Delta State University
SSC 470/570: Methods of Social Research
Spring Semester 2005


Research Proposal Assignments

(1)  Research Topic


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Assignment:  Select a topic for your research proposal.

Grade:  2 points

Process:  Start with a general an area of interest, e.g. "education," "crime," or "poverty."  Narrow this general interest down to a particular aspect that interests you, e.g. "school performance," "violence in prison," or "substandard housing."  Choose an area where you want to study this topic, e.g. "The Mississippi Delta," "the United States," "8 southern states," or "Bolivar County."  This is a sufficient level of detail for this assignment.

Submit:  A sheet of paper with the names of the members of your group and a brief description of your topic.  You should summarize your topic in one sentence, then describe where you plan to carry out this study, and briefly describe why you selected this topic.  The description should be no more than two paragraphs.

Each group should submit one paper.

Due:  February 16, 2005


(2)  Annotated Bibliography

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Assignment:  Prepare an annotated bibliography of 5 sources on your research topic.

Grade:  7 points

Process:  Visit the library to find journal articles and other material on your topic.  Select five articles that pertain to your topic, and that help you develop your research design.  You will probably have to look through many articles to select five that are appropriate to your topic.  The articles that you select should help you focus in on a good research question for your proposed study.

Submit:  An annotated bibliography of these five articles.  Your bibliography should include a complete and correct citation for each article, using APA format, followed by a brief synopsis of the article.  Each synopsis should include a description of the research question, the methods, and the results; notes on how this article contributes to your proposed study; and your own evaluation of the article.


DO NOT copy the abstract for the article; you should read and summarize the article in your own words. 

Each group should submit one paper.


Due: February 28, 2005


(3)  Research Question

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Assignment:  Develop a research question for your proposed study.

Grade:  3 points

Process:  Based on your review of the literature, focus in on a question you wish to address in your proposal.  Think carefully about the wording of the question, and make sure that you can use one of the data collection methods discussed by Neuman to address your question.  Remember to orient the question so that you can develop an explanation. 


Submit:  A sheet of paper with your research question, and a brief explanation of how you arrived at this question.  Your explanation should be no more than two paragraphs.

Each group should submit one paper.


Due:  March 7, 2005


(4)  Draft Methodological Approach

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Assignment:  Prepare a draft of the methodological approach that you intend to use in your proposed study.

Grade:  7 points

Process:  Based on your research question, determine which approach and method would be most appropriate.  Describe the logic of your research design; in other words, how you would go about doing your research?  Explain, in detail, the process of doing your research project.  What method will you use?  How will you sample and measure?  What tools (e.g. questionnaire, interview guidelines) will you develop and use?


Submit:  A draft of the portion of your proposal in which you describe your methodological approach. 
Describe, in detail:

The general approach you intend to take, and why this approach is appropriate, given your research question.
How you will measure your constructs.  You should discuss the processes of conceptualization and operationalization; how will you address the theoretical and empirical aspects of your study?  You should also describe how you will ensure that your results are reliable and valid.  If appropriate, you should define your variables, describe your theoretical model, and state your hypotheses.

How you will select your subjects.  What is a case in your study?  How will you determine your sampling frame?  What sampling technique will you use? 

How you will collect your data.  What type of data are you seeking?  What technique will you use?  Why is this technique appropriate?  How, step by step, will you enact this data collection method?

How you will analyze your data.  Describe a data analysis technique that you will use.
How you will share your results.  What do you anticipate will be the products of this research project?  Who are the target groups?  How will you disseminate your results to others?

Note:  Choose only one data collection technique.  Your task is to focus your research design.

Your draft methodological approach should be approximately three pages. 

Each group should submit three copies of their draft methodological approach.


Due:  March 30, 2005


(5)  Critique

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Assignment:  Critique the draft methodological approach of another group.

Grade:  6 points

Process:  The draft methodological approach of another group will be distributed to your group members.  Each member should read the draft methodological approach, and prepare a critique of the methods the group plans to use.  You should carefully evaluate various aspects of the group's methods section. 


Submit:  A critique of the methodological approach of one other group.  In your critique, you should comment on the quality and completeness of the draft methods section.  Consider the following questions:  Are the methods they propose appropriate given their research topic and question?  Have they adequately expressed how they will measure the phenomenon they are studying?  Have they chosen one method and described in detail how they will choose their sample, construct their variables or concepts, collect their data, and analyze their data?  Is their methods section complete?

Prepare a critique that will help the other group improve their draft methodological approach.

Your critique should be approximately one page


Each group member should submit three copies of your critique.  This is not a group assignment; each member in the group must submit a critique of the other group's methods.


Due:  April 6, 2005