What Is a Thesis Proposal? Find the Definition Here!
When looking through the curriculum, college and university students often wonder: what is a thesis proposal. The truth is that almost everyone who pursues an academic degree will have to complete this assignment. Still, not everyone clearly understands what information should be presented in this document. Meanwhile, the definition of a thesis proposal is simple. This is the document that contains a concise overview of the upcoming full-fledged thesis (the highest point of the master’s program). It presents the paper’s topic, the problem the author is going to research, and the way the study will be conducted. The student should also explain why the chosen problem is significant and why it deserves to be further researched. This is an important document as your chosen topic will be either approved or disapproved by the professors’ board based on it.
Planning Your WritingAny thesis proposal guide will tell you that time management is the key condition for any researcher’s success. Make sure that you do everything in consecutive order; otherwise, you can keep jumping from one task to another, not really finishing any of them. We offer the following order of actions for proposal writing:
- Create an outline
- Gather all the existing literature on your topic
- Find the related methods and approaches
- Define the main terminology and key notions
- Assume what can be discovered in your thesis
- Write the introduction
- Work on the abstract
- Craft the body of the paper
- Reference the sources in accordance with the required thesis proposal format.
Create an OutlineA proper thesis proposal outline is essential for the general organization of your work on the thesis itself and on the proposal in particular. Since a thesis is a rather voluminous and complex kind of paper that contains many sections and tons of information, it is extremely important to arrange all the content in a clear and consecutive structure. If you succeed at this stage, all the next parts of work will go smoothly and easily. Obviously, a good outline is tightly linked to the overall paper structure, and in order to include all the required sections, one has to know the basic elements of a master’s thesis.
Follow the StructureThe thesis proposal components may vary depending on the topic, educational establishments, and individual requirements of your professor, but the basic elements include the following:
- Thesis Statement
- Tasks and deadlines
- Expected results
AbstractThe next thing your professor will see after the thesis proposal cover page is the abstract. As a rule, this is a paragraph that summarizes the content and purpose of your paper and shows the reader what should be expected further.
IntroductionThe main purpose of the opening part is to present a thesis proposal in a brief and engaging way. The target audience, i.e. the committee, should get the general idea about your proposal from its introduction, and decide whether they want to keep reading or not. Thus, make a concise overview of your future study, explain why it matters, and mention the central research issue that your thesis will revolve around. Remember to explain the terms or definitions related to the topic and end the introduction with a thesis statement.
Thesis StatementPlaced at the end of the introductory part, a thesis statement is your main message. What does your proposal try to convey to the readers? What is the main argument it will be defending? These should be the questions behind that statement. A thesis statement in some cases can be contained in a hypothesis that your paper will try to prove. In such a case, you need to provide a background for your study, create a context for it. Summarize the research papers that have led you to the hypothesis, formulate it clearly, and declare your intention to defend it in your dissertation. In addition, you should make a smooth transition from your introduction to the research methods that you chose for your thesis. Thus, when referring to the existing studies on your topic, make sure to mention the existing approaches used by different authors. In your next section, you will indicate the ones that you chose and that will work best for your paper. All in all, your thesis statement should balance between a dry scientific presentation and a detailed explanation for the newcomers. Your proposal will probably be read by the professors who may not be familiar with your topic and its terminology, so make sure you make it understandable for them as well. In order to check if everything is clear to the unbiased audience, ask one of your friends to read the proposal and tell you if any clarifications are needed.
MethodologyIn this section of your thesis proposal essay, you should tell about the research approaches you will use in your future work. Explain your choice, supporting it with arguments. How will the methods help you to address the research questions? Why are these methods suitable for your particular topic? What tools will you need to conduct the study?
DiscussionHere, you need to discuss how you will analyze the data gathered in the course of your research. How will you count it? How will you group the results? What will be done next? Mention the procedures and actions that will be applied at this stage.
Tasks and deadlinesSince it can take from a few months to several years to write a thesis, it is important to create a realistic work schedule where every task would have its consecutive order and a deadline. This way, you can show the professors that you know how to organize your work and handle the various stages of research. It is also advisable to plan some extra time for emergencies and unexpected delays.
Expected ResultsAlthough it is almost impossible to predict what will be discovered in the course of thesis writing, there are still certain plans and expectations that every researcher has while starting the study. Based on your hypothesis and methodology chosen, make assumptions about the results that may be found in your thesis and discuss them in this section.
Write!When all the planning, preparation, and scheduling are done, there is no need to postpone the actual writing process. Follow your outline and the offered work plan, and simply create the paper section by section. It is good to have clear time limits for creating the proposal, as this way you will know how many words a day are your obligatory minimum of work. It is advisable to write the proposal from the third person, as the formal style often suggests. In general, keep your writing concise, clearly formulated, and with proper language. Stick to the structure in order to maintain all the essential elements and ensure quality content. Please, note that the paper should be written in the future tense.
ReviseMany students exhale with a sense of relief when their proposal is ready, and think that they can take this burden off their shoulders. However, it is too soon to relax at this point, because the final part of the work is always the most intensive and requires a total focus. Once your paper is ready, you need to proofread it carefully and revise some of its parts if necessary. Here are the tips on how to make your proofreading more effective:
- Take a pause before proofreading. Rest for a few days or at least one night: a fresh view will give you a clear vision of the work’s flaws.
- Read it out loud. Hearing your own sentences is very different from reading them, and many new aspects can be noticed.
- Let your fellow researchers read the paper and provide their feedback to you.
- Run your paper through a grammar checking program.