The Applied Research Paper
Graduate students who are not completing a thesis must complete an applied research paper (sometimes called a “file paper” or “exit paper”). Whereas the thesis is a report of the outcome of the student’s own research, the applied research paper is formatted similarly to a case presentation, including a comprehensive biopsychosocial relevant research literature (e.g., etiology, diagnosis, treatment), detailed theoretical case conceptualization, and a treatment summary (e.g. goals, methods, and course of treatment).
Applied Research Prospectus
Once a case is identified, students should prepare a 1-2 page prospectus for the Graduate Program Coordinator. The purpose of the prospectus is to verify that the selected case is appropriate for use in the applied research paper. To this end, students should provide the following information in the prospectus: brief summary of the presenting problem, nature and course of treatment, current treatment status, and a list of potential references for use in the paper. Furthermore, the prospectus should also indicate who the student would like to serve as Graduate Committee chair and committee member(s). The Graduate Program Coordinator will review the prospectus and circulate the document to the proposed committee chair and members for review. Should faculty feel there are significant concerns regarding the case, the student will be required to submit a revised prospectus or select another case for presentation and submit a new prospectus. Feedback will be provided to the student regarding faculty concerns by the Graduate Program Coordinator.
Applied Research Paper
The applied research paper represents formal evidence of a student’s mastery in applying research and theory to case conceptualization and intervention. To this end, the applied research paper should not only present a summary of assessment and intervention with a client, the applied research paper should provide a summary of relevant research. For example, if an student were presenting a case in which s/he were treating a patient diagnosed with major depressive disorder using an interpersonal theoretical orientation, then the applied research paper would necessarily provide a brief literature review of interpersonal theory and its usefulness in the treatment of major depressive disorder. A checklist of the typical sections and subsections of the applied research paper is provided below. Occasionally, the unique nature of a particular case may merit some deviation from this format. These deviations should be made with the approval of the graduate advisory chair.
Presenting problem/history of the problem
Testing information (if available)
Nomothetic disorder conceptualization
How does a particular theory explain a set of symptoms?
What are the underlying mechanisms that support the development and persistence of the symptoms?
How is the patient’s presentation consistent with the theoretical constructs?
Theory based treatment goals
Strategies and rationale
Changes across treatment
Test scores (if available)
Recommendations for the future
 This is the most important section of the applied research paper. Not only are students expected to demonstrate a clear, theoretically based understanding of the client’s symptoms and the mechanisms causing these symptoms, this conceptualization should directly inform the treatment goals and structure both treatment summary and recommendations for the future.