As you revise your final proposals, I’ve gathered a few tips that respond to patterns we saw in the rough drafts. In no particular order:

1) Remember that this is a proposal, not the final conclusions of research. No one can come to valid conclusions doing just 1.5 hours of participant observation (that is, actually, mostly observation). Therefore this assignment does not ask you for conclusions and including conclusions diminishes the strength of your proposal. Use your preliminary fieldwork to articulate interesting questions rather than state conclusions.

2) This proposal is also testing your ability to describe anthropological research methods. Make sure your methods are anthropological. There are many, many different ways to do research out there but, because this is an anthropology course, we are looking for your descriptions of anthropological methods.

3) Make sure your research questions and proposed research methods fit with each other. Your methods need to be appropriate for getting at the questions you articulate. For instance, if one of your research questions is “How do people make friends while playing video games?” then doing ethnographic interviews with game designers about how they plan various game levels isn’t going to help you much.

4) You absolutely need to link your research location or community very clearly with anthropological themes and topics. Explicitly address the key themes that you have encountered in this course.

5) Use organizational techniques to make your points clear to your reader. Break paragraphs into clusters of thought that include just one main point. Do the same with questions. Long lists of questions can be hard for your reader to understand, so explain your logic, and group questions together in ways that follow that logic. You might also want to use sub-section headings or titles to help your reader understand what you’re trying to accomplish in a particular section of the proposal.

6) Remember that, contrary to the preliminary fieldwork you’ve done this semester, real anthropological research is conducted through a long-term engagement to a community or location. Anthropologists generally don’t believe that valid research can be done in a short period of time because it takes a long term (which has a flexible definition) to understand the complexity of what’s going on.