How to write a dissertation proposal

Before you start writing your dissertation, you will need to create a plan – which is often referred to as a research proposal.

Having a good proposal is half the battle, as it’s the thread that you will follow throughout the writing process!

The main goal of the dissertation proposal is to describe what you are going to investigate and how you will do so.

It should include a review of the literature, a problem statement and research question, your research methodology, and the main sources and references you will use.

What should your dissertation proposal look like?

Your dissertation proposal should identify the literature, problem statement and research question, method of investigation, main data sources, and references that you will use when writing your dissertation.

Part 1 Read current literature

Look for literature on topics that you find interesting to motivate your research. Examine what has already been done and look for questions that remain unanswered.

Part 2 Formulate a problem statement and research questions

Identify the problem and main research question you will explore in your dissertation, plus some sub-questions that you can use to tackle the main question step by step.

Part 3 Create a research methodology

Explain how you will answer your research questions, including the methods and materials you will use.

Part 4 Identify data sources

Outline where you will find the data you need, including how you will search the relevant literature and the main journals that you will consult.

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Bas Swaen

Bas is co-founder of Scribbr. Bas loves to teach and is an experienced thesis writer. He tries to help students with writing clear and easy to comprehend articles about difficult topics.

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Meghna Bajpai
September 13, 2018 at 2:15 PM

My problem is the basic ideation. I am unable to find a topic. I am being social media centric on the research of my topic. My topics (the ones that I have thought of so far) deals with the realm of social media but I am unable to find a research question for it.
Following are my thoughts
1. Millennium Humor and coming of Dark Humor on Social media as a youth culture.
2. Representation of past events in a biopic.
3. Aadhar breach (privacy breach) through social media
4. Political Advertising to control electoral polls on social media.

I can't find a question to these topics. Can you please help?


Leon (Scribbr-team)
September 14, 2018 at 10:17 PM

Hi Meghna,

Thank you for your question!
I'm afraid this is a little too specific for some good advice from our side.
I do however think that this page should be able to help you a bit more:

Good luck! :)



Fazlu Rehaman
February 5, 2018 at 2:07 PM

Good information.


Justine Debret
Justine Debret (Scribbr-team)
February 6, 2018 at 10:08 AM

Hi Fazlu,
Thanks for your comment, we are happy you found our article on how to write a dissertation proposal useful.


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