Research Proposal: Step One

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Research Proposal: Step One

Throughout the next six weeks, you will plan and propose a quantitative research design of your choice, which may (or may not) involve an area of interest for your doctoral dissertation. You will select a research topic, generate testable hypotheses, review relevant literature, describe participant selection procedures, identify data collection methods, describe the proposed quantitative research design, address potential ethical problems, and describe limitations of your research proposal.

This assignment is the first step toward completing your Final Research Proposal in Week 6. Every research project begins with a well-defined topic and research problem. Review Chapter 2 in your textbook for ideas regarding how to select a good topic.

After thinking about a topic area you are interested in researching, conduct a preliminary literature search on that topic using scholarly sources through ProQuest, EBSCOhost, or another library search engine (NOTE: Websites and other non-scholarly sources such as Newspapers, Periodicals, etc. are not acceptable for this assignment). From your initial review of the literature on your topic, write a one to two page paper, in addition to the Title and References page, on the following:

  1. Rationale/Problem Statement for the research topic of your choice: Explain your topic. Make a case for why this topic is important to you, the field of psychology, or your specialization area.
  2. Research questions you have developed for your topic: Conclude your discussion of the research topic by identifying specific research question(s) about the relationships between two or more concepts. Use both the textbook and the Pajares (2007) website to formulate specific research questions.
  3. Hypotheses that you want to test: Considering your research question or statement of the problem, formulate a hypothesis that states the relationships between the variables and answers the research question. Remember that hypotheses make statements or predictions about something that may be true. Thus, they are hunches or intuitions about what the study’s results may show about the variables being tested. Some examples of hypotheses include:
    • Parental education will be the best predictor of children’s IQ scores.
    • The amount of physical punishment a parent experienced as a child will be positively correlated with the amount of physical punishment he or she uses on his or her own children.
    • Group X’s scores will differ significantly from Group Y’s scores.
    • Higher caffeine use will result in lower memory retrieval.
    • Hours of computer usage will be related to hours of sleep.
  4. References page: Include a list of at least 5 scholarly sources on the Reference page that support your topic. You do not need to provide a comprehensive summary of the resources for this week, but should be preparing to do so for the Week 2 written assignment.

Point value: 5 points
Aligns with Weekly Learning Outcomes: 2, 3
Aligns with Course Learning Outcomes: 1, 7

NEW Assignment Type: Please click here to review instructions on how to submit your assignment. (Links to an external site.)

Grading Criteria

Content CriteriaTotal: 3

  • Explains the topic area and why it is important
  • States the significance of that research problem in the topic area of interest.
  • Provides reserach questions or a statement of the problem.
  • Generates a testable hypothesis or hypothesis.
  • Includes a list of 5 – 7 scholarly resources to support the topic.

Writing and Organization CriteriaTotal: .5

The central theme/purpose of the paper is clear.

The structure is clear, logical, and easy to follow.

The tone is appropriate to the content and assignment.

The thoughts are clear and include appropriate beginning, development, and conclusion.

Paragraph transitions are present, logical, and maintain the flow throughout the paper.

Sentences are complete, clear, and concise.

Sentences are well constructed, with consistently strong, varied sentences.

Sentence transitions are present and maintain the flow of thought.

Rules of grammar, usage, and punctuation are followed.

The paper uses words and language that are inclusive, clear, and unambiguous.

Spelling is correct.

The paper includes summary and analysis of appropriate resources.

Research CriteriaTotal: 1

The paper includes a summary and analysis of appropriate resources.

Professional/scholarly journals are peer reviewed and focus on the profession/application of psychology (located on Proquest, EBSCOHost, PsycNET, etc.). Non-scholarly articles include newspapers, periodicals, secular magazines, etc, and are not peer reviewed. Websites not approved include and

Research focuses on the most current information (past five to ten years) except when citing seminal works (e.g. Freud, Erickson, etc.).

Paper includes the appropriate number of references required by the assignment.

Style CriteriaTotal: .5

The paper includes an APA style cover page.

The paper is in the appropriate APA format used by the institution/program (e.g. the 6th edition).

The paper is double-spaced and in the appropriate length required by the assignment

Citations of original works within the body of the paper follow the appropriate version of APA Publication Manual (e.g. 6th edition) guidelines.

The paper includes a References Page that is completed according to the appropriate version of APA Publication Manual (e.g. 6th edition).

Total Possible PointsTotal: 5




Cozby, P. & Bates, S. (2017). Methods in behavioral research (13th ed). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

  • Chapter 1: Scientific Understanding of Behavior
  • Chapter 2: Where to Start
  • Chapter 3: Ethics in Behavioral Research


Stiles, P. G., & Petrila, J. (2011). Research and confidentiality: Legal issues and risk management strategies. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 17(3), 333-356. doi:10.1037/a0022507. [Retrieved from EBSCOhost].


American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.).

National Institute of Health Office of Extramural Research. (n.d.). Protecting human research participants. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.).

Pajares, F. (2007). Elements of a proposal. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Methods of Research, Variables, & Levels of Measurement

During Week 1, students explored and analyzed the scientific process and ethical standards surrounding research activities. In Week 2, students will explore nonexperimental methods, experimental methods, variables and levels of measurement. In addition, students will demonstrate how these concepts relate to validity, and reliability. Students will also complete the second step of their research proposal, conducting a literature review. Students should consider the following questions before and during the reading and assignments this week:

  1. What is the role of data in research?
  2. How are the following kinds of variables described and used in research: dependent, independent, control, continuous, and discrete variables?
  3. What are the different levels of measurement and how does the level of measurement impact a research study and data collection and analyses?
  4. What role does validity, and reliability play in research planning and design, data collection, and statistical analyses?

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this week, students will be able to:

  1. Identify independent and dependent variables and their levels of measurement. (Aligns with CLOs 1, 7)
  2. Compare and contrast non experimental and experimental research methods. (Aligns with CLO 2)
  3. Operational definitions affect the validity and reliability of a measure. (Aligns with CLOs 5, 7)
  4. Create a literature review for a particular research problem. (Aligns with CLOs 1, 3, 7)

Recommended Resources

Blakstad, O., (n.d.). Experimental research. Available: (Links to an external site.)

Incidental findings in research with human participants: Ethical challenges for psychologists. (2011). Washington, District of Columbia, US: American Psychological Association (APA), Science Directorate. [Retrieved from EBSCOhost].

Office of Research Integrity, (n.d.), The Research Clinic. [Interactive Training] Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) (2017). APA style. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Regents of the University of California, Office of Research, University of California, Irvine (2017). On-line research tutorials. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Scribe, A. (n.d.). APA style lite for college papers. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

University of Minnesota (2017). Informed consent. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Vanguard University & Degelman, D. (2017). APA style essentials. Retrieved from (Links to an external site.)

Walonick, D. S. (2017). The research process. StatPac. Retrieved from


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