Proposal Sections and Guidelines
Research Proposal is the final project of this course. The goal of this assignment is to provide you with the opportunity to apply the principles and methods reviewed in the class materials and discussions to a specific research topic. Please review the guidelines below. Remember some of these guidelines apply for quantitative studies. Please review your book to address relevant sections of qualitative and quantitative parts of your study.
Your research proposal should include both qualitative and quantitative research, so that you take a triangulated approach to your topic. For examples you may do surveys with your target audience and interviews with key informants form the industry. You may conduct a quantitative content analysis of media coverage of event X, and interviews with audience members about their perceptions of the coverage. Or you could conduct surveys of fellow millenials on Facebook, and then do a qualitative content analysis of comments on social media about the topic. These are only examples.
Some potentially relevant quantitative and qualitative methods for research options are listed here:
- Option 1: Viral Video Characteristics for Brand Advertisements: What makes brand advertisement videos go viral? What are the content characteristics that makes videos shared across networks? Qualitative Methods : Focus groups, interviews. Quantitative: Quantitative Content Analysis.
The research proposal will include the following sections:
- Introduction and literature review
- Research designs
The grading will be distributed as follows:
|Selection of topic||5 pts|
|Hypothesis & Measurement Instruments||10 pts|
|Sampling & Participants||5 pts|
|Research Design||5 pts|
|Peer Review||5 pts|
Introduction and Literature Review
You will use the literature review you prepared for Assignment 2. Relevant instructions can be found under the assignment.
Hypothesis/es & Measurement Instruments
Each research study has either research questions or hypohteses or both. Now that you have reviewed the relevant literature in your topic, and identified the gaps or learned about the relationships of the constructs, variables, it is time to write the hypotheses or research questions down. Hypotheses are educated guesses about how the things will work.
Identify the most relevant research findings that leads to a statement of prediction or the necessity of a research question. Develop an argument in a paragraph which sums up the problem statement, the evidence and the expectation. And write down your hypothesis or hypotheses in APA style. In some studies hypotheses are blended in the text, in others they are listed as H1, H2 format. Finding examples of the latter and reading the paragraphs before them would give you an idea about how to structure yours.
- Reading the hypothesis, identifying the dependent, independent variables and the population being studied should be very simple.
- The relationship between the independent and dependent variable is stated. If it is a research question same clarity rules apply, except that since the relationship is unknown it is posed as a question.
- If there is a direction to the relationship the direction is implied (strictly informed by prior literature review). For example caffeine and sleep disorders are probably related. But if the literature says that consuming caffeine is positively related to sleep disorder this means caffeine increases likelihood of sleep disorders. So instead of asking it as a research question, or stating it as it decreases, the relationship should be correctly put, meaning aligned with the previous findings.
- The hypothesis should be testable.
- The hypothesis should be based on facts and straightforward.
Methods Section of a research paper provides the information by which a study’s validity is judged. In other words, this is where you are sharing your recipe with other scientists how you conducted the study so that if any other scientist wanted to do the same thing or part of it, they should be able to do it just by using the same ingredients and instructions that you used. Also this is the part where you convince skecptical readers that all your research was reliable and valid. So all the instruments you used, all the interventions you made, at every step of the way you considered about validity and reliability and your selection of instruments truly reflect that. I am going to upload a decision tree, have a look at it. This is the kind of way normally followed when picking the instruments.
The reliability is reported at the end of each instrument description. Write the reliability coefficient (google reporting reliability in APA style) reported in the study you are taking the instrument from (found in their methods or results sections), Cronbach’s alpha=.80 is generally the cutoff criteria for reliability. Sometimes it is okay to go as low as %75 but anything lower than that is unreliable. For validity, generally if the instrument is used before it indicates that it was validated. But it is best if you find the origin of the test’s own psychometric validation study. For this, you do library search with the terms “concept x + validation” or “concept x+ psychometric”. There are many for attidute tests. Select the one either with the highest citation score, or the one you think best fits to the purposes of your study. Do this for each and every variable you use in your study.
