Writing Project 1: Research Proposal
Due Friday, March 18
By the end of this writing project, you will be able to:
Identify a significant question, topic, or issue appropriate for a research project
Develop an initial research question to inquire into the proposed issue
Propose and justify a research plan to address the research question and locate relevant sources
Summarize and paraphrase background information sources
Apply standard genre
conventions for a research plan including structure, design, formatting,
language usage, citations, and mechanics
Audience: Your English 102 instructor
Genre: A research project proposal
Conventions: 700-1000 words with MLA citation conventions for in-text citations and a works cited page
Due: Friday, March 18
past few weeks, we have focused on strengthening up some basic
composition and research skills, as well as facilitating some research
“habits of mind” in our reading practice. We have found and cited
numerous sources (both popular and scholarly) as well as integrated
those sources into essays which feature original thought by way of
taking a position and stating a thesis. In addition, over the past few
weeks we have investigated several ideas
of both common and academic interest, and these ideas have been broad
in nature. In this research proposal, you will choose a major idea and
focus it down into a particular topic and issue of personal interest for
further research. The topic you submit for this research proposal will
be the topic that you will write a final research paper on by the end
of the semester.
How to Go about It:
proposal is almost always the first step in any research project. Take
the next two weeks and think about some different ideas and topics. You
do not need to choose an idea that we have already covered in the
course, though I would encourage you to do so since you have already
spent some time thinking about these ideas to some degree. However, you
may choose any idea from the Adler book (here is the table of contents
Download (here is the table of contents
) or any idea found on the Dictionary of the History of Ideas website. There are four volumes to the Dictionary, and the following links will take you to the contents of each volume: Contents 1 (Links to an external site.), Contents 2 (Links to an external site.), Contents 3 (Links to an external site.), Contents 4 (Links to an external site.)
Once you have chosen
an idea, focus it down and relate it to a topic that you are genuinely
interested in finding out more about. If you want, you may revise a
journal that you have already submitted and develop it for this research
There are a number of
ways you can focus a big idea down to a specific topic or issue suitable
for a research project. This is one part of the research process that
many struggle with, but it should actually be fairly easy to do. After
all, you know your own interests and you can stick to topics you are
already interested in and want to know more about. On the other hand,
you could choose a topic that you do not know much about but have always
been curious about.
A resource at our library at GBC might help you to identify a topic. It is called Issues and Controversies (Links to an external site.).
You do not need to use this source at all, and I am only linking to it
here because it does a pretty good job of identifying, at least on a
basic level, the “conversation” going on around some prominent issues
today. Wikipedia can, of course, be a fine starting point too. In any
case, relating a great idea to a contemporary issue should be fairly
straightforward. I just went in and typed “cyberattack” into the search
bar in the Issues and Controversies page and was taken to this page on Cybersecurity (Links to an external site.). As I read through it, it became clear that I could easily relate this issue to the idea of freedom we looked at last week.
the other hand, a good way to develop a topic would be to just continue
doing what we have already been doing. Choose an idea that you are
interested in from the Adler source or the Dictionary and then
do some research on it. After you have found a few sources, use them to
help you to identify a topic–then, draft a research question and a
tentative thesis which answers your research question.
You do not need to write on a contemporary issue if you do not want
to. A historical topic would be an excellent way to develop a research
project (and who knows where it would lead!). Given what I wrote last
week on freedom and Frederick Douglass, if I were writing a paper along
with you this semester I would probably choose a topic that has to do
with this. I was surprised to find out that Frederick Douglass was the
most photographed American of the 19th century (more than Abe
Lincoln??), and when I looked at the Wikipedia page, I found out another
thing I had not been aware of. Apparently Douglass played a role in
Ireland and helped the Irish people to gain their freedom too! I could
draft a research question on one of these topics…
What to Include in the Research Proposal
Your research proposal
should be between 700-1000 words with MLA citation conventions for
in-text citations and a works cited page. It should address the
questions below. It might be helpful to think of the bullet points as
paragraphs (though you could condense a few of them into one paragraph,
What topic do you
plan to research for the semester? What do you want to learn more about
this topic? Why do you want to research this topic?
What research question will you ask and investigate about your topic?
What do you already know about this topic? What do you need to know more about this topic?
Who else is interested in this topic?
What are the various perspectives on this topic (i.e. the conversation)?
Why is this topic significant to you and to larger audiences?
What are relevant,
credible sources that address your topic? (you might need to do a quick
search for scholarly and academic sources on the topic).
How will you
investigate your research question? Where will you look for information
about it? What kind of search strategies will you use? what kinds of
sources would you like to find?
Your research proposal will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
Rhetorical choices- Does the research proposal effectively fulfill its purpose and appeal to the audience?
Content choices- Does the research proposal present an overview of a significant topic and the research process to investigate the topic?
Genre choices- Does the research proposal effectively apply genre conventions?
Structural choices- Does the research proposal follow a logical arrangement?
Linguistic choices- Does the research proposal use effective language for the genre and rhetorical situation?
Writing Project 1: Research Proposal