This week you and your partner(s) will have to complete and submit to me the conceptual framework and research design section of your research proposal. This section should build off of your literature review. Here, you will identify gaps in the literature (something that wasn’t adequately addressed in the literature for one reason or another, necessitating the novel research study that you are proposing), explain how you will address these gaps, and what value your study will bring. In other words, you will justify the approach to research that you are proposing. This section should include: 1) your research question(s)–what narrow and specific questions are you proposing to answer; 2) hypothesis (or hypotheses)–what are your narrow and specific expectations for the way that the world should work for relevant areas of study in this proposal; 3) your research design, or the broad approach you will take to examining the phenomenon or phenomena of interest; and 4) variables selected and operational definitions of key concepts. When I say “key concepts” I am referring to, at least, things you will be assessing as the primary independent and dependent variables. Though you may have more than one of either of those, or even a key moderating or mediating variable. But only focus on the key variables here in terms of providing an operational definition.
Though not required, you may also want to discuss over-arching theoretical frameworks or paradigms that feed into your decisions here.
In the process, you must highlight at least one variable from an instrument with existing validation and reliability as a component of your proposed study, either to be used to assess groups for inclusion in the study, to be used as independent variable measurements, or as dependent variable/outcome measurements. This is necessary for you to complete the next proposal-related assignment on measurement. This is the case even if you are proposing a qualitative study. You can search for the validity and reliability aspects of a given tool via academic search engines (such as Google Scholar, EBSCOhost, or JSTOR).
The research design section of this assignment warrants additional guidance, as this is really enough to be an assignment in itself, but is so inextricably linked to the other aspects of your proposal covered this week that it makes sense to lump them together. The research design outlines the broad approach to the study that you will undertake, and has implications for all other decisions made in this study.
For example, will you propose using an experimental design, a quasi-experimental design, survey research, focus groups, interviews, a historical study, or content analysis? Will you statistically analyze existing, secondary data? Will you be engaging in a longitudinal or cross-sectional analysis, or neither? These are not always mutually exclusive categories, so you can use multiple concepts to explain your design approach if it makes sense to do so. For example, you could undertake survey research based on existing survey data (meaning you would not need to collect these data yourself). Further, such a study could be longitudinal in nature. Though I want you to be thoughtful and to propose a strong study, it might be best to keep this somewhat simple, so that you don’t over-extend yourself in future assignments.
Explain in some detail how your proposal will follow one or more of these approaches. Also, justify why this approach makes sense given your research question and the population or question of interest, as opposed to other potential approaches. This justification is important, as it demonstrates that you have been thoughtful, and are attempting to maximize the benefit of your approach while avoiding the potholes you might find in other approaches.
Note that subsequent research proposal assignments will have you examining in detail issues surrounding sampling and measurement, so do not go into too much detail here exploring those aspects of the proposed research project (though a cursory discussion may be necessary to justify your decision). Further, I do not expect you to spend much of this discussion on data analysis, as I do not expect you to have much detailed knowledge of these methods at this time. However, if you have taken a statistics course, or have experience with some other methodology, feel free to include such a discussion here to help bring your proposal to life.
Various chapters could have discussions relevant to this assignment, including chapters 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 15, and 16, to name a few. Also examine Appendix B to provide some additional, general guidance, and review examples in the research literature that you find, to see how others have done this.
In terms of your research question(s) and hypotheses specifically, be sure to read chapter 7 and Appendix B to provide some additional, general guidance. Also, review examples in the research literature that you find, to see how others have done this. The research questions are
- Does pre-discharge screening impact the risk of suicide?
- What evidence-based intervention works to treat veterans to reduce suicide?
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