HOW TO WRITE A STANDARD STUDENT PROJECT RESEARCH PROPOSAL



How to Write a Student Project Research Proposal


  • Title:
The title should be concise and informative. Avoid phrases such as, �The study of� or �An investigation of�. Instead summarize the key question or hypothesis of the research, for example, �The effect of water stress on root respiration in wheat�.

  • Introduction:
A research question is typically developed through a complex process of information gathering and processing and includes: listening to lectures; personal conferences with the instructor; reading the textbook, lab handouts and other literature sources; and most importantly, observing natural biological relationships in the field or in controlled environments. The research question must be biologically relevant and if tested experimentally, provide the hope of adding to our current understanding of natural phenomena. The introduction should summarize background information in way that makes it clear how the research question was developed. Remember, that when writing the final report on the project, you will need to compare your data with the work of other scientists. This comparison is vital in establishing the context of your work in light of general knowledge in the field. It is, thus, essential that experiments done by other researchers that are relevant to your ideas are clearly described. Make sure you include a citation at that point in the text where you mention their work. Finally, avoid using textbooks or lectures as sole sources for experimental data; instead give credit to the scientists that actually did the work.

  • Hypothesis:
The hypothesis (hypotheses) must be stated in such a way that it is experimentally testable. This means that each hypothesis can be accepted or rejected on the basis of an analysis of the data obtained from your experiments. Experimental outcomes are determined based upon some statistical test: either testing differences between groups (e.g., the t test) or finding significant correlations between variables (e.g., regression analysis).

  • Materials and Methods:
This section very clearly describes the design of experiments to test the stated hypotheses. Control and experimental groups must be identified as well as (when appropriate) dependent and independent variables. Sub-headings include:

  1. Living material and study sites
  2. Procedures (e.g., pigment analyses, growth measurements, gas exchange measurements, etc.)
  3. Data analysis (statistical test used, regression analysis method)

  • References:
References should be listed in a manner consistent with a respected journal of your choice, typically in alphabetic order by the lead author�s last name. It is also inappropriate to include any reference that is not cited in the body of the text or that you have not read (at least in part).


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