Pretend that you have an opportunity to apply for money to do a big data project. If
successful you will be given enough money to get data and to get access to appropriate analysis
methods. The winning project will probably be one that is most likely to benefit the most
people. There are no limits on the types of projects that may be proposed. Any area (e.g.,
healthcare, organizational performance, disaster relief) may be used.
The first step in the process (this assignment) is doing a preliminary proposal. This
means that you have a well thought out idea but that you haven’t done the pre-research that is
required of a major proposal
In the sections below I outline the major elements of the preliminary proposal.
A good summary should state the question, its importance, and any major expected
benefits that the research will provide. Benefits include things such as a better understanding of
a customer base, indications of chronic disease, increased market share, cost reduction, etc. This
should be between 100 and 150 words.
This section should provide the background to the general problem (e.g., “Sales in
Auburn, Alabama have been decreasing steadily since the last quarter of 2012. A better
understanding of the characteristics of our customers will provide the organization with an
opportunity to better market our product in this area.”)
The trick with the introduction is to give the reader enough information to keep them
interested. The best way to accomplish this is with direct, supported statements (which you will
later detail) that indicate the problem and its importance. You need to supply the history of the
perceived problem or opportunity, indicate the symptoms of the problem or opportunity, and
introduce the main points that support your position.
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