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Field Area Papers/Projects

MURP students may choose to either prepare an original research paper or project in their field of specialization. The research paper or project is meant to demonstrate a student's ability to integrate and apply material from his or her course work and is designed in consultation with faculty. For examples of and ideas for Field Area Papers, look below. Here's some guidance, from School Director Ethan Seltzer, on Field Area Papers:

What is a Field?

A field is a planning topic or set of planning topics that constitute an area of specialization for planning practice. There is a lot of overlap between fields. Nonetheless, association with a field enables students to focus their professional interests and equip themselves with relevant coursework and other experiences.

What is a Field Area Paper?

A Field Area Paper (FAP) should be developed to meet the following objectives:

  • It should address a student-identified planning issue related to their Field. It is an opportunity for students to pursue their own specific planning interests in partnership with faculty readers.
  • It should demonstrate the student's ability to pose a researchable question, to devise an approach to investigating the question, to carry out that research, and to communicate their findings in a very well written, high quality essay.
  • It should generate new and/or insightful information about a contemporary planning issue or about an issue of planning practice, education, or process.

A Field Area Paper is not a thesis or disseration. It is not expected to be voluminous. It is not expected to be exhaustive in its coverage, research, or results. A Field Area Paper is acceptable when it meets or exceeds the standards for a professional work. A Field Area Paper is exceptional when:

  • the topic is contemporary and important;
  • the question is clear and unambiguous;
  • the approach to addressing it is elegant; and
  • the presentation is spectacularly able to communicate the findings, ideas, and intent of the author.

A Field Area Paper is an individual piece of work, but it benefits tremendously from interaction with readers, other students and faculty, practitioners, and community members.

What are the steps that I should go through to meet the Field Area Paper requirement?

  1. Identify a field that you're interested in.
  2. Identify a contemporary planning issue or an issue of planning practice, education, or process associated with that field. Note: Do not wait until the last quarter that you are here to do this. If possible, complete this task by the end of your first year.
  3. Develop a brief description of your intentions.
  4. Identify a first reader and revise and refine your project description. Develop a detailed work plan with deadlines.
  5. Work with your first reader to identify a second reader.
  6. Maintain regular contact with your first and second reader.
  7. Meet your deadlines or negotiate new ones with your readers. Note: Do not expect your readers to either turn your paper around in one day or to complete their review of a draft of your paper within two weeks of a graduation date unless you have
  8. Complete your Field Area Paper to the satisfaction of your readers.
  9. Have the readers sign the GO-17 form prepared by the School.

If you plan on doing a field area paper, take a look at the CUPA Library on the 7th floor of the Urban Center. All FAPs are there. Here are some recent transportation FAPs:

Matt Lasky, Understanding the Link Between Bicyclists and Light Rail, Survey Results from Bicycle Riders on MAX in Portland, Oregon, Spring 2005.

Morgan Shook, Transportation Barriers and Health Access for Patient Attending a Community Health Center, Spring 2005.

Mike Tresidder, Using GIS to Measure Connectivity: An Exploration of Issues, Winter 2005.

Theresa Carr, The Mobility of Elderly Persons in the Portland Metropolitan Region, Summer 2003

Mauricio LeClerc, Bicycle Planning in the City of Portland: Evaluation of the City's Bicycle Master Plan and Statistical Analysis of the Relationship between the City's Bicycle Network and Bicycle Commute, Spring 2002 (very large pdf file, ~8 mb)

Darren Muldoon, The Impact of Airport Noise and Proximity to an Airport on Residential Property Sale Values: A Case Study of the Portland-Hillsboro Airport, Fall 2003.

Shayna Rehberg, Safe Routes to School in Portland, Oregon, Fall 2003.

Michael Rose, Neighborhood Design & Mode Choice, Spring 2004.

Kerri Sullivan, Transportation & Work: Exploring Car Usage and Employment Outcomes in the LSAL Data, Spring 2003

Shimon Israel, Street Connectivity, Land Use and Transportation, and the Master Street Plans in Portland, Oregon, Spring 2002.

Need ideas for research?

The Transportation Research Board Census Subcommittee developed a list of research ideas for student papers using 2000 Census data. They have also developed a list of ideas using the National Household Travel Survey data.

Page last updated September 23, 2006