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Research Proposal

Introduction

This assignment has two parts: Part A requires you to select a research topic, research question and type of research design. Part B requires you to provide the references for your proposed research.

The first task of this assignment is to select a research topic that both interests you and is amenable to either naturalistic observation or archival research. These two non-experimental designs are used in this assignment and in Assignment 4 because they do not require approval from a Research Ethics Board.

Before considering a topic, it’s important that you understand the constraints of these two research methods. Note that there is additional information below and a short video, Naturalistic Observation and Archival Data Research by Dr. Sally Walters, explaining more about the constraints of these research methods:

Naturalistic Observation

Naturalistic observation is an approach to data collection that involves observing people’s behaviour in the environment in which it typically occurs. Researchers engaged in naturalistic observation usually make their observations as unobtrusively as possible so that participants are often not aware that they are being studied. Ethically, this is considered to be acceptable if the participants remain anonymous and the behaviour occurs in a public setting where people would not normally have an expectation of privacy. Grocery shoppers putting items into their shopping carts, for example, are engaged in public behaviour that is easily observable by other shoppers. For this reason, most researchers would consider it ethically acceptable to observe them for a study.

Having said this, note that not all naturalistic observation studies are considered exempt from requiring REB approval. According to the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS) regarding ethical conduct for research involving humans (2010), in order to remain exempt from REB approval your project design must meet several criteria:

  • You may observe only the natural behavior of others in a public setting.
  • You should observe the chosen behavior at a distance and in such a way that the individuals do not come to learn that their behavior is being observed.
  • You may not observe the behavior of children or other vulnerable populations.
  • You may take notes as you conduct your observations; however, you may NOT make an audio, video, or other digital recording of the observed behavior.
  • You may not identify any specific individuals when reporting the results of your study.

Some examples of research questions that could be addressed address using a naturalistic observation study include:

  • Do people take longer to pull out of a parking spot when there is another car waiting to take their spot?
  • Is there a relationship between gender and jaywalking?
  • Do people tend to smile more on sunny days?

Archival Research

An archival study involves the analysis of records or data that have already been collected for some other purpose. The data may include, for example, weather records, crime statistics, voting records, speeches made by public figures, census data, or sports statistics. Archival studies sometimes incorporate content analysis, a category of techniques that can involve specifying keywords, phrases, or ideas and then finding all occurrences of them in the data. These occurrences can then be counted, timed (e.g., the amount of time devoted to entertainment topics on the nightly news show), or analyzed in a variety of other ways.

Students sometimes misunderstand archival research as meaning research reports—note that archival research requires the analysis of RAW data that has already been collected. It does not use results of previous studies—those are other researchers’ analysis of their own raw data.

Just as with naturalistic observation, not all archival studies are considered exempt from requiring REB approval. According to the Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS) regarding ethical conduct for research involving humans (2010), in order to remain exempt from REB approval the archival data must be publicly accessible with no reasonable expectation of privacy. Thus public archives, court records, newspaper headlines, and even the tweets of public figures may be used in an archival study without applying to an institutional REB for approval.

Some examples of research questions that could be addressed using an archival study include:

  • Are newspaper headlines more negative during the winter?
  • Is the average household income related to the number of hate crimes committed?
  • Is there a positive relationship between the temperature and the number of fouls committed during soccer matches?

Examples of some useful and publicly accessible data archives include:

  • Sports statistics available at any professional sports website

You are required to get approval for your choice of a topic from your Open Learning Faculty Member.

To help you get started on your research question, consider your interests (e.g., sports, consumer behavior, social media use, crime, etc.). You might choose a question related to your interests by asking yourself: “What would I like to learn about that?”

A few examples help illustrate this:

  • Do professional sports teams win a greater proportion of their home or away games?
  • Are drivers more likely to come to a full stop at a stop sign when they have a passenger in their car?
  • Do men and women tend to describe themselves differently in personal ads?

