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How to Design, Write, and Present a Successful Dissertation Proposal

How to Design, Write, and Present a Successful Dissertation Proposal

October 2013 | 232 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
This concise, hands-on book by author Elizabeth A. Wentz is essential reading for any graduate student entering the dissertation process in the social or behavioral sciences. The book addresses the importance of ethical scientific research, developing your curriculum vitae, effective reading and writing, completing a literature review, conceptualizing your research idea, and translating that idea into a realistic research proposal using research methods. 

The author also offers insight into oral presentations of the completed proposal, and the final chapter presents ideas for next steps after the proposal has been presented. Taking the view that we “learn by doing,” the author provides Quick Tasks, Action Items, and To Do List activities throughout the text that, when combined, develop each piece of your research proposal. Designed primarily for quantitative or mixed methods research dissertations, this book is a valuable start-to-finish resource.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Ethics
Chapter 3: Curriculum Vita
Chapter 4: Area of Specialization
Chapter 5: Effective Reading
Chapter 6: Effective Writing
Chapter 7: Literature Review
Chapter 8: The Academic Village
Chapter 9: Conceptualizing a Research Idea
Chapter 10: Problem Statement
Chapter 11: Research Methods
Chapter 12: Research Proposal
Chapter 13: Oral Presentations
Chapter 14: Next Steps

“Excellent book for a doctoral and/or orientation program.”

Nydia Cummings
Nova Southeastern University

“The inclusion of the author’s personal anecdotes brings the text to the student in a friendly manner.”

Anne J. Hacker
Walden University

“The activities to help students conceptualize the major elements of an effective proposal will be well received by graduate students at the master’s and doctoral levels.”

David L Brown
Texas A&M University

“After reading MANY books on the dissertation process, I was still as confused and frustrated as before reading them, as they were not very helpful. Most of them just broadly mention the content of the chapters without going into details. Fortunately, I came across the reference for your book, How to Design, Write and Present a Successful Dissertation Proposal. I was amazed. I am gaining so much insight on the process of writing the proposal. I like your approach in this book. In addition to your very clear explanation of the process and suggestions, the To Do List, Quick Task and Action Item are great guides in helping me to think through what I am doing.”

Monica B. – Graduate Student

This is a great text for geography graduate students. It provided the framework for my graduate course on research and writing and is a great source for class exercises that I successfully implemented in my course.

Dr James Tamerius
Geography Dept, University Of Iowa
October 2, 2014

I teach a methods course for doctoral students. This book was very appropriate for students this semester.

Arijit Sen
Architecture Dept, Univ Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
April 9, 2014

Practical and helpful for students moving into dissertation stage

Dr Norma Hedin
School of Leadership, Dallas Baptist University
April 2, 2014
Key features


  • Guidance on how to analyze the dissertation proposal draft, both in terms of content and style to help students fine-tune their final proposal.
  • In-depth literature review section goes beyond simply describing what a literature review is by providing concrete information on how to structure a review of the literature.
  • A unique activity works to help students understand the types and ranges of research questions and to evaluate what makes a research question good or bad.
  • Coverage of the academic village describes the structure of the university and the career stages of professors, demonstrating how they can potentially affect graduate student success.

Sage College Publishing

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This title is also available on SAGE Research Methods, the ultimate digital methods library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.