The Basic Format for a Research Paper Proposal
If you thought you would be able to get through college without much writing, you may find yourself asking, “Isn’t writing a research paper enough?” No. In many cases, you will need to write a research paper proposal before you write your actual paper. Ultimately, your professors will grade your final paper on your ability to interpret and intelligently discuss your topic and be able backup your findings with solid evidence. To be able to achieve this goal, you need to provide evidence that you are on the right path with a well thought out research paper proposal.
Below is a research paper proposal template for you to use. You will need to fill your information into the [ ] brackets where I have instructions and tips for you. Keep in mind that your professor may have some different requirements based upon their preferences. However, the following fields should suffice for most of your needs.
Date: [Add in the date you submit the proposal.]
To: [Add in your professor’s name.]
From: [Add in your name and your email address.]
Subject of my paper: [Provide the broad topic for your paper.]
My Major and why writing about this topic will be beneficial to me: Write why you are specifically interested in this topic and how it will benefit advancing your education. As I state in another post, “Steps to Writing a Winning Term Paper Using Reference Software” you must have an active interest in your subject (amongst other things) otherwise you will struggle writing your paper and your statements will lack conviction.
My thesis: Keep in mind that your thesis should only be a sentence or two long and it is an answer to a specific relevant question; it isn’t a question. Often your thesis will be more effective if it answers a how or why question instead of a who, what, when or where query.
Approach to the subject of my paper: There are several ways you can present material in your paper in support of your thesis statement. Will you have to define certain terms? Will you include anecdotal evidence? Will you include opposing views and comparing and contrasting them to your views? You want to think of a logical, orderly fashion in which you will lay out your research paper so it transitions well from thesis to conclusion. Your choice of target audience should influence your approach.
Intended audience: Selecting a specific intended audience will define the level of education and biases of your readers. It will alter the information you include in your research paper and how you present your viewpoints. When selecting an audience, target a demographic that has your level of education, but doesn’t necessarily have your background or major. While organizing your thoughts, think to yourself, “What do I need to explain to this audience to help them understand this topic?”
Graphs or charts: Graphs and charts are a way to visually support your written analysis and data. They are not intended to be filler to help you reach your page count requirement. Most professors do not count them towards meeting that goal. Make sure you cite your charts and graphs from other sources using the proper formatting style.
Documentation Style: Your professor will usually assign the APA, MLA or other formatting style to you. If you are unsure what style you should be using, ask them. If they don’t assign a style, the type of class you are preparing your research paper for usually will. Don’t forget; when it’s time to write your paper, there are MLA and APA format software products that can greatly diminish your time formatting the document.
Kinds of sources I will use and why they will benefit my paper: Professors like to see a balanced approach to selecting types of sources for your paper. If you are struggling finding good sources for your research paper while creating your proposal, it’s a good indication you should pick another topic. When you state the types of sources you will be using, include how these sources will strengthen your paper.
Tentative List of References: Your professor will often give you a minimum number of references for you to include as a tentative list of references for your research paper proposal. This will be higher than the actual number of references you include in your final paper since you likely will not use all of those on your tentative list. Your professor wants to see if you know how to select appropriate sources within your field. Check with your professor if you need to get their approval to use sources in your final paper that you did not include on your tentative list.
David Plaut is the founder of Reference Point Software (RPS). RPS offers a complete suite of easy-to-use formatting template products featuring MLA and APA style templates, freeing up time to focus on substance while ensuring formatting accuracy. For more information, log onto http://www.referencepointsoftware.com/ or write to:
info @ referencepointsoftware.com
Reference Point Software is not associated with, endorsed by, or affiliated with the American Psychological Association (APA) or with the Modern Language Association (MLA).
WR 123, Prof. C. Agatucci
Research Proposal: Final Draft
18 April 2002
1. Research Topic Introduction
(a) The research topic I have chosen for Writing 123 is focused on our mental health system, what services are provided in Bend, and what services are needed. The research question I wish to answer is: Homelessness among the chronically mentally ill is a community problem in Bend as well as elsewhere in the United States: As a community, how can we address this problem? I have chosen this topic partly as a result of my interest developed from my psychology professor last term. She mentioned in class that there are some chronically mentally ill (schizophrenic) people who live in Juniper Park. Additionally, I recently viewed a program on 60 Minutes which profiled a community in Geel, Belgium, that has a unique way to care for the mentally ill in their community. I was intrigued by the total community commitment and support of the mentally ill. In Geel, Belgium, you never see someone sleeping on the street. I wanted to further investigate their system for caring for the mentally ill and see if their methods could be duplicated in other communities, such as in the United States. If some of the methods used in Geel, Belgium, could be used elsewhere, as in Bend, this might have significant implications for the services we can provide in Bend. I feel as a community, we have a responsibility to care for those who are unable to care for themselves. I do not feel it is acceptable to have the chronically mentally ill living in our community parks or on the streets. I think some of our social problems are just accepted as part of living in a community and perhaps they are not addressed as they should be. In my research, I discovered a model program that was started in Long Beach, California, as a result of the frustration and dissatisfaction of family members of mentally ill, as well as professionals and business people who had an interest in improving the mental health system. As a result, the Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, California, has received a growing amount of attention and commendation as a model mental health program. It incorporates a number of innovative approaches that may be valuable in effecting widespread system change.
