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1.    Cover Page. The cover page must list the proposed title, your name, the Department of Political Science, the names of the supervisory committee with a place for their approval signatures, and the date of submission (see Attachment A).

2.    Table of Contents. The Table of Contents must list each chapter and the major sub-topics within each chapter. The Table of Contents should indicate the major dimensions of the topic and a broad descriptive outline of the work to be done (see Attachment B). You are strongly encouraged to develop your chapter outline with at least two major headings (chapter title and first-level heading).

3.    Abstract. One page that provides a summary description of the proposal.

4.    The Research Problem. You must offer a clear statement of the research problem. This is one of the most difficult aspects of research because it must be something that is of interest to you personally, acceptable to your advisor, important to the discipline of political science, and "doable" given your material and intellectual resources.

This section must begin with a one sentence statement of the problem. If it takes more than one sentence, you are probably unclear about the nature of the problem. It is important to note that some problems will be highly descriptive in nature (e.g., comparison of different methods of contracting for services). Other approaches might focus on a problem that is more instrumental in nature (e.g., how can contracting out for services be increased?). Yet others might require hypothesis testing (e.g., there is no relationship between level of professionalization and contracting out).

The importance of the research problem to political science as a discipline must be made clear. This involves citation of relevant literature from the discipline. You should show that your proposed research addresses a significant problem.

5a.    The Model or Conceptual Framework or Theoretical Orientation. Model, conceptual framework, and theoretical orientation are terms that have been variously defined in the methodology literature without a great deal of precision. They all, however, suggest the great importance of developing or adopting a set of logically related abstract ideas that are central to your research problem. The principal issue here is the phenomena you propose to analyze and the justification for studying them. The presentation of the model must include a definition of key terms and relationships.

5b.    Review of Literature. You should not have a separate single review of the literature. Rather, when you are presenting the research problem, related model and procedures, you must review literature that is related. In effect, then, there must be a review of the literatures relevant to the particular area of the prospectus.

6.    Methodology/Procedures. A distinguishing feature of academic research, compared to research by journalists and writers, is the care given to the research design and process of data collection. The appropriateness of the research materials depends directly on the conceptual framework and related research question. The first part of the analysis methods section of the prospectus must very briefly summarize the research problem and related model.
The data collection and analysis should be explicitly linked to the research problem and related model. The research design section must also include:

a. the unit of analysis/observation
b. the data collection instruments and/or data sources
c. sampling strategy, if appropriate
d. the analytical techniques including statistical techniques if     appropriate

7.    References. The references should not be excessively long. The purpose is to identify those works that are central for your problem.  At this stage of your research, you may list reference items that are not included as citations in the text of your paper. The final dissertation, however, must include only reference items that are actually cited in the body of the work.

8.    Timetable. Prepare a table that specifies each stage of your work and the expected completion date. Obviously this can only be a "best guess" (see Attachment C).

9.    Institutional Review Board Application. Approval from the IRB is required for any human subjects research conducted for a thesis or dissertation at the University of Oklahoma. Forms are available at their website.

Helpful Hint: Defense of Dissertation Prospectus. Students are to schedule a defense for the dissertation prospectus. When approved, the signed approval is to be delivered to the Political Science Graduate Program Office for inclusion in your permanent file.


American Political Science Association. 2002. Style Manual for Political Science. Washington, DC.

Leedy, Paul D. 1993. Practical Research, 5th ed. New York: Macmillan.

Mauch, James E. 2003. Guide to the Successful Thesis and Dissertation, 5th ed. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Przeworski, Adam and Salomon, Frank. 1999. The Art of Writing Proposals. New York: Social Science Research Council.

Turabian, Kate L. 1996. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th ed. rev. by B. Honigsblum. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Van Evera, Stephen.  1997.  Guide to Methods for Students of Political Science.  Ithaca:  Carnell University.

Other disserations are also a good source of information. Ones from Political Science are available in the Department’s library in the conference room.

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