For the final few weeks, we’re going to have you develop a proposal for a research project, and then write up a paper with some given results. The first step in this process is writing the research proposal.
You may choose to investigate one of the following questions:
What insects are attracted to green and red light?
What insects are attracted to putrescine (rotting meat)?
What insects are attracted to isoamyl acetate (banana or fruit)?
This will be your main research question for the rest of the semester.
For this first portion of your assignment, you will develop a title, abstract, introduction and materials and methods section for your proposal. Luckily, you have done titles and abstracts before, so this should be no problem. Come up with a title describing your proposed project, and an abstract. Since you do not have data yet, just include basic background information in your abstract, and why this question is important (that should be the main focus of your abstract).
You will need to design an experiment to test your question, and put together the materials list and the methods you will use to carry out the experiment properly. To do this, you first must look into the literature and see what has been done before. Do a simple literature search around your question, and put together an introduction explaining your question and discussing the current knowledge on the topic. Your introduction should cover 1⁄2-1 1⁄2 pages, and include all the relevant literature you could find on the topic. This section is to introduce what has been done before, and help you determine how you are going to investigate the question yourself. Make sure to take notes on how other scientists have run their own experiments (DO NOT put these notes in your introduction!!) and adapt those methods to your own. You will use this information to design an experiment that answers your question.
Once you have designed your experiment, you need to write up a materials and methods section. You have written a materials and methods section before, but this time, you will write it in a slightly different way—the first part of this section should be an itemized budget of your materials (note that this part is never included in a paper for publication, only in proposals). You will need to source every item you will need to do your experiment and find out how much it costs. List the items at the beginning of your materials and methods section, along with their cost and manufacturer. End with a total cost for the experiment.
Next, describe how you will run the experiment. DO NOT write this up like a protocol—I don’t want to see numbered steps. Instead, write in paragraph form in future tense—say things like “buckets will be filled with sand and placed in quadrants” or “putrescine will be dripped on cotton and placed in cages.” If you do this section correctly, you will be able to change it to past tense and use it as your materials and methods section for your final paper. Make sure you include all methods, materials, and procedures you will need to answer the question fully.
Finally, write up an expected results section. This section could cover approximately 1⁄2 of a page, and speculate on what results you think you will find based on your literature search. Model this section on other results sections of papers you have read. This will form the basis for your results section for the final paper.
Since you are doing a literature search, you need to include references in your introduction and expected results section. Format your references according to the ESA style guide (the link is provided for you on eCampus). You will need a MINIMUM of 5 references, although you will more than likely have more than that, and you must include proper in paper citations.
Good luck, and have fun!