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The Research Paper Topic Proposal

This week, you will submit your research topic proposal to your instructor for approval.
Begin by exploring topics in  developmental psychology. Reference your textbook, the weekly  introductions in your course, and reputable journal articles to explore topic ideas. Be sure to choose a topic that you are highly interested in. From that topic, you will pose a question for your research.

For example, you may find interest  in the life span of adolescence. From there, you may want to explore  issues related to adolescent suicide. From this topic you could pose a  number of questions to research, such as:

  1. Are adolescents from single-parent homes at higher risk of suicide than those from two-parent homes?
  2. Does lack of play in childhood lead to anxiety and depression in adolescence?
  3. Does “helicopter parenting” lead to anxiety and depression in adolescence?

How to Develop a Research Question

Your research question should enable  you draw some unique conclusions so that you are not simply reporting  on research that has already been concluded. You may have to do some  preliminary research within your topic to determine a suitable question.  Here are some examples.
This example is too broad and will likely lead to a confusing and disorganized paper. It lacks parameters.

Why do adolescents commit suicide?

This example is too narrow. It can be answered rather simply with some basic data.

How many adolescent suicides occurred last year?

A good research question specifies the parameters of the research, yet leaves room for analysis and the writer’s unique input.

What are some of the unique social factors that led to an increase in suicide rates among 13- to 18-year-old females in 2015? 

(In your paper, you would define two  to three social factors you deem significant and connect them with the  appropriate physical, cognitive, and socioemotional occurrences  happening during this part of life span development. Then, draw your own  conclusions from the research you find.)

Once you have your research  question, phrase it as a statement so that it can become your thesis  statement. The thesis statement is what drives the direction of your  paper.

The Research Paper Topic Proposal Assignment

Include the following in your topic proposal:

  • Your research question
  • Your thesis statement
  • A narrative describing your topic and why you chose it (its significance)

Refer to the Writing Resources link under the Student Resources tab for help with writing thesis statements and research questions, and consult your West Coast University librarians for database search support as needed.
Your topic proposal should be 1–2 pages in length. Use current APA Style and cite and reference all sources.

See rubric for specific grading criteria.

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