Research Proposal = Commitment?


Proposals. I could never shake off the feeling that I’m signing a contract when I’m writing a proposal. In my three and half years of college, I’ve written a variety of proposals. The standard research project proposal. The ambiguously phrased photography project proposal. The stab-in-the-dark film proposal. All of them amounted to feeling like I have committed to something I’m not sure I want. Like buying a dress at Forever 21 and wondering if it’ll still be in style a month from now.

The initial proposals we worked on weren’t that different, despite the many reassurances that we would have time to change our minds. Especially once Norah and I started to dig into The Amherst Student issues from the 60s and 70s, it felt as if the research project already started. I was honestly elated to find abundant material relating to the topic: campus protests. It was the first eureka high I’ve had for this internship.

But I’m still at the stage when I’m still browsing, trying on different topics to see which suits me better, but not willing to commit to anyone in particular. And then the store announces that it’s closing in ten minutes, and shoppers should line up at the door to check out their proposals. Sure, you can always come back and return it, but that’s another commitment, a commitment to saying no.

In terms of moving forward, I think we need to spend less time staring into each other’s eyes, wondering if we all feel the same way or if it’s just me, and start admitting that we are all as lost and uncertain as each other. Maybe we have a nebulous hunch. But if we keep turning that hunch into a research proposal, we’re gonna find ourselves in a two-week relationship with a research project that we had doubts about from the beginning.

At least we learned to avoid Gephi (see images below).


Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 6.39.28 PM
What we know about Gephi
Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 6.39.22 PM
What we don’t like about Gephi

Leave a Reply