RECOMMENDED CONTENTS OF THE
PH.D. DISSERTATION PROSPECTUS
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
encouraged to develop your chapter outline with at least two major
headings (chapter title and first-level heading).
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.
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
The data collection and analysis should be explicitly linked to the
research problem and related model. The research design section must
a. the unit of analysis/observation
b. the data collection
instruments and/or data sources
c. sampling strategy,
d. the analytical
techniques including statistical techniques if
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.
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).
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.
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.
USEFUL REFERENCES AND
HANDBOOKS FOR PREPARING THE PROSPECTUS AND THE
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