Research Report and Proposal Writing

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Course Code
CMNS 3103
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course provides students with experience in producing client-based analytical research reports and proposals. Students will be introduced to the wide variety of primary and secondary research resources available to them. They will develop skills in gathering and managing information to prepare for researched writing tasks. They will work through the typical process for producing a research report and proposal: developing the scope of work; completing field-based and theoretical research tasks; collating data; organizing material; and ultimately producing a reader-based, purposeful, and useful document.
Course Content

1. Introduction to the Research Process

Students will

  • identify the basic categories of research (primary and secondary; qualitative and quantitative) and the range of related techniques (for example, surveying, interviewing, observational, database searching)
  • plan a simple primary research project
  • examine different design methodologies
  • learn the basic terminology of statistical measurement: mean, median, mode, standard deviation, levels of significance, and significant difference
  • investigate effective survey design and the limitations for interpretation, including how broadly results can be generalized
  • understand the purpose of experimental and control groups
  • understand the difference between causality and correlation
  • understand the impact of bias and pre-judgment in interviewing
  • know how to prepare for an information-gathering interview
  • examine the issues of comprehensiveness and credibility
  • learn and use APA style

2. Access to Information

Students will

  • learn about the information cycle (for example, creation and distribution, storage and preservation, and retrieval of information) and its significance for writers
  • learn how to develop appropriate search strategies
  • learn how to use bibliographic, statistical, full-text databases, and websites
  • survey trends for print and electronic publications
  • learn how to judge the quality of information (for example, currency, authority, reliability, suitability)
  • examine examples of ethical problems (for example, misinformation, fraud, plagiarism)
  • learn how to locate and use Statistics Canada data

3. Reports and Proposals: Theory and Practice

Students will

  • examine the genres of reports and proposals
  • examine the  rhetorical situation for these specialized writing tasks
  • develop awareness of the stages of client-centred report/proposal production: initial contact, scope, progress reports, client-centred outlines, reader-based reports and proposals
  • develop awareness of the sub-textual level of document production: social and cultural context (organizational culture), interpersonal protocols, rhetorical strategies

4. Time Management

Students will

  • develop an action plan
  • structure activities to satisfy short- and long-term priorities
  • establish a system for organizing workload
  • meet production deadlines

5. Report and Proposal Development          

Students will

  • clearly establish audience, purpose, context
  • identify major, minor, and irrelevant issues (scope)
  • determine appropriate data bases
  • analyze appropriateness of data sources
  • develop surveys, questionnaires, interview questions
  • practise interviewing skills
  • utilize appropriate secondary data sources (reference texts, libraries, grey literature, market research)
  • manage information in an ethical manner
  • produce applicable related documents as necessary (letters, memos, short reports)
  • produce an organizational culture analysis (essay)

6. Document Production

Students will

  • collect and organize source material in terms of issues
  • prepare an outline
  • produce a progress report
  • produce a coherent, reader-based report/proposal which fulfills its purpose
  • produce an accompanying abstract (executive summary)
  • make use of coherence and persuasive strategies as required
  • revise the report/proposal for tone, structure, and content in relation to audience
Methods Of Instruction

This course emphasizes learning by doing.  Some or all of the following methods will be used:

  1. lecture/discussion
  2. group work
  3. peer review
  4. independent research or project
  5. instructor feedback on students’ work
  6. individual consultation
  7. presentation (individual or group)
  8. fieldwork 
Means of Assessment

Students are expected to be self-motivated and to demonstrate professionalism, which includes active participation, good attendance, punctuality, effective collaboration, ability to meet deadlines, presentation skills, and accurate self-evaluation.

Evaluation will be based on this general format:

Short exercises 15%
Analysis of report and proposal genres 10%
Empirical research progress report 10%
Theoretical research progress report 10%
Organizational culture analysis 10%
Research report/proposal 25%
Peer review of formal report/proposal 10%
Professionalism/participation (as defined above)    10%
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course will

  1. be introduced to and learn how to use a variety of primary and secondary research resources
  2. develop a critical awareness of the use of information in practical writing assignments
  3. develop skills in gathering and managing information for researched writing tasks
  4. practice writing tasks for research reports and proposals
  5. take responsibility for working through a complex, multi-faceted, field-based project requiring focus, organization, and self-motivation
Textbook Materials

Texts may include a current edition of Paul Anderson’s Technical Writing: A Reader-Centered Approach.

Coursepack of required readings



Acceptance into the Post-Degree Diploma in Professional Communication

or a minimum of 45 credit hours including a university-transfer course in English, Communications, or Creative Writing with a grade of B or higher

or permission of the Professional Communication program coordinator




Requisite for


Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU CMNS 3XX (3) 2014/09/01 to -
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU CMNS 2XXX (3) 2014/09/01 to -
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HUMN 3XX (3) 2014/09/01 to -

Course Offerings

Summer 2021

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.