30 September 2014

UPDATE: 30 SEP 2014

Your next major writing assignment--which will be due on Thursday, 16 October--is the Research Proposal. It will be worth 15 points.

Your proposal will be composed collaboratively with your group members. Your groups will be formed based upon the selections you make in your Professional Emails (due today between 7am-7pm). During the course of the next few weeks, then, you will meet with your team members, decide upon a topic, and conduct your initial research. Below are the general guidelines for the Research Proposal:



The research proposal is designed to orient you to your research focus by asking you to articulate a topic for investigation; it also introduces you to the genre of proposal writing and establishes the relationship between sophisticated use of sources and strong research writing. As Envision mentions in chapter four, the research proposal “provides a…formal structure for developing a project” and acts as a “means of organizing your thoughts in order to help you solidify your topic and move into the next stages of research” (113). [I will upload the excerpt from Envision sometime during the next few days.] The specific information found in a research proposal will be outlined for you in the “Content and Process” section below.


While the topic you select for this semester will be related to "Science and Society," the specific trajectory of your project is up to your group to determine collaboratively. Ultimately, though, choose a topic that interests or appeals to you in some way.


The foundation of research and writing is discovery, so you should not worry about whether or not your proposal will address exactly what you end up writing about in your subsequent projects; rather, choose an "umbrella" topic that will be broad enough for your group to explore and write about in various permutations over the course of the entire semester.

The proposal, though, is a type of promise (to yourself, your peers, and your instructor) that will guide you through the research process and the development of a research-based argument. In all likelihood, as you conduct your research, your topic will modify in some way. This is perfectly acceptable and, in fact, normal.

A wide variety of disciplines and professions use proposals as a means of developing agendas for research communities, securing funding for studies, publicizing plans for inquiry and field research, and testing the interest of potential audience in a given project. Therefore, the genre, organization, and contents of the research proposal differ in many important ways from other kinds of popular and academic writing (which will be discussed in the “Content and Process” section). In the proposal, you need to explain your interest in your chosen subject and establish a set of questions to guide your inquiry. You also need to create a timeline for your research and writing process, as it is crucial to time management and helping to shape the scope and range of your research.


This assignment asks you to try out real-world standards for the length, format, and content of a research proposal, which will prepare you for future academic and professional projects. Your research proposal will be a 7-8 page document that outlines your research ideas. The proposal should be double spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, spell-checked and proofread. As this is both a formal project and a graded assignment, make sure that your proposal is more polished than a stream-of-consciousness free-write.


1. First, come up with an intriguing title for your research proposal that articulates a spirit of inquiry and engages your audience’s (i.e. your peers and professors) interest.

2. An introduction that clearly states and describes your topic, outlines your purpose, and identifies the conversation you have entered. You should develop a working thesis; this tentative statement will help you navigate sources more effectively and assist with time management and navigation of resources. But remember: be prepared to change your thesis as often as an honest interpretation of the data demands.

3. Provide background on your topic and what you know so far. Acknowledging how little you know can be an effective rhetorical move, for it demonstrates your need to conduct research. Of course, you should conduct preliminary research that you will incorporate and properly site in this section. Therefore, please integrate 3-4 reputable and relevant sources in your research proposal.

4. Identify a series of research questions that will inform your project and explain them in your proposal. While you, no doubt, will pose some general questions, make sure that you develop a series of specific and relevant (thus helpful) questions in order to guide and focus your next stage of research.

5. Outline your methods of research. What library tools and facilities will you use? What primary and secondary sources do you have in mind? Will you conduct interviews with experts on campus or in the community? What about field research with various communities or populations involve with your subject matter? Be as specific as possible, providing the names of key sources, potential interviewees, and your rationale for why these methods will serve your needs. For example, don’t just write “I will use the library databases”; instead, state what databases you plan to use and list some possible Boolean searches you will conduct. Identifying sources you found helpful during the initial stages of your research and explain why you found them useful. List some possible experts that you think would be amenable to interviews.

6. Set up a time line for your research. You can use the syllabus to help you in this endeavor; be sure to identify the steps of the process. This aspect is the one common denominator in all research proposals, no matter what the disciplinary or professional field. Again, though, be as specific as possible: you will need to do more than simply copy-and-paste assignment deadlines; what research activities will you engage in on a weekly basis?

7. Determine and articulate the purpose or goal of this research: Why are you researching this particular topic? Why do you feel compelled to study this topic further? Whom do you hope to persuade? What is the significance of this work? This last aspect is the most crucial one, and it often makes or breaks the decision of a governing board, financial establishment, or other evaluative audience when judging various proposals of their merit, feasibility, and contribution to the field. You might decide to use this aspect for your conclusion.

8. Create a working bibliography that lists sources you have collected so far. Your working bibliography should conform to the documentation system (MLA) specified by your instructor, supervisor, or funding agency.

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