TOPIC PROPOSAL and Progress-Report andANALYT

WRITING THE TOPIC PROPOSAL FOR YOUR ANALYTICAL REPORT

The topic proposal for your analytical report will consist of four segments: (1) a precise, one-sentence statement of the purpose of your analytical report; (2) a multi-paragraph background section describing the problem you will attempt to solve; (3) a list of at least three, but no more than six, alternative solutions to the problem; and (4) a list of at least three criteria by which the alternative solutions will be evaluated. A sample topic proposal is included on pages 2-3.

  1. The purpose statement will be a one-sentence declaration of the objective of your report: namely, to determine the best way to solve (or bring under control) a particular problem affecting a particular company, organization, institution, etc. Be precise.
  2. The background section will consist of a series of substantially developed paragraphs that thoroughly describe and discuss the nature of the problem, its scope, and its seriousness. What are the causes and the effects of the problem? You want this section to be very specific and detailed. Don’t assume that your readers are already familiar with the problem. Do not use any research sources; write on the basis of your firsthand knowledge, experience, and observations.
  3. The list of alternative solutions (include at least three but no more than six) needs to be limited to realistic solutions. Don’t include anything far-fetched, impractical, or instantly dismissible. Be precise. The alternatives must be mutually exclusive; no two of them should overlap. Present the alternatives in the form of verb phrases. (Note: Your list of alternative solutions is a tentative list. As you begin your research in a few weeks, you may discover one or more alternative solutions that had not occurred to you when you wrote your topic proposal—and you will be able to incorporate them into your report.)
  4. The list of criteria (include at least three) needs to be limited to logically appropriate criteria. A criterion is a standard by which you judge the quality of something. (If you were buying a car, for example, criteria by which you would evaluate different makes and models might include cost, fuel efficiency, safety features, storage capacity, and terms of the warranty.) Present your criteria in the form of nouns or noun phrases. Each criterion must be applicable to all of the alternative solutions. (Thus, a criterion that can be applied to only one or two of the alternative solutions will not be acceptable.)

 

See the sample topic proposal on pages 2-3 of this handout.

 

OTHER SAMPLE TOPICS (without “background” paragraphs):

 

PURPOSE

My report will determine the best way to alleviate the traffic congestion at the New Stanton interchange of Route 70.

ALTERNATIVES

  1. Install traffic lights
  2. Construct a cloverleaf
  3. Widen the existing bridge and the adjoining ramps
  4. Relocate the entrance and exit ramps

CRITERIA

  1. Cost of implementation
  2. Ease of implementation
  3. Time required to complete the project
  4. Impact on local businesses
  5. Effect on reducing traffic congestion
  6. Effect on public safety

 

PURPOSE

My report will determine the best way to stop employee theft at OfficeMax store #____.

ALTERNATIVES

  1. Require that managers check all employees’ bags when employees leave the store
  2. Hire security guards
  3. Offer monetary rewards to employees who report theft by co-workers
  4. Install surveillance cameras

CRITERIA

  1. Cost of implementation                                       4. Opinions of employees
  2. Ease of implementation                                       5. Opinions of managers
  3. Anticipated effectiveness

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAMPLE TOPIC PROPOSAL

Use the following as the model for your own proposal. Use full caps for headings. Single-space within segments, and double-space between segments and between paragraphs. Type your name and the class-meeting time in the upper-left corner of the first page. Please use 12-point Times Roman.                                    

 

PROPOSED TOPIC FOR ANALYTICAL REPORT

 

PURPOSE

My report will determine the best way to control the growing problem of panhandling and “panhassling” in downtown Pittsburgh.

 

BACKGROUND (Note: This section—with a word count of 342—would earn a B-; it needs to be more detailed, more specific, and more thorough.)

The increasing number of panhandlers and “panhasslers” (unusually aggressive panhandlers who berate or intimidate pedestrians) in the business district in downtown Pittsburgh has created for many prospective shoppers and theater- or concert-goers the perception that downtown Pittsburgh is much more crime-ridden and dangerous than it actually is. In fact, crime statistics prove year after year that downtown Pittsburgh is unusually safe compared to other downtown business districts in cities of comparable size. The panhandlers and panhasslers, however, are driving people away.

