Ewu mcNair Scholars Program Proposal for the Social Sciences

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EWU McNair Scholars Program

Proposal for the Social Sciences


1.Assignment Description

To advance academic research skills, we will ask you to conduct original research. By original research, we mean using primary sources of evidence you collect. Primary sources are forms of evidence that include firsthand or eyewitness accounts. The type of original research you will conduct relies on people (interviews, surveys, & focus groups).

Although there are many limitations with the McNair Summer Research Project like scope, range, time, perspective, and method, academic writers can still provide readers with several sources of information to strengthen their research so that readers can make their own informed judgments about what to believe or what to question. As such, successful candidates will demonstrate a potential research project that has the ability to engage in the inquiry process to explore specific questions, address specific situations or problems, and/or move academic readers to rethink their positions on specific arguments.

Therefore, you will need to complete a research proposal as part of your application process. A proposal is a formal plan that highlights your objectives for conducting a research project, explains methods you intend to use to collect original research, and describes what you expect to find.

For this application process, a proposal should include the following sections: purpose, method, and discussion & implications. The “Definitions” section further explains these elements.


Purpose. In the purpose section of your proposal, you should formulate the question that is motivating your study. Successful inquiry begins with asking a good question (see rubric below).

In the purpose section (introduction), you should summarize the context and explain how it has led to the question driving your research. You also explain why you are interested in the topic, why it is important, and why it matters to the larger academic community.

Consider the following elements when developing potential research questions:

A good question will help you think through the issue you want to write about

A good question is specific enough to guide your inquiry

A good question is specific enough to be explored given your limitations, tools, and resources

A good question is not limited to yes, no, or both

A good question asks how, why, should, or the extent to which

A good question conveys a central idea and defines your audience

Method. In the method section, you list and describe the tools and strategies you might use to conduct your original research (see examples and types below). These methods are often explained in three major ways: (1) methods for collecting data; (2) methods for establishing relationships between the data and the unknowns; and (3) methods for evaluating the accuracy of the results obtained. Essentially, methods is understood as all the techniques used for conduction of research.

In addition, you need to discuss the appropriateness of your tools and strategies. Why are these methods the best means of exploring your research question?




  1. Library Research

  1. Analysis of historical records

  2. Analysis of documents

  • Recording of notes, content analysis, video listening and analysis

  • Statistical compilations and manipulations, reference and abstract guides, contents analysis.

  • Observational behavioral scales or use of score cards

  • Interactional recording, possible use of video or audio recorders, photographic techniques

  • Recording mass behavior, interview using independent observers in public places

  • Identification of social and economic background of respondents

  • Use of attitude scales, projective techniques, or use of sociometric scales

  • Interviewer uses a detailed schedule with open and closed questions

  • Small group of respondents are interviewed simultaneously

  • Survey technique for information and for discerning opinion

  1. Field Research

  1. Non-participant direct observation

  2. Participant observation

  3. Mass observation

  4. Questionnaire

  5. Opinionative

  6. Personal interview

  7. Focused interview

  8. Group interview

  9. Telephone survey

  10. Case study and life history

  1. Laboratory Research

  1. Small group study of random behavior, play, and role analysis

Implications. It may seem odd to ask about what you hope to find, but it is important that you understand the “So what?” aspect of your research and your academic audience. You need to be able to explain what you believe is the significance of your research to an academic audience. The implication section places your research in the context of the conversation you want to join, and explain how your study can contribute to that conversation. You want to explore how your work impacts the academic arena. Describe how your research might build on, challenge, or extend other studies in your area of research. You might also consider identifying what you think is going to be new about your findings.


The format for the proposal will be memo style. A memo is usually a page or two long, should be single spaced, font-size 10.5-11.5, and left justified. Your headings should include “To,” “From,” “Date,” and “Subject” (see sample memo on the following page). Instead of using indentations to show new paragraphs, skip a line between sentences. Your memo should be concise and easy to read. As such consider using headings and lists to help the reader pinpoint certain information.

4.Documentation Style

If you reference sources in your proposal, then you should use some documentation style to properly cite those sources (APA Style or MLA Style, for example). You should also include a list of your sources at the end of your memo.

5.Sample Proposal

To: Christina Torres- García, Faculty and Director, Ronald E. McNair Scholar Program

From: Carlos Munoz

Date: November 26, 2014

Subject: McNair Scholars Proposal


There is a growing conversation in technical communication programs on the importance of developing intercultural curriculum (Savage & Mattson, 2011). These conversations challenge technical communication educators to rethink their current commitment to diversity, or the status of diversity, in their programs (Savage & Mattson, 2011).

As such, this research proposal specifically seeks to understand how technical communication educators support diversity in technical communication program. Drawing from an intercultural intellectual, the research question asks how technical communication educators can incorporate hook’s (1994) theories of teaching to transgress to enhance their commitment to diversity. What diversity actions can be established from hook’s (1994) teachings and theories that help technical communication educators diversify their programs?


As a starting point, I am considering seeking information on various aspects of diversity in technical communication programs in Eastern Washington. The region contains the city of Spokane, the Tri-Cities, the Columbia River, and the Yakima Valley. I am considering developing a survey with ten questions focused on diversity: (1) diversity among students in technical communication programs, (2) diversity among faculty in technical communication programs, and (3) diversity as reflected in courses and curricula. I am also considering a question where participants are invited to comment on aspects of diversity not addressed in the survey.

Based on the survey results, I will develop a possible section of results and discussions. In the results, I can highlight and interpret the data. In the discussion, I can demonstrate how hook’s (1994) theories for education freedom might help make technical communication more committed to diversity.
Overall, there have been very few qualitative studies designed to understand the status of diversity in technical communication programs (Savage & Mattson, 2011). Therefore, the survey method would be an effective approach to start the academic conversation of understanding the current status of diversity in technical communication, which according to Savage and Mattson (2011) is problematic to say the least. In addition, by including the voices of those who running technical communication program and seeking to diversify, then my arguments will have a much greater boom with the academic community.

Although it is difficult to image the implications of such a study, it does point to some powerful outcomes. By understanding the limitations of diversity in technical communication programs, then scholars can starting developing ways of addressing it. For example, I plan on using hook’s (1994) theories in Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom to suggest several possible starting points: (1) create more formal networks that focus on underrepresented groups, (2) improve funding and scholarship opportunities for individual from underrepresented groups, (3) develop diversity faculty mentoring systems, and (4) rethink teaching practices in the age of multiculturalism.


hooks, b. (1994). Teaching to transgress: Education as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.

Savage, G., & Mattson, K. (2001). Perceptions of racial and ethnic diversity in technical communication programs. Programmatic Perspectives, 3(1), 5-57.

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