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Dissertation Proposal Contents Checklist

 1. Title and Introduction
  • Does the title represent the essential content of the study being proposed?
2. Problem Identification
  • Is the problem, focus, or hypothesis stated clearly?
  • Is the problem or focus important?
  • Is it stated in a way that justifies further inquiry?
  • Have you demonstrated that this study is necessary? What are the differences between this and the related studies presented in the proposal?
3. Conceptual/Theoretical Framework
  • Is the conceptual/theoretical framework presented logically, completely, and clearly?
  • Is the introduction written in lay terms and comparatively jargon-free? Are basic terms defined (e.g., the nouns in the title)?
4. Review of the Literature
  • Are the statements in the introduction and literature review backed up with evidence, in the form of citations of previous research and/or theory, or logical explanations?
  • Is the most relevant literature presented and cited?
  • Are the sources well-synthesized and relevant to the study’s focus? (Avoid series of one-paragraph summaries of individual sources unless you tie them together conceptually and clearly.)
  • Does the chapter end with a summary of major concepts/ideas related to the study being proposed?
5. Methods
  • Is the methods chapter divided into appropriate subsections?
  • Is the design stated and explained clearly? (Use a figure, schematic or flow charts wherever useful, introducing and explaining each and all with text, per APA recommendations.)
  • Is it explained how the research design answers the research questions, addresses the focus, or tests the hypotheses?
  • If there are other relevant variables, is it explained how they are controlled or accounted for
  • Is/Are the setting(s) in which the research will occur described?
  • Are the participants described adequately, including number, description of population from which they will be drawn, conditions of participation, and appropriate demographic characteristics/variables?
  • Are any instruments, measures, and/or protocols to be used described adequately? Are copies included in appendices, as appropriate?
  • For observational measures, explain how will observers be trained (if this is necessary); what, how (method) and how often will they observe; what recording devices and/or notetaking practices will be used; and how accuracy (e.g., inter-rater reliability) will be assessed.
  • For interview guides/protocols, list predetermined questions and/or topics and explain follow-up questions and/or member checking procedures, as appropriate.
  • For psychological tests, note the name, form (if any), and instrument reliability and validity information, citing sources for this information.
  • For artifacts/extant documents to be examined, explain what they are and how these will be obtained.
  • For commercially produced apparatus, note brand name, model number, function, and any information necessary for replication.
  • Are the most salient features of the instructions included in the methods section?
  • Are all common documents, instructions, and messages (including the proposed study consent form) to be sent or given to study participants or others involved in the study included verbatim in appendices?
  • Are the procedures described in enough detail to permit a reliable replication (if appropriate)?
  • Are the procedures described in a logical order?
  • Is the study’s timeline outlined?
6. Data Analysis
  • How will the data be summarized/analyzed to address the research focus, problem, and/or question(s)?
  • Please use tables, figures and/or graphs to present data sources and types and how they will be analyzed if this will help readers to understand your plans for data analysis.
7. Style and Function
  • Are all citations within the text complete and correct?
  • Are the references presented correctly using APA format?
  • Is the text typed to meet graduate school requirements: double spaced, with correct margins? The proposal and dissertation requires 1.5” margin on the left and one inch margins on the other three sides.
  • Have you proofed the paper and corrected typographical and spelling errors?
  • Can you argue successfully that the research will make a contribution to knowledge and/or be publishable?