Early Research Project

The Early Research (ER) Project is a semi-independent research project led by the doctoral student to be completed during the second or third year in the PhD program. Under the guidance of their advisor, doctoral students develop research questions, write a literature review, design a study, collect and analyze data, and write up the results.

The ERP is a trial run of the genres, methods and skills appropriate for undertaking an evidence-based dissertation. The contents of the ERP might, or might not, feed into your dissertation – but the knowledge as well as the skills you display/test will serve you when working on your dissertation. The ERP demonstrates that you have the skill and orientation to undertake a dissertation.

Timing and Registration
  • Begin the ERP process after your first or second year (after you have completed approximately 24 to 32 credits)
  • You should have already taken ERAM 550 and at least one Methods elective course
  • The results of your ERP and the tentative direction of your dissertation will help inform your remaining two Methods electives
  • Students may choose to register for 1-4 credits of Independent Study to count towards the overall 64 credits. (note that these credits would not replace any for-credit requirements)
  • Please contact the LDL Program Advisor to discuss the timing and next steps associated with starting your Early Research Project
  • PhD Only! Research Area Requirement Plan: Fill this out prior to starting your Early Research Project
  • PhD Only! Early Research Project Request: Fill this out once you are ready to schedule your ERP. Coordinate with Dissertation Advisor prior to submitting the form

The Early Research project will test your research skills and approaches to data collection and analysis.

  • Seek out models of what others have done
  • Read books and articles carefully about research methodology as you prepare your ERP proposal
  • You will be expected to defend your selected methodology as a part of your ERP proposal to explain how it will produce evidence based findings that are valid
  • This exercise is not about what you know it needs to demonstrate what you have learned as a consequence of testing and investigating a research question of significance
  • Testing a specific tool and processes to find out how they might, or might not, accomplish something is a reasonable project
  • Your ERP proposal and each subsequent step typically require a number of iterations

The Early Research Project will mirror the combination of the preliminary exam and final defense, but on a much simpler scale. Refer to guidance provided within the Exam-Dissertation Sequence web pages.

  1. Write a one-pager to get your initial idea approved that provides some background and a brief introduction to your selected methodology and data sources. Also include your target implementation timeline.
  2. Write a research proposal that includes an Introduction, 2,000 word minimum Literature Review, and Theory and Methodology design, including the theoretical foundation, an explanation of the research site and participants, selected methodology, data collection instruments, data analysis plan, and limitations. Refer to guidance found for the EDS Chapter 3 (Theory and Methodology) for specific details.
  3. Obtain IRB approval
  4. Receive approval on your research proposal
  5. Participate in an ERP proposal oral presentation (15 minute presentation in an hour long session)
  6. Conduct the Research Study and analyze the data
  7. Write up the results
  8. Present your findings in a 15-minute oral presentation (in an hour long session)