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Research & Service Leadership Symposium

Preparing Your Proposal

Your Guide to a Great Proposal

  • Focused Project Idea. In the project description (or abstract), you want to express the goal of your project, your purpose, why you are interested in this project, your methods or strategies for completing the project, and why others should be interested. Keep your ideas focused by opening with a single sentence that offers your main research question, or that explains your main goal. This is also an opportunity to demonstrate that you've thought deeply about your project. 
  • Clear Writing. In order to convey the subject of your project effectively, you must use clear, easy-to-follow writing. Take time to review your sentence structure, grammar, and punctuation. Also check that your main ideas and descriptions are clear to others. Have someone unfamiliar with your project read your proposal to see if they understand it easily.  You can also visit the Tutoring Center* for help with editing and organizing your thoughts! 
  • Word Length. Convey your ideas in 100-200 words. This is equal to 1-2  concise paragraphs.  Use word count in your document to craft your proposal. If you need assistance trimming or expanding your ideas, visit the Tutoring Center*
  • Quality Resources (for research projects).  Provide references that are relevant and appropriate to your project, including academic articles and studies from reputable and credible sources. Use the Foothill Library** tools  to help you research, select, evaluate, and cite high-quality resources.
  • Methodology. The quality of projects so often hinges on the quality of the methodology used.  Your research and service projects should utilize discipline-appropriate protocols and methodologies. Consider ethical practices, documentation, and inclusivity. Art projects should be thoughtful about choice of material, design, strategy, and presentation.

*Visit the Tutoring Center. View the step-by-step video for how to sign in and get connected with tutors.

**Use the Foothill Library Guides for evaluating sources, or contact a librarian directly: Ask a Librarian.

Committee Review Selection Process

A committee of Foothill faculty and staff from diverse academic disciplines and roles will select the presenters.

Here is the process that they will follow:

  1. A packet consisting of all the proposal content (title, abstract, methodology, resources) but without any identifying or demographic information is sent to each reader.

  2. Each reader reviews every proposal independently and ranks it "yes", "no" or "maybe." In addition, if the proposal falls into the reader's academic discipline, s/he carefully reviews and checks the references to be sure they are of high quality.

  3. The committee comes together in person, and discusses every proposal. Any proposal which received unanimous yes's is automatically accepted. Similarly, any proposal which received unanimous no's is rejected.

  4. The committee will then discuss proposals which had split decisions and/or a lot of maybes and aim for consensus about which remaining proposals will be selected. The committee may send input to these applicants to provide additional information or make updates to the proposal for reconsideration.

  5. Committee members recuse themselves from the discussion as necessary should they recognize a proposal which came from one of their students.

Awards & Recogition

Judges' Award

A cash prize of $100 will be awarded to each member of the 5 highest quality/most impactful projects.  Winners will be selected based on the submitted application materials, the final project submission, and presentation.

Viewers' Choice Award

Additional awards will be decided by the viewers and attendees of the Symposium. The top 5 most highly rated presentations/projects will be recognized at the end of the event. Winners will be selected by audience members and participants through a live poll during the Symposium.


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Please contact us!

Allison Herman & Michael McCusker, RSL Symposium Coordinators