This program milestone provides an opportunity for students to synthesize the knowledge gained in previous course work and to demonstrate an ongoing critical review of the literature as they develop their dissertation research proposal. During this process, students engage in independent reading and analysis of the theoretical, empirical, and methods literature, with regular consultation and feedback provided by the student’s supervisor and advisory committee. This milestone should normally be completed in a maximum of two terms of study.
In preparation for beginning proposal development, the student should reflect on the knowledge needed to carry out the dissertation and begin to identify gaps in knowledge that will be addressed in their dissertation, while familiarizing themselves with different approaches for preparing research proposals prior to beginning this course.
The final written submission should address all essential components of a sound research proposal, including justification for decisions made, at a level that is consistent with a doctoral dissertation. The level of detail should be such that the study could be undertaken by another investigator who reviews the proposal (assuming that they possess the needed skill to do so).
Tables and figures should be inserted in the text as required. A complete reference list should follow the text. Letters of information, consents forms, data collection tools and any other documents that support the proposal should be included in appendices.
The length of the proposal is expected to vary depending on the research questions, extent of prior work in the field and method. Proposals are typically 30-40 pages of double-spaced text, excluding references, tables, figures and appendices, although this must be negotiated with the advisory committee. APA format should be used.
The proposal will be graded as PASS/FAIL. To achieve a PASS, the following criteria must be met:
Literature reviewed is appropriate to the focus of the study. Critical analysis and synthesis of the literature is evident and leads to a concise summary of gaps and priorities for future research in the field.
Study purposes/objectives are clearly articulated and linked to the review of literature and/or theoretical framework.
Significance of the study in light of its contribution to advancing knowledge in the field is addressed.
The theoretical /conceptual perspective(s) informing the study and its role in the study is clearly described and appropriately applied throughout the proposal.
Methodology and methods are clearly described in detail and are sound; appropriate justification is provided for methodological decisions (in light of other options) as appropriate.
The plan for the ethical conduct of the research is elaborated.
The plan for disseminating the study findings identifies relevant strategies to advance knowledge transfer/uptake.
Additional documents (e.g. data collection tools or interview scripts, letters of information/consents) are included and support the clarity and completeness of the overall proposal.
Writing style, organization and format is consistent with expectations for doctoral level papers (i.e., well organized with logical flow of ideas, analysis supported by appropriate references, clarity of expression, use of active voice, writing free of grammatical or technical errors, completeness of reference list, APA format).