Child Development 250 (01) - Research Methods 
Spring, 2010 (Hembree)

 

 

Research Proposal Paper

This assignment is designed to allow you to examine a particular topic in child development through examination of relevant literature and design of a research project.  You will choose a topic, conduct a substantial review of the literature and develop a research question for which you will design an experimental (i.e., one in which you manipulate one or more independent variables), correlational (one in which you test a relationship between two variables), developmental (i.e., one in which age is the independent variable), or qualitative study.

There are several intermediate steps to completing this assignment. First, a general topic is due (via email or in class) by Feb 2nd. In addition, two proposal development worksheets are completed as homework assignments (see due dates on course schedule). I am happy to read a draft of your proposal paper if it is given to me no later than April 20th (optional, but encouraged). You should be prepared to give a brief (5-10 minute) presentation of your proposed study in class on the last day of class, with the final paper due to my office no later than 5pm on Wed, May 19th. Papers should adhere to APA style (APA Manual - 6th edition). A portion of your paper grade will be based on style (grammar, organization, clarity of expression, as well as APA style) and your presentation.

 The paper has 4 parts:

I. Abstract/ Introduction (9-12 pages): The abstract is a brief (100 word) summary of your proposal. State the problem under investigation and your hypothesis.  Specify the proposed subject pool, (briefly) describe the proposed procedures and measures (including names of specific established questionnaires or procedures), and what methods you will use to investigate/test your hypothesis/research question.

The introduction section of your paper should make a “case” for your study. It is your job to lead the reader logically through your thought process as you arrive at a research question (and, possibly, a hypothesis). In this section you should first introduce the problem or question you want to address, then develop a background for your study. Discuss the literature (both theoretical and empirical) associated with this topic.  This need not be an exhaustive review. Summarize (and cite) the most relevant and recent (7-9) studies/references and use them to justify YOUR study, as a potential "next step" in the area.  Finally, you should state the purpose of your proposed study including your hypothesis or hypotheses or research question in clear, concise terms.  Note:  Be sure to cite any and all direct quotes AND ideas you use in your introduction using APA style! Be sure to use the past tense when referring to the results of previous studies.

II.  Method (3-5 pages): This section is a description of how your study would be conducted (using the future tense). It is a description of who would participate and how the data would be collected.  Provide enough detail so that another researcher could conduct your study. The section has three parts: 

Participants: Describe who you would recruit to participate in your study and how you would go about recruiting them

Materials (or Measures): describe the materials and/or the measures you would use to collect the data. In some cases, both sections will be necessary.

Procedure: describe how you would go about gathering the data.

III.  Proposed Analyses (1-2 pages): In this short section you should describe in general terms how you would examine the data you would gather. You should first restate your hypothesis or research question. If you are addressing a research question, state how you would address it quantitatively or qualitatively with the data you would gather. If you propose a hypothesis, state what you would do with the data and what results would constitute support for your hypotheses (e.g., would you compute a correlation and would you expect it to be positive or negative?  Would you compare the groups' means, and if so, which group would you expect to have the highest (and lowest) means? Note: there is no need to specify the exact statistical test(s) you would use, merely tell me conceptually how you would test your hypothesis).

IV. Limitations (1-2 pages):  In this section, you will evaluate your proposed study.  List potential problems you see in your procedure or method as well as any limitations you see in what you can conclude from your study.  Then justify your use of the procedure or design.

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Send problems, comments or suggestions to: hembrees@csus.edu. Updated: January 15, 2010

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