For this assignment you will provide details about your proposed research topic.  You will develop a research question, state your hypothesis, define your variables and operational definitions, and indicate the appropriate inferential test for your proposed study.

You will provide details about your proposed research topic

For this assignment you will provide details about your proposed research topic.  You will develop a research question, state your hypothesis, define your variables and operational definitions, and indicate the appropriate inferential test for your proposed study.  The assignment will help you prepare for the Final Research Proposal due at the end of this course.

You are free to propose whatever type of study you wish (as long as it is relevant to the behavioral sciences), but If you are thinking of using this proposed research for your capstone course you may want to ask a question that can be feasibly carried out here.  That means you may want to avoid research designs that would require the use of protected populations such as children, prisoners, the elderly, mentally disabled individuals, etc. (see the IRB guidelines for more details on this).  The IRB will also not allow questions about illicit drug use or other illegal behaviors.  In the capstone course you will be restricted to studies that can be carried out in 12 weeks available and you will be responsible for any monetary costs associated with the study, so keep these in mind.

For this assignment you should answer the following using complete sentences:

What is the research question your study seeks to answer?
A good research question must be specific so that it can be answered with a research project.  For example, “what causes depression?” is too broad and could not be answered in a study.  “Is sunlight exposure related to depression?” would be a good research question because it is specific enough to be answered in a study.  For this course, your research question should focus on the relationship between only two variables related to psychology or the behavioral sciences.

Be careful with the language you use in your research question.  Terms like “effects”, “impacts”, “leads to”, etc. would all imply a causal relationship, which would only be appropriate if your study employs an experimental design.  If your study is nonexperimental, your research question should instead use terms like “relationship”, “correlation”, “is related to”, “predicts”, “is associated with” etc.

What is the hypothesis for your study?
A hypothesis indicates the specific predicted relationship between the variables in a study.  If you are investigating a correlation, indicate the predicted strength and direction of the relationship.  If you are performing an experiment indicate the expected causal relationship.

What are the variables you will explore in your research question?

A variable is any measurable event, situation, behavior, or individual characteristic that varies (has at least two values).  In your study you will be looking at a relationship (either causal or correlational, depending on your research design) between two variables.

You should indicate which variable would be considered the independent variable and which would be considered the dependent variable.  If your study is an experiment, the independent variable is the variable that you will be manipulating, and the dependent variable is the variable that will be measured.  If your study is nonexperimental, determining which variable is the independent and dependent is sometimes ambiguous.  However, the independent variable is generally the variable that you think may cause or predict the dependent variable.

For a research question such as “Is sunlight exposure related to depression?” the independent variable would be “sunlight exposure” and the dependent variable would be “depression”.

What are the operational definitions for each of your variables?
If your variable is quantitative (represented numerically) the operational definition will be how you plan to measure the variable.  This may be through self-report survey questions, observations of behavior, physiological recordings, etc.  If your variable is nominal (categorical), your operational definition should clearly define each category.

What research methods will your proposed study employ?

Indicate whether your propose d study would be generally consider ed an experiment or a nonexperiment.  If your proposed study is nonexperimental, indicate the specific type of research method that you are using (naturalistic observation, systematic observation, case study, archival research, survey research, etc.).  If you proposed study is an experiment, indicate what specific experimental design you plan to use (posttest only, pretest-posttest, etc.) and identify the experimental and control group(s).  You should also explain the sampling method you will use to select your participants (simple random sampling, convenience sampling, etc.) and explain why this sampling method is appropriate for your proposed study.

What inferential test would be most appropriate for analyzing data in your proposed study?

First, you should identify the most appropriate measurement scale for each variable in your study (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio).  Then, using the flow chart provided below, identify the most appropriate statistical test for your proposed study.  Be aware that, in the flow chart, interval and ratio scales are interchangeable and are both simply called “scale”.

Choosing a Topic for the Final Research Proposal In this module you will be selecting a topic for your Final Research Proposal assignment. Your topic should be relevant to psychology or the behavioral sciences. When choosing a topic for your research proposal you should consider the following:

Try to choose a topic that is interesting or relevant to you personally.

You may want to consider a topic that is relevant to current events or that is “hot” in popular culture.

Choose a topic that is not too broad. For example, “Depression” would be too broad a topic. There is simply too much information about this topic to be summarize in a literature review. A more specific topic related to “Depression” would be “The relationship between exposure to sunlight and depression”.

Since your proposed study will be investigating the relationship between two variables, you may consider two topics that you find interesting and combine them into a single topic.

For example, if you are interest ed in both attention deficit disorder (ADHD) and sleep. Your propose d topic could be “The relationship between sleep and ADHD symptoms”.

If you are having trouble coming up with a good topic you can contact me to do a bit of brainstorming or you can check out the following links:

Psychology Research Paper Topics: 50+ Great Ideas
Association for Psychological Science: Research Topics
APA: Psychology Topics
Psychology Today: Basics
Interesting Research Topics Psychology Students Should Work On

For this assignment you will provide details about your proposed research topic.  You will develop a research question, state your hypothesis, define your variables and operational definitions, and indicate the appropriate inferential test for your proposed study.  The assignment will help you prepare for the Final Research Proposal due at the end of this course.

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