Introduction to Graduate Research (Fall 2021)/Final project

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The final project for the course will be a 3,500-5,000 word written document consisting of two parts: (1) a brief strategic plan for the next year or so of your graduate school career and (2) a proposal for a research project you plan to conduct. I've elaborated some expectations for each below. I also provide some formatting and submission guidelines.

Projects are due at 12pm CT, December 8, 2021 via Canvas.

Part I: Strategic Plan (about 1,500-2,000 words)[edit]

Please use 1,500-2,000 words to elaborate a strategic plan for your next few years of graduate school. Note that your plan should include both broader, high-level goals, values, and visions that guide you as well as concrete, specific actions that you aim to take in pursuit of your high-level aims. The following questions might serve as a rough guide.

  • Summarize your overall approach to the next academic years of your Ph.D. program.
  • What goals, values, and vision guide you in your work?
  • What areas of expertise do you plan to cultivate? How?
  • How will you use coursework and other degree requirements/milestones to advance your goals?
  • What specific research project(s) do you plan to pursue?
  • How do you plan to use the summer(s) in your first year or two?
  • How will you advance your professional growth and development?

Part II: Research Plan (about 2,000-3,000 words)[edit]

Please use 2,000-3,000 words to elaborate a detailed plan for a research project you plan to conduct. This must be a project for which you are responsible for the research design and are thus actually in a position to create the research plan (I am not interested in reading about your advisor's research plans or projects here, although I understand that your project may need to advance their grants or goals and that you may have every intention of collaborating on the study and potentially even refining the research design with them). This may be a larger-scale project (i.e., something that leads to a dissertation or book manuscript) or a more narrowly-scoped project (i.e., something that yields a single research paper). Whatever the case, the research plan should advance your interests and, ideally, your progress towards your degree/career goals.

At a minimum, the Research Plan should elaborate the following:

  • A rationale for the study. What broad questions, concerns, puzzles, or problems in the world motivate this project?
  • General and specific objectives. What broad goals will the study achieve? What specific goals? Note that these might be framed in terms of contributions to research fields, domains of application, or impacts on society.
  • Critical background and context. What contextual knowledge is essential to understand this work? Please note that this should not be an involved or over-long literature review, but feel free to introduce a small set of key references or arguments that help motivate and situate your work.
  • Details and rationale of the research approach. How will you pursue the project? What setting, data, methods, system design, evaluation, or other materials will you use to execute the work. Why is this approach uniquely/ideally suited to achieving the study objectives and addressing the rationale for the study.
  • Anticipated findings and contribution. Sure, you have not conducted the work yet, but what do you think you'll find/do and what evidence do you think you'll marshall? Assuming you find/do what you expect, what will this project contribute to the field(s) you work in (and/or the wider world)?
  • References.

Note: if you feel that the Research Plan part of the assignment described above is a poor fit for your specific research aims or situation , I am happy to discuss your situation or ideas for alternative assignment parameters. Please contact me if you have concerns in this regard.

Formatting and submission guidelines[edit]

I am flexible about how you format your work. Please use a standard format that is readable, visually appealing, and straightforward. Two standard formats (with widely available templates) you might consider are the PACMHCI format (in use in several ACM Conferences these days) or APA style (from 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual) (in use in several ICA-affiliated journals). Standard reference formats (APA, Chicago, ASA, PACM/HCI, IEEE) are absolutely necessary.

Projects are due at 12pm Central Time on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 via Canvas. Note that I configure Canvas to require PDF submissions so that there are no formatting integrity issues when I read your work.