All Dissertation Secrets Revealed: How to Write a Rationale for Dissertation Proposal?

writing a rationale for a dissertation

Writing a rationale for a dissertation may become a stumbling block for many researchers, even the most experienced gurus of academic writing. This happens for many reasons – for you personally, the need for a study may be self-obvious, so you may neglect sound reasoning for your research thinking that people also know the problem and will give you a go-ahead even without a thorough delineation of the research rationale.

That is a deeply wrong position; even if the need for research you are highlighting stands to reason, proper substantiation with a sufficient amount of references is a mandatory component for any academically valid, more or less serious research. Thus, the composition of a well-written, excellently organized dissertation proposal rationale is a vital step in your dissertation process that cannot be skipped.

Before Writing: Clarifying the Rationale Definition

The dissertation proposal rationale chapter is a section explaining the logical reasons and principles you employed to arrive at a certain decision. It is also a synonym of “justification of the study.”
In the most basic terms, the research rationale tells why your study is necessary. It is a line of reasoning that you offer as a researcher for explaining unanswered questions and finding the unknown solutions. Major elements of a successful rationale include:

  1. An explanation of why you chose this specific topic for study
  2. Details about why you regard it worth studying
  3. A discussion of a particular method of research and why it was selected among a variety of alternative methodologies
  4. Analysis of why your conclusion is deemed credible and realistic
  5. Strong bibliographic support for the voiced opinions and citations of literature also stating the need for such a study
  6. A brief summary of the work’s educational significance.

Thus, to make the dissertation rationale ideal, with no flaws or inconsistencies, you should treat it like a sub-proposal inside your actual proposal. Build it in such a way that it sounds persuasively and at the same time carries some speculative direction. You should tell the committee how you are planning to carry out the study if it is approached – and should think of the costs, schedule, facilities for research, involvement of assistants if necessary, etc. Focus on the primary objective of the rationale – to offer the reasons for which you should be allowed to proceed with the particular selected problem, so make it look like a set of reasons for which an in-depth investigation is needed.

Dissertation Study Rationale: Why Is It Necessary?

The key value of a well-structured and complete rationale is to stipulate the problems and needs addressed by the study. It is a vital component of the pre-proposal checklist of a researcher that has to be completed to determine whether there is generally any value and need to go on with the planned study. That checklist has acquired the name of PREP in the academic society, which is spelled in full as position, rationale, expectation, and priority. In more detail, these elements concern the following research aspects:

  • POSITION: here, you should define all baseline situations, present circumstances, and basic facts connected with your planned research.
  • RATIONALE: this aspect involves clarifying the problems, needs, and injustices existing in your intended field of study.
  • EXPECTATION: include the implications of addressing these problems here.
  • PRIORITY: this part presupposes the discussion of approaches that are most likely to lead to improvement of the current situation.

Hence, as it becomes clear from the PREP list, a rationale plays an instrumental role in the inception of any research project, and without a clear delineation of the research problems and needs, you will hardly be able to win the committee’s initial support. The latter is indeed vital for progression with a research project, since you are usually given the state or educational establishment’s funding for the project, and useless, irrelevant endeavors solving no urgent problems and addressing no pressing needs are not given any value.

How to Write a Statement of Rationale for Dissertation Proposal?

With the steps to compose a rationale brilliantly being one of the major unresolved issues (and even sleepless nights!) for many researchers in progress, we have compiled a list of first steps to make sure your rationale is good. These are most basic issues to consider in writing:

  1. Introduce an original contribution to elimination of the gap in literature or practice
  2. Show that your research will be conducted to solve a specific problem
  3. Exemplify the ways in which you will contribute to the level of your own professional development with this study

The following checklist may be very helpful on your way to making this section shine:

  • Have I shown that my study is important?
  • Have I provided enough references to credible sources saying that the problem is important?
  • For whom is my study important? Have I addressed them? Have I specified them in the section?
  • Have I properly shown the benefits my study will bring?
  • Does my rationale contain a concise discussion of value it will bring?
  • Does it show the timeliness and relevance of the proposed study?
  • Does it offer possible solutions for improvement of unsatisfactory conditions?
  • Does it enumerate possible implications of the study?

Some Expert Assistance: Helping Students Develop a Rationale for Their Dissertation Topic

We know how hard it is for you to keep in mind all details and peculiarities of each section of the dissertation. But believe us, letting it all go and writing something the way you like, with total disregard to the academic writing conventions, will never serve you a favor. Most likely, your proposal will be turned down and you will simply waste your time for writing another one. So, why not do everything properly from the first time? Follow our expert tips on composing a comprehensive and persuasive dissertation proposal rationale, and your proposal will look much more convincing:

  • First, focus on the objectives associated with conducting this particular study – what do you expect to find out? Which assumed relationships and connections do you wish to examine?
  • Underline the significance of your study subject. Show in any possible way why your subject is important, and how studying it may contribute to the general field of research?
  • Provide sufficient reasoning as to why more research is needed in the specified area, or why better, closer examination of the subject may yield aspects of knowledge not yet covered with existing studies.
  • Identify gaps in the prior research that you are planning to close; show in which way these gaps cause persistent problems and how the solution may improve the situation.
  • Be specific about the way in which you are planning to arrive at research outcomes. At least in general terms, specify the type of method you will apply, that is, whether your study will be qualitative or quantitative, correlational or descriptive, etc. Such details give much more insight to the committee and serve as sufficient evidence of the fact that you know your subject well, having a plan about not only starting, but also finishing the research.

Some additional, optional elements that you may consider including when writing a rationale for your proposal include:

  • Expected outcomes or hypothesized findings that you are expecting to arrive at upon completion of the study
  • Your personal credentials as a researcher (proving your ability and competence in this field)
  • Your personal research interest in the specified topic (showing that you dealt with research in this area already, or that you have some personal concerns associated with the study, may also contribute to a positive impression about your proposal in the committee)
  • Your expectations about the evaluation of your planned research (it is a very handy way to show the expected practical and theoretical value of the planned study).