Research proposal

(all page estimates assume double spaced)

Title page 1 page, proposal title, name etc.

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Body of the proposal: 4 sections: Introduction, Method, Results, Discussion

  1. Introduction(4–5double-spacedpages)

Goal: A good introduction has touches on three key concepts: outline “big picture” objective, rationale for your specific question, and the hypotheses of the current study (headings are not required)

  1. Objective: (~page)
  • –  state or observe the problem
  • –  what does the current research say on this topic?
  • –  what is the gap in knowledge that you hope to fill with this study?
  • –  what are the aims of the study?
  1. Rationale: (2-3 pages)
  • –  explain the reasoning and the motivation for the study; this should

relate to “state or observe the problem” mentioned in the objective

  • –  this should carefully review the literature on this topic; what does the

current research say on it?

  • –  be sure to discuss the knowledge gap (or gaps) within the literature

that you hope to fill with your study

  1. Current study: (~1 page/1-2 paragraphs)
  • –  present the theoretical framework for your hypothesis, what is your viewpoint?
  • –  what does your hypothesis predict?


  1. Methods(~2double-spacedpages)

Goal: A good method describes the participants (& how many), design (independent and dependent variables), materials & apparatus, and procedure. There should be enough detail that a reader should be able to replicate your study base on what you have written. Please use subheadings.

  1. Participants:
  • –  how many participants do you need to run your study?
  • –  what are the demographics of your participants
  1. Materials and Apparatus:
  • –  will this be run with paper & pencil or on a computer?
  • –  what materials do you need to run the study (similar to a list of ingredients for a recipe)
  • –  if there is a survey, what is the makeup of the survey
  • –  if there are recording devices, what is it and what does it measure
  1. Procedure:
  • a step-by-step guide to how you will do the testing (similar to a description of the procedures of a recipe)
  • keep this in mind; what would a person need to know if they were to attempt to replicate your study?
  • make sure these procedures actually test the hypothesis that you have stated in the introduction
  1. Design

– What are the independent variables?
– What is the dependent variable?
– Is this going to be within- or between-subjects design?
– how will participants be assigned to conditions (if between-subjects design)

  1. Results(~1-2double-spacedpages)

Goal: Given that this is a proposal, you have no data to present in this section. Instead, you describe how you will use your dependent variable to test your hypotheses. Here are some of the questions you should think about:

  • –  How are the data scored and summarized?
  • –  How will you test your hypothesis?
  • –  Will you be making a comparison between conditions or groups? Will you be looking at the correlation between 2 or more variables?
  • –  There is no need at this point to explain which statistical tests you plan to use in your study.
  • –  If you would like, you can include a table or figure of your predicted results. Tables should have titles and figures should have captions. You can position them in the results section rather than at the end of the document.
  • –  You can also break this up into different sections
  1. Discussion(~2-4double-spacedpages)

Goal: Remind the reader of the purpose of the study, provide some discussion about the implications for the predicted pattern of results, and link with the big picture issue presented in the introduction.

  1. Empirical Considerations: (2 – 4 paragraphs)
    – This should start with a restating of your hypothesis – what is your prediction? Then lay out what data will be an important test of that hypothesis.
    b. Theoretical Considerations: (2 – 4 paragraphs)
    – What are the theoretical implications of this work? How will this impact our existing knowledge of the field based on your literature review.
    c. Practical Considerations: (2 – 4 paragraphs)
    – How could the knowledge gained from this study impact the real world? For example, could it affect learning in the classroom, the treatment of patients, close relationships, how we make decisions in the workplace or on the battlefield, etc.
  2. Limitations and Future Directions: (1 – 3 paragraphs)
    – Every study has limitations, e.g., limited sample, possible confounding factors, laboratory setting, etc. What are the possible limitations of your study? Are there alternative interpretations/outcomes that are reasonable to expect? How could future studies attempt to address those limitations?


A reference list in APA format. Anything that is cited in the main text should be listed here.


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