A prospectus is a formal proposal of a research project developed to coax a reader (a professor or research committee, or later in life, a project coordinator, funding agency, or the like) that the research the research can be carried out and will yield worthwhile results. It should provide:
- a working title for your project,
- a statement of your research question or issue,
- an overview of scholarship related to this topic or to the this author,
- a brief summary of your research methods and/or your theoretical treatment.
A prospectus is normally accompanied by a bibliography, often annotated, which lists sources you have consulted or plan to consult for your research. In cases where the texts studied exist in numerous editions or in translation, the bibliography should normally state which edition, text, or translation you will be using and why. You also should include a Prospectus Cover Sheet. finish with the signature of your director and 2nd reader.
Contents. In most cases, a prospectus will begin with an overview of existing scholarship, summarizing basic arguments relevant to the project. It will then position the project with reference to this scholarship. For this reason, the prospectus will demonstrate that you have conducted enough preliminary research to be able to design a relevant project and carry it through relatively independently. Since at this stage much research remains to be done, a thesis statement usually does not go after this introduction. Instead, include a statement of hypothesis or of the central research questions. The prospectus should then suggest an overview of the project organization. If the project is large enough for chapters, include a breakdown of them. If special abilities or assistance such as foreign language competency, access to archives or special collections, technical abilities, or access to technical equipment are needed to accomplish your project, the prospectus should address your prep in these areas. Part of your aim is, in essence, to “sell” your research supervisors on both your project and yourself as a researcher. Cover the ground well, presenting yourself and your project as intellectually persuading.
Developing an initial prospectus will help faculty understand where you are in the research process and help you bring concentrate to your research across the practice. Because it lays out a framework for your project, the prospectus can provide you with direction during the unavoidable moments when you feel dazed or lost. And because you have already clearly demonstrated your capability to carry out your research project, the prospectus can serve to reinforce your confidence and help keep you on track for a timely completion.
Beyond its relevance to your current research project, a prospectus helps you sharpen several significant abilities. Because a good prospectus requests concise, informative writing, composing one will help hone your writing style. In asking you to persuasively describe a compelling project and establish your capability to carry it out, it draws on abilities applicable to a diversity of situations in and out of the academy, such as scholarship and funding applications, proposals for research forums, conferences, or publications, job applications, and prep for larger and more sophisticated research projects such as those found in Ph.D. programs and a multiplicity of professional settings. The skill is so significant that some people—grant writers—make a profession out of writing prospectuses.
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