Proposal Develoment GRC || RWJF "[T]here is too little emphasis ... on what it means to do independent research." -William Bowen and Neil Rudenstein In Pursuit of the Ph.D. 1992
Proposal Development• Developing your thesis/dissertation proposal is one of your most important moments in grad school• It also happens to be the least-institutionalized part of grad school
Proposal Development• What you’ve done to get this far: • Excel in academic programing • Follow a course list provided to you • Work though a program made for you
Proposal Development• Your Academic program has been like riding on a plane. Difficult, but the path has been prepared.
Proposal Development• From now on, you must • Develop your own research paradigm • Set your own path & schedule • Determine your own criteria for success
Proposal Development• Your proposed research is like skydiving - you are in control, and your path is (mostly) your decision
Proposal Development• And as everyone knows, the hardest part about skydiving is jumping off a moving plane
Proposal Development• Two important things to always consider on every paragraph in the proposal: • Are you staying focused on your research question? • Do you have the concerns of your committee in mind?
Proposal Development• Make sure you keep your committee informed of every decision you make regarding the proposal - and make sure you clear both the big picture and details of your proposal before you put pen to paper
Proposal Development• A good proposal has only one criteria for success - passing muster by the members of your committee
Outline• Sketch out an outline of your proposal: • Include page length estimates, content, even citations • A detailed outline can form a useful roadmap
Mechanics• What’s in a proposal? • Introduction • Problem Statement • Conceptual/Theoretical Framework • Data Collection & Analytical Methods • Significance • Timeline
Mechanics• Introduction • The easiest part - a simple statement of the field, the problem, and a hint at your research.
Problem Statement• What is the outstanding issue in your field that you seek to address?• What is missing from the status quo?
Problem Statement• In other words, you need to pass the “so what?” test - how do you capture your audience’s interest?
Conceptual/Theoretical Framework• What literature is relevant to the problem?• Have a good mix of old and new articles• Any gaps that you see in important papers?• The most important part of this section is your analysis
Conceptual/Theoretical Framework• This section does two things. • First, it establishes the context of your work • Second, it demonstrates how much you are invested in it.
Conceptual/Theoretical Framework• Make a space for your work in your field.• Put elegance over expanse - keep the discussion as succinct and focused as possible.
Data Collection Methods• Where are you getting data?• From who?• Do you have permission?• IRB?
Data Collection Methods• This section should clearly convey the raw materials you will use in your work.
Analytical Methods• Quantitative? Qualitative?• How will you assess significance?
Analytical Methods• Your methods should do two things: • Reinforce your potential contributions to the field • Set expectations for what you can deliver
Significance• What are the broader impacts of your research?• What changes?
Significance• The significance section helps demonstrate that you understand the broader impacts of your work - a critical factor in any professional researcher
Timeline•“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable” - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Proposal Development• All of these concepts are fundamentally different than anything college or primary education has prepared you for
Proposal Development • Take a moment to write down your ideal graduation schedule. Important landmarks: • Proposal Defense • Completion of Data Collection • Completion of Data Analysis • Completion of Writing“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless butplanning is indispensable” - Dwight D. Eisenhower
Proposal Development• Take a look at your schedule post-proposal - this will form the baseline for your data collection and analytical methods • Can you accomplish your desired methodological goals with the timeline you have?
Proposal Development• Every literary agent and book publisher knows that the author will always be late on turning in a manuscript after a timeline is settled upon - it is no different for Masters/Doctoral students
Proposal Development• Give your self more time than you think you’ll need when negotiating a timeline - it is better to overestimate and then overachieve than to underestimate and underachieve in the eyes of your committee
Research Design• Your proposal is code for research design • What are your hypotheses? • Will the data you gather help evaluate those hypotheses? • Will the analytical methods you use help assess the hypotheses?
Research Design• Your proposal should serve as foreshadowing of how you will write a grant proposal, or oversee a larger project.
Proposal Development• Develop an Outline• Develop a Timeline• Keep a continuous dialog with your Committee