What role does health and nutrition education play in helping Uni SA City East students (18 – 25 years) make healthy food choices?
Assessment 2— Qualitative Research Proposal (35%): 2500 words ‘Preparing a research proposal involves writing about a proposed rather than completed research project. In proposal writing we discuss what research is contemplated, why it is being contemplated and how we intend to do it’ (Wiersma, 1995 p.402).
Assignment Students will write a research proposal employing qualitative research methods in a health or physical activity related area.
It is intended that students design a research study around an issue/question that is personally interesting. The research will not be carried out. However, the research must be do-able/possible and important. While some quantitative data may be used to identify issues and/or participants for the study, the proposal must be qualitative in nature.
In some cases these proposals have formed the basis for students going onto Honours or Masters programs.
The format of the Research Proposal is more fully detailed in the following pages. This assignment fulfils the aim of Course Objective 5, which is the development of qualitative research approaches in the area of health and physical activity as well as the UniSA Graduate Qualities 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7.
Submission details Due: Week 10: Friday 16th October via Gradebook
All assignments to use the following layout – 1.5 spacing, Times Roman 12 size font, 2.5cms margins all round.
Proposals must be submitted through Gradebook.
Assessment Criteria ? Clear aims and significance of the project ? Review of Literature and research in the area ? Clear understanding of qualitative research methods and reasons for using them ? Referencing and writing
A copy of the assessment feedback sheet has been provided on pp.19-20.
MAJOR SECTIONS OF THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL
A research proposal is, in effect, a report that indicates why, what and how a study is to be conducted. A research proposal is written in a report format. That is, the proposal is crafted into well- defined and separate sections using titles. Titles are used to signify the various sections within a research proposal. The following details indicate the potential chapter/section titles and what is required within each. Students are encouraged to explore and review research proposals lodged electronically in the UniSA Library catalogue.
1. Introduction The introduction section of the proposal gives an overview of the study and topic. The topic should be clearly stated. Be specific and succinct as possible and clearly state the population of participants to be involved in the study. Select a well defined topic of manageable size.
? An investigation of the factors that influence Year 9 South Australian girls’ participation in physical activity. ? An investigation of canteen and food practices at one South Australian secondary school. ? Understanding the perceptions of indigenous youth aged 12-15 years old in relation to healthy eating. ? Exploring the organisational practices of amateur football clubs in relation to alcohol consumption.
Differentiate between social problems/issues/topics and research problems (social problems being broad and research problems being those that are applied to a very specific population). Social problems/issues/topics such as general health or unemployment or poverty are too global and lack sufficient focus for research purposes.
One of the key aspects of developing a suitable topic is the focus on the study being achievable and suitably original. Qualitative research is about developing ‘new’ knowledge in areas that are under- researched; require ‘deeper’ and ‘richer’ information and/or are purely exploratory in nature (i.e. a very new or emerging social issue).
Within the introduction section there is a need to develop a clear and coherent rationale/argument regarding the need for the study. A statement of the problem/issue(s)/area(s) to be investigated typically comes early in the introduction section of a research proposal. There are usually some introductory comments, including references to the related literature, to provide the context for starting the research. Identify your problem/issue/area explicitly. Some examples:
? The focus of this proposed research is… ? The research issue to be addressed is… ? The purpose of the research is… ? Specifically, the research problem is…
Qualitative research acknowledges the inherent interest of the researcher in the development of a study. As such, it is useful for the proposal to also include a brief paragraph (or two) identifying why you are interested in the topic. However this should not be the overarching reason for why the study should be conducted.
For example, do you have personal experiences with the issue/topic? Do you know anybody (i.e. friends, relatives) that has experienced the issue/topic? This paragraph or so can be written in first person. Be open about your perspectives but be careful not to assume the results of your study.
2. Literature review The review of literature provides the background and context for the research problem. It serves a range of functions: to offer an overview of the topic; to define terms and understandings; to establish whether similar research has already been undertaken; to critically appraise the evidence; to justify the need for the current research. Take note of the following points when preparing the review:
? Refrain from using internet site information. Information sourced from internet sites is not always credible or reliable. While government and not-for-profit organisations’ websites do provide some supporting material/statistics/information, this has usually been sourced from other publications (for example the Australian Bureau of Statistics or the Australian Institute of Health & Welfare). As such students should seek out the primary source of the information and not rely on secondary sources. ? Make sure you have a broad range of resources; however the bulk of the information should be sourced from refereed journals. ? Use contextually relevant literature. That is, previous Australian studies should be used to underpin a proposed Australian study, not studies from other countries. ? Integrate findings and insights from the literature under themes and sub-headings. ? Information from the literature must be properly and consistently referenced using the UniSA Harvard author-date system. ? Link the literature back to your proposal. For example, how does previous research inform/influence what your study intends to do? Are there gaps in the literature or groups that haven’t been researched? ? Use previous studies to assist in developing the argument for your research. Do not merely describe what others have done; indicate what is not known based on previous studies. ? What theory exists in the area? What underpinning perspectives have been used to explore the topic? How has this previous research and theory informed your study? ? A key aim of the literature review is for the reader to comprehend the need for your research.
Provide a summary at the end of this section to pull together the important points. Never assume the reader knows anything. Be direct and concise. Do not leave the reader wondering or guessing. The final paragraphs of this section should clearly indicate to the reader what the study is about and who is to be involved. This can be in the form of writing out research questions or objectives the study is to use as the basis from which the study is to be conducted. This then enables you to progress to the next section to explain how the study is to be conducted.
3. Detailed Research Design This section of the research proposal guides the reader through how the study is to be conducted. It is very useful to restate the broad research question(s)/objectives as well as the specific group(s)/organisation(s) to be involved in the study. You will anticipate that the research question(s)/objectives will be answered from the analysis of the collected data.
The research design section of the proposal is like a recipe. It clearly explains and defines how the study is to be conducted. This section needs to include aspects related to the following points:
? Which particular qualitative methodology underpins your study and why is this suitable? ? Selected site(s) and participant group(s). Where and with whom will you carry out this research?
? How will participants be recruited for the study? Do not blindly assume people/organisations will want to be involved in the study. ? How many participants? Qualitative research is usually carried out with small numbers of participants. Unlike quantitative research, more does not necessarily mean better. ? Identify the method(s) of data collection (through interviews, focus groups, observations, documents etc). ? Describe how the data is to be analysed (eg. content analysis, discourse analysis, constant comparative analysis). This needs to be consistent with the data collection methods. In addition, data analysis needs to clearly show how the data is to be used to answer the research question/objective. ? Ethical considerations. How will you, as an ethical researcher, ensure the principles of informed consent, participant confidentiality and safety will be adhered to throughout the study? What strategies will you adopt/pursue to ensure your behaviour is respectful of others rights? How will you address the potential issue of “Power/Knowledge” (Foucault 1980).
4. Conclusion This final section summarises the research proposal by reiterating the need for the study and the potential outcomes from findings. However, do not assume the results of the research. A research proposal identifies how the results might be used and who would be interested in the research findings. For example how would the knowledge brought about by a research study enable greater participation or increased health benefits/awareness?
Referencing All references (both in-text and in the reference list) are to conform to the UniSA Harvard author/date convention. Failure to reference adequately and/or consistently is indicative of plagiarism and the student will be asked to see the School of Health Sciences Academic Integrity Officer.