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Proposals are a critical part of a good writing. But as this
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SEC 315    (Security Assessment and Solutions)

Subject of paper can be anything related to security to the United States. If it is a specific event it must be within the past 10 yrs.

Assignment 1: Proposal

Proposals are a critical part of a good writing. But as this is a professional skill that is rarely taught or expected.  The proposal I require is tool for you, not for me. That is I teach you a skill that you can apply in any class or in the real world when you have to prepare a paper, and want to organize up front.   

The topic of the paper is your choice related to the course.  That is the topic has to relate to some current international issue.   The paper can deal with a specific event within the past 10 years, or some functional issue such as globalization, famine, foreign aid, etc. as long as there is a clear problem statement, and expected outcome.   The term paper should relate to a problem or issue that you will offer solutions or recommendations.  I don’t want just a lot of information or background, but a paper that develops arguments leading to a strong conclusion. 

That is the paper is not just a lot of information or background.  That is a different type of paper.   Think of the paper in terms of problem/solution.   So the proposal identifies the problem, or issue, you want to explore.   You have to think through the paper and have an initial idea of what your solution will be.  Then you must determine how you will approach the problem and what key points you will have to make.   Then you have what you need to draft the proposal. 

The most important part of the proposal is the last paragraph or two where you lay out what you hope to learn from the paper, and what solution, recommendation, or other takeaway you will have.   The conclusion is the most important element of any analytical paper, and most research papers or term papers are analytical papers.

From the proposal you will draft an outline - although for some students an initial outline can precede the proposal.   It does not matter which comes first, but the outline does get revised during the research process.  I am only looking to view and grade the narrative proposal.

If you do a case study, you have to first think the case through as to what are the key lessons you believe you will learn from the paper.   Then decide how those lessons will apply to the present, the future, or should have been applied in the past, or other takeaway you might want to have from those lessons.

You may do an historical paper, but the same caveat applies.  I don’t want just a lot of chronology and “facts,” but  the history has to be discussed in the context of some problem or issue you are going to develop in the lessons and takeaway. 

This is a narrative proposal, much like the introduction of a paper. The research proposal has three parts. The first part is your introductory paragraph or paragraphs setting the tone of your paper.  

The second part is a couple to a few paragraphs outlining what the key issues or arguments you will need to develop or argue.   This is what you need to focus your research on what you need. Otherwise if you use broad statements or keywords, you my stumble across what you need, but with a proposal you go looking for exactly what you need. 

The last part of the proposal is the most important, and often what you have to determine first. What is it you want to conclude, that is what is it you hope to learn, that is lessons of the paper, and take away from those lessons. A good paper identifies a problem or issue for which you will offer a solution or recommendations. 

For an historical paper this would be lessons and what could have been done, should have been done, lessons that were not learnt, or lessons that can apply recommendations for a current or future event.  For a case study it would be the lessons from the case study and then how those lessons could or should be applied.  For a term paper the lessons would be followed by your solutions or recommendations or other takeaway based on the lessons and the problem/issue discussed in the body.

The proposal helps with topic selection, which is your choice.  You can have a case study, an historical evaluation, or evaluate some current problem or issue related to security.  If you wish you can do a risk analysis of some local or notional business.  If you choose this topic, contact Dr. Gideon for specific advice.  

So altogether, depending on the focus and scope of the paper, which is determined by the conclusion you will hope to reach, not the problem or a bunch of general questions, you will have from a few to several paragraphs for your proposal.   

 Remember you only have a total of nine weeks to complete the paper.   So your topic has to be narrow enough so you can fully discuss and develop your ideas. Research is not done in a weekend or just a week. Good professional or upper level research is multi-sourced, corroborated, primary when available, and current or appropriate for the topic discussed. 

Let me iterate. Once you have described the issue or problem and set the parameters of the paper, then you transition into the second part of the research proposal. This part lays out how you plan on approaching the paper, the type of research you plan on conducting, and in general, the direction the paper will take. 

Finally, to iterate, the most important part of the research proposal is the conclusion. Or, more specifically, what you hope to conclude. For a proposal, one may refer to the conclusion as the meat of hypothesis, if one wishes to use an academic term. That is the entire proposal is holistically your chosen hypothesis. 

 The conclusion is the whole purpose behind the paper. The conclusion is the reason you write a paper. It is nice to do research so you, the student can learn more about a topic, or to inform a reader about a problem and the surrounding issues, but that is not the purpose of the paper itself. The purpose is for you to draw a conclusion – lessons and takeaway. 

 A conclusion may be a recommendation or recommendations based on your research for whomever reads the paper, the lessons learned from the examples you gave, lessons that can be applied to a current situation, or a lesson that was not learnt and therefore a mistake had been made in either a current or past situation, or your unique opinion or perspective on how history developed based on the research you did and your analysis.  

For this class you will need to identify any homeland security issue or problem and offer both lessons from the arguments you make and solutions or recommendations to resolve the issue or problem.  You may do a case study, and offer your lessons and takeaway from those lessons or, you can have any other security topic related to this course’s subject matter.    

A well written proposal can then serve as the introduction of the paper itself when you begin writing it. But be sure that you edit the proposal to reflect the final paper itself.  

Once you have a working proposal, you can then develop an outline. An outline is not elementary school work; professional writers nearly always use outlines. It not only helps organize one’s thoughts, but helps one to focus on the topic. The more detailed the outline the easier it will be to write the paper. 

 There are some writers who prefer to think through an outline and then write the proposal. If this is what works best for you, then by all means follow that pattern.

 Finally, with an outline and research proposal in place, you can begin to think about your research questions. That is the questions you will need to answer, quotations you will need, and any data that will be required for your paper. Then you can build your requirements list. That is where to find the sources you will need find the answers to your research questions.

A proposal is not an essay, the proposal is more like an introduction.  If you need examples of an introduction see the writing folder under the student center tab.  The same holds for conclusions.  I provide some more guidance.   But if you do need an essay draft it up first, get your thoughts down.  Then sleep on it.  Then go back and revise what you have so it clearly lays out the details you need to lay out.  

Good writers always go through several drafts, and often have several different people give feedback, before he writer submits for publication.   Students always seem to want to turn in work that is rushed through on a single afternoon.   Give yourself time, and do review and revise your work.  I want quality not rushed worked. 

Note: Research question in this context are not the broad based ones that seem to be choice of minimalist instructors, but specific ones from your outline. If your outline states you need to find arguments supporting funding of new overhead satellite system for national security, then the research questions might be:

Which Members of Congress support such a system? Find direct quotes to support their arguments.

 Are there any former presidents, or military figures?

 Has the White House made any supporting statements?

Are there any non-government support for such systems?

This way you look for specific statements, not hope you might stumble across statements from secondary source material.

 See documents in the writing materials folder to assist you in editing; and, to help better understand assignments.  

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