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Dissertation Proposal Outline

Dissertation Outline

There is no standard format for the dissertation. Most universities offer comprehensive guidelines in their dissertation manuals; often however, the details are left up to the discretion of the Dissertation Committee. Most dissertations are organized into four or five chapters; however, there are many variations on these models. The dissertation proposal generally consists of the first three chapters (in a five-chapter format) or the first two chapters (in a four-chapter format).

Here are generic outlines for a five-chapter quantitative and qualitative dissertation. In each case the four-chapter model incorporates the literature review into the first chapter.

Quantitative Dissertation Outline

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • Background of the Problem
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Theoretical Framework
  • Research Hypotheses
  • Importance of the Study
  • Scope of the Study
  • Definition of Terms
  • Summary

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature

Chapter 3: Research Methods

  • Research Design
  • Participants
  • Instrumentation
  • Research Procedures and Pilot Testing
  • Data Analysis
  • Assumptions of the Study
  • Limitations of the Study
  • Summary

Chapter 4: Research Findings

Chapter 5: Conclusions, Discussion, and Suggestions for Future Research

  • Summary
  • Conclusions
  • Discussion
  • Suggestions for Future Research

Qualitative Dissertation Outline

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • Background of the Problem
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Research Questions
  • Importance of the Study
  • Scope of the Study
  • Definition of Terms
  • Delimitations and Limitations

Chapter 2: Review of the Literature (in qualitative studies, often reviewed after rather than before data collection)

Chapter 3: Research Methods

  • The Qualitative Paradigm
  • Qualitative Methods
  • The Researcher's Role
  • Data Sources
  • Data Collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Verification
  • Ethical Considerations
  • Plan for Narrative OR Pilot Study Results

Chapter 4: Research Findings

Chapter 5: Conclusions, Discussion, and Suggestions for Future Research

  • Summary
  • Conclusions
  • Discussion
  • Suggestions for Future Research
     
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