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Research Proposal Components
Week 11: The abstract must conform to Walden standards; the guidance will be provided as a link in the course.
You will retrieve 10-15 (more if you want, as this will help you with your actual capstone project) articles that will help you to (a) identify the research problem and the purpose of your study; and (b) understand what is known and what is not known in your particular topic area. The Introduction section should contain:
· Background of the Problem. This is a section that provides context for your study.
· Literature Review. The review of the literature summarizes succinctly what we know and what we do not know in the area of study. Include at the outset of this section your strategy for searching the literature (databases used, key search terms selected, and publication years specified in the search).
· Problem Statement. The problem statement identifies, in 1-2 paragraphs maximum, the research problem under investigation. This is identified as a problem for which the peer reviewed research does not provide guidance. It is NOT strictly a social problem (although social problems are important, if there is empirical evidence to suggest how to approach the social problem, then there is not a research problem).
· Purpose of the Study. The purpose of the study is one paragraph maximum that describes the overall goal of your study and why you are undertaking it.
· Theoretical Foundation/Conceptual Framework. Doctoral scholarship represents an understanding of theory and how it is generated and tested. You will be required to identify at least one theoretical perspective that will guide your doctoral capstone research. In 1-2 paragraphs, describe the theoretical framework and provide citations to appropriate references.
· Operational Definitions. Any specialized terms you are including, or variables under investigation in the study, must be defined. For variables under study, your definition should be an operational definition (the tool or instrument that is used to measure the concept represented by the variable).
· Assumptions, Limitations, and Delimitations. This section should provide any assumptions that are being made by the researcher (for example, that participants answer honestly, that a particular scale is a valid measure of the construct of interest, etc.). Limitations should include any threats to internal or external validity. Delimitations describe the “bounds” of the study and the sample being used to test the hypotheses.
· Significance of the Study. What are the implications of the results of the study to researchers, practitioners, and for social change? For social change, consider implications for positive social change at various levels, including the individual, community, society, culture, etc. What good can be produced from your study (regardless of whether or not you find statistically significant results?
· Research Questions and Hypotheses. Please end this section of the proposal with the actual research question (that logically derives from the literature review) and the null and alternate (research) hypothesis(es) that derive from the theory and the literature review. The hypotheses must describe the relationships between at least two variables, and the hypothesis must contain statements of operationalization.
In this section, you will describe in detail your overall approach to test the hypotheses. The methods section should be written in such a way that another researcher can replicate the methodology of your study. The methods section should contain:
· Rationale for the particular method chosen. This will logically derive from your literature review. Note what methods other researchers have used in similar studies. What is it that your method will contribute to what we know?
· Participants. Describe fully the setting and sample. This section should include:
o Population from which the sample is drawn;
o The chosen sampling method and a defense of why this was the appropriate method. Also include sampling frame (time and location of sampling).
o Describe the eligibility criteria (e.g., what makes a person eligible and not eligible for the study).
o Specify and defend the sample size (this must be the result of a sample size/power analysis and must include description of inputs to its computation e.g., effect size, power, and alpha level).
· Design. This section describes the research design. Specify as experimental, quasi-experimental, or non-experimental, the specific type of design within these three categories, justification for the particular approach, and evidence that the design is appropriate to test the hypothesis(es) specified in the Introduction. If you are using an experimental or quasi-experimental study, and a treatment is included, the treatment conditions must be clearly specified. This section also includes how participants are assigned to conditions.
· Instrumentation. This section describes measures / tools / instruments/ tests used to support tests of the hypothesis(es). This section includes:
o Name of the instrument and appropriate citation giving credit to the originators.
o Data that justifies the reliability and validity of the instrument (note that citing a study and saying it is reliable and valid is not enough; it is important to report actual coefficients and from multiple studies).
o The variables the instrument measures.
o Where the data will be obtained to assess each variable in the study.
o How scores are calculated and what the scores mean.
o Which of the variables are the independent and dependent variables and which are covariates.
· Procedures. This is where you take the reader through a step by step of how the study will be executed. The following information needs to be present:
o How participants will be recruited.
o How participants are consented and measures to ensure that participants’ rights around participation are described.
o The process for data collection. For example, if surveys are being used, how the participants complete and return them. If data are collected via observation, how are data collected?
· Statistical Analysis. This section reports in detail the steps involved in the analysis of the data. This section included:
o How data will be screened and cleaned.
o Descriptive analysis of the data.
o Description of analyses used to detect differential attrition or to ensure that groups are equivalent at the outset of the study.
o For each hypothesis, a detailed description of the analysis plan that includes:
§ Identification of independent and dependent variables.
§ If appropriate, univariate/bivariate tests that will be performed to support model development.
§ For model building strategies, such as those using multiple or logistic regression, report method being used to include variables (e.g., forward, backward, enter). If hierarchical modeling is being used, justify the order of entering variables.
§ Statistics that will be reported. For model building, you must also include model fit statistics to justify plausibility of the model.
All cited literature must be in accordance with the requirements of the American Psychological Association publication manual.
personal interests, and the designs presented in Campbell and Stanley.
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