in the previous Post, I already described the conceptual framework of thesis and dissertation Proposal for section (1). Now I would like to continue for second session (2)
The Elements Of Writing Thesis And Dissertation Proposal (2)
IV. Review of the Literature
A. “The review of the literature provides the background and context for the research problem. It should establish the need for the research and indicate that the writer is knowledgeable about the area” (Wiersma, 1995, p. 406).
B. The literature review accomplishes several important things.
1. It shares with the reader the results of other studies that are closely related to the study being reported (Fraenkel & Wallen, 1990).
2. It relates a study to the larger, ongoing dialogue in the literature about a topic, filling in gaps and extending prior studies (Marshall & Rossman, 1989).
3. It provides a framework for establishing the importance of the study, as well as a benchmark for comparing the results of a study with other findings.
4. It “frames” the problem earlier identified.
C. Demonstrate to the reader that you have a comprehensive grasp of the field and are aware of important recent substantive and methodological developments.
D. Delineate the “jumping-off place” for your study. How will your study refine, revise, or extend what is now known?
E. Avoid statements that imply that little has been done in the area or that what has been done is too extensive to permit easy summary. Statements of this sort are usually taken as indications that the writer is not really familiar with the literature.
F. In a proposal, the literature review is generally brief and to the point. Be judicious in your choice of exemplars—the literature selected should be pertinent and relevant (APA, 2001). Select and reference only the more appropriate citations. Make key points clearly and succinctly.
G. Committees may want a section outlining your search strategy—the procedures you used and sources you investigated (e.g., databases, journals, test banks, experts in the field) to compile your literature review. Check with your Chair.
V. Questions and/or Hypotheses
A. Questions are relevant to normative or census type research (How many of them are there? Is there a relationship between them?). They are most often used in qualitative inquiry, although their use in quantitative inquiry is becoming more prominent. Hypotheses are relevant to theoretical research and are typically used only in quantitative inquiry. When a writer states hypotheses, the reader is entitled to have an exposition of the theory that lead to them (and of the assumptions underlying the theory). Just as conclusions must be grounded in the data, hypotheses must be grounded in the theoretical framework.
B. A research question poses a relationship between two or more variables but phrases the relationship as a question; a hypothesis represents a declarative statement of the relations between two or more variables (Kerlinger, 1979; Krathwohl, 1988).
C. Deciding whether to use questions or hypotheses depends on factors such as the purpose of the study, the nature of the design and methodology, and the audience of the research (at times even the taste and preference of committee members, particularly the Chair).
D. The practice of using hypotheses was derived from using the scientific method in social science inquiry. They have philosophical advantages in statistical testing, as researchers should be and tend to be conservative and cautious in their statements of conclusions (Armstrong, 1974).
E. Hypotheses can be couched in four kinds of statements.
1. Literary null—a “no difference” form in terms of theoretical constructs. For example, “There is no relationship between support services and academic persistence of nontraditional-aged college women.” Or, “There is no difference in school achievement for high and low self-regulated students.”
2. Operational null—a “no difference” form in terms of the operation required to test the hypothesis. For example, “There is no relationship between the number of hours nontraditional-aged college women use the student union and their persistence at the college after their freshman year.” Or, “There is no difference between the mean grade point averages achieved by students in the upper and lower quartiles of the distribution of the Self-regulated Inventory.” The operational null is generally the preferred form of hypothesis-writing.
3. Literary alternative—a form that states the hypothesis you will accept if the null hypothesis is rejected, stated in terms of theoretical constructs. In other words, this is usually what you hope the results will show. For example, “The more that nontraditional-aged women use support services, the more they will persist academically.” Or, “High self-regulated students will achieve more in their classes than low self-regulated students.”
(Read The Elements Of Writing Thesis And Dissertation Proposal (3)
(Read The Elements Of Writing Thesis And Dissertation Proposal (1)
4. Operational alternative—Similar to the literary alternative except that the operations are specified. For example, “The more that nontraditional-aged college women use the student union, the more they will persist at the college after their freshman year.” Or, “Students in the upper quartile of the Self-regulated Inventory distribution achieve significantly higher grade point averages than do students in the lower quartile.”
F. In general, the null hypothesis is used if theory/literature does not suggest a hypothesized relationship between the variables under investigation; the alternative is generally reserved for situations in which theory/research suggests a relationship or directional interplay.
G. Be prepared to interpret any possible outcomes with respect to the questions or hypotheses. It will be helpful if you visualize in your mind=s eye the tables (or other summary devices) that you expect to result from your research (Guba, 1961).
H. Questions and hypotheses are testable propositions deduced and directly derived from theory (except in grounded theory studies and similar types of qualitative inquiry).
I. Make a clear and careful distinction between the dependent and independent variables and be certain they are clear to the reader. Be excruciatingly consistent in your use of terms. If appropriate, use the same pattern of wording and word order in all hypotheses.
American Psychological Association (APA). (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (Fourth edition). Washington, DC: Author.
Armstrong, R. L. (1974). Hypotheses: Why? When? How? Phi Delta Kappan, 54, 213-214.
Creswell, J. W. (1994). Research design: Qualitative & quantitative approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Guba, E. G. (1961, April). Elements of a proposal. Paper presented at the UCEA meeting, Chapel Hill, NC.
Fraenkel, J. R. & Wallen, N. E. (1990). How to design and evaluate research in education. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kerlinger, F. N. (1979). Behavioral research: A conceptual approach. New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston.
Krathwohl, D. R. (1988). How to prepare a research proposal: Guidelines for funding and dissertations in the social and behavioral sciences. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
Locke, L. F., Spirduso, W. W., & Silverman, S. J. (1987). Proposals that work: A guide for planning dissertations and grant proposals (2nd ed.). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (1989). Designing qualitative research: Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Shavelson, R. J. (1988). Statistical reasoning for the behavioral sciences (second edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Wiersma, W. (1995). Research methods in education: An introduction (Sixth edition). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Wilkinson, A. M. (1991). The scientist’s handbook for writing papers and dissertations. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
How to cite this web page:
Pajares, F. (2007). Elements of a proposal. Available from the author.