Developing the Proposal: Step by Step
What do I need to find?
- You need wider studies introducing the topic, since you will need to provide a context for the work you plan to do.
- You will need more specific studies describing the narrower, more specific study you will be carrying out.
- You will need background information on any institute, university, or other site you will be attending.
Where do I look?
- Do a library search (books, articles) on the background of the topic, including the topic's history.
- Search in the Encyclopedia Britannica or the Encyclopedia Americana for more information on the topic. These encyclopedias are available electronically through the Thompson Library website.
- Do a more specialized search concerning specifics of the project.
- Use the interlibrary loan service if we do not have the full text version of any of the articles you need.
- Enlist the help of a reference librarian, or ask your advisor, or the off-campus advisor for further information on specialized references. Professors sometimes have collections of essays that they may be willing to send to you electronically.
- Ask the off-campus advisor for additional materials, bibliographies, and articles he or she has written. Be sure this material is not available through interlibrary loan or electronically before you do so.
- If your off-campus study is taking place in a laboratory or research institute, request a copy of the grant proposal, which the professor submitted to fund the research. The grant proposal generally contains a clear description of the project and the background research. Assure the professor that this material will be kept confidential and will not be published.
- Develop a key word list, drawn from research articles you have found, and systematically search all variations of key words and phrases. Keep a record of your searches to avoid duplication.
- For information concerning internships and study abroad programs, go to the program's website and use the information as a basis for your description of the program or internship. You should also research the university and department where you plan to work for inclusion in your proposal.
INITIAL DRAFTS OF THE PAPER
- Write notes and summaries of your research sources. Use quotations from the sources if this is considered appropriate for your discipline. (History and English, for example)
- Set up a tentative outline based on the required format of the proposal. Base the outline on the model proposals.
- Set up weekly or bi-weekly meetings to consult with your advisor on a regular basis concerning the best way to present your topic.
- Discuss any necessary modifications of the proposal format outlined below.
- Develop a rough draft of your proposal, and present it to your advisor for comments. At this point, you should also present a draft to the Honors Director.
- Your audience consists of professors from many different disciplines.
- Because they do not share the expertise and specialization of your advisor, you must explain the topic simply and clearly to an intelligent and educated reader who is not a specialist in the field.
- In some fields, there may be parts of the proposal understandable only to a specialist. We depend on your advisor to make sure this material is correct.
WRITING THE FINAL DRAFT
The following information should appear at the top, left hand corner of the first page of your written proposal.
- Your Name
- Your UM-Flint Advisor/Mentor
- Your Off-campus Destination
- The Off-campus Institute/University
- The Off-Campus Advisor/Head of Institute or Program
- Good Title of Topic
2. Running Header
Upper right hand corner of each page should have your last name and the page number.
This is the first paragraph of your proposal. It provides the following:
- Dates of your departure and return
- Your destination, including the city, the country (if studying in a foreign country)
- The name of the university, institute, or language school
- A brief mention of the professor's name and the department where he or she works (if applicable).
- A very brief summary description of the project (2-3 sentences maximum).
- See samples.
4. Overview of the Internship, Study Abroad trip, Summer School, Language School
If you are participating in a study abroad program, rather than doing research with a professor, or group of professors, at a university research institute, at least two pages of your proposal will focus on the program itself before you introduce the research topic of your choice.
- Describe the school, its location, its advantages (from the program sponsored website).
- Provide a brief overview of courses available to you if this is a summer school or language program.
- For a study abroad program, provide an itinerary indicating places you will visit and any special activities planned as part of the program. The trip leader will provide this information to you.
- Provide a brief description of the target country for the study abroad program, especially if it is an unfamiliar country for you.
- Be sure to change the wording of any material you find on the website, or any material provided to you in hand-outs, to avoid plagiarism.
- For internships in places of business or hospitals, describe the site, place of business, or institute, and explain what area you will be working in and the role you will be playing. If you do not know the area, describe several possible areas of focus.
5. Background for Research at another University Campus
This provides the wider context, or area of research for the specific work you will be carrying out. You should
- Discuss the history of research on your topic.
- Include subheadings, such as Definitions and History, in this section.
- For internships and study abroad, you will use this section of your proposal to describe the program and the courses as well as the itinerary as applicable.
6. Overview of Previous Research (Literature Review)
This section gives documented summaries of previous research, or previous discussions of the topic in order to show where the research stands at this point.
- You need to provide a backdrop, or background for the actual project you will be carrying out.
- This section is like a research paper outlining the history of older and more recent research on the topic.
- You must document your sources carefully according to the codes required by your discipline.
7. Discussion of the Project
This section gives a detailed discussion of the research you will be undertaking at another university, or the thesis topic you have chosen for your research.
- If you are working in a lab, or conducting research, you will need to give a detailed account of the research methods, showing how the research will be carried out, and telling what methods and techniques you will be using to carry out the research. You may need to contact the off-campus advisor for specialized information.
- For a research project associated with an internship or study abroad program, you will need to provide an outline in sentence form of your proposed topic, so that your reader will see that you have done serious research for your proposal. This does not need to be a finished paper, since the direction of your research may change as you develop your thesis.
8. My Role
Tell as precisely as possible the role you will play as assistant, or as helper with the project at another university.
- Omit this section if you are undertaking a study abroad program, attending a conference, or doing an internship. Your role will have been described in the section outlining the program itself. (See Section Four above.)
The conclusion will state tentatively what you plan to accomplish after your return.
- Indicate that you will be writing a thesis, either on the topic you have chosen or on the research you have completed off-campus.
- Indicate that you plan to present your research at conferences such as the Michigan Academy and other professional venues in your discipline as applicable.
Use the documentation method appropriate to your discipline. See information on providing sources for your honors thesis. (You will use the same format for the bibliographies for your off-campus proposal and your honors thesis.) Choose the name appropriate to your discipline for this list of references:
- Works Cited
- Start a new page at the end of your proposal by entering a page break.
- The title (Works Cited, References, Bibliography, et cetera) should be centered at the top of the new page.
- Alphabetical order by author or by first word of title (if there is no author).
- Hanging indent. First line of entry flush with margin, subsequent lines indented. (Use CTRL-T with Microsoft Word. Do not use SHIFT-ENTER!)