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COM15: DEVELOPING RESEARCH AND ANALYTICAL SKILLS

COM15: DEVELOPING RESEARCH AND ANALYTICAL SKILLS tem title:                    Research Report Due Date:                    Friday of Week 13, 5:00pm, AEST Weighting:                  45% Length:                                  2000 words (quotes, citations, references and Reference List not included; 10% over or under 2000 words not including quotes is allowable)This assignment is the culmination of the entire unit. It requires knowledge of how to research, how to critically analyse texts, how to present clearly the material you have gathered, and the use of careful references to show where the material has come from. A report is generally a presentation of research in a stylised format. In this instance you will undertake independent research on one of the topics provided in the Course Materials folder on the Learning@Griffith unit website. Instructions: This Research Report will answer one of the research questions provided in the Topic List folder. The format and style are detailed in Weeks 9-12 of the Study Guide/Workbook. The content will be yours to create based on your chosen approach to the research question in your chosen area (see below). A minimum of 8 appropriate references is required to a Pass level in this research assignment. Of these eight sources, only one can be an internet source that is not a government or other authoritative source. You should ensure you have consulted and can cite all the articles provided in the Course Materials folder to develop your understanding of the research context. As these are supplied, these research articles do NOT count towards your minimum of eight sources of academic research required. Consult the detailed instructions in Weeks 9-12 of the Study Guide. The report should include an overview of the field or topic and must show evidence of independent research, chiefly, academic journal articles located via the databases and the university Library catalogue. Peer-reviewed sources must form the vast majority of the sources utilised to answer the question. The Report should be organised by, and clearly show, all the prescribed headings provided in the Study Guide/ Workbook. Ensure you consult the Criteria Sheet (below) and are clear on what criteria the assignment will be marked against. 1. Where do I find the research question I am to answer? The research topics and questions are located in the Course Materials folder under “Topic List”. Please note that these change every Study Period.   2. Can devise my own topic question for the Research Report and research that? No.   3. Why not? The topic questions have been carefully chosen in order to provide a level playing field for the markers to assess whether or not the student has achieved the learning objectives for the unit.   4. May I modify the question to focus on a particular area I am interested in? There is very limited scope to modify questions but some focusing of the question is possible. You may not broaden or expand the question as it is common for students to lose marks for unfocused and overly long research papers. You may only modify the topic question after significant consultation with your tutors and receiving their explicit approval. This may only be done via asking questions in the appropriate assessment questions forum on your Discussion Board. Provide your rationale for the modification in a polite, carefully worded Discussion Board query with a clear subject line indicating the nature of your query. Question modification must not be attempted after the end of Week 11 as there is not enough time for you satisfactorily complete the research and writing up after this time. Do not ask tutors if you can modify the question after the Friday of Week 11. Questions modified without consultation will result in a paper that cannot achieve above a Pass grade and may be returned to the student for re-writing.   5. With the topic I have chosen, there seems to be some room for me to exercise individual choice with regard to how I pursue the research question. Should I consult with my tutors to make sure my focus is acceptable? It’s up to you. If you are following one of the directions as suggested in the Topic List folder to narrow and focus your question, it should be fine. But if you are concerned you may be mis-interpreting the question, it may be worthwhile taking a moment to compose a post to your tutors on the Discussion Board explaining what you plan to do and asking if you have interpreted the question correctly. Some students like to do this to get some feedback on the direction they have chosen and preliminary research findings, while others will prefer to work independently. If you prefer to have less freedom to interpret the question, choose another research question – we have deliberately provided you with a range of topics and question choices so that you can choose the one that appeals most to you!   6. Do I need to use the subheadings? Yes, showing you can utilise the stipulated subheadings is essential to passing the Research Report.   7. What are the subheadings I need to use for the Research Report? These are listed in your Study Guide – make sure you read the full instructions in Week 10 BEFORE embarking on your Report!

