Instructions for writing and submitting a proposal



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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, students must submit a proposal for an empirical research project. Submitting an empirical research proposal does not guarantee a BS degree. Based on the final version of the senior essay, the second reader and the adviser will make a recommendation as to whether the student should be awarded the BA or the BS degree, and the Department will make a final decision about the type of degree to be received.
For a BA degree with Distinction, students can conduct either an empirical research project or non-empirical literature review. There are no restrictions in the research format for the BA

degree. Your proposal may specify a topic for a literature review or an empirical research project.


A proposal is expected to be no more than 2 single-spaced pages, including references. You do not have to follow APA format except for the reference section. Please follow the instructions below for a literature review or an empirical research project. Students who wish to propose a different format for the senior thesis should consult the DUS.
Proposals are also required for Distinction students who choose to write a senior essay as part of a senior seminar. In this case, it is unlikely that you will be able to provide a detailed description of your senior essay plan. In this case, your proposal can be a brief description of the general topic about which you will write. Please include as much information as you can, but

you do not need to contact the seminar instructor to obtain approval on the proposal.
Keep in mind that Distinction students may submit their final senior essay to the Department either in Fall or Spring semester of their senior year. Due dates for the 2015-2016 year 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



General Psychology for excellent advice about writing a literature review. This and other helpful

papers on scientific writing can be downloaded at the Psychology website:

http://psychology.yale.edu/undergraduate/senior-requirement-information
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.

4. References

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).

8. References.

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 lauretta.olivi@yale.edu. 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

by email.


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.


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