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Freshman Vs Senior Essay Proposal Format

Lucy Burrows
WR 123, Prof. C. Agatucci
Research Proposal:  Final Draft
18 April 2002

Research Proposal

1.  Research Topic Introduction

            (a)  The research topic I have chosen for Writing 123 is focused on our mental health system, what services are provided in Bend, and what services are needed.  The research question I wish to answer is:  Homelessness among the chronically mentally ill is a community problem in Bend as well as elsewhere in the United States:  As a community, how can we address this problem?  I have chosen this topic partly as a result of my interest developed from my psychology professor last term.  She mentioned in class that there are some chronically mentally ill (schizophrenic) people who live in Juniper Park.  Additionally, I recently viewed a program on 60 Minutes which profiled a community in Geel, Belgium, that has a unique way to care for the mentally ill in their community.  I was intrigued by the total community commitment and support of the mentally ill.  In Geel, Belgium, you never see someone sleeping on the street.  I wanted to further investigate their system for caring for the mentally ill and see if their methods could be duplicated in other communities, such as in the United States. If some of the methods used in Geel, Belgium, could be used elsewhere, as in Bend, this might have significant implications for the services we can provide in Bend.  I feel as a community, we have a responsibility to care for those who are unable to care for themselves.  I do not feel it is acceptable to have the chronically mentally ill living in our community parks or on the streets. I think some of our social problems are just accepted as part of living in a community and perhaps they are not addressed as they should be.  In my research, I discovered a model program that was started in Long Beach, California, as a result of the frustration and dissatisfaction of family members of mentally ill, as well as professionals and business people who had an interest in improving the mental health system. As a result, the Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, California, has received a growing amount of attention and commendation as a model mental health program.  It incorporates a number of innovative approaches that may be valuable in effecting widespread system change.

            (b)  I believe this is a very appropriate topic for Writing 123.  It fits in with the courses I have studied and presents a very real problem in Bend that can be addressed in a research topic.  Until I viewed the program that focused on Geel, Belgium, and their unique methods for providing for the mentally ill, I had not considered other community options for addressing the problem of homelessness of the mentally ill.  It is a very effective method to view problems from other perspectives to arrive at real solutions that may be helpful and appropriate in our community in dealing with this social problem.

            (c)  I intend to use the American Psychological Association (APA) documentation system for this research topic.  When I consulted our textbook regarding citation formats, I learned that “The APA form is a variant of the author-date system of citing sources, used in the field of psychology and often in other behavioral sciences” (Hubbuch, 2002).

2.Research Question and Working Hypothesis

            (a)My research topic is:  Homelessness among the chronically mentally ill is a community problem in Bend as well as elsewhere in the United States:  As a community, how can we address this problem?

            (b)Working hypothesis:  This is a problem not only in Bend, but in large, economically sound communities, as well.  It is a problem that must be addressed as a community to have a working, caring system to provide for the mentally ill who are homeless.  This involves having a community home to provide for these homeless individuals, having a foster care system that supplements a community home and having  people receiving these servicesbe treated with “respect, dignity and without labeling or discrimination of any type” (CareLink, 2002). 

3.  Research Strategy Description

            (a)What do I need to discover in my research?

Assumptions

            In the US you see many homeless people.  In Bend we have homelessness.  My psychology professor stated there are probably five or six schizophrenic people living in Juniper Park.  Our mental health system fails to care for the chronically mentally ill.

Research Questions

            Is our mental health system adequate?  What services are provided in Bend?  Why are the chronically mentally ill homeless?  What services are needed in Bend?

Assumptions

            There is a different approach for the care of the mentally ill in Geel, Belgium.  You never see a person sleeping on the street there.  They seem to have a successful way to care for the mentally ill.

Research Questions

            How do the people in Geel, Belgium care for the mentally ill?  What accounts for the success of their methods?  Would this model be transferable to other places, i.e., cities in the United States?  Bend?  If not, why not?

Assumptions

            The Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, California, has received a growing amount of attention and commendation as a model mental health program.  It incorporates a number of innovative approaches that may be valuable in effecting widespread system change.  Dr. Mark Ragins, who is involved with the Village Integrated Service Agency, visited Geel, Belgium, and observed their system of care for the mentally ill in his process of gaining a worldwide perspective of psychiatric rehabilitation.

