Back Home Lectures Assignments... Syllabus
Home > Assignments > Research: Situation Analysis and Proposal

Instructions for the major assignments

Assignments are due in Canvas on the dates noted in the syllabus, all at 11:59 p.m. unless otherwise instructed. Late work is penalized 10% per day. You are responsible for assuring that your submission has been correctly uploaded. Optional rewrites are available for assignments 1, 3, 4 and 5 and are strongly advised. The rewrites are due one week after the corrected versions are returned to you during the week noted in the syllabus. The document files should be titled yourlastname, followed by the number of the assignment as listed below. For example, perry2.

This is the term project. There is no rewrite for this assignment.

1. Letter of Introduction

2. Research: Situation Analysis & Proposal due Nov. 21

Situation Analysis and Proposal

Assignment 2 has two parts. The first section is the situation analysis. The second section is a proposal based on your research findings. The final report should be about 2,000 words. It is due November 21, but before then, many of your assignments will be based on your ongoing research for this report.

Assignments 3, 5 and 6 — the cover letter, the persuasive letter, and the Web article and tweet — will be based on this research. They will involve the organization and/or the issue you selected for this assignment. They will be executed on behalf of the organization, or directed to an appropriate person at the organization. That means you should start the research phase of this term project early in the semester and set procedural deadlines for yourself. Some dates have been suggested below. Following the overview below are detailed instructions in the narrative report requirements.


The Situation Analysis:

Your first step is to determine the organization for which you would like to write. Be sure to select an organization in industries related to agriculture, life sciences, or your field of study and about which you can obtain enough information to complete this and subsequent assignments. Be sure to choose an organization that can be affected by an ongoing science issue and that has a website or other publications that you can use as sources.

Choose one main organization and two backups and notify your instructor of your choices in the introductory letter due in the third week of class. Only one student can work with each organization. First come is first served, so completing the introductory letter early is cautiously encouraged. The list of assigned clients will be posted in Canvas: Files. Check this list to assure your choice is available before submitting your letter.

Identify an issue that can affect each of the organizations you have chosen. It does not have to be the same issue for each organization. During the first week of class, we will discuss some issues relevant to agricultural and other life science industries. Name your chosen issues in the introductory letter. Begin monitoring news outlets for news articles about your issue as soon as it is approved.

Tip: You should complete this first step by September 10, when the letter is due.

Second step: Once you have selected an organization, you will conduct the kind of research you would to learn about a prospective employer. Your research mission is to understand your organization and its key publics. Use the client's existing publications, including its annual reports and websites, for sources. Each page of a website counts as an individual source.

Tip: You should complete writing this part of the report (see detailed instructions below), by September 30.

Third step: For the remainder of the semester, track your issue's development, as reported in various media. As you track your issue over the semester, continually build an annotated bibliography: Write a brief summary of each news clip or report. Add the complete citation at the top of each summary, using APA style, modified by adding website retrieval dates. It is extremely important to remain objective and balanced for this part of the assignment.

Here is an example of an annotated bibliography entry. Note the added retrieval date. Note also that the summary does not start with "this article says." It simply summarizes. The example below may appear double-spaced in some browsers. For this assignment, you may single-space the citations and annotations.

Pittman, Craig (2013 January 27). Florida's aquifer models full of holes, allowing 
more water permits and pollution. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved May 16, 2013,
To trace the source of pollution in Silver Springs, scientists in April 2010
dropped 30 pounds of fluorescent dye into wells and sinkholes a few miles 
away. The results suggest the state has issued thousands of water-pumping 
permits while underestimating their impact. The state bases permitting decisions 
on a computer model that assumes the aquifer flows at a steady rate through
layers of sand and gravel. The dye showed widely varying flow rates and that
pollution reaches the aquifer much faster than previously thought. The faulty 
models have resulted in over-pumping, a depleted aquifer and springs, and 
hundreds of sinkholes.

Fourth step: As the issue and your monitoring progress, your summaries need only contain updated or new information and developments. You should have 10-12 short summaries by mid November. Write an objective overall summary of your issue, including its historical development or background, its cause(s) and relevant facts about it. Include the overall summary in the report as outlined below. The report should be written in third-person and in correct APA style, including no contractions, the limited use of abbreviations, the use of the Oxford comma, and complete citations.

Tip: A draft of the issue summary should be completed by late October.

The Proposal:

Fifth step: In the second major section, you will analyze the issue's potential impact on the organization or its publics then propose a solution or call to action. Write persuasively to explain how the issue should be managed by your organization. Follow the guidelines given in Chapter 8 for the first three features of a proposal plus its benefits. Your solution should include your deliverables: what you and/or your team will deliver if your proposal is accepted by your organization. (The proposal is an exercise in persuasive writing; we will not actually deliver it to the organization.) We will cover addressing issues with communication in lecture during the seventh week of class.

