Ant 211 Intensive Ag: Research Proposals

Anthropology 211 (Advanced Topics in Cultural Ecology):
Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture 
[Spring Quarter 2008. CRN# 66333. Th 3:00-5:30. 224 Young Hall]


Preparation of a Concise Research Proposal

In constructing your research proposal, you are to imagine that you are seeking funds to return to the site and time of the cultural ecology ethnography on intensive agriculture that you've just read. You are to propose an investigation of one or more topics critical to Robert Netting's thesis in Smallholders, Householders: Farm Families and the Ecology of Intensive, Sustainable Agriculture. Your only other restrictions are that your research be feasible for a single investigator in a year's time.

Your proposal should be no longer than three single-spaced pages. This will require that you be very succinct. Use no smaller than an 12-point font.

I. Title

Be concise but try to include all or most of the key words that pertain to your proposal.

II. Problem statement

State your problem as directly and as briefly as is possible. Several sentences should suffice. In a short paragraph, describe its scholarly and theoretical context.

III. Objectives

In a sentence or (at most) two, and in order of importance, state each of the specific and achievable objectives of the research. Be sure that the objectives follow from the problem statement and that the following methods section encompasses all of the objectives.

If you have a basis for prediction, state the objectives as testable hypotheses. If the research is exploratory, state the objectives as questions. The former is preferable.

IV. Methods

State the research procedures in down-to-earth, operational terms. As appropriate, you may want to include: sampling, design of the study, instrumentation and data collection, definition of variables, and analytical techniques. Be specific, but in a proposal of this length you will have to establish priorities and be highly selective in what you discuss. Keep in mind that your referees will cast a stern eye on the question of feasibility.

V. Importance

In a short statement you should convince the reviewer that the problem is important, that it has generality, and that its study using your methods will contribute significantly to the development of theory and to our empirical understanding of human ecology.

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