The research proposal assignment is a two (2) page, single-spaced proposal (in professional memo format) of your research topic for the final researched report, in this case the heuristic evaluation for the CS majors, or the analytical report for other majors. In this assignment, you will try to persuade me that the website/issue you have chosen (and what you are proposing) is worth pursuing. Your Research Proposal and the Final Report are on the same topic. In the Research Proposal, you propose a topic, a focus, and a set of questions for your research. A quality research proposal memo (full professional mode, here, people) will include the following:
Work Plan (Research Proposal)
Introduction (this subheading doesn’t need to be included in your memo, because, as the first paragraph, obviously it is the introduction)
You provide clear, understandable background on the company website/corporation/group; include the purpose(s) and intended/interested audience(s) of this subject.
Work Plan (Research Proposal)
You provide a more detailed description of the problem with the website/problem and why it needs to be studied; describe your initial analysis and what you identified as potential problems that need to be studied. The problem in this case may be just to identify how the website can improve based on your future evaluation.
If you are conducting a heuristic evaluation, the proposed solution would include which three or four evaluators from Nielsen’s Ten Heuristics you will be using and why this plan of analysis is feasible. Why did you choose those evaluators? Don’t assume your reader is familiar with details of a heuristic evaluation. What testing procedures will you use? Will you have 5 friends test the site? Will you ask grandparents to try to order pizza? Why is this the best plan for your goals? If you are not a CS/IT major, you can submit a hypothesis, a hope, an suggested possible solution.
The scope explains what is going to be in “the line of sight” of your research lens, and what will NOT be observed in your sight. For example, when deciding whether to move into the “school lunch business,” Papa John’s pizza researchers might indicate that their research ONLY includes PEPPERONI or CHEESE pizza consumption by children ages 5-13, because they have already determined children do not eat sausage pizza, or they have already determined that sausage pizza is too expensive to deliver to schools.
The scope also demonstrates to your audience that you are an experienced researcher who has some sense of the job before you begin. (In real-world applications, this section is crucial, as it gives the audience a detailed sense of your approach to the research. It also details what will NOT be included in this research and report.)
Include a preliminary, BUT SPECIFIC, list of your modes of inquiry. Are you going to have others test your website so you can gather some data? For secondary research, a partial listing of publications (books, journal articles, studies) you will review is sufficient. The list should include the names of the articles/books and authors. This section must be specific to some degree as it shows me that you have conducted some research and you have a plan for accomplishing your goals.
Who will your audiences for your finished product be? (It isn’t me!) Primary, secondary, etc.
What skills do you bring to this project? In the work world, proposals are met with skepticism. If you haven’t persuaded your audience on the problem and your actions, this section is crucial to proving you are the best person for this project. Tell me why you are qualified to do this research. Reflect who you are, your major, and why you are interested in this project.
The conclusion is the final request, ending with a call to action, encouraging me, your professor and reader of this proposal, to give you my approval for this research.
*Use the headings listed above and fill in the information based on your research.
Before writing your proposal, you need some direction in your research in the form of scope questions and primary and secondary sources. After you develop scope questions, start thinking about the sources you’ll use for your inquiry. Planning ahead like this will prevent unfocused floundering, which leads to procrastination, which leads to last minute work, which leads to bad semester projects.
As you write and review your proposal, please keep in mind the proper tone for a formal report, and remember Lanham’s paramedic method of “cutting the fat.”
I will be asking these questions:
- Is the website/research idea interesting and in need of evaluation?
- Has enough preliminary research been conducted to ensure strong data is available?
- If available, is a proposed solution (or hypothesis) being offered?
- Are the research methods and limits to the project announced?
- Are solid qualifications offered?
- Is a conclusion with call to action included?
- Is the proposal professionally written and grammatically correct?
Some help to get you started:
The University of Minnesota open-source text
- Chapter 9: Business Writing (Here is the specific point for Business Proposals (Links to an external site.), although I prefer the style of the student sample research proposal. Ask me if you have questions.)
- Chapter 9….Here is the specific point regarding Reports; (Links to an external site.) however, (and again) I prefer your final Formal report to look more like this one