Developing Your Dissertation Research Plan

The goal of the research plan is to give others a 10,000-foot view of why you are doing the study and how you are going to conduct the study.  Many universities no longer require a research plan and often opt for a prospectus or concept paper. However, in the case that your school requests a research plan, here is what you need to know.


Essentially, the research plan is an abbreviated version of the introduction, literature to explain the contribution to research and how your study advances the scientific knowledge base, and methodology. In an introduction, the researcher will state the purpose of the study and how the study examines the research problem. They will also describe the significance of the study, which should explain why this study is important. The study’s research questions, which sit at the heart of what the study seeks to examine, are also introduced here. The introduction also identifies the theoretical framework and any definitions used in the study.

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Aligning theoretical framework, gathering articles, synthesizing gaps, articulating a clear methodology and data plan, and writing about the theoretical and practical implications of your research are part of our comprehensive dissertation editing services.

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Literature is cited to explain why this study is relevant and how it differs from other studies. In this piece, information is also provided to inform on how answers to the research questions will influence the field of study and what the practical implications of the predicted findings might be. The major theories that serve as the backbone of the study should also be identified. The research plan should provide insight around how the research refines or adds to an existing theory.

Methodological Components

Additionally, the research plan addresses the approach of the study. This includes whether the study approach is quantitative, qualitative, or mixed, the research design, the methodological model, and the rationale of the study.

Now, the methodology aspect of the research plan, in both quantitative and qualitative studies, describes the population, sampling procedure, as well as the sample and its size. Furthermore, the methodology describes the constructs and variables in the study, as well as outlines the instruments and procedures of the study. In qualitative studies, the role of the researcher and issues of trustworthiness are included. In both types of studies, the data analysis plan is presented, as is the types of data to be collected.

How We Assist

When providing guidance on your research plan, our mentors will make suggestions to you to improve the manuscript in the areas of organization, structure, and style. We will also review the document for continuity and edit the following sections of your draft:

  • Topic Endorsement
    • Research topic
    • Research findings gap
  • Research Overview
    • Research problem background
    • Research questions
    • Purpose of the study
    • Research methodology and basic design overview
    • Ethical considerations
  • Research Data
    • Constructs
    • Variables
    • Operational definitions
    • Measures/instruments
    • Research hypotheses
    • Dissertation title
  • Research Theory
    • Theoretical foundations
    • Contributions to theory
    • Theoretical implications
    • Practical implications
  • Research Methodology
    • Research design
    • Population and sample
    • Type(s) of data
    • Data collection-sampling procedures
    • Data collection procedures
    • Data analyses
    • Expected findings

This breakdown also provides an effective outline to work from when drafting your research plan for approval. If this sounds like the help you need, please do not hesitate to give us a call, shoot us an email, or schedule a free consultation with Jeanine, our consulting specialist, at any time. We love nothing more than using our decades of experience to help dissertation students get the results we know they are capable of!

Additional Resources for Drafting a Research Plan

Blogs: The Capella Research Plan and Your Literature Review, Dissertation Timeline | Section 2-Research Plan/SMR

Capella’s Guidelines for the Research Plan and Scientific Merit Approval