Research Essay Proposal

The Research Proposal is a plan, a description of intended action. It is a way to decide for yourself why you intend to research a specific aspect of a topic, how you intend to research it, and what your argument might be. Feel free to discuss it with me at any stage of your research.

Value: 10%

I. Answers to these questions will establish a general framework for your research


  1. In the broadest sense, what is your topic?
  2. How does your topic relate to the overarching theme of the course—power and ideas?
  3. How much do you already know about the topic?
  4. Which primary sources could you enlist in support of your topic? (Be as specific as possible.). Important: your text(s) of choice must be “original” (i.e. text[s] you have neither written about nor presented on in the course). You may choose one or more texts studied this semester, one or more texts from the “Axis of Evil” anthology, and/or one or more poems selected from the Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (see Research Essay instructions for other important details).
  5. Which critical, theoretical, historical, political, literary or interdisciplinary strands could you bring to bear on your topic (e.g. postcolonial, sociological, psychoanalytic, ecocritical, deconstructionist, posthumanist, etc.)? Important: you must cite at least four secondary (i.e. critical & peer-reviewed) sources.

II. Answers to these questions will establish a specific focus for your work:

  1. How do you plan to limit the scope of your topic?
  2. Is there a question or set of questions you hope to answer through your research?
  3. What are the essential elements of your research question(s)? This is a crucial part, as it will bring focus to your project.
  4. What is your working thesis? This is, of course, the most important question. Although it might seem counterintuitive to begin with a thesis statement, it will serve as a road map to enable you to steer your argument productively. As your paper progresses, tweak it as needed.
  5. What are some key sub-issues or secondary areas of your topic?

III. Library Research Template:

Working Thesis (keeping the thesis always in front of you will help to guide your search)      
What main issues and sub-issues will your paper cover?      
What types of resources will your research require? Primary:   Secondary:  
Search Log Example: Database searched: UBC library Keywords used: power; oppression; trauma; “magic realism” (use quotation marks for phrases to avoid confusion) Results found: Takolander, Maria Kaaren. “Theorizing Irony and Trauma in Magical Realism: Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Alexis Wright’s The Swan Book.” Ariel, vol. 47, no. 3, July 2016, p. 95–122.Warnes, Christopher. Magical Realism and the Postcolonial Novel: Between Faith and Irreverence. Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.Zamora, Lois P. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Duke University Press, 1995.
Database searched: Keywords used: Results found:  
Database searched: Keywords used: Results found:  
Database searched: Keywords used: Results found:  
Database searched: Keywords used: Results found:  

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