SJSU URBP 298A and URBP 298B - Spring 2009

Students currently enrolled in URBP 298A or 298B will find the latest course website here.

Contents of this page:

Course greensheets for Spring 2009

Faculty contact information and office hours for Spring 2009

Asha Weinstein Agrawal


  • asha.weinstein.agrawal(at); 408-924-5853; website
  • Office: Washington Square Hall, 218c
  • Office hours: Wednesdays, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m., and Thursdays, 2:30 - 5:30 p.m.
Roxanne Ezzet-Lofstrom
  • roxanne.ezzet(at); 415-524-8297
  • Office hours: Contact instructor
Shishir Mathur


  • shishir.mathur(at); 408-924-5875
  • Office: Washington Square Hall, 216e
  • Office hours: TBD
Hilary Nixon


  • hilary.nixon(at); 408-924-5852
  • Office: Washington Square Hall, 218a
  • Office hours: Wednesdays and Thursdays 1:00 - 3:30 p.m.
Dayana Salazar
  • dayana.salazar(at); 408-924-5854
  • Office: Washington Square Hall, 216d
  • Office hours: Tuesdays, 1:00 - 4:00 p.m., and Thursdays, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Prerequisites for enrolling in URBP 298A for Fall 2009

To enroll in URBP 298A, the first semester of the 298 process, students must meet two prerequisites. First, students must pass the WST if they joined the MUP program in Fall 2006 or later. In addition, all students must complete a Preliminary Proposal by the due date. Follow the steps below to complete this process and obtain an enrollment code for the course.

Step 1: Review the URBP 298 course web site to learn what will be expected of you.

Browse through this 298 course website.  In particular, familiarize yourself with the Research Proposal, IRB, and Literature Review assignments. The guidelines for the assignments may change slightly for the Fall 2009 semester, but the assignments will remain substantially the same.

Step 2: Request an URBP 298 advisor.

Each student in URBP 298 works with a faculty advisor. In Fall 2009, the advisors will be Earl Bossard, Roxanne Ezzet-Lofstrom, Shishir Mathur, Hilary Nixon, and Dayana Salazar.

If you have identified a preferred advisor, contact him/her directly to say you hope to work with him/her. If space is not available with that advisor, then ask to be put on his/her waiting list. Alternatively, you can contact Prof. Salazar, who will be the URBP 298 coordinator for Fall 2009, and ask to be put on a general waiting list for an advisor.

Please note that the department cannot guarantee who your advisor will be until the first week of the semester. However, we make every effort to match students with their preferred advisor.

Step 3: Complete assigned readings on how to develop a research question and bibliography.

Read Chapters 1, 2, 3, and 4 of Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, seventh edition. Note that you must read the seventh edition, which is a newer version than some of you may already own.

Step 4: Prepare a Preliminary Proposal.

Using what you have learned from the Turabian readings, prepare a preliminary proposal that contains the following 9 items:

  1. A statement that you have passed the WST or a statement that you were admitted to the MUP program before Fall 2006 and so are exempt from the WST requirement.
  2. The proposed title of your 298 report.
  3. Your research question in one or two sentences (no more).
  4. A statement of the audience for whom you plan to write.
  5. A list of all courses you have taken that have prepared you to research this topic.
  6. An explanation of why your question is an important one to study (one or two pages maximum).

To prove that your question is an important one, worth studying, you must answer for readers the "who cares?" question. To do so, this section must explain why answering your specific research question will provide valuable information to improve planning practice in general and/or the conditions within a specific community. In writing this section of the proposal, think both about the relevance of your general topic and also about the relevance of your specific question.

  1. A description of the methods you will use to gather the data needed to answer your research question (one paragraph minimum).

    Examples of methods you might use are conducting interviews, surveying people, or analyzing a pre-existing data set like the census, etc. To get a sense of methods that other 298 students have used, review the sample 298 research proposals by Donlon, Fauria, and Kim that are posted at this 298 website.

    Once you decide you may use a particular method (e.g., surveys), you should review at least one textbook with advice on using that method. If you are using quantitative methods, for example, you can review relevant texts you read in URBP 204A or URBP 204B. If you plan to do a policy or program analysis, you should review relevant texts from URBP 236. For both quantitative and qualitative methods, you will find a good list of suggested readings at the UC Berkeley Environmental Design Library's website Preparing for Thesis and Dissertation Research.
  2. An annotated bibliography of at least 30 sources on your topic.

