Research Proposal Writing Assignment

The purpose of the research propoal is multifold:

  • It allows students to explore one area of the psychological literature in great depth.
  • It gives students a chance to practice applying research methods skills to a particular area of psychology.
  • It gives students an opportunity to practice their writing skills.

Chapter 1. Galvan, Jose. (2004). Writing Literature Reviews, (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak Publishing Co. An Introduction to Writing Literature Reviews, Chapter 3, Selecting a Topic & Identifying Literature for Review, Chapter 4, General Guidelines for Analyzing Literature, Chapter 10, Incorporating Feedback & Refining the First Draft.

Chapters 4, Pyrczak, F. (2005).Writing Empirical Research Reports, (5th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Pyrczak Publishing Co. Writing Titles, Chapter 11, Writing Abstracts, Chapter 5, Writing Introductions & Literature Reviews, Chapters 1 & 2, Writing Research Hypotheses, Chapter 8, Writing Method Sections, & Chapter 10, Writing Discussion Sections.

Mechanical details of the research proposal, such as the content and organization of a research proposal, how to cite references, the forms for levels of headings, font size, references, tables, appendices, and so forth are found in the APA manual, Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association 5th Edition.


Your paper should consist of the following sections:

Title page

In writing titles be consise and incorporate the variables studied, not the results or conclusions of the study. The title should be consistent with research hypotheses, purpose, or question.


The abstract is a summary of the report that is placed bvelow the title and is placed on a seperate page. Begin an abstract with very brief statements of the research hypotheses, purposes, or questions. Highlights of the methodology and expected results of the research proposal should be summarized. This is a short (no more than 120 words) summary of your paper.

Introduction - Literature Review - Hypotheses

The introduction will probably be the longest and most time-consuming section of the proposal. The introduction will consist of a discussion of the topic(s) that will be studied, your literature review (consisting of about 20 articles), justification for your study, and a statement of the hypothesis/hypotheses to be tested. Play close attention to the articles you are reading: the style of their introductions are what you are trying to imitate.

Be sure to provide enough information about the studies you are discussing so that your description does not leave the reader asking questions but don't provide too much information, i.e., information that is irrelevant to your discussion.

When you describe your hypotheses you might want to use "if/then" statements. You might also want to describe your hypotheses generally first and then more specifically with regards to your particular methodology. For example, if your paper was on the effects of gender on elementary classroom experiences, you might make the following hypothesis. Note that the first, second, and third sentences are essentially the same except that the first is general and the second and third become more specific to a study with a certain methodology.

"We predict that gender of children will have an effect on their classroom experiences. More specifically, we predict that if a child is male, he will receive more attention from the teacher, than if the child were female. He will receive more positive comments as well as more negative attention (discipline), than if he were female."

You may have more than one hypothesis.


The method section is a description of the methods that will be used in conducting the research. These must be described in enough detail so that if someone wanted to conduct the study they would be able to. Be sure to include participants, materials, procedure, and design sections.

In the participants section you should describe who will be participating in your study, i.e., what their characteristics are, and the number of people who will be participating.

In the materials section you should list and describe any equipment or scales that you will be using.

In the procedure section you should describe your study's process from the beginning to the end, i.e., what will the subjects (participants) be doing at each step of the study.

In the design section you should describe your study's research design (e.g., a one-way between subjects design with two levels of the independent variable or a pretest/posttest design). You should also tell readers what your independent and dependent variables are, the number of levels of the independent variables and the operational definitions of both the independent and dependent variables, if your study is an experiment. If you have more than one independent or dependent variable, be sure you discuss all of them. If it is not experimental in nature, then you should still define your variables and describe what type of research design you are using.


The discussion section should describe the implications of the research results should the study confirm your hypotheses. It should also describe possible problems (e.g., flaws) in your research and how they might affect the results of the study. Possible future research should also be discussed.


  • A research proposal should be written in the future tense.
  • Make sure there is "one voice" for the final product.
  • Spell-check and proofread!!
  • Refer to your APA manual for style and guidelines.
  • Scan disks for viruses.
  • Before uploading your file be sure it has the ".doc" extension.
  • Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite!
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