Research Questions

            What is the Village Integrated Service Agency?  How did it get started and why?  What is it doing differently and what is successful, not successful?  Would this approach work elsewhere?  In Bend?

            (b)  Where will I look for answers?

            I used Ebsco Host database for a web search of key terms:  mental health; mental illness; psychiatric rehabilitation, Geel, Belgium.  I have also searched Google.com.  I have found useful journal articles relating to my topic, including an article in the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, Summer 2000, outlining and describing the Denver approach which combines “the best rehabilitation models and influences into one system of rehabilitation services.”  Additionally, I discovered information about The Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, California, which incorporates a number of innovative approaches in care for the mentally ill.

            I asked the librarian at the COCC library for sources of information about services provided in Bend.  She directed me to the appropriate website and the new Deschutes County Mental Health office located at 2577 NE Courtney in Bend to obtain information on what services are currently available in Bend.  I visited the new office in Bend and obtained a pamphlet of information describing the services currently provided.

            I have requested two books through interlibrary loan, Introduction to Psychiatric Rehabilitation and The Role of the Family in Psychiatric Rehabilitation, which I hope will offer some valuable insight into how the family and community can integrate care for the mentally ill.

            Additionally, I have ordered a transcript of the 60 Minutes program concerning the unique care the community of Geel, Belgium, provides for the mentally ill.  Viewing this program provided me with a new awareness and heightened interest to investigate this topic further.

4.  SourcesConsulted

Anthony, W. A. (2001) Vision for Psychiatricrehabilitation Research.  Psychiatric             Rehabilitation Journal, 25, 1. (Journal Article)

Baxter, E. (1997) An Alternative Approach to Recovery-St. Dimpna.
       mentalhealthconsumers.org.
        <http://www.mentalhealthconsumers.org/connet/cnn/9711/alternative.htm> [Accessed 4 Apr 2002]. (Article)

Fallot, R. D., Ph.D.  (2001)  Spirituality and Religion in Psychiatric Rehabilitation and             Recovery from Mental Illness.  International Review of Psychiatry, 13, 110.  (Journal Article)

Hubbuch, S. M. (2002).  Writing Research Papers Across the CurriculumBoston:Heinle & Heinle. (Book)

Principles of Psychiatric Rehabilitation.  CareLink [accessed 12 Apr 2002]. (Website)

Ragins, M., MD.  History and Overview of the Village.  The Village Integrated Service             Agency. <http://www.village-isa.org/Ragin”s%20Papers/Hist.%20&%20Oveview.> [Accessed 4 Apr 2002] (Article)

Ragins, M., MD. (2000)  A Personal Worldwide Perspective of Psychiatric Rehabilitation.   The Village Integrated Service Agency.            <http://www.village-isa.org/Ragin’s%20Papers/worldwide_perspective.htm>             [Accessed 4 Apr 2002]. (Article)

Shern, D. L.; Tsemberis, S.; Anthony, W.; Lovell, A. M.; Richmond, L.; Felton, C. J.;            Winarski, J.; Cohen, M.  (2000)  Serving Street-dwelling Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities:  Outcomes of a Psychiatric Rehabilitation Clinical Trial.  American Journal of Public Health, 90, 1873.  (Journal Article)

Smith, G., (Executive Director).  Deschutes County Mental Health. N.p.:n.p., n.d.

            [Pamphlet obtained 12 Apr 2002]

Spaniol, L., et al. The Role of the Family in Psychiatric Rehabilitation.  (Book requested through interlibrary loan 4/12/02)

Spaniol, L., et al. Introduction to Psychiatric Rehabilitation.  (Book requested through interlibrary loan 4/12/02)

© Lucy Burrows, 2002

A thesis is your chance to act as a “real” academic; to pursue a genuine line of inquiry that is of your own choosing and of its own merit.

But the exact pathway to selecting a thesis topic can be a difficult one to navigate. It’s different for each person, of course, and will depend on your major. But some aspects are consistent for everyone who undertakes this research journey.

