You will create a RESEARCH PROPOSAL, a capstone project for this course, designed to test a psychological hypothesis that is based on the empirical literature. You will not have to carry out the proposed study but your design and methods must be carefully thought out and must comprise an experiment that is minimal risk and well-controlled, rather than a simple relational study. You will write the proposal using APA style for organization as well as citing references in the text and at the end.


HYPOTHESISE: Cognitive Behavioral Group therapy can help reduce symptoms of PTDS and/ or depression in Female victims of sexual abuse.


Research Proposal Format
The order of the sections of the manuscript are as follows:


  1. Title


  • Choosing a title. The title should summarize the main idea of the paper in 10-12 words. A good recipe to work with when reporting the results of an experiment is The Effects of (Independent Variable) on (Dependent Variable)in (population)”. With other types of research you should try to include the variables of interest in the title (and be careful not to imply causality).
  • When typing the title, center it on the page and capitalize only the first letter of important words. On the next double spaced line is the author’s name and on the next double spaced line is the institutional affiliation.
  • Running Header – ALL CAPS – a few key words – maximum 50 characters
  • Key words (not required for proposal)


  1. Abstract


  • Type this section as a single spaced paragraph in italic format (i.e., use one tab indentation from each margin).
  • The purpose of this section is to provide a brief (100-120 words), comprehensive summary of the study. It is very important because it is all that many people will read.
  • It should include a brief description of the problem being investigated, the methods used, the results, and their implications.
  • It is a good idea to write this section last (after all of the other sections are written). You might try taking the lead sentence or two from the introduction, method, results, and discussion sections and integrate them to form the abstract.
  • Avoid citing references in the abstract.
  • You can also use the old format of including it on a separate page double spaced


  1. Introduction


  • Begin typing the section (on the next double spaced line) using normal (5 space indented) paragraphs. Do not type the word Introduction.
  • The main purpose of this section is to tell the reader why you performed the study. In other words, you have to inform the reader of the research question and indicate why it is important, and how it is unique when compared to previous studies.
  • It starts out broad and becomes more and more specific. For example, you might begin by defining any relevant terms. Then go on to review the relevant literature. Avoid an exhaustive and historical review. Then go on to make clear the connection between previous research and the present work.
  • You might include any hypotheses and the rationale for them.
  • The final paragraph usually contains a statement which clearly and explicitly states why the study was performed, such as The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that… or The present study is designed to investigate the… Be especially careful not to use a sentence of this type earlier in your introduction.
  • Thus, this section should contain an absolute minimum of four paragraphs: the general introduction, the literature review, the connection of the present study to the literature and the explicit statement of your hypotheses.


  1. Methods


  • Do not purposely start a new page for this section. Simply center the word Method and continue typing on the very next double-spaced line (i.e., do not insert any extra blank lines here). On the next line start the first section – Particiapnts
  • The purpose of this section is to describe in detail how you performed the study. Someone should be able to replicate your study based on the information you provide in this section.
  • Make it sound professional, that is, do not make it sound like a class project. Assume you are writing for submission to a scientific journal.
  • Avoid unnecessary details like the data were displayed on the computer screen and recorded on the data sheet(s).
  • For an experiment, this section is typically divided into four subsections: participants, materials, design, and procedure. The order of design followed by procedure is arbitrary. In other words, you could have the procedure come before the design. For a survey study (i.e., one in which the participants are simply asked a set of questions), the design section is not necessary (and the survey itself may be included as an appendix).




  • This section is labeled as subjects or participants depending on whether animals or humans are used in the study. If animals are used, use the term subjects. If humans are used, use the term participants.
  • Do not purposely start a new page for this section. Type the appropriate title for this subsection flush with the left margin and underline it. On the next line, begin typing normal paragraphs.
  • Indicate who will participate in the study, how many (suggest for 20-30 per condition), and how were they will be recruited. If college students will be your population, say they will be recruited from an Intro Psych class and receive course credit.
  • Include any restrictions on what type of people can participate (i.e. not currently in therapy)
  • If the subjects were human, what type of reward or motivation was used to encourage them to participate? Course credit, free treatment, if the study is time consuming or unpleasant, you may consider offering a cash reward




