ow to Write a Project Proposal Research proposals are a way to ground your early research on your project and a way to share that information with your professor. For this class, your proposal will consist of the sections outlined below, with each section addressing the specific question. Think of this as a conversation starter with your professor as a way to hold yourself accountable to the process of conducting significant, academic research on a topic. You will not be held word for word to your ideas in your proposal, but you also don’t want to change your topic completely without first contacting me. Also, look at the student sample proposal to get an idea of the tone and content. Tentative Thesis: As you begin your research, it is important that you start with your own argument or opinion on the topic. The research you eventually use will support your opinion and not replace your ideas. In high school you might have just regurgitated other people’s ideas, but now you are using existing research to see if you can prove or support your own argument on a topic. What is your position, why do you think that way, and who disagrees with you? Follow the example of the Seven Step Thesis Formula to come up with this. My Credentials: In academic (or really any argumentative writing) your audience always begins with the simple question: Why should I listen to you? In this section, provide your connection or relationship to the problem. A student writing about capital punishment is not going to have much credibilty, but a student who’s uncle was on death row and later released becasue of a mistrial will have a lot more credibility. The audience is more likely to listen to the second student over the first. The logic and strenght of argument has to be strong no matter your connection, but you do a lot to help your case by letting your reader know why you are (becoming) an expert on this topic. My Audience: Since most research is done to rectify a problem, to whom are you writing? Who is already involved that would benefit from your argument, or whom can you enlist to help eventually come up with a solution? In this way, a “general” audience of say everyone in St. Louis, is too broad. The more focused your audience, the more clear will be the choices you have to make as a writer to appeal to your reader. For example, the facts, stats, and expert opinions you include in your argument about the legalization of marijuana won’t change necessarily depending on your audience, but the way you present them will be different between an audience of senior citizens vs. an audience of young recreational users. Research Question: What is the specific question you are trying to prove? This is the controlling question, or at least the starting question that you take with you into the databases. Simply searching on “What is segregation in St. Louis” is going to give you way too many results. The more focused you can be with your initial database search, the better (and quicker) your results. A better question here might be, “What is the effect of segregated busing having on poverty rates in predominantly white suburbs in St. Louis?” You can check the Purdue OWL or Meramec’s College Writing Center for more information on writing research questions. Research Plan/Sources: What is your initial plan to answer your research question? Not only what sources will you go to, but to whom will you seek assistance? A friend who works in the industry you are researching? A research librarian? Books? Journal articles? Your sociology professor? Etc.