Guidelines for Preparation of the Dissertation Proposal

Guidelines for Preparation of the Doctoral Dissertation Proposal

Students must provide a written dissertation proposal to members of their dissertation committee at least one full week before the committee’s first meeting. It should be typewritten, and provided as hard copy or in an electronic format (e.g., pdf) and will usually be 10-15 single-spaced pages. There is no upper limit on length, however (see outline below). It is a working document and provides background and an outline and rationale for the research to be performed. As the work proceeds, the directions and methods may change, but the proposal provides a starting point.

The form of the proposal is:

  1. Statement of the problem and its significance. The hypothesis(es) to be tested and specific aims should be clearly stated.
  2. Literature review, background and significance. Critical review of previous work on the research topic and of the relevant methods. This review is updated later and incorporated into the introduction to the student’s dissertation.

The background and significance section of the proposal is a statement of the basis for the research proposed. It serves to focus the objectives of the research for both the student and the committee and to educate the committee members in areas in which they may not be fully informed. At the time of the proposal, the student should have a reasonably comprehensive knowledge of the background literature on the research proposed and be able to summarize it critically in a written and oral presentation. The written sections will form the basis for the general introduction and rationale in the dissertation.

  1. Preliminary studies performed by the student and others in the adviser’s laboratory on the problem to be studied or on related questions.
  2. Proposed studies. This section includes outlines of experiments planned, description of methods and an outline of timing of experiments.
  3. Discussion of expected outcome of experiments, potential problems and alternative plans if results of experiments are not as expected.

Guidelines for Prepration of the Doctoral Dissertation in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

The form of the dissertation is:

  • I and II as in the Proposal above.
  • III. The body of the dissertation written in the form of one or more papers, each paper constituting a chapter.
  • IV. A final section of conclusions from the research and discussion of future prospects. This section, along with the general introduction and rationale, will tie the chapters together.