- The assignment is to prepare a research proposal for a topic of your choice.
There are no other options.
5000 words (excluding references) – and now it is electronic submission, so the word count matters.
- Since the module is Research Methods, most of the marks are to be won in the section on STUDY DESIGN. Don’t spend too long (ie time preparing and words in the assignment) on the lit review.
- It is a little artificial, but as a means to demonstrate understanding of research methods, you are expected to include a lot of referring to the research methods literature. (Don’t be tempted to fill it up with clinical references.)
- As you know, the taught sessions are planned to take you through the research process in the right order – the same order in which you should write the assignment.
- I would have MAIN HEADINGS and Sub-Headings to help with the structure.
- No need for an abstract. No need for appendices, either, usually.
- It is up to you, but this is a rough guide to how I would structure it. (…and I will be marking it.)
INTRODUCTION 500 words?
What the topic is (and perhaps what it isn’t)
Why it matters. Perhaps why it matters now.
The policy context – current government/DH/DfE agendas.
Possibly – what your engagement is with the topic.
BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Maybe 1500 words – no more!
Which databases you used and why these.
The search terms used. (Boolean operators?)
Inclusion / exclusion criteria (eg: last 10 years. Only research reports. Only children/adults/aliens)
Outcomes of the search – number of articles found / relevant.
State that you used CASP tools to guide the appraisal of the articles (or something else like this).
Report the outcome of your review under (say) three major sub-headings. Suppose that left-handedness, gender differences, and participation were three big issues considered in the literature. Use these as sub-headings and discuss whatever evidence fits within these.
Try to add 1 critical comment about the method for each article that you include. The sample was too small. The wrong approach was taken to data collection for this population. Great efforts were made to include people rather than to leave them excluded as usual.
It is a good idea to finish the lit review off with a summary of what is known and what is not known about the topic. The latter is a gap that your study will help to fill. State your Research Question here.
STUDY DESIGN [For each subsection, remember to add in references to the RM literature!]
At least 2500 words.
Overview of the study
A paragraph to explain what the study looks like. This will be a retrospective audit with a large, whole-population sample… This will be a prospective study using a pre-test post-test design… You could say how you will involve patients or public in design, implementation, or dissemination (PPI).
Who is in? What characteristics? What would exclude? How many, etc?
What does the literature call this sort of sample? What are its strengths and weaknesses – generally and specifically in regard to your study? Do you need to do a power calculation to estimate the required sample size? How will you recruit people?
Strengths? Weaknesses? Why the right thing for your study. Literature!
The process to follow.
You don’t have to collect any data! You don’t have to design a questionnaire etc at this stage!
Don’t skimp on it. Detail. Say how you will analyse the data. Deep knowledge of statistical tests is not required, nor is the use of esoteric tests just to show off. Just state what test(s) you will apply, and why this is the right thing to do with this sort of sample and data. If qualitative, don’t imply a magic step between coding and the “emergence” of themes. If content analysis, then explain steps clearly. Always be clear and specific.
I would avoid any talk of principles (beneficence, non-maleficence, etc). Say that you will adopt a risk-analysis approach as proposed by Long and Johnson (2007) – ref in your handbook. Identify the risks to participants. Say what you will do to address these. Finish by saying that you will secure College Research Ethics Panel approval. If you need NHS REC approval, say so. If not, will there be other scrutiny? Will you follow any code of practice, etc?
If the study works, X, Y and Z are likely to be the outcomes. This could impact positively on…
Study Timetable [You could also call these 2 items “Study Management”]
Include a Gantt chart. Eg… (No other text needed)
|Ethics approval|| || || || || || |
|Recruitment|| || || || || || |
|Data collection|| || || || || || |
|Data analysis|| || || || || || |
|Report-writing|| || || || || || |
| || || || || || || |
Resources (Just 3 or 4 lines at the most)
You won’t have any, but say what it might cost in terms of your time, materials, travel etc.
Dissemination A short paragraph (5 lines?). Think about different audiences & different formats.
No need for a bibliography – just the references that you have used in the text. A version of Harvard referencing is required.
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