Free App Licenses for Unfunded Research Projects

Alaska Family Systems will now issue a one year free professional license for Family Diagram to individual who formally proposes a qualifying research projects using the app.

There is certainly value for Alaska Family Systems in 1) increasing the total amount of systematically organized knowledge about the family phenomenon, 2) increasing the amount the app is used to do so, and 3) increasing the total number of people making the “research attitude” an automatic part of daily life.

Individuals who put the effort in to propose and conduct formal research, no matter how small, demonstrate that they are contributing value to Alaska Family Systems in all three of the above areas. Students are one group that has an excess of new ideas but lack the resources to follow through on them. Private researchers are an important source for exploratory research. Professional researchers not only make substantial contributions to scientific knowledge but also provide valuable critique of how the app supports their work.

Criteria for Research Projects

The following criteria must be met by any research proposal to receive a free professional license for Family Diagram. The basic requirement is to publish the application of hard scientific principles to factual data on family using the app. There is no requirement for the size of the project. The free professional license will be issued upon approval of the proposal document and will be valid for one year.

Basic Criteria:

  • Project must be unfunded
  • Family Diagram app must be somehow used in data collection
  • Proposal document
  • Publication on Alaska Family Systems website

NOTE: While this kind of project is a straightforward task for individuals with formal doctoral-level academic training or masters-level training in the harder sciences, this project will mostly serve as an exercise for individuals who do not have formal training to learn to organize their thinking about human behavior. Therefore, if you do not have a formal academic, just do your best to think through the function of each element of the document outlined below and propose the project as well as you can. If your proposal is rejected, you can simply use the feedback to learn and re-submit the proposal with appropriate corrections. While the proposal description below may appear quite technical and difficult at first, each section is actually quite simple and only requires some thinking to get it on paper.

The first step is to submit a proposal prior to beginning the research project to patrick@alaskafamilysystems.com. The proposal document should be as short as possible while fulfilling the list function of each element as described below. A well-done proposal will be under two pages including section headings. This document can be formatted however you like and should contain the following elements:

  • Title
    • A single line that captures the goal of the project.
  • Abstract
    • A single paragraph which summarizes the proposal document.
  • Introduction
    • Describes the problem.
    • Outlines the state of current knowledge on the topic. This will invariably include a description of what Bowen Theory has to say about the problem at hand.
    • Outlines the limitations of current knowledge of the topic.
    • Do keep this section as short as possible while still conveying the essential information.
  • Statement of Research Question
    • Formal statement of the research question in a single line, followed by a short description with any necessary clarifications. Optionally lists any secondary questions that may fall under the primary question.
  • Speculation on Results
    • Informed prediction of what you expect to see in your data. Should be as skeptical as possible, as per the principle of the Null Hypothesis.
  • Methodology
    • The meat of the proposal. Describes precisely how the project will be conducted.
    • Must include the “data model” to be used. A data model is the formal list of variables that will be recorded in the app and how they will be recorded. For example, the Stinson data model defines 1) “toward/away” move, 2) the name of the mover, 3) the recipients(s) of the move, 4) “up/down” shift in arousal, and organizes these in a timeline. A different example would be to code private or clinical interviews into events on the timeline and track shifts in Papero’s 5 dimensions as variables for any pertinent events.
    • Must follow the principle of the Null Hypothesis; The goal is to prove oneself wrong, NOT to simply gather data that may confirm one’s suspicions. This will requires great care to only use objective/falsifiable variables. Vague or exceedingly complex variables like “attachment,” “differentiation,” “stuck-togetherness” are too subjective to be falsifiable in normal research. See the video The Importance of the Timeline in Family Diagram for a brief discussion on normal fact, functional fact, and opinion in coding of raw data about relationships.
    • Must include a statement of how the data will be analyzed. How exactly will you determine what the data says, what it does not say, and what it can never say?
  • Statement of Necessity
    • Outline why the free version of the app which allows for the construction of a single, fully-featured diagram is insufficient for this project. This ought to imply why a professional license, which allows the editing of multiple family digram files, is necessary for this project.
  • Statement of Commitment
    • include the following statement along with you your wet-ink or digital signature: I agree to perform the above described research project, and to submit a publishable writeup of the findings to Alaska Family Systems, myself taking full responsibility for protecting any confidential information in accordance with any professional ethics boards as appropriate.

The second step is to conduct the research. Good luck!

The third step is to write up the findings and what you make of them. For this you would simply take the proposal document, change all future-tense language to past tense along with any edits to make it readable, and include the following sections:

  • Results
    • The data itself should be summarized, including notable results.
    • Outlines example results as they are, i.e. prior to interpretation. It is very important that data is presented in a manner free of interpretation. Interpretation belongs in the Discussion & Conclusion section. This allows subsequent researchers to make up their own mind about the data by just reading this section.
  • Discussion & Conclusion
    • Outline your theoretical inductions (i.e. interpretations/explanations) for the data. How do you explain what you observed? Be sure to include:
      • Bowen theory’s view and potential problems with it.
      • Your view and potential problems with it.
      • Similarities / differences between your view and Bowen theory’s view
    • Outline which of your speculations from the proposal were correct and which were not correct.
    • Answer the research question.
    • Include questions raised by this project for future research.

The fourth and final step is to submit your write-up to Alaska Family Systems: info@alaskafamilysystems.com. All project write-ups will be published on the Alaska Family Systems website. It is your responsibility to manage confidentiality of the data in accordance with your licensing and/or professional ethics board. This includes, but is not limited to, indicating when family diagrams, names, locations, and dates are altered to protect identities while preserving what is pertinent in the data. It is also possible to protect the identity of the project author if necessary in special circumstances.

Ideas for Research Projects

There are countless potential research projects. They can include research into your own family, research using data from a professional or practicum clinical case load, or going through old data from an existing data source.

The goal of this project is only to organize one’s thinking about an interesting topic, not to produce a large amount of work for an entirely separate project. It should be possible to integrate the bulk of the work for the research project into work you are already doing. For example, grad students may choose to use a final project for a class, clinical trainees or clinical professionals may choose to utilize existing data from their clinical case load, and formal researchers may simply use the app in an existing research project.

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