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Psychological Research Methods Assignment Help

Research Protocol

As an alternative to the lab assignment, which can only be undertaken as part of a group, for the re-assessment, you have been set the task of writing a protocol. The details of this assignment are given below.

The topic is Attachment and ?

Attachment theory fits within the field of Developmental Psychology, and the “?” represents the fact that you must select something to investigate alongside attachment theory. For example, attachment and self-esteem, attachment and depression, attachment and autism.The second topic/s can be anything you like, providing it makes theoretical sense and you can build an argument for why you want to investigate this.

There are many journals you can look in, but “Personality and Individual Differences” is a good one for publications on attachment in adulthood as well as childhood.

If you log on to www.sciencedirect.com and log in using the option at the top, you can use the “Advanced search” function and enter “attachment” and search within the Title field, and in the second box enter “personality and individual differences” and search within the source title field

Many papers such as this one will be available for download

Breinholst, S.,Esbjørn, B. H.&Reinholdt-Dunne, M. L. (2015).Effects of attachment and rearing behavior on anxiety in normal developing youth: A media national study. Personality and individual differences, 81, 155-161.

If you are unsure about whether your chosen topic is suitable, contact the module leader. Read more : BTEC HND Diploma in Computing and Systems Development

Once you have selected your other topic, you can start to think about specific aims and hypotheses. Further guidance is provided below.

What is a research protocol?

Imagine you were trying to obtain some funding in order to carry out a research project. Your research protocol communicates your intended plan for conducting a study and, in keeping with this general aim, should convey:

(i)         the background to the study;

(ii)        the methods for conducting the research;

(iii)       the planned analyses and anticipated significance of the findings/results.

The format is a bit like a lab report, but it is a plan and is written before the study is conducted. The development of the proposal helps to clarify your thinking and requires you to make critical decisions about HOW to achieve the goals/aims of the proposed study.

This is exactly the kind of endeavour expected of those researchers who make a formal application for research funding from external funding agencies – so the learning experiences associated with this assignment will also stand you in good stead for future research projects  activities in the ‘real world’.

Please remember that the proposal is not merely a technical document; it is also an instrument of persuasive communication designed to convincehe reader of the study’s merit. In other words, this is your chance to convince me to give you funding to run this study!

Assignment structure: General guidelines

Detailed on the following pages is an example to show the structure for the protocol. I have tried to give you a flavour of the expected content of each section.

When writing each the protocol, make sure you continually assess and reflect on the capabilities of your methods, design and procedures to match/accomplish your research aims.In other words, at the very least, your research design/methodology should flow logically from your research aims/objectives/hypotheses and/or questions, which are obviously based on your literature review. So all sections should link, as they would in a lab report.

Title

  • Try to choose a title which captures/describes the essence of the study; it usually contains the IVs and DVs.
  • Avoid the use of ‘tabloid-like’ titles.

Abstract

  • This should contain a brief summary (200 words approx.) of the aim(s), significance, design and proposed methodology of the study – again, this is good practice for the write-up of your dissertation work. You need not say anything about expected results.
  • Remember that the main aims of the research abstract are to synthesise/summarise your intentions so as to give other researchers/interested readers an indication of the study’s overall purpose and content, so as they can decide whether or not it is relevant to their particular purpose to read the entire paper;
  • This may find it easier to write this section last, once you have chosen your methods.

Overview,& aims& objectives of the study

  • This section should convey your intentions by clearly and precisely specifying WHAT is to be studied and explain the relevance/salience of your chosen research topic;
  • This section ‘sets the scene’ prior to the presentation of the theoretical basis, which underpins the study (i.e. the literature review), and clarifies the significance of the study, and the aims and objectives,
  • Try to address the following questions:

What is the issue or concern that triggered the study?

What is the issue that demands further investigation?

What is the scope of the problem area (i.e. how many people are affected by it, & how pervasive is it)?

Why is it an important problem/issue?

How will/may people/organisations be influenced by/benefit from the results?

What is the overall aim of the study, and what are the specific objectives? Remember that the aim is usually quite broad and states what you aim to achieve overall in the study, and the objectives are often a way of breaking down the aim into more specific  goals that will help you address the aim.

Literature Review

  • This section should contain a critical review of the scientific/theoretical literature relevant to the specific question/problems you wish to study;
  • Remember, don’t just summarise the literature – critically evaluateit;
  • This section is similar to the Introduction of a lab report.
  • Try to address such questions as:

What is already known about the problem? What is not known?

What are some of the problems or shortcomings of previous work in the area?

How will the proposed study expand this body of knowledge?

What approaches to inquiry about the problem/issue should have but have not yet been tried?

