Introduction and Research Methods

Introduction. What is the rationale for this work? This introduction should be designed to interest your reader in your topic and proposal and provide some historical/cultural context for your project. The introduction should contain the following: • A brief summary of related research that has already been done • The problem or complication that still remains or needs to be further explored • Research question or proposed argument. This can be written as a question or a statement (“This research project will investigate/examine/explore …”) • The hypothesis of your study. Each stage in this formula should be a few sentences long. Methods. Describe how you will investigate your research problem. How did you collect your data? How will you analyze your data? Sample: • Identify and describe the sampling method you are proposing for the quantitative and qualitative portions of the proposed study (i.e., simple random sampling, convenience sampling, etc.) • Indicate the anticipated sample size for quantitative and qualitative samples • Describe (in general) the anticipated demographic characteristics of your quantitative and qualitative samples Study Site: Identify and describe where your study will take place, including city and state and, if applicable, agency name. Measures and Instrumentation: For quantitative studies: • Identify and describe the operational definition (e.g. how it is measured) for the independent and the dependent variables. • Describe the type of quantitative study instrument being used, such as a survey, a case record review form, or if the data are supposed to come from administrative data, indicate that here. Include overview of instrument topics. • Describe the reliability of the quantitative study instrument, if known. If not known, then describe how you would address reliability issues (e.g. how will you know if the instrument is reliable)? • Describe the validity of the quantitative study instrument, if known. If not known, then describe how you would address validity issues (e.g. how will you know if the instrument is valid)? 2 of 3 For qualitative studies: • Identify and describe the main domains that are to be explored (e.g. the main topics you are going to ask about) • Describe the type of qualitative study instrument being proposed, such as a semi-structured interview guide, or a focus group guide. Include overview of instrument topics. • Describe how potential issues related to the credibility and trustworthiness of the data will be addressed If you are conducting a mixed methods study, you will need to cover both the qualitative and quantitative portions. Human Subjects Considerations: Describe how you will obtain informed consent, ensure participants’ confidentiality or anonymity, protect them from harm, and submit your proposal to an IRB for review and approval. Data Collection Procedures: Describe, step by step, how you will: • Recruit potential participants (if applicable) • Collect data from participants • What will happen when you collect data (survey, interview questions, audio recording, field notes, etc..) • If the proposed study includes an intervention, describe the intervention in this section Proposed Analysis for quantitative studies: • Describe the types of descriptive statistics that you are proposing to use for each variable of interest, including: demographic variables, the independent variable, the dependent variable and also any important extraneous (i.e. confounding) variables that may influence the possible relationship between the independent and the dependent variables. • Describe the type of inferential statistics that you are proposing to use to test your hypothesis. Proposed Analysis for quantitative studies: • Describe your anticipated process for qualitative analysis (i.e. ongoing, cyclical process of reading and rereading transcripts and field notes) • Describe the coding process you will use (content, thematic, comparative, narrative), you can combine these approaches. Study Design Strengths and Limitations: • Describe the potential strengths and limitations of your proposed methods. • Consider strengths and limitations of each component in the methods section, however describe here only the most important strengths and limitations. Anticipated Findings and Implications: Briefly state what you expect your findings to be, and explain the implications of your specific, anticipated results for social work (i.e., its influence on practice, policy, theory, and/or future research).
3 of 3 Things to remember: For the reader, there should be clear connections between: The information presented in your literature review; Your research statement (“This research examines….”); Your hypothesis (quantitative) and your research question (qualitative) Is there a logical connection between the information that you present and your research statement? Can the reader easily see why your proposed study would be important to the field of social work? Additional citations: Just as the literature review section of your paper provides an overview of sources you have examined while researching a particular topic, the methodology section should cite any additional sources that informed your choice and application of a particular method [i.e., the choice of a survey should include any citations to the works you used to help construct the survey]. These additional sources are not included in the 15 total sources needed for the literature review.

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