Masters Dissertation and research proposal


Are you in preparation for your Masters Dissertation project? We have discovered some important ideas on how to carry out research proposal and dissertation.

Preparing for our Thesis (Dissertation)

  1. Putting Together our Research Proposal
  2. Research Focus and Overall Research Aim                                                          The first thing we need to do is to get a research proposal together. A good research proposal will:
  1. Provide some background information on the area that we are interested in;
  2. Explain the rationale behind why we want to focus on a particular aspect of this subject (i.e. convince our supervisor that this is an area worthy of study);
  3. Identify the overall aim of our research (i. e. what we are trying to achieve);
  4. Specify the individual objectives required to help us achieve our overall research aim;
  5. Outline how we will carry out our research (our research methods);
  6. Provide an estimate of how long we think we will take to complete the various parts of our thesis;
  7. List the literature that we have referred to in producing our proposal.

The main task of our research proposal is to clarify that we propose to research. For it, select that interest us, then focus on some aspect of that subject which we think is worth researching, finally communicate these ideas in writing (general to specific). The dissertation’s focus will not only save our time and energy but also please our supervisor when he comes to offer guidance throughout the duration of our research.

Next, we need to clarify our overall research aim and the specific objectives for the better research proposal and dissertation. An easy way to arrive at our research aim is to break the process down into simple steps;

  1. Think up one word to identify our research area of interest before beginning research proposal. (e.g. discrimination)
  2. Add other words to clarify the focus of our research (gender-based discrimination, society, suppressed, female, male)
  • Connect these words to form a sentence (This is a study of gender-based discrimination of our society where females are suppressed and misrepresented by males.)
  1. Convert this sentence into a formal research statement (The overall aim of this dissertation/thesis is to explore the impact of gender-based discrimination on females where they are misrepresented and suppressed by males.)
  2. Research Objectives and Keywords in the proposal writing
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The words like identify, evaluate critically, explore, formulate, identify, assess, outline, discuss, analyze are called keywords. They should be incorporated with a good appropriation in the dissertation or Masters’ thesis process. These words indicate the depth of study to be carried out. For instance, identify normally suggests a superficial study, lacking in-depth. For a Master’s thesis, we should use keywords like evaluate critically, assess, explore, investigate, examine that indicate in-depth academic study. Evaluate critically, and explore indicate the main part of our research; formulate indicate our recommendations. At a first supervisor meeting, we should present 4/5 objectives to him in a numbered list in order to play safe and make life easy for everybody. We should not use vague terms like ‘do’, ‘study’, ‘look at’, and ‘learn about’ that indicate prematurity of our research study.

We should use a simple keyword for the first objective to provide the background to our subject area (like identify, classify, outline, discuss); for the other objectives, excluding the last one, we should use keywords that suggest in-depth research work (like explore, evaluate critically, assess critically, examine, analyze, determine); and for the final objective, we should use a keyword that links easily to a concluding activity (like formulate, produce, develop, recommend, propose, advance).

  1. C) Research Methods for our Thesis (Dissertation)

  Our research proposal should include information on how we intend to do our research which is referred to as the research method(s). There are two ways to implement our research and they are;

  1. Through a Literature Review
  2. By Collecting Empirical Data

The Literature Review is one of the most important aspects of the research proposal in the masters’ thesis or dissertation. And this is where we seek out literature from a number of sources like journals, books, conference proceeding to our research interest. Here, we need to indicate the types of literature that we will be making reference to in our full study. And we do it in two ways: by referring to general kinds of literature sources like books, journals, conference proceedings, reports; and by giving some examples of literature that will be relevant to our research. If our research proposal or dissertation is not based purely on Literature Review then we should collect our data through questionnaires, interviews and so on.

  1. D) Setting a Timescale for masters’ dissertation/ thesis

We need to pay enough attention to the timescale segment when we are on the go for masters’ dissertation/ thesis or even doing the research proposal. We should include an estimate of how long we participate in each stage of our research to take. By doing so, we will begin to devote to each task. It is rare that we will go rigidly to our initial projected timescales. As Rabbie Burns said, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go wrong. So, we should plan our activities and incorporate free weeks to accommodate unexpected situations. We should do it by using either a simple table or a chart like a bar chart or a Gantt chart.

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2) Producing a Dissertation Template

We should create our dissertation or thesis template after approval of our research proposal. A DT is where we create our cover pages for each of the main sections that we expect our research project to contain. Most of the pages will be empty pages, and they will contain just a heading or two. They will give us a sense of direction and discipline. On a practical level, it will make easier for us and our supervisor to get an instant appreciation of how our dissertation ot thesis is progressing. It includes the following things;

  1. a) Title; Name; Course; Year b) Abstract c) Acknowledgements
  2. d) Contents e) Abbreviations          f) Figures/ Tables
  3. g) Chapter 1: Introduction h) Chapter 2: Literature Review
  4. i) Chapter 3: Research Methods j) Chapter 4: Findings
  5. k) Chapter 5: Conclusion l) Chapter 6: References
  6. m) Appendices: Appendix A; Appendix B; Appendix C
3) Supervisor Meetings while carrying our research proposal in maters’ thesis (dissertation)

We should take advantage of the meetings with our supervisor in the process of the research proposal. When we are asked by our supervisor to clarify our research objectives, our reply should not be hesitant, vague, lacking detail. We should not set a bad impression. We should be warned when our teachers provide specific thesis (dissertation ) topics and objectives; it might fire our enthusiasm and imagination. So, it is much better to form our own research proposal. At our first meeting with our supervisor, we should ‘come prepared and armed with questions.’ We should state quite clearly our area of study, overall aim and related objectives, the rationale for studying our chosen topic; and we should provide the working title for our thesis. He will be looking at our initial proposal in terms of research focus, objectives, and timescale. For future meetings, so we should adopt a similar approach to carry out the assigned research proposal in maters’ thesis (dissertation). We should not arrive at meetings, sit there, and expect our supervisor to tell us what to do next. Prior to meetings, we should email him about our work-in-progress. Our meetings are not interviews so avoid question-and-answer session. We should also avoid saying, ‘I can’t find anything on this subject’ because it shows our laziness and a lack of serious intent about our thesis. We should take meetings as an opportunity to gauge his opinion about our work and to seek corrective action when things are going wrong. If we cannot make a meeting with him, then email him explaining the reason for our non-attendance and make another appointment. That is only good manners.

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