Political Science

SMART: Learner Formb
PSL Scientific Merit Action Research Template (SMART) Form (Research Plan)
Scientific Merit Process
Learners who are doing action research for their dissertation will use this form to go through the process of scientific merit review. The goals of this process are: (1) to facilitate the planning of the details of your action research project, (2) to ensure that the proposed project has rigor and allows for scientific merit review, and (3) to facilitate your progress through the dissertation. This is not an addition to your dissertation buta step to assist you in obtaining mentor, committee, school, and IRB approval more efficiently. You must obtain mentor, committee, and school approval of your research plan before submitting your IRB application.

Scientific Merit Criteria
The following criteria will be used to establish scientific merit. The purpose of the review will determine if the proposed project:
1. Contributes to society by improving a practice.
2. Documents need for change by utilizing evidence-based needs assessment.
3. Meets certain “hallmarks” of a good action research project including:
· Action research design:
· Practical.
· Participatory.
· Definedaction plan.
Scientific Merit Approval
Your completed SMART form will be approved, not approved, or deferred for major or minor revisions. Your committee will use a checklist to determine if the study meets the criteria for scientific merit and the committee will provide specific feedback designed to identify any issues related to the scientific merit that mustbe resolved. You will have up to three opportunities to submit this form for committee approval.
Obtaining scientific merit approval does not guarantee you will obtain IRB approval. The IRB review will focus on ethical issues. A detailed ethical review will be conducted during the process of IRB approval.

Recommendations for How to Use This Form
The SMART form is intended to help you and your mentor plan the design and details of your dissertation. Once your mentor approves your SMART form, your entire committee will review the form for scientific merit. After the entire committee approves your SMART form,it will be submitted for school approval. It is recommended that you use this form in a step-by-step way to help plan your design. Expect that you will go through a few revisions before your mentor and committee approve this form.
Tips for filling out the SMART form:
· Prepare your answers in a separate Word document for ease of editing and revision.

· Copy and paste items into the right-hand fields when they are ready.

· Retain the descriptions in the left column.

· Keep the form unlocked for ongoing editing and revision.

· Leave no blank spaces in the form. If an item does not apply to your study, type “NA” in its field.

· Read the item descriptions carefully. Items request very specific information. Be sure you understand what is asked (Good practice for your IRB application!).

· Use primary sources to the greatest extent possible as references. Textbooks (Patton, Leedy and Ormrod, and so on) are not acceptable as the only references supporting methodological and design choices. Use them to locate the primary sources.

Upcoming Milestone Steps:
Milestone Group 1

· Milestone 1: Learner Completed CITI Modules

· Milestone 2: School approved topic (Sections 1 & 2 of SMART form)

· Milestone 3: Mentor Approved Research Plan (complete SMART form)

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Milestone Group 2

· Milestone 4: Committee Approved Research Plan

· Milestone 5: School Approved Research Plan

· Milestone 6: University Approved IRB

· Milestone 7: Committee Conference Call

SMART Learner Form
To be completed by learner
1.1 Learner Name
Yolanda Tucker

1.2 Learner Program
Doctor of Public Administration

1.3 Learner Email

1.4 Learner Phone

1.5 Mentor Name and Email
Rod Erakovich


1.6 Committee Member #1 Name and Email
Dr. Devin Daugherty


1.7 Committee Member #2 Name and Email
Dr. Cheryl Nelson


1.8 Dissertation Title
Election Performance Measurement: A Case of Election Board

1.9 Site Selected
Prince George’s County

1.10 Contact Info for Site Approver and Expected Approval Date
To be determined.

To be completed by learner
2.1 Project
Write one paragraph that describes the action research project and the basis for it being addressed.

This research paper seeks to establish parameters for measuring election performance outcomes. It is a case study of Prince George’s Election Board, an entity that is responsible for administering efficient voting process consistent with the U.S Constitution and other State and County laws. Recent addition to the body of knowledge in electoral integrity suggests that reliable procedures are necessary to contribute to democratic legitimacy (Norris, 2014; Montjoy, 2008). While election boards usually follow consistent legal procedures in running election programs, declaration of winners is often associated with contention regarding the integrity of the electioneering process (Bowler, Brunell, Donovan & Gronke, P. (2015). Diamond and Schultz (2018) suggest that the risk of retreating from democratic tendencies is rife whether in matured or in the emerging democracies. Establishing and complying with certain parameters for measuring elections is fundamental to instilling faith in the electioneering process (Ariely, 2013). Increasing dissatisfaction with the current election system puts to perspective the need to establish effective measures of election performance that not only meet legal parameters but also satisfy public expectations. As a result, the research indicates that an analysis of the programs, procedures, and decisions taken by the Prince George Election Board in the course of discharging its mandate will provide insight into developing acceptable measures of successful election performance. The measures will allow stakeholders to make key electoral decisions consistent with legal and public expectations and guarantee approval of outcomes.

The researcher intends to use qualitative descriptive research design. The study population will encompass election board members at the Prince George Election Board. Qualitative descriptive design is most appropriate for this research since stakeholders would be interested in straightforward description of research outcomes. Qualitative descriptive research is ideal when a description of a phenomenon is preferred (Lambert & Lambert, 2012) since it avoids complex interpretation of research findings (Kim et al., 2016). Research findings will be shared with stakeholders through official contacts. Furthermore, the written research report will be published in a professional journal for review.

Important Readings




Ariely, G. (2013). Public administration and citizen satisfaction with democracy: cross-national evidence. International Review of Administrative Sciences, 79(4), 747-766.

Bowler, S., Brunell, T., Donovan, T., & Gronke, P. (2015). Election administration and perceptions of fair elections. Electoral Studies, 38, 1-9.

Diamond, J., & Schultz, D. (2018). Democracy and the teaching of public administration.

Kim, H., Sefcik, J. S., & Bradway, C. (2017). Characteristics of qualitative descriptive studies: a systematic review. Research in nursing & health, 40(1), 23-42.

Lambert, V. A., & Lambert, C. E. (2012). Qualitative descriptive research: An acceptable design. Pacific Rim International Journal of Nursing Research, 16(4), 255-256.

Norris, P. (2014). Why electoral integrity matters. Cambridge University Press.

Montjoy, R. S. (2008). The public administration of elections. Public Administration Review, 68(5), 788-799.

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