Introduction, including problem statement
This section includes a statement of your research problem and informs your reader that this is indeed a problem worthy of social work research and one that is important to populations that have been marginalized by structures in our country. A good problem statement concisely makes the reader aware of the scope of the problem so that he/she will understand why this problem is worthy of research. Using facts and statistics or concrete examples taken from previous studies (cited appropriately from articles found in your literature review) is an extremely effective way to grab your reader’s attention and help him/her to quickly understand why this is a problem worthy of research.
Your concise problem statement should include answers to all of the following:
Why is this problem relevant to social work?
What is the scope of the problem? For example, how many people and what proportion of the general population does it affect? What systems, institutions, and policies are affected by this problem?
Why is research about this topic necessary? For example, how does it affect a marginalized or under-served population? Is it a newly emerging topic? Does this problem affect a lot of people? Is there a social justice or ethical element related to research about this topic? Has prior research not provided an adequate explanation or understanding of the problem or an effective solution?
What remains unknown about this problem?
Include a statement about why principles related to participatory action research are important for your project, specifically. Please cite 1-2 of the PAR related sources that you are reading for class in your justification.
Discussion of Literature Review
Write several paragraphs about past and current research about your topic.
You can use the studies you found in your journaling assignment to form the basis for your discussion here. You may need to find a few more. You should include 5 studies to get a feel for the range of research out there on your topic.
Discuss how your proposed research fits into the studies that have already been done – how is it similar and how is it different? What is new about your work and why is it important to add to what is there?
Discuss how your idea and consideration of marginalized communities will set your work apart from the other work in the field.
Here you should write a brief paragraph to describe whether you have chosen to conduct a quantitative survey project or a qualitative interview, focus group, mapping, or visual description project. Describe in a few sentences why you chose the method you chose and how it will give voice to and elevate the perspectives of your participants. This is how you will choose your methods. If you plan on using survey methods, identify the 2 or 3 ideas that you are most interested in studying. Your instructor will suggest finding validated survey questionnaire items to help you measure those ideas. If you choose qualitative focus group or interview methodology, you will be developing an interview guide with questions that you will ask of your participants. If you choose any of the other methods (i.e., mapping or visual description), you will be identifying things you might study or look for. The guide referenced above provides examples to help you think about this. Please see the attachment that gives additional details about approaches to data collection for the recommended methods for this project.
Project Description (How would you carry out the study that you are proposing?)
What is the purpose of your study: exploratory, descriptive, etc.?
In very specific terms, what is your research question?
Will your study be quantitative or qualitative? What is your rationale for the chosen method?
If it is quantitative, state your hypothesis. Identify the independent variable and the dependent variable. How will your variables be defined operationally? (Translation of variables into operational terms).
If it is qualitative, what are the sensitizing concepts you have identified from the literature? How would you define these with participants?
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