Introduction and Research Question
The assignment should be 8-10 pages, double-spaced (not including your title page with the project title, your name, the course code and the date). The font should size 12 and be chosen to be easy to read (Calibri or Times New Roman are good options). You will need to complete outside research, so you will need to properly cite this work when you use it. Failure to do so may result in an incomplete mark. There is not required citation style for you to use, but Chicago, MLA and APA are all good choices. Regardless of style, please include a bibliography or Works Cited section (this is not to be included in your page total).
The proposal should be structured like an essay. This means that you are expected to write primarily in complete sentences, with bullet points used sparingly (usually only when outlining the steps in your research project or research question(s)). The proposal should be broken up into the following sections:
In this section you will introduce your topic and research question. Assume the reader doesn’t know much about the topic, so you will need to clearly describe it while including any relevant information for the reader to understand your proposed research project. You will also need to include your proposed research question (and if relevant, sub-questions), and any hypotheses you will be testing, initial conclusions or ‘hunches’ you may have about what you will ultimately find.
In this section you will answer the question ‘what do we know?’ as it relates to your particular topic. To do this, you will need to use at least 5 academic (peer-reviewed) sources. (You can feel free use the 3 from the literature review assignment.) Remember, even if you’re studying something that is happening right now, there will be past examples of similar phenomenon that we can base any assumptions on. Use those in your literature review. This will look differently than the annotated bibliography in that you should try to blend the sources together in a way that uses them as evidence to make your own argument about what we know. In addition to outlining what we know about a topic, you will also need to identify what we don’t know—that is, you will have to identify a gap in the existing literature. Your study should begin filling at least some of this gap.
This section focuses on the terms and concepts that will be crucial in your research (and, if you’re using them, the variables you will be measuring). These will come from your own background reading on the topic, as well as your review of the literature. In doing this background research, you will find a number of concepts, terms and ideas that keep coming up. These are important, and in this section you will need to outline what they mean in the context of your research. If you are using variable-driven research (e.g. survey-based research), you will need to identify what variables you will be accounting for in your research, and how you will measuring them.
This section accomplishes 3 tasks. First, it outlines what empirical information you will be collecting. That is, what data is out there and what will you be collecting? Second, it identifies and describes the research methodology you will use to collect this data. In doing this you will need to justify why this method is the best approach to help you answer your question. And third, it identifies and describes the type of analysis you will perform on the data. Will you be doing statistical analysis on survey data? Discourse analysis? Content analysis (if so, qualitative or quantitative)? Remember, your proposal needs to be feasible. Don’t forget to include a discussion of your sampling methodology or choices (ie. random sample, snowballing, etc.). Even where you aren’t collecting information from human participants, you will be making choices about what you collect and analyze, make sure you are clear about how you are making those choices.
Despite not going out to do the research, you need to consider what can reasonably be accomplished if you were in the position of a graduate student or professor (tip: use the outcomes you identify in section 6 to guide how extensive your data collection needs to be). To fully describe and justify your choice of methodology, you are expected to use the textbook as well as outside sources like academic books or journal articles that discuss methods and methodology.
Depending on which method you choose you will need different kinds of materials to be prepared. As part of your proposal you will need to prepare these. For example, if you are proposing to complete interviews, please have at least 5 sample questions prepared; if you are proposing a survey, please have at least 7 sample questions with potential responses; if you are proposing to do fieldwork, you must select a site and identify how long you will be able to spend in the field and who you will be seeking to observe (or engage with, if you are doing ethnographic fieldwork); if you are proposing to use documents, identify what kind of documents you will be seeking to find, and where you will find them (be specific about which archives or collections you will want to visit). If you’re unsure about this, please speak with your TA or the course instructor about your project and what you will need to identify in this section.
Every research project has ethical considerations. In this section I want you to outline the ones that will impact your project. To do this, you will need to include: 1) any potential harms or risks that participants may be exposed to; 2) any steps you will take to mitigate these risks or reduce the harm; and, 3) any potential benefits that may accrue to participants.
This section should be brief. In it you will outline what the outcomes of your research project will be. Are you planning on writing a journal article on your findings? A book? A different form of research report like a graduate thesis? Each of these requires a different amount of work and level of research, so consider this when assessing the feasibility of your research proposal.