After being enrolled in a postgraduate program all students face an extremely important challenge – their thesis. But at the very beginning, they have to deal with a thesis proposal – a written report in which students substantiate what they want to explore and how they are going to do it. Writing a thesis requires serious considerations and regular writing as it involves the creation of new and original content in a clearly defined field of science, and a thesis proposal is the first step that brings you closer to this.
In general, the thesis proposal helps to determine a research topic, to meet a consultant or mentor experienced in the chosen area, to formulate a scientific problem or hypothesis, to recognize the necessary background information, and to find suitable methods and approaches to the problem. The proposal is presented in a written form to a Postgraduate Committee or other staff of the department on which you are assigned. For that reason, your thesis proposal must not only be well thought out in terms of content but also meets the general requirements of academic writing.
What is the aim of creating the thesis proposal?
At first glance, it may seem that it is only needed for a university report but the reality is a bit different. Thesis proposal has benefits for both students and the university:
- First of all, it creates a plan of action for you and sets the order in your ideas;
- This is a confirmation of your ability to independent and original scientific activity;
- It shows your school that your research is needed and has a potential;
- It allows you to make sure once again that the topic really meets your interests and level of preparation.
How to Start and What to Do Next?
1. Determine the scope of questions you are interested in. If you’ve come so far in getting higher education and have a great experience of learning, you are supposed to have some of your own preferences concerning the major you learn. Write down every idea that comes to your mind and later you will have enough variants to choose from.
2. Ask for support from the supervisor. If your supervisor isn’t an old hand in this business, then at least he or she knows for sure more than you. Supervisor’s role is to guide you and prevent getting lost in the vast array of information. That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid of asking questions; clarify any information in order to avoid misunderstandings in the following stages.
3. Create the outline. It gives you the chance to preview before you begin to actually write, besides, you can easily modify and correct it. The outline is like a skeleton, on which you will later put the pieces of text you want.
4. Follow the required structure and style. The traditional thesis proposal consists of five elements:
- The rationale and the background of the study (it covers general and specific background, the definition of key terms, literature review on the topic)
- The methodology (general approach and specific methods, limitations)
- Expected results
- Potential conclusions
- The list of used materials and sources (bibliography)
Keep in mind one thing – you work with scientific texts and academics, as a result, the quality of the content you produce must be at the same level. You are a young scientist, not a naïve freshman.
5. Proofread and edit. The first time you have to check the paper yourself and make sure that you covered everything you planned. Pay a considerable attention to your narrative strategy and a general flow. Don’t try to be extremely sophisticated, on the contrary, prefer a simple but not primitive language. Read aloud and share your proposal with a friend, in this way you will get an unbiased assessment.