Research Design project

This project is the core of this course.  By semester’s end, you should have a workable research design, which you can use for a senior capstone, and honors project, or a (future) master’s degree.

Project Overview:

  1. Choose a research topic that interests you enough to spend a lot of time with it this term;
  2. Identify a suitable research question — one that has enough specificity to make your research possible;
  3. Identify the type of data that you need to answer this question;
  4. Choose an appropriate data-gathering method;
  5. Pick a site or sample from which to gather data.
  6. Choose an appropriate method of data analysis;

Your project  will be to describe this project in enough detail that non-social scientists can understand what you are proposing to do.  Besides the items above, you will identify:

  • potential sources of data and how you will collect data from them;
  • how you will conduct your research ethically; and
  • what problems might arise during your research and how you will address them.

(due dates for each of these steps are listed on the Course Schedule.  Most elements of the assignment will be turned in at the course Moodle site, in the Homework Dropbox folder.)

  1. Three Topic Ideas: 
    • Identify three possible research topics that you would find interesting
    • Outline each  in about a page of text  (250 words each; 750 words in all)
      • Turn this in on Moodle before 8:00am.
    • Over the following couple of weeks, you will then negotiate with us to choose a project that is appropriate for senior-level undergraduate research.
  2. Final Choice of Topic and Research Question:
    • Make sure that the research question meets the criteria for a good research question, as described in Chapter 1 of the Research Basics text.
      • Turn this in on Moodle before 8:00am.
  3. Concept Paper: 
    • A preliminary outline of your chosen project.  (About 500 words: 2 typed pages).
      • Turn this in on Moodle before 8:00am.
  4. Extended Design Outline:
    • A thorough and detailed outline of your chosen project.  (About 1000-1250 words: 4-5 typed pages.
      • Turn this in on Moodle before 8:00am.
  5. Proposal Draft:
    • This draft should be as complete as you can make it, and of the quality that you typically turn in as a final project for other classes.  Both we and a student partner will read it, giving you feedback.  (Expect this to be about 10 pages long: 2500 words.)
      • Turn this in on Moodle before 8:00am.
      • Bring a printed copy to give to another student for comments.
  6. Your Comments on Another Student’s Draft  (2-3 pages; 500-750 words)
    • Turn this in on Moodle before 8:00am.
    • Bring a printed copy for the student whose draft you read.
  7. Final Proposal: (oral & written)
    • This is an extensive, professional-level revision of your draft.  Typical proposals require major rewrites for clarity.  (About 1250 additional words, assuming that you salvage about half of your previous draft’s language.)
    • Also turn in a 1-page response to your student partner’s comments, describing how you dealt with the suggestions. (About 250 words.)

Guides: Here are a few guides to help you with this project

Other Resources:

Writing Guides: There are many online guides to proposal writing, of varying quality.  You may wish to consult the following:

Proposal Examples: The last half of Mildred Patten’s Proposing Empirical Research (on Library Reserve) contains over 20 examples of completed research proposals.  Read them to get an idea of what your proposal should include.