    For each item in the bibliography, include the full source citation formatted in Turabian bibliography style, a summary of the author’s main points in 100 words or less that is written in your own words, and a one-sentence statement of how you envision using this information in writing your Planning Report.

    At least 10 of the 30 items must be research articles published in peer-reviewed journals. None of the required 30 items may be newspaper articles, though you may include such articles in addition to the required 30 items.

    If you need a refresher on how to find planning-related research articles, see the 298 handout on on-line research tips.
  3. A list of all on-line databases or library catalogues that you have searched, plus a list of the search terms you used at each one.

    Library catalogues you may want to use include the SJSU MLK Library's catalogue, as well as the University of California's Melvyl catalogue.  As for databases, there are dozens that may be useful to you, but common ones used by planning students include Academic Search Premier,, and Web of Science.

    If you were using and looking for research on traffic circles, your entry would look something like this: " I searched various combinations of the following keywords: traffic circle, roundabout, traffic calming, safety, accidents."

Step 5: Submit the Preliminary Proposal to an advisor by Friday, August 14, 2009.

By Friday, August 14, 2009, email your Preliminary Proposal to the advisor with whom you hope to work. If you have not yet identified a specific advisor with whom you wish to work, then submit your proposal to Professor Salazar, who will be the URBP 298 coordinator for Fall 2009.

Step 6: Obtain an enrollment code for URBP 298A.

To register for URBP 298A, you need an enrollment code. During the first week of classes, the department will distribute add codes so that you can register for URBP 298A (assuming that your preliminary proposal is turned in on time and is of acceptable quality). Please do not ask for an add code before the first week of classes, as the department will not give them out until that time.

Information for URBP 298A students

Class meeting times for Spring 2009 (subject to change with notice)

The class will meet on Mondays evenings, from 7:15 - 10:00 p.m, in Clark Hall 302.  The first meeting will be held on January 26.  The other meeting dates will most likely be February 2, February 9, February 23, and April 20.

Assignments for Spring 2009

Here are some well-developed literature reviews written by prior 298 students that may give you ideas of how to construct your own literature review: Hebela (.pdf) and Hodge (.pdf).  Note that when these were written, the instructions for the assignment were somewhat different.

Key due dates for Spring 2009

Assignment Due Date
1. Draft #1 of Research Proposal 2/9
2. Draft #2 of Research Proposal 2/23
3. Draft #1 of IRB Application 3/2
4. Final Research Proposal 3/9
5. Final IRB Application 3/16
6. Draft Literature Review 3/30
7. Final Literature Review 4/13
8. Draft report sections 5/13

Class meeting topics and handouts for Fall 2008 (subject to change with notice)

January 26 - Class 1

Lecture: Introductions; overview of the 298 process and greensheet; explanation of the research proposal assignment, framing the research question


February 2  - Class 2

Lecture: Conducting case studies; conducting interviews; the IRB process



February 9 - Class 3

Lecture: Analyzing qualitative data (i.e., interview notes or primary documents); how to take notes

Class materials

February 23 - Class 4

Lecture: Explanation of the literature review assignment; review of when and how to cite sources

Workshop: Discuss draft research proposals


April 20 - Class 5

Lecture: Review of document design principles; tips on using advanced MS Word features to format a report; what to expect in URBP 298B


Information for URBP 298B Students: Key due dates for Spring 2009


Due Date

First full draft

3/16 (recommended 3/9)

Second full draft

4/20 (recommended 4/13)

Final report for instructor review


Finished report (pdf and print)


Sample 298 reports

See the URBP 298 reports that have received an honors designation:

Resources on Research Methods and Writing

There are many good resources available on the web that can help you to develop your thesis, organize your paper, cite sources properly, and such.  A small subset appears below here.

You will also find many recommended books on writing in the course materials for Asha W. Agrawal's version of URBP 213.  See the suggested readings at the bottom of the course home page and also the required readings on the course syllabus.

Page last updated on 9 March 2009 by Asha Weinstein Agrawal