  • Although not necessarily exhaustive, your review should try to identify the CURRENT state of knowledge about the problem. Try to find up-to-date review articles that may already summarise much of the previous research. Ensure that (where possible) you access primary source materials;
  • There is no fixed ruling regarding the actual number of articles/sources which should be cited in the text of this section but try to find at least 20-25 of the major papers – this will stand you in good stead when you come to write up this section of your dissertation;

Ensure that ALL text references are correctly cited/annotated in the reference section later in the protocol.

Research Methodology

  • This section normally describes the plan for accomplishing the proposed work and usually consists of several components/sub-sections. These subsections relate to the ‘heart’ of the study and it is important that you give sufficiently detailed information. Try to imagine that you are writing this part of the proposal in order to enable somebody else to accurately replicate/repeat the proposed study

(i)         justify your choice of methods (e.g., why observational methods and not other strategies? Or why use a questionnaire-based study to investigate this? Or why use a lab study and physiological measures?);

(ii)        outline any potential methodological difficulties you may face;

(iii)       discuss any limitations associated with the chosen methods, and explain the steps you would take to minimise flaws in the design, for example, how you would control or eliminate possible confounding variables, or if questionnaire research you would think about selecting reliable and valid measures.

The third point above is a way of getting you to reflect and evaluate your methods and study limitations, in a similar way to the Discussion section of a lab report (you will not be writing a Discussion section for this study protocol).

You then need to include the following subsections:

Design

  • Clearly describe the type of design(s) to be used and the rationale for its (their) selection;
  • Ensure that the design will allow you to address the study’s specific aims/objectives. For example, if your aim states that you plan to “Explore the relationship between…”, this means you need methods that will allow you to investigate relationships.

Materials

  • Describe any equipment needed, and any instruments/questionnaires/observational schedules, which you propose to use. Where appropriate (i.e. if you are going to use a published measure, as opposed to constructing one yourself).
  • Try to include a copy of any measure/schedule in an appendix, if available;
  • Outline any potential difficulties/limitations associated with the use of the proposed materials;

Sample

  • Describe the target population/sample/key informants/subjects for the study and the procedure for their selection;
  • Detail the rationale for the sample size/characteristics and outline any inclusion or exclusion criteria that you intend to apply.

Procedure

  • Try to detail any procedures relating to the ‘how, when and where’of data collection. For example, if a lab based study where will they be tested; if questionnaire based, how will you distribute questionnaires and how will they be returned; if observational, where will you observe them and how will you get people to the observation room?
  • What will participants in the study be told/asked to do?

Ethical Issues

  • What are the ethical issues associated with your study? This section relates to the protectionof your participants.
  • Consider issues such as:

– informed consent;

– confidentiality/anonymity;

– right to withdraw

– potential negative effects/risks to/safety of participants in the study;

  • In addition, please ensure that you describe HOW you intend to address any issues raised by the study;
  • Where appropriate, try to include a copy of any information/consent form in an appendix or, give some indication of the likely content of such a document(s).

Plans for Data Analysis

  • It is sound research practice to give substantial consideration to data analysis at the DESIGN stage of the study; thus, in this section you are outlining ‘how’ you will analyse your data;
  • Try to be as specific as you can in this section.
  • For example, if you plan to use correlation and regression analysis you need to outline which procedures will be used and give the reasons for your choices (e.g., if you plan to use Hierarchical regression explain why); or, if you intend to use a 2 x 3 between subjects ANOVA why is this the right analysis?
  • How many correlations/regressions, or ANOVAs, do you need to run and what are they? E.g., there will be 4 correlation tests needed, the first one to assess the relationship between x and y, the second…and so forth.
  • Based on your chosen analyses, briefly outline what statistical values you would need to report and what each would tell you e.g., for correlations the r and p value would be reported, with the r value indicating…and the p value….For a regression the beta value …..Or for a 2 x 2 ANOVA the F, df and p are needed for each main effect and the interaction, with the F value telling you….etc
  • Provide a paragraph summarising what results you would expect to find.

Timescale

  • Outline a project plan which gives some idea of the key action targets which you hope to achieve AND some indication of the timescale within which you hope to achieve these;
  • This section of the protocol is sometimes referred to as a ‘time-line’ which lists current/future project activities and the anticipated timeframe for accomplishing each e.g. preparatory work; identification of subjects; data collection period; data analysis period; dissertation write-up time;
  • Imagine that you have 6 weeks to complete this study, so there’s little point trying to gain access to a Prison population as it would take you months just to gain access;
  • Be REALISTIC! Think about how long it will take to complete each stage of the research.

Week 1:

Week 2:

Etc…

References

  • Produce a standard reference list and reference ALL sources that have been cited within the text of your proposal.

Appendices

  • Where possible, include examples of any instruments/questionnaires/interview schedules and/or consent forms that you intend to use.

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