Please watch the assignment brief video on SurreyLearn for further explanation of this content.
Brief: Imagine you are developing a research proposal (e.g., for a dissertation/PhD) based on a core topic area(s) covered in the module*. Identify a main research question that interests you, and write a literature review that justifies the research question and suggests one or more ways it could be tested. Finally, write a lay summary of the project that a non-academic member of the public can understand (max 1 page). The aim is to convince the reader (e.g., a hypothetical funder) that this research would be important.
*A note on the topic: Your research question can follow directly from one topic in the module or combine two topics. You could also relate a core topic to an external area, but you must ask me for feedback first to ensure that it is sufficiently relevant. Research questions must involve both the self and relationships.
Title: Write your own original title that reflects the research question developed in your paper.
Length: Max 8 pages (using the coursework template; 7 pages literature review, 1 page lay summary).
Formatting: Please follow the guidelines in your course handbook, use the coursework template, and use APA formatting for headings and referencing. All papers will be processed through Turnitin.
Deadline: 11 January 2022, 4pm (Week 13) – but you are welcome to submit earlier.
Marks and Feedback Return Date: 1 February 2022 (three term weeks after submission). A group feedback session will be scheduled following this date.
CONTENT AND STRUCTURE
Main Paper (max 7 pages)
Your paper should contain the following main elements. This order is just a suggestion and you can structure your paper the way that best suits you and your topic. Note: These are not subheading titles – feel free to use your own informative subheadings if you wish. Cite research as appropriate throughout the sections.
Introduction: Give a broad overview of the context/problem that motivates the main question(s), then tell the reader what will be covered in the paper. This should grab the reader’s interest and highlight why it is important to research this topic area.
Background research: Review and critically evaluate the literature that leads up to your research question, including its implications, strengths and weaknesses to make clear (a) that there is a gap to be filled in the research literature and (b) that it would be useful/important to fill that gap. This will be the longest section.
Research question: Summarise your research question(s) and why it is needed. State what implications or impact such research would have on the field—what would it tell us? Ideally this would include adding to psychological understanding and also applied implications (although these might be indirect). Make your hypotheses clear, either here or in the Possible Studies section.
Possible studies: You can either describe the methods of a specific proposed study if there is one that is clearly ideal, OR suggest a few types of study that a researcher could conduct. Either approach is fine.
Lay Summary (max 1 page – must be on a separate page at the end)
Summarise the overall problem and proposed research idea in a way that is understandable to a non-academic reader. Use plain English and avoid any jargon. Refer to a case study (i.e., a relationship in the news, media, movie, etc.) that illustrates at least one of the concepts in your proposal to bring it to life. (If possible, please provide a hyperlink to a non-academic source to show the case study relationship, such as a news/magazine article, IMDB page, Buzzfeed, Wikipedia etc.).
I will provide formative feedback on a 1-page outline of your research question, which should state the question, the main literature you have based it on, how it is novel, and the main argument for why it is important. The proposal will need to be submitted on SurreyLearn around the end of November (the formative submission folder will be open for 1-2 weeks and feedback provided in the order of submission). I can also talk to you in office hours or allocated class time about this.
You can also use class discussion sessions to gain feedback on your ideas and swap plans or drafts with a classmate (preferably someone working on a different topic area).
This assignment assesses how well you have met the five Module Learning Outcomes. Thus, make sure your literature review demonstrates your ability to:
(1) Discuss and synthesise key theoretical perspectives on the interplay between the self and relationships,
(2) Critically evaluate theories and research,
(3) Apply key concepts to a real relationship (in the Lay Summary),
(4) Generate appropriate research ideas to contribute to the field, and
(5) Write in a professional academic way (in the Main Paper) and in a way that communicates academic concepts in plain English (in the Lay Summary).
As well as the general essay/critical writing marking scheme (see SurreyLearn Psychology Undergraduate Support), I will be looking for the following:
• How effectively have you reviewed and critically evaluated the background literature? You should cite references consistently to support each point or evidence, even those that are relatively peripheral to the main research question.
• How persuasive is the argument and rationale for the research question?
• How novel and original is the research question? It needs to add to current knowledge in the area.
• How valid and relevant is/are the proposed types of study design? They should be suitable for testing the research question, use methods/designs that make sense based on prior literature, and be justified in the paper.
• How accessible and convincing is the lay summary? If my Mum (who is retired and worked in schools and bookshops) reads it, will she understand why your research is important?