Thursday, June 9, 2011

Pre-Proposal Template, v.1

The research/dissertation phase of a doctoral program can be very peculiar.  Some programs provide a well-worn map of the research/dissertation process whereas others, well, not so much.  Perhaps in the latter this is intentional and meant to emulate the research process in 'the real world'?  Or maybe this is the graduate-level version of having to walk uphill to school both ways?  I don't know.  But either way, my program is of the latter flavor and although I appreciate the lessons I'm learning about development of a research topic, I also appreciate efficiency, mentorship, and guided-but-restrained direction.  As I write this, I realize that maybe my views are terribly misguided and naive, but at this point, I'm unable to completely sever the idea that the process can't be improved.  And thus the topic of this post.  While trying to identify a research topic and distill it into a workable thesis I iterated through a couple of prospectuses (research idea #1), then a couple of concept papers (research idea #2), and now a pre-proposal (still research idea #2 -- yay!).  Up until a few of months ago, I was creating and circulating these documents under the impression that they weren't really required (the documents helped to shape and guide my thinking).  Turns out I was wrong; apparently all that is required is a one page description of the topic.  But even this appears to not be 100% accurate, considering what a fellow student assembled and submitted to the faculty.  Assuming that past student experience is more reliable that present prescription, a 3-6 page double-spaced pre-proposal appears to be what is really sought.  Embedded is the format I'm currently using (my pre-proposal has yet to be accepted and until it is, I'll delay posting the format of the final version).

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