Please see “How to Write a Research Proposal” and the Research Proposal Scoring Rubric for additional content and scoring guidelines relevant to each element listed below.

Abstract: Summary of lit review and method of proposed study: 

250-word limit. About half of the content should be about your lit review, and about half should be about your proposed methodology.   Be sure to include the rationale, aims, and hypotheses towards the end of your lit review coverage.  Note that requirements for abstracts vary across different journals and conferences, so attention to detail/following instructions in terms of length and content is important.

  1. Introduction

A. Statement of the Problem & Purpose of the Study: This is the opening segment of the lit review.  It describes the general problem area that your study will be addressing, and makes a case for the need for research on this general topic. Tip: do not use “introduction” “or “statement of the problem/purpose of the study” as headings.  Instead, just know that the first ~2 ppghs of your proposal will focus on this content.

B. Review of the Literature: This section does two important things: (1) summarizes what is already known about literature relevant to your study and (2) offers critiques about the limitations about previous research as well as the gaps in existing literature.  Using the headings you developed or revised based on your outline, expand the content to summarize and critique the literature in an integrated manner.  Avoid presenting different studies in isolated paragraphs (i.e., “book report” style); instead, summarize themes of findings across studies and use multiple citations to back up your factual claims about the literature as well as limitations and gaps you have observed in the literature. 

  • Hint: Develop 3-5 major literature review sections that each include at least 3-4 ppghs

C. Rationale and Hypotheses:

1. First summarize the literature review and reiterate how existing literature supports the proposed study as an obvious and important next step.  This will be your rationale section.

2. Next, list your hypotheses in complete sentences.. Recommendation: 2-4 hypotheses.  Name the constructs that you will use in the study, and also make sure that the nature of the predicted relationships between constructs is clear (e.g., indicate the direction of a correlation, or anticipated direction of group differences).

II. Method: A description of the proposed study.

A.  Participants:

  • Expand all content from outline into full ppgh form.
  • Complete the NIMH demographic table according to the population most relevant to your study.
  • Provide a brief summary of your approach to handling diversity in this study, including justification for your targeted demographic groups.

B. Measures

      1. Measure(s) for your dependent variable(s)

a. In the final proposal, you must describe the measure (s) and provide reliability and validity information for each measure.

2. Measure(s) for your independent variable(s)

a. In the final proposal, you must describe the measure (s) and provide reliability and validity information for each measure.

3. Any additional measures relevant to the study such as a demographic questionnaire

a. In the final proposal, you must describe the measure (s) and should explain your plan and rationale for collecting demographic information.– e.g., to contextualize the results?  To include controls for hypothesis testing?  Explain how/why you will use these variables. 

4. In each paragraph describing the different measures, please explain how the measures you have chosen are appropriate for your targeted demographic groups.

C. Procedure

  • Expand all content from the outline into ppgh form.

III. Discussion

A. Diversity:   Summarize cultural considerations relevant to the study (e.g., inclusion of appropriate diversity in sampling according to defined population, design intended to benefit all segments of target population, thoughtful approach to collecting demographic and social context information).

B. Risks/Benefits: Reflect carefully on the potential risks and benefits to participants in this proposed study and how you will reduce any risks.  Hint: there are always risks.  Also reflect carefully on any broader social risks or benefits – that is, how might the study harm or benefit the target population, or society at large?

C. Limitations: Be sure to address final remaining limitations of internal and external validity, and explain how the current study maximizes both internal and external validity. 

D. Clinical/Community Implications: Describe at least 3 clinical and/or community applications that could be supported by the evidence from this study if your hypotheses are supported.

IV. References
Include all references in APA style. Include only for the Final Proposal.

Final Proposal Reminders:

  1. Start early! Use outlining, concept mapping, or whatever other tools you need to develop your ideas.  Conduct careful lit searches, and ensure that you have covered all relevant literature.  Remember: science doesn’t care if someone has access to full text – use ILL as needed to secure whatever resources you need to do an excellent job on your lit review.  Be meticulous about all details in your study design, too. Reflect carefully on all aspects of the discussion section.  Draft, revise, get feedback from a peer or tutor, and revise again.  Invest in your learning and growth as a future scientist!
  1. Carefully review the homepage on Canvas for this assignment.  Review all resources!  Use this document, the document entitled How to Write a Research Proposal, and the Scoring Rubric to guide your development of all aspects of this assignment, and use it at the end to check that you have included all required components, thoroughly and in the correct order. 
  1. If you struggle with writing skills or are new to scientific writing, reach out to Ana Castrillo for tutoring support, or meet with the Ph.D. Academic Advising Center for general support with strategies for writing excellent papers.  Study published papers and pay attention to how frequently they use citations, and what the purpose of those citations are in the lit review, method section, discussion section.
  1. The average number of pages of text without references is about 18 pages.  The maximum number of text pages without references is 20 pages.  Although there are no minimum page requirements, it is VERY difficult to complete all the components of the research proposal in less than 15 pages of text.
  1. Keep in mind that while many aspects of this assignment parallel the content and style of published articles, this assignment also asks for more detail and explicit elaboration than most published articles will contain.  This is because we need to evaluate all criteria noted on the Scoring Rubric.

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