Research Proposal

First Drafts:                 October 23 or 25 (at conference)

Workshop Drafts:        October 30

Submission Date:         November 1

For your first assignment, you developed a narrative that introduced your reader to a decision that you have made and the results of that decision. For the second assignment, you analyzed an argument as it was presented in one of the chapters of Forked or analyzed a restaurant menu. Now, we will get to the “meat” of the semester.

Experienced writers do not engage in research only because a professor assigns them to do so. Ultimately, the mark of educated and engaged people is their ability to identify areas of interest and apply those areas of interest to their personal and/or professional lives. The first step in completing your Researched Argument, the Research Proposal, will provide practice in developing your intellectual curiosity and connecting that curiosity to your major discipline’s scholarship, career goals and/or personal interests. The success of the Research Proposal and, well, the entire Researched Argument will depend on your willingness and ability to become intellectually curious.

A Research Proposal (often called a Prospectus) is essentially a justification and a plan of action for your Research Project. As you are developing your proposal, think of the audience and consider why anyone would want to spend time reading your final Researched Argument. More importantly, though, think of how and why you want to develop your argument. Often, the Research Proposal will include specific dates to accomplish specific tasks. Although I am not requiring such a detailed proposal, it’s not a bad idea to keep a calendar in mind.

Some possible topics (all off the top of my head and in need of significant narrowing):

  • Minimum Wage: Should we raise the minimum wage for tipped workers?
  • Tipping–Should we stop tipping or otherwise adjust our tipping norms? How?
  • Sexual Harassment–How can we reduce instances of sexual harassment in the food and beverage industry?

Your Research Proposal will not follow the format of the traditional academic paper. Use the following outline and headers as a guide and feel free to include the headers in your final proposal with a developed paragraph or two following each one. I will look specifically at the Quality of Thought, Documentation and Attribution of Source Material of Sources, Language/Style, and Grammar/Mechanics on your final Research Proposal. I imagine the final Research Proposal will be about 750 words but encourage more detailed proposals.

Sample Outline


You will need to identify a specific topic and a working title for your final Researched Argument. The topic you choose is up to you, but your proposal must show how the topic relates to Forked, and your preliminary thesis must be argumentative. I reserve the right to deny any topics if the Research Proposal is poorly defined and/or does not communicate your genuine interest and/or expertise in the topic. In order to facilitate the development of your topic, I suggest that you include the following in your prospectus:

  • A justification of the topic (see above)
  • A specific research question (“How can we more fairly compensate tipped workers?”)
  • If the research question is a good one, the answer to that question can serve as a preliminary thesis. (“In order to more fairly compensate tipped workers in the food and beverage industry, we should raise the national minimum raise for tipped workers to $7.35 per hour”)

Research Plan

Once you have identified a topic, you will need to consider ways to approach your paper. To do so, consider strategies and methods for completing your research. Use the following questions to help you consider how you approach your research:

  • What are some major claims and assertions that you will have to support?
  • What sort of information and source material will you need to support those major claims and assertions?
  • How will you proceed to locate the information you need within the time available?
  • What challenges do you anticipate as you investigate the issues and write this paper? How do you propose to deal with those challenges?


Cite three sources as you would in a works cited page in MLA format and explain how and why you might use those sources. (One source will be The Other Wes Moore.)

The Research Project Sequence

Research Proposal (November 1)

  • You will choose a topic and narrow it accordingly.
  • You will identify a research plan.
  • You will identify three sources that will help you support your ideas.

Researched Argument (November 20)

  • The “Big Kahuna”—the research project will include more sources and present a developed report and/or argument in support of your position on your specific topic.
  • You will continue to work on developing your research skills.
  • You will get practice in structure and development of an extended argument.

Requirements for Final Research Report:

  • Six to eight sources (at least one scholarly/peer-reviewed source and one must be Forked.)
  • MLA documentation format for both in-text and the works cited
  • about 2,000 words


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