The Research Proposal

The Research Proposal

    One of the major tasks in this course is to write a research proposal. The most efficient use of your time would be to work on a proposal that forms the basis of your thesis. You should talk with your thesis advisor about the topic and design as you move ahead.


    Your research proposal will have the following sections: Introduction, Method, and Hypothetical Results. To help with the writing process we will discuss scientific writing. The papers by Bem (1987) and Sternberg (1992), the section on Content and Organization of a Manuscript in the APA Publication Manual (1994), and the Writing Research Reports chapter in Whitley (1996) will form the basis of that discussion.


    Good scientific writing involves using agreed upon writing conventions, e.g., having sections for the introduction, method, results, and discussion.. You present yourself as knowledgeable about the research process when you use those conventions. Journal editors will look more favorably on your submissions if you follow those conventions. The APA Publication Manual (1994) is the style manual for scientific writing in psychology. In fact, is has been adopted by several other professions. Your task is to learn the APA Publication Manual and apply it in your writing. You will be required to pass an examination covering the APA Publication Manual at the 85% proficiency level. If you don't pass the APA Exam you will receive an incomplete for the course. (Note: no one has yet received an incomplete for the course due to the failing the APA exam, although I have quite concerned a couple of years.) You will also be graded on your use of the APA style in your proposal. The only class time devoted to the APA Publication Manual will be weekly APA Tips based problem areas as indicated by you scores on the APA Exam.


    It is very rare that established writers can sit down and write the perfect paper in one draft. The normal process is one of shaping. The paper goes through several revisions, each one improving on the previous version. Even faculty have their peers and sometimes their graduate students review and critique their writing. It is better to have a peer find the weaknesses in your work than to have the editors or your thesis committee find them. It is not uncommon for my students to rewrite their thesis a half-dozen or more times. You should get into the habit of asking your peers to critique your papers and of being willing to critique the papers of others. In this course the critiquing and rewriting process is formalized. The first critique of your research proposal will be done by a randomly selected peer in this class. You will use that critique to rewrite your proposal before submitting it to me. Then I will have a go at it. Using my critique you get to rewrite it again for final submission. So the final proposal in this course will be at least the third draft. Then you get to give it to your advisor for more work. In order to make all this happen there is a fairly tight timeline, see the Proposals schedule in the syllabus.

Here are the guidelines that are to be used when writing your critique: Critique Checklist

Here is an example of a critique:  Critique Example


You will each get to made a 40-minute presentation of your research proposal, see the Presentations schedule. You will need to fit into the allotted time brief presentations of your introduction, hypotheses, method, and hypothetical results. You will be required make a web site for your presentation. The web site for this syllabus was created using Microsoft FrontPage. We will spend a day learning how to use FrontPage create a web site. You will need an NT FrontPage account to create your web site.