You are now ready to plan and compose the second piece of your proposal, the methodologysection. In it you will describe what you plan to accomplish, why you want to do it and how you are going to do it. This process is very important; to a reviewer, your research investigation is only as a good as your proposal methodology. Generally, a research proposal should contain all thekey elements involved in theresearch process and include sufficient information for the readers to evaluate the proposed study. An ill-conceived proposal dooms the project, even if it somehow is approved, because your methods are not carefully thought out in advance.
The methodology section should describe how each specific objective will be achieved, with enough detail to enable an independent and informed assessment of the proposal. This section should include:
- Restatement of research tasks:hypothesis or research questions;
- Studypopulationandsampling: description of study areas, populations and the procedures for their selection;
- Data collection: description of the tools and methods used to collect information, and identification of variables;
- Data analysis: description of data processing and analyzing procedures;
- Laboratory procedures: descriptions of standardized procedures and protocols and new or unique procedures; and
- The specific tools that will be used to study each research objective.
First, review the two types of research, qualitative and quantitative, in order to make a decision about your own methodology's procedures pathway.
In a series of steps in aplanning guide, you will outline yourmethodologysection and craft yourproposal.
Deciding My Own Approach
Start planning and writing by clicking on each of the elements in research proposal's methodology section
What type of overall study design is best for my investigation and research?
There are two types of information gathering—qualitativeandquantitative. Both designs, quantitative and qualitative, are said to be systematic, meaning that they have a system or follow a process. Each type of design, however has different approaches to methods of reasoning, step-by-stepprocedures, and researchtoolsandstrategies. Although deciding that an investigation is qualitative or quantitative directs the researcher toward a certain path, depending on what research questions still need to be answered as the investigation unfolds a combination of approaches can be used in the specific research tools used.
Now you will determineoverall project design; that decision will help you to frame out your basic methodology and determine whether you will need to use inductive or deductive reasoning in making your conclusion.
Complete Crafting a Research Proposal: II. Approach to Research Design in order to decide which approach will best suit your research. To answer some of the questions there, you may need to review your Reflection Journal and the material introduced earlier about methodology located on this web site.
When you are done, select the approach that you think will work best for your research and follow the pathway for your particular approach
Design My Project
Now that you know which design best suits your investigation, you will need to follow a specific pathway for the following research proposal elements in order to follow the specific reasoning and concerns of your approach. You will also need to download and save the planning guide for your approach to methodology to your computer.
Crafting the Proposal: III. The Methodology (Qualitative)
Crafting the Proposal: III. The Methodology (Quantitative)
Different Pathways for Different Research Design Approaches
After you have downloaded and saved the file, you will need to complete Step 1 : Designing Research Methodology. Use the links below to help you to make decisions as you complete your planning guide.
Qualitative Approach Pathway
Role of the Researcher in Qualitative Design
Researchers usually prefer fairly lengthy and deep involvement in the natural setting. Social life is complex in its range and variability, and operates at different levels. It has many layers of meaning and the researcher has to lift veils to discover the innermost meanings. In order to gain access to deeper levels, the researcher needs to develop a certain rapport with the subjects of the study, and to win their trust.
There are some key ideas to consider as you plan for your role in your research design.
Quantitative Approach Pathway
Role of the Researcher in Quantitative Design
The quantitative researcher is detached and objective. Explain whether you will be an unobtrusive observer, a participant observer, or a collaborator. Evaluate how your own bias may affect the methodology, outcomes, and analysis of findings.
Many times this element of the research proposal will be affected by ethics. In addition, this section is often interwoven in a narrative design explanation with other elements of the proposal. Review sample proposals to see how other researchers with similar designs to yours have explained their roles in the research investigation.
Complete this section on your planning guide.
When you have completed Step 1 on your planning sheet, move on to Step 2: Refining My Quantitative(or Qualitative) Investigation with Specific Methods, Tools, and Procedures.
You will need to make decisions in Step 2 for the following topics. Use the links below, your reflection journal, and the Elements of the Proposal section of the web site to assist you as you complete this portion of your planning guide.
After you have planned the elements above, there are a few more things to decide and plan. Use the list below and your planning guide to help youcomplete the rest of yourresearch proposal.
Other Elements in the Research Methodology
- Resources and Materials
- Limitations and Delimitations
- Final Product In the section, the researcher discusses the possible outcomes of the study, its relation to theory and literature, and its potential impact or application. A description of the possible forms of the final product, e.g., publishable manuscript, conference paper, invention, model, computer software, exhibit, performance, etc., should be outlined. Be specific about how you intend to share your results or project with others. Although all of these ideas may change in light of the research process or the final results, it is always good to plan with the end product in mind.
