While I found the process stressful at the time, I am so happy that we wrote a draft proposal this spring!Not only was it a good exercise in the writing style necessary for our official proposal next fall, but it also taught me about my own project.
I sat down to write this paper, and realized I knew nothing and doubted I could even write it. But, of course, I had to write it, so I had to try. Needing to organize my thoughts into one coherent manuscript baldly pointed out my weakest points. In my case, I believe, my argument is quite weak and I’m not sure it’s actually what I want to argue. Yet this same exercise also helped to show me the way forward. By distilling my thoughts down, I now know moving forward where my areas of research need to focus, and what I need to strengthen.
Likewise, it raised a cautionary flag to me about my scope. Is this really a project that I can undertake? Is my argument trying to argue too much? Perhaps, I have come to think. But, as I move forward with my primary research, I am hopeful that I will be able to strengthen and condense my argument. This would eliminate the thousand different directions I present it in my draft proposal, and would help my overall project.
For my next proposal, I plan to have (as stated above) a firmer argument. I also plan to have a better handle on overall chapter organization. I think this area was also a weakness, fueled by a weak argument that failed to provide the necessary foundation for a sensible outline. And, of course, my next proposal won’t be written next fall. It will be this proposal, rethought and redrafted, before going into summer research. While a shifting focus statement can help organize research and thought, I think this will help to better organize my overall project.
6 Responses to Writing a Thesis Proposal: A Reflection
I see where your concern about “is the project manageable” comes from, and I’ll try to go back to my comments on the draft to make sure I specifically tried to address it.
I personally think it is okay that your argument is not quite where it should be yet. The good thing about writing drafts and reworking your thoughts and ideas is that you will have the opportunity to change your argument multiple times until you unearth precisely what you are trying to prove. It may sound a bit daunting now but I think you will quickly discover how effortlessly you can mold your argument and shape it into exactly what you want.
I know with my proposal I felt as if I was questioning everything I had put together up to this point. At first I was worried about this but then I realized that the project is a work in progress and one I expect to change and adapt over the coming months. I suspect your project will change into a more manageable one as you work more on it. I think you will find ways to focus your research and define a suitable argument as you advance your work. Writing the proposal made me realize where my work was the weakest, but it also showed me the strengths of my project. I had many of your same questions and unfortunately it will take time and research to answer many of them.
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