My tips for finding an undergraduate thesis topic:

Begin early

This is difficult advice to give, since by the time you’re reading these words, it might be too late to start early. But if you are a sophomore in college, or even a freshman, I highly recommend that you start thinking toward your future thesis. Take some concrete steps (as I advised in my earlier blog post: “Thesis Writing: The Basics”), particularly by reading previous students’ theses and attending defenses for students in your department or across campus in areas that you’re interested in.

Start early to de-mystify the process. Learn what a thesis looks and sounds like. This will free you up to understand the journey you’re about to take.

Cultivate curiosity

Curiosity is a key attribute to any academic (and, I would argue, any young person in today’s world). Pay attention to what interests you. This may sound like advice almost too basic to be relevant, but it’s an excellent place to start. When sitting in a lecture hall, or attending a movie, or when you’re out at night with friends, pay attention to the things that make you want to sit up and pay attention. Make a note to self for anything that makes you think “why” with a genuine desire to know.

Your thesis is a chance to explore one topic in depth. It can begin anywhere, with whatever fires a genuine sense of wonder. As you travel, make note of cultural differences. As you read novels, pay attention to the aspects of language or the portrayal of certain people that interest you. As you study a second language, pay attention to the differences in TV or sports or the construction of sentences in that culture.

Curiosity is the starting-place of a thesis. Begin early and learn to ask questions as they arise.

Note: one burden of academic research is that what makes you feel curious may not hold the slightest interest to many people around you. Your thesis will require you to go to extreme lengths to learn about a topic most people probably ignore. Learn to value and cultivate that curiosity independently of external affirmation. If it’s interesting to you, that’s the place to begin.

Ask questions and find answers

When you’ve found a starting place of curiosity, begin to ask questions. Ideally, you should do this for multiple curiosities as they arrive, and pursue lines of inquiry in various ways. I think that the best way to start any academic study is the way you would answer any question: get on the internet and see what the world wide webs have to tell you.

You begin by attempting to satisfy your curiosity. Perhaps what has caught your interest has a well-established answer. Perhaps the phenomenon is over-studied, and with a few google searches you have not only found your answer, you are exhausted by it. If so, then pursue your curiosity to its limit and then move on with your life—you’ve learned some interesting tidbit and ruled out a potential research topic.

Alternately, this initial process of asking questions could lead to deeper research potential.

If you uncover a wealth of information but the answers lead you to a sense of growing excitement and the joy of discovery, then pursue the subject. Read blog posts and download podcasts. Check out novels and pop psychology on the subject. Look for your topic while you’re walking down the street or chatting with your grandmother. Note what products or new technology utilize this concept. If you find answers to your question, but your intellect and curiosity grows instead of diminishing with each answer, keep chasing down that information.

If instead you find an echoing silence in the realms of the internets (and other sources of popular wisdom), pursue that silence. If no one knows the answer, find out if anyone has tried before. Look for subjects that pick at the corners of your question. You may have asked something that no one else has. If so, this is also a place for you to begin.

Ask an Academic

When you have satisfied the top level of your curiosity and you know something about your question, take it from the realm of general interest into the world of academic thought. Instead of searching the internet, search your university/research library. Ask for help. Find out if the academic discourse matches what your searches have told you.

Then ask a professor. If you have been assigned a thesis advisor, that’s a good place to start. Another place would be by scanning a relevant departmental faculty index to find out who on your campus is pursuing this line of inquiry.

Go and ask. Sign up for related classes. Read the academic journals.

Academics know what’s being discussed in scholarly circles. A professor can help guide you to the most recent research in your area, and can direct you as you develop your curiosity from a broad idea to a direct and targeted research question.

Discuss your topic with an advisor 

Ideally, by the time you meet with your official advisor to discuss your thesis, you will have two or three areas of interest you would like to pursue. You would have background knowledge for each of these topics, and a reasonable grasp on the current discourse. You will know who on your campus would be suitable to advise you.

You then work with your advisor to tailor your interest into a question that is suited to an academic work, and is possible within the scope of time and resources you can devote to this undergraduate thesis project.

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