Research Proposal Paper
In this paper, you will propose a research project that utilizes one of the designs covered in the course. Specifically, you may propose either:
Naturalistic observation (please do not propose any of the other methods of observational research)
Between-subjects experimental design
Within-subjects experimental design
No matter which type of design you choose, your paper will contain all the sections of a research report put forth in the APA guide – with the exception of the analysis and results. (You are only proposing a study, not carrying one out.) Thus, you should have an APA-style cover sheet, abstract, introduction (including a literature review), hypotheses, method, discussion, and references, as well as any tables/figures you might find useful.
Consult An Easy Guide to APA Style for assistance.
Your paper should be structured as follows:
Introduce and summarize research that has already been done
Should also set up your hypotheses
Begins with formal statement of hypotheses followed by the proposed method, using the criteria below as it pertains to your proposed method
Behavioral categories you plan to observe – remember, those categories should be defined very specifically – see examples in the text and lecture
Method of observation you would use and why (e.g., frequency method, duration method, interval method, time sampling, event sampling, etc.)
Sample coding sheet that the observers would use to record their observations (the text should have an example)
Description of how many observers there will be
Description of how you will deal with disagreement among observers (i.e., if your observers disagree, how will you choose whose observation to use?)
Description of how you will assess interrater reliability
Description of the sample
Description of the survey itself, included in the measures part of the method section (i.e., how many items, what kind of response scale, what kind of anchors, etc.)
Description of how you would assess the reliability and validity of the instrument
Include a copy of the actual survey as an appendix. Remember to follow the suggestions in the survey module for good item writing, construction of the response scales, order of the sections of the questionnaire, etc.
Whether the design is between-subjects or within-subjects (or both)
Description of how you will manipulate the independent variable (i.e., a description of the different experimental conditions)
If between-subjects, a description of how participants will be assigned to groups
If within-subjects, how you plan to deal with possible carryover effects
Description of how your dependent variable will be measured
No matter which methodology you choose, you will follow the method section with a discussion section. Because you will not have results to discuss, you should discuss the contribution that your study will make to the literature if your hypotheses are supported. (What does your study add to the literature that you already reviewed? What unique contribution does it make?) Be sure to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of your methodology (based on what you learned about that methodology in the course). What kinds of conclusions can be drawn? Which conclusions cannot be drawn? Will you be able to show causation, given the design you chose?