Please see “How to Write a Research Proposal” for additional content guidelines recommendations relevant to each element listed below.


I. Introduction

A. Statement of the Problem & Purpose of the Study:

2-3 sentences or bullet points; define the problem and/or gap in the literature that your research will address

B. Review of the Literature:

Use headings to name 3-5 major areas of literature that you will summarize and critique in order to lay a strong logical foundation for your current study’s hypotheses. 

  • Under each heading, list at least 5 articles that could be cited in your final proposal when you write these sections.   When listing your citations, use APA style as you would in a References section.  Make sure that the literature topics you are covering are directly relevant to the constructs you represent in your study. 

C. Hypotheses

List one or more hypotheses in complete sentences.

  • Recommendation: 2-4 hypotheses
  • Name the constructs that you will use in the study, and also make sure that the nature of the predicted relationships between constructs is clear (e.g., indicate the direction of a correlation, or anticipated direction of group differences)

II. Method: A description of the proposed study

A.  Participants:

  • Define target population/sample size.  Describe inclusion/exclusion criteria (bullet points).
  • What range of demographic characteristics to you plan to recruit?  E.g., provide anticipated range of age, education, ethnicity, language background, socio-economic background, and any other demographic information relevant to your study (bullet points).

B. Measures

            1. Name the measure(s) you will use for your dependent variable(s)

            2. Name the measure(s) you will use for your independent variable(s)

3. Name any additional measures relevant to the study such as demographic items (be specific)

C. Procedure

For the Outline, provide a brief summary (bullet points, or 1-2 sentences each) of the study design including:

  • Participant recruitment plan
  • Setting where study will be administered
  • Informed consent: what will be shared w/ participants and how consent would be documented
  • Order of measure presentation and/or what exactly participants would experience, in what order
  • How groups (if any) will be identified or assigned
  • Length of involvement in study for participants
  • Anticipated benefits and risks for participants  (Notes: There are always risks, and this content will be in your discussion section in the final document).
  • Debriefing: what would you tell participants at the end of the study, and what resources would be appropriate to provide to participants in case of distress or mental health concerns that emerge as a result of completing the study (e.g., provide a therapist-finder resource or crisis line, depending on the nature of the study)
  • Compensation, if any; also reflect on how much would be appropriate

Note: Discussion and References sections not required for outline.

  1.  Scoring Rubric.

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