Proposal Writing Lecture

-- writing together
-- title page
-- intro
-- methods
-- materials

Writing Together

divide task
do apart
staple together
plan together
outline together
draft separately
rotate and edit

Title Page (Draw a title page)

See APA manual - example beginning page 258
-- this should be informative about the point of the research: should mention the constructs which the IVs and DVs are operationalized to measure.
-- Sometimes, it also includes something catchy; for this reason youıll see colons: Catchy Phrase: Effect of IV constructs on DV constructs (Colon Cancer: The Rapid Rise of Colon Use in Psychology Titles)
-- Donıt say: A study of ... or An experimental investigation of ...
-- Should be 12 to 15 words
-- Should make people who are concerned about the topic want to read it
-- There are actual guidelines for authorship of APA papers.
-- Use your formal name
-- Affliation: University always -- generally where work was done, department only if not psychology
Running Head: brief title, no more than 50 characters -- ALL CAPS
Header: brief title and page number -- goes on all pages except figures. Brief title doesnıt have to be the same as the running head -- but it makes sense for it to be

Keep in mind that this is persuasive writing!!!

There are 3 parts to an introduction

1 -- Intro Open by explaining why this is an important area for research: this can be in terms of theoretical issues or in terms of application issues. Try to get your general area and this specific study into the first paragraph: do this at the descriptive level of constructs (by talking about what factors are thought to influence the DV you will be studying) not operational definitions.

2 -- Theory and History Background of the problem area with particular emphasis on things related to this study, and emphasize the theories that are involved. Tie reviewed studies back to the theories when you can. Summarize across studies. Point out the important limitations of studies (ie. those related to what you are doing). Will not be a comprehensive historical review, but should cover the pivotal studies and positions. Avoid tangents.

3 -- Current Research Introduce methods/design and research hypotheses at conceptual level and give some idea of op. defs. Make the research design transparent.


organization is paramount, transitions are terribly important, relating your research to the reviewed research, and relating your predictions to the theories helps: these things are the difference between an acceptable intro and a good intro. Organization: use the design of your experiment (your IVs), use the order of research in the field, ie pay attention to the years on the articles and which theories they support. Make sense of the field with respect to the experiment you are conducting.

Verbs: Past tense for things in the past -- what someone did, wrote, found. Anything already published is in the past. Present perfect for ongoing things -- when research has continued to use the same methods since the original study Present for theory -- The theory claims that the following should happen.


Go for precision. Allows a reader to replicate, allows a reader to know about your internal validity, construct validity, external validity, and subject population problems.

Participants: Note who they were (demographics), how many there were, give number of subjects dropped from the experiment, how they were selected.

Design (Generally not used): If your design is not abundantly clear -- include this section to define your IVs, how they are manipulated, the levels.

Material/Apparatus: Identify everything you used, scales, word lists, equipment, etc. Be detailed when it is relevent, meaning for special equipment and new material. When using scales, note the source. Normally reliability should be included for known scales. For new scales (those that you created) do not worry about reliability. Explain things, donıt just list. Describe things, donıt just say see Appendix -- journals wonıt, generally, have space to print all your materials so you have to describe in detail, make it clear to someone who canıt see the appendix. For your proposal I want all material appended to your paper. The appendix is so we can see that you are ready to go, that you have what you say you have, and for us to review new material.

Procedure: Explain how subjects were assigned to conditions. Describe control features of the experiment. Explain what happens to the subjects. In great detail. Include exact instructions only when they the key component of the experimental manipulation. Otherwise just summarize. If things happen to all subjects, just say it once, donıt repeat it when describing each group. Time is a good organizing principle here.

Make sure that the IV and DV are quite clear.


Follow APA guidelines.


Append all material you intend to use. Also append your debreifing statement.


Follow APA style for citations. Be clear about your sources. Generally avoid quotes. For more information see my citation and plagiarism page.


-- These will not be graded. You get one of three responses Thumbs up -- you may start collecting data Thumbs across -- we have some questions/concerns first and may want you to rework some of your design or material. These will all be written on your title page. Thumbs down -- You need to rewrite a portion of the proposal (intro or method) or you need a wholistic revision of experiment. Again this will be noted on the title page. -- There will be lots of comments suggestions however, to help you improve your writing. Anyone who thinks they can turn in a first draft in this class and do well on the final paper is in for a surprise, so use the feedback in rewrites (thatıs why I emphasize word processing).

Once you are approved you will receive info and how to get subjects and space to conduct your research.