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Preparing a Research Proposal

Too often, individuals will jump right into developing a research proposal with little to no thought of planning. That approach does not maximize the potential of the research to be usable and of value to the overall body of knowledge in the particular discipline or profession.

To develop a research proposal, it is imperative to understand the following critical concepts or components such as the following:

? Research hypothesis
? Research problem statement
? Null hypothesis
? Research variables
? Literature review
? Database versus search engine
? Random sampling
? Data collection
? Quantitative research
? Reliability

For this assignment, you are to prepare a report regarding research proposals in which you answer the following questions:

1. What is a research hypothesis, and how does it differ from the research question?
2. What should be included in the research problem statement?
3. Define a null hypothesis. When would it be used?
4. What are the criteria for establishing research variables?
5. What is the purpose of the literature review in the research proposal?
6. What is a database, and how does it differ from a search engine?
7. What is random sampling, and why is it considered a stronger sampling method than nonrandomized sampling?
8. What are the major methods used for data collection in research?
9. What are the main steps to a research proposal in a quantitative research study?
10. Define reliability. What are 3 aspects of reliability in quantitative research?

Solution Preview

Research proposals guide:
1. What is a research hypothesis, and how does it differ from the research question?
A research hypothesis is a calculated guess formulated by researchers, a speculation on the probable output of a research investigation.
A research hypothesis can always proven/disproven with the use of statistical tools.
A research question is a formal statement of the goal of a study.

The Research Question and Hypothesis

What is a research question?
This is the question that you are trying to answer when you do research on a topic or write a research report.

Should a research question be general or specific?
It should be as specific as possible. In some cases, you may make two or more research questions to cover a complex topic.

What is an example of a research question?
For example, if you are studying the effects of sleep on reflexes, you might formulate the following research question:

What are the effects of sleep on reflexes?

A similar question might be:

Does sleep have an effect on reflexes?

Or:

Is maximum reflex efficiency achieved after eight hours of sleep?

The goal of your research is to find the answer to the research question.

What is a hypothesis?
A hypothesis is a statement that can be proved or disproved. A research question can be made into a hypothesis by changing it into a statement. For example, the third research question above can be made into the hypothesis:

Maximum reflex efficiency is achieved after eight hours of sleep.

Source: http://www.ryerson.ca
2. What should be included in the research problem statement?
A problem statement is the description of an issue currently existing which needs to be addressed. It provides the context for the research study and generates the questions which the research aims to answer. The statement of the problem is the focal point of any research. A good problem statement is just one sentence (with several paragraphs of elaboration).
For example it could be:
"The frequency of job layoffs is creating fear, anxiety, and a loss of productivity in middle management workers."
http://www.professorbwisa.com/new/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=81&Itemid=110

3. Define a null hypothesis. When would it be used?

What is a null hypothesis?
A null hypothesis (abbreviated H0) is a hypothesis to be disproved. The hypothesis above can be turned into a working null hypothesis simply by adding "not".

Maximum reflex efficiency is not achieved after eight hours of sleep.

Another null hypothesis is:

Sleep does not have an effect on reflexes.

Null hypotheses are used in the sciences. In the scientific method, a null hypothesis is formulated, and then a scientific investigation is conducted to try to disprove the null hypothesis. If it can be disproved, another null hypothesis is constructed and the process is repeated.

As an example, we might begin with the null hypothesis:

Sleep does not affect reflexes.

If we can disprove this, we find that sleep does have an effect. We might then go to the next null hypothesis:

Different amounts of sleep have the same effect on reflexes.

If we can disprove this, we can go to:

Maximum reflex efficiency is not achieved after eight hours of sleep.

And so on. At each stage in the investigation, we conduct experiments designed to try to disprove the hull hypothesis.

What is the relationship between the null hypothesis and the thesis statement of a research report?
A generalized form of the final hypothesis (not the null hypothesis) can be used as a thesis statement. For example, if our final proved hypothesis is:

Maximum reflex efficiency is achieved after eight hours of sleep

we might generalize this to a thesis statement such as:

This investigation demonstrated that sleep has an effect on reflex efficiency and that, in fact, maximum reflex efficiency is achieved after a specific period of sleep.
4. What are the criteria for establishing research variables?
When doing social research, variables are both important and tricky. Here's a few words about them.
Definitions
A variable is something that can change, such as 'gender' and are typically the focus of a study.
Attributes are sub-values of a variable, such as 'male' and 'female'. An exhaustive list contains all possible answers, for example gender could also include 'male transgender' and 'female transgender' (and both can be pre- or post-operative).
Mutually exclusive attributes are those that cannot occur at the same time. Thus in a survey a person may be requested to select one answer from a list of alternatives (as opposed to selecting as many that might apply).
Quantitative data is numeric. This is useful for mathematical and statistical analysis that leads to a predictive formula.
Qualitative data is based on human judgement. You can turn qualitative data into quantitative data, for example by counting the proportion of people who hold a particular qualitative viewpoint.
Units are the ways that variables are classified. These include: individuals, groups, social interactions and objects.
Types
Descriptive variables are those that which will be reported on, without relating them to anything in particular.
Categorical variables result from a selection from categories, such as 'agree' and 'disagree'. Nominal and ordinal variables are categorical.
Numeric variables give a number, such as age.
Discrete variables are numeric variables that come from a limited set of numbers. They may ...

Solution Summary

This solutions describes the steps and the format used in preparing a research proposal.

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