Research Proposal

Research Proposal

One of the learning objectives for this advanced seminar is to equip you with some basic research skills. These include the abilities to:
Explore and discover interesting and important research ideas in the subject matter;
Locate useful scholarly resources;
Conduct and write literature reviews;
Write proficiently in academic manners.
You will achieve these goals by proposing a research project that explores and evaluates an important issue relating to the course topics, such as the media regulations, policies and practices in China. Specifically, you will produce a well-planned and written research proposal that, ideally, could be used as a presentable writing sample for your future academic and/ or professional use(s).

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General Guidelines
You will develop a research proposal for an original research project on a course-related topic, dealing with a concrete issue of Chinese media and communication. Your topic of the project should be decided in agreement with the instructor before Week 5. This assignment includes: (1) a 2- page project prospectus; (2) peer-evaluation session for draft proposal; (3) a 5-7- page final project proposal; (4) a panel presentation. The 2-page prospectus helps you explore the preliminary idea for a project that is empirical and analytical. The project topic cannot be purely descriptive, theoretical or normative. Then you develop a research proposal, in which you define a topic, identify related scholarship, conduct a literature review and propose a research rationale and method(s). It builds upon your efforts to: explore an original idea, refine the research question(s) through library research, write a sufficient literature review, and propose appropriate methods and empirical data for the research. The main body of your final research proposal is a systematic literature review of at least 8-10 peer-reviewed journal articles in relation to your topic that summarizes the main arguments and contributions of the previous scholarship and points out the gaps and problems in existing literatures. Please note the above page requirement is only for reference purpose. I do not grade by length. I evaluate your work based on quality, which is measured by the originality of the thinking and the analytical capacity demonstrated in the writing. In the final week of the quarter, you will present your proposed project to the class. This assignment is worth of 200 points to your final grade.

Format Requirements
All writing assignments are expected to conform to the following format: 12-point font, Times New Roman, 1-inch margins, double-spaced. Additionally, the header should be single spaced and have first and last name, date, and a title of the research project. Please use one proper and consistent style of academic writing and citations, choosing from one of the following: (1) APA; (2) MLA: (3) Chicago. For more information on citation styles, please refer to the resources from campus library: All writing assignments must be submitted in hardcopies in class on their due dates.
Part 1: 2-Page Project Prospectus
Due date: Thursday, October 17
The 2-page prospectus helps you explore the preliminary idea for a project that is empirical and analytical, dealing with a concrete issue. In the prospectus, you will identify a project topic related to course materials such as the media regulations, policies and practices in China; frame your research question(s); explain why this would be an interesting and important research project; present an overview of how and where to look for previous scholarship, potential data; and discuss a detailed plan for the research and writing of the work for the remainder of the quarter. The prospectus will be used as a benchmark document for the individual meetings with the instructor.
Grading Guideline:
Research Question A clear articulation of an interesting and focused project topic in relation to course subject 5 points
A comprehensive and concrete description of the research question(s) 5 points
A strong explanation for the significance of the topic and research question(s) 5 points
Research Plan A preliminary review of how and where to locate literatures. Include possible key words for literature research. 5 points
A well-planned timeline for the research and writing of the final proposal and presentation. Include a discussion on potential problems and/or challenges. 5 points
Total 25 points

