SOCA6640 Social Science Research Methods

SOCA6640 Social Science Research Methods

SOCA6640 Social Science Research Methods
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Task:
 
A research proposal is a comprehensive outline of a proposed research project.  Proposals serve as “road maps” for planned research studies. Grants, a master’s level theses, and PhD level dissertation all require proposals. 
 
Throughout the semester we will learn how to: formulate a research question, measure concepts (define and operationalize), sample, collect data, analyze data, and discuss the need for sound ethical and culturally competent research.    This assignment challenges you to “put it all together” by developing a written proposal that illustrates your understanding (quantitative reasoning and/or qualitative approach) to conducting research. 
You must select a proposal topic related to your major and/or current field placement. Topic areas will be discussed in class and individually approved by the instructor. 
Use the following outline as a guide for your proposals. Be certain to review APA writing guidelines prior to drafting and submitting your work.  
Proposal Outline  
1. Title Page 
2.  Introduction and Problem Statement: Briefly introduce what you are studying and say why it is significant to your field of discipline.  Be sure to include:  
Research statement or question 
Brief description of the problem you are interested in (background and context)
Purpose of the study (Why do you want to do this? What do you hope to achieve?) 
Significance of the study (Why is this area important? What will your research contribute? How will it help answer questions about the problem, inform your colleagues, and be valuable to your field?) 
Definition of Terms – Define the terms used in your study, for example “school-aged children.” Be specific – what are the exact grades and ages for this category? 
4. Literature Review:  a review of the literature goes beyond summarizing; it requires critical analysis.  While elements of a summary may be included, what you emphasize is/are the topics, ideas, or other relevant aspects of the articles as they apply to YOUR work.   The literature review provides the theoretical framework or rationale for YOUR project.  Someone once said, when writing a literature review imagine you are describing a forest not the individual trees.  
Conduct a review of scholarly articles to determine the extent to which your research problem has been studied, what is known about the prevalence, incidence, risk factors and consequences of the problem. Concentrate on empirical sources, those that describe specific research studies, including the methods of research. Review and cite at least 10 articles that are current (within 10 years) from peer-reviewed journals, books, or other sources.  
Choose articles that will inform your own research questions and are clearly relevant to the topic(s) you are proposing to study. It is important to note similar studies – what were the findings? Are they consistent? Are there discrepancies? Also look at the methods – were there problems with the methodologies? Were there similarities to what you are doing? 
5. Research Design and Methods 
a. Aims & Hypotheses: What is the research question and related hypothesis or guiding questions
b. What are the dependent and independent variables pertinent to your hypothesis? (Provide nominal and operational definitions of each variable). 
c. Sample 
Identify your target population (i.e. the group to whom the study’s results are expected to apply) and explain in detail how you will draw your sample from this population. Justify your approach and provide enough information to allow someone reading this paper to implement the approach you will use to select your sample, and the size of your sampling frame and final sample. 
Describe in detail the participants or elements you will use. 
Describe how you will get access to the people or elements comprising your sample. 
     
d. What research design will you use to conduct this study? (Experimental, non-experimental;exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory; quantitative or qualitative?) Justify the use of your design. 
e. Instruments & Measurement Techniques Locate or develop the measurement  instrument(s) you will use to collect data. If you develop your own tool, describe what it’s supposed to accomplish. 
6. Data Collection 
Discuss how you will collect data. Important data collection dimensions include cross-sectional versus longitudinal, direct versus archival, informed consent issues. Justify your data collection strategy. 
Who will actually collect the data? 
How will the data be collected? 
7. Limitations and Discussion  
a. Note strengths and limitations of your design. 
b. Conclude with a discussion of the implications of your study for social work (i.e., if you confirm your hypotheses, how will the resulting information be helpful to social workers). 
c. Discuss ethical concerns and demonstrate understanding/awareness of the various groups and or stakeholders that might be involved with your proposed research project.  Cultural competence should be evident in this section.

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