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Moving Forward with Your Research Proposal
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  1. Moving Forward with Your Research Proposal January 23, 2006

  2. Today’s Schedule • 3:00 - 3:40PM Summary and discussion of Lowenthal paper (led by Dr. Wright) • 3:40 - 4:15PM Developing a hypothesis and Elements of the proposal (by Dr. Nolin) • 4:15 - 4:45PM Students write their research hypothesis and brief explanation • 4:45 - 5:20PM Students break into groups and critique each others' work

  3. Discussion of Lowenthal paper…

  4. Outline • Developing a testable and tractable hypothesis • Elements of a proposal • Developing a detailed proposal outline • Scientific writing style

  5. What is a good idea? • Innovative, major advances in the field • exciting new method • new way of looking at old problem • novel application of existing methods in a new field or region • Certain, feasible, incremental additions to existing base of knowledge • Combining research efforts usually kept separate

  6. What makes a good idea a good research topic? • Scientifically interesting to geographers • Important to non-scientists • Feasible (in terms of available resources) • Have clear objectives: • Specific • Measurable • At least one objective should involve obtaining an answer to a scientific question or falsifying a hypothesis • Should have the enthusiastic support of your research advisor

  7. Clear objectives Personal factors in place Interesting - scientifically and to you Well-planned Important - needs to matter to others Feasible

  8. What is a hypothesis? • A hypothesis is a provisional concept that, after careful evaluation is either accepted or rejected • It should be falsifiable based on observations • If it is confirmed by observations, that does not mean that it has been proven

  9. Conjecture vs. Hypothesis • Conjecture is a statement that cannot be proved or disproved • A conjecture is frequently misconstrued as a hypothesis • Example of a conjecture: “God is male”

  10. The Research Proposal Should try to answer the following basic questions: • What (research problem are you proposing to answer)? • Why (are these research problems significant)? • How (do you propose to answer these problems)?

  11. Elements of a Proposal • Title • Abstract • Purpose/Significance and Research Objectives • Relevant Background Information • Methods • Timetable • Budget (where appropriate) • References • Figures and Tables

  12. Title • Should be as short as possible but convey a sense of what the proposal involves • Use an “action title” • Make first word significant if possible • Strong, precise words

  13. Abstract • Concise summary of the proposal in less than 250 words (1 page)

  14. Purpose/Significance and Research Objectives • Spell out the geographic problem you are addressing • State the objectives (list form) • Describe the significance of the proposed research • Be specific

  15. Relevant Background Information • Provide specific data and theories from previous studies that are relevant to understanding your research problem • What were their strengths and limitations? • Convey the pertinent geographic information with appropriate and thorough literature references • Relate to your objectives

  16. Methods • State and describe specific methods • Provide sufficient detail that the reader can understand the method • Avoid jargon! • If equipment and facilities are not readily available in the Dept. of Geosciences, state your plans to obtain access elsewhere

  17. Timetable • Provide a tentative schedule in tabular form • Completion of classes • Field studies • Laboratory work • Preparation of thesis (plan for at least one term!)

  18. Budget • If funding for expenses is needed then a budget should be included: • Field work • Laboratory analyses • Special software, etc. • Prepare itemized list • Outline your plans for funding

  19. References • List all the references cited in text by alphabetical order of first author • Follow the format of a major geography journal

  20. Figures and Tables Examples: map of study area, table of instrument characteristics. • They must be legible and of excellent quality • Should be original if at all possible • Figure captions appear below the figure • Table captions appear above the figure

  21. Writing your Proposal Outline • Use section headings that convey information • Provide sufficient detail • You should have at least ten headings in your outline

  22. Interrelation of landscape and climate controls on streamflow in the Oregon Cascades • Streamflow patterns in the Oregon Cascades • Two types of landscape controls: • Geology • Vegetation • Snow vs. Rain and their contributions to streamflow • Climate warming will reduce low flows and increase peak flows in the Cascades • Shift from snow- to rain-dominated precipitation • Increase in fire frequency will change land cover • Basalt permeability will mitigate effects in the high Cascades • A new coupled climate-hydrology-ecosystem model • Noble gas measurements establish temperature and elevation of groundwater recharge zone

  23. Scientific Writing Tips • Think of your audience -- who are they and what do they want to know? • Language: • Mechanics -- grammar, spelling • Precise • Clear • Familiar • Style should be interesting and forthright • Structure: • Clear outline • Linear • Common threads • Concise

  24. The Writing Center Writing assistants are available to help with brainstorming, organization, grammar and usage, and all aspects of writing Online writing lab for assessment of writing problems (24-48 hour turnaround) Waldo 123 http://cwl.oregonstate.edu/ 737-5640

  25. Academic Success Center They will help you with Goal setting Study skills Listening habits Time management Wellness 101 Waldo Hall http://success.oregonstate.edu/ 737-2272