PSYC.2690 Research I: Methods
Checklist for Final Research Proposals
Prof. Doreen Arcus
This checklist is designed to help you pull together everything we have learned this semester into a coherent proposal, a capstone accomplishment for the course that shows you can apply what you have learned. Use this checklist as you organize your ideas, as well as when you write the proposal. It is difficult to do poorly if you adhere to the checklist.
BIG FIVE Failure to meet any of these may result in an F. Plagiarism will result in 0.
Is your study an experiment with random assignment of participants and manipulation of the conditions of the IV?
Is it a minimal risk experiment without lasting effects on participants?
Are the conditions of your experiment well controlled?
Is it a psychology experiment?
Is your proposal written in your own words, with appropriate paraphrasing, citations for ideas, and any use of direct quotations clearly identified and cited with page number?
Are all references in text—and only references cited in the text—also cited in reference section using complete APA style, including as appropriate for electronic sources?
Consult OWL when you are not sure: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style
Is text arranged in APA style, including title page, running head, and use of headings?
Do you put the right information in the right section and only in that section (e.g., describe participants in Participants and not in Procedure).
Is writing clear and concise (Remember to consult the UML Writing Center at the earliest possible opportunity if you anticipate difficulty here).
Is your abstract on a separate page from the title and the body of your paper?
Does your abstract provide a brief (125 words or less) synopsis of the study you are
Introduction—primarily written in past tense since you are talking about studies that have already been done. Review Ch. 1-2
Do you describe the literature in past tense since these are studies already done and conclusions already reached?
Do you use no more than one direct quotation? Remember you don’t need any at all.
Are assertions backed up with research and citations rather than broad sweeping generalizations or opinions?
When you cite previous studies, do you say enough about what they found—their participants, methods, and actual results—and how so that your reader can put the conclusions into context, providing operational definitions for clarity?
Do you cite at least 4 empirical journal articles that provide a rationale for the study you are proposing and use APA style to cite?
If you include additional citations, are they all sources appropriate for inclusion— empirical or theoretical papers from scholarly journals or texts or authoritative, factual websites (e.g., US Census)?
Do you tie your introduction together with the results of research that you are citing, instead of listing study after study after study?
Does the previous research you cite lead to the research question posed by the current study (that is, the study you are proposing) by the end of the introduction? Note that here you begin to shift to future tense (e.g., “Therefore, the proposed study will examine the effects of….”).
Do you end with a clear statement of the hypothesis or hypotheses for the current study? Remember if you are proposing factorial design (limit 2×2), you need three hypotheses, one for each main effect and one for the interaction of the two.
Methods—all in future tense since you are proposing the study to be done in the future Participants: Review Ch. 5-6
Do you provide a target N of at least 30 per condition, and clearly identify your sampling units if they are other than persons (e.g., animals, teams)?
Do you describe how you will recruit your participants?
Do you identify exclusionary criteria?
PSYC.2690 Proposal checklist, p. 3
Do you describe your participants will be with respect to the demographic characteristics
that matter for your study? Remember, what matters is what is relevant to the IV and
DV (e.g., participant height usually is irrelevant; factors like gender or education level are
more likely to be relevant).
If you plan to use data in ascertaining who should comprise your sample (e.g., data from
the US Census or UMass Lowell Office for Institutional Research) do you include the
Materials or Apparatus: Review Ch. 3
Do you identify exactly what score (DV) each measure will provide for each participant?
For assessments that have been previously published or standardized tests:
Do you give complete citations for tests or questionnaires that you are using from journal
articles or other published sources?
Do you describe what each assessment, test, or questionnaire is designed to do and how
it does it (e.g., Likert scales, adjective checklists, etc.)?
Do you report psychometric data on tests or measures you propose to use (test-retest
reliability coefficients, for example)?
For assessments and/or stimuli that you are creating for your study:
In creating word lists or selecting pictures or objects for use: Do you indicate what
constraints you are putting on the words so that extraneous factors (e.g., frequency of
usage or type of word) are held constant across conditions?
If you are developing stimuli (e.g., written scenarios or videotapes) to create an IV, you
say how you know they will present what you intend them to present (manipulation
checks) and how you will control extraneous variables?
Do you describe what you will do to ensure the psychometric properties (reliability and
validity) of an assessment or questionnaire you design yourself? (Describe pilot testing)
Procedure: Review Ch. 7-9 & 11
Do you indicate that informed consent (and assent for minors) will be obtained?
Do you indicate whether you have a between or within subjects design? When there are
two factors, one between and one within, do you make that clear for each factor?
PSYC.2690 Proposal checklist, p. 4
If you have a two-group experiment, is it clear what aspects of the procedures vary
between groups and which are the same for everyone (e.g., “All participants will be
asked to …. Half of the participants will then… and half will … Finally, all participants will
be asked to….”)?
Do you clearly operationalize your IV? If, for example, you have tasks such as memorizing words or reading news articles, have you specified how long the exposure and retrieval period will be, how many words participants are exposed to at once, how many total trials (e.g., 10 trials of 10 words each for a total of 100 words) how participants are responding (free recall as in “Write down as many words as you remember” compared with recognition as in “Circle the words below that you saw earlier.”)
For within subject designs: Do you specify counterbalancing (e.g., for order of presentation, assignment of gender to main character across stories, etc.)? Make sure to review lecture notes.
Do you clarify exactly what the data will be, i.e., what score(s) each participant will have at the conclusion of the study?
Do you describe debriefing if used?
Could someone else take over for you in administering your study based on what you have written (and will someone else be able to replicate)?
Data Analysis Plan:
Do you identify exactly what data you will be analyzing (e.g., number of faces correctly identified, number of words correctly recalled, average rating of resumes, etc.)?
Have you identified exactly what statistical test(s) you will conduct, using the table provided in lecture notes?
Do you identify both ways that the results can go (for each factor and the interaction in a 2×2) and say what they would mean for the hypothesis you proposed?
Do you indicate what limitations there will be to the study? Remember that limitations are limits to generalizability; they are not design flaws.
Do you suggest what the next steps will be, i.e., follow up research?
Do you begin on a separate page and titled References?
PSYC.2690 Proposal checklist, p. 5
Does each reference begin at the margin for first line and get indented for subsequent lines?
Are your references double-spaced just like the rest of your paper?
Do you use APA style exactly?
Do you include only those references you have cited in the body of your paper?
Remember to ask any questions about your proposal ideas throughout the course in Chat or using the Discussion Board. Also ask any questions about items in this checklist that might not be