How To Write A Rationale For Your Dissertation: A Quick Guide

At the end of your master’s or Ph.D. program, you will be expected to demonstrate mastery in your field in the form of a dissertation. This is not a term paper similar to what you would have written as a high school student or undergraduate. You are expected to complete research based upon a topic of your choosing to contribute to the literature in your field. One of the most important parts of your dissertation is the rationale. This is the section where you explain your justification for your chosen thesis and demonstrate your knowledge in the field. Here is a quick guide on how to write a one for your dissertation.

  • Define your specific research problem:
  • Choose your research topic. In order to do this, you must be familiar with the research and literature already available in the field. You are then going to choose a specific aspect of the topic where you feel that the current research is incorrect, underdeveloped, or even non-existent. You will define your research questions to narrow down your topic and determine your hypothesis and research methods.

  • Create an outline:
  • Once you have chosen a topic and defined your thesis, your first step is to create an outline of the entire project. This will guide you through the process of research and writing and allow you to remain focused. It will also help you in structuring your rationale.

  • Begin to compose your rationale:
  • A strong rationale shows your understanding of the challenges and needs of your field as well as explaining why your research proposal is important to the field. Read samples before you begin for structure and ideas. When writing, follow these guidelines:

    • Do not explain terms related to field – Your readers will know what they mean. Make sure that you do use them correctly.
    • Describe the relevance of your dissertation to your field - This is where you will need advanced knowledge of existing literature and research, and what questions need to be answered.
    • Explain your research questions and methodology in detail, including how you will analyze data.
    • Demonstrate how your research is new and significant - Are you applying new methodologies or interpretations to existing data? Are you acquiring data about something that has not been studied before, or investigating something that has been studied but doing so in a new way?
  • Edit and review:
  • When you have finished writing, you will need to review your document for grammar, spelling, and syntax. Review what you have written for clarity and logic. It is a good idea to have your advisor or someone in your field read your rationale to see if it makes sense and supports what you are trying to prove.

    If you can create a specific and focused rationale, it will help you to keep your concentration on your hypothesis through the entire writing process. Use this quick guide to help you create one. Creating it is not just a writing exercise; keep it handy to refer to throughout your project so that you can maintain focus and proceed in a logical manner.

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