Research proposal

Now that we have focused on questions of American identity and inclusiveness through America is in the Heart, it is time for you to develop an individual research project that you will focus on for the remainder of the semester. You are free to choose your topic, but it must clearly relate to the course theme, “Rereading America.” Below are several (though by no means all!) categories of research topics to help you get started:

  • Family/Parenting
  • Education
  • Technology
  • Politics
  • Race
  • Class
  • Gender/Sexuality
  • Culture
    We will be using your research proposal during this semester to help you stay focused as you work on your research that will culminate in your final paper. Proposals often have a funnel shape and a “movement” that goes from very broad to very focused. The proposal should go from a very broad range of ideas to a much more specific, single research idea at the end.
    Beginning of Proposal (Broad ideas)

End of Proposal (focused topic)
The proposal should be made up of 4 paragraphs and be roughly 2 pages in length. The paragraph breakdown should be as follows:
1) Introduce your topic. Your first paragraph provides some basic background to your topic and establishes some context. The key here is to be brief! You are not writing an informational paper. Focus your introduction on the straightforward journalistic questions: who, what, where, why, and how.

(see back!)
2) Raise your specific research focus. Now you can start moving to the more focused area that motivates your research. What do you intend to find out or look into? The argument doesn’t come until the last paper, so do not take a stand in this paragraph, only offer to explore the various aspects of the topic but less broadly than taking up too large a topic than cannot be covered in a 6-7 page paper. This paragraph should be narrower that your previous paragraph. For instance, if your first paragraph introduced the “immigrant rights in America” your second paragraph might discuss “the history and debates over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.”

3) Discuss why research is significant. Why is this research important? You bring yourself into the third paragraph bit, explaining what attracted you this topic to begin with. The more you have a sense of what your research will accomplish, the clearer your focus will be. Do you want to contribute to our historical understanding of a topic? Do you wish to make an argument about an ongoing debate? Do you want to analyze your topic through a cultural form (movie, book, musical trend, etc.)?

4) Specify the type of sources and information you want to find. In your last paragraph, describe what kind of information you hope to find. Do you need historical background? Different viewpoints on your topic? Data or statistics? Imagine what type of sources will best help you find this information. Biographies? Debates about your topic?

Sample Solution