If you cannot think of an appropriate topic and research question that you want to investigate, contact your Open Learning Faculty Member for assistance, but be prepared to make suggestions about areas of interest to you.

Now that you have decided on an acceptable research question and type of design, you can develop your research design in more detail. The overall purpose of Assignment 3 is to plan and describe exactly how you propose to answer your research question by conducting a nonexperimental research study using either naturalistic observation or archival data collection. The assignment will also get you started on finding appropriate related research.

Instructions

In Part A, answer all of the questions below that pertain to your chosen type of research design (naturalistic observation or archival) and provide the references required in Part B.

Part A Option A: Naturalistic Observation

  1. State your hypothesis in the form of a statement (not a question) that clearly describes the relationship you expect to observe. For example, “People will be more likely to hold open doors for other people in the morning than in the afternoon.”
  2. Describe the sample that you will observe, including their relevant characteristics (e.g., age, gender, handedness, etc.) and the setting in which you will observe them (e.g., a food court, library, public transit, etc.). Be sure to include any criteria that could lead you to exclude any people from observation.
  3. Clearly describe the variables that you plan to measure via observation. Include your operational definition of these variables.
  4. Describe how you will ensure that your observation is unobtrusive—remember, as a researcher, you must be effectively invisible to those you are observing. That is, how will you ensure that the participants will not be aware that they are being observed?
  5. Describe how the research setting and the population you are observing will limit the generalizability of your results.
  6. As best as you can, identify your control variables. That is, what are you attempting to hold consistent across your observations (e.g., time of day) that could potentially influence the results?
  7. Discuss in detail how your procedure is consistent with the three core ethical principles of 1) Respect for Persons 2) Concern for Welfare and 3) Justice.

Part A Option B: Archival

  1. State your hypothesis in the form of a statement (not a question) that clearly describes the relationship you expect to observe. For example, “The Vancouver property rate will be higher on warmer days.”
  2. Describe the specific source of your archival data, including website addresses, and the criteria you will use when including or excluding any records
  3. Clearly describe the variables that you plan to measure or code in your archival data. Include your operational definition of these variables.
  4. Describe how the archival data you are collecting and analyzing are publicly accessible and/or why the individuals whose behaviour is reflected in the records do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. (
  5. Describe how the particular archival data set you are collecting and analyzing will limit the generalizability of your results.
  6. As best as you can, identify the control variables that should be applied in this study. That is, what are you attempting to control or hold consistent (e.g., type of crime) across your observations that could potentially influence the results?
  7. Discuss in detail how your procedure upholds each of the ethical principles (respect for persons, concern for welfare, and justice) that govern research with human subjects.

Part B: Providing References

Current research builds on previous studies; it is not isolated from the findings of earlier studies. Using the techniques practiced in Unit 1, conduct a literature search in order to

  Exceeds Expectations Meets Expectations Almost Meets Expectations Does Not Yet Meet Expectations
Part A Q1 Hypothesis well phrased as statement with all variables clearly identified

(5 marks)

Hypothesis well phrased as statement with some variables clearly identified

(4 marks)

Hypothesis not well phrased as statement with variables unclearly identified

(3 marks)

Hypothesis not phrased as statement and/or variables not identified

(0, 1 or 2 marks)

Part A Q2 All relevant characteristics of sample and setting described OR specific data sources identified and inclusion/exclusion criteria clearly described

(5 marks)

Most relevant characteristics of sample and setting described OR specific data sources identified and inclusion/exclusion criteria described with minor missing details

(4 marks)

Some relevant characteristics of sample and setting described OR some data sources identified and/or inclusion/exclusion criteria incompletely described

(3 marks)

Characteristics of sample and setting incompletely or inaccurately described OR data sources not identified and/or inclusion/exclusion criteria not identified

(0, 1 or 2 marks)

Part A Q3 Operational definitions of variables described completely with no missing details

(5 marks)

Operational definitions of variables described with a few missing details

(4 marks)

Operational definitions of variables described with some missing or incorrect details

(3 marks)

Operational definitions of variables described with many missing or incorrect details

