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Research Proposal Guide

Research happens every day in the field of psychology; actually, we see the manifestation of many research principles in our daily lives. Research helps us explain behavior and learn more about why we do the things we do. Scientific research, then, is a specified method or procedure to provide objective data or evidence that forms the basis of theories or principles that guide decision-making, policy development, or treatment. For example, we can use observation or survey methods to collect data to guide policy changes within a school to reduce bullying behavior, or we can use those same methods to change procedures to increase productivity in a factory. Psychological research can be somewhat complicated because the topics researched oftentimes cannot be observed directly. Therefore, to study psychology, researchers must follow additional procedures to be able to study a topic accurately and scientifically in a way that others can trust to be reliable and valid.

The assignments in this course will help you learn how to define variables and develop strategies for collecting and analyzing the most valid data. Researchers equipped with data resulting from structured studies can write their findings in a research article that addresses the meaning of the results and provides directions for future research. These research articles are formatted to include specific sections that address each step in the research process using clear language that would allow another researcher to duplicate the study. When they are published, these research articles include sections for the research methods, results, and discussion of the findings from the study. Becoming familiar with these types of articles introduces you to the components of responsible research, which will help you become a better consumer of original research in your profession. Additionally, going through the process of developing a proposal will prepare you for creating your own studies and conducting or communicating original research in your career.

Breakdown and Template

Throughout this course, you will be working towards formulating a final research proposal, due in Week 8. This proposal will guide you through the process of conducting responsible research for an original research study, even though you will not be conducting the study you describe in your proposal in real life. You will complete different steps in the research proposal process each week and will be expected to implement the feedback provided by your instructor in your final proposal. Here are the steps (course assignments) leading up to your final proposal:

·        Wk 4 Research Plan

·        Wk 5 Research Proposal Part 1 – Introduction to Research Study

·        Wk 6 Research Proposal Part 2 – Methods of Research Study

·        Wk 7 Research Proposal Q&A: Results and Discussion Sections

·        Wk 8 Research Proposal Part 3 – Discussion and Revisions of Research Study

Use the Research Study Proposal Template to help you write each part of your research proposal.

 

 

Wk 4 Research Plan

Throughout this course, you will be working towards formulating a final research proposal due in Week 8. This proposal will guide you through the process of conducting responsible research, even though you will not be conducting the study you describe in your proposal in real life. You will complete different steps in the research proposal process each week and will be expected to implement the feedback provided by your instructor in your final proposal. Here are the steps leading (course assignments) up to your final proposal:

·        Wk 4 Research Plan

·        Wk 5 Research Proposal Part 1 – Introduction to Research Study

·        Wk 6 Research Proposal Part 2 – Methods of Research Study

·        Wk 7 Research Proposal Q&A: Results and Discussion Sections

·        Wk 8 Research Proposal Part 3 – Discussion and Revisions of Research Study

Read further in this guide for details about these assignments. This week you are working on the research plan.

Develop a plan for the research you will do to complete your proposal by Week 8.

Locate and read 5 scholarly peer-reviewed articles on your topic.

Write a 700- to 1,050-word research plan in which you:

·        Define the research topic that you plan to use.

·        Summarize your plan for the following:

o   Study design (i.e., experimental, correlational)

o   Variables of interest

o   Hypothesis

·        Provide an annotated bibliography for each of the 5 articles you chose.

Format according to APA guidelines.

Submit your assignment.

Wk 5 Research Proposal Part 1 – Introduction to Research Study

The purpose of the Introduction section in a scientific research article is to state the current problem, integrate prior research on the topic, provide an operational definition of terms, and introduce the hypothesis for the study.

Complete Part 1 of the Research Study Proposal Template (approximately 1,050–1,500 words). This part of the proposal includes the following sections:

·        Problem statement: Introduce the problem to be studied. Provide sufficient background information to give readers a grasp of the situation and its importance.

·        Purpose of the study: Identify why the study that you are proposing is needed. The purpose will likely relate to limitations identified in previous studies (you may find this information within the discussion of a previous study).

·        Literature review: Provide readers with a review of most relevant literature, beginning with general information and narrowing in focus to the specific issues under consideration in the study.

o   Cite and reference 10 scholarly peer-reviewed sources supporting your study. Focus on reviewing prior research that is published in scientific journals; do not integrate information from websites or Wikipedia.

·        Research questions/Hypotheses: List hypotheses as simple statements. Make sure they are measurable.

·        Definition of terms: Operationally define variables that will be the focus of the study.

