How do I approach Milestone 3: The mentor-approved proposal?

by | April 29, 2012

Podcast Description: Reaching the stage where your mentor approves your proposal is the first major hurdle in the dissertation process. The proposal provides the foundation for your dissertation, and as such, it must include a wealth of information and detail.

Transcript: The following presentation is a production of Capella University and is not intended for commercial use.

Welcome to another topic in a series of podcasts regarding aspects of the comprehensive exam and dissertation process.

Before you begin to work on your proposal, you will need to make sure your dissertation topic is approved by your mentor. Learn how your school approaches the topic approval. Your school might require a pre-proposal or a methodology review form or a dissertation proposal worksheet. Your mentor might use a more creative approach to learn if your topic is related to your specialization, if your topic can be done, and if your research questions can actually be answered. Until your mentor has those answers, your mentor is not going to allow you to move forward with writing the proposal.

Once you have that topic approved, the next step is to begin to produce those chapters. You will want to understand which chapter your mentor wants first. Some mentors do want Chapter 1 first, which makes perfect sense, because that is the chapter that introduces and sets up your dissertation. Some members want Chapter 2, your literature review, first. That also makes perfect sense because that chapter certainly provides the justification for your proposed study and should help to show the gaps in the literature.

Some mentors want you to write Chapter 3, your methodology chapter, first. That also makes perfect sense because Chapter 3 houses your research question. And those research questions dictate so much about how the rest of the dissertation is going to be structured. So, understand which approach your mentor prefers to use. All approaches are equally effective.

Once you begin to send chapters to your mentor for review, do not sit back and wait for the feedback. Get to work on the next chapter your mentor wants to see as your mentor is reviewing a chapter. Keep yourself moving.

Understand that you might be asked for multiple iterations of each chapter. The iterations can be a frustrating part of the dissertation process, but they are a necessary part of the dissertation process. And you should also remember that changes made to one chapter might very well necessitate changes to other chapters.

The iterations may be a result of making sure you get the proper content in the chapter, or they might be required to improve your writing, or both. If you work very hard at writing as clearly as possible, those iterations that focus on your writing might be fewer in number.

You also want to understand how your mentor works with the committee as you are preparing your proposal. Some mentors want the committee to at least buy into the proposed topic. Some mentors might at least reach out to the methodology expert on the committee to get that member’s take on Chapter 3. Some mentors might ask for the committee’s unofficial approval before the mentor approves the proposal. Other mentors might not involve the committee at all until after the mentor has approved the proposal and forwarded it to the committee for its approval.

All of these approaches can work to produce a mentor-approved proposal.

Communicate with your mentor to understand how the mentor approaches this portion of the dissertation. And focus on getting your proposal approved by your mentor so that you can move into the next steps in your dissertation.

Remember, you bring unique circumstances to your doctoral journey. Follow-up with your doctoral advisor for clarification and additional information about the dissertation process.

This presentation has been brought to you by Capella University and may not be re-transmitted or used for any commercial purpose without the expressed written consent of Capella University.
# # #
615 words