RESEARCH PROPOSAL (20%) AND EMPIRICAL DATA COLLECTION INSTRUMENT (5%)
Approved Proposal Topic and Abstract: June 14, 2007, in class
First Draft Due: June 27, 2007, in class
Final Draft Due: July 5, 2007, in class
This assignment is the capstone of the course and has two components. It will be done in self-selected groups of 3-4 students, and every member of the group will receive the same grade.
- The major part of the assignment is a research proposal that will result from planning an empirical investigation of a subject related to information studies of interest to the students. Be sure to review Creswell (2003), especially Chapter 3 (pp. 49-62) on writing; Katzer et al. (1998), Chapter 8; Losee and Worley (1993, Chapters 5 and 6); Robbins (1992, especially pp. 85-86); Cronin (1992); and Busha and Harter (1980, Chapters 1, 14, and 15). Also see Babbie (2007, pp. 503-509) on “Writing Social Research” – his is a useful but not canonical model.
Be sure to discuss how you will analyze the data from this particular instrument as well as how your team would analyze the data collected in the larger proposed study – be as specific and clear as possible.
- The second part of the assignment is the design of an empirical data collection instrument to perform one small part of the proposed empirical study. Review Creswell (2003), Babbie (2007) on data analysis, and Busha & Harter (1980), Chapters 2-6 and 15. Please include a schedule for the entire study proposed as an Appendix to your proposal.
The research proposal will be 15-18 double-spaced pages in length and will include:
• Abstract of the entire proposed study -- Following Creswell (2003) and other sources, describe the question(s) the study will engage, the case(s) or unit(s) of analysis, data collection methods, and data analysis procedures. Describe the data collection instrument you have designed.
• Statement of the phenomenon of interest -- You will tell the reader exactly what you plan to investigate and why that phenomenon is of interest to information studies. Identify your research questions or your hypotheses in this section, identify major assumptions, and define important terms.
• Literature review -- This review will be highly selective, evaluative, and analytic. Give the review a substantive title, e.g., "Important Concepts in Academic Library Use." Relate the sources to each other and to the phenomenon of interest. Please limit your discussion to the sources of highest importance to your investigation topically and methodologically. See Katzer et al. (1998, pp. 85-89); Cooper (1984, the Preface and Chapters 1 and 2), especially pp. 25-26; Babbie (2007, pp. 489-496); Creswell (2003, Chapter 2); and Busha and Harter (1980, pp. 347-348). Remember a literature review is not simply a literature search.
• Methodology -- Describe how you would investigate the topic by specifying the methods of both data collection and data analysis. Also give this section a specific, substantive title, e.g., “Understanding Visual Artists’ Information Behavior.” Identify the variable(s) of interest, define them and their relationship (if any), and specify how you would measure them. Remember that “measurement” means systematic observation, not just counting. Include in this section a particular discussion of the empirical data collection instrument noted below. This section must be specific enough to allow the reader to judge whether your method is appropriate and adequate to understand the phenomenon of interest. Be sure to include a discussion of what data would be gathered if you were to carry out the entire study and how they would be analyzed.
• Bibliography -- This section will include every source that you cite explicitly in your document and no other. Please ensure that the citation pattern for this bibliography and the notes for the text adhere to APA standards. See the Standards for Written Work.
The empirical data collection instrument has no page limits and will have the following parts:
• The data collection instrument itself -- this must be an empirical data collection instrument.
• A two-page consideration of McClure (1991) and Robbins (1992) about the dissemination of research results. How might you most effectively use their advice to present the results from your data collection instrument? If you were to do the entire study, how might their advice guide your consideration of potential audiences, methods of presentation, and potential venues for dissemination?
• An Appendix with a specific schedule for the entire proposed study.
Please hand in two copies of the final drafts of the research proposal and the empirical data collection instrument in class on Thursday, July 5. I will return one copy of the assignment with a grade and keep the other for my files.
The research plan and empirical data collection instrument are worth 25% of your semester grade. In order to earn these points, the first draft submission date of June 27 in class must also be met. Late assignments will not be accepted.
The preliminary draft of the proposal will be greater than or equal to 6 (≥6) pages in length and will consist of the following component parts:
• 1 p. abstract of the entire proposed study, not only the part related to the data collection instrument
• ≥2 pp. statement of the phenomenon of interest, the question
• ≥1 p. lit review; a general indication of the kinds of material to be reviewed both methodologically and topically; give this review a substantive title
• ≥2 pp. method(s) of investigation; be specific about analysis of the data from the
data collection instrument. This section is very often the weakest in students’ and others’ proposals -- be specific and direct, especially about how you will analyze the data you would collect.
Research Proposal and Empirical Data Collection Instrument
Hints for a Successful Proposal
A good proposal explicitly addresses the following questions, conceptually linking them together:
1. What is the phenomenon you want to understand? What is your question? It is often helpful to state your research interest as a question. Then the purpose of your proposal is to address that question. Everything in the proposal must contribute to that goal.
2. What concepts are necessary to understand and address the question?
3. How will your conceptualization of the question be operationalized? That is, what will you observe/measure?
4. How will you make the observations/measurements?
5. What about data quality? How will you convince your reader that your observations and interpretations are reasonable and accurate? Please keep three important things in mind: the reliability and (construct) validity of measures; qualitative criteria like credibility, transferability, and trustworthiness; and the controversy about “criteria” for research quality generally.
6. How will the data from the observations/measurements be analyzed?
7. How will such analysis address your question?
Be very specific and explicit in addressing these questions. They are useful guides for your proposal writing and design of the empirical data collection instrument for this class and for the implementation of proposals and the reporting of the results of research more generally. Also see Creswell (2003) and Katzer et al. (1998).
Remember, this proposal and empirical data instrument are rhetorical in nature: (1) convince me about the legitimacy and appropriateness of your phenomenon of interest, your method(s) of investigation, and your methods of data analysis and (2) demonstrate your ability to participate in the community of professional-level researchers. Persuade me.