Sample Healthcare Research Proposal on Cyber Bullying

The concept of cyberbullying has gained increasing significance across the world, with research providing details about its impacts on the health of the victims. Particularly, it has been shown that cyberbullying is a cause of emotional disturbance among adolescents and young people in general. Furthermore, the concern around the impacts of cyberbullying is compounded by risks to personal security that is often raised within the social context of cyber bullying. The impacts of this form of bullying are often not easily understood among adults, and it can be difficult for affected children and youths to access help.

Because of the need to understand the concept of cyber bullying and its impacts on those affected, the proposed research aims at determining the impacts of cyber-bullying on the health of university students. To do this effectively, the first objective will be to explore what the students consider cyber bullying to be and whether they can distinguish the forms of cyber bullying that exist. The second objective will be to explore their stances on cyber bullying. The last objective will be to determine the physical and emotional impacts of cyber bullying on the affected individuals. In order to understand the impacts of cyber bullying on the health of students, the concept of cyber bullying will be represented based on different dimensions adapted from literature.

This study aimed to assess the knowledge of the ECU’s on what bullying is and the health impacts on the victims. A qualitative approach to research will be used in this study, with an interview technique. The interview questions will be asked online to at least 50 students. They will be selected among Edith Cowan University students through the random sampling method. The university is located in Western Australia. The online interviews using an audio or video conferencing application such as Zoom. The data collected will be coded and analyzed to determine consistency with existing literature. The data analysis will be conducted using a recursive abstractive technique, in which the key themes in the data are abstracted and summarized based on the key thematic classes defined prior to data collection. It is expected that the participants will be able to link practices such as trolling and threatening of users with the practice of cyberbullying and will also be able to identify and describe some of the effects of such practices on the victims’ health.


Various studies have been conducted about cyberbullying. Similarly, research has shown that with the advancement in technology, the traditional forms of bullying are currently shifting to technology-based bullying practices. According to Cowie (2013), many young people experience cyber bullying. While some of these victims can recognize cyber bullying and to deal with it, there are many others that cannot recognize the vice. Moreover, patterns of cyber bullying also differ across different parts of the world, which occasions the differences in the definition of what cyber bullying constitutes. A study by Menesini et al. (2012) showed that despite the increasing popularity of the concept of cyber bullying, variations in the conceptualization of the concept has resulted in difficulties in defining it. Particularly, cultural divergences play a significant role in determining the definition accorded to cyber bullying. The frequency and intensity of cyber bullying also differs from country to country depending on the national cultures of those countries (Felipe-Castano et al., 2019). Due to the lack of a uniform definition of cyber bullying, there have been proposals of different categorizations of the concept including based on the means by which it is carried out and based on the type of harassment performed. Other studies have categorized cyber bullying on the devices and platforms used for perpetrating it (Cowie, 2013). This implies that in order to understand how students define cyber bullying, there has to be an interaction through which they give their perspectives from a first-hand perspective.

Besides the studies aimed at clarifying what cyber bullying is, various studies have also explored the impacts of cyber bullying on the victims. Accordingly, it has been shown that cyber bullying has significant negative impacts on the victims, including sadness, hopelessness, and feelings of powerlessness (Nixon, 2014). Other studies have suggested that cyber bullying has physical effects besides the emotional and mental health effects that are commonly proposed (Cowie, 2013). Other studies have mentioned psychological impacts of cyber bullying, which have been compared and found similar to the outcomes of traditional forms of bullying (Kowalski & Limber, 2013). Cyber bullying is described as a stressor capable of causing depression and affecting the academic performance of the victims (Extremera et al., 2018). As such, there is need for further exploring the effects of the concept.

Despite the many studies conducted on the concept of cyber bullying, there are still gaps in its definition as well as in its effects on the health of victims. Particularly, Menesini et al. (2012) argue that due to the methodological differences across different studies and among different groups of scholars, a clear definition of cyber bullying has not been realized. To address this gap in literature, the proposed study will attempt to explain cyber bullying not based on an individual’s definition but based on a series of constructs that encompass the different proposals made. The study will also explore the effects of cyber bullying based on the distinctions between the physical and psychological effects of the practice.