This section may also include an interpretation and explanation of results as related to your question; a discussion on or suggestions for further work that may help address the problem you are trying to solve; an analysis of the expected impact of the findings and product on the audience; or a discussion on any problems that could hinder your creative work.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- In what form will your findings be presented?
- How will you be disseminating your findings?
- To whom will you be disseminating your findings?
- How will you ensure anonymity in any publications?
- Will you need to create an abstract of your overall investigation?
- References Keep a running list of all references as you work through the proposal. You will need to have this list to avoid plagiarism and chances are you will need to go back to certain references throughout the entire research experience. This includes all textbooks, reference books, journal articles, Internet sources, etc.
See the references section from your Literature Review for a comprehensive guide to completing the reference section of your proposal. You do not need to duplicate the efforts of your Literature Review, but PLEASE remember to add any new references that you utilized for your methodology, data collection tools, etc. Spend some time reviewing the references to ensure that they are complete and accurate - names of all the authors, correct date, full and accurate title, complete publishing information (city of publication, publishing company for books, full journal title, volume and number and pages for journal articles). Use the appropriate citation forms for your field of study.Complete this section using the directions on your proposal planning guide.
- Appendices Adding a few appendices to the end of your proposal allows you to show how thoroughly you have prepared your research project without obliging the reader to wade through all the details. The purpose of an appendix is to display documents which are relevant to main text, but whose presence in the text would disturb rather than enhance the flow of the argument or writing. Results of the literature search, pilot data, data collection forms, patient information sheets, and consent forms can all be added as appendices to include documents, pilot study material, questions for interviews, survey instruments, explanatory statement to participants,etc.
Some likely parts to incorporate in the appendices are:
- Distribution Plan - A part of the proposal which is the plan for distributing of information about the project to the audience. It can also include financial statements for the funding agencies which want to see financial standing of the project. This section may include radio broadcasts, training programs, workshops, printed handouts, newsletters, presentations, etc.
- Cooperating Agency Information – If references of different cooperating agencies are given, then try to give some detail about these agencies in appendices like name and address, services or product, names of important personals, etc.
- Evaluation Tools – It is good to include the copy of evaluation tools planed to use which are used in information gathering like questionnaires, survey, interview, etc.
Appendices have a format:
- Pagination: Each Appendix begins on a separate page.
- Heading:If there is only one appendix, "Appendix" is centered on the first line below the manuscript page header. If there is more than one appendix, use Appendix A (or B or C, etc.). Double-space and type the appendix title (centered in uppercase and lowercase letters).
- Format: Indent the first line 5-7 spaces.
- Example of APA-formatted Appendix:
Most of the items that you include in your appendix will only need a Copy-Paste to be added to your proposal. It could also be possible that they would need to be converted into a graphic or a .PDF file if they are web-based.
Complete this section following the directions on your proposal planning guide.
After you make your decisions for above, you will have completed Sections 2, 3, 4, and 5 of your planning guide. You now will need to write your methodology draft. Use this sample methodology section as an example for explanations, language, and phrasing for this part of your proposal.
Sample Description of Methodology
Data Gathering Plans – The two instruments and a simple instruction sheet that also asks subjects their age and gender, will be delivered to an administrator in each setting who has agreed to distribute and collect the completed instruments. Prior to their distribution an introductory letter from both the researcher and the respective administrators will be placed in each selected subject’s mailbox or mail slot asking for their cooperation. The letters will describe the research and its importance and the support of the administrator. They also will note that a $5 coupon toward any groceries at the local Wegman’s Grocery (donated by the store’s public relations office) will be available to each person completing the two instruments and signing a letter of informed consent related to the research. Finally, they will provide a telephone number for anyone with questions or who may need assistance in completing the instruments. This procedure will be pilot-tested with at least 10 volunteers from the Fayetteville Senior center to refine the data gathering plans.
Once the pilot-testing procedures have been completed, any required changes in the administration plans will be carried out. Then the administrators will be authorized to distribute the forms. Any person who has phoned needing clarification will be provided further explanation. Anyone who phones in a need for assistance in completing the forms will receive support in the form of one the location’s administrative assistants reading the forms and recording the answers. Each assistant so involved will be provided training by the researcher on how to read and record the answers in an unbiased manner.
One week after this initial delivery, a follow-up phone call will be made to either thank those who completed the forms or to remind those who have not yet completed their forms. The grocery coupons will be mailed to all who have completed the forms with a letter of thanks. If fewer than 95 people from each of the two settings complete the forms, then the random sampling and distribution will continue until at least that number of completed forms from each setting has been received. It is anticipated that all data collection efforts will be completed within one month.
Your Reflection Log and the sample proposals you studied earlier also should be excellent resources.
Through the steps in Crafting the Proposal: III. The Methodology, you have planned, and maybe even completed, the first draft of your research proposal's methodology section.
