Preparing A Dissertation Prospectus
©2007 Edward G. Rozycki
A prospectus an is very useful when your advisor attempts to recruit others to be on your dissertation committee. It is a very short form of your proposal. It must be well organized.
IMPORTANT: A prospectus is NOT a proposal. Nor is it a dissertation. Many advisors do not require a prospectus. The form of your proposal is specified in your Doctoral Student Handbook, as is the form of your dissertation. Nothing in this article supercedes those requirements.
The Cover Sheet:
the prospectus must have a cover sheet -- think of this as a kind of disposable table of contents, a planning sheet that will serve to guide your writing throughout the dissertation process. The cover sheet MUST be updated if you make any critical changes in your main document. This cover sheet will be carried over to each new document as it develops, e.g. prospectus, proposal, dissertation but will not appear in the final version of your dissertation unless it is incorporated into it as a table of contents.
The cover sheet should give answers in 30 words or less to each of the following questions or requests:
1. State informally what your dissertation will deal with. (page no. of this information in your main document.)
2. What is your hypothesis? (See How to Hypothesize) (page no.)
3. What are your research questions? (See Operationalization) (page no.)
4. How will you go about answering each research question? (page no.)
Your answers to these four items should fit on one side of the cover sheet. Your committee will check out your document against your cover sheet. It must be accurate. Having such a cover sheet will speed up the review process significantly.
Prior to writing your prospectus, prepare an annotated bibliography of at least 10 books or articles dealing with your topic. These will help you answer the questions of your prospectus. (If you are a dissertation student of Professor Rozycki, attach it to your propectus when handing it in.)
Your prospectus elaborates on what you have put on your cover sheet. Here are questions -- think of them as an expansion on the questions of your cover sheet -- you should write short answers (100 words or less for each question) to : (some may not be applicable to all dissertations)
1. What is your dissertation about? (Can you draw a causal diagram for it? -- if so, do so but keep it separate.)
2. What hypotheses are you looking to test?
3.What are your research questions?
4. What previous related research has been done on your topic?
5. Why is your dissertation worth doing?
6. Explain how will you go about answering each research question.
Hand in three copies of your prospectus to your advisor together with three copies of your cover sheet.
If your prospectus is accepted, carry over the cover sheet to your proposal and make necessary adjustments, e.g. page numbers, items, etc.
Now go to Preparing For Your Defense.