Research Proposal Assignment

For this assignment, your task is to design a viable research proposal: you will not have to collect the data for this project however you are required to design a research project that you or someone else could potentially be carry out.

The research proposal should be 10 pages long, double-spaced, 12 point font, not including your bibliography. The bibliography should be A.P.A. format (see the posted University of Washington Guidelines for writing a literature review). The proposal is due on the day of the final exam—both, a hard copy should be submitted in class and an electronic copy should be submitted on the “turn it in” link on Blackboard.

Note: Please do not add a cover page to your proposal–simply put your name, the course name, the professor’s name and the date in the upper left hand corner of the first page, followed by two spaces, then list a title (centered) for your proposal that reflects your research topic. Remember to add page numbers to your proposal.

What to include in your proposal: your proposal should include the follow sections, and you should use the subheadings below at the start of each section. All subheadings should be on the left side, followed by a space.

A good proposal will include sufficient detail and explanation in each section, demonstrating a solid understanding of the components of research design. An excellent proposal will do the above and draw from your accumulated knowledge from lectures, lecture outlines, your notes and the textbook, demonstrating a strong understanding of the components of research design.

1.    Introduction: (section length, about 1 page)

–    The introduction should offer an overview of the general topic you are proposing to examine and include a few relevant facts that are referenced (author, and year). You can also discuss the general questions you are interested in exploring in a few sentences. (For this section, you are encouraged to simply use a few facts and ideas you learned from doing your literature review.)

2.    Literature Review: (section should be 4-6 pages)

–    Here, provide an overview of the studies you’ve read that have already been conducted on your proposed topic. Your literature review should read as a lively discussion of the existing studies (see the literature review assignment, and insert your revised literature review here.) Note: please reference all the articles you discuss in your literature review by simply listing the author and year in parentheses, ie. (Brown, 2007), or (Gomez et al, 2008)–do not include the article title or the journal name here–these latter should be found in your bibliography.

3.    Research Question: (one line)

–    Write out your research question in one sentence (with a question mark at the end!) and underline it.

4.    Significance: (1-2 paragraphs)

–    Here, explain why you are asking the research question you’ve listed above. How will your project contribute to the field of criminal justice? For example, explain how your proposed study fits with the existing studies/literature, or fills a particular gap in the literature, and tell why your question and proposed study are useful and important in light of the other studies that are out there, which you discussed in your literature review. Basically, tell the overall purpose of your study and what you hope to learn more about/generate new knowledge about, and the long term knowledge that will be gained from your study, including the social policy implications of your study (how society and criminal justice system could benefit), should you or someone else collect the data and generate findings.

5.    Methodology (2-4 pages)

–    (If you want, you can repeat your research question here, and also include your hypothesis to be tested, if applicable.)

–    List the primary and your secondary research method you will use for gathering data on your topic (that is, is you will be using more than one methodology to collect your data, list both, but list the main one first.) Be sure to tell what or whom you’ll be observing, surveying, interviewing, setting up an experiment on, or using existing reports for (and if using existing reports, tell which kind–official statistics (on what?), content analysis (of what?), archives (which ones?), etc.). Essentially, be as specific as you can! Also, if you are going to use surveys, tell how many will be administered, to whom, or if you’ll conduct face-to-face interviews, tell which type, how many, for what duration (30 mins. to 1 hour per interview is standard.) If you are using an experimental design to make a comparison or are otherwise testing variables, list the variables and mention your control group/comparison group.

–    Justification: tell or justify why this methodology or combination of methodologies is the most appropriate for your research question, that is, tell you rationale for using this method over others. This section implies that you mention some of the advantages and disadvantages of using particular data gathering methods (ie. some methodologies allow for more in depth information, etc.).

–    Rival Causal Factors, Selection Bias, including “Hawthorne,” “Halo,” or other effects: Here please review your notes and discuss any or a few of the above issues that might apply to your study and could potentially arise during the data-gathering phase of your research project (although you won’t be gathering data this term, of course).

–    Operationalization of concepts or variables: somewhere, mention how you are defining concepts or variables you are working with in order to measure them. For example, if you

are asking if kids from single-parent families tend to be more delinquent than kids from two-parent families, explain what you mean by “delinquent.” Here, you might say, “I will be defining delinquency as truancy, dropping out of school, and engaging in misdemeanors.” The more clearly you define concepts, the easier it will be to conduct your research.

–    Estimated time period of study (how long will it take to collect the data?)

6.    Sampling Method (1 to 1.5 pages)

–    In discussing sampling, basically tell which group of people, things, laws, etc. will you collect data on, and tell how you will draw a “sample” (that is, a smaller study group), from this population. In your discussion for this section, be sure so address the following things below:

–    The overall population or group of things you will draw your sample from (ie U.S. prisons, California youth, Three Strikes laws, etc.)

–    The size of the sample/sample pool (that is, study group) you will be drawing from this larger population for your study.

–    Whether it is a probability or nonprobability sample. Also explain which type of either probability or non-probability sample you will draw (see the four types under each kind of sample in your book/lecture outlines) (And address generalizability, ie. based on your sampling method (probability or nonprobability), could you generalize your findings to a larger population, why or why not?)

–    Justify or rationalize your sampling method (either probability or non-probability) ie. make a case for why the particular sampling method you chose is the most appropriate one for your study. (ie. hard-to-reach populations require one sample method over another.)

7.    Confidentiality: (a short paragraph)

–    If you are using human subjects in your study, how will you a) get their permission to participate in your study, that is, will you have respondents sign a Consent Form?), and b) how will you guard their privacy and protect them from potential physical or psychological harm? (ie. will you change names and identifying information and give a code number to respondents in your notes instead of using their names, store or lock away your results safely?)

8.    Bibliography: (1 page)

–    Use and list only peer-reviewed articles found in scholarly journals. Also, list the references for your literature review using A.P.A. format (see literature review handout). Remember to list your references alphabetically, and to single-space each reference and separate each reference by a space.

Appendix (Optional): include a sample of survey questions asked, interview questions, short overview of experimental design (1 page.) (Note: including an Appendix will not earn you extra points, so only include it if you feel it will help you further visualize your project and would be helpful to you.)

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