When you have completed your draft, you will need to combine all three pieces of your proposal, your introduction, your literature review, and your methodology. Use Step 6 on your planning guide to assist you.
The actions of the Alaska Native Management Board constitute the primary component of Native approval of project elements. In addition, we wrote to the traditional council of each selected village to request permission to come to the community to conduct interviews. We also asked the council to select a resident of the village to work on the project during interviewing. We followed these letters up as warranted. In several cases, we traveled to the community in advance of interviewing at the request of a council. No community chose not to participate in the project.
Field Work Organization
Field work was designed as a collaborative effort of four Native organizations (Maniilaq, Kawerak, Ukpeagvik Iñupiat Corporation, and Alaska Inuit Circumpolar Conference) and ISER under the direction of the Alaska Native Management Board. The grant award placed budgets for interviewers, field directors, associated travel costs, and respondent payments within subcontracts to the Native organizations. Our intent was to maximize the involvement of Alaska Natives in all components of the study.
We also recognized that it could be difficult to recruit people to work as interviewers and field directors given generally good job opportunities for people who would also make good interviewers and field directors. We therefore provided ourselves with the flexibility to hire interviewers and field directors through ISER if necessary.
Our intent was to apply an approach to field work successfully used by ISER (and the U.S. Bureau of the Census) over many years. This approach involves the hiring and training of people to serve as team leaders and in turn the hiring of a resident in each small village to be trained by a team leader as an interviewer. This approach combined the objectives of creating a core professional team of interviewers (team leaders) and involving small village residents in the field effort as well.
Recruitment of Field Staff
Due to budget constraints, we divided the field work across two years: 2002 and 2003. We chose to interview in each year during the months of January and February. We have found that these months offer the best opportunity for finding respondents with time for a lengthy interview. In 2002 we interviewed in the Northwest Arctic region. Maniilaq staff, working through village councils and local contacts, tried to recruit one interviewer from each of the five villages and six interviewers from Kotzebue. We hoped that village interviewers could have a week of training in Kotzebue and then remain there working with the Kotzebue-based interviewers to complete the Kotzebue sample in two weeks. Under this plan, the best available Kotzebue interviewers would then accompany the village interviewers to complete the village sample.
Unfortunately our plan was complicated by a delay in processing of the grant award and subcontract with Maniilaq. Maniilaq did not have a subcontract from the University for field work until the second week of January 2002. Interviewer training began January 14. The short time available for recruiting interviewers, coupled with weather-related travel disruptions, meant fewer interviewers attended the training. We supplemented the local interviewers with one Iñupiat from the region who worked for ICC, another Iñupiat from the region who worked for ISER, and four non-Iñupiat interviewers who worked for ISER.
In 2003 we used the same interviewing strategy as we had the year before: a combination of regional center residents, village residents, and ISER interviewers. In the Bering Straits communities it worked much as it had the year before in Kotzebue with a combination of local and non-local interviewers. On the North Slope it was again a combination of local and non-local interviewers, with many more interviews completed in Barrow and the villages by Iñupiat residents.
ISER research staff led training sessions in each of the regional hubs and in the ISER Anchorage office. These session lasted five days, including extensive practice interviewing. The first topic in each training session was about the importance of protecting the respondents' rights. During the training session interviewers read a prepared statement on interviewer ethics. The meaning of ethical conduct, potential harm if anything about or from the interview was discussed, and possible pitfalls were discussed as a group. After questions were clarified, interviewers read and signed a pledge of confidentiality. Each interviewer kept a copy of the pledge and ISER kept the original signed Pledge of Confidentiality.
Through a combination of classroom instruction based on the Interviewer Training Manual, paired interviewer practice, one-on-one mentoring, open discussions, and team field exercises we covered the following aspects of field methods: Interviewer Ethics, Purpose of Survey, Purpose of Training, Steps in Conducting a Sample Survey, Community Introductions, Listing, Selecting Households and Respondents, Getting Ready to Interview, Guidelines for Conduct, General Rules for Interviewing, Introductions, Special Interview Circumstances, Disposition of Interview, Record Keeping, and Question by Question Objectives. Interviewers spent the last two days of training going out in pairs to complete interviews in selected households. Interviewers continued interviewing in pairs until they felt comfortable going alone.
Field sampling for the regional centers took place in the field office using household listings. In the villages, team leaders worked with local residents to perfect the sample frame, eliminating non-occupied structures and non-Native households.
Using random start and interval selection procedures, housing units were selected and their descriptions entered on the Sample Address Summary Form and Cover Sheets.
