Type II Guidelines
for Proposals other than Arts and Creative Humanities
The effectiveness of your proposal will depend on your ability to explain the nature, context and scope of the project. The selection committee will also be looking for an indication that your project will be more than just a learning experience—what does it contribute to your field that we do not already know? Your proposal should include the following information and should include these exact headings:
• Abstract: A summary of your research question and your project design. Researchers typically write the abstract after they have finished writing the rest of the proposal. Include it as the first section on the first page of your proposal.
• Research Question and Significance: This is a key section that helps provide important background for your project. You should discuss the broader contextual framework: What has been done before in the field? What has been done in the particular lab you may be working in to set the stage for this project? What is new about what you are proposing? How will it advance in the field? In terms of the audience you are writing for: You should frame the question that you want to explore in your research for a broader audience and discuss why this is an interesting and important question. How might its applications improve people's lives or the world we live in? If working on a larger project within a lab, what is your individual contribution to this endeavor?
• Project Design and Feasibility: This is an important, larger section and should include much of the substance of your proposed project. It is appropriate to use your discipline-specific language to provide detail about how the project will unfold. How will you go about exploring your research question? What will be your methods? Are these methods in keeping with traditional approaches in this research area or is this new, uncharted territory that requires an experimental methodology? What is your expected timetable for carrying out this research? Break down the specifics of what your projects steps are going to look like.
• Background: This is a shorter section to let the committee know what courses and/or work/research experiences have prepared you to undertake this project. Please include how you know the faculty mentor. If this is a group project with fewer than 5 people, then you should include a sentence on the responsibilities for each team member; if this is a larger group project, then please highlight the main students.
• Feedback and Evaluation: This is a shorter section. Who will provide feedback on and evaluate your project and according to what schedule and what criteria? How often will you meet with your faculty mentor? Are you also working with graduate students, if so what are their names?
• Dissemination of Knowledge: How will you share the results of your project? What form will your final report take? You should include Meeting of the Minds but if there are other venus to share your work - a departmental poster session or a discipline-specific conference, please mention these options here.
Please also consider your budget carefully. Include a list of all the items you propose to purchase and your best estimate of the cost of each item, including specific vendor information - where you plan to purchase the item(s) and how much each item costs. All expense items should be explained either in the body of your proposal or in a budget narrative included on your budget page. For example, if you are asking for funds to purchase a piece of software, is that software available in a public cluster? Does a faculty or staff member have the software that you could use when they aren’t there? The selection committee reserves the right to disallow certain line items and frequently approves partial budgets. If you are preparing a SURG budget, please also consider:
• Conference fees are not allowed (apply separately to the Presentation Award program)
• The committee rarely approves course fee requests
• Travel costs must be directly related to the proposed research and fully justified; the committee rarely funds airline tickets or international travel
• Food costs disallowed
• Equipment purchases must be fully supported in the proposal and equipment must remain at Carnegie Mellon; state who will be responsible for it when you complete your project
• Book purchases are approved only if you can show it is impossible to get what you need from a library or on loan
Your proposal may be up to three pages in length, single-spaced; the budget may be a fourth page. At the top of the first page put your project title and the names of all students submitting the proposal. The next item should be your abstract. Print single sided sheets only (double sided copies will not duplicate and the committee will not receive your full proposal). We recommend at least a 12 point, serifed font (such as Times or Palatino), justified left (right ragged). Illustrations may be used in the body of the proposal but should duplicate well on a copier. If you are using color graphs or illustrations, please submit four complete copies of your proposal for the selection committee. Do not include a cover sheet, title page, resumes, or any other attachments: they will be discarded. Instead, include any relevant information in the body of your proposal. Remember to spell check! You are requesting funds and your proposal should be a reflection of your commitment to the project.
Review a Draft
You are strongly encouraged to work with your faculty advisor on your proposal and to meet with the Undergraduate Research Office Director or Associate Director at least once prior to submitting a SURG or Summer Research Fellowship proposal to review a draft. To schedule an appointment, e-mail Stephanie Wallach at email@example.com, or Jennifer Keating-Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call x8-5702.