For your final paper, you will write a journal article style research proposal. A proposal tells your reader what you plan to do in your research, and provides a good foundation in support for doing so. Proposals are submitted to IRB’s for approval, grant organizations for funding, and to dissertation committees for approval before progressing to the stage of conducting research. This assignment should reflect revisions you have made from the grading feedback on previous assignments in the course, and should pull together information you have learned throughout the course. You are free to use information you have submitted in previous assignments in this course, but should revise and edit those as needed. You do not need to cite yourself for information you use from assignments in this course. Your paper should, however, be original work submitted only for this course. Do not copy and paste from assignments in other courses, or other work you may have done elsewhere, without citing yourself, AND only with permission from your instructor. To do otherwise is considered academic dishonesty.

While this paper will not follow the exact process and outline to be used in chapter 1 of your dissertation, it will reflect many of those required elements used in the dissertation process. Therefore, you will find this assignment helpful to make the connection between what you have learned in this course, and what you will do in the future as you develop your dissertation. Remember, the topic you are using in this course may not be what you plan to research in your dissertation. This course is about learning the process and analysis to provide you the requisite skill and knowledge for your dissertation development and other research projects you may later develop.

As a formal research paper, you should use academic and scholarly language, and refrain from discussing your personal opinions or experiences. You must use scholarly sources for your references – primarily original research journal articles. Rarely, if ever, would you use a textbook, book written to a general audience, general website, or other popular press sources in professional academic writing.   

Your paper must make clear logical connections between each component, and be built upon your thorough literature review/background, theoretical and biblical foundation, and fit within the mission statement and guidelines of Liberty University and any other organization supporting or funding your project (hypothetically for this assignment).  Keep in mind that this is a fictitious project for this assignment, so you do not actually conduct any research nor contact any organizations (which would have required prior IRB approval).

The paper must reflect the following guidelines:

  • All parts written in current APA format
  • A title page, abstract, and reference page included (Keep in mind that an abstract is a summary of your paper, not an introduction.)
  • Any charts or graphs used must be formatted in APA, and be beneficial to your reader. Graphics that do not add to the narrative, or including superfluous information only take up space and clutter the presentation.
  • All required sections included with sufficient and clear details, but without unnecessarily redundant information.  Avoid “fluff” or “clutter” that would detract from your readers’ ability to follow your information.
  • Each main section identified with an appropriate level I heading, and subcomponents in each section identified with level II headings (Additional levels of headings may be used as applicable)
  • Professional and academic language used in all parts of the paper
  • Sufficient length and depth of content, typically 8–15 pages of content depending on the nature of your project (not including title page, abstract, and reference pages); Note that the quality of content is more important than the quantity to meet a minimum page standard. 
  • A well-written background to your study, using a sufficient number of references from peer-reviewed journal articles (min. 20 citations/references); Your background should be an excellent foundation to support your project and upon which your methodology is built.
  • Include a very clear and complete problem statement, hypotheses/variables, and methodology with all required components included; Your reader should be able to know exactly what you are proposing to do and how you plan to conduct the research.

The following sections and information should be included in your paper:

  1. Title Page (professional format)
  2. Abstract
    1. Maximum of 250 words, plus keyword list
    1. Should be an overview of your paper, not an introduction
    1. Summarizes your paper content and should be written after your paper is written
    1. Be sure to indicate to your reader that this is a research proposal.
  3. Background (Level I heading; Use additional Level II headings to organize this section)
    1. Identify this section as your background (APA does not use a heading labeled introduction in most journal articles, though it is used in your dissertation. Use the first paragraph to “introduce” your topic to your reader.).
    1. Use the research literature you have reviewed to write a good and thorough background to your study.  Previous research should be summarized and synthesized rather than written as a report of a string of sources. Remember to think of this as the “foundation” for “building” your methodology. It should lead you to your research question(s) and hypothesis(es) which transition to your methodology section.
    1. The background to a study serves as a “funnel” to your specific hypothesis and methodology. After conducting research, the Discussion of findings is often viewed as a “reverse funnel” where you take your findings and apply them in a broader sense. This is referred to as the “hourglass approach”.
    1. Use at least Level II headings in this section to organize and identify the content
    1. This section should include all of the following:
      1. The Introduction to your project.
      1. A complete and thorough background based on the review of the literature (typically 20 to 25 sources minimum).
      1. A well-written problem statement
      1. Purpose of your study to transition to your methods section. 
  4. Methods (Level I heading; Use additional Level II headings to organize this section)
    1. Hypothesis and variables:  Based on the background and transition of the previous section, indicate your hypotheses and variables to be tested in your research proposal. These should be well worded and revised from previous assignments as needed. Variables must be operationally defined, and any important terms defined.
    1. Participants:  A complete and thorough participants section should be included. This should include details regarding your participants, sampling and recruiting details, protection protocols (including informed consent), any permissions required, incentive or compensation details, and any other details needed as commonly used in research reports and journal articles applicable to your study. Include and a priori power analysis to justify your sample size.
    1. Procedures: this section should clearly and thoroughly walk your reader through the process used in your mock study. Remember that your reader should be able to reproduce your research using only your paper, and this is the most important section related to that process.
    1. Materials/instruments: Identify and describe any materials and instruments used in your study. Be sure to cite sources identifying the publisher website, or other applicable information to identify and justify any test instruments used. The application of this section will vary depending on the nature of your project and variables being tested.
    1. Measures: Identify the measures you plan to use in conducting this research, and explain why this is the appropriate measure to use for what you are measuring. Remember that validity requires you to actually measure what you say you are measuring.
  5. Results (Identify with a level I heading as a place marker)
    1. [This section should be left blank for this assignment.]
    1. If you were to actually conduct this research you have proposed, this is where your physical results in analysis would be placed.
  6. Discussion (Identify with a level I heading as a place marker)
    1. [This section should be left blank for this assignment.]
    1. If you were to actually conduct this research, this section would include an accurate and detailed interpretation of your findings, how they relate to your hypotheses and research questions, and how your findings may be generalized or applied to real-life applications. In other words, this section includes your answer to the “so what” question. 
    1. This section would also discuss the interpretation of your findings and place them in the broader context of the previous research on your topic. This would be the bottom half of the “hourglass approach”.
  7. Conclusion
    1. In a research report (after research is conducted), this section summarizes the overall findings of your research, without simply repeating everything.  It might be viewed as something of the mirror of your introduction, reflecting your findings and discussion in summative form. It also generally includes the limitations to your study, and the implications for future study.
    1. However, for this assignment, you should simply use the conclusion section to wind down your paper for your reader, and briefly emphasize an overview of your project. You should not be redundant here, repeating what you have already told your reader throughout the paper. Instead, it is simply a short, and succinct, conclusion to what you have presented. In fact, this section generally should not be more than 1-2 short paragraphs for this assignment.
  8. References
    1. All sources cited throughout the paper must be included in the reference list.
    1. All sources must be formatted in detailed current APA.

-All parts of the paper must be in current APA format.

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

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