Your Thesis Proposal Isn’t Just About Getting Your Degree
I remember the time that I was in the process of writing a thesis proposal in my second year of graduate school.
It had to be 10-20 pages long, which was short compared to the length of the actual doctoral dissertation (close to 200 pages).
Yet, I found myself stuck because as a relatively young student I had to propose how to do an extensive research project that would take years to complete.
There was so much information in the literature and so many directions in which I could take my research, that it was challenging to nail down one project that would have a high chance of success.
The irony of graduate school is that you are there to become an expert, but how do you come up with a plan for your thesis if you do not have any expertise to begin with?
How are you even supposed to know what “acceptable” thesis proposal is?
After many discussions with my supervisor I finally selected a topic that:
- Was well-known to many faculty at my department so I had many resources
- Was realistic for my time frame
- Great learning experience to help me learn many different skills
- Had a relatively high chance of success.
While writing my thesis proposal brought me face to face with the worst case of Writer’s Block I had experienced until then, I also gained a deeper understanding of the process of academic writing.
Through my years of helping graduate students finish their thesis on time, I realized that we always used the same process for writing a thesis proposal.
This process is designed to help you draft a thesis proposal that can be completed on time and prepares you well for your ideal career.
Invest sufficient time into the process because the more you polish your proposal, the better you will understand the background, the methods, and the research questions.
Depending on your school your thesis proposal can range from 5 to 80 (yes, that’s not a typo) pages, but it needs to answer the following three questions
- Where is the other side? (What is the purpose of my thesis? )
- What resources I need to get there? (funding, expertise, information, equipment)
- What steps do I need to take (and in what order) to get to the other side?
It is very rare for students to have answers to all three questions when they begin graduate school, but through structured research the answers become clear with time.
Read on and find out how to write (or rewrite) your proposal so that you get approval from your committee and you get the experience that you want from graduate school to help you move on with your career.
Five Steps To Writing a Thesis Proposal
Is your thesis proposal already finished? No worries.
You can still rescue yourself from the vicious cycle of diving into one dead-end project after another and getting more and more frustrated with each passing year.
So, how do you write your thesis proposal so that you can graduate within a reasonable amount of time and get the training you need for your career?
An ideal thesis proposal is one that is robust and flexible.
You need to design your research so it is not easily swayed by Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong will, and usually at the worst time).
Your thesis proposal is the blueprint for your thesis (and your life in the next few years), so plan a project that can be completed with the available resources in a reasonable amount of time.
Number 1: Choose an area of research that you are excited about
When you begin writing a thesis proposal, your advisor might give you a choice of dissertation topics.
What criteria should you use to make this decision?
The most important advice that former graduate students have given is that your thesis topic should cover an area that you are truly passionate about.
Regardless of your field, you will have good days and bad days.
On good days you will be enthusiastic and motivated to work.
On bad days, you might question whether your research makes any sense, and you might even doubt your ability to graduate.
If you pick a meaningful topic, the daily setbacks in your research will not bring you down.
You will still be working in an important field, and you will be learning the skills and expertise necessary for your career.
Number 2: Select a project which balances novelty with established research
Given that you want to finish your thesis within a reasonable amount of time, should you research a novel or “hot” area, or to go with a “safer”, better-understood topic?
One way to answer this question is to visualize yourself at every stage of your thesis.
How will you make it happen?
Can you gather the resources and complete the work by your proposed graduation date?
Most likely your project will take longer than you anticipated, so allow some flexibility to account for contingencies.
The general rule of thumb is that things take 2-4 times longer than predicted.
If you have little expertise, begin your work by exploring questions in well-understood areas.
For example, you could learn the basics of your field, by extending the research projects of previous students, or trying to reproduce their data.
Starting your research in an area where the methodology has been established will teach you the necessary research skills for your field.
Once you learn the basics, you can expand your research by exploring novel areas, and build your own unique niche.
Number 3: Ask well-defined open-ended questions for your thesis
One of the mistakes that some PhD students make while writing a thesis proposal is that they ask “High-risk” questions.
The most common type of high risk question is a “Yes/No” question, such as “Is this protein produced by cells under these conditions?”
The reason that Yes/No questions can be “high-risk” is that sometimes the answers are only publishable if the answer is “Yes”.
Negative results are usually not interesting enough for publication and you could have spent months or years researching a question that has a high chance of not being published.