  • Contents page
  • Executive Summary
  • Research Question
  • Research (including methodology)
  • Literature Review
  • Findings
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Reference List
  8. Do I need a title page? No, but you should put your Contents Page on a separate page for ease of reading.   9. I read somewhere that the page numbers go on the left and the headings go on the right of the contents page..? ! Don’t do this. Headings on the left, and p. numbers on the right is the standard for most official documents. Have a look at some of the Reports you locate in the research process to confirm this.   10. Should I number the subheadings? No, don’t number them.   11. Can I use sub-subheadings to divide up longer sections and group key themes together e.g. the themes of the research literature surveyed in the Literature Review?  Yes, this is a common practice. Academics usually use italics for sub-subheadings. Don’t divide further (sub-sub-subheadings) as it gets too confusing and isn’t necessary for a first-year assignment.   12. Do I need a hypothesis? No. Do not use a hypothesis. Use a research question. Search the online Study Guide for “hypothesis” for the longer explanation of why we do not use a hypothesis in this assignment.   13. Can I use my own experience as research material or to inform my discussion of the topic? No. This should be a neutral academic research paper. Drawing on your own experience will interfere with your capacity to demonstrate the extent of the academic research, synthesis and analysis skills you are being graded on. See Study Guide for more detail especially discussions in Weeks 3 and 4.   14. Can I write in first person e.g. I, me, our, we? No. This assignment must be in third person and demonstrate that you are striving to achieve a high standard of academic expression. Words like “I” “you” “our” are ONLY used in 1st person, which is not appropriate in most academic contexts. See the Glossary at the back of the Study Guide for a detailed breakdown of “first person” and “third person”.   15. I know we are not supposed to do primary research but I really want to survey/interview/do focus groups to answer my research question – can I? No – this assignment is about demonstrating that you have developed skills in secondary research (i.e. library catalogue, academic journals, databases, etc).   16. What’s the minimum number of references I need? 8 is the minimum required for a Pass grade on the Research Report. Fewer than 8 sources indicate that the assignment does not meet the criteria for that assessment item and the assignment will result in a Fail grade. Remember: Developing strong research skills is at the heart of the learning objectives for this unit so it is essential you use the Report to demonstrate these. If you don’t show that you can locate and selectively quote from key academic research to respond to a research question then you have NOT met the learning objectives of the unit.   17. What’s “peer-reviewed” literature and why do I need to show it? Peer-reviewed literature needs to be the basis of your Research Report. This is explained in the Glossary at the back of your Study Guide and covered in Weeks 3, 4 and 5 in the Study Guide. It is highly recommended you refresh your knowledge of this extremely important concept before embarking on the Research Report. Read all Announcements relating to searching for peer-reviewed research carefully and ensure you can demonstrate your capacity to locate and utilise peer-reviewed academic research in your Research Report. Don’t use regular Google or material from popular sources (TV news, online magazines, etc) – use Google Scholar to identify and then the Library catalogue to locate research materials from academic journals and leading authors. Your skills with handling peer-reviewed literature are central to achieving a good result with your Research Report.   18. I have located a peer-reviewed source via the library catalogue – but how do I know if it is considered ‘authoritative’? If an article/text has been peer-reviewed then it is an authoritative source. This includes academic journals and the vast majority of texts found in the Griffith library. What we would like you to be very wary of are internet sites like blogs (government and similar authoritative sites are fine) and newspapers and the popular media in general.   19. If 8 is the minimum we need for a Pass, what is the maximum? (Given that the maximum for the Critical Analysis was 2 sources). Would we be marked down for too much? How much is too much? How do I know when to stop? Usually, over-researching is not a huge problem in this assignment. Remember that you can ONLY include those items in your Reference List that you have quoted/cited or paraphrased in the body of your Report text – there will be a natural limit to the amount you can physically “squeeze in” when synthesising your research sources to answer the question! High-level academic texts tend to quote a range of sources per paragraph and it is not unusual to read an academic text with 4 or more references per paragraph. So the issue should be less about aiming for a specific number, than showing an intelligent and thoughtful use of key scholarly research to effectively answer the research question. Remember the ‘iceberg’ rule of research: in general there is a lot more that is “hidden from view” than we see in the finished product. In other words, you won’t necessarily use or quote from every single research source you locate – you will need to make a judicious selection from the bigger pool of sources to develop your response to the question in the Research Report. An academic writing a major research publication of 6000 or 8000 words may quote from 60 or 80 sources – but you can bet that their ‘research file’ for that topic was at least twice as big, and some hard decisions had to be made about what was ‘in’ and what was ‘out!’. All that ‘other’ research isn’t hidden from view: it forms part of the disciplinary skill you are building as an additional benefit of doing this unit and helps you strengthen and extend your core research and analytical skills.   20. I have a specific question about an aspect of one of the topic areas we are choosing from for the Research Report. Who can I ask about this? Put your question on your Discussion Board in the forum for discussion of the Research Report and one of your tutors will do their best to help you. Each of the tutors has a different disciplinary specialty and all have expertise across a range of academic contexts so we welcome your topic area questions as an opportunity for discussion and clarification.   