In the initial days of mapping, listing, and interviewing, two supervisors and sometimes three were in the office. Maps and listing sheets were reviewed, sample assignment sheets were completed, and interviewer assignments were distributed. Interviewer assignments need to be distributed efficiently so that all interviewers always have work available. In the early stages of interviewing each interviewer has a limited geographic area. Not only is it inefficient to walk a long distance from one interview to another, but, in January and February it is cold. Before an interviewer left the office with a new assignment, we checked the map to be sure the interviewer knew how to find the new block. In the beginning questions always arise: a housing unit listed as a single family dwelling turns out to be a three-unit apartment; the selected respondent is away for the entire study period; or how to proceed when a mean-looking dog is chained to the front door. While the training manual covers most situations, interviewers forget or a new twist appears.
Cover sheets for each potential interview are logged-out to specific interviewers. Interviewer assignments are also logged on a copy of the Sample Address Summary Form kept in the survey office.
The interviewers used the household listing map, cover sheets, and sample address summary form to locate the sampled housing units. They use the cover sheet has a place to record the time, date, and results of each visit to the house.
The Cover Sheet also has a brief description of the project and instructions for selecting the respondent. The interviewer knocks on the door of the selected housing unit and after a brief description of the project the interviewer asks, "Is there at least one person 16 years old or older living in this household who considers themselves to be Inupiat or Yupik?" If more than one person in the housing unit was eligible to be interviewed, the interviewer asks to interview the person with the next birthday. Studies have demonstrated that this is an unbiased technique for selecting among eligible respondents.
After the appropriate respondent has been determined, the interviewer will interview that person immediately or make an appointment to return when the respondent wishes. The interviewer completes the questionnaire. The interviewer then edits the questionnaire to ensure that all questions have been asked and that all responses, including verbatim responses, are legible and complete before turning it in to the office.
Each cover sheet is always accounted for in some way. The potential interview becomes a completed interview or it becomes a non-interview of some type as described on the Disposition Code Sheet. A special type of non-interview is a refusal. Interviewers are trained to write down everything that happens in a refusal. Previous studies have shown that most refusals are circumstantial and have nothing to do with the content of the survey or the specific interviewer. It is more likely that the interviewer has arrived when the baby has just dumped her food on the floor, when the respondent has had a disagreement with her spouse, or generally has had a bad day. A supervisor reviews the notes for clues to the situation to determine the next steps. Frequently the supervisor will wait a week and have a different interviewer return at a different time on a different day of the week and the respondent will cheerfully complete the interview. In Nome, after supervisors discovered there were a number of refusals on Friday evenings, they stopped all interviewing on Friday evenings.
Overall, the combination of interviewers worked well. We did find that respondents were uncomfortable being interviewed by someone they knew, whether or not this person lived in the same community. We adjusted by advising interviewers working in the same village to review their sample assignment and avoid interviews with people they knew. Note that this problem would be severe if a local interviewer had the complete sample assignment.
Interviews took, on average, 90 minutes to complete but varied from under an hour to repeated interview sessions over a three day period.
Field office staff assigned each completed questionnaire a four-digit study number. The self-administered section, the pages containing the most sensitive questions, is assigned the same study number as its corresponding questionnaire. Once the study number is on the questionnaire and self-administered section, the study number becomes the sole identifier and all other identifiers are removed from the data file.
The completed questionnaires, self-administered forms, and cover sheets are kept in a locked filing cabinet, accessible only to authorized project staff, until the initial analysis is complete. These materials are kept in case questions arise during the analysis that can be resolved by referring to the original interview materials. Once this stage of the analysis is complete, the cover sheets and self-administered forms are destroyed.
A completed interview is checked for completeness, accuracy, legibility, and logic before the interviewer turns it in. An interviewer's initial interviews are edited by a supervisor and returned to the interviewer immediately so mistakes and points of confusion can be clarified before very many interviews are completed. Supervisors review every interview as soon as possible after it has been completed. If there are questions about the interview, the supervisor returns it to the interviewer immediately for clarification while the interview is still fresh in the interviewer's mind. When the interviewer can't resolve the question, the respondent may be contacted for more information.
In the office, the supervisor maintains a bulletin board that lists all appointments. The board lists appointments and the interviewer who will complete it. Sometimes the interviewer who made the appointment can't keep it; another interviewer will sign-up on the bulletin board to conduct the interview. Because it is a convenient time for the respondent, interviewers will double-book appointments knowing that another interviewer will keep the appointment. Interviewers are instructed to stop in the office once a day. Not only is this a safety protocol for the interviewers, but they can check the appointment board too. It is also a time to replenish supplies, hand in completed interviews, and obtain new assignments. While in the office, a supervisor may review the sample assignment sheet to make certain the interviewer has been visiting the selected housing unit at different times of the day and on different days of the week. This technique increases the chances of finding someone at home.
Please see the Canada Concepts and Methods Report.
Please continue with Response Rates.