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Writing a Proposal Once you have decided on your experiment topic, you need to work out the details and write a proposal based on your plans. You need to be sure you have a solid question. Your hypothesis should be more than an “educated guess”—it must be a proposed explanation or possible answer to your question. In addition, it must be testable, falsifiable, and the basis for predictions. When designing your experiment, you must include independent and dependent variables. Consider how you will set up treatments or establish groups. You must decide on measurements. You may need to measure several different things. Also consider replication. Looking ahead, you will be writing a lab report that will include graphs and tables. Averages are a common way to present data, so having multiple replicates that enable you to collect reliable data in an experiment is key. Don’t forget about controls and constants. You will need controls for comparisons and proper constants ensure that you don’t have outside factors skewing your results. Sections of a Proposal The proposal is broken into several sections: Title, an Introduction that includes background and significance of the research, Methods for the proposed research, and References. Below are brief descriptions of each section. Title The title should be descriptive and indicate the independent and dependent variables for the project (what your treatments will be and what you will measure. You should also include your name as well as course/section information and your TA’s name. Introduction The introduction of a research proposal will have background information to help familiarize the reader with the topic. The background information should be detailed enough that the reviewer has sufficient information to understand the logic behind the research question and hypothesis. It is essential that the proposal reviewers understand the significance of the proposed work. The information should be supported by reliable references. All of these combined will help put the proposed research in context of what is already known and highlight is to be learned the proposed experiment or study. Proposed Research Methods The proposed research methods section should be a thorough description of how you plan to carry out the experiment. Since the work has not yet been done, this section should be written in future tense. You must indicate independent and dependent variables, any controls and constants, and the number of replicates needed to acquire meaningful data for analysis. It is important to explain how the treatments will be set up and measurements will be made. In addition, address the type of data analysis to be used (e.g. averages, totals, or other calculations). Remember, your goal is to convince the reviewers of the proposal your methods are well thought out and will enable you to support or refute your hypothesis. References: This section is a list of all references used for the proposal. If you cite a source in the text, it must be listed here, and if you list a reference here, it must be cited in the text. For this course, references are formatted using the CSE name-year style. Your research proposal should be supported with a minimum of two reliable sources. Textbooks and scientific journal articles are examples of reliable sources. The Internet undoubtedly is source of vast amounts of information, but while some websites may be acceptable for use as a reference, many others are not. If you questions the validity or reliability of the source—internet or otherwise—it is best to avoid it. Please post a thread with answers to the following: What is your (preliminary) question and hypothesis? What materials do you need to set up the experiment/study? Make a list and indicate whether you have them, need to get them, etc.
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