Thesis Part One: Introduction, Literature Review, and Methodology (Research Proposal)


A proposal is different from the papers that you have previously written.  The objective of a proposal, as the name implies, is to propose a research project.  To make your senior thesis manageable, think about a project that you can complete in one semester. The proposal must be structured as follows:


  1. Why is your research topic important?  (For example, if you were requesting monetary assistance, why should this topic receive funding if competing against other projects?)
  2. A clear thesis statement.  The thesis should clearly demonstrate what you intend to study.  For instance, you might state, “The purpose of this research project is to investigate the relationship between race and socioeconomic status, and how these variables are associated with juvenile delinquency” or “The objective of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of Boys and Girls of America” or “The aim of this project is to understand the extent to which cyberbullying occurs in high schools.”
  3. Please refer to Chapter 11 of the Silverman book for more on how to write a strong research proposal. 

Literature Review

  1. Review of existing literature.   If you are researching the literature on race and delinquency, be specific about your topic.  If you are investigating delinquency by African American youth, make sure that you rigorously review the literature.  Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence indicating what the paragraph will address (e.g., socioeconomic status and delinquency), as well as the general conclusion that “you” draw from these studies.
  2. Race, class, or gender.  One of the variables that you will review literature for, no matter what your topic is, must be race, class, or gender.  Students often overlook the explanatory power of these constructs in terms of the human experience, and hence it is time to reintroduce their importance. 
  3. Find a gap in the literature.  What important angle has been ignored in past research? Your objective is to expand the literature by exploring an angle that is “missing” from the studies you have reviewed.
  4. What criminological theory best explains your topic? Be sure to include a criminological theory that will guide your research.
  5. Please refer to chapter 19 of the Silverman book for more on how to write a strong literature review. 

Hypotheses or Research Questions

  1. Research questions.  Research questions are not survey items that you will pass out to interviewees, but instead describe the overall objective of your study.  For example, “To what extent is drug use prevalent in college campuses?” or “To what extent does neighborhood disadvantage impact crime and delinquency in low income neighborhoods?” or “To what extent do images of beauty impact eating behaviors of women in college?”


  1. Describe your sample demographics.  How many individuals will you study? If relevant, what is their race, gender, socioeconomic background, etc.?  How will you recruit them?
  2. What methodology/design do you plan to use?  Are you using a content analysis, ethnography, semi-structured interviews, or program evaluation, and why is this the best methodology for your project? You must describe your research design and use scholarly sources to support your project in great detail.  Please look up peer-reviewed articles that use your desired methodology (from the four above) to see how they describe their research methods and borrow their language.    
  3. How will you analyze the data (please refer to chapters 12 and 13 of the Silverman book and borrow from articles that employ your chosen methodology)?
  4. Please also refer to chapters 20 and 21 of the Silverman book for general tips on research methodology. 
  5. When conducting interview individuals be sure to follow ethical guidelines found in chapter ten.


You are required to cite at least seven scholarly peer-reviewed journals.  Ideas, theories, and concepts from books, Internet websites, and similar sources DO NOT COUNT as part of the seven required citations, although they may be used as supplementary sources if necessary.  All citations must be cited in APA format.  Please note that your grade will be adversely affected if you do not INCORPORATE at least seven scholarly journals in your paper.  Simply citing seven sources in the reference page does not equate with incorporating seven scholarly sources meaningfully in the body of the paper and hence such paper will receive a substandard grade.     

Due Date: 

March 4th , 11:59pm- Introduction, Literature Review and Methodology

E-mailed papers will not be accepted.  You must submit your papers to Blackboard.

Formatting for paper:

10-15 pages, typed, double-spaced, 12-point font (Times New Roman), one inch margins

You should use no more than two inches for your name and the title

You must include a works cited page, which does not count as part of the 10-15 page requirement.

You may NOT include any quotations, from books or articles, anywhere in this part of your thesis.

Guidelines for papers and a note about plagiarism

Please PROOFREAD your work.  Incomplete sentences, misspellings, grammatical errors, and other writing errors will all affect your grade.  If you are aware that you have difficulty writing correctly or coherently please visit the Writing Center well in advance of the due dates for assistance or meet with me during office hours to review a draft. 

Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty are inexcusable under any circumstances and will be turned over to judicial affairs.  Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to the following activities: Directly copying someone else’s words and failing to put quotation marks around that work or failing to give the author proper credit; paraphrasing work by someone else and failing to give the original author credit; using an idea you have read or heard and failing to give the author proper credit.  It is important that you include proper citations and give credit when relying on someone else’s writing or ideas. If you have any doubts or questions about what constitutes plagiarism I will be happy to meet with you during office hours or I recommend you visit the University Writing Center.

If a portion of your paper is plagiarized (over 20%) it will result in an “F” for this assignment.