Instructions for writing and submitting a proposal in order to be eligible for a
BA or BS with Distinction in Psychology for
Class of 2016
All students seeking Distinction in the Major must submit a 1-2-page proposal describing plans for their senior thesis. The proposal must be approved by the DUS and submitted by the end of shopping period, Wednesday, September 16, 2015, 4PM. (For December 2016 graduates, this proposal is due February 2, 2016, 4PM.) Students may not receive Distinction in the Major if a proposal is not submitted by this due date.
For a BS degree with Distinction
on the final
BA or the
will make a final decision about the type of degree to be received.
For a BA degree with Distinction
or non-empirical literature
degree. Your proposal may specify a topic for a literature review or an empirical research project.
You do not
a senior essay as part of a senior seminar
of your senior
of the general
you do not need to contact the seminar instructor to obtain approval on the proposal
are: December 11, 2015
and April 22, 2016
I. Proposal for a Nonempirical Literature Review
The goals for a literature review may include theory development, theory evaluation, a survey of
the current state of knowledge about a specific topic, and/or an assessment of existing problems,
weaknesses, or controversies in a particular topic (see Baumeister & Leary, 1997 in Review of
papers on scientific writing can be downloaded at the Psychology website:
Your proposal should include the following:
1. Tentative title and student’s name.
2. Description of the topic to be covered, along with the goals of the literature review.
The topic should be specific enough to be adequately discussed in a 20-30-page paper,
and should be decided upon in consultation with the senior thesis advisor.
3. A brief outline of the major sections of the proposed literature review.
5. Timeline of the project.
(Sample timeline: September and October – start literature search and select relevant
articles, November – read the literature, December detailed outline, January and
February – write first draft, March and April – revision of manuscript)
6. Advisor’s approval of the proposal (Need to include a signature)
II. Proposal for an Empirical Research Project
A typical research proposal contains the following information but the content / format can be
flexible depending on the nature of the project, and you should go over the specifics with your
senior essay advisor. (If you are unfamiliar with any of the following terms, you may review
your research methods or statistics textbook, or consult with your senior essay advisor.)
1. Tentative title and student’s name.
2. Background: Brief description of the research question, or what the missing gap
in the field is by citing at least 2 references.
3. Hypothesis and the rationale for the hypothesis.
: If you cannot commit to a hypothesis, you can state multiple possible predictions
and their implications (e.g., "If our results are y, then x must be true; but if our
results are q, then p must be true.").
: For some studies, it may be easier to state the hypotheses after describing the
design and procedure of the study, in which case a student may state the
hypotheses after the method section in conjunction with the hypothetical results.
4. Design and procedure of the study.
5. Expected number of participants to be recruited and how they will be recruited.
6. A graph / table showing hypothetical results if the hypothesis is supported.
7. Statistics to be used to analyze the data (or general statements about how data will
be analyzed or which comparisons will be made).
9. Timeline of the project.
(Sample timeline: September – literature review, October – stimulus development,
November and December – IRB approval, data collection begins, January – data
collection continues, February – data analyses, March 1 – first draft submitted to the
advisor, March and April – revision of the manuscript)
10. Advisor’s approval of the proposal.
Submitting Your Proposal
Students should submit their proposal as an attachment by email in either Word or PDF
format to the department Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please indicate whether you are
seeking a BA or a BS degree with Distinction. The email must also contain a copy of the original
email from your advisor approving the proposal (note: advisor’s approval email is not necessary
for senior essays written in a senior seminar). To avoid confusion or unnecessary delays, please
send only one email.
Approval of the Proposal
The DUS will review submissions and determine the appropriateness of the proposal for either a
BA or a BS degree with Distinction. Students and their advisors will receive notice of approval
Please note that your proposal is not a binding contract. As you execute the project, you may want to make some improvements to your original plan, and such changes do not need to be re- approved by the Department as long as your senior essay advisor approves them.