Writing a Proposal for Your Dissertation

Second Edition
Guidelines and Examples

Steven R. Terrell

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September 5, 2022
ISBN 9781462550258
Price: $85.00
320 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
October 21, 2022
ISBN 9781462550234
Price: $35.00
320 Pages
Size: 7" x 10"
August 31, 2022
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320 Pages
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The encouraging book that has guided thousands of students step by step through crafting a strong dissertation proposal is now in a thoroughly revised second edition. It includes new guidance for developing methodology-specific problem statements, an expanded discussion of the literature review, coverage of the four-chapter dissertation model, and more. Terrell demonstrates how to write each chapter of the proposal, including the problem statement, purpose statement, and research questions and hypotheses; literature review; and detailed plans for data collection and analysis. “Let's Start Writing” exercises serve as building blocks for drafting a complete proposal. Other user-friendly features include case-study examples from diverse disciplines, “Do You Understand?” checklists, and end-of-chapter practice tests with answers. Appendices present an exemplary proposal written three ways to demonstrate quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches, and discuss how to structure a four-chapter dissertation.

New to This Edition

“One of the biggest hurdles to timely completion of a doctoral degree is a well-written and defensible dissertation proposal. Terrell's second edition is an exceptional go-to resource. The revised and updated chapters on developing problem statements and writing the literature review are particularly helpful. Presenting clear guidelines and useful examples, the book breaks down the steps needed to efficiently produce an effective proposal. Isolating the importance/need/rationale for the dissertation and linking that to specific research questions written in a clear and answerable manner (via quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods) is a particular strength of this text.”

—John S. Carlson, PhD, Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education, Michigan State University

“This book can be used at multiple stages in the dissertation development process, beginning with the first time a topic is considered. This book helps take the guesswork out of the dissertation process, fills in details that seasoned writers may forget to mention, and answers questions that students are sometimes afraid to ask. The second edition includes a broader range of examples and adds emphasis to navigating the 'people' portion of writing the proposal and maximizing the use of technologies and other resources. It is written like a conversation, which makes the advice seem like it is coming from an old friend. This book aligns well with the process we are already using to help students develop their dissertation proposals and offers details that help to reinforce the next steps for students.”

—Pamela K. Brown, EdD, Department of Kinesiology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

“Useful changes in the second edition include an expanded discussion of the purpose statement and the review of literature, as well as more attention to ethical research, data collection, data analysis, and research designs. Terrell continues to cover such important research topics as sampling, instrumentation, reliability, validity, and different levels of measurement. The book is comprehensive in its coverage of topics, provides clear and concise examples, is affordable, and is a valuable asset for my doctoral students.”

—Steven B. Mertens, PhD, School of Teaching and Learning, Illinois State University

“A good book for students who have taken a comprehensive research methods course and are now embarking on their own original research project. The second edition provides a wider array of examples from a number of disciplines, as well as expanded information on purpose statements and writing the review of literature. It retains such strengths from the first edition as progress checks and review questions in each chapter, and detailed descriptions of threats to internal and external validity.”

—Katherine K. Rose, PhD, Department of Human Development, Family Studies, and Counseling, Texas Woman’s University

“The most difficult objective students have is development of their methods, followed by conducting a properly synthesized literature review. This text does an excellent job in covering both of these topics. My students find it both approachable and very useful.”

—Tobin Hindle, PhD, Scientist and Graduate Program Director, Department of Geosciences, Florida Atlantic University

Table of Contents

Introduction: Your Dissertation Proposal

1. Developing the Problem Statement for Your Dissertation Proposal sample

2. Writing Purpose Statements, Research Questions, and Hypotheses

3. Writing the Review of Literature for Your Dissertation Proposal

4. The First Part of Your Dissertation Research Method

5. Quantitative Research Methods

6. Qualitative Research Methods

7. Mixed Methods Research Designs

Epilogue: Have We Accomplished What We Set Out to Do?

Appendix A. Progress Check for Chapter 1 of a Dissertation Proposal: The Introduction

Appendix B. Progress Check for Chapter 2 of a Dissertation Proposal: The Review of Literature

Appendix C. Progress Check for Chapter 3 of a Quantitative Dissertation Proposal

Appendix D. Progress Check for Chapter 3 of a Qualitative Dissertation Proposal

Appendix E. Progress Check for Chapter 3 of a Mixed Methods Dissertation Proposal

Appendix F. Sample Proposal for a Four-Chapter Dissertation

Answers to Review Questions




About the Author

About the Author

Steven R. Terrell, PhD, is Professor Emeritus at Nova Southeastern University. He has taught quantitative and qualitative research methods since the 1980s and is the author of over 150 journal articles, book chapters, conference papers, and presentations. Dr. Terrell is a member of the American Counseling Association and the American Psychological Association, and served as Chair of the American Educational Research Association’s Online Teaching and Learning Special Interest Group. He is on the editorial boards of several national and international journals and was recently named a Fellow and Distinguished Scholar of the International Institute for Applied Knowledge Management. He is currently serving as part-time faculty in the School of Computing at Middle Georgia State University.


Graduate students in education, psychology, geography, sociology, social work, health sciences, business, information systems, and other behavioral, social, and health sciences.

Course Use

Serves as a text in Dissertation or Master's Thesis courses or as a supplement in graduate-level courses in research methods, quantitative analysis, qualitative methods, or mixed methods.
Previous editions published by Guilford:

First Edition, © 2016
ISBN: 9781462523023
New to this edition: