415.881.01 | AY 2013-2014 - 1st Term | 2 Credit(s)
W 10:30:00 AM
  • Contact Information
    Lori Erby
  • Course Learning Objectives

    Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

    • Be prepared to conduct an independent research project, including developing skills necessary to: a)Analyze the problem b)Develop a rationale c)Propose a conceptually sound research proposal, and d)Formulate theory-based hypotheses
    • Develop a first draft of a formal research proposal
  • Course Description

    Genetic Counseling students prepare thesis proposals.


    Additional Notes:

    This is a three-term course in which, during the first term, you were exposed to the conceptual side of research. Armed with this knowledge, in the second term, you will develop and write a proposal for your own research project. In the third term (second quarter this fall), you will refine your proposal for submission to the Executive Committee and prepare for the oral examination.  By the end of the three terms, you will be expected to have turned a nascent research idea into a proposal which will then become your thesis.

  • Intended Audience
    ScM in Genetic Counseling students
  • Methods of Assessment

    Course requirements for this term are as follows:

     A. Brief background, specific aims, and hypotheses due Sept 11.  (20 pts) Based on the work done in first term, this brief paper will require you to succinctly summarize the background that leads up to the development of a research question, and to present the research question along with corresponding specific aims and hypotheses (if applicable).    You should write this paper based on the research question around which you will draft your proposal for research. Length: 1 ½ -2 pages (double spaced), excluding references.  (I would love to see an early version of this the first week of class.)

     B. Literature review, spreadsheet format due Sept 25 (10 pts).Prepare a spreadsheet with the following headings:  (a) Authors and date, (b) brief title of study, (c) preliminary findings, (d) significant aspect of the study, and (e) sub-section of proposal that you will use it in.  Each study you review will comprise a row of the spreadsheet.   This is a prime opportunity to get yourself organized.  Your score will not be based on the number of references, but on the relevance of those chosen to your proposed question and on your inclusion of references to support the main points you hope to address in your proposal.  It may be helpful to organize your spreadsheet by column (e), so that studies that have similar application are lumped together.

     C. Literature review due Oct 9 (20 pts)   (if you want feedback before the weekend, submit on Sunday, Oct 6). This should be a complete draft of the literature review section of your proposal.  Length:  at least 5-6 double spaced pages at this point (although this section will ultimately be 6-10 single spaced pages).

     D.  First draft of proposal due Oct 25 (40 pts)  This paper should include:  research question(s),specific aims, and hypotheses (if applicable); background and significance (literature review); description of study population and recruitment; study design; measures; research procedures; analytic plan; and timeline.  See the format suggested by the SRC on the NHGRI website:

    (Choose “NHGRI Protocol Template”)

     You do not have to submit the sections on risks/benefits/confidentiality/consent at this time, but they need to be included at a later date.  You will get feedback on this during the first week of second term.

     D.  Class BBS Discussions.  Weekly questions due by noon each Tuesday (10 pts).  You are expected to participate fully in class discussion. During most weeks, you will be assigned readings either from the text book or research-related articles.   Although we will cover some specific topics related to these readings in class, we will primarily focus our class time on application of these readings to the development of your own ideas.  In order to facilitate this and to maximize time in class for discussion, I would like you to contribute your ideas on the readings by participating in a weekly BBS discussion.  I will set up a different discussion for each week.  The expectation is that you will read the assigned material and then submit one or two questions for discussion to the BBS.  This should be done by noon on Tuesday so that there is time for discussion to occur prior to class.  I will weigh in, but my hope is that you will each offer your own thoughts as well.   The discussion on each topic can certainly continue beyond Wednesday afternoon, but please submit your initial questions on Tuesday.  For weeks in which no formal readings are assigned, please see the below information on the “research questions” thread.

     There will also be an ongoing “research questions” BBS thread to which you may submit questions related to other issues you have encountered related to the conceptual development of your research idea.  This will be a forum for me to be able to weigh in on your idea development but also for each of you to support the others.  If there are no readings for the week, please submit a question related to your own work on this board.  You may also feel free to use this discussion thread throughout the term.

  • Prerequisites
    415.880. Must be enrolled in ScM in Genetic Counseling Program
  • Required Text(s)

    Locke LF, Spirduso WW, Silverman SJ (2000) Proposals that Work:  A Guide for Planning Dissertations and Grant Proposals. 4th edition.   Thousand Oaks, CA:  Sage Publications, Inc. (Abbreviated as LSS in the schedule.)  (I will provide print-outs)

    Kumar, R. (1999). Research methodology: A step-by-step guide for beginners. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. (for reference)

  • Course Schedule

    Please see the course Session for a full list of dates and items for this course.

  • Academic Ethics Code

    Students enrolled in the Bloomberg School of Public Health of The Johns Hopkins University assume an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the University's mission as an institution of higher education. A student is obligated to refrain from acts which he or she knows, or under the circumstances has reason to know, impair the academic integrity of the University. Violations of academic integrity include, but are not limited to: cheating; plagiarism; knowingly furnishing false information to any agent of the University for inclusion in the academic record; violation of the rights and welfare of animal or human subjects in research; and misconduct as a member of either School or University committees or recognized groups or organizations.

  • Disability Support Services
    If you are a student with a documented disability who requires an academic accommodation, please contact the Office of Student Life Services at 410-955-3034 or via email at