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Research Proposal Assignment

For this assignment, you are being asked to prepare an APA-style research proposal on a topic in counseling or clinical psychology. The objective of this assignment is to encourage you to think about a problem, phenomenon, or treatment of interest to you that can be tested through an empirical approach. Proposals must include the following components:

1) An Introduction (i.e., literature review): This section provides the background literature and rationale for your proposed study. It should include summaries of studies related to your topic (i.e., that support the rationale for investigating your topic) with proper APA- style citations. This section should be about 5-6 pages.

2) A statement of purpose: At the end of your Introduction section, you should include a final paragraph or two that includes a statement describing the purpose of your proposed study as well as your hypotheses (i.e., what you expect to find). For example, you might state something like: “Past research has shown … but the reasons for … remain unclear. Therefore, the purpose of the current proposal is to examine … I hypothesize that …”

3) Proposed Methods: This section of the proposal includes 3 subsections: Participants, Measures, and Procedures. The Participants section includes information about how participants will be recruited; eligibility criteria (inclusion/exclusion criteria); # of participants expected to participate; # of males/females, age range, etc; incentives for participation. The Measures section includes information about questionnaires participants would complete or equipment that they would use in the course of the study. Questionnaires should include a reference and a description of the important elements (e.g., reference to their utility/validity/reliability for the intended purpose, # of items, how it is administered; etc). If assessments involve an interview, these questions would be described here. The Procedure section includes a description of how the study would be conducted. This includes instructions to participants, how independent variables (IVs) will be manipulated, how dependent variables (DVs) will be measured, randomization procedures, descriptions of treatment, how often participants will be assessed, debriefing procedures, etc. This section should be about 3-4 pages.

4) Proposed Results: You are not collecting data for this assignment, so you have no results to report. However, in a proposed analysis section, you restate your hypotheses and explain the analyses you would use to test your hypotheses. You want to be specific about the type of analysis and which variables would be involved for each hypothesis. For example, you might say something like: “To test the hypothesis that … an Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA) was conducted with xxx as the independent variable (levels: xxx), xxx as the dependent variable, and xxx included as covariates.” This section will be rather brief, probably ½ – 1 page.

5) Possible Limitations and Design Considerations: This section should present possible limitations that could arise from your choice of research design. Remember, no study is perfect, and all research studies have possible confounds, and their results may be interpreted in alternative ways other than you intended by critics. In this section, you will present a type of critique of your design, and explain why you chose to design the study the way you did. This will include explaining why you chose a certain design, measures, procedure, etc., in order to test your research hypotheses, and indicate any ways in

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which the internal validity of your study may be compromised, as well as possible steps that future studies can take to help correct them. This section is not intended to allow you to make lazy design decisions!! In other words, don’t design a weak study and then simply tell me why it was weak in this section. This section should mostly explain why you designed your study the way you did, and show me that you understand the challenges of designing an internally valid research project. This section should be about 1-2 pages.

6) References: References must be primary, scholarly sources (largely empirical papers) from the past 10-15 years. Plan to include a minimum of 10 references. Please follow APA style for referencing.

Some important notes:

1) Please follow APA style in terms of structure of the paper as well as referencing. Appendix A of your text has good examples of APA style. Other resources for this include the websites I posted on Blackboard and the APA manual which is on reserve in the library.

2) The articles you read as part of your literature review will provide additional guidance in terms of what to include in the different sections of the proposal and how the sections of your proposal should be structured.

3) Research proposals must be typed in 12-point font, double-spaced with 1-inch margins. In terms of the page limit, please try your best to stay within the 10-15 page limit (not including references). I can understand going over by a reasonable amount (i.e., a few pages), but I will not be super-excited to read 20+ pages…

4) Grading: Proposals will be graded on 1) content (accuracy, breadth, and depth of topic), 2)

quality of writing (organization, clarity, and grammar), and 3) adherence to APA style (quality and accuracy of references and use of APA style in overall format and referencing).


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