  • Do not purposely start a new page for this section. Type the word Materials flush with the left margin and underline it. On the next line, begin typing normal paragraphs.
  • Describe what materials were used and how they functioned in the study. Most often the materials will be the scales you use to measure your dependent variable. If you use an existing scale, you do not need to explain it, just a citation is enough.  If you will create your own scale, you should describe it in general and give one example of an item on the scale.  Also if you will use a vignette, an example should be mentioned here and included in the appendix.
  • You must give details of any special equipment used in the study.
  • Standard equipment such as furniture, stopwatches, pencils and paper, can usually be mentioned without providing a lot of details. In fact, you may often simply mention these items in passing as part of the procedure.
  • Be careful not to describe procedures in this section.



  • Do not purposely start a new page for this section. Type the word Design flush with the left margin and underline it. On the next line, begin typing normal paragraphs.
  • Describe the design and clearly spell out the independent and dependent variables. Indicate what the levels of the independent variables were, and whether the factor(s) were repeated, matched, or independent.
  • Mention if the study is between or within subjects, and if factorial, if it is fully factorial, mixed or fully repeated
  • Describe any control procedures used.




  • Do not purposely start a new page for this section. Type the word Procedure flush with the left margin and underline it. On the next line, begin typing normal paragraphs.
  • Carefully summarize each step in the execution of the study.
  • Indicate what a typical test, trial, or session involved.
  • Describe any phases that the study had or any instructions that the subjects received.
  • When referring to groups, use descriptive labels. For example, instead of saying Group 1 or the Experimental Group, you might say the Medicated Group. Another technique in this regard is to use abbreviations that emphasize meaning. For example, There were three groups, including, the control group which received 0 mg/kg of morphine (M0), a low dose group receiving 1 mg/kg of morphine (M1), and a high dose group receiving 4 mg/kg of morphine (M4).


  1. Results


  • On sentence describing which statistical test would be appropriate for this analysis is sufficient here. (t-test or ANOVA, for independent or repeated measures)


  1. Discussion


Since we do not have results, instead answer these four questions in one paragraph.


  1. Describe the direct or potential benefit of this research to the participants involved:


  1. Explain the risk vs. benefit and how the risk is justified by the benefit for the participants in this study. (If using both a study group and a control group, more than one level of risk may be involved.)


  1. Describe the potential benefits of the research to society as a whole. Include only those benefits that may result from the research (as distinguished from benefits of therapies participants would receive even if not participating in the research)


  1. Indicate what, if any, benefits may accrue to individuals who are not participants, but who are similar to the participants in terms of social characteristics (e.g. those who are the same socioeconomic status, gender, race/ethnicity, age, immigration status, disability status or medical status):


  1. References


  • Start on a new page. Center the word References at the top. As usual, double space.
  • Any citations made in the manuscript must be presented in this section and vice versa. That is, if something is not cited in the text, then it should not appear in this section. In still other words, this is not a bibliography.
  • In any of the previous sections, whenever you say something like studies have shown you must provide a citation. This section tells the reader where they can find these citations.
  • This section is alphabetized by last name (of the first author involved in the study).
  • Normal paragraphs (i.e., five-space indented) are employed for each reference.
  • For each author, give the last name followed by a comma and the first (and middle) initials followed by periods.
  • Separate multiple authors with commas and the last author with the ampersand (‘&’) rather than the word “and”.
  • After the author(s) comes the year (in parentheses and followed by a period).
  • For a journal reference, underline the title of the journal, volume number and adjacent punctuation marks with a single unbroken line. Note that issue numbers are typically not Also, capitalize the important words of the journal title.
  • For a book reference, just underline the title. Only capitalize the first word of the title. Do include the city, state (as a two-letter abbreviation without periods), and the publisher’s name.
  • See the example reference section. It provides several types of references, including: Single and multiple author, journal articles, book, and book chapter, web page, as well as a government document.


  1. Appendix

Here you must include the Informed Consent for if you will be working with special populations such as children under 18 or people with diminished mental capacity.

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