Tip: You should complete the overall issuse summary, proposal and abstract by about November 6 so you can utilize the remaining time for designing the title page, rewriting, and editing.

The final due date is November 21. The points available for this assignment are 200. The word count is 2,000; the minimum count is strictly enforced. There is no rewrite option for this assignment.



The analysis and proposal report is the term project for this course, so you should demonstrate all that you have learned about writing well, including using transitions, especially between sections and subsections. The narrative report, including the proposal and abstract, should be about 2,000 words (about 10-12 pages), typed flush-left in 10-12-point type, and double-spaced with at least one-inch margins all around.

The research section must present well-sourced factual information, objectively written in third person throughout, with any judgment words or opinion attributed in the text and a citation given. The analysis section, which includes analyzing the issue you have tracked and proposing a solution, should be supported by the facts presented.

The report should include a title page designed according to guidelines discussed in class, a one-page abstract (or executive summary), a reference list, and the annotated bibliography.

Use the checklist (which is a duplicate of the grade sheet used by your instructors) at the bottom of this page to assure you have met all requirements. Use the main headings from the checklist for the reports' headings.

Carefully cite to your sources throughout the report, using APA style, which is explained in this tutorial. You can also consult Appendix C in your textbook and/or Purdue Owl on APA.

The report is due November 21. Include the following:

1. Title Page: Following the guidelines given in class on page design, give the report's title, the organization's name, your name and the date of submission.

2. Abstract: This part of the report should be done last, but it appears immediately after the title page. The abstract is a succinct one-page summary of your report. It should be limited to one page only and should include a purpose statement, a scope (range of information) statement, and a summary of essential information, including the problem or opportunity statement arising from your issue and the proposed solution. Note: A summary is not a list of topics covered in the report. It summarizes your main research findings.

3. Research Report: Analysis

Introduction: Write a concise paragraph introducing the topic and purpose of the report. The introductory paragraph should appear on the same page as the background section and transition smoothly to it.

Background: Describe the organization's origins, history; what the organization is today, what it does; types of key publics; geographic areas in which it operates; and any other information important to understanding the organization. Be sure to use citations throughout this section. Hint: Getting started early on this assignment is important, and this section is an excellent place to start. Be sure to get enough relevant information on your organization's publics for the opportunity/problem section of the report.

Organizational Philosophy: Using citations throughout, describe how the organization views its role in society and the organization's basic mission or reason for being (usually articulated in a mission statement).

Opportunity or Problem: Identify the problem or opportunity resulting from the issue you tracked. Add your summary of the issue. Include the issue's background: the cause and relevant facts about it. Conclude this section with a transition to the next major section, the proposal.

You should complete writing the first section about the organization, except for the abstract and issue summary, by September 30 (although it is not due then).

4. Proposal

Introduction: In narrative form, give the subject and purpose of the proposal. State the proposal's main point. While the proposal is included with the research report, it should be able to stand alone, so give enough information for readers who would read only the proposal.

Description of the Current Situation: Briefly explain your issue's significance to the organization; its likely duration and effects if nothing is done; any known impediments to a solution or seizing the opportunity; and the key publics most affected or involved, including other groups or organizations. Be sure to use citations throughout and address everything on the checklist. If, for example, no communication has been undertaken to date or there is no known impediment, say so. Formulate a concise problem (or opportunity) statement. A problem statement should state succinctly, in one sentence, what the problem is and why it is a problem for the organization. It should be labeled as the problem statement. Don't forget to include it in the abstract. Note: A problem is not an opportunity. It is a problem, so call it what it is.

Description of the Project Plan: Identify your proposed plan of action to address the issue, explaining how communication would help resolve it. Give your solution a name, such as Calling for Action. Name the public(s) to whom you would target messages (the target audience) to address the issue.

Give the demographics of your target audience. The excellent report will have citations to supporting data for at least four demographic elements, such as age ranges, gender percentages, income, and education levels.

Give the major steps that you would undertake to solve the problem and any minor steps to achieve those steps. Summarize the deliverables, the services you would supply, such as writing a science blog, if your solution were to be chosen by the organization. (You won't actually deliver these things. You are just writing a plan of action.) Close with a summary of the benefits to the organization of following your proposal.

You should complete writing the first and second sections and the abstract by early November (not a due date). The final report, including a well designed title page, an abstract, a reference list, and carefully edited text, is due November 21.


