From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Research Proposal Assignment (Skeletal and Final Versions)

On this day in Round and Square History
Research Proposal Assignment
(Skeletal Version: November 4 and 
Final Version: December 18)
HIST 190
Autumn 2018
This is it, folks—the assignment that will take you all of the way to the end of this course.

In anticipation of your final project in History 190 (a serious and complete research proposal), you will turn in a "skeletal" proposal a little bit after the midterm break. As we have discussed, learning to write effective proposals is one of the most important skills you can possess and the more experience you have with them, the more effective you will be in further academic work and the corporate or non-profit worlds. The "skeletal" proposal is not a "rough draft" or half-hearted effort. It is very serious work, in which you will show the "skeleton" or outline of your final proposal.

In order for this process to work, you must imagine that you are applying for the rough equivalent of a year long honors term—a full semester devoted to a major research project, culminating in a book-length project. Similarly, you could imagine the kind of proposal you might write for a research project such as an advanced degree thesis. In other words, you need to imagine that what you are proposing to do will be a significant amount of future work, and that you are asking for the go-ahead (and funding) to pursue that work.

The fact that you will not actually have to do every bit of that research in this class is no reason for taking the proposal less seriously (that would be a recipe for a barely-passing, or not passing, grade). In fact, you may choose to pursue this research in a future class (or even in a graduate program. Above all, however, the skills you will build in the process will stay with you for the rest of your life. If you just play at this task, or tell yourself that it isn't "real," you will fail to be ready for the next time (and it is inevitable)...when you will care about having your proposal taken seriously (Fulbright, graduate research, business funding, and so forth).

Take it seriously.

Your full proposal (due in December) will consist of six key sections, and so, too, will your skeletal proposal (due in late-October). By the last day of the semester, your polished revision (final draft) will be due. Pay close attention to the details below (and we will discuss them repeatedly in class). The word counts I have noted below are for the full proposal (due at the end of the term). Your "skeletal" proposal should amount to a solid one-third to one-half of the final length. Do not "go small" with the "skeletal" assignment. Not only will that hurt your grade, but you will also put yourself in a poor position to complete the final proposal in December.

Research Proposal Sections (Full Version, Due in December).
Check below for "Skeletal Version" page lengths (Due November 4), in the summaries below.

  1. Executive Summary (a solid overview of your project; 3-5 pages)
  2. About the Author (give a positive assessment of yourself for this project; 2-3 pages)
  3. Historiography (Literature Review;  what has been written about your topic?; 3-5 pages)
  4. Writing Sample (the draft "lead" of your final proposal; 10-15 pages)
  5. "Chapter" (or Section) Summaries (2-3 pages)
  6. Annotated Bibliography (3-5 pages)

1. Executive Summary (1,000-2,000 words; about three to five pages).
"Skeletal" version: 1-2 pages.
This is where you make the case (and argument) for your proposed research. Every section of a proposal is important, but few readers will continue beyond the executive summary if it is not compelling. Here is where you describe your proposed research and provide your approach to the topic.

 2. Author Summary (500-1000 words; about two or three pages).
"Skeletal" version: 1 page.
In this section, you must explain why you are the person who should receive approval (or funding) for your project. Imagine that it is a competitive process (it almost always is), and that you need to stand out in a pile of proposals. Why you? What do you bring to the project that will make your proposal stand out?

 3. Historiography (Literature Review) (1,000-2,000 words; about three to five pages).
"Skeletal" version: 1-2 pages.
If you have done an effective job with the first two sections, your reader is going to want the details at this point. What sources are available? Is there enough "out there" for you to do a successful piece of research? In addition to discussing actual sources, it will be necessary to show some of the ways other scholars and writers have approached your topic. In the case of Geil research, that will usually require a sense of how other historians have written about your broader topic (religious attitudes, missionaries, early anthropology, public speaking, transportation, and so forth) during the time in which Geil lived.

4. Writing Sample ("the Lead") (3,000-5,000 words; about ten to fifteen pages).
"Skeletal" version: 3-5 pages.
This is where you show the review committee (in a competitive proposal process) what you can do. If the reviewers like your proposal thus far, this is where you "seal the deal." You will write a (polished) draft lead of the kind that could be the beginning of your final research project (long after months of research have been completed). A great writing sample shows what you are capable of (all the fireworks you can bring to show your potential).

5. Chapter Summaries (500-1,000 words; about two to three pages).
"Skeletal" version: 1 page.
Sketch an outline of the rest of your book-length final project, telling where your research project would go. We will discuss this in class, but (this semester) it is not central to your work. Just give a sense of what the final project would look like.

6. Annotated Bibliography (1,000-2,000 words; about three to five pages).
"Skeletal" version: 1 page. 
Provide a full "annotated" bibliography (for every item, explain it in a sentence...or three...but no more than three). We will look at examples in class.  
***  ***
"Skeletal" Research Proposals are due in my office (MI 206)
by 5:00 p.m on Sunday, November 4, 2018.

Full Research Proposals are due in my office (MI 2016)
by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 18, 2018.

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