For many students open-ended questions have a much higher likelihood of success.
In the case of one student in Biology, he thought about asking a question such as: “Do cells produce a particular protein under these conditions?”
However, if the answer had been “No”, it would not have been publishable.
Instead, he phrased his research question as follows: “What proteins do cell produce in these conditions”? or “How does XYZ influence the production of proteins”?
Be sure that your question is well-defined.
In other words, when you ask your thesis question, think about the possible outcomes.
What results do you expect? Are they interesting and publishable?
To summarize this key point, consider the following when constructing your thesis question:
1) Ask open-ended questions
2) Be sure that your possible outcomes are interesting and publishable
Number 4: Look for projects that are educational and incorporate marketable skills
Think about your progression through graduate school as a pyramid.
As the years pass, you become more and more specialized with fewer and fewer people being experts in your field.
By the time you graduate you will be part of a small community of people who specialize in your particular area.
On the other hand, you will probably need a diverse skill set after graduation, so it is important to avoid the common mistake of narrowing your pyramid too quickly.
It is not necessary to learn all the subspecialties, but do familiarize yourself with the background literature and technical skills in your field.
Some students make the mistake of focusing only on finishing graduate school quickly, rather than taking advantage of the learning opportunities.
One way to add marketable skills to your resume is to collaborate on a side-project.
For example, if you specialize in cell culture then it would be advantageous if you collaborated on a project that added a different but related skill set such as DNA/RNA work, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry or imaging.
If you browse through job listings you will get an idea of which skill sets employers look for.
Collaborating on complementary projects will help you to broaden your marketable skill sets, and also help you in deciding which career path is best suited for you.
Number 5:Visualize your finished publication(s)
A physics PhD student I worked with had an advisor who outlined each paper even before the research was started.
He wrote down what questions he wanted to be answered, and what each graph and table should show.
This method was so helpful for the student, that he still designs his research papers in advance.
As you are in the process of writing your thesis proposal draft some preliminary answers to the following questions:
- What is your central hypothesis or research goal?
- What is the motivation for this study?
- What have other groups contributed to this research?
- What methods do you need to learn to complete this project?
- What are the possible outcomes, or results, of this study?
- What will your tables and graphs show?
- How does this work contribute to your field of research?
Visualizing your publications while writing a thesis proposal will motivate you to work, because most graduate students feel a sense of pride when they hold their very first published paper in their hands.
Most likely, the answers to the above questions will change with time and you might have several setbacks or forks in the road.
Fortunately, most students become more efficient as they progress through graduate school.
Your cumulative experience will pay off during your last year when you are racing to finish your research and your dissertation simultaneously.
In the meantime, work on defining your questions and methods meticulously, so that you will have a realistic plan to work with.
The last step in the process, “Visualizing your finished publications”, is probably the most important one in the 5-step process of writing a thesis proposal.
First, visualizing the end result of a major project is very motivating in itself. Second, publishing a paper is one of the most important steps towards earning your graduate degree.
Most PhD programs require at least one publication.
When you structure your research, and the writing of a thesis proposal, by asking the right questions, you will be able to design a realistic project that can be completed in time and provides you with marketable job skills.
….and finally remember that:
The perfect thesis does not exist.
We are usually our own worst critics.
This is ironic, considering we are the only ones who know how much work we have put in already.
Give yourself credit for all the work you have already done.
Yes, there may be a long road ahead of you but consider this inspiring quote:
“You didn’t come this far to only come this far.”
If you made it this far, you have what it takes to go just one step further.
Everything that you have accomplished have brought you to this point in your studies and career.
All of us wish that we had accomplished more than we have, but genuine confidence will come from realizing how far you have already come.
What is the biggest challenge you face when it comes to your thesis proposal?
Leave a comment below and I will reply to you directly.
Sample Dissertation / Thesis Example
Below you can find samples of thesis/dissertation papers, as well as samples of single chapters and proposals completed by our writers. Please feel free to use these samples for your own purposes with proper reference. However you must remember that you can not submit them as your own work to avoid plagiarism accusations.
In case you like any specific sample and would like to order an academic work from its author, you can ask our support team about that. It is quite possible that the particular writer you choose will be glad to assist you.
