Research Proposal

PAPER GUIDELINES

Final Paper –You will submit an integrated course paper based on your critical analyses and synthesis of empirical studies, and proposed project design to further investigate your research topic. Do not write your paper as though you have already conducted the project; you have conducted only a pre/pilot-test.

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Your paper must include the following:

I. Introduction II. Literature Review III. Method and Data Analysis proposal V. Discussion and Conclusions

 

General REQUIREMENTS

1. The final course paper is to be approximately sixteen pages, double-spaced, typewritten paper.

2. References. A minimum of six references for empirical studies

3. Format. The paper is to be written in ASA style in three ways:

a. Bibliographic references at end of the paper

b. Use of references in the text

c. Use of headings – major headings are centered and in capital letters, sub-headings are in lower case letters, underlined, and to the left side.

 

 

STRUCTURE (use these headings and sub-headings)

 

INTRODUCTION

(2 pages – 12 points)

Obtain 6 social science scholarly research articles on the topic, including three based on quantitative (survey) research, and three based on qualitative field (participant observation, ethnography, focus groups, content analysis) research. Experimental research is not included in this course exercise.

1. What are you studying? Clearly specify your research question and its (sociological) importance in the first paragraph of the paper.

2. What is generally known about this topic? How is your research question related to prior research and theory?

This portion is a very brief version of the issues you will address in the Literature Review. In order to place your study in context, identify/develop at least two themes, issues, or problems that relate to the broader topic you are investigating; your study contributed to the literature in addressing these issues. You can provide demographics, descriptive information, a historical overview of the topic, or other background material in this section you may want to use.

3. HINT: Include that you will be using a “multiple-method” approach in designing your research, and discuss why this could be beneficial.

 

BACKGROUND/LITERATURE REVIEW

(5 pages – 32 points)

 

Review of your six (minimum) empirical studies but you will describe only the relevant points from each article to include in your literature review. Again, do not just summarize the articles; write only about what matters (themes, issues, or problems) for your proposed research.

 

For each study, cover the following in about one-two paragraphs (4 points each):

1. What research questions or hypotheses did the researchers study? (Identify article by author and (date) of study.) As appropriate to your themes, BRIEFLY describe the research methods used, characteristics of the sample, main findings and conclusions (as they relate to their main research questions or hypotheses), and your critique (strengths and limitations of the study). This is a much-refined version of your initial annotation. Focus on the themes/issues you have stated in your introduction. Notice this is a significantly shortened presentation revised from Exercises 2/3 which will focus only on the information relevant to the design of your proposed research.

 

Then, in about two pages (8 points):

SYNTHESIS – putting it all together.

2. Compare and contrast the theories and findings in the various studies, and how they went about contributing explanations about your topic. How are the studies similar/different? What are the unique quantitative and qualitative contributions? Taking all of the articles together, what do you now know overall about your research topic, and what gaps in existing knowledge still remain?

 

3. In the last paragraph of the literature review, specify the research questions/hypotheses to be investigated in your proposed research based on the findings of your literature review and your thoughts on your topic.

 

 

METHODS AND DATA ANALYSES

(9-10 pages – 40 points)

 

Since this is a research proposal, you will specify how you would do the study; a multiple method approach is required. You must describe how you would use each method to draw your sample/select the setting, collect your data (how will you get it, and what will it look like?), and analyze your data (what is the process of data analysis, what will the results look like, and how might you present them).

 

 

Quantitative Research Design

Your proposed survey research design will be approximately five pages. You must describe how you would use quantitative methods. Be sure to address concerns unique to quantitative methods, including ethical issues. Be as specific and detailed as possible within the suggested pages. (10 points)

Include a copy of your questionnaire (in the Appendix). Summarize what you learned about your questions and responses from your pre-test data, noting any necessary revisions in your instrument or survey design. Describe appropriate data analysis procedures. (10 points)

 

Qualitative Research Design

Your proposed field research design will be approximately five pages. You must describe how you would use the qualitative method. Be sure to address concerns unique to qualitative methods, including ethical issues. Be as specific and detailed as possible within the suggested pages. (20 points for design, analysis/coding)

 

Your fieldnotes from your pilot test will include the following:

When/Where did you conduct the interviews/observations? How did you gain access? How did you locate informants or establish roles and relationships (develop rapport) with your participants? What questions did you ask, in what order? How long did the data collection take? How did you record the data? Note any events during the data collection, and characteristics of the setting.

For intensive interviews, you will include a complete transcription (typed word for word record of your recorded interview). For observations, you will need to submit your complete raw field notes (including transcriptions of conversations/casual interviews).

Was your social location similar to/different from your participants? How did that shape the experience and the data you collected? How did you feel as the researcher? How well could you listen/observe? How did your participants react? Did you encounter any challenges? What ethical considerations did you take into account?

Describe your proposed data analysis procedures. Read your literature review and all field notes for guidance. Consider the following:

For the initial pattern-seeking/coding, go line-by-line. Ask for each discrete event, behavior, or place: 1. What does this represent? What is this an example of? What is going on (what are people doing, or saying)? What are the assumptions made? Pay attention to meaning, tone, frequency, and emphasis.

In your focused coding, make a list of all of the categories/themes that emerge (including subcategories). Think about the relationship between the different categories. Compare the data from your observations/informants. As you stay focused on the research question, make notes of the most important similarities and differences between them.

 

DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS

(2-3 pages –14 points)

 

1. Briefly summarize the expected results, interpretation of the results, and the limitations of each method.

 

2. Synthesize the results, comparing and contrasting each method in terms of the overall product (how will the findings fit together or complement each other?).

 

3. Conclude with a statement of what you hope to discover about your subject matter. Summarize what you learned about your topic in terms of the current state of theory and research findings. What issues remain to be investigated? How will future theory (and application of alternative theoretical paradigms) need to be refined?

 

REFERENCES

(as many pages as you need to cite all sources – 2 points)

Follow ASA bibliography format.*****

 

WRITING GUIDELINES

All papers must be typewritten and double-spaced with margins of 1” all around. All papers should have a cover page stating the name of your topic, your name, the class name or number, and the date. Papers must be written in a size 12 font, using Ariel or Times New Roman print. The cover page should also be in size 12 font – not in boldface print. Pages must be numbered in the upper right corner. The cover page is page one (1). Do not show the page number on this page. The first typed page is page two.

Do NOT use any direct quotes from articles, text, etc. in your paper without explicit quotation and citation, and even these should be used sparingly. Paraphrase the author’s key ideas in your own words (and cite the author, year). Reference format must follow the ASA format and style of references in text of your paper and on your list of references at end of the paper.

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