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Dissertation/Prospectus Assignment

Framework (Conceptual or Theoretical)

In one paragraph, describe the framework that demonstrates an understanding of the theories and concepts relevant to your topic. Align the framework with the problem, purpose, research questions, and background of your study. This theoretical or conceptual framework is

Dissertation Prospectus Guide Page 5

the basis for understanding, designing, and analyzing ways to investigate your research problem (data collection and analysis). Provide the original scholarly literature on the theory or concepts even if it is more than 5 years old. Please do not cite secondary sources.

Research Question(s) and Hypotheses (if applicable)

List the question or a series of related questions that are informed by the study purpose, which will lead to the development of what needs to be done in this study and how it will be accomplished. A research question informs the research design by providing a foundation for

  • generation of hypotheses in quantitative studies,
  • questions necessary to build the design structure for qualitative studies, and
  • a process by which different methods will work together in mixed-methods studies. Nature of the Study Provide a concise paragraph that (a) presents the approach that will be used to address the research question(s) and (b) discusses how this approach aligns with the problem statement. The examples of study design are as follows:
  • Quantitative—for experimental, quasiexperimental, or nonexperimental designs; treatment-control; repeated measures; causal-comparative; single-subject; predictive studies; or other quantitative approaches
  • Other—for another design, to be specified with a justification provided for its use Possible Types and Sources of Data Secondary data include public or existing data that are collected by others. Primary data are collected by the researcher. Provide a list of possible types and sources of data that could be used to address the proposed research question(s), such as test scores from college students, employee surveys, observations of a phenomenon, interviews with practitioners, historical documents from state records, de-identified medical records, or information from a federal database.


For secondary, or preexisting data, identify the data source, how the data will be accessed, and the data points that will be used to address the research questions. For primary data, explain the data points, how the data will be obtained, and potential participants who will be accessed to address the research questions.

Possible secondary data sources, by program, are available on the Center for Research Quality website. Sources of information that support and clarify the problem belong in the Background section. If you are thinking about collecting data on a sensitive topic or from a vulnerable population, an early consultation with the Institutional Review Board (IRB; during your prospectus writing process is recommended to gain ethics guidance that you can

Dissertation Prospectus

incorporate into your subsequent proposal drafts and research planning. Find more information on the IRB Guides and FAQs page.

Limitations, Challenges, and/or Barriers

Provide information on limitations, challenges, and/or barriers that may need to be addressed when conducting this study. These may include access to participants, access to data, separation of roles (researcher versus employee), instrumentation fees, etc.


Last Updated on April 2, 2019

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