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Task #13: Drafting a Research Proposal


Find and be prepared to share with your instructor NO FEWER THAN 5 ACADEMIC SOURCES related to your research questions. You will show your instructor these sources IN CLASS* during the first class session following the due date listed below.

*Students who fail to show the required number of sources on this date will not be allowed to proceed in the course. In other words, it's do or die time. DO NOT miss this deadline.

Due Date:
NLT 11:59PM, Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Submit to:
BISTRO thread entitled Task #13 - Drafting a Research Proposal
500-650 words (please see below)

Writing and submitting a research proposal can be an exasperating experience for even the most experienced researcher. For the beginning researcher, it can be frustrating and discouraging and even turn the novice off of a research project. In the larger world of academics, researchers submit proposals for one of two reasons: to apply for funding or to receive institutional review and ethics approval. In this course, however, the research proposal serves a somewhat more limited purpose—one that is probably easier to accomplish than a formal proposal meant to garner funding, etc. That purpose here is “to clarify your research intentions” (for yourself, mainly) and “to persuade an audience [your instructor(s)] of the feasibility and significance of your project” (Alfano and O’Brien 124). In other words, you are drafting a proposal which serves first to help you see what you are trying to accomplish and second to help your audience see why the project is worthwhile.

In general terms, the key functions of a research proposal are:

  • To introduce the narrowed topic
  • To present a rhetorical stance that the writer will develop
  • To explain the significance of the project
  • To list several possible sources for investigation (5-8 sources at least)
  • To provide a timeline for completing the research
  • To anticipate difficulties that might arise (and propose some possible solutions to those problems)

Your task is to draft a proposal which addresses most or all of these key functions and which spells out as clearly as possible the reasons for doing the research and writing the researched argument.   In order to draft this proposal, you will want to answer some questions:

  • Background: What do I already know about my topic?  What do I need to find out more about?
  • Methods: How am I going to research this topic?  What research questions are driving my inquiry?
  • Timeline: What are my goals for the different stages of research and how can I schedule my work to most effectively meet these milestones?  (In responding to these questions, you will want to read each of the tasks for this unit and look at our course schedule because, given the “artificial” constraints of the semester timeline, we have provided you the framework for this timeline.)
  • Ultimate goal and significance: What do I hope to accomplish in my research?  What are the broader issues or implications of my research?

  Consider also that, though not required, you may want to include a visual element in the proposal or later in the researched argument depending on the focus of your research.  Another point for you to keep in mind is that you likely use some of the language of this proposal within the essay that you will ultimately write, so though this assignment is longer than most of the other tasks, the work you do for it will be quite useful later on and will have you making substantial progress in the writing of your argument.



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