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Conflict Resolution Institute

CRI Graduate Degree

MA Thesis

Prepare a Proposal

How do I prepare a thesis proposal?

Survey the literature on your topic for answers: it is essential to study the work that exists concerning the problem you choose and on the questions you seek to address in your thesis work. Browse professional journals, starting with the most recent editions first. You will learn how to read introductory and conclusion sections to discover what has been learned. Check the references and notes to go backwards in building a base. In this search, focus on: what do different theories say that help explain the answers to your questions? What research results explains the answers to your questions? What conventional wisdom provides various answers to the problem and questions you have raised? What do most people think are the main explanations? Ask your professor what journals to canvas, books to read etc.

Summarize the Problem and the Answers: How have your questions been addressed in theories, in previous research, and in conventional beliefs? Are the answers consistent? We now know for certain that mediator effectiveness is entirely due to certain extroverted personality types. You need to refine your project to be sure to do something new. Are the answers inconsistent? We don’t know which personality types are more effective for mediator success—some research says extroverts, who are more trusting and practice principle-based strategies, others say extroverts who are less trusting and practice a combination of principle, interest, and rights-based strategies. A perfect setting for a thesis, since your project will contribute knowledge to the issue. Are the answers non-existent? We don’t know what or how personality type connects to mediator effectiveness. Another perfect setting for a thesis. It is unlikely you will uncover an entirely original problem to study. More often, your questions will fall in general categories of knowledgeable building for Conflict Resolution.

Design your Research Strategy: What needs to be done to find answers to your questions? What process can be conducted to do so? What process is practical, respectable and manageable? How will you do it? What contextual setting will you look at? Important note: If you are using human subjects, you will need to apply to the IRB (institutional review board) at the University. For current updates go to: for the application form and procedures. Various research strategies are included in this document.

Write 3-5 pages on the thesis proposal: describe the topic and problem, how it has been addressed by others, what you plan to do to study it. Discuss with your advisor, revise as needed, get final approval. Prepare the IRB application.