Taken near the end of the third semester, students write a research-grounded proposal for a potential dissertation topic. Dissertation committees are formed based upon the topics proposed in these exams, and the committee must approve the topic prior to the student's preparing a full proposal. The proposal course is offered during the student's fourth semester. It requires the student to select a four-person dissertation committee and submit a dissertation activity or portfolio of activities for approval by the committee.
Dissertation courses are offered every quarter throughout the student's last year, upon satisfactory completion of at least 44 credit hours and 4 proposal credit hours.
These courses require the student to work towards the completion of the dissertation activity or activities approved by his or her committee. Because the Doctor of Business Administration degree is designed to be responsive to the needs of the candidate, there is considerable flexibility in the form that the dissertation can take—subject to approval by the committee. Such a portfolio might include journal submissions, books, magazine articles, conference papers and presentations. The candidate will meet with members of the committee during each residency of the final year of the program, and will present his or her dissertation to the committee in the final semester of the program; this presentation substitutes for what is sometimes referred to as a defense in traditional PhD programs.
Upon satisfactory presentation, the dissertation committee will then approve the awarding of the degree, subject to all remaining program requirements being met.
Making a start: reading around your subject area and selecting a topic It may be that the easiest way to begin to hone in on a specific topic is to go back through all of the lecture slides, notes and assignments that you have completed so far. Was there a topic that you were particularly interested in? Was there a concept that you thought could have been developed further? Or have you noticed a stark lack of scholarship in your research for an assignment, that suggests to you that further research into this particular subject area is needed?
Perhaps you are better able to select a more general area of interest, in which case you can start by looking at relevant journals and publications until you find a more explicit direction. Make sure that you make notes of all publications that you use in your research, as you will need to include these in your bibliography later on.
Depending upon the referencing system preferred by your university department, you will need the following information:. It could be that you identify one particularly interesting study, but realise that its findings are outdated, or are not easily applicable to modern times. You may decide that you want to investigate whether the findings would be the same in more recent research. The date of publication — is the source outdated? Has there been any significant development that would affect the field of research since the study was carried out?
Can you identify any methodological errors that would undermine the results that the authors presented? Are there any ethical concerns that you believe should be rectified in any future studies of the same topic? With the guidance of your supervisor, you will be able to alter the direction of your research as you go. Although by now, you should have a clear idea of the potential for your research, and what your conclusions might be.
Depending upon whether your course is of a scientific or mathematical nature, meaning that you are likely to be dealing with experiments providing you with definitive results and quantitative analysis; or a more theoretical nature, meaning that your research will mainly be qualitative; your hypothesis will be proven or disproven throughout the course of your dissertation. The first step in creating your dissertation proposal should be planning its structure. Like the dissertation itself, your proposal will require an introduction, a main section and a conclusion.
As a brief guide:. Methodology The methodology section is where you will outline the methods through which you will collect and process your data.
You should include how and what you are going to do. If your research is quantitative in nature, this will probably include a reference to a questionnaire, survey, or data source, and you should make clear the scope of your research e. You will also need to explain why you have selected the methods that you have — are they more specific to your research area? Aims and Objectives Here you will highlight the main issues that you are attempting to explore. What is it that you want to achieve?
Dissertation Proposal: GESS
What are the main questions that you are looking to answer? What predictions can you make? Literature Review The literature review gives you the opportunity to make a really good argument for the importance of your research, and connect it to similar research, or present it as an extension to other existing studies.
You will need to list the most important sources that you have consulted thus far in your research, and how they helped you to guide your own research. If you can, placing your work alongside others to show how it further elaborates or contributes to the more general field will show that you have adequately prepared for your proposal. There is potential to include any flaws that you may have identified within this existing work, and how you will avoid this in your own dissertation.
Only include sources that you can show will add value to your work. Limitations Part of writing an effective and informative piece of research is recognising the limits that are imposed upon your ability to explore and present your findings. Some limitations may refer directly to the word count, explaining that there are further issues that you will not have a chance to or space to address. Completing this section clearly shows that you have engaged with your subject matter and are familiar with the wider concepts relating to your topic.
Ethical Considerations Are there any ethical concerns relating to your research?
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More information on ethics can be found in the following section below. Timeframe Often, dissertation proposals will include an estimated timeframe for the delivery of work to their supervisor. This may be on a chapter-by-chapter basis, or you may begin with the actual research, so that you are able to perfect this part before moving on to writing about it. Make sure that you are realistic, and allow some time for your initial research before jumping straight in to getting words on the page.
After having identified the limitations of previous studies in this field, I have worked on producing a methodology that will avoid these same pitfalls, and predict that the research will portray a strong enough relationship between the two factors to encourage further scholarship. Although this might sound complicated, once you begin to go over the basics, and continue to repeat the process for each of the studies you incorporate into your work, it will soon become second nature. When writing a PhD thesis proposal, however, you must remember that you are now expected to do more than simply regurgitate the theories and studies of others.
You are now required to show that you are able to adequately extend the existing literature, rather than simply interpret and criticise it. This may mean that you spend a lot longer searching for a topic, as you will want to identify a concept that still has room for exploration. There are several things that you will need to include that have not already been mentioned above, however: As a PhD research proposal is usually submitted directly to your department of choice, you should make clear your reasons for choosing that particular university over other competitors.
Does this department have a history of research in the specific area you are writing in? Is there a research grant you are hoping to apply for?
Within your methodology section, it is important to include a description of the research techniques that you are planning to use. Or have they been used effectively in similar studies previously?
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Again, be sure to follow any departmental guidance in terms of word count, and if you are applying for a research grant be sure to relate everything back to the aims and objectives outlined within the accompanying details.