occupational health and safety research

Proposal Outline
1. Abstract
2. Problem Statement
3. Study Question
4. Literature Review (include your edited preliminary review)
5. Purpose of the research project, the hypothesis [what you
think is happening] and objectives.
6. The Study Design
– Method
– Data sources and sample
– Data analysis
7. Study needs and resources
*8. Ethical Research Statement
*9. Work plan
10. References
*11. Appendices (if necessary)


1. • An abstract is a brief summary of your proposed
research (you will write it in the future tense)
• explaining each major part:
-the problem
-the literature (several studies have shown…)
-the purpose for the study
-the method you will use
-the analysis
-what you expect to find

2. Problem Statement
There is a meaningful problem (non-trivial).
Based on what you’ve learned from existing
studies (there is a probable cause)

3. Study Question
Your meaningful question (specific)
Based on what you’ve learned from
existing studies
-simply restate your question

4. Literature Review
• You’ve already done much of it
• Revise it; edit it; include it
• It points to your study; where your study ‘fits
in’ to what is known
• It indicates the value your work will add
• It shows you are ‘on-side’ with the literature,
and if not, that you are contesting it

5. Study Purpose
• How will it benefit Public or Occupational
Health and Safety
• What you expect to demonstrate or show
• The purpose is the overall goal of your study
• The objectives are specific targets
• In most cases: your study examines one
specific, narrow part of the bigger problem

6. Study Design
Identify it
What kind of study is it? (case study, lab/field
experiment, survey-interview/questionnaire,
secondary data, observation, program
evaluation, etc.)
What time frame? (cross-sectional, prospective,
retrospective, time-series)
Which other features? (controlled, randomized,
stratified sample)
Retrieval (surveys…mail, drop-off, other)

6. Study Design II

Where will you get your data/information?
participants? The target population?
how will they be selected? (the selection
What is your sample?
How will it be determined?

7. Study Needs and Resources
• Access to the study population?
• Access to data/files/records?
• Experimental equipment?
• Mail/return costs?
• Photocopy costs?
• Travel?
• Software?
• Other?

8. Ethical Statement*
• Research often involves human subjects;
sometimes animal subjects (rare in SOPHe)
• We meet ethical standards in research
• Protect people from harm
• Protect privacy of individuals
• Participants = full and informed consent
(a human subject’s ‘Miranda rights’)
• Information anonymous and aggregated

8. Ethical Statement II*
• Cohen’s group exercise endorphin effect study
(Biology Letters, 2009)
• Question: does exercising in a group increase
endorphin output in athletes?
• 12 rowers: two tests (identical exercises=45 minutes)
Test 1: exercise alone, tested for pain tolerance
(endorphin output indicator) before and after
Test 2: exercise together, in groups of 6, tested
for pain tolerance before and after exercise
All pain threshold tests done in isolation
• What part of this study requires ethical approval?

8. Ethical Statement III*
• Endorphins are difficult to detect in a living
body; the definitive test is to extract spinal
fluid from each subject and test it
• Ethical approval not likely, but pain threshold
is a proxy measure of endorphin output
• Pain threshold in group exercisers was 2X
higher than in those exercising alone
• Subjective measure of exercise pain

8. Ethical Statement IV*
• Are there human subjects in your study?
• Are there risks (physical, psychological, work)?
• Is informed consent required?
• Does it involve persons who can’t give consent?
(children, others)
• Guarantees of anonymity and confidentiality?
(Non-disclosure agreements)
• Is deception required in the study?

9. Work Plan: A Gantt Chart*

10. References: APA format only. In the text of
your proposal (author, date) or if quoting (author, date; page)
• Include studies cited in your proposal
• References only: if you haven’t used it and you
haven’t referred to it in your text, don’t include it.
• If the paper is published in a journal and has the
volume and issue number, you don’t need to say
when you retrieved it, it’s always the same date
and you don’t need DOI numerical information

The last tasks
• 11. Appendices*
• Questionnaire/interview questions
• Experimental protocol details
lab set-up
number of iterations/trials


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