Part 2: Research Proposal
Due date: Thursday, December 5
A well-written research proposal sets the foundation for a good research. It requires you to define a topic, identify related scholarship, conduct a literature review and propose a research rationale and method(s). It builds upon your efforts to: explore an original idea, refine the research question(s) through library research, write a sufficient literature review, and propose appropriate methods and empirical data for the research. The research proposal is 5-7 pages long, not including references.
Specifically, in your research proposal, you should include the following sections:
Introduction (half page):
An interesting and focused introduction should present the broad background of the topic, identify a clear issue/ question, and outline the structure of the proposal.
For example, you may use the first person by saying: “In this proposal, I will …”.
Context and Significance (half page):
This is where you could introduce the general area of research, discuss the significance of the project, and thus convince people why this project is worth studying.
For example, what is the historical/ contemporary background of this topic? What is the scholarly context of the issue you are trying to discuss? In what ways is this an important issue to be studied?
Literature Review (3-5 pages):
Literature review is one of the most important part and the main body of a research proposal. In a literature review, you explore what have already been studied by other scholars in this topic, systematically discuss the most important research and theoretical work relating to the research topic, and identify the gaps in existing knowledge or questions which have to be answered.
For example, you could start the literature review by considering the following questions: What have others said about this area(s)? What theories address it and what do they say? What research has been done (or not done) previously? Are there consistent findings or contradictions in previous studies? Are there flaws or gaps that your study will seek to fill?
For this assignment, The literature review should consist a systematic review of at least 8-10 peer-reviewed journal articles in relation to your topic.
Research Question and Method (half page):
Based on the gaps or problems you have identified in the literature review, now you propose the specific research question of your study. Research question is a concise statement that narrows a broad topic to a manageable scope, tells people what exactly you would like to study and explains the objectives you would like to achieve;
You will also describe how you conduct your study in order to answer research question(s) you propose. For example, depending on your research questions, you may need to look into historical archives and/or policy documents, design surveys to collect data, conduct interviews with a particular group of participants, and/or participate in an ethnographic observation. You will describe the method(s) you choose, explain the rationale for why this would be the best way to answer the research question(s), where your archive/ documents might be located, how you might find and contact potential subjects (participants), how you would analyze the data after you have collected them, and what a reasonable timeline of the research may look like.
Conclusion (half page):
This is a brief, clear and informative summary of what you have written in each section. The goal is to give any reader who only has limited time to glance over your proposal a complete and coherent sense of the logic and structure of the proposed research.
Grading Guideline:
(20 points) Organization: clear and focused introduction and conclusion 5 points
Structure: strong framework that organizes the materials very well 5 points
Grammar: excellent writing, lucid with few flaws 5 points
Reference: accurate citation and bibliography 5 points
Literature Review
(50 points) Reading: at least 8-10 original and well-researched selection of sources 10 points
Understanding: thorough understanding of scholarship and excellent integration of theory and arguments 20 points
Critical Appraisal: strong critical appraisal and synthetic analysis 20 points
Research Question and Method
(30 points) Research Idea(s): highly original and concrete research idea(s) with significant scholarly contribution(s) 10 points
Frame of the Research Question(s): clear and focused articulation of the research question(s) 10 points
Strong judgement in the selection and use of appropriate method(s) and data/ sources 10 points
Total: 100 points

Part 3: Graded Peer-Evaluation
Due date: Thursday, November 14
The peer-evaluation session is designed to give students an opportunity to check their working progress, exchange thoughts and feedbacks, and interact with the instructor for any questions regarding the project. By beginning of this class, you should have a draft of the main body of the paper, that is the literature review, ready for peer-evaluation. There will be 25 points allocated to the peer-evaluation session, based on students’ active participation of the session.

Part 4: Panel Presentation
Due date: Tuesday, December 3/ Thursday, December 5
You will present your proposed project to the class during the last two class sessions. The presentations take the format of panel discussion. Students will be put in a panel of 3 based on topics. In one panel, each students will give an 8-minute oral presentation (flash/ elevator talk) of their project, followed by a 10-minute Q&A interaction with the audiences. These presentations provide good insights into the form of your projects. It is also a good way to learn about the work your peers are conducting. Successful presentations will: show why your topic is interesting and important, explain the analytical/ theoretical framework you will be using, present your findings with literature review, and illustrate how you plan to conduct the research. The presentation is worth 50 points.
Grading Guideline:
Presenter Performance Give a complete and well-prepared oral panel presentation: 30 points
Show apparent preparation; 6 points
Have a proper introduction and conclusion; 6 points
Comprehensively cover the materials from the proposal; 6 points
Flow coherently and finish within required time limit; 6 points
Maintain strong connections with audiences with sincerity and enthusiasm. 6 points
Audience Behavior Attend both final presentation session(s) 10 points
Engage with other students’ presentations respectfully and actively 10 points
Total 50 points

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