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Preparing a Research Proposal
Pose a valid research question.
Determine which methods are most appropriate and what constitutes evidence for testing the hypothesis.
Design an experiment and prepare a written experimental plan. The plan should follow principles of good experimental design and standards of science communication.
Part A: Propose an Experimental Design Project
Are you looking for ideas? For inspiration? A great resource to get started is to read pages 17-27 Download read pages 17-27of Kenji López-Alt’s “The Food Lab.”(provided below) López-Alt studies food and cooking and writes for the New York Times and for the blog SeriousEats.com.
Design an experiment that you can conduct in your own kitchen. State the design in a research proposal that clearly states your research question and your hypothesis, and sets out the methods that you will follow. Also include some background material that supports your research question. Be sure to cite the background material, using any appropriate academic citation technique.1
Things to consider and discuss in your proposal as you design your experiment:
What is your hypothesis? Have you stated the hypothesis in such a way that it can be tested? How will you test this hypothesis?
The hypothesis will be framed in this way:
“When I [do this experiment], I predict that [this thing will happen], because of [this idea I have; or this thing I know or think].”
Of course, your narrative may look different, but the three elements of the hypothesis must be present.
What are the variables in the experiment you designed?
How will you measure the variables?
How will your measurements help you verify your hypothesis?
Which variables must be observed in the experiment, and which can be obtained by research? (For example, perhaps the mass of a material is measured in your experiment, but the percent fat for a material is obtained from the USDA nutrient database.)
What are the controls in the experiment? Are controls appropriate? How? Or why not?
Your data and observations need to be reliable and replicable. For each experimental condition, you will need to have at least two replicate trials. Only through the use of replicate trials can you be sure that your observation is a repeatable phenomenon and not an outlier. Think about it: How many trials will you need in order to ensure that your observations are generally true, and not just a one-off?
Which methods will you use to present your data? (In a table? Graph? Images? Narrative?)
How will you document your work? (Handwritten notebook? Electronic notebook? Photos? Diagrams?)
Do the background research on your hypothesis, the methods you will use to test it, and claims that you make. Cite the references you used.
This piece should take you about 2 to 3 typed pages, using 12 pt font and 1″ margins. Submit your publish research proposal via the SUBMIT button on this page.
Part B: Improve the Experimental Design Project
After you revise your proposal, you will submit the reworked proposal as a final version. (please make a publish version and a final version, please
Your instructor will give you specific feedback about the proposal and may ask you to resubmit the proposal. The feedback is given so that you can improve your proposal. Feedback may address the hypothesis, the design of the project, its materials, or methods. If you are asked to revise and resubmit the proposal, you will edit your original version and submit the revision to the same Dropbox. Once you have feedback from your final revised proposal, your proposal is considered approved. Then, proceed to the next step: running your experiments to test your hypothesis!
Bonus Material: Asking other people to evaluate food
Many food-based labs involve things that can be measured. For example, “at what temperature is potato catalase denatured?” Or “How much moisture is lost from the steak for each cooking method?” However, evaluating the quality and taste of food requires different strategies. It is common – though not required – that students wish to involve other people in evaluating results. This brief handout includes tips for working with other people so that you achieve the most scientific results. You can download this document here Download You can download this document here.
The evaluation criteria can be found in the rubric below.
Things to add: FOR FINAL publish
1) Review the rubric below and use it as a checklist. Does your proposal address each of the graded items?
2) Don’t forget to design tables and/or graphs that you will create. The tables and graphs won’t be filled in, but will show that you have a plan for how you will collect data in a table and what your graph’s axes will look like. While each project won’t necessarily need a graph, all projects will need to present work in a table.
If you collaborated on the Experimental Design project, indicate the name of your collaborator/s in your paper.
Submit your work by the due date in the course calendar by returning to this assignment page and uploading your work as one single document, in .pdf, .doc, or .docx file format. After you upload your work, open it to verify that it is legible, correctly sized, and ready for review. Your work will be evaluated using the criteria in the rubric below.