(0, 1 or 2 marks)

Part A Q4 Clearly describes appropriate data collection OR public nature of raw data and expectations for privacy with no missing details

(5 marks)

Clearly describes appropriate data collection OR public nature of raw data and expectations for privacy but with a few missing details

(4 marks)

Clearly describes appropriate data collection OR public nature of raw data and expectations for privacy but with some missing details

(3 marks)

Incompletely describes appropriate data collection OR public nature of raw data and expectations for privacy

(0, 1 or 2 marks)

Part A Q5 Describes several limitations to generalizability

(5 marks)

Describes at least 2 limitations to generalizability

(4 marks)

Describes 1 limitation to generalizability

(3 marks)

Describes no limitations to generalizability

(0, 1 or 2 marks)

Part A Q6 Accurately describes variables that will be controlled for or identifies variables that should be controlled for but may not be due to limitations in the raw data

(5 marks)

Accurately describes variables that will be controlled for or identifies variables that should be controlled for but may not be due to limitations in the raw data, but with a few missing details

(4 marks)

Incompletely or inaccurately describes variables that will be controlled for or identifies variables that should be controlled for but may not be due to limitations in the raw data

(3 marks)

Does not describe variables that will be controlled for or identifies variables that should be controlled for but may not be due to limitations in the raw data

(0, 1 or 2 marks)

Part A Q7 Accurately describes how procedure upholds respect for persons, concern for welfare, and justice with no missing details

(5 marks)

Accurately describes how procedure upholds respect for persons, concern for welfare, and justice but with a few missing details

(4 marks)

Accurately describes how procedure upholds respect for persons, concern for welfare, and justice but with some missing details

(3 marks)

Accurately describes how procedure upholds respect for persons, concern for welfare, and justice but with many missing details

(0, 1 or 2 marks)

Part B References Clearly describes relevance of research articles to current study

(5 marks)

Clearly describes relevance of research articles to current study but with a few missing details OR research lacks relevance to current study

(4 marks)

Describes relevance of research articles to current study but with several missing details OR research lacks relevance to current study

(3 marks)

Describes relevance of research articles to current study but with many missing details AND research lacks relevance to current study

(0, 1 or 2 marks)

Part B APA APA style is perfect or near perfect

(5 marks)

APA style is mostly accurate

(4 marks)

APA style contains several errors

(3 marks)

APA style contains many errors

(0, 1 or 2 marks)

identify three articles that are related to your research idea. The articles may be related because they focus on one or more of the variables that you are considering investigating for your research project. The articles should give you some background on previous research done in your area of interest. You must list the references in APA style. Along with each reference you should describe, in a few sentences, the results of that study and how it relates to your hypothesis. These descriptions will help form the basis for your introduction of the write-up of your research in Assignment 4.

Your articles should be from refereed, peer-reviewed academic journals/periodicals—it is suggested that you consult PsycARTICLES or PsycINFO. If you are not sure if a particular journal qualifies as peer-reviewed and academic, please ask your Open Learning Faculty Member or a librarian. For information about APA style referencing, please consult Chapter 11 in your textbook, a reputable online source such as Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab, or the .

Important!

You are required to get approval for your choice of a topic from your Open Learning Faculty Member BEFORE submitting Assignment 3. The simplest way to achieve this is by emailing your Open Learning Faculty Member. You should expect that your Open Learning Faculty Member will ask you to clarify various aspects of your topic before giving it final approval.

Do not collect any data or begin conducting your study until your Assignment 3 has been graded and returned by your Open Learning Faculty Member. When your Open Learning Faculty Member returns your Assignment 3, please carefully note the comments. You will be expected to incorporate the feedback you receive on Assignment 3 both in conducting the research and in the write-up that you submit for Assignment 4.

Grading for Assignment 3 (45 marks)

Please refer to the following rubric for information about how your assignment will be graded.

Note

Assignment Submission points are accessed within the Units or through the “This course” menu by selecting “Assignments”.

 

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