Research Theory and Planning – BMAL 716

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 01/31/2022

Course Description

This course provides a comprehensive overview of the process of planning and conducting effective research projects. Topics include social research theories, research methods and designs, data collection methods, data analysis methods, and reporting results.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Students should be familiar with different theories and methods of research, writing a research proposal, and developing a plan for researching a particular topic. Students should be able to complete an applied research paper and understand the theories and methodology needed to do the research.

Course Assignment

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student will create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each discussion. Each thread must be at least 700 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student will reply to the threads of at least 2 classmates. Each reply must be at least 250 words. Each thread and reply must also include 2 peer-reviewed source citations in current APA format, the text, and the integration of 1 biblical principle as outlined in the Discussion Grading Rubric. The use of all 3 course texts, the Bible, and journal articles from the online library is required in the discussion posts.

Students will be putting together a research proposal that utilizes a flexible design about a problem they would like to explore. Students are encouraged to choose a topic related to their doctoral program project so that the research completed will contribute to their overall applied project. Applied Research projects often are designed to answer practical questions and involve applying specific theories (Fixed Designs /Quantitative Studies) and findings to a specific real-world problem that a specific organization is experiencing.  This course focuses on the use of flexible designs utilizing Qualitative methods of Phenomenology, Narrative, Grounded Theory, Case Study and Ethnography.  While fixed designs and Quantitative methods will be reviewed, your proposal should be a flexible design using a Qualitative method of study. 

The Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL) degree at Liberty University culminates in a Case Study that is comprised of three parts to include:

  1. Foundation of the Study
  2. The Project
  3. Application to Professional Practice

To be clear, for the purpose of the Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL) degree, you will be writing a single Case Study for the Doctoral Research Project (DRP).

As a side note, PhD dissertations in some schools traditionally have five parts to include:  1. Introduction 2. Background (Literature Review) 3.Methods 4. Results 5.Conclusion.  Textbook readings for this class generally will follow the traditional concept of the five part dissertation.  In this class, students are going to complete parts 1 through 3 (Introduction, Background/Literature Review and Methods).  Specific to this class, part 1 deals with the Introduction, part 2 deals with the Background (Literature Review) and part 3 covers Methods.

The students will complete a proposal only and will not actually complete the research project in this course. Students should incorporate the Merida (2015) text in parts 1 and 2 of this paper as it relates to the chosen applied research topic. Each area of the project proposal will be discussed in further detail in class and will relate to the textbook chapters.

Regarding the textbooks chosen, Robson and Creswell will use slightly different terminology in their writings.  Robson writes of flexible and fixed designs whereas Creswell references Qualitative and Quantitative methods.  Generally speaking, flexible designs are normally aligned with Qualitative methods and fixed designs are aligned with Quantitative methods. 

Project Justification (Introduction): Students will submit their research topic, problem statement, purpose statement, the importance of the study, the central question for conducting the research (Creswell, pg.133), research questions, nature of the study and definition of the key terms. Part 1 will be between five to eight pages in length.  Reference to the “Simple but Effective Problem Statements and Research Questions” white paper will be of great assistance.

Background (Literature Review): Students will discuss the search strategy and then conduct a review of the existing literature about this topic and write the literature review in APA format. The background will consist of 15 pages in length using a minimum of 10 academic references.  Students should start researching and collecting scholarly references as soon as possible as this can be a very time consuming process. 

Project Approach (Methods): Students will identify the research process, how they will collect data, how they will analyze data, and the instrumentation used. This can include selecting what Qualitative research method to use, the research target (population and sample). Through a flexible design, using qualitative methods, a concept will be discussed.  The methods sections will consist of five to eight pages using the Robson and Creswell textbooks, along with two other academic references on the methods chosen.

Completed Final Project – Students should combine the previous three parts of the paper into a final research proposal. Students should update the sections based on the feedback from their instructor.

Final Project Presentation – Students will put together at least ten slides that discusses the major components of their presentation. A title slide and references slide is required utilizing APA format.