Sample Dissertation Proposal
Title:The perspectives of using online marketing research
Sample Research Proposal
Title:Does computer assisted learning increase student learning or grades?
Citation Style:Oxford ReferencingDownload
Sample Literature Review
Title:Online business and an exploration of trust
Sample Full Thesis
Title:Form-focused and meaning-focused instruction on ESL learners
Title:ESL Families Approval Ratings of Current School District Accommodations
Title:Social Media for Brand Building
Why students need sample dissertations and thesis examples?
There are certain periods in your education when you desperately need to write a thesis paper, dissertation, research proposal, or any other high profile paper. In order to succeed in this kind of assignment, you have to be able to absorb and understand the topic of your paper, as well as get a simple, clear vision of your future writing. This is the first step to having a decent graduate, undergraduate, Master's or MBA paper. There is a certain technique, where you can access someone else's paper, and use it as a foundation for your own work, thus trying to understand the specifics of the thesis, dissertation, research proposal, etc.
Some words about dissertation samples
If you are to write a dissertation for your class, the first thing you need to do is decide what it is going to be about. To do so, you need to get a sample dissertation, which is written according to all citation/reference rules. It can be an MLA, APA or Harvard dissertation sample, as well as examples of Chicago/Turabian dissertations. As soon as you lay your hands on this piece of work, you can conduct specific research and analysis to get a clear idea about what needs to be incorporated in your dissertation.
Are you looking for a sample thesis?
The basic idea of getting a thesis sample, or an example thesis, is to get a clear vision of your own thesis structure. A task of this kind is usually carried out according to certain commonly accepted guidelines, and is designated to help the reader understand exactly, what message is to be conveyed in the thesis. The best way to learn about the structure of the thesis paper is to find someone's thesis,and analyze it carefully.
In order to get a vivid idea of what is needed from you in the thesis paper, it is highly recommended to find a thesis paper from an absolutely different scientific scope, in order not to be accused of plagiarism. If you choose to look through a thesis paper example, or sample thesis paper, which has an identical topic, you might be influenced by that paper, and may not be able to produce a quality paper of your own.
When writing a paper for your academic studies, make sure to write the main ideas you were thinking about first, and only afterwards analyze the structure of someone's dissertation sample. Doing so, you can be 100% sure your dissertation is unique.
Another good way to use a sample dissertation or dissertation example is to learn about the main principles of dissertation writing style. A serious work, such as thesis, dissertation, or a research proposal needs to be written in a certain manner. The basic idea is to read the sample research proposal, sample thesis or a sample dissertation, and define the way you should state your thoughts and ideas.
Do you need sample research proposal or research proposal example?
A research proposal is another kind of a complicated academic writing you may be asked to complete pursuing a degree. It differs greatly from any other dissertation or thesis sample, as it is a practical proposal on some scientific investigation. It may even be of greater importance to your academia than any other paper you have submitted before. The tricky part in writing your research proposal paper is that it has to be 100% unique and original. No one will analyze a partially plagiarized research proposal, as it is supposed to promote a good start to your future career. Thus, you have to make sure you paper is grammatically flawless, well structured, and plagiarism free.
To have this result achieved, the research proposal has to be written exclusively by you. There is no need to exclusively use a research proposal example or sample research proposals from here, as your own paper has to state your creative, original and authentic ideas.
MastersThesisWriting.com will gladly assist you in developing your thesis paper, dissertation paper or a research proposal. If you are facing difficulties writing your thesis paper, dissertation paper or a research proposal paper, you can always count on our assistance regarding this matter.
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Unfortunately, MastersThesisWriting.com cannot publish any specific dissertation examples, thesis examples or research proposal examples, as they are simply under a copyright restriction, and are being strictly monitored by their respective owners. If you do require a good dissertation, it is best that you get a great example dissertation paper from a trusted source, such as a friend or a family member. Doing so, you can be sure no one else is using the same sample thesis paper, sample dissertation or a sample research proposal.
You can also upload your dissertation example, research proposal example or a thesis paper example to MastersThesisWriting.com, so that our expert writers can help you write your original paper, and make sure it looks accurate, and receives positive feedback.
MastersThesisWriting.com will gladly assist you in the preparation of your dissertation, thesis, research proposal, or any other type of academic writing. Our dissertation writing company will write a custom dissertation, thesis paper, or research proposal on a variety of topics and disciplines.
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