All research begins with a question. Before any science can begin, the question
driving the research interest must be considered and evaluated. Is it a researchable question? If so, how should it be researched? Has it been researched in the past? If so, what methods were used and what did
they discover? Once a researchable social
science research question is realized, all researchers begin the process of
evaluating past research on the question and topics in the question. Indeed,
for this assignment, you must do the same.
First, you must develop a researchable sociological
question. This is a challenge, but we’ll spend a good deal of time on it during
class. Second, you must evaluate three (3) peer-reviewed, social science
research sources on the question or topic or related topics. (You’re assigned
to evaluate these sources by way of completing your annotated bibliography.)
Third, after evaluating the past research, you must make an argument for why
more research needs to be completed.
Remember, this is a research
proposal—you’re proposing to study a question and, therefore, you must make
an argument for why the question (and proposed research) must be accomplished. You
can ground this argument in part by evaluating the “good and bad” of that past
research you’ve landed on. You should also ground this argument in the
sociological importance of the question. The last part of your research
proposal is to explain how you will answer the question. In other words, what
research design and methods will you employ toward the resolution of your
question? This is the methodology section of your paper. Evaluating how research was done on your
topic/question in the past will inspire and shape your research design. Please
follow the below outline when constructing your proposal.
Outline for Research Proposal
third person, expert voice (you’re
the voice of the researcher)
Introduce the reader to your topic area and primary research
question. How you do this is up to you, but you should prioritize demonstrating
to the reader the sociological importance of your question/topic. For example, if my question is “how has the outsourcing
of manufacturing jobs in Central, New York, impacted the regions development
and socio-economic trends,” I might begin with anecdotes of people who have
lost jobs to outsourcing or statistics showing a decrease in middle class
manufacturing jobs. I would then move to demonstrate to the reader the
sociological significance of the topic in a way that encourages the reader to
want to know more. I think it’s useful for this section to end with a clear
understanding of what your primary research question is. *An important tip: at the end of this section
the reader should understand the scope and scale of your topic (geographically),
the population that you intend to focus on, and the era (or time transition) of
– third person voice
Demonstrate the state of research on the topic area and/or
research question. This section gives an
overview of the scholarly literature that relates to the theme and content of
your paper. The purpose of this section is twofold. First, it lends credibility to you as a
writer, showing that you have become familiar with past research on the
topic. Second, it provides a context for
your paper, allowing the reader to see how your views compare to those of
Primarily, in this section you will identify and describe
each of the researchers’ biographies. You will also explain what motivated
their research, how they performed it, and what they discovered. I think it’s
helpful if you aim to evaluate one article at a time.
This section should be organized in some logical way: from
older research to newer; from people who agree with you to those who don’t or
vice versa; from prevailing wisdom in the field to oddball exceptions. Reframe from evaluating the credibility of
the sources you review in this section and instead present the research
objectively and in a highly neutral third-person voice. Your evaluation of the sources is desired in
the next section where you create your argument for why more research needs to
The Argument –
third person voice
The next two sections will take some creative thought. In
the argument you must demonstrate that the research you are proposing to do is
worth it, needs to be done, is sociologically necessary, etc. There are a lot
of different ways to structure this section. What follows is a general format
which can be tweaked as needed for specific papers.
Begin by restating your primary research
Discuss how past research succeeded and failed
at resolving the question how you have framed it.
Discuss how the methods of past research
succeeded or failed at producing good results—or succeeded or failed at resolving
your particular question. (Perhaps they were too macro, studied the wrong
Create an argument explaining why this research
question is sociologically important.
Explain how your primary research question and
any supplemental research questions (secondary research questions) fit into the
current state of research on the topic area. Refer to the literature/research
previously reviewed and discuss more explicitly where your views stand in
relationship to that research. If some of it disagrees with your position,
counter or distinguish those arguments.
For example, has your research question been addressed in past
research? If so, how? What were the
outcomes? Were they valid and
accurate? Is your research going to fill
a gap in the past research done on the topic and/or research question? If so, what is the gap? And how is it going to fill it?
Discussion – third- and first-person voice; remember, you’re going to be
the researcher presenting to study your question. You will explain to the
audience how you intend to study your topic.
Demonstrate how and with what sociological methods you will
answer the research question(s). Please refer back to our methods chapters in
our sociology text to help you define what methods you are going to use. Are
you going to do some version of qualitative, quantitative, social experiment, content
analysis, or historical comparative research? *The method(s) you choose should
be the appropriate method(s) in order to answer your research question(s).
Remember, utilizing a variety of methods, you can absolutely utilize a mixed
Once you have described the methods then describe how will
operationalize (put into action) your study.
Who will you study and in what environment? Lastly, justify why you have chosen these
methods and why you are operationalizing the study the way that you intend.
Justify the methods. Remember, this is
all hypothetical so you can be as creative as you’d like. Don’t only be creative but be thorough. You have to convince me (and the class) that
if you were to actually do the study there would be ground breaking and