The aim of this study is to assess the knowledge of students attending Edith Cowan University (ECU), Western Australia in 2020, about what cyberbullying is.


The objectives of the project are to:

1. online survey will be conducted (quantitative method)

2. Assess the knowledge of what bullying is

3. Assess the knowledge of students regarding the mental health impact of cyberbullying


Main question:

What is ECU’s students’ knowledge level of what bullying is and the health consequences of it for the victims?

Sub- question 1: What is ECU’s students’ knowledge level of what cyberbullying is?

Sub- question 2: What is ECU’s students’ knowledge level of the mental health consequences of those being bullied?

Sub- question 3: What is ECU’s students’ knowledge level of the physical health consequences of bullying on the victims?




The target population for this study comprises of the students of the Edith Cowan University. The proposed study should be able to draw conclusions that can be generalized to a larger population of university students, and taking a typical university as the target population seems reasonable. The participants for the study will be selected through random sampling from among Edith Cowan University students. Various random sampling techniques have been discussed by Vasileiou et al. (2018). For a study such as the proposed one in which the target population has widely varying demographic characteristics, Taherdoost (2016) describes random sampling as the best sampling technique as it reduces biasness and has higher chances of providing an accurate representation of the population characteristics due to participant diversity.

Various formulas are available for calculating the sample size in qualitative research. However, a method proposed by Taherdoost (2016) will be used to determine the reasonable sample size for the target population. Taherdoost provides a table in which the estimated population size is tabled alongside the Z value corresponding to the desired confidence interval and margin of error. The table was developed from a combination of formulas on the sample size. Edith Cowan University has over 30,000 students (ECU, 2018). For this population, the sample size is recommended to be 384 at a confidence interval of 95% and an error margin of 5% (Taherdoost, 2016). However, due to the lack of resources, a total of 50 students will be included in the study by random sampling. It is, therefore, recommended that future studies should take into consideration this sample size.

The only inclusion criterion for the proposed study is that the participants should be students of Edith Cowan University. The objective is to get a sample that is as diverse as possible to help generate information that can be generalized to other universities as well.




As the gaps in existing literature have been identified, it is expected that the study will be able to contribute to filling those gaps in two ways namely, by expanding the dearth of available knowledge on the definition and effects of cyber bullying and its definition. In particular, the study will result in the development of a framework that can be used to define cyber bullying based on various constructs. Those constructs will be obtained from the diverse perspectives of participants on what they consider to be cyber bullying. The study will increase knowledge on the effects of cyber bullying by placing equal emphasis on physical health as is placed on the emotional and academic effects of cyber bullying, hence providing a more holistic effects description.

Besides the contributions of the proposed study to research, the study will also be significant because of its applicability to pedagogical contexts. The most common reason for failure to address cyber bullying is due to gaps in knowledge on what constitutes cyber bullying. The framework developed in the study will make the definition of cyber bullying more succinct, hence making it easier for teachers to address such issues as soon as they emerge.




Recruitment Methods

Two recruitment methods will be utilized, including direct recruitment and the use of recruitment letters in order to recruit the required 50 participants. Direct recruitment will enable the researcher to have phone conversations or face-to-face discussions with the selected individuals to inform them of the study and ask them if they can participate (Hollis-Sawyer, 2018). By using direct recruitment, the researcher will have to engage the participants in friendly conversations just to entice them to get involved in the research study. Taking that approach will ensure that the participants do not feel pressured that they have to be involved in the study. The research study will also utilize recruitment letters to recruit participants. The researcher will distribute over 150 letters to the selected Edith Cowan University (ECU) students through their mails to inform them of the study. The reason for distributing over 150 letters is because there is a possibility that some students might not reply to the mails. The recruitment letters will include how the researcher managed to get the email or a home address of each participant. The recruitment letters will also contain information related to what the researcher will be planning to study and some of the potential risks and benefits associated with the study. The recruitment letters will also inform the ECU students on how they can inform the researcher whether or not they can participate and where to get answers to additional questions about who is conducting the study and why he/she is undertaking the research. In case more than 50 students agree to participate in the study, they will be recruited based on age.


