Prospectus – Purpose?

What’s in a prospectus? Title page, problem statement, significance, background, framework, research questions, nature of the study, possible types and sources of information, and references. [Be sure to familiarize yourself with the entire dissertation process by visiting Walden PhD Process Dissertation and Document’s page.]

While the length of the prospectus is not that impressive, the amount of work that goes into writing one is. By the time you are ready to write your first prospectus draft you should have extensively already read articles on (and around) your topic from the past three years as well as have a strong sense of the historical foundations on which you are building the study.

The purpose of the prospectus is that you must convince your committee chair that your study is:

  • unique (fills a gap because its never been studied before)
  • worthy (important enough to be studied)
  • important (someone will benefit from the results of your study; potential for social change)
  • innovative (new in some way)
  • doable (you’ve asked a good question and have a way to answer it)
  • connected (all parts are logically related and interwoven)

Ironically enough, the order in which each section should be appear in the final draft it is not the order you should write them!

If you know your study will be qualitative, I suggest you use the Maxwell book to help you organize your thinking regarding your study. He offers great brainstorming and concept maps that will help you pull together your ideas. In another post, I share steps of how to use Maxwell’s book for your pre-thinking.  These would be perfect for adding to your Quarter Goal and task sheet.

For even more background on the history and purpose of the Walden prospectus, read Dr. Stadtlanter’s post titled Prospectus Beginnings and Prospectus, How do I start?

~Dr. Darci

Disclaimer: This post is for Dr. Darci’s mentees, but should only be seen as a supplement to the Walden annotated outline found in the Dissertation Prospectus pdf file along with the Prospectus Rubric on the PhD Dissertation Program Webpage


6 thoughts on “Prospectus – Purpose?

  1. Tracey Bennett says:

    I am feeling rather famous now Dr. Darci…LOL. Thank you for taking the time to create this blog for us.

    • Ah….you saw that I linked to your blog? Every once in a while, go check your stats….see how many people read your post on defining innovation! ~Dr. Darci

  2. Dr. Darci:
    Thank you for inviting me to join this blog. I really thought that the Prospectus was going to be a piece of cake! My mind still whirls around with “be academic, find a purpose, prove your point. narrow it down, gather enough information, be confident, make it interesting, follow the guidelines, be innovative, and on and on”. There are all different perspectives surrounding the Prospectus and the Dissertation process. Personally, I am not afraid to make a mistake or better yet, not finish my dissertation as quickly as other student may. The biggest challenge for me is just not to settle for less. During the journey to becoming a PhD, I do not want to lose myself in the process. Yes, I want to follow the guidelines, and write academically. However, I also want to be passionate about what I write and study, so I can make a difference and stand together with the others who are also making a difference in whatever area they decide to write about. To think, to feel, to believe, and not settling for less are my biggest challenges. Well, really putting it all together is the biggest challenge of all!

    Great blog and along the way, I am sure that I will learn a lot from others.


    • Thanks Susan C. So great to have you post here! However, since you’re not one of my mentees, if anything I say contradicts what your own mentor is saying, you always go with your mentor’s advice, not mine! 🙂

      • Dr. Darci:
        I am well aware that I am not one of your mentees, I would never go on anyone advice except the mentor that I am assigned to. I thought that it would be okay to post, as I love to share and also receive the valuable information from your mentees. I am aware of my responsibilities.

        Susan C

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