Procedures for Doing Research in the BA Program

This document is primarily addressed to student members of the Department of Second Language Studies.

Please register the fact that it will take time to complete the various steps outlined below. Research that is conceptualized hastily and conducted in a rush is unlikely to produce a satisfactory outcome, and is most likely to make an institution less willing to grant access in future. In schools, it may leave teachers and students with a negative attitude to research in general. Tact, courtesy, and sensitivity are always necessary, regardless of the kind of research envisaged.

Policies regarding approval to conduct research in the BA program in SLS or to solicit student volunteers from SLS undergraduate classes

Obtain a copy of the BA/SLS research agenda [TBA]. This is a list of topics that the BA Committee would like to see research done on, to assist us with continued development of our program, solving problems and clarifying issues, or investigating areas we would like to know more about. This is what we call “in-house programmatic research”. The BA program can assist with other research topics and issues, of course, but at the same time we naturally want to encourage, and will give priority to, research on our own program needs and concerns.

Discuss the details of your study with your advising professor, to make sure that your methodology is sound, your instruments (questionnaire protocols, observation categories, etc) are well designed, and that your study fits well with your intended participants, context, etc. [Note that, when you are initially exploring research topics, the BA Coordinator and BA Chair are happy to set up appointments with you to help brainstorm or identify possible areas of focus (and tie those in with our program needs). However, it’s essential that you discuss the details of your study with your advising professor before you submit your research proposal for BA program or human-subjects approval.]

After you’ve worked out your study with your advising professor, develop a 500-word (maximum) research proposal, which describes the topic and how you want to do the research. This should include the following:

  • A brief description of your study and the purpose for which the study is being used (a course paper, a Scholarly Paper, etc.).
  • A brief description of the methodology you will use.
  • Examples of any instruments you will use (if applicable).
  • Information about what kind of access to BA/SLS students your study requires (either access to specific classes or access to student volunteers — see below for more information).
  • A handout designed to attract students to participate in your study.
  • A copy of the request for permission to be sent to BA/SLS teachers (if applicable).
  • A copy of the consent form(s) you intend to use.
  • Advising professor approval verifying that the design, instruments, and handouts meet with her/his approval (see below for more information).

Submit your proposal to the BA Coordinator, by email to  When you submit your proposal, ask your advising professor to send an email message to the BA Coordinator verifying their approval of all items mentioned above. Your proposal may be passed to BA/SLS teachers and other staff for review and comments. If we see any problems with the design of your study, or its effect on the BA program or its students, we will send you back to your advisor for help in reformulating the proposal.

After your advisor/professor and the BA Coordinator have approved your study, you can proceed with getting approval from the human subjects committee, if need be. Check with your advisor/professor about whether or not your study needs the approval of the human subjects committee. If your study is exempted from human subjects approval, you merely need to let us know (an email message, with a ‘cc’ to your advisor/professor, will suffice). However, if your study requires the approval of the human subjects program, you will have to wait until you get their approval before you will be able to approach BA/SLS teachers or students. Email a copy of the approval letter to the BA Coordinator, before you can approach SLS classes or students. (Note, however, that you do not have to get approval from human subjects prior to sending your proposal to the BA Coordinator. It makes more sense to get your study reviewed and approved first by your advisor/professor and the BA program before you fill out the human subjects paperwork.)

Obtain approval of any BA/SLS teacher you hope to involve in your study. a) If you will be conducting research involving any SLS classes, it is also necessary to get permission of the teachers of those classes. Requests for teacher approval are usually 1-2 paragraphs, briefly describing the aims of the study and how the classes will be used. b) If you will be using class time to solicit student volunteers, you will need to provide the teacher with a brief description of your study (usually 1 paragraph) and copies of the handout for soliciting volunteers. (Note that, even if the BA Coordinator approves a project, individual teachers have the right to refuse to participate or to have their class participate in a study, if they feel it interferes with instruction or the aims of the course.)

Policies related to writing your paper

  1. Read previous studies of research done in the BA program in SLS. See ScholarSpace.
  2. Check the current UH-Manoa catalog (or other relevant documents) for up-to-date factual information about policies, courses, etc. related to the BA program.
  3. Double-check all “facts” about the BA program with the BA Coordinator before you finish and submit your paper. (Note: If we find that you misrepresented our program, we will ask you to re-do your paper with the corrected information.)
  4. If your research was done in specific SLS classes, or involving specific teachers, give those teachers the opportunity to review and comment on your paper (or at least those parts of your paper that relate to their class, their teaching, etc.) to ensure that you are representing the teacher and the class fairly and accurately. (Again, if we find that you misrepresented the teacher or the class, we will ask you to re-do your paper with the corrected information.)

Access to SLS classes, data, or students

Access to SLS classes and program or student data will only be possible if the study meshes with our program’s needs. Check the BA/SLS research agenda [TBA] to see what kinds of research the program would like to have done.

Access to student volunteers is the most common type of access granted. If you need to do this, you should draft a one-page handout that is addressed to potential volunteers, at a level that is easily understandable for the students being solicited. The handout should explain what you need the students to volunteer for (in general terms), where data gathering procedures will take place, how long it will take, what language insights SLS students can gain from participating, how volunteers can contact you, and what compensation they will receive (generally at least in the form of some type of instructional feedback related to the study, or occasionally some type of compensation like movie tickets, tutoring, or proofreading help if the demands on participants are great). Remember, the professor advising your study must approve your handout. You will also need to submit the handout to the IRB as an attachment to your application.

(Note: This applies even to SLS faculty, GAs, and staff conducting research.)

Approval of your advising professor

The BA program in SLS does not have time to help researchers edit their instruments, handouts, or consent forms. This means that you will need to get advice and editing help from the professor advising your study. It is our hope that this requirement will help ensure that your study gets approved by the BA Coordinator more quickly. Copy and paste the following information into an email message and revise it to fit you and your study:

    I have seen and approved [student’s name]’s proposal for research in the BA program in SLS, including the research design, instruments (if any), volunteer handouts, and consent forms to be used in this study. [Student name] has completed [or is in the process of completing] all IRB/human subjects approval requirements for this project.

Send the text to your advising professor, and after they have reviewed your methodology and instruments, ask them to  email the SLS BA Coordinator ( This will serve as their formal approval of your study.

Courtesy copies of your paper

After you write up your research, please provide the BA program with an electronic copy of your paper. We may post a .pdf version of your paper on our website so it can be accessible to other researchers and to staff. Thus, unless we receive a request from you specifically not to make it available on our website, we will assume that you have given your consent.


(updated July 2022)