Research Proposal Assignment

In this assignment, you will propose an empirical research project that could be undertaken employing the methods and theories you’ve learned in this course. Preferably, this research project would be related to your own research interests. So, e.g., students in EMAC might do research on existing C3 systems mediated by social media; students in ATEC might create C3 activity systems mediated by educational software or augmented reality devices; etc.

Think of this research proposal in terms of grant applications, applications for IRB approval, and dissertation proposals. They should provide a clear description of the project in a way that can be understood by a scholar who is not a specialist in the field, such that it could be competitive in a multidisciplinary panel evaluation.

Part I – Letter of Intent

1 page document (see formatting guidelines below), due 4/9 on

The letter of intent describes the proposed research, including the research question, hypothesis, and methods to be applied. Pay special attention to the intellectual merit and broader impacts of the project (see evaluation criteria below). Your LOI should include a very brief bio that describes your background and experience as relevant to the proposed project. LOI should include the project title. (The goal of the LOI is to receive instructor feedback on the basic topic and ideas of your project before getting too far with the proposal.)

Part II – Final Proposal

Final proposal is due May 12 at 11:59pm on Final proposal must have the following components:

  • Project description – 8 pages maximum, not including references (see formatting guidelines below). Describes the research project, including the research question, hypothesis, methods and theoretical framework. Should include a literature review that makes clear the intellectual merit of the proposal as well as a separate section addressing the broader impacts of the project.
  • Abbreviated budget – 1 page max document that gives the major budget items and descriptive justification for those items.
  • Biographical sketch – 2 pages max biographical sketch of the researcher, including relevant publications, coursework, and other experience relevant to the proposed project.
  • Supplementary documents – Sample informed consent form, recruitment materials for gathering research subjects, etc.

Group Project Option

Interested students can choose to submit research proposals in groups of two or more. Two-person projects are subject to the following modified requirements:

  • Project description – 15 pages maximum, not including references. 
  • Full budget – You must fill out and submit the UT Dallas Office of Sponsored Projects Standard Budget Template as well as a justification for each line in the budget. (More info on preparing a budget here.)
  • IRB Review Application Form – Application for minimal review is fine IF your project meets minimal review criteria. You only need to attach the form to your submission. You do not need to send it to the IRB.
  • Separate biographical sketches for each researcher.
  • LOI should be submitted jointly with bio for each researcher.

Three person projects are subject to the following modifications (including all 2-person modifications):

Groups of four or more should seek prior approval from the instructor and instructions modifications of requirements.

Evaluation Criteria

The evaluation criteria for the proposals is similar to the major review criteria for grant proposals at the National Science Foundation (NSF):

  1. Intellectual Merit – What is the potential for the proposed research to advance knowledge and understanding within its own field or across different fields?
  2. Broader Impacts – What is the potential for the proposed research to benefit society or advanced desired social goals?

Further review criteria include:

  1. Does the project follow all of the content and formatting requirements?
  2. How creative, original, and potentially transformative is the proposed research?
  3. Is the research based on a sound rationale, including a solid theoretical and methodological basis?
  4. How realistic is the project? Could the researcher likely complete it as planned? Is there a mechanism for evaluating success?
  5. How well does the proposal incorporate theories and perspectives from the course?

Formatting Guidelines

Formatting guidelines are consistent with and based on the NSF Grant Proposal Guide. The proposal must be clear and easy to read, and it should follow these general guidelines:

  1. Use one of the following typefaces:
    1. Arial, Helvetica, Palatino, or similar typeface at font size of 10 points or larger.
    2. Times New Roman or Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger.
  2. No more than six lines of text within a vertical space of one inch. Beyond this, line spacing (single-spaced, double-spaced, etc.) is at the discretion of the proposer, but readability should be taken into account.
  3. Margins, in all directions, must be at least an inch.
  4. Use only a standard, single-column format for the text.

The guidelines specified above establish the minimum type size requirements; however, you are advised that readability is of paramount importance and should take precedence in selection of an appropriate font and page formatting for use in the proposal. Too many characters or words on a single line combined with closely spaced lines can have a negative effect on the readability of your proposal. Poor readability can impact your score on the assignment, and exceedingly unreadable formatting may lead to a failing grade on the project. (These things have a very real effect on reviewers in the real world.)

Please let me know if you have any questions.

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