The following document is a guide to support you in the development of the research proposal as part of the application process for the Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.
As part of your application you must submit a research proposal which indicates a possible topic or area that you would like to research as part of your training on the professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology. Your research proposal should give as detailed as possible information about the research you wish to undertake.
Your research proposal, is an important part of your application as it demonstrates your knowledge of the proposed field of study and your ability to frame a project conceptually and propose an appropriate methodology. It also ensures that your topic is relevant to the research expertise in the school and University (see appendix 1 for research supervisors research interests). So, while there will be scope to develop your research proposal further under supervision, it is understood your research focus will remain the same. Therefore, it is important that you first consider how your research project aligns with the research interests to ensure you have a viable research topic.
As a guide your research proposal should enable the reader to obtain a clear understanding of the research that is to be undertaken and the context in which it sits. It should be between 1,000-1,500 words, including references.
Essentially, the reader will be given answers to the questions “what?”, “why?” and “how?” i.e. what is the research, why is it being undertaken, how is it going to be carried out and how the submission is going to be presented.
The description of the research should not be written in such a way that it is inaccessible to the non-specialist (i.e. specialist language should be kept to a minimum).
The following is not meant to be prescriptive and you may want to structure the proposal differently, it is just a guide to help you consider all elements of a research proposal.
The importance and relevance of your project
The Professional Doctorate in Counselling Psychology is primarily concerned with researching real professional issues in Counselling Psychology practice. Therefore, make sure your research project is relevant to the field of Counselling Psychology. Ensure you explain why you think your research is important, identifying any current gaps in the research literature and the contribution you consider your research will make to research and practice.
A brief review of the literature
You need to indicate some of the literature that you are going to use, try to include some of the main arguments and viewpoints in the field, indicating their relevance to your research proposal. Also make sure you include how your research sits within this current body of research.
In this section you need to clarify which methodology you will be following and why. In particular, you need to explain the relevance and usefulness of your chosen methodology to your particular project. You should clearly explain why and how the approach you plan to use will fit your topic and the problem you are addressing. Include any data sources you plan to use? How do you plan to collect data (e.g. interviews, a survey). Describe the process you will use to analyse the data.
Identify any ethical issues or issues around risk that your research might pose and how you will mitigate or manage these.
List the publication details of all the works you have referenced in your proposal. Use a standard referencing format (e.g. Harvard). This should help us to understand the literature you are familiar with.
Research Methods: Qualitative Approaches e.g. Constructionist Grounded Theory
Research Methods: Qualitative approaches e.g. IPA, heuristic inquiry
Research Methods: Qualitative research
Research Methods: Quantitative research methods. Between/within/mixed between-within research designs. Research in NHS settings
Research Methods: Quantitative research; Participatory Research; Qualitative research; Mixed-methods and case studies
Research Methods: Predominantly alternative paradigms and action research –narrative, auto ethnography and insider/ practitioner action research
Research Methods: Quantitative, qualitative, desk based, mixed methods
Research Methods: Qualitative research methods: Interviews concerning social validity (importance of the research goals, acceptability of the procedures, satisfaction with the outcomes
Research Methods: Qualitative approaches Discourse analysis Participatory research
Research Methods:Qualitative approaches: Grounded theory, IPA, heuristic
Research Methods: Qualitative methods