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Writing the Formal Research Proposal

In the pre-proposal you decided on a topic of interest, completed some preliminary research, and wrote about the impact this study could have on the scientific community. You will receive feedback from the STAR coordinator within a couple of days of submitting your pre-proposal, at which time you will also schedule an equipment training session. Now is the time to turn your pre-proposal into a full, formal research proposal that will be read by STAR staff and SERC scientists. The formal proposal is in a different format from the pre-proposal and the following steps will help you create it. A. Preparing for the Formal Research Proposal: 1. Revisit and Revise your title question. Your title should reflect the specific question your study tries to answer. Because you are limited by time and schedules of the staff and equipment, it is therefore important to determine the focus of your project. While you are collecting data, you may find the opportunity to collect more data and wonder if you want to or not. Your title will help you focus on your research questions as you are working in the field or performing your analysis. 2. Find 2-5 reliable sources to provide background information in your topic of interest. You need to become familiar with your research topic. You need to do a literature search to see what the scientific community already knows or doesn’t know about a topic. One of the goals of the STAR program is to give you the opportunity to do primary research in science. Primary research means you are going to examine a new area or support new research so you need to know what’s already been published. Please note: the Internet should be the last resource you use. It can be used as a starting point to learn key terms or author’s names, but your primary source of information should be journals and books. Each level of STAR has a limit on the number of internet sources allowed. Please check your requirements page to be sure you are in compliance. Read your sources carefully and write down new ideas or facts that you find. Remember to write down the information for the citation of the source (see reference section in Blank Draft Pre-Proposal form). The information you find should also be used to develop a hypothesis for your question. What do you think the answer to your question might be? 3. Write a 2-3 paragraph summary of your background information. Organize the information you have found from your literature review and write 2-3 paragraphs that summarize the background information. Also include your hypothesis and your background information. All of your information should be cited using parenthetical citation. This means after

Student Training in Aquatic Research (STAR) Page 1 of 3 Last Updated: 7/18/2005

92% of the mortality was attributed to cannibalism from larger blue crabs (Hines 2003). These subtitles should be above each section with your text underneath. B. This section should be in paragraph form and contain smooth transitions connecting all of the information. Writing the Formal Proposal After the equipment training and receiving feedback on your 2-3 paragraphs. If you need Student Training in Aquatic Research (STAR) Page 2 of 3 Last Updated: 7/18/2005 . 4. Title The title needs to be self-explanatory. it may not be obtained for your study. and school in this section. You will need to cite information that you gathered from your literature research. The name(s) should be followed by the date of the publication in which the information appeared. relevance of the project. and research objective from your pre-proposal. The STAR coordinator will read this section and use this to gather the materials needed before your first data collection so it is very important you think your research project through. The more information you put into this section now. Submit this work to the STAR coordinator for feedback. put the name(s) of the author(s) of that information in parentheses at the end of the statement. and Literature Cited. you are ready to put your information into the proper format. The subtitles used in the preproposal and your work thus far are no longer relevant.a paraphrased statement or quote you place the author’s last name and date of publication in parentheses at the end of the statement. The five sections in the formal proposal include: Title. Methods and Materials. the equipment you will use. After stating information that needs referencing. The largest sections of your proposal will be Introduction and Methods and Materials. the less you will need to add for your final paper. It should be in the form of a question and explain what you are researching. Methods and Materials This section is meant to describe the methodology you will be using for your project. Author’s Name Please list your full name. and any prior set up work you will need to do. Introduction. It is also recommended that you have another adult who is not familiar with your project read through this section and provide comments. You need to write out in paragraph form what you hope to do during the experiment. For example: Over a 13 year study of tethered juvenile blue crabs in a subestuary of the Chesapeake Bay. If a test or a material item is not written. If you have questions or would like feedback on this section alone. please email it to the STAR coordinator. hypothesis. You should describe in detail the location(s) you will visit. the tests that you plan to run. Introduction The introduction contains the statement of the problem. before final submission. grade. It also contains the background information that you wrote before. Author’s Name.

It should be written so that anyone who reads this section knows exactly what you plan to do and where you plan to do it. All STAR students are required to have a minimum of three sources in their formal proposal. or would like to sample in a location different from SERC. Hines. Bulletin of Marine Science: 72(2): 423-433. make sure you explain that clearly in the methods and materials section.time in a special laboratory. The number of references required for this section varies for each level. A. Ecology of Juvenile and Adult Blue Crabs: Summary of Discussion of Research Themes and Directions.H. would like to build an object. 2003. Literature Cited Please list in proper citation form your references in alphabetical order by author’s last name. Student Training in Aquatic Research (STAR) Page 3 of 3 Last Updated: 7/18/2005 . Maps and diagrams can be very useful in this section.