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Research Methods

by Florence Tang last modified Jun 15, 2016 04:16 PM

This session, you will be creating a research proposal. I am hoping to give you as much help with this process as possible! Let me know if you have any questions.

Develop Your Research Question

Literature Review (database searching)

Elements of a Research Proposal

Research Proposal Examples

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Ask for Help!


There are several steps to creating a research proposal.

  1. Develop your research question. This is your project, and you will be researching and writing it, so come up with a topic that is of personal interest to you! Next, figure out how to turn your topic or idea into a "researchable" question.
  2. Try this link to a website which gets deeper into the matter. Developing Your Research Question (via Empire State College)
  3. Break your question down into ideas or concepts. Let's start with an example. Let's say my research question is this - What actions can employers take to prevent domestic violence in the workplace?
    Concept 1Concept 2Concept 1 Search TermsConcept 2 Search Terms
    Domestic Violence Workplace Domestic violence, interpersonal violence,
    occupational violence, violence in the workplace,
    domestic violence against women, etc.
    Workplace, work, job, etc.
  4. One of the first sections of a research proposal is the literature review. What is a literature review? This is the part of your paper where you will review and discuss what has already been written about your topic. This provides background for your problem/research question and shows how others have attempted to answer the questions/solve the problems. So, let's find some background.
  5. Click here for a great literature review tutorial (click through the tabs at the top of the page to go through the entire tutorial)
  6. Use the concept search terms inside a database or other search interface such as Google to find ideas and research about your topic. Here is an example of searching for our concepts in the Academic Search Complete (EBSCO) database. For a written guide on using Academic Search Complete, CLICK HERE. For a video tutorial on using Academic Search Complete, CLICK HERE

Other databases you might want to try:

ABI/INFORM Collection (ProQuest) — ABI/INFORM Collection includes thousands of full-text journals, dissertations, working papers, key business and economics periodicals, country-and industry-focused reports, and downloadable data. Its international coverage gives researchers a complete picture of companies and business trends around the world

Academic Search Complete (EBSCO) — Provides abstracts and indexing for over 3,800, as well as full text for over 3,200 scholarly journals and general magazines.

Business Source Complete (EBSCO) — A scholarly business database that provides full-text access to many peer-reviewed business related journals, including disciplines such as marketing, management, MIS, POM, accounting, finance and economics. Indexing and abstracts for the many important scholarly business journals as far back as 1886 are included. Business Source Complete also contains detailed author profiles for the 20,000 most-cited authors in the database. Additional full-text, non-journal content includes financial data, books, monographs, major reference works, conference proceedings, case studies, investment research reports, industry reports, market research reports, country reports, company profiles, SWOT analyses and more.

PsycINFO (EBSCO) — Contains citations and summaries of journal articles, book chapters, books, and technical reports, as well as citations to dissertations, in the field of psychology and psychological aspects of related disciplines. Journal coverage includes international material selected from more than 1,700 periodicals from nearly 50 countries. The "historic" portion of the database comes from three sources: Psychological Abstracts (1927-1966), Psychological Bulletin (1921-1926), and all journals published by the American Psychological Association plus the American Journal of Psychology from the first issue of volume 1, number 1 in November 1887.

Research Library (ProQuest) — Provides abstracts and indexing for over 2,600, as well as full text for over 1,700 scholarly journals and general magazines. Research Library is an expansion of, and replacement for, the database titled Periodical Abstracts Research II.


What are the elements of a research proposal?

Click here for an in-depth explanation of the sections and their contents.

The names of these sections may vary slightly and may appear in a different order.

  • Introduction
  • Statement of the Problem
  • Purpose of the Study
  • Literature Review
  • Questions/Hypotheses
  • Research Design (Method and Procedures)
  • Discussion/Conclusion (limitations of study, significance of study, results - these are sometimes given their own sections)
  • References (your list of references/bibliography)


Examples of research proposals

The following links provide examples of research proposals.

APA-Style Research Proposal Example (PDF file)

Research proposal template (PDF file)


Ask for help


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Florence Tang
Research Services Librarian for Social Sciences
Associate Professor

Phone: 678-547-6261

Swilley Library Service Desk

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