Proposal Guide

Sample #1 - Scientific Paper

My paper is going to be a scientific paper on the study that I worked on this summer, the spatial memory of rufous hummingbirds (Salasphorus rufus). A scientific paper consists of 7 parts - title, abstract, introduction, methods and materials, results, discussion, and literature cited.


In this part I will summarize very briefly what the study was about with the hummingbirds, how we did it, and what we discovered.

In this section I will present background information, what is already known about hummingbird spatial memory. Things that this section will include are:

  1. A description of the birds ecology
  2. Why these birds are useful in field studies
  3. Background information: what is known about hummingbird memory, including reference to a number of papers including the following:

Miller & Miller (1971a)
- showed that location of a food source is more important than colour
- return migrants remember the location of a food source from year to year

  1. Healy & Hurley (1995)
    - showed that birds would avoid empty flowers on return visits
    - field studies are good because they provide ethical and logistical implications for studies on animal memory and they also provide an ideal opportunity to test what and how well animals remember in their natural environment.
  2. Hurley (1996)
    - showed that birds do not use intrinsic cues (e.g. Odour) to detect flowers that have food in them
    - birds remember spatial location of rewarded flowers
    - memory for non-rewarded flowers is also suggested
    - hummingbirds are excellent subjects for studies in field and the laboratory
  3. Gass & Sutherland (1985)
    - showed that hummingbirds use memory of relative patch quality before initiating foraging bouts
  4. Miller & Miller (1971b).
    - did studies on Ruby-throated hummingbirds; showed that they are more strongly influenced by the location of a food source than by its colour
    - showed that there is no evidence that birds have a preference for one colour
  5. Brodbeck (1994)
    - showed that chickadees respond to spatial cues preferential over local colour and patter cues associated with a feeder
    - juncos responded to all types of information equally

4. A description of the questions that we have addressed in this study.

In this section I will outline exactly what was done in this experiment. It will be outlined in such detail that the study could be repeated by anyone who reads this paper. It will include things such as:

  1. Where the study was performed
  2. When the study was performed
  3. The materials that were used
  4. How the experiment was set up
  5. How the experiment was manipulated
  6. A description of how the data was analyzed

In this section, I will present the data from this years study. It will consist of figures and tables as well as written text. Statistical tests that will be performed include an analysis of variance (ANOVA) and a t-test.

In this section, I will discuss the results of this study and compare the result to the results of other similar studies. For example, I will explain why we think the birds did (or didn't do) what we expected them to, how the bird's performance compares to what has been shown in other studies. I will also talk about future studies that may be performed on the spatial memory of hummingbirds in order to indicate the direction of further research.

Literature Cited
This section will list all of the literature cited in my paper.

Caroll, S.P. & L. Moore. 1993. Hummingbirds take their vitamins. Animal Behaviour; 42: 221-226.

Cheng, K. & D.F. Sherry. 1992. Landmark spatial memory in birds (Parusatricapillus and Columbia livia:). The use of edges and distances to represent spatial positions. Journal of Comparative Psychology. 106: 331-341.

Clayton, N.S. And J.R. Krebs. 1994. Memory for spatial and object-specific cues in food storing and non-storing birds. J. Comp. Phsiol. A. 174: 371-379. And so on......


Sample #2

There is no question that at first glance, Canada and the United States are very similar nations. Both were born due to an influx of immigrants from Europe. From that point, each one developed their own customs, traditions and common law, derived from the experience of their citizens, yet still highly influenced by Europe, and in particular, by Britain. Today, some aspects such as entertainment, language and lifestyle, make it difficult for people from other countries to understand what makes a Canadian different from an American. Instead of dismissing these queries as statements made merely out of ignorance, perhaps we should stop and ask what would be a legitimate rebuttal to this comment. Although there are many ways to examine such a topic, one of the most revealing and surprising methods could be an analysis of the relationship the two judicial branches share. Whereas it is the elected members of the legislatures that enact the statutes they believe they were appointed to put in place, it is the distant judiciary which takes that legislation and applies it to decide the right or wrong of the decisions we make in our everyday lives. If an examination of the courts revealed that they interpreted the actions of individual Canadians and Americans in much the same way, perhaps visitors to either country would be correct in stating there really wasn't much difference between the two.

The purpose of this paper then, is to examine how our highest appellate court, the Supreme Court of Canada, cites American judicial authority. Through Dr. McCormick's database, we already know the cites do occur, and in recent years have risen dramatically. The question is, why would the Supreme Court refer to the decisions of a judicial system which is responsible for interpreting different statutes and has no binding authority in Canada? By looking at each individual citation and interpreting the context in which it is referred to, many possible answers arise.

The first analysis that will be presented is the methodology used to classify all the citations into a meaningful categorization scheme. This isn't yet complete, but as one example, one definite category will be the number of American cases which are in the string citation style. This will be further broken down into types of strings: string of one, of exclusively American cases, of American and Canadian citations together, etc. The later category is the most useful to us - if the citations of the United States are mixed interchangeably with Canadian citations, this indicates the law, test or whatever is being discussed in very similar or identical in both countries.

And so on...

As far as I can tell, these questions represent what will constitute the body of my paper. Although there are no figures present in this outline, use will be made of them in the final draft. Many of the Supreme Court of Canada cases contain unusual remarks and interesting observations. There is not telling what the conclusion of my research may reveal.


Black, Henry Campbell, M.A., Black's Law Dictionary (6 ed), the Publishers'
Editorial Staff, St. Paul, Minn. West Publishing Co., 1990.

Bushnell, S.I., "The Use Of American Cases", University of New Brunswick
Law Journal, Vol. 35-36 (1986-1987), 157.

Canada Supreme Court Reports, published pursuant to statute by the
registrar of the Court, printed in Ottawa by King's/Queen's Printer,

And so on...