Your dissertation topic will need to be approved by your professor and also the Graduate School by submitting a topic proposal. The topic proposal is a general sketch of the dissertation – the topic, general reasoning behind the topic, as well as a potential thesis and thesis map for your Literature Review. The topic proposal must clearly link to theory, identify what problem or gap in literature your proposed topic will address, and show a connection to program goals and core courses.


Topic Approval Instructional Guide


Briefly discuss a proposed topic in your discipline. For the Proposed Topic, please present a succinct description of your dissertation research focus. Be as specific as possible and cite the current scholarship that has noted the research focus as an area of needed inquiry.

What methodology are you planning to use?

Quantitative (Quantitative research: “generally research where there is some attempt to summarize the data and/or describe the relationships found using numbers. Statistical analysis is certain to accompany such data collection” (Cramer & Laurence-Howitt, 2004, p. 133).)

Qualitative (Qualitative research is an inquiry approach useful for exploring and understanding a central phenomenon. To learn about the phenomenon, the inquirer asks participants broad general questions, collects the detailed views of participants in the form of words or images, and analyzes the information for description and themes. From this data, the researcher interprets the meaning of the information, drawing on personal reflections and past research. The final structure of the final report is flexible, and it displays the researcher’s biases and thoughts (Creswell, 2008).)

Applied (Applied research may be solely quantitative, solely qualitative, or mixed-methods research design. Aims to solve a problem by adding to the field of application of a discipline. May say how things can be changed. New knowledge limited to a problem. Data is used to solve a real-life  problem. Undertaken by people in a variety of settings including organizations and universities. Note: Adapted from (Salkind, 2010; Saunders et al. 2012, p. 12).)

What is the population you would like to address? Where will you select your sample from?

Quantitative studies should include a sample selected from a large population across multiple schools, districts, or organizations. Describe the target population for your study. This involves the representative population for the individuals you plan to recruit for the study. Include an approximate size of this target population. This can typically be found using a resource such as the U.S. BLS. Then follow with a description of the location of your recruitment site, meaning the specific organization, social media group, or site(s) where you will recruit this target population as study participants.

Note. For studies that involve no live subjects, you will describe the location from where you will gather the archival raw data for your study.

Theoretical Framework/Background

What theories covered in the program are associated with your topic? You likely reviewed many theories within your discipline across your doctoral coursework. Here, you will choose theories (1, 2, or maybe 3) that will serve as the lens to view your research focus. Consult your Professor/Chair for guidance, and then list the theory or theories that will comprise the theoretical lens for the study. Follow with a description of how and why the theory or theories are best to use as the study’s theoretical foundation.

Describe the connection of the topic to the program goals and courses.

How is your topic connected to specific goals in your program? Refer to the Graduate Catalog for your program’s goals.

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