Sustainability: Parts of the Proposal

Developing your Proposal

Proposals in Sustainability are developed during the Crafting the Thesis Proposal course (ENVR E-496 or S-496). However, a pre-proposal must be submitted to your Research Advisor two months prior to the course (see Working with your Research Advisor).

Parts of the Proposal

The sections below are not numbered - they are centered (a-head) or left-justified (b-head):

Title page - pre-formatted and provided to you in the E-496 or S-496 course

Tentative Title - at top of next page, and numbered page 1


Definition of Terms

Introduction - a brief introduction of the research problem

  • Research Significance and Goals (b-head) - broad goals of intended research and its importance

Background - an organized literature review of problem, leading logically to the next section

Research Questions and Hypotheses

  • Specific Aims (b-head) - the sequence of research tasks required to address questions and hypotheses


Research Limitations

Expected Results

Appendices (optional)

Tentative Schedule


The Importance of the Summary

These 1-2 pages serve as a concise, but comprehensive statement of the several components of the proposal including:

  • A paragraph introducing the research problem and goals or objectives of your research and its significance
  • The major research question and specific hypothesis you will examine, and specific aims or tasks required to conduct the research (note: may be multiple questions and/or hypotheses)
  • Details of research design, sources of data, and methods of analysis
  • Expected results and application for sustainability or environmental management practices or policies

An articulate, concise, complete, and convincing outline of the proposal encourages a prospective Thesis Director to consider serving in this role. A poor summary inhibits further reading of the proposal.