A dissertation prospectus is a detailed outline for an academic research endeavor.
A dissertation prospectus is a detailed outline for an academic research endeavor. It is typically submitted to a program or department committee that needs to approve the prospectus for the research to continue and be either funded or approved by the academic institution and receive credit. In many doctoral and science based bachelor programs, a dissertation is a degree requirement, and the prospectus is the first step toward achieving the degree.
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- A prospectus for a dissertation must include several key parts. First, it must establish a problem or area that lacks significant research or academic attention. Second, it must outline any work that has been done on the subject, and if none has been done must explain why. Third, it must present a hypothetical solution or expected result for the established quandary, based on intuitive reasoning or preliminary findings. Fourth, it must present a detailed plan of action to test the validity of the stated hypothesis, including a list of source material and experiments to be performed. Finally, and depending on the type of dissertation being written, a prospectus must defend why an inquiry into the chosen subject is worthwhile to the larger academic community.
- A dissertation, also called a thesis, is a research document that presents the findings of a specific line of inquiry in a detailed account. It is a bookend report to the prospectus and gives a summary of the findings based in the research performed based on the prospectus plan. Dissertations may be written in any field of study, though their form of presentation may vary depending on the subject.
- Over the course of experimentation and research, many things may change between the prospectus's outline of the project and the results given in the dissertation, including the types of research done and even the hypothesis. In the humanities subjects, including literature and history, this type of organic change is an expected part of the process, and a dissertation that has been altered substantially from the original prospectus is welcome and admissible. However, in certain science subjects, like biology, chemistry and physics, the dissertation traditionally needs to stick to the hypothesis of the prospectus and either confirm or deny expectations.
- A prospectus often needs to be defended in an oral hearing with either a program or departmental committee before being accepted--very rarely are written prospectuses considered without an interview accompanying them. The committee reads the prospectus ahead of the interview and uses the time to ask any lingering questions and test the interest of the applicant.
- There are several reasons why a prospectus may be denied, including poor or inappropriate hypothesis, a hypothesis that is too broad or too narrow in scope and insufficient supporting evidence that warrants further investigation. A committee may ask the applicant to rewrite a prospectus based on its suggestions or may deny the prospectus completely.