5. References

List at least two references, using hanging indents, in alphabetical order. Use the guidelines in Purdue Owl for APA style reference lists. Append the annotated bibliography after the reference list.

NOTE: Do NOT use citation-generating apps on this assignment that leave unsightly shadows on the citations. The penalty for using such an application is -5 points.

The following is an example reference list:


Feeding the world. (n.d.). We Are Really Big Agriculture. Washington, D.C.

Grunig, James E., & Todd Hunt. (1984). Managing Public Relations. New York: CBS College

Perry, Linda M. (2017). How to write a communication research paper. Gainesville, Fla.:
University of Florida Press.

Research report and proposal. (n.d.). Retrieved August 20, 2017, from

Here is an example of a good research report on a warehouse retailer. Note: The requirements for the report have been revised since this report was written, so don't follow this example precisely. Use your best judgment about using this example. Follow the guidelines given above.

Use the checklist below to assure you have included all the required components. The rubric for how your report will be scored will be in Canvas: Files.


Research Report & Proposal Checklist

The Report
_____ The assignment is doubled spaced and submitted in MS Word via Canvas with the
correctly styled file name.
_____ The report is about 2,000 words (1,900 to 2,200), minimum requirement strictly

Title Page
_____ Follows the guidelines given in lecture on page design.
_____ Contains title, organization's name, author's name, and date of submission.
_____ BONUS for picture inserted in title page (up to 5 points, based on relevance, template art not included)

_____ Appears immediately after the title page.
_____ Is limited to one page.
_____ Includes statements as to the report's purpose and scope.
_____ Includes a succinct summary of essential research findings.
_____ Includes a concise problem or opportunity statement.
_____ Includes a succinct summary of the proposed solution.

_____ Briefly introduces topic and states purpose of the report.
_____ The section is factual, with all judgment terms and opinion attributed in text and
citations given.
_____ Citations are used appropriately.

_____ Origins, early history.
_____ What the organization is today, what it does.
_____ Types of key publics.
_____ Geographic areas in which it operates.
_____ Section concludes with a transition to the next section.
_____ The section is factual, with all judgment terms and opinion attributed in text
and citations given.
_____ Citations are used appropriately.
_____ BONUS: Any illustrations added (charts, graphs, etc., up to 5 points total, based
on relevance; may be in other sections as well)

Organizational Philosophy:
_____ How the organization views its role in society.
_____ The organization's basic mission (mission statement).
_____ Section concludes with a transition to the next section.
_____ The section is factual, with all judgment terms and opinion attributed in text
and citations given.
_____ Citations are used appropriately.

Communication Opportunity or Problem:
_____ At least one problem or opportunity arising from the issue tracked is identified.
_____ An objective overall summary of the issue, including its historical development or background,
its cause and relevant facts, is included.
_____ Section concludes with a transition to the next major section.
_____ The author’s conclusions and stated opinions are supported by the facts presented.
_____ Citations used appropriately.

_____ Introduction includes subject, purpose of proposal and its main point.
_____ Situation description includes the significance of the situation to the organization and other
communication already undertaken.
_____ Likely duration of the situation and effects if nothing is done.
_____ Key publics most affected or involved.
_____ Any known impediments to a solution.
_____ Citations used appropriately for factual information.
_____ Succinct, labeled problem statement, addressing what and why, given in
one sentence.
_____ Proposal description includes how communication would help resolve the situation.
_____ The solution is given a name.
_____ Target audience identified, with four demographic elements.
The author’s conclusions and stated opinions are supported by the facts presented.
Deliverables are summarized.
_____ Benefits are summarized.

_____ The report and proposal are written in third person.
_____ The report is objective, and the proposal is persuasive.
_____ The writing is in correct APA (or other designated) style, including no contractions,
the limited use of abbreviations, the use of the Oxford comma, and complete citations.
_____ The reference list and intext citations are not shadowed by a reference list app.
_____ The writing is in plain English, with active sentences.
_____ The writing is well organized overall, with section headings.
_____ The writing is concise.
_____ The writing is clear.
_____ The writing is free from grammatical errors, including no run on sentences or fragments.
_____ The writing is free from spelling errors.
_____ The writing is free from capitalization errors.
_____ Punctuation is used correctly.

___________ Content, including citations throughout, and meeting specifications (130)
___________ Reference list, with at least two sources, annotated bibliography, web page retrieval dates &
                     APA style, with no reference-list app shadowing (20)
___________ Writing, grammar, spelling (50)
___________ TOTAL (200)
__________ + Bonus for art added to title page or to body of report (up to +10)
__________ GRAND TOTAL

3. Cover Letter & Résumé

4. Personal Statement

5. Persuasive Letter on a Science Issue

6. Web Article & Tweet