For grad students, the most important proposal in the world is the thesis proposal. The thesis proposal is an outline of the research work you plan to do in your thesis or dissertation. It’s a roadmap — on which your academic and professional career depends. As with any other type of proposal, the more careful the planning, the better the results you’ll get from your thesis proposal.
Once you have decided on a topic — which is admittedly the hardest part of the whole process, though not our focus here – the fun of putting together the thesis proposal itself begins. After that hurdle is overcome, writing the proposal is challenging. As we said, a thesis proposal is a summary that details an outline of your work. It identifies a problem that you’re researching, clearly states all the questions that will be researched as well as describes the resources and materials you need. Here are 8 tips that can help you, from getting started to finishing the entire proposal.
1. Budget Your Time Properly
When writing your thesis proposal (or any other writing for that matter), sitting down and planning how you are going to divide your time is very important. All you have to do is to create a schedule and stick to it no matter what. Many college students are prone to procrastination that is why making a schedule is a great help. So make a plan to include some distraction-free hours during your day where you will do nothing but write your thesis proposal.
2. Research What Excites You
As mentioned earlier, you have a lot riding on the thesis proposal and need to make it as interesting and compelling as possible. That is why you must ask yourself what research area excites you about the dissertation topic you have been given. When it comes to doing any kind of work, motivation is the key. It is not only important for getting started and finishing the thesis proposal, it is also important for how much enthusiasm and greatness you inject into the work; researching what excites you is one way to remain motivated.
3. Outline Your Thesis Proposal As your professor is reading the thesis proposal, he or she will also be reviewing your research skills. The professor needs to know that you can find and review the necessary literature and include it in your thesis proposal. In order to give the professor what they are looking for, outline your proposal by clearly including all the sections that make up the thesis proposal. Outlining it is also beneficial for you because you will break it into manageable chunks, making the whole project less overwhelming and much easier to write.
4. Know the Structure
In order to make an effective outline for your thesis proposal, you also need to know the structure you are supposed to use. Luckily enough, there is a high chance that your professor will give you a style guide that will contain the structure. A structure helps make your paper clear and concise, on top of also making it flow from one section to another seamlessly.
5. Follow Instructions
Before you begin writing your thesis proposal, make sure that you go through the instructions and understand them 100%. This will help you avoid further headaches down the line and show your professor that you know what you are doing. If you don’t understand something about the instructions, bring it up with your professor so that he or she can clarify it for you. You need to make sure the content of your thesis proposal matches the instructions as much as possible or it will be torn apart when the committee reviews it.
6. Keep Your Audience in Mind
A thesis proposal is usually written in the form of a report, which you will present to people who may or may not be in your field of research. So, it is better to make sure that you avoid jargon and make it as clear and concise as possible. Keeping it simple is the best approach to impress an overwhelming majority of your reviewers.
7. Be Original
Your thesis proposal needs to be unique and written from an interesting angle that no one has ever approached it before. This means you have to get a little creative. Read other thesis proposals and see the interesting ways in which others have approached their work and get some inspiration from them. Also, do some research to make sure that no one has approached the topic the way you plan on doing it – the last thing you want is to be called up by your professor and being told that you plagiarized someone’s work.
8. Get Some Feedback
Of course, it is important for you to edit and proofread the thesis proposal before showing it to anyone. But if you want to further refine it or uncover any mistakes that you may have missed during the initial editing and proofreading phase, give it to a peer or your professor so that they can review and give you feedback. The more feedback you get, the better because you will be able to fine-tune it for a diverse audience when it finally gets reviewed by the committee.
If you haven’t been given a style guide on how to structure the thesis proposal, the hope is not lost. You can download any university guides to learn more about structuring it in a way that will earn you high marks.