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Psychology homework help

Week 6: How to Write a Research Proposal

  • Purpose of the proposal

The purpose of the proposal is to ensure that the candidate has done sufficient preliminary reading/research in his/her area of interest, that he/she has developed a well-grounded research project and that he/she is familiar with the methodology of his/her subject.
The proposal will have to convince members of the academic community or other possible funders that you have identified a relevant scientific problem and a methodical approach to solve the research problem within a set time period. A research proposal should have a proper layout and a logic structure, as clear and concise proposals have more likely to be accepted.
1.2 Steps for writing a research proposal:

  • What is my research question? (Hypotheses)
  • What do I wish to study?
  • The problem/research questions needs to be clear and specific

STEP 1: Read
Before putting together a research project, it is important that the researcher knows the state of research in their field.
This requires a lot of reading, starting from the latest publications as they allow for an initial understanding of the most relevant literature around the research topic. Then a deeper idea of the subject will be acquired through a more comprehensive literature review. It is also useful in social sciences and humanities to read a book on theories and research traditions and methods on the topic under study. In addition, it might be useful to search for other researchers working in the same field and familiarize with their research profile and on-going projects.

  • Literature review
  • Identify the gaps in the literature
  • What’s new?
  • What this study will add?
  • Specifically, in social sciences, research topics and are commonly built on a hypothesis that is generated from everyday experiences and observations.
  • Research projects are usually built on a hypothesis which again is often built on researcher’s observations and experiences inside or outside academia.


  • Decide what methods will be used
  • Decide what will be the participant characteristics

How to draft a research proposal
A research proposal should include the following parts:
The title should be clear and specific, but not too detailed. For example, assume we had done an experiment in which we had examined whether or not having breakfast affected people’s ability to conctrate later in the day.
A good title would be ‘The effects of breakfast on mid-morning concentration levels’.
Avoid using titles that are:

  • Too vague
  • Detailed enough


  • The American Psychological Association suggests the title to be about 10-12 words long.



This section introduces the reader to the topic

  • Give an introduction to the area of interest
  • Provide a rationale for the study using previous studies
  • Show how the current study fits in with existing literature

Literature review will be around your chosen topic -should summarize and discuss the most recent and most relevant research findings related to the current research project.

  • This part should highlight the research gap
  • The review provides the background of the problem
  • Critical thinking is essential

State the problem: For example:

  • Why this study needs to be conducted
  • What issues this study raise that have not been raised in other studies?
  • What is the purpose of this study?
  • What is the research question and the hypothesis

In sum:

  • Give an introduction to the area of interest
  • Provide a rationale for the study
  • Show how the current study fits in with existing literature


  • The hypothesis, research question and objectives of the study should be stated at the end of this section.



It explains each step the researcher will take in order to conduct the research.
This is a very important part of a research project outline and should receive a lot of attention. In this section the intended methods of data gathering and data analysis, ethical issues as well as difficulties in gathering data and other material should be described. It is important to describe this section in detail.
If, for example, a study will use questionnaires to collect data, the procedure of developing the questionnaires, the type of questions and the reasons for using those specific questions, and the procedure of analysing the data gathered from these questionnaires should be explained clearly.
A draft of the questionnaires used (if copyright terms allow) should be added in an appendix.
Describe the population under consideration (provide a brief description on age, sex, education etc.), inclusion and exclusion criteria, number of participants. Describe how participants will be recruited and from where.
Research design

  • Qualitative/quantitative study
  • Analysis & its justification


  • Name the ethics committee
  • What efforts will be taken to protect participants?
  • The right to withdraw
  • Participation is voluntary
  • Issues of confidentiality
  • How they will receive a copy of results when study is finished?


  • Proposals should address research ethics adequately, or which have serious ethical problems. Please include examples of how others have considered ethical issues within existing published research in your chosen area. Refer to relevant documents in appendices (e.g. consent form, information sheet, debrief).

Instruments used to collect the data
What instruments you will use?
For example, interviews, questionnaires (i.e. describe what each measurement assess –how reliable and valid are your questionnaires?
For qualitative study, describe the process of designing the interview schedule (refer to appendices). Provide some (2) examples of the questions asked.
Complete description on what will happen to a participant.
Describe how you will contact the participants.
Data analysis
How the data will be collected and what statistical measures will be used?
This section should explain in some detail how you will manipulate the data that you assembled to get at the information that you will use to answer your question.
Select a statistical test to analyse your data depending on your research question (i.e. testing for a correlation between variables, a predictive relationship or to compare values?). It will include the statistical or other techniques and the tools that you will use in processing the data.
Expected Results
This section should give a good indication of what you expect to get out from your research.
It should join the data analysis and possible outcomes to the theory and questions that you have raised.
Reference section
This is the list of the relevant works.
Use APA referencing style.

A research proposal is an academic text, and thus it should follow the rules of academic integrity. It is important to highlight that in the academic world there is zero tolerance towards plagiarism. Thus the authors of research proposal should make sure that they are aware and follow the international citation rules i.e. The exact words of another author,  should be presented in quotation marks (even if this quotation comprises only one sentence or less) and should be followed by the reference (author, date and page). Other people’s thoughts or findings should always be referenced.



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