How To Complete A History Dissertation Proposal: 5 Writing Tips


Writing a solid dissertation proposal can be as important as writing the dissertation itself—not only can your proposal help you get you into the right program, to get the right advisor or mentor to take you on, and to get funding for your research—but it will serve as a template and guide for you as you do your research.

Follow these 5 tips on how to complete a successful history dissertation proposal:

  1. Clearly state your research question
  2. Your whole dissertation research should be focused around one or two central research questions. These should include what you are hoping to determine with your research, and they should clearly outline the scope of your inquiry. For instance, they should state the years you will be looking at, and the geographic area you will be concerned with.

  3. Provide enough background information and literature review
  4. When someone reads your proposal one thing they will want to know is what work has already been done around your topic. For this, and to help your proposal reader to understand exactly what it is that you are pitching and suggesting, you should include a background information or literature review in your section. In it, make sure that someone who isn’t an expert in your field can understand it, and that it will give them a clear idea of what work has already been done around your topic. Ideally, this review should point to the need for your research to fill a hole in the current understanding of the topic.

  5. Outline your methodology carefully and thoroughly
  6. The methodology should be the bulk of your proposal. While there might be some slight changes to it as your research goes on, you should have a clear idea of it set out before you begin your research.

  7. Anticipate your results
  8. While you don’t want to guess on what you’ll find, try to give your reader an idea of what kinds of results you expect to find, and more importantly how you will present them and what kind of analysis you will do on it.

  9. Include a proposed timeline
  10. For each major step of your methodology you should propose a timeline. Try to do this to the two week to a month detail. Of course not everything will go to plan, so you should also build in some discretionary time.



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