In the Social Sciences, most dissertations are organized into four or five chapters.
However, there are many variations on the nature of these chapters, and the details are left up to the discretion of the Dissertation Committee.
Developmental or Time Series Research Design - Data are collected at certain points in time going forward.
There is an emphasis on time patterns and longitudinal growth or change.
Case and Field Research Design - Also called ethnographic research, it uses direct observation to give a complete snapshot of a case that is being studied.
It is useful when not much is known about a phenomenon. Descriptive or Survey Research Design - It attempts to describe and explain conditions of the present by using many subjects and questionnaires to fully describe a phenomenon.
In the Social Sciences, the dissertation proposal generally consists of the first three chapters (in a five-chapter format) or the first two chapters (in a four-chapter format).
Here is a generic outline for a five-chapter dissertation.
Causal Comparative or Ex Post Facto Research Design - This research design attempts to explore cause and affect relationships where causes already exist and cannot be manipulated.
It uses what already exists and looks backward to explain why.