Sunday, November 24, 2013

Gorilla Detecting

NOTE: A little something I wrote for my BYU-Idaho writing students. I think it's a fair, concise shake at showing what you ought to do in a research proposal. And that it features the Muppets, so much the better. Alan Murray would be so proud.

Gorilla detecting. It's gonna be big. 

And how does detecting gorillas apply to writing your research proposal (due this week)? 

Have you presented us with a problem that needs to be solved? Dr. Bunsen Honeydew has: How many times have you awakened at night in the dark and said to yourself: Is there a gorilla in here? 

So be sure to state the problem you're addressing. And if the problem you're addressing isn't quite, word-for-word, what you signed up for, that's fine. Just make sure you're clear in presenting your problem. 

Next, set the stage. Tell us why this your problem is worthy of solving. Dr. Honeydew does: How many family vacations have been ruined by undetected gorillas. Who wants a vacation ruined by gorillas, undetected or not? Clearly, you're at the beach -- I'm thinking Cannon Beach in Oregon -- and you don't want your playing in the surf or gazing at Haystack Rock to be marred by a gorilla attack. So you've got my attention. What's your solution? 

Yes, present your solution to that problem. Dr. Honeydew does: The solid-state gorilla detector. 

Now, you're not done. Someone may object to your solution. It may have its flaws -- the gorilla detector certainly didn't work as advertised. So explain why your solution is a good'un, if not the best. Present clear evidence, by once again turning to setting the stage: Tell and show us why your solution is the best. Do better than Dr. Honeydew, please . .  . 

SCHEDULE for the week: Try to have your rough draft in your writing groups by WEDNESDAY, rather than MONDAY. I don't think it's fair to dump that on you first thing Monday morning. Please finish your commenting by midnight FRIDAY, then turn in your proposals by midnight SATURDAY.

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