The faculty neither encourages nor discourages such engagement, but cautions that original historical work should not simply illustrate other people's ideas. Give an account of the sources for the subject.
Stress primary sources, the difficulties they present, their location print, manuscript, or any other form , and their accessibility. Identify the principal libraries and repositories as well as other locations and persons. Do not overlook unpublished doctoral or master's research.
Draft a tentative chapter outline and schedule of tasks and stages for the writing of the dissertation. Allow time for research, travel to collections, writing, and revision. Presentations last for 30 minutes. For the first 15 minutes students present their prospectus, and the remaining 15 minutes are reserved for questions from the audience. By December 2nd, the graduate coordinator will ask for three pieces of information as a prelude to the conference:.
Provisional title of the presentation 2. Names of faculty members who should be invited to the presentation. By January 13 candidates will submit a page written prospectus to the graduate coordinator that forms the basis of the presentation. The prospectus should include a select bibliography and the names of archives in which research will be conducted. For examples of last year's conference see the Graduate Student Resources site. In some cases, however, an advisor may ask the student to revise their prospectus.
If revisions are necessary, the final version of the prospectus must be submitted to the coordinator, along with the signed approval form, by April 1. Skip to main content. There is no single recipe for a good dissertation prospectus. But all writers should answer, to the best of their abilities at this early stage of research, certain fundamental questions:.
This problem can be theoretical, critical, or historical; but it should, in most cases, be presented as a question or related set of questions to which the dissertation will attempt to find answers. It is important that the problem and hypothetical answers be stated from the outset, so that your research will not risk becoming random, and your exposition will not lapse into mere description.
The sense that an argument is being made should be constantly kept in mind. Has this topic been treated before? How does your approach differ from earlier ones? Has new evidence appeared for example, a new primary source since previous treatments? Outlining a sequence of potential chapters will help you clarify the argument of your dissertation and check the balance of its parts in relation to one another.
A chapter should be conceived as approximately double-spaced pages. If the major sections of your dissertation seem likely to exceed this length, plan to subdivide them. A finished dissertation is generally pages long. You will find that developing an outline helps your thinking to move forward substantially, so that the actual writing of the dissertation is more clearly focused. Once you have drafted your prospectus under the guidance of your dissertation committee, you might want to have it read by someone who knows nothing about your topic, to see whether you have clearly set out your problem and defined a workable method.
Seeking out a general reader right at the start is a good reminder that although you may be writing on a specialized topic, your dissertation should be written in clear, intelligible prose. Make sure you define the theoretical categories you are introducing, and try to avoid technical jargon unless it is necessary to the intricacies of your argument.
Prospectuses and dissertations tend to either lose themselves in detail, or to be too general. To avoid this, try to do what you would in any paper you write: make sure that your main argument remains clearly above ground, and that each paragraph has a clear connection with the ones preceding and following it.
The prospectus is not a mini-dissertation, and need not involve more time in writing and revising than another paper of comparable length.