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How to Write a Sociological Research Proposal

Students will write a 2000 word (roughly 8 page).  The assignment is intended to familiarize them with the process whereby social scientists design a research project.  Students will select a sociological topic of interest to them. Students are expected to engage between five and ten sources from academic, peer-reviewed journals and edited book collections in the writing of the proposal. Format for the completed assignment is double-spaced, 12-point font, standard margins and a consistent social sciences citation style such as ASA or APA.  The bibliography is excluded from the word count.

Topics and guiding questions: You may choose a topic and central research question(s) that is/are of interest to you.  Check with me if you have any questions or concerns about your topic choice prior to submitting the proposal.

The first section of your proposal will serve to introduce your topic of choice, discuss relevant and recent literature on the topic (using between five and ten sources from academic, peer-reviewed journals and edited book collections), and introduce a suitable research question.

This section will also briefly explain/outline the data that you hypothetically plan to work with.  You must also explain the relevance of your research in other words, why is the topic of interest and importance?

In subsequent sections you will indicate and discuss, in detail, the data that you will (hypothetically) work with to answer your research question. 

You will also outline, in detail, your chosen methodological approach and explain how you will (again, hypothetically) proceed to gather and analyze your data.  You must CLEARLY EXPLAIN why your chosen data and research method(s) are a good fit with your research question(s) and your topic in general.

You need to also briefly discuss timeline and budgetary considerations in light of your chosen data and method(s) (i.e., demonstrate that your choices are realistic).

  • Ethics: Expedited review (i.e., considered a low-risk study) or non-expedited, and why? What are the major ethical concerns? How will ethical issues be addressed and overcome?
  • Plan for dissemination of findings: Which are the chosen channels for publishing/sharing findings? Why?
  • Limitations of the study: What are they? Why?
  • Overall anticipated contribution to knowledge in the area
  • Opportunities for building on/continuing the study in the future

A helpful outline of research proposal structure can be found in Babbie’s text (pagination varies by edition).

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