Of course, this IS a developmental class, so in addition to keeping this involved in psychology, I want you to keep the research proposal involved with development of humans. This could be something involving any of the many stages of development – it can be something as simple as testing someone’s theory, such as erikson’s last stage of human development, or it can be something deeper – we spoke of bullying in a discussion section, perhaps you have a theory as to why some people grow into bullies or victims, and you can test out your theory on this.
The first thing you’ll need to do obviously, after you find a good question to answer, is to do some research on it. Internet research is fine. But find a few sources. You might find out that your question has been answered so thoroughly that there is no reason to propose research on it. Do people really need 8 hours of sleep? Even a quick google search will find the answer to that question. So do a little research on it, try to find sources you consider more valuable or credible, and then write an introduction, just like you read in the article, giving a small background on the topic at hand. This will be the first half of your paper. It is called the “literature review” section. As far as finding good material goes, there is something called “google scholar”. Just type scholar into a google search and you’ll find it, and there are tons of articles there. I also have access to most articles, so if you want to read something that you can’t find yourself, just give me a day or two and I’ll come up with it and send it to you.
Now that you’ve picked apart someone else’s research, go ahead and come up with your own. All those problems you saw with their research? Try to make a research plan that doesn’t involve them. How are you going to answer the question? And how are you going to avoid the problems that come up?
For example, many people mentioned that the article they read used a limited sample of people, so it was not generalizable. How will your research get a better sample? Keep in mind, if you wish to work with kids, you’re going to have to figure out how to recruit kids. And get their parent’s permission. If you want to ask a bigger sample, how will you get them to participate?
I’ll give another example. Most studies you found wound up with mostly white people. Many people mention this as a drawback. But are you only interested in studying blacks or Hispanics? Blacks are only 12 percent of the American population, so if you get more than that in your study, are you no longer representative of the population at large? Is it right to artificially select more minorities so that you can represent them, even though at that point you won’t have a random sample anymore and are basically just doing a focus group?
In other times, college freshmen are used simply because the researcher has access to them. You can assume with your research that like other researchers, if you were to go through with it, you’d have access to college freshmen taking intro courses. Any other sample you’re going to have to validate not only WHY you need that population, but how you’re going to get them.
There are plenty of problems to encounter in some research. How are you going to measure something? Let’s say you want to measure how emotionally needy someone is… and you have a theory that emotionally needy people tend to get divorced more often because they’re hard to live with. Interesting idea, but how are you going to measure how “needy” someone is? And then, once you figure that out, how are you going to find people to survey? You need a population of people who are older, so that they’ve had the opportunity to be divorced. What age would be good? How would you find them, how would you entice them to take your survey? This “methods” section, explaining how you’re going to do the research, will be the last half of your paper.
You’ll not have to put in results, because this is a proposal, not a finished project. You can refer to your research as “the proposed research” (instead of the more informal “my plan”, “my idea”, or “what I want to do”). You won’t have to put in math, because that’s an upper level course all on its own