Format: 7 (min) to 10 (max) double-spaced pages including the bibliography or any figures/tables. 12 point Times New Roman font. 1-inch margins. Do not include a cover page, but do include your name, the date, and the title of the proposal on the first page. You may use recycled or reused paper for your final product; just X-out the used side. Include page numbers at the bottom of each page. Use concise writing – it should be hard to fit your proposal within the page limit. I will take off more
points for excess verbage than I will for your paper being a bit too short (either way you’ll lose points
if the background and methods lack sufficient depth). Do not include blank lines, spaces between paragraphs, fancy font, extra figures, etc. to try to increase page length. The proposal should include the following components (Except for the abstract, the number of pages listed after each section are recommendations, not requirements): 1) Abstract (summarize the contents of your report). No more than 1 page long. I recommend
writing this piece last.
2) Background/introduction: This is probably one of the most critical portions of any proposal. You should provide extensively referenced background information on your topic, including reviewing scientific literature related to the topic. This section should lead into the significance section below – so that the reader can understand why what you’re doing will be important.
(~2 pages) 3) Significance: Why is your study important and needed? How will it benefit society or ecosystems? The purpose of this section is to make the reviewer understand why your proposal
should be funded over someone else’s given limited funding availability. For the National
Science Foundation, for example, around 5% of ecological proposals get funded, which means that 95% are rejected. Thus the funded proposals have to be excellent, feasible, great ideas,
well-researched, and important (~1 page)
4) Objectives/Questions/Hypotheses: First list the general objectives of your study. Then list the specific questions that your proposed project will address. For example, a general goal of a study might be to determine the degree of invasive species invasion occurring at Turnbull Wildlife Refuge. Specific questions might be: 1) How many exotic plant species are found in the refuge? and 2) Which of these species are most abundant? For each question write what
you expect (hypothesize) your study results to be. (~1 page)
5) Proposed Methods: Should include the following sections: (~ 2-3 pages)
a. Study area (there are a few exceptions where this wouldn’t be relevant depending on the
study, but most would need it). Describe the location where you plan to do the study. b. Overall study design. For example, you plan to conduct a field experiment to independently test the effects of 2 types of herbicide on spotted knapweed plus a vegetation survey to assess knapweed density in agricultural fields. Is your study observational, or experimental? Manipulative or mensurative? What are your factors and how many levels per factor? How many treatments and replicates? What will be
your control (reference)? Note, a control or reference is very important… as well as replication. You will lose points if you don’t include these. c. Specific research methods. Details on what you will measure and how. What time of year? Etc. d. Data analyses: how do you intend to analyze the data? What measurements will you be comparing? You should relate your analyses to the specific hypotheses that you laid out.
6) Expected Study outcome: What will be the deliverables for your study (e.g. a published journal article, map, handbook, technical report)? What knowledge do you hope to gain? Who will benefit from this knowledge? (~1/2 page) 7) Bibliography. Cite 10 references, including at least 7 from primary scientific literature such as articles from the journals: Ecology, Oikos, Journal of Ecology, Ecology Letters, American Naturalist, Ecological Applications, Ecological Monographs, Oecologia or research communications from Frontiers in Ecology. Bioscience or Science also have articles about ecological topics. A primary article describes results of a specific scientific study; it is not a review of many studies (although those are great references too). Use format of the Journal Ecology for the bibliography. ALL the citations in your bibliography should be referred to in the text. For in text citations, mimic the format that you see in the journal Ecology. Forexample, a one author paper should be cited with author and data such as (Smith 2005). For two authors cite as: (Smith and Brown 2005). For >2 authors cite as (Smith et al. 2005). Make sure that any ideas or information you refer to in the paper that are not your own are cited (which includes methods). If you have questions ask – I will take points off for a poorly cited paper or improper formatting. This is especially the case for websites. For websites, make sure you list the date you accessed the material AND the date it was posted by the authors. The author for a website may be the organization that posted it if not specifically listed. See the info on blackboard. DO not include the annotations that were required when you turned in your topic. The list does not have to be exactly the same as what you had turned in previously.
Citing a website: General format/sequence:
Author. (Date published if available; n.d.–no date– if not). Title of
article. Title of web site . Retrieved date. From URL.
Example: Landsberger, J. (n.d.). Citing Websites. In Study Guides and Strategies. Retrieved May 13, 2005, from http://www.studygs.net/citation.htm.
8) Figures and Tables. Optional. If you include figures and tables, they should be numbered, with a caption (at the bottom of a figure or the top of a table) and they should be referred to in
the text. For example: “Past studies have shown that increased nitrogen addition causes increased algal growth (Figure 1).” If you are using a figure from a journal article, then the
article should be cited in the caption.
General Writing Tips:
Do: Start early! Use subheaders for your sections (abstract, introduction, methods) Organize paragraphs in your introduction from broad to narrow (more general to more specific) Put one topic per paragraph, make sure each paragraph has a topic sentence Write as concisely as possible Make use of organization and transitions to connect paragraphs for flow, readability Proofread; and get a friend to proofread
Visit the EWU Writer’s Center (JFK Learning Commons) for help with your writing if you
have any doubts. Learning to write is one of the most important skills you gain as a college
student and will help you with your career and life!
Don’t: Cite too little. There should be multiple citations for nearly every paragraph of the introduction based on you having read multiple articles. When too little is read/included, the depth tends to
be less. Use quotes for factual information – be sure to paraphrase the information (and cite it of course) but it needs to be in your own words.