Composing A Winning Dissertation Proposal In The Harvard Style

An extremely important part to academic writing is accurately citing or referencing your sources. Using great sources adds credibility to your work, and appropriately assigning credit to the words or ideas of others helps you avoid accusations of plagiarism. Using the Harvard citation style is a very popular way of citing content when writing a dissertation proposal. Harvard is considered an “author, date” system where the author of a source is listed in parentheses followed by the year of publication. Here are a few things you need to know about composing a great one:

What Are You Trying to Accomplish?

Before you get started with your dissertation proposal draft you should ask yourself what it is you are trying to accomplish with your research and written work. Think of all the reasons you have for having chosen this particular topic, always keeping in mind that the purpose of this document is to get approval from your graduate advisor. Take your list of reasons and keep alongside of you as you start your draft.

Your Proposal is Not an Essay

Remember, that you won’t be writing an in-depth essay on your chosen topic. If you are referencing another work you shouldn’t include long blocks of quotes. It’s best if you paraphrase someone else’s idea and follow the Harvard style as explained above. Your proposal shouldn’t be more than 10 – 15 pages long, but check before you get started since this number varies from discipline to discipline.

Know the Formatting Requirements

Your discipline will also determine the type of format your dissertation proposal should follow. Be sure that everything you submit adheres to the proper requirements. Check with your department for these requirements, or try to get some samples from published and approved works. If you are still in doubt ask your advisor for some assistance. You will be spending the greater part of a year working with your advisor so it’s a good idea you two become familiar with one another.

Have Your Work Peer Reviewed

Lastly, if you want to be certain that you’ve used the Harvard style appropriately in your dissertation proposal, you can always have it reviewed by your peers and friends. Remember that your course work is not a competition. You should work with one another to work through a lot of the details that could make or break your document’s approval. Sit down in a group and give each other feedback. This exercise is sure to go a long way in improving your chances for success.


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