WRITING A PROJECT PROPOSAL

Research and capstone projects usually proceed through the following stages: 1) definition of problem / question; 2) a literature search of what has already been done in the area; 3) design of experiments to address the problem or question (i.e. synthesize the necessary compounds, understand the physical phenomenon, calculate the physical quantities, etc.); 4) execution of these experiments; and 5) analysis and presentation of results in a meaningful way. Completion of the first three steps in this process culminates in a written proposal. Writing a proposal will help you clarify your project and will give you a valuable head start on your final report at the end of the project. Your proposal will be read by a faculty member who is not familiar with your research area. For this reason, your proposal must be written in such a way that an intelligent reader who is not familiar with your field can still understand the problem or question you are proposing to address, the significance of this work in a larger context and your proposed plan of action. Proposal Contents Your proposal should include the following information:

Abstract: This is an executive summary of your basic question and your project design. Typically researchers write the abstract after they have finished writing the rest of the proposal but it is included on the first page of the proposal. Problem/Question to be Addressed and Significance: What is the specific question that you will explore in your work and why this is an interesting and important question? Resist the temptation to pick an overly broad question. Given the time available for research, you are not going to answer the question, “What causes cancer” but you might be able to answer “Does exposure to low levels of a certain compound lead to certain types of tumors in mice.” In thinking about the significance, try to take the position of an average newspaper reader; if he or she were to see an article about your research in the paper, how would you explain why this is an interesting project? Background Information: What is already known about the general area of your project. How much of this is well accepted by the scientific community and how much remains controversial. Are there two or more competing explanations for a particular phenomenon? This is where the library searching skills are invaluable. It has been said that a day in the library can save a month in the laboratory. Preparatory Work Completed: Describe any work you have done to increase the chances of success in your proposed research. Perhaps you’ve taken some particularly relevant coursework or done a key experiment and obtained promising results. Project Design and Feasibility: How will you go about exploring your research question? What will be your experimental methods and how do these differ from what has been tried previously? Are there contingency plans to fall back on if one or more of your experimental methods does not work? More often than not, the initial approach must be modified or turns out not to work at all. Think about a timetable; must one part of the project be completed before another can begin?

context and scope of the project.chemistry. For example.usna. Consider ways to save money.edu/mid_res_prop_form_2.pdf Example An example of a student proposal in chemistry is available at the following website: Example Proposal . Budgets Please consider your budget carefully. Nevertheless. Format A format for the proposal is given in ACDEANINST 1531.79 and is available at the following website: http://www. The proposal should indicate that your project is both a learning experience for you and that it may contribute new knowledge to your field. Include a listing of total cost by category for all the items you propose to purchase (or at least your best estimate). Large expense items should be explained either in the body of your proposal or in a budget narrative included in your budget. presentation of results at undergraduate science symposia (National and local ACS meetings. National Conference of Undergraduate Research) is encouraged. is that software available elsewhere in the Academy? Material and supply requests will take priority over travel requests. Book purchases are approved only if you can show it is impossible to get what you need from a library or via interlibrary loan. if you need a piece of software. Eastern Colleges Science Symposium.• Presentation and Dissemination of Results: What form will your final report take? How will you share the results of your project? The effectiveness of your proposal will depend on your ability to explain the nature.

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