Community Centers

PLEASE READ ALL I would like my research proposal to analyze and ask the question of: is there a relationship between community centers/programs and educational attainment in NYC? What, if any, impact do community centers have on the racial disparity in education? I would like to analyze community centers that specifically have educational programs: Henry Street Settlement, Sadie Nash Leadership Project and I would like you to find two more to incorporate. please focus on NYC!! please use ASA FORMat

The length of this proposal should be approximately 3-4 single-spaced pages. Maximum of 4 pages, 12-point font (not including the bibliography). This proposal will be comprised of elements submitted for previous assignments, which you have extended and revised for this full proposal. This should read as a full research proposal. I am calling it preliminary to reduce the pressure of calling it “final.” I also am calling it preliminary to suggest that you will hope to use it as a jumping-off point for future work. References to outside sources within the text will be in the (Author Year) format, with the full reference included in the bibliography. If something from that reference is quoted, it should be of the format (Author Year: page number).

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1. Research problem. (This is probably going to take a paragraph or two.) Work to offer a clear, concise and focused statement of the research question(s) you want to try to answer. Note that “Research is not a summary of what is available on a given topic but an original analysis of a specific problem. A research problem is distinct from a topic in that it is more specific and orients research toward an analysis… If you already know the answer to the question, or if it can be obtained through a few simple inquiries, it is not an adequate research problem. It should be a puzzle, a mystery that you want to solve…In introducing your problem in a research proposal, you should provide a succinct statement which will help you to remain focused.” (Excerpted from George Mason University website (Links to an external site.))

Proposal Coherence Each part of the proposal should logically connect to the others. I describe below how some of the other parts need to be logically connected to the statement of the research problem(s) /question(s) stated in the beginning and to each other. Literature Review: The literature review (as described below) should be crafted to describe an existing scholarly conversation in a way that leaves the reader thinking it makes sense to ask the exact research questions that you are. That is, the questions posed in your statement of the problem in the beginning, are clarified and made salient by the literature review.

Method: Do your best to ensure that the question(s) in a way that you can realistically find some possible answers to it by the research method you propose. Often, you will find that you need to change your statement of the research problem/question(s) as you consider what data are available, and vice versa. Expected Findings: Your expected findings must clearly provide at least some partial answer to the question(s) posed in the beginning and it must be reasonable to expect that you could actually discover the findings that you say you expect from these methods. 2. Background on the problem. (This is probably going to take 1/2 to 3/4 of a page.)

To help the reader understand the issue you will be investigating, you need to provide context. In a proposal, this section provides a brief overview of the larger issues and ideas of your topic, and how this specific research problem relates to these larger issues. This section might discuss in very broad strokes what is known about the larger issue in a way that creates curiosity about the answers to the questions you are posing in part 1. (Excerpted and adapted from GMU (Links to an external site.).

3. Literature review. Craft and enter into a scholarly conversation (This is probably going to take 3/4 to 1 page.) A research project should be original, rather than reproducing existing literature on the topic. Yet it is helpful to consider any current research as part of a scholarly conversation.

The literature review section of your proposal is an opportunity to begin that conversation by reviewing the research to date, indicating what aspects of it your project will build upon and the ways that your proposed research differs from what has already been done. You should be able to identify themes that emerge from the existing research as well as its shortcomings. Or, you may find that what exists on the topic is truly excellent, but that it doesn’t account for the specific problem you have identified. In this section, you should also clarify the theoretical orientation of your project and identify specific sources from which you will draw.

Another way to think about the literature review is how to tell researchers of your general issue why they need to read your paper (once the research is done). Please see articles in sociology journals for examples of literature reviews and consult these excellent guides from the University of North Carolina (Links to an external site.) and from the University of Wisconsin (Links to an external site.).

4. Research method. (This is probably going to take 1/2 page.) The statement of the research method should describe what kind of data you will use, where you will find it, and why you think this data will be fruitful in helping you answer the questions you posed for your research problem. You will name the kind of primary data you will analyze. (Note that secondary sources will be covered in the “literature review” section of the proposal, written later.) Primary data may be quantitative measures collected by someone else such as the Bureau of Prisons, the US Census, or the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Primary data may also be qualitative in nature: archival (simply meaning paper or other artifacts – even digital – that you can examine), oral histories, interviews, surveys, or participant observations. You may collect these yourself or find access to original data that someone else has collected.

The methods section will also describe the scope of the data. That is, whatever you are going to examine, who, when, where does your data cover? If relevant, how many observations will there be? For example, when I was writing my dissertation, I narrowed my focus to say that I was studying all takings of private property proposed by the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelplhia between 1992 and 2007.

Those were my scope conditions. In your case, make sure that the data and scope of the data lead you to a project that you – as an undergraduate student – could actually complete in a single semester. 5. Anticipated findings/ preliminary arguments (This should probably take 1/2 page.) You haven’t done any of the research you are planning yet, or perhaps you’ve poked around and done a pilot interview or two or analyzed a bit of the quantitative or archival data. And yet, you should already start to write down what you expect to find – once you have completed the full-blown project (as described in your methods).

This section should indicate in a preliminary fashion, the conclusions that you expect to be able to draw once you have analyzed your data. In other words, what do you think your main findings might be. Once you draft this section, you might find that you need to edit other sections of the proposal so that the whole project is coherent. This section forces you to become explicit about the hunches that you have that made you want to pursue this project in the first place. Re-reading this section to yourself also should prompt you to ask if what you hope to be able to argue can really be found out by your methods.

And finally, it will make you wonder if this project seems worthwhile. That is, you might ask, if this is what I’ll find, is it important to know? Please don’t worry about writing this up before you really know what your data will tell you. It’s likely (perhaps inevitable) that once you’ve completed your research and are writing your final paper, your findings will be quite different than you anticipated. That, in fact, may become a useful point for you to discuss in the conclusion to your work. But having some sense of the result you expect will help keep your work focused on the relevant issues and will keep you alert to information which may lead to conclusions other than what you expected. (Excerpted and adapted from GMU (Links to an external site.).)

6. Focused Reflection on Ethics of Research Plan (This section should probably be 3/4 to 1 page.) This section is not typically included in a research plan. It is meant primarily to create a space where students will synthesize some of the lessons from class reading and discussions that they find to be most crucial for research planning. The proposal will also provide commentary on how this research project meets some of the standards for ideal research into urban inequality that the student has developed in this course. It should refer to several sources assigned for class, and explain in some way how they informed this research project.

Each paragraph in this section might be organized as follows: first, stating some choice made in the proposal above, then defending that choice and explaining why you felt it was important to go in this direction, given how research has been done previously. For instance, you might explain how you build on how Du Bois and Drake and Cayton emphasized the importance of showing heterogeneity in segregated black neighborhoods, and you agree and crafted a research proposal designed to see variation.

7. Bibliography (not included in the page count) Be consistent, and follow the styles outlined by the American Sociological Association. References for the style guide: ASA – excerpts (Links to an external site.) Williamette University Summary (Links to an external site.)

Purdue University Summary (Links to an external site.) ****** Research design takes time, and it is unrealistic to expect to produce a stellar, complete research proposal during this course. However, it is quite realistic to expect this course to spark interest in certain topics. And for students to spend some time developing ideas for a research project that they may refine in the future. At a minimum, this exercise should familiarize students with the elements of the research proposal and how to connect those elements to form a coherent whole.

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