Here’s a general guideline that you must follow when drafting the Research Proposal. It is important that you follow the organization, the specific instructions and the terminology of each of the sections that constitute a Research Proposal. Each section of the Research Proposal should consist of coherent and clearly defined expositions, explanations, and arguments. It should not consist of a list of terms and phrases. The final proposal will be due for the last day of class (the last day we gather in class): May/26/2016. The final proposal has a value of twenty-five (25) points and makes up the 25% of the final grade. The length of the proposal should range from eight (8) to fifteen (15) pages of content. At the end it should have a list of at least ten (10) references that should consist of academic journals, articles, chapters of specialized books or a dissertation.
In essence, a Research Proposal is a structured text that identifies, defines, substantiates and explains what you’re planning to investigate and how you’re going to do it. The logic behind a well drafted Research Proposal is that the reader, without prior knowledge on the subject matter (or topic), understands clearly:
what you’re going to investigate?
why does it matter?
how it has been researched?
how you’re going to investigate it?
how your particular way of researching it makes a contribution on the subject matter?
The sections of this guideline reflect this logic, which consists of:
1) An Introduction
2) A Justification
3) The Theoretical Framework
4) The Objectives, Questions and Hypothesis
5) The Method and Design
6) The References.
You will notice that in each of these sections I have described what needs to be elaborated. I have also emphasized in bold, just below each section, the “general idea” behind each one.
A. Cover title (front page)
“What title best captures the subject or topic and its problem?”
1. In the first page you should have a “Title” related to your topic. You can be creative in this aspect, but make sure that such title has an effective connection with your topic (be weary of sensationalistic titles).
2. Below the title you should put the usual student information (name, student number, name and section of the class and the date).
“What is the topic and problem you’re going to investigate?”
1. It should clearly state your research topic and the problem that you intend to investigate.
2. What is the purpose of your research? In other words, justify, very briefly the importance of your research topic and/or problem.
3. Usually this section is brief and should consist of a minimum of one (1) paragraph and a maximum of two (2) paragraphs if you decide to dedicate one paragraph for section B.1. and another for section B.2.
“Why does it matter and what are you going to contribute with your research?”
1. You have already given a brief justification in the introduction, so in this section you will elaborate more about the significance of the problem you are investigating.
2. You should give a very brief overview of the review of literature that reinforces or shows the importance and purpose of your research topic and/or problem. I emphasize very brief because you will not elaborate a comprehensive review of literature (this will be done on the next section-Theoretical perspective). This very brief review of literature should focus on:
a. How your research problem has been generally defined.
b. How it has been researched or what are the main venues in which it has been approached.
c. The strengths and limitations regarding how it has been researched.
d. How you are proposing to research it.
Regarding this last part, you don’t need to go into methodological details, just introduce how your view and take on the subject matter relates to what has been generally done. Bear in mind that the logic here is to give the reader an impression of why your inquiry is important, how it has been generally researched and what your work will contribute in the on-going debates and research.
D. Theoretical perspective (or Theoretical framework)
How you conceptualize the subject matter (according to a certain model, paradigm or theory) and how it’s been conceptualized and researched?
1. State and explain the theoretical perspective (or perspectives) you’ve chosen for your research. If possible, try to delimitate some core authors or groups with the theoretical perspective and framework you’ve chosen. Show how this perspective is linked to how you have defined your research topic and problem. This means that there’s a terminology and way of conceptualizing that is relevant to your mode of inquiry. Also bear in mind
that the terminology and way of conceptualizing your topic should correspond with how you’re going to research it (the “method” you’re going to choose and elaborate in a later section).
2. You will justify this choice by elaborating a review of the research done (with regards to your topic) by this theoretical perspective. Try to focus on the research that, in one way or another, reinforces and justifies your approach (your purpose, problem and mode inquiry in the matter).
3. Also integrate other views that could oppose yours or simply focuses on other aspects of your research topic or problem. Remember that you should demonstrate a general domain on your subject and if you wish to give credibility and validity to your work, you should also give a critical and fair overview of other views (even if it’s brief).
E. Questions, Objectives and Hypothesis
“What you’re going to do and what you expect to find?”
1. Describe what are you interested in “measuring” or analyzing. Bear in mind that these are either the “variables” or “key instances” you’re going to measure, correlate, select, code or compile.
2. State the main questions that you’re making and you’re interested in investigating. Bear in mind that these questions must be compatible and answerable in accordance with your choice of method and the “variables” or “key instances”. Usually you should have a minimum of one (1) clear and specific question that guides your research (and is derived from the problem you are researching) and a maximum of five (5) questions.
3. List the main objectives of your research. In other words, briefly state what you plan to do and how you plan to accomplish it (the details of this will be further elaborated in the next section “Method and Design”). Usually objectives go from “general aims” to “specific aims” (or concrete aims) and should range from a minimum of three (3) and a maximum of eight (8).
4. State the main hypothesis of your research, either in terms of what you expect to find or what you are trying to prove. Remember that if you’ve identified a set of variables that you’re going to be measuring, the hypothesis should state a prediction regarding the relationship between said variables.
F. Method and Design
How do you plan to do it?
1. Identify the method you will be using (if qualitative, quantitative or mixed).
2. Define the variables (give operational definitions) and how you’re going to “measure” them.
3. Identify the population and how you’re going to sample it.
a. Define the characteristic of your population.
b. You must also choose how you will make your sample, in other words your sampling technique.
c. Justify and explain your choice of population and sampling technique.
4. The “instrument” or technique you will be using to “measure” and/or gather your “data”.
a. Depending on your choice of method you will choose a suitable instrument or technique, which could be surveys, interviews, etc.
b. Give details of the type of instrument (for example, the type of survey) and other necessary appliances or technology needed (for example if you will be using tape recorders, videos, etc.).
c. Describe how you will gather the data, taking into account the steps in the process, how you plan to approach (or reunite) the participants, how will you apply your instruments and how will you gather your data (and all the necessary steps and precautions in doing so).
5. How will you analyze your data?
a. State what you will use to organize and analyze your data. This ranges from the use of statistical methods (example ANOVA) and computer programs to how will you make the analysis of texts and/or interviews (what type of “coding” or how you will analyze the narrative, discourse or image).
b. Try to be specific on how you will analyze your data and bear in mind how this analysis has to be related to your choice of method and your theoretical framework. In this sense, explain why you have chosen to analyze it in that particular way.
6. Ethics and limitations
a. What ethical considerations should be taken into account, ranging from informed consent forms to the type of interaction, treatment and possible feedback from the participants?
b. All investigations have limitations that affect their validity, credibility or application in other settings. State these limitations, bearing in mind the specificity of your research and aims.
At the end of your text you should list at least ten (10) references from scientific journal or specialized books following the American Psychology Association (APA) format.
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