Sampling Methods

The study will consist of 50 participants, 26 males /and 24 females. This research study will utilize the probability sampling technique. The probability sampling technique will enable the researcher to develop an accurate sample frame and select elements from the sampling frame in relation to a mathematical probability procedure (Hankin, Mohr, & Newman, 2019). The technique will help to eliminate sampling bias. The participants of this study will be selected based on their age and by being a student at Edith Cowan University, who is currently pursuing an undergraduate program. The participants of the study will be aged between 18-23 years and will comprise a mixture of freshmen, junior, and senior students across Edith Cowan University.


Before conducting the online survey, each of the recruited participants will be provided with a consent form approved by the Edith Cowan University Institutional Review Board (IRB). The consent form will critique the background of the study, outline the confidentiality procedures, explain potential risks and benefits of the study, and explain how a participant can withdraw from the study at any time. The consent form will appear as the very first screen of the survey; thereby, a participant will have to read through it and understand the information outlined. Thus, to continue, a participant will have to click “accept” and to withdraw from the study, a participant will have to click “decline.” Demographic questions will not be asked, and each participant will have to be interviewed each at a time in order to ensure the confidentiality of the participants.


Data Collection Methods

The data collection instrument that will be used in this study is an online survey. The online survey will comprise various questions that will be answered in different ways. The survey will use open-ended questions, which will allow the participants to provide detailed responses, as well as close-ended questions that will only allow the respondents to choose a specific response (Salomon & Cairns, 2009). An example of an open-ended question is as follows:

·       If you have been a victim of cyberbullying, what might have been the reason someone did that to you?

Some of the responses related to the question might include factors such as anger, jealousy, and revenge.

An example of a close-ended question is:

·       Have you ever received a harassing, mean, or life-threatening text messages? (yes or no)

Other than the general cyberbullying questions and questions regarding cyberbully victimization, the online survey will include a question related to the impact of cyberbullying amongst the participants. A 10-impact response statement related to cyberbullying will be included in the study. The impact response statement will be classified into emotional and physical or behavioral. The emotional response statements will be defined as responses that a particular participant experienced inward and was difficult for other people surrounding him or her to notice. Some of the emotional response statements will include I felt lonely or sad.  The physical response statements will be defined as the responses that a given participant might have experienced outwardly due to cyberbullying and was easy for others to notice. Some of the response statements will include I cried, or I missed class.

Data Analysis Methods

The data collected from the study will be analyzed quantitatively. The research study will utilize descriptive statistics and an independent t-test to analyze the quantitative data. Descriptive statistics will provide a basic description of occurrences in the data, including the mean, median, standard deviation, and range (Creswell & Creswell, 2017). The researcher will be able to identify the most common forms of cyberbullying that the participants are aware of and the most common impacts related to cyberbullying using descriptive statistics. The study will also integrate the use of an independent t-test to test the hypotheses of the study in relation to the data collected (Lynch, 2013). The researcher will use t-test to compare the means of two independent groups that will be outlined in the study.






To assess and rate the risks associated with cyberbullying incidences that the participants might have experienced, the researcher will have to follow a three-step procedure. First, the researcher will have to identify the risks that the participants might have experienced. Consequently, the researcher will have to assess the likelihood and severity of the risks. The researcher will then have to identify how the risks might affect the participants or others close to victims of cyberbullying. The study will use three categories, including negligible risk, low risk, and high risk to assess the likelihood and severity of the risks. Regarding negligible risk, the study will outline the likelihood of that risk to occur is rare; thus it might have an insignificant impact. In regard to low risk, the study will outline the likelihood of that risk to occur as either unlikely or possible. This form of risk will imply that the individual might have been subjected to minimal impacts related to cyberbullying. Regarding high risk, the study will outline the likelihood of that risk to be experienced as likely or almost certain. This risk will demonstrate that the individual might have been subjected to severe impacts as a result of cyberbullying. Some of the risks related to cyberbullying include an individual having suicidal thoughts, feeling anxious and depressed, feeling disinterested in school, feeling alone and isolated, feeling angry and vengeful, feeling vulnerable and powerless, and feeling exposed and humiliated. Thus, the research proposal will rate the likelihood of the participants experiencing such risks and what may be their consequences in the short or long-term.



