3 minutes for the introduction. Indicate the relevance of the work, goals, objectives, subject of research, clarify the connection with the practical part.
  • Fifteen minutes for the methodology and its results. In this part, we advise you to add diagrams, graphs, and other visuals to help to understand the material more easily. We have indicated the most optimal time, but it can vary, especially in increasing.
  • Five minutes for conclusions and voicing the conclusion. If possible, you can shorten it.

After the presentation, the external doctorate student may answer some questions. It will not be superfluous if you, together with the scientific consultant, will work out in advance the possible questions that will be asked.


Remember that reading the entire text does not make the best impression on the audience. Therefore, it is worthwhile to study the content well and then compile a list of key phrases-theses for it. Without reading the entire text, you can create a favorable impression without confusing and forgetting anything.

Need a One-on-One Guidance?

Who needs one-on-one guidance on how to write a dissertation proposal PDF? Anyone who values their time and focuses on the desired result. The modern rhythm of life and work often does not leave time for the implementation of other plans. Scientific activity is painstaking work that requires time, effort, concentration.

Our expert essay writer will help you implement your research plans and put your thoughts on paper to focus on the essentials.

In addition, the ordering of a Ph.D. proposal is relevant if there is little time left, or you are afraid that you will not have time to prepare properly.

Do not waste your time if the existing dissertation proposal or part of it does not meet the requirements for content or design. We will analyze and finalize the material and complete all the necessary related work, including the abstract and review.

George Lynch
George Lynch
Literature, Psychology, Religion
Experience: 3+ years
I’ve been enjoying academic writing since day one in college. Today, having a full-time job, I’m still looking forward to writing essays and research papers online for others.
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