A dissertation prospectus complements a dissertation abstract. The dissertation prospectus can be considered a conclusive summary of what's projected to be accomplished by the dissertation itself. The abstract, in contrast, represents the conclusive summary of the entire completed dissertation.
The dissertation prospectus is therefore the summarization of what a student writer hopes to express within their dissertation before completing any work. This document is completed before the start of work on a dissertation and is submitted after a student completes their candidacy examination (by a student advisory or dissertation committee).THE DISSERTATION PROSPECTUS WRITING MANUAL
While the dissertation prospectus is meant to present the student writer's intentions for writing their dissertation, it's not a long document.
Most dissertation prospectus documents end up in the 3,000 to 4,000 word range, generally presented with double spaces (making the document at least 15 to 20 pages). It also includes an extensive bibliography, which can be as much as 10 pages.THE STRUCTURE OF A DISSERTATION PROSPECTUS
A dissertation prospectus is structured in a way to best convey the general idea behind the dissertation before the student starts work. The introductory paragraph is often a description of the topic and area of expertise that the dissertation is expected to explore. It also explains why the topic and area of expertise (for the student) is important for exploring through their dissertation.
The dissertation prospectus also hosts a preliminary chapter outline; this outlines the sections of the dissertation itself, allowing a student to express what they hope to cover within their dissertation. The outline is expected to be as 'precise as possible,' though it's typically subject to revisions throughout the dissertation prospectus' review process.THE DISSERTATION PROSPECTUS REVIEW
Completing a dissertation prospectus isn't only up to the student. The document itself is subject to review by the student's dissertation committee and other academic faculty members relevant to their field of study.
After the student receives several consultations to effectively revise their document, they can submit their dissertation prospectus for formal approval by their dissertation committee. Students are also encouraged to have 'general readers,' such as interested friends and family, read their dissertation prospectus to see if their document successfully conveys the idea behind their dissertation to a general audience.
A dissertation prospectus, according to academic resources, should aim to clearly present 'the dissertation's arguments, methodologies and considerations in a way that will allow readers to successfully understand what it may attempt to convey.' Due to that, students should take care to craft a dissertation prospectus that will successfully conceptualize their entire dissertation.
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