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Assignment 5: Final Paper (50%)

You will write a paper that describes plans to conduct a research project. This will be a project proposal and similar to a Chapter 1 in many Master's and PhD Theses. It is also similar to the first half of many conference papers (e.g., Introduction, Related Work, Study Method sections). To do so, read at least five papers in your research area. Frame a single new research question with sub-questions in the context of existing work. Create a plan for a research design in a single methodological tradition that is appropriate to answer your research questions.

Write a research proposal of a maximum 3200 words (this should be about 10 pages, but worry about word count) in SFU's thesis format. You can find the thesis format here. When you submit your assignment, please remove the front matter from pages ii to xii since it is not needed.

Include the following sections:

1. Introduction (~1 page)

  • Motivate your work and provide a summary of the background literature that suggests research directions for your work.
  • Describe an overview of the basic research design. What worldview will you take? Will the research be exploratory or confirmatory? Deductive or inductive?

2. Related Work (~2-3 pages)

  • Provide background details on your research topic by describing the closest known research projects and their outcomes. Explain how your work builds on this work as a theoretical basis (if that is what you will do).
  • You should cite at least five papers on your topic area as part of the related work section.

3. Research Questions (~1-2 pages)

  • List out your research questions and explain why each of them is important, given the prior work.
  • Explain how answering the research questions push the state of knowledge in your field forward.

4. Research Objectives (~1-2 pages)

  • List out a series of research objectives that will allow you to address each of the research questions.
  • Describe the methods you will use as a part of your research. Justify the methods.
  • If there are participants, who will participate in your study? What will they do? With what technology? Where will your study take place?
  • How will you analyze and interpret your data to address your research questions?

5. Methodological Approach (~2 pages)

  • Explain the details of your methodological approach and worldview. Why did you choose this approach?
  • Describe the types of knowledge claims that your work will be able to create based on the methodology chosen.
  • Provide an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your approach including discussion of validity and reliability.
  • Describe other approaches that you considered and their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Describe the ethical concerns that you will need to address as a part of your research.

6. Conclusion (~1 page)

  • Describe the contributions of your work. Will you contribute the design of a technology? The results of a technology study? The study of people or culture in some form? Will you provide a theory from your work?

Note that the structure above assumes that the research is oriented towards a 'research question/problem'. If your research is not oriented in this way, you will need to modify these sections to match the worldview and paradigm that you have selected.

See Chapter 1s of these theses:

Note that many of the above examples are from Carman's students, so they fit a particular style. You can adjust the style of your own writing to fit what is typical for your supervisor or discipline.

Peer Review and Revision
You will write a draft of your paper and it will be distributed to the class for peer review. Each student must review one paper and provide written critique of less than one page (single spaced) (5%). Each student must reflect on the peer review suggestions and then refine the paper (5%).

There are some example paper reviews on this page here. They are focused on reviewing conference papers, but I think the general principles still apply. When you do your peer review of a classmate's proposal / paper, you'll want to assess each section and provide a critique including what could be improved and what is already well done. Look for issues of clarity, proper articulation of research questions, appropriate methods and methodology, etc.

To submit your paper for review:

We will be using a conference management system called EasyChair. You will submit your paper to EasyChair and perform your review in it. Reviews will be blind so the authors will not know who the review is written by.

  1. Go here and create an account:
  2. Submit your paper through the system. It needs to be a PDF.
  3. When you get a review request in email, please accept it.
  4. Submit your review through EasyChair. Be respectful when you write your review. You need to be critical and helpful, but word your review in such a way that you would be comfortable saying the same thing to the person face-to-face.

Final Submission
The final revised paper is worth 40% for a total of 50% for this activity.

Your final submission should contain:

  1. your revised version of the paper (source file, e.g., docx, latex)
  2. the final version of your paper (PDF file)

Submit the paper over email to The submission should contain the above two files only.


Peer Review Process (10%)

  • One page peer review (5%) - is it detailed? did the reviewer critique based on the concepts in class?
  • Changes based on peer review (5%) - did the changes address the concerns of the reviewer in detail?

Final Version of Paper (40%) - for each of the following sections, you will be graded based on how well you addressed the above criteria

  • Introduction (3%)
  • Related Work (6%)
  • Research Questions (8%)
  • Research Objectives (8%)
  • Methodological Approach (10%)
  • Conclusion (5%)

Writing quality will be assessed within each section.

Assignments over the word/page limit will receive a penalty of 10% or only be graded up to the word/page limit, at the discretion of the instructor.

RESOURCE ALERT! Drop into the Open Writing Lab (sorry, Burnaby and Vancouver campus only right now) for help with your writing. You can also schedule a writing consultation (available at all three campuses!) for a 30-60min discussion around time management and goal setting for writing, stages of the writing process, and planning for different writing assignments.