Methods section consists of the following information. This assignment you will be focusing on number 4. Also start on putting together your population characteristics and proposed sampling procedure and sampling size for the next assignment.
- Sampling Procedures.
- Sample size (page 29-20 APA Manual)
- Measures (Operational definitions of dependent and independent variables in the hypothesis (APA p.31)
- Research design/procedure (p.31)
Sampling & Participants
Sampling is a section where you communicate your readers how you organized a representative sample out of the population of interest.
What to do:
It is essential to first decide on your unit of measurement. Are they people, newspaper articles, number of websites? What is your dependent variable and what are the specifications of the population to which one wants to generalize.
Start by describing the population of interest, try to express it as broadly as possible.
2- Decide: is it going to be a probability or non-probability sampling?
If it is a probability sample, it is generally considered as gold standard in research to maximize external vailidity. Simply writing random probability sampling method you used is enough.
If you are doing a nonprobability sample, read this first: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/sampnon.php
And then give persuading arguments for why it is not feasible to do a probability sampling of the population. Also research about how to maximize external validity.
3- Also write down the sampling type; Random (e.g. Simple Random, Systematic Random, Cluster and Multi Stage; http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/sampprob.php); Non-random ( e.g. Convinience, Purposive/Quota, Snowball-check out the above link for more informaton for nonprobability samples) and associated validity threats. Advantages should also be noted.
- Sampling plan-The faitfulness with which it is carried out. Now go into detail about how the representativeness of the sample is going to be achieved. If it is a probability sample write in detail how the randomization is going to be achieved.
- Confidence level and interval. Calculate them and report your sample size.
Sampling other than people.
Research sometimes requires samples of elements other than people such as newpaper pieces, websites, social media avatars etc. In such cases, you need to think about the population, or universal set of all the elements in your sample. For example if it is newspieces, during a period of time that is interesting for us, then the population is all the newspieces that have been published by all newpapers (local, national, daily, quarterly, etc.). It might be impractical to code all the newspieces say, within a ten year period, so only a sample of days, or pages might be chosen for examination. A clear goal in such a case if to determine the entire population and then conduct a probability sampling from among that population.
A note about the vagueness:
Thinking about the alternative ways to conduct your sampling is an important step of research. It requires best of your judgement and ethical rightousness. that is why there are a lot of descriptions of how each sampling type is done by very little guidance on which one to select for what type of study. It is an important skill that you need to develop yourself by reading, researching and thinking about pros and cons of alternatives. So do your best but be prepared to be criticized too. Part of the reason is unless you are collecting the census and conducting your study each sample will have some level of sampling error.
Research Design and Procedure is the sub-part of the Methods section. This is where you walk your readers through what you will do step by step to test your hypotheses and quest your research topic. A good research procedure section describes how the hypothesis testing was achieved.
What to do :
1-It starts with ethical insurance of the procedures. It usually is a sentence saying that the study is going to be IRB approved.
2-General statement of research objectives. This should be clear, precise, concise, and only one or two sentences long. Here you can sum up your hypothesis and say something like: To test the relationship between X and Y, a randomized experiment will be conducted (or write the type of research you plan to conduct). And to describe your qualitative methods something like: Focus groups will be conducted with the 18-25 year old college students to understand their perceptions on X.
3-Write down what data are necessary to test the hypothesis. Something like: To test our hypothesis , GPA scores of students and rating of their attitude toward higher education will be collected.
- This section also includes descriptions of the steps of the data collection, so that if anybody is to replicate your study, this will be like the cooking instructions for them. In the measurement sections you are giving them the list of ingredients, now is time to let them know how and when to use the. Generally starts from taking the consent of the participations for joining the study. Then list the measurements and treatments in order with which they were administered. And write them in a fluent instructive way. A detailed example from an experimental research is attached. More examples can be found in the literature by checking the Procedure section of peer-reviewed articles. Have a look at the studies that you feel most relevant to your work and read how they designed their research and how they wrote their procedure section.
All sources mentioned in the text in APA style.