Sunday, March 3, 2013

UPDATE: 03/03/13

For our class session on Tuesday, 05 March, please read the Russell Atkins poems on the Deep Cleveland page. Be prepared to discuss them in class.

As I mentioned in my email to you, I will be out of town at the annual AWP Conference in Boston, MA, so our class session on Thursday, 07 March will be canceled.

In preparation for our Research Proposal, though, we will discuss the assignment guidelines in Tuesday class session. The writing parameters can be found below:


DUE: 11 April 2013 (tentative)
POINTS: 20 points


I designed the research proposal 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). 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 one of the concepts or collections or poets we studied this semester, the specific trajectory of your project is up to you. Ultimately, though, choose a topic that interests you or appeals to you in some way.


The foundation of research and writing is discovery, so you should not worry about whether or not you’re your proposal will address exactly what you end up writing about in your final research essay. But the proposal is a type of promise (to yourself and to 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 4-5 pages in length outline 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’ve 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 1-2 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. 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.

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