 

Many of the panhandlers are beggars by vocation—they are not homeless persons—and some have been plying their trade for more than a decade. For many years, for example, a transvestite panhandler has been occupying a chair at the corner of Smithfield Street and Forbes Avenue, where there is a Rite Aid drugstore. Right around the corner, on Smithfield Street, an old, bearded panhandler often is lying on sheets of cardboard. Among the panhasslers is a man known as the “Rose Guy,” who places a single rose in the hands of the woman in a couple passing by and then demands money in return. He turns nasty if he doesn’t get what he wants.

 

The presence of the panhandlers on almost every prominent block, as well as on the Smithfield Street Bridge, also contributes to the growing perception—a misperception—that downtown Pittsburgh is in serious, irreversible economic decline. The sometimes harassing and threatening behavior of the panhandlers offends, even frightens, some shoppers and visitors, discouraging them from shopping downtown or attending events in the downtown Cultural District. The letters-to-the-editor page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette occasionally includes accounts of unnerving encounters with menacing panhandlers, and the letter-writers often remark that they will think twice before venturing into the downtown district again. Downtown stores and entertainment venues will continue to lose business to suburban malls and suburban entertainment venues until the panhandling problem is brought under control.

 

An ordinance passed by the city a few years ago has had little effect on the frequency with which pedestrians are accosted by panhandlers.

 

 

ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS

  1. Do a better job of enforcing the ordinance, already on the books, that restricts panhandling in downtown Pittsburgh
  2. Establish a voucher system by which charitable citizens can buy one-dollar vouchers (redeemable for food, clothing, and bus transportation) to give to panhandlers
  3. Enact a “bubble ordinance” that would guarantee pedestrians an eight-foot “comfort zone” on the sidewalks (panhandlers would need to stay at least eight feet away from passersby who choose not to give money to panhandlers)
  4. Establish specific, restricted panhandling zones in downtown Pittsburgh
  5. Require panhandlers to register and carry a photo I.D.

 

CRITERIA

  1. Constitutionality
  2. Cost of implementation
  3. Ease of implementation
  4. Enforceability
  5. Response of public
  6. Anticipated effectiveness

 

 

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A Preview of the Structure of the Analytical Report You Will Be Writing in This Course

 

Although you have probably never before written a report of this kind, you will find it very easy to organize.

After the title page, a table of contents, and an abstract (a summary of the analytical report), your analytical report will consist of the following sections, each of which you can think of as a very, very, very short chapter:

 

First, an introductory section, which will consist almost entirely of the text of your topic proposal, which you can simply cut-and-paste into the appropriate places.

 

Second, a separate section for each one of your criteria. (In each section, you will apply the criterion under consideration to each of your alternative solutions and then conclude which alternative solution is superior to the others on the basis of that criterion.) Together, these sections will form the bulk of your analytical report, which will be structured like this:

 

SECTION I: CRITERION #1 (such as cost)

Introduction

Facts about Alternative Solution A

Facts about Alternative Solution B

Facts about Alternative Solution C

Facts about Alternative Solution D

Summary (ranking the alternative solutions from best to worst)

 

SECTION II: CRITERION #2 (such as ease of implementation)

Introduction

Facts about Alternative Solution A

Facts about Alternative Solution B

Facts about Alternative Solution C

Facts about Alternative Solution D

Summary (ranking the alternative solutions from best to worst)

 

SECTION III: CRITERION #3 (such as time frame of implementation)

Introduction

Facts about Alternative Solution A

Facts about Alternative Solution B

Facts about Alternative Solution C

Facts about Alternative Solution D

Summary (ranking the alternative solutions from best to worst)

 

SECTION IV: CRITERION #4 (such as anticipated effectiveness)

Introduction

Facts about Alternative Solution A

Facts about Alternative Solution B

Facts about Alternative Solution C

Facts about Alternative Solution D

Summary (ranking the alternative solutions from best to worst)

 

Finally, a conclusions section; a brief recommendation section, in which you recommend one alternative solution over the others; a works-cited list of your sources; and an optional appendix.

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