Professional Project Proposal

Professional Project Proposal

A professional project requires a detailed, written proposal that must be approved by both your project committee and the project seminar instructor before the project is begun. The proposal must describe a capstone project that will develop and demonstrate both professional skills and analytic ability. The proposal must include both professional skills and analysis components.

The proposal for a professional project must contain the following elements, in this order:

1. Introduction. Explain how your coursework and other experiences have led to, and prepared you for, this project. Cite specific courses and instructors if you wish. More important in this introduction, however, are the skills and concepts you have learned and the professional direction in which they have pointed you. Explain as clearly as you can where you are headed, professionally, and how this project will help you get there.

2. The professional skills component. Answer, as specifically as possible, these questions: Where will you work? What will you do? Include these specifics:

  • The journalism specialty or area of emphasis of the project.
  • What educational and professional qualifications you have to pursue the project.
  • Beginning and ending dates.
  • Work schedule (the minimum requirement is 30 hours per week for at least 14 weeks). (There is value work over time. Thus multiplying 30 hours by 14 weeks, for a total of 420 hours, and then shrinking the overall time span of the project so that such a minimum number of hours is met, is not acceptable.)
  • Detailed description of the work you’ll do.
  • How the work will be disseminated.
  • What material will be included in the final project report that meets the requirement for “abundant physical evidence.”
  • Who will supervise the project and how that supervision will be provided.

3. The analysis component. This is the part of the project that requires you to step back and examine some aspect of professional practice. As you’ve read in the detailed description earlier, the analysis component may take the form of traditional scholarly research or a journalistic professional analysis.

If you are doing scholarly research, this section of the proposal must include these elements:

    • A clear statement of your research topic and how it is relevant to the field and to your professional skills component;
    • The research question(s) you propose to answer about that topic;
    • A succinct discussion of the theoretical foundation or framework for your research. This discussion can address specific theories, such as agenda-setting, the limited-capacity model and framing, or more general theoretical approaches such as grounded theory, as appropriate;
    • A literature review that summarizes and synthesizes previous scholarly research in your topic area;
    • A description of the research method you will employ to answer your research question(s). You should include general discussion of how your chosen method has been employed in previous research, the pros and cons of using this method, and the specific procedures you will follow (e.g., how will you select content to analyze, recruit experimental subjects, or administer an online survey).
    • A short list of academic journals or conferences that would be suitable targets for publication or presentation.

Note: These elements, in this order (with any necessary updates), will appear in your final project report, followed by presentation and discussion of your findings.

If you are doing professional analysis, this section of the proposal must contain these elements:

    • A clear statement of your topic and what questions you propose to answer about that topic;
    • An explanation of how this topic and these questions are relevant to the field and to your professional skills component;
    • A succinct discussion of the theory or theories in mass communication research that offer an appropriate backdrop or context for your inquiry;
    • A literature review that summarizes and synthesizes previous scholarly research in your topic area;
    • A detailed description of the journalistic method or approach you will take to answering your questions, such as whom you will interview, which documents you will examine, or what kinds of databases you will access;
    • All professional analyses will be considered for publication on the J-School website. Please include a short list of professional publications that would also be suitable targets for publication.

All three of these elements (introduction, skills component, analysis component) must be accompanied by the proposal approval form, which has been signed by your committee members.