Count on brainstorming at least half a dozen serious ideas before you can groom one of them into a mature proposal.

For the most part, the choice of topic is left up to you. Try to pick something that’s interesting yet substantial and worth studying, and aim for a topic that you think nobody has tried before; remember that part of your overall grade will be based on originality.


Your initial and revised proposals should be an HTML file knitted from an R Markdown file (*.Rmd) containing the following content:

  1. Group Members: List the members of your group and your group letter

  2. Title: Your title

  3. Purpose: Describe the general topic/phenomenon you want to study, as well some focused questions that you hope to answer and general hypotheses that you intend to assess.

  4. Data: Describe the data that you plan to use, with specifications of where it can be found (URL) and a short description. Eventually, you will probably want to combine data from multiple sources into one file. We will discuss data management techniques in the coming weeks, but for now you should simply list multiple sources if you have them.

  5. Population: Specify what the observational units are (i.e. the rows of the data frame), describe the larger population/phenomenon to which you’ll try to generalize, and (if appropriate) estimate roughly how many such individuals there are in the population.

  6. Response Variable: What the response variable? What are its units? Estimate the range of possible values that it may take on.

  7. Explanatory Variables: Describe the variables that you’ll examine for each observational unit (i.e. the columns of the data frame). Carefully define each variable and describe how each was measured. For categorical variables, list the possible categories; for quantitative variables, specify the units of measurement. You may want to add more variables later on, but you should have at least 5 variables already.