·        Section summary: Summarize key points in Part 1 and provide citations.

·        References: Add the references cited in Part 1 to the final section of the paper. Add this same list of references at the end of your final research proposal in Week 8.

Note: Your introduction should look like the introduction section in a published journal article. Refer to this article in this week’s University Library Resources for an example of an article introduction:

·        Schou, T.M., Joca, S., Wegener, G, Bay-Richter, C. (2021). Psychiatric and neuropsychiatric sequelae of COVID-19-A systematic review. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 97, 328–348.

Format according to APA guidelines.

Wk 6 Research Proposal Part 2 – Methods of Research Study

The purpose of the Research Methodology section is to outline the procedure you are going to use to answer the research question. It usually begins with a discussion of the study design followed by participants, instruments, and methods for manipulating variables.

·        Note that the Research Methodology section of a proposal is written in future tense, as you are noting the methods that you plan to use to collect your data in a future research study, so all of the information presented is hypothetical.

Complete Part 2 of the Research Study Proposal Template (approximately 525–1,050 words). This part of the proposal includes the following sections:

·        Population and sample: Describe the population and the size of the sample to be studied.

·        Research method and design: Explain the research method and design of this study.

·        Procedure: Explain how the study will be completed: How will you collect your data? How will you manipulate variables?

·        Instrumentation: Describe the specific measurements (instruments) to be used to test each hypothesis (research question).

·        Section summary: Summarize key points in Part 2.

·        References: (There should not be any references listed in this section.)

Format according to APA guidelines.

Wk 7 Research Proposal Q&A: Results and Discussion Sections

Consider the research study you are proposing to conduct. The purpose of this assignment is to prepare you for completing your research proposal. The final part of the research proposal about your theoretical study is due in Week 8.

Write 800- to 1,400-words explaining the contents of the Results and Discussions sections of your research proposal. Your explanation should include answers to the following questions (approximately 100–200 words for each question):

·        What statistical tests do you plan to use to describe your data? Why?

·        What statistical test do you plan to use to analyze your data? Why?

·        Based on whether the hypothesis is supported or unsupported, what will the results mean?

·        If the hypothesis is supported, will this be consistent with prior research?

·        If the hypothesis is supported, why will the results matter?

·        To whom will you generalize the results?

·        Regardless of the results, what are the potential limitations?

·        How might the results impact the overall field of study or the practice of psychology?

Format according to APA guidelines.

Submit your assignment.

Wk 8 Research Proposal Part 3 – Discussion and Revisions of Research Study

The purpose of the Results section is to provide a concise summary of the data collected as well as to describe the results of the statistical procedures you plan to use.

·        Note: If you are doing a correlational study (i.e., looking to show an association between variables or to predict a specific variable), you would indicate that you propose a correlation or regression analysis. If you are conducting an experiment, you would use statistical analyses that determine if there is a significant difference between the two groups (e.g., t-test, ANOVA, etc.). 

The purpose of the Discussion section is to summarize the entire study and indicate what the results mean. It is also a place where you can discuss limitations of the current study as well as directions for future research. Note that the Results and Discussion sections of a proposal are written in future tense, as you are noting the statistics you plan to use to collect and analyze your data and the anticipated meaning of the data you anticipate. All of the information presented is hypothetical.

Complete Part 3 of the Research Study Proposal Template (approximately 525–700 words). This part of the proposal includes the Results and Discussion of the analysis process, which includes the following sections:

·        Descriptive Statistics: Describe what descriptive statistics you plan to report. How will you summarize your data? Discuss why you chose the statistics you are proposing.

·        Data Analysis: Describe the procedure you intend to use to analyze the data produced from your instruments and how that would answer the hypotheses (research questions).

·        Discussion: Provide a brief summary of your proposal and a powerful statement as to how your study would advance the field.

·        Section summary: Summarize key points in Part 3.

·        References: (There should not be any references listed for this part of the proposal, but your references from Part 1 should be included in your final list.)

Since you are only proposing (not conducting) a research study, you will not have results; however, you can discuss potential outcomes. Review your hypothesis and discuss how this study will address it. For example, if the results allow you to reject the null hypothesis, what are the implications? What would happen if you fail to reject the null hypothesis? Discuss the implications of your proposed study, the limitations of your study, and future research ideas and directions.

Add Parts 1 and 2 to the template to complete all parts of your research proposal. These sections should be revised from prior weeks based on instructor feedback.

 

Format according to APA guidelines.

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