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Effects of Abortions on future pregnancies- how to write a Scientific Research Proposal

A research proposal has three main points:
1) Explanation of proposed research (what will be done)
2) Methods and techniques to be employed (how it will be done)
3) Novelty and/or importance of the study (why it should be done)

I. Title
This should provide a specific summary of the proposed work
Example 1:
NO (too much detail)
A three- year study of population decline in the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculata) following logging, road building and wetland mitigation near vernal pools in a hardwood forest of northeastern Virginia

A study of population decline in the spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculata) following logging in northeastern Virginia

Example 2:
NO (not enough detail)
Habitat models for use in rivers

Validation of in-stream habitat models for the Appomattox River in Farmville, Virginia

II. Introduction
You should begin with the basics of your research topic and then narrow the focus of those details that are especially pertinent to the proposed work. Present what is currently known by biologists, and how these discoveries were made. This is the place to show what is interesting and cutting-edge in the field that led to your research idea. You are laying the groundwork for your proposal with the material that you present. Use a plethora of sources especially primary sources such as journal articles. Textbooks, web sites (with great caution) and personal communications with professors can also be useful sources. Make sure to cite appropriately in the text (more to follow on citation)

This is the heart of your assignment and will probably be the lengthiest piece of it. Your sentence structure should look something like this:
•“According to Thullen et al.(1999), nitrate removal rates were highest in those wetlands that contained a diverse number of plants species.”
•“Within organisms cellular nitrogen generally exists as either ammonia-nitrogen or amino-
nitrogen, which are the most reduced forms of nitrogen (Delwiche, 1981).”

Never leave your reader in doubt as to the source of your information! Cite thoroughly and cite properly.

***A note on sources, paraphrasing, and citations:
Unlike the style you might use in English expository writing, technical science writing is terse, clear cut, and lacking in artistic enhancements. When using information from a source avoid quoting directly. Read the piece, put the article down, and then put the important points into your own words.
By setting the article aside you are allowing yourself to process the information, instead of just spitting the idea back out in a slightly altered sentence.

Citations tend to be (author, year). If you refer to the author in the sentence, immediately follow the name with (year) (see examples above).

III. Specific Aim and Hypothesis
What are gaps in knowledge and specific question that you seek to answer? What is the hypothesis that you are testing? Based on what is known in this field, explain what you expect to see and hope to show through your result? This is where you share your thoughts. You also need to provide a broad justification for your idea- how will your project impact everyone and not just the scientists in this field?

IV. Material and Methods
Describe your proposed experiment in depth. What processes are you going to use? What kind of equipment and supplies will be necessary for the project? What will you use for a control, and what will be your replicate? How will you analyze the data? Be thorough, but not excessive.

V. Potential Pitfalls
What could go wrong in your study? Don’t focus on problems like minor errors or loss of funding, but instead focus on the drawbacks of the experimental approaches your used. You should also discuss how this could impact your results and what alternative methods could be used to address these problems.

VI. Potential Conclusions
Here you should specifically discuss possible outcomes of your studies and their impacts.
This is where you will explicitly state how your proposed research will advance knowledge. What are the far-reaching effects? Will your study potentially change practices or policies? Why is it that your research deserves funding?

VII. Bibliography
Include all the resources that were used in the writing of the paper.

***A note on Voice:
There is no one format for voice in scientific writing. Avoid the use of I or we, but instead discuss what will be done. Also, remember this is a proposal and the methods section should be written in future tense describing what will be done.

Important Points to Remember
•An organized, well-written, concise, complete proposal = an easier to conduct experiment
•A good proposal is like a good sales pitch. In the world of graduate studies and scientific
research proposal is the means by which funding is secured.
•Good writing when paired with a thorough understanding of the subject matter is a valuable skill to possess.


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