Formal Research-based Proposal
You will identify a REAL problem or issue CURRENTLY existing within an organization (either in your work place or in your community) -- a problem that you do not have the authority to correct yourself. This may be your current place of employment or a community group, such as a church, school, homeowner's association, daycare, recreation center, and so on. The assignment objective is to propose a solution to the problem or issue, and to present that solution to a decision-maker or small group of decision-makers who can implement the recommended solution. The research you present to support your proposal must be documented in MLA style as described below.
Over the course of the term, you will develop a concrete, practical solution to the problem that can be implemented. Reference sources will be included that explain the problem, issue and/or support the solution. The proposal will include a discussion of resources necessary to implement the solution, the timeline, and the benefits of doing so. The proposal will include the following components, in this order:
- Letter of Transmittal to the decision maker, or Memo Routing Slip (shows levels through whiuch the proposal must travel and explains why each level is getting the proposal and action required). NOTE that the text (pages 289, 290) puts the Letterof Transmittal AFTER the Title Page -- this is incorrect. In actual usage, the Routing Slip/Transmittal Letter is stapled to the top copy and each reviewer takes a copy and initials the top sheet.
- Title Page with the proposal title, decision maker name and title, your name and title, and date
- Executive Summary
- Table of Contents containing the title of each section and its beginning page number
- List of Illustrations page containing the title of each illustration and its page number
- body of the proposal in sections captioned with headers and including at least two integrated graphics (that is, NOT on stand-alone pages, but on the same page with text that discusses them), and at least eight, in-text MLA-style citations
- conclusion stated as a recommendation for implementation
- an implementation section with step-by-step solution implementation instructions for the decision maker
- end matter including a Works Cited page (in ALPHABETICAL order, MLA format) and any other data suitable for this section of the report – the Works Cited page must list in alphabetical order at least eight external sources used in the text in MLA format and including no more than two interviews or three of each of any other type of source (web, book, newspaper, etc.). If you must use more than the maximum number of any type of reference, that is OK, as long as there are an aggregate of eight that meet the 2+3+3 maximum type of source formula specified. NOTE: UMUC does NOT recognize Wikipedia as a valid source so that reference cannot be used in your proposal.
The resulting proposal package must be no fewer than 2,000 words, no more than 3,000. The word count includes all components. The purpose of establishing a word count is to ensure the topic chosen is neither too big nor too small. Also, writing within parameters is a common requirement in business communications.
Pagination. No page numbers on the Letter of Transmittal/Routing Slip or Title page. The Executive Summary through the List of Illustrations will be identified with lower case Roman numerals. The first page of the proposal will not be numbered, the rest of the package will use Arabic numerals begininning with the second page of the proposal as page 2. If using your word processor numbering feature is too difficult, simply insert the page numbers manually. Location on the page should be consistent.
As you consider topics, bear this in mind: the problem or issue need not be enormous. Within the scope of the assignment are issues such as these:
- The problem may be increasing crime in a local neighborhood, and the solution could be a neighborhood watch program or the creation of a low-cost recreation facility; the decision-maker could be the homeowners association.
- Crowding in your place of employment results in shared office space and limited resources. A proposed solution could be implementation of a telecommuting program to permit some employees in suitable occupations to work from home on a full- or part-time basis.
- Concern about your company's image and role in the community has prompted much dialog. A possible strategy for improving the company's image and perception could be implementation of a recycling program that supports "green thinking."
- Parking at your child's elementary school is at a premium during pick-up and drop-off times. You could develop a strategy to facilitate a more streamlined process to increase safety and decrease wait times. Your proposal would be directed to the school's principal.
- Rising health care costs are a concern nationwide. To address your company's issues, you are proposing implementation of a wellness program. The benefits of implementing a program like this are many, ranging from lowering our health care costs (as much as 15 percent) to boosting morale.
- Communication among members of a local church is difficult to facilitate and the congregation is seeking a solution to the communication issues. You could propose establishing a Web site or a bi-weekly newsletter for congregation members to read updates, participate in discussion, contact other members, and so on. The decision maker would be the governing board or ecclesiastical leader, as appropriate.
The objective of the project is to develop a detailed proposal that emerges in several pieces over the course of the term, as do lengthy written projects completed in any organizational setting. Key to the value of the project is that it presents your original idea of how to solve a problem that you are not authorized to act on. Merely supporting someone else's solution (urging your Congressman to support a Bill someone else drafted, for example, is NOT the intent of this assignment.
There will be a peer review of your draft Executive Summary (as a web-based conference topic) so you will have the benefit of input from your classmates. The Executive Summary must be detailed and include the entire thrust of your proposal.
You must include two graphic illustrations which must be sourced in-text in MLA in-text format (first word of Works Cited entry plus page number). If you created the graphic, then simply source it as (author). If you obtained data from another source and then created the graphic cite it as (author, derived from Jones 28). Graphics MUST contribute to the reader's understanding -- clip art is NOTacceptible. Note that REFERENCES refer to EXTERNAL sources, so you cannot cite yourself as a reference in the Works Cited for this assignment, unless you are citing a published work you created earlier.
Note that the source of a newspaper article collected from the newspaper's web site is a NEWSPAPER, not a web source. Web references are those sources that appear ONLY on the web and not in some other form such as a newspaper, journal, magazine article, or book.
- meets minimum requirements – no fewer than 2,000 words; no more than 3,000 for the entire "package"
- shows skillful application of persuasive strategies
- audience is appealed to appropriately
- argument is developed well; relevant evidence supports your claims
- image of credibility is established
- objections are anticipated and addressed
- Executive Summary has appropriate headings, is no more than one page, and is a mini-version of the entire report, with headings and content addressing each of the specified components
- purpose of each section is clear and supported well
- organization is clear
- follows problem-solution, proposal, or recommendation-support pattern, etc.
- separate ideas in separate paragraphs
- contains meaningful, relevant headings
- there are helpful transitions between and within paragraphs
- each paragraph has a clear topic sentence stating the main point and focusing the material
- each paragraph fully supports its topic sentence with very specific material appropriate for the purpose and audience: details, examples, reasons and explanations, evidence
- sentences are well-written: emphatic, condensed, varied in structure, fluent
- words are specific, precise, concrete, accurate; voice is consistent and appropriate for audience
- graphics are designed well; data is relevant to recommendations and integrated into the page that discusses each and both graphics contribute INSIGHT (that is, no clip art or simple pictures of desks or trees or items that decorate without moving understanding further along) -- ALL graphics are SOURCED in the text [ones you originate are labeled (Author)].
- sources are precisely cited in MLA style in the paragraphs of the report
- good selection of reliable material to support research issue
- few direct quotes (no more than 10 percent of the total paper word count)
- accurate paraphrasing and summarizing
- no plagiarizing
- correct in-text citation in MLA style, according to A Writer's Reference
- correct Works Cited format in MLA style, according to A Writer's Reference
- contains no proofreading, grammar, or construction errors
- presence and use of two integrated graphic illustrations (NOT "Clip Art") that emphasize key points and appear on the page where they are discussed. All illustrations must be sourced, including those you create (Author) or (Author, derived from Jones 46).
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