(b) I believe this is a very appropriate topic for Writing 123. It fits in with the courses I have studied and presents a very real problem in Bend that can be addressed in a research topic. Until I viewed the program that focused on Geel, Belgium, and their unique methods for providing for the mentally ill, I had not considered other community options for addressing the problem of homelessness of the mentally ill. It is a very effective method to view problems from other perspectives to arrive at real solutions that may be helpful and appropriate in our community in dealing with this social problem.
(c) I intend to use the American Psychological Association (APA) documentation system for this research topic. When I consulted our textbook regarding citation formats, I learned that The APA form is a variant of the author-date system of citing sources, used in the field of psychology and often in other behavioral sciences (Hubbuch, 2002).
2.Research Question and Working Hypothesis
(a)My research topic is: Homelessness among the chronically mentally ill is a community problem in Bend as well as elsewhere in the United States: As a community, how can we address this problem?
(b)Working hypothesis: This is a problem not only in Bend, but in large, economically sound communities, as well. It is a problem that must be addressed as a community to have a working, caring system to provide for the mentally ill who are homeless. This involves having a community home to provide for these homeless individuals, having a foster care system that supplements a community home and having people receiving these servicesbe treated with respect, dignity and without labeling or discrimination of any type (CareLink, 2002).
3. Research Strategy Description
(a)What do I need to discover in my research?
In the US you see many homeless people. In Bend we have homelessness. My psychology professor stated there are probably five or six schizophrenic people living in Juniper Park. Our mental health system fails to care for the chronically mentally ill.
Is our mental health system adequate? What services are provided in Bend? Why are the chronically mentally ill homeless? What services are needed in Bend?
There is a different approach for the care of the mentally ill in Geel, Belgium. You never see a person sleeping on the street there. They seem to have a successful way to care for the mentally ill.
How do the people in Geel, Belgium care for the mentally ill? What accounts for the success of their methods? Would this model be transferable to other places, i.e., cities in the United States? Bend? If not, why not?
The Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, California, has received a growing amount of attention and commendation as a model mental health program. It incorporates a number of innovative approaches that may be valuable in effecting widespread system change. Dr. Mark Ragins, who is involved with the Village Integrated Service Agency, visited Geel, Belgium, and observed their system of care for the mentally ill in his process of gaining a worldwide perspective of psychiatric rehabilitation.
What is the Village Integrated Service Agency? How did it get started and why? What is it doing differently and what is successful, not successful? Would this approach work elsewhere? In Bend?
(b) Where will I look for answers?
I used Ebsco Host database for a web search of key terms: mental health; mental illness; psychiatric rehabilitation, Geel, Belgium. I have also searched Google.com. I have found useful journal articles relating to my topic, including an article in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, Summer 2000, outlining and describing the Denver approach which combines the best rehabilitation models and influences into one system of rehabilitation services. Additionally, I discovered information about The Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, California, which incorporates a number of innovative approaches in care for the mentally ill.
I asked the librarian at the COCC library for sources of information about services provided in Bend. She directed me to the appropriate website and the new Deschutes County Mental Health office located at 2577 NE Courtney in Bend to obtain information on what services are currently available in Bend. I visited the new office in Bend and obtained a pamphlet of information describing the services currently provided.
I have requested two books through interlibrary loan, Introduction to Psychiatric Rehabilitation and The Role of the Family in Psychiatric Rehabilitation, which I hope will offer some valuable insight into how the family and community can integrate care for the mentally ill.
Additionally, I have ordered a transcript of the 60 Minutes program concerning the unique care the community of Geel, Belgium, provides for the mentally ill. Viewing this program provided me with a new awareness and heightened interest to investigate this topic further.
Anthony, W. A. (2001) Vision for Psychiatricrehabilitation Research. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 25, 1. (Journal Article)
Baxter, E. (1997) An Alternative Approach to Recovery-St. Dimpna.
<http://www.mentalhealthconsumers.org/connet/cnn/9711/alternative.htm> [Accessed 4 Apr 2002]. (Article)
Fallot, R. D., Ph.D. (2001) Spirituality and Religion in Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Recovery from Mental Illness. International Review of Psychiatry, 13, 110. (Journal Article)
Hubbuch, S. M. (2002). Writing Research Papers Across the Curriculum. Boston:Heinle & Heinle. (Book)
Principles of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. CareLink [accessed 12 Apr 2002]. (Website)
Ragins, M., MD. History and Overview of the Village. The Village Integrated Service Agency. <http://www.village-isa.org/Ragins%20Papers/Hist.%20&%20Oveview.> [Accessed 4 Apr 2002] (Article)
Ragins, M., MD. (2000) A Personal Worldwide Perspective of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. The Village Integrated Service Agency. <http://www.village-isa.org/Ragins%20Papers/worldwide_perspective.htm> [Accessed 4 Apr 2002]. (Article)
Shern, D. L.; Tsemberis, S.; Anthony, W.; Lovell, A. M.; Richmond, L.; Felton, C. J.; Winarski, J.; Cohen, M. (2000) Serving Street-dwelling Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities: Outcomes of a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Clinical Trial. American Journal of Public Health, 90, 1873. (Journal Article)
Smith, G., (Executive Director). Deschutes County Mental Health. N.p.:n.p., n.d.
[Pamphlet obtained 12 Apr 2002]
Spaniol, L., et al. The Role of the Family in Psychiatric Rehabilitation. (Book requested through interlibrary loan 4/12/02)
Spaniol, L., et al. Introduction to Psychiatric Rehabilitation. (Book requested through interlibrary loan 4/12/02)
© Lucy Burrows, 2002