ELEMENTS OF RESEARCH PROPOSAL (MB)
Follow the style prescribed by the style manual suggested by the university, department or adviser.
Title – Should contain key words or phrases to give a clear and concise description of the scope and nature of the report, and key words should allow bibliographers to index the study in proper categories (Van Dalen, 1979:406).
– Indicate major variables
– Indicate nature of research
– Indicate target population
– Avoid words like:
“A Study of……..”
“An Investigation of ……..”
“A Survey of ……..”
– Example dissertation title:
“A Process for Determining Vocational Competencies for the Performance of Essential Activities for the Sales Function by Sales Personnel in the Feed Industry and the Loci in Which the Competencies Could Be Taught.”
Journal article title for the above:
“What Does It Take To Sell Feed?”
Background and Setting
– Provide reader with necessary background and setting to put the problem in proper context.
– Lets the reader see the basis for the study.
– Justifies and convinces the reader that the study is needed.
– Be factual–statements, opinions and points of view should be documented.
– Provide a logical lead-in to a clear and concise statement of the problem.
– Your “sales pitch.”
– In a proposal for funding, address capabilities and capacity of individuals and agency/institution in this section.
Statement of the Problem: Hypothesis
Characteristics of properly stated problems will be discussed; see notes. Clearly describe the problem to be researched. What is your centralized question to study?
Objectives of the Study
– Best located after the statement of the problem in descriptive research
– Indicates the data to be collected
– Make clear the direct connection between specific objectives and hypotheses and related literature and theory
– Controversial as to whether or not null hypotheses go here or in Chapter 4. Rely upon wishes of adviser and committee, if a thesis or dissertation.
– If a study is descriptive, objectives or research questions can be used here.
– If the study is ex post facto or experimental, hypotheses must be used.
Limitations of the Study
– Summarize limitations brought about by the procedures of the study
– Describe the procedural limitations in detail in the appropriate section; just summarize here
Significance of the Problem
– These arguments can be presented in the “Background and Setting” section. This does not need to be a special section.
– Knowledge relating to the theory that …….
– New products, e.g., instrument, instructional material, etc.
– Who (what individuals or groups) can use this new knowledge or information yielded by the research to change or improve the present situation? How will the study contribute to the improvement of the profession?
– Indicate how the results can be generalized beyond the bounds of study
– Can use the arguments of others (expert opinion) who call for an investigation of the problem (properly documented, of course).
– Can use conflict in findings of related research as justification for the study. Be sure it is documented in Review of Literature.
– Use if, then (hypothetical-deductive) logic
Research Design: Graphs
Describe the type of research to be conducted, i.e., survey, ex post facto, quasi-experimental, etc. This section is utilized to describe how you will set up your study to observe the hypothesized relationship. Describe the steps you will take to address the hypotheses in operational terms.
Describe what intervening variables might affect the dependent variable(s) other than the independent variable, i.e.:
– Analyze the internal validity of the study (discussed later in the course)
– Also, discuss threats to external validity (discussed later in the course)
– Describe how your study will measure or control these threats given the “Limitations of the Study.”
The description of the design for descriptive studies is generally easy to describe, while the validity is not. Describe non-respondent follow-up procedures and procedures to compare respondents with non-respondents.
A study may involve more than one purpose. Clearly indicate which design is to address each objective.
The description of the research design for correlational or ex post facto research is easy to describe, but particular attention must be directed to alternative or rival explanations (intervening variables).
The research design for experimental and quasi-experimental research is often quoted directly from Campbell and Stanley (or others) and analyzed by their threats to validity.
What experimental controls were utilized?
Schematic (graphic) diagrams often aid in understanding the design. Define the symbols you use.
Measurement of the dependent variable(s) is one key to your study. Instruments are operational definitive for variables. Techniques or instruments used to measure the dependent variable(s), outcome, must be carefully described in terms of:
Validity – Does the instrument or technique measure what it purports to measure with this group?
Reliability – Whatever the instrument or technique measures does it do so consistently with this group?
- Suitability – Utility must be high for subjects to whom administered.
If well-known instruments are used, one can generally briefly describe them, and their reliability and validity, and refer the reader through citation to references where more thorough detailed discussions can be found.
If the researcher is developing the instrumentation, then validity and reliability must be established. The instrument should be pilot and/or field tested. The researcher should describe how this was done. A field test can locate potential suitability problem areas. Appendix copies of the instruments to the proposal.
The Review of Literature can be utilized to verify the concepts/theory under study and the scope of the measurement methods to assess the concepts. This section should establish the operational link between these concepts/theory and the measurement.
If you use interviewers or observers, how were they trained? What were their inter-rater and intra-rater reliabilities?
What do you expect? Why?
Make sure to list your sources