How To Write A Dissertation Plan for PhD Dissertation?

A dissertation plan outlines the study you want to do, including its purpose, methodology, and justification for being conducted. As a PhD student, you must create a plan before beginning your dissertation. A dissertation plan helps you structure your thoughts and prepare in advance for the contents you want to include in your dissertation. It demonstrates seriousness on your part to your supervisor and helps to get the committee’s approval. This article will tell you how to write a dissertation plan for a PhD dissertation.

What are the contents of a dissertation plan?

A dissertation plan includes the following elements:

  • Introduction of your dissertation topic, aims and objectives
  • Literature Review
  • Proposed Research Methodology
  • Anticipated findings of your research
  • Bibliography and references

A dissertation plan varies across universities, so you must consult your department before making a plan. However, the general guidelines apply to every kind of dissertation with minimal variations.

How to write a dissertation plan for a PhD dissertation?

Develop an idea for your dissertation’s topic

Developing an idea for your dissertation is the first step in writing a dissertation plan for a PhD. A PhD dissertation is a serious academic endeavour; therefore, it entails spending some time developing a strong topic. You can practice some pre-writing strategies for developing a dissertation topic. You can also hire PhD dissertation writing services to get a topic from the experts.


Brainstorming helps you come up with an idea for your dissertation topic. You can do some preliminary research online and by browsing the books in the library. Make notes of the important points and facts that you come across. It is important to research those topics that capture your interest because a PhD dissertation is a lengthy document, and you do not want to lose interest halfway through the research. So, doing some preliminary research helps you come up with ideas. Afterwards, you can do some brainstorming and list down the broad ideas identified through your research. You must look for the following things:

  • What are the primary concerns of other researchers in your subject area?
  • What are the recommendations provided by other researchers in your field of interest?
  • What are the existing gaps in your subject area?

After identifying the research gaps, you will have a general idea of the direction you want to take for your dissertation. Once you get an idea, you must narrow down the scope of your topic. You can utilise listing and clustering techniques to identify patterns and connect the dots. You must concentrate on one or two key aspects and avoid getting into broader generalisations. Ensure that the selected topic has ample literature available on the issue and that the research on that aspect is feasible.

Work on your introduction and state the main idea.

Once you select your topic, the next step in writing a dissertation plan is to develop a strong and coherent research problem. A research problem serves as an anchor for your research, and your entire research develops around the main idea. It is imperative to divide the research problem into sub-topics and topic sentences to structure your dissertation’s chapters. You must introduce the main idea of your dissertation in the introduction of your dissertation plan. You must introduce the topic, provide background knowledge on the issue, and state the aims and objectives of your research. An introduction also includes the significance and scope of your research, which justifies the necessity of your research to the readers. You can use the following techniques to write the introduction section in your dissertation plan:

Hook your readers

The key to capturing your readers’ attention is introducing your topic directly and stating the significance of your research. It is essential to avoid making generalised and sweeping statements and write coherently and logically.

Develop a Context

Develop the context of your research in the dissertation plan because it helps the reader understand the aims and objectives of your research. Provide background information on your topic but do not include extra details. You just need to provide enough information for the reader to understand the context of your research. State the existing developments in your field of research and inform your reader what will be your contributions to the existing literature.

State the Aims and Objectives

Stating the aims and objectives in your dissertation plan helps the readers understand what you are trying to achieve from your research. You will state the aims, objectives and research questions, and you can also state them in bullet points. It is important to ensure that the research questions are specific and targeted since, throughout your dissertation, you will attempt to answer your research questions. Avoid being too general or asking too many questions. Keep in mind that the purpose of a dissertation plan is to persuade the reader that the study is worthwhile and practicable.

Literature Review

Writing a literature review is the most important step in writing your dissertation plan. A literature review helps you identify the gaps in the existing studies and aids in refining the scope of your research. You must evaluate the existing literature critically and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the existing studies. In this section, you should summarise previous studies’ findings and note any gaps or issues. Use paraphrasing to write concise statements because there may be a lot of research to cover.

State the Research Methodology

The fourth step in writing a dissertation plan is to state the research methodology. Research methodology helps you state the specific steps you will take to address your research questions. It informs the readers about the methods you will use for data collection and analysis. You must write this section carefully since this is your chance to convince your supervisor that your research is feasible.

Describe the potential results of your research

Typically, your dissertation plan will end with a section outlining the goals you have for the study. You certainly cannot be too certain because you are still unsure of your results and conclusions. Instead, you should outline your dissertation’s expected outcomes.


Writing a dissertation plan is easier if you follow the above-mentioned steps sequentially. It is important to keep track of the sources you will use for your research and store the references in reference management software. You can use Mendeley or Zotero for storing the references because it will help you to provide the references in the end.

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