Mr Andam Essay

5185 Words Apr 14th, 2013 21 Pages
Evans(Psychology)-3589-03.qxd

6/15/2007

6:23 PM

Page 21

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CHOOSING A TOPIC AND THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL

Objectives
On reading this chapter you should: • • • • • • • • understand the importance of choosing a research topic that lends itself to a ’do-able’ project; be able to evaluate potential topics; be able to formulate a valid research question (and hypothesis); understand the importance of creativity, and its relationship to innovation in formulating your research question; understand the integral role played by the research question; understand the vital role of the research proposal; be aware of the common pitfalls to be avoided in writing a successful proposal; and be able to write a logical and persuasive research proposal.
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You may want to make a significant contribution to the psychological literature, or you may want to publish your work, these are both very important and useful goals, but they should not override the importance of a do-able project. Often students want to research very broad, all encompassing topics. Such broad topics involve more time and effort than most undergraduate psychology students can afford. However, topics that are too narrow should also be avoided as it is very difficult to generalise such results. You must strike a balance; your topic should be narrow enough to focus your project but not too narrow that the results have no generalisability. Also, your topic should be broad enough to generalise but not to the extent that you cannot manage the area and your project.

Simple strategies for evaluating potential research topics
It is quite common for undergraduate psychology students to develop a list of potential research topics. The difficulty arises when students must choose a topic from their list, and develop a research proposal. Often students ask me if they can submit two or three proposals, with the hope that I will inform them of the best idea and therefore make the decision for them. Supervisors are generally not in a position to do this, as it is unethical for anyone but the student to make this decision – this decision-making is, in itself, part of the research process.

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