Writing a Paper Proposal

 The rationale for writing a paper proposal is twofold.  First, it gives you a chance to do some formal pre-writing so you can avoid the “Oh my gosh, it’s midnight and I haven’t started writing my paper yet!” syndrome.  Theoretically, this pre-writing will make your first draft a more thoughtful draft.  Secondly, it’s an opportunity for you to let another person evaluate the quality (and clarity) of your idea before you spend a ton of time writing a whole paper about it. 


Your proposal MUST be approved prior to writing your first draft.  You may have to revise or completely rewrite your proposal if it is not accepted.*


With that in mind, here are the requirements of your proposal:

  • Your proposal should be a page or less, typed and double-spaced.  Normal font size (12 pt.) and margins (1”) apply.  Please make sure you’re putting the appropriate heading on it as well (See your “Class Policies” handout about this.)
  • You must turn in two hard copies to me the week your proposal is due.  (*Beware of getting things in late in the week.  You might want to pretend the due date is always “Monday.”)

Your proposal must include:

  • A working thesis statement that addresses (to the best of your ability) the requirements of the assignment.
  • A working title.  This title should be specific to what your paper is about, not just a general statement about topic.

(DO NOT write:  “The Taming of the Shrew” as your title; Shakespeare might feel affronted.

DO write: “Kate, the Empowered Falcon, in The Taming of the Shrew”; Note: In this sample title you haven’t just told your audience what text you’re writing about, you’ve also given them a preview of what your argument is.)

  • A brief outline or description of how you expect to prove your thesis.  In other words, explain how you plan to convince your audience. (You should already have a good understanding of the rhetorical situation of your essay.)  It’s highly recommended that you detail specific evidence (list short quotes and/or page numbers) you plan to use and how you’re going to organize them.  (i.e., What do you need to prove first? Etc.)
  •  An anticipation of your problem areas or questions you have about your idea and its presentation.  This is your chance to ask my advice on ONE or TWO issues you are having with your idea and building the argument for it.