Research Paper: Idea Development Assignment instructions


This assignment is designed to help you develop your skills in designing a research project that answers three important questions in any research design. These questions are the WHAT, WHY, and HOW questions. These questions coincide with various components in the dissertation formula. Review the outline chart to visualize these connections.

These questions can be conceptualized as follows:


            This is the “what do I want to know” question. You begin with a broad topic or some phenomenon or question about which you are curious. This question is often initially broad, though it can be a bit more specific depending on the origin of the question. This question then leads to the development of the hypotheses and variables to be used throughout the proposal and research project. An important thing to note in this is that a research project does not seek to demonstrate something, bring awareness to something, or enact something. You must start with the perspective that there is something you want to discover (not prove).


            The “why” can also be called the “so what” question. That is, you may have a great idea of something you want to research that would be interesting to know. But if we already know the answer to it, we fail the so what question. We need to ask, “How does this add to the body of knowledge, and how might it be used?” Your research must fill a gap in the current knowledge. Otherwise, there is no need to research it further.  Therefore an important part of the development of your initial idea is that you review the literature available on your topic to see what we already know about your topic and question.


            A third important question is “How do I answer the ‘What do I want to know’question?” This question is answered when you design your methodology, but should have some initial thoughts and direction from the beginning of the project development. For example, if you know you do not have access to a population you want to study, then there will be no way to study that phenomenon with that population. You may have to decide if you can research it with a different population that can be generalized, or if you may need to revise your project a bit. You must also have at least an initial idea that the thing you are measuring can in fact be measured. It is helpful at this stage to think about this and to be sure to operationalize your variables. That helps you to know that what you are measuring is something that actually can be measured, and get you started about how you might measure those. As you design your methodology, and in some ways after you collect your data, an additional question must be answered which is, “Does this actually measure what I say they measure?” This question has to do with validity and reliability among other factors.  You will not determine the answer to this latter question at this point, but you do want to have it in mind as you progress through your project.

Liberty Dissertation Outline – Chapter One Process 
(A description of the topic to introduce the study) 
(A thorough review of the research on your topic and biblical foundation.) 
Problem StatementWHY
(Demonstrates the gap you are addressing and justifies your study.) 
Purpose of the StudyWHY
(A brief statement of your purpose, transitioning to the research questions and hypotheses.) 
Research Questions/HypothesesWHAT/HOW
(Identifies the research questions and hypotheses to be tested.) 
Assumptions and Limitations 
(Identifies assumptions and limitations related to the validity of the study.) 
Theoretical Foundation of the StudyWHY
(Identifies the theoretical and biblical foundations upon which the study is built.) 
Definition of Terms 
(Clearly defines and justifies terms used in the study.) 
Significance of the StudyWHY
(This section justifies the significance of conducting the study. It includes how it might be used or applied.) 
(Provides concluding information to transition to the next chapter.) 


For this assignment, you can select any topic related to the field of psychology that you are interested in researching. It does not have to be what you will use for your dissertation, though it is helpful to be thinking in that direction. You may not yet know what you want to research in your dissertation, and even if you do have some idea, you are still free to choose something different you want to know more about. Again, the topic is completely up to you as long as it is related in some way to psychology.  Your paper for this assignment must be submitted in current APA format, including a title page and reference page.  The answers to each of the following should be completely, but succinctly, written in the body of the paper. Be sure to use level I headings, correctly formatted, to identify each of these sections. Level II headings can be used to divide the level I sections further if desired/needed.

Your submission should include all of the following sections:

  • Topic

In the first section, include your broad topic, and the specific element that you would like to research further. This paragraph need not be longer than 2 to 5 sentences. This is the answer to the what question. Tell your reader “here is what I want to know”.

  • Initial Literature Review

In this section, you should write a brief summary of 5 to 7 articles you located on your topic (professional research articles only – primarily original research or meta-analysis). You do not need to provide detailed information from the articles. You will write a more complete background to your study later.  Instead, this is simply an initial literature review where you demonstrate that you recognize there is (or may be ) a gap in the knowledge area you want to research. For example, you may use the articles to indicate a general summary of what research has shown, then briefly explain why what you want to research needs to be researched. This is the answer to the “why/so what” question.  This section should typically be 3 to 4 short paragraphs, and typically less than one page.

  • Foundation

In this section, you should provide your initial thoughts regarding what theoretical and biblical foundation you are using for this study. Your initial literature review will likely help with this somewhat, as you will see what sorts of theoretical backgrounds drive what you are researching. However, you may depart somewhat from what is common in the literature, depending on your perspective and what you are researching. In either case, your theoretical background should be supported and justified. Your biblical foundation need not be lengthy or complex. For this assignment, it should simply indicate that you are thinking in terms of how what you are researching supports or builds upon a biblical foundation in the pursuit of truth.

Paper must be in current APA format, including a title page and reference page.

Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.

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