Thomas J. Leeper > Teaching > Research Design Course > Research Design Proposal

Research Design Proposal


The purpose of this assignment is to assess your overall learning for the course. This a summative assignment and you will therefore receive a mark for the assignment that counts as 50% of your overall mark for the course. Unlike the written exam, this paper should focus narrowly on a topic of interest to you and display a greater depth of understanding of a smaller set of ideas raised in the course.


You are being asked to develop a research design proposal that demonstrates your understanding of how to ask interesting research questions, define relevant social science concepts, theorize an explanation for the phenomenon of interest, and design an appropriate empirical test of one or more hypotheses derived from that theoretical explanation.

Your Task

  1. Clearly state an interesting social science research question of interest.

  2. Situate this question in relevant, extant academic literature on the topic.

  3. Using your own ideas, empirical observation, extant theory, and/or other sources, develop a theory that explains the cause(s) of the outcome your are interested in or the effect(s) of the potential cause you are interested in.

  4. Derive explicit observable implications of your theory. (If your research is primarily inductive in nature, describe possible theoretical implications of the research and relevant existing theory.)

  5. Describe a process of empirical data collection and analysis that tests your hypotheses and/or generates new theory and hypotheses.

  6. Critically reflect on strengths and weaknesses of your quesiton, theory, hypotheses, data collection, and proposed analysis.

  7. Write a complete, consistently formatted bibliography of referenced works and sources of evidence.

Submission Instructions

Your assignment must be no more than 3000 words and comply with the Government Department’s “Word Count Policy” regarding the formatting and length requirements.

The paper must be submitted by Tuesday, 20 March 2017 at 5:00pm.

Creative Commons License Except where noted, this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.