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Developing a Research Proposal – part 1
Now it is time to start writing the proposal. These next exercises are very critical first steps.
- State a problem for research. If you have not already identified a problem for study or if you need to evaluate whether your research problem is doable, a few suggestions should help get the ball rolling and keep it on course:
- Jot down questions that have puzzled you in some area having to do with people and social relations, perhaps questions that have come to mind while reading textbooks or research articles or even while hearing news stories. Don’t hesitate to jot down many questions, and don’t bore yourself; try to identify questions that really interest you.
- Now take stock of your interests, your opportunities, and the work of others. Which of your research questions no longer seem feasible or interesting? What additional research questions come to mind? Pick out a question that is of interest and seems feasible and that your other coursework suggests has been the focus of some prior research or theorizing.
- Write out your research question in one sentence, and elaborate on it in one paragraph. List at least three reasons it is a good research question for you to investigate. Then present your proposal to your classmates and instructor for discussion and feedback.
- Search the literature (and the web) for the research question you identified. Refer to Appendix A for guidance in conducting the search. Copy down at least 10 citations to articles (with abstracts from Criminal Justice Abstracts, Sociological Abstracts, or PsycINFO) and five websites reporting research that seems highly relevant to your research question; then look up at least five of these articles and three of the sites. Inspect the article bibliographies and the links in the websites, and identify at least one more relevant article and website from each source. Write a brief description of each article and website you consulted, and evaluate its relevance to your research question. What additions or changes to your thoughts about the research question are suggested by the sources?
- Propose at least two hypotheses that pertain to your research question. Justify these hypotheses in terms of the literature you have read.
- Which standards for the protection of human subjects might pose the most difficulty for researchers on your proposed topic? Explain your answers and suggest appropriate protection procedures for human subjects.
Developing a Research Proposal – part 2
Now it’s time to consider the potential ethical issues in your proposed study and the research philosophy that will guide your research. The following exercises involve very critical decisions for your research.
- List the elements in your research plans that an IRB might consider to be relevant to the protection of human subjects. Rate each element from 1 to 5, where 1 indicates no more than a minor ethical issue and 5 indicates a major ethical problem that probably cannot be resolved.
- Write one page for the application to the IRB that explains how you will ensure that your research adheres to each relevant ASA standard.
- Draft a consent form to be administered to your subjects when they enroll in your research. Use underlining and margin notes to indicate where each standard for informed consent statements is met.