RARE- May only occur in exceptional circumstances   INSIGNIFICANT – No injuries. Little or no impact on participants.  
UNLIKELY – Could occur at some time   MINOR – First aid treatment and/or counseling required.  
POSSIBLE – Might occur at some time   SERIOUS – Medical treatment required.  
LIKELY – Will probably occur in most circumstances   DISASTEROUS – Death or extensive injuries.


ALMOST CERTAIN – Expected to occur in most circumstances   CATASTROPHIC – Multiple deaths or severe permanent injuries.  
RISK RATING (Likelihood x Consequence)      







In this section, you are required to provide details for the proposed costs whether actual or in-kind (hidden) such as the time of all researchers. Add specific detail to each row e.g., what staff will be required (use position description only, no names), salaries and hours required, and insert additional rows as required.


1. Personnel:

(Your time may be provided in-kind, however you may also need to pay for additional assistance or some backfill for your time)

Total Cost

2. Travel, meal allowance, accommodation

(Travel is to be calculated according to a relevant/industry-based formula)

Total Cost

3. Consumables

(e.g., stationery, phone, postage, computer needs)


Total Cost

4. Equipment costs

(Details of equipment that will need to be purchased, hired or any payment required to use equipment or complete analysis of data  – this may be an in-kind or real cost)


Total Cost

5. Printing Costs

(if using a questionnaire or for final report)


Total Cost






APA 7th referencing style must be used


Cowie, H. (2013). Cyberbullying and its impact on young people’s emotional health and well-being. Psychiatrist, 37(5), 167-170.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry & research design choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:Sage.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.

ECU (2018). Edith Cowan University: Pocket stats. Edith Cowan University.

Extremera, N., Quintana-Orts, C., Mérida-López, S., & Rey, L. (2018). Cyberbullying victimization, self-esteem and suicidal ideation in adolescence: does emotional intelligence play a buffering role? Frontiers in Psychology9, 367.

Felipe-Castano, E., Leon-del-Barco, B., Polo-del-Rio, M.I., Mendo-Lazaro, S., Gomez-Carroza, T., &Fajardo-Bullon, F. (2019). Differential analysis of psychopathological impact of cyber bullying in university students. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1620.

Hankin, D. G., Mohr, M. S., & Newman, K. B. (2019). Equal probability sampling. Sampling Theory, 23–47.

Hollis-Sawyer, L. A. (2018). Dyadic Filial Research Study Recruitment and Retention: Lessons Learned.

Kowalski, R. M., & Limber, S. P. (2013). Psychological, physical, and academic correlates of cyberbullying and traditional bullying. Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(1), S13-S20.

Lynch, S. M. (2013). Summarizing Data with Descriptive Statistics. Using Statistics in Social Research, 37–56.

McGrath, C., Palmgren, P.J., &Liljedahl, M. (2016). Twelve tips for conducting qualitative research interviews. Medical Teacher, 41(9), 1002-1006.

Menesini, E., Nocentini, A., Palladino, B. E., Frisen, A., Berne, S., Ortega-Ruiz, R., et al. (2012). Cyberbullying definition among adolescents: A comparison across six European countries. Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Society, 15(9), 455-463.

Nixon, C. L. (2014). Current perspectives: The impacts of cyber bullying on adolescent health. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics, 5, 143-158.

Percy, W. H., Kostere, K., &Kostere, S. (2015). Generic qualitative research in psychology. The Qualitative Report, 20(2), 76-85. Retrieved from

Salomon, G., & Cairns, E. (n.d.). Open-Ended Questions. Handbook on Peace Education.

Taherdoost, H. (2016). Sampling methods in research methodology: How to choose a sampling technique for research. International Journal of Academic Research in Management, 5(2), 18-27.

Vasileiou, K., Barnett, J., Thorpe, S., & Young, T. (2018). Characterising and justifying sample size sufficiency in interview-based studies: Systematic analysis of qualitative health research over a 15-year period. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 18(148).