22. In the Research (including Methodology), do I need to be specific about which databases I collected journal articles from, and not just write that I used the Griffith Library Catalogue, although I have written that this was my starting place along with Google Scholar? What about the DOI number for journal articles? This is addressed in your Study Guide in Week 10: A statement of how the material has been obtained – what research was undertaken? How – what method was utilised? Which search terms were used in the Library catalogue and Google Scholar? Which databases were explored? Use third person not first person and do not mention the lack of primary research (reminder: No primary research undertaken in this unit).    23. Do I need to mention the articles I found by name in the Research (including Methodology) section, or key authors? No, you do not. That material goes in later sections (Literature Review and perhaps Findings depending on your topic question). This Research section is just asking you to describe your research methodology – the markers want to see what processes you used to arrive at your research (and thus to answer the question). By describing your research methodology here, they can see if there’s anything else you still need help with after you’ve finished the process of completing the major research task, the Research Report. By describing exactly where and how you went looking for academic research the marker can ‘zoom in’ on how you have developed research skills in the course of your studies in the unit.   24. So how am I supposed to write the Methodology section if I don’t use “I” or “My”? I know we are not to write in third person. <Reword! “The research” “This research” “To conduct this research….” are some suggestions for how to commence your sentences.   25. If I summarise an article in the Literature Review, do I still need to cite (Author date, page) or will just (Author date) suffice if I am not referencing a singular concept but the overall ‘vibe’ or argument of the article? In the Harvard system we learn in this unit, you need to anchor every in-text reference with a page number. See the Referencing Guide for more on this.   26. What’s the difference between the Literature Review and the Findings section? Aren’t they the same? They are not the same though they may share some research sources. The Literature Review is your extensive and conscientious overview of the research literature pertinent to your topic. We are looking for a broad discussion showing you can overview the themes you have found in this research literature. You will need to provide a few key references to leading authors for each area you identify in the literature. Use the Literature Review to show that you can locate and utilise a range of peer-reviewed sources that help to build an effective picture of the context for your research question. Be succinct and summarise effectively when you are organising your materials for the Literature Review. See the example articles provided in Other Resources for how other authors have addressed the summary of key literature in their field (*but remember not to copy their referencing unless you are 100% positive it is in the Harvard form showing in-text author name date and p. no that is required in this unit!). The Findings section, on the other hand, is more specific and targeted towards the specific material that assists in the answering of your question. In the findings there is no need to include every single bit of research you have located – just that which is relevant to the topic question. Brief discussion here – it’s a shorter section. The information you quote and reference in the Findings section should be clearly and explicitly linked to the research question. You can use the Findings section to draw out key themes you first identified in the Literature Review. F or example, what did the research literature show with regard to your question? What is the evidence to support the themes and/or major issues drawn from your research? Where did those authors obtain their information/data from and how may this data help to answer the question? Hint: You may well find that you can combine particular findings from a number of different sources to develop an answer to your research question; for example, Source A might provide you with (X) piece of key information, while Source B might provide you with another key finding (another “piece of the puzzle” if you like”. The bringing-together of these findings in your Findings section is called “synthesis” and is what enables you to answer the question.   27. So in my Literature Review, do I have to mention every single item that will appear in my Reference List? It’s a good idea to mention all the really key authors at least once in the Literature Review so that this section is as comprehensive as it can be. However if you think there is a source that you will use later in the Report but don’t think needs to be referenced in the Literature Review, you could put the details of that specific case (and your rationale for not mentioning it in your review of the research context) in a post to your Discussion Board so that your tutors and peers can provide you with their thoughts on it.   28. What if I can’t find much research on my particular topic? What if I can’t find enough research to answer the question? 2 options here: 1) Keep varying your search terms and 2) Change topics. When you vary your terms, think laterally! You may even find it helpful to use a thesaurus to come up with alternative ways of “saying the same thing”. Scour the publications we provide in the Topic List and especially their reference list for research suggestions – try to track these down (this is called “bibliography harvesting” and is a well-known academic technique that can be very effective). When you look at articles in academic journals, see what range of “key terms” or “key words” they sometimes provide and research those. Remember to search within important journals in the key field/s or discipline/s of your research topic. You may like to politely ask your peers and tutors on the Discussion Board if they could suggest some other search terms you could try – make sure you share what search terms you have been using, the databases you have tried, the journals you have been looking within and the Subject Guides you have been exploring. Remember to look at the Library Resources page: http://www.griffith.edu.au/library/library-resources 99 times out of 100, the problem is not that there’s a lack of research; it’s that you need to keep trying different search terms to find the material you need on a specific subject!   29. What if I can’t answer the question that has been set with the research I find? You should do your very best to answer the question as this is a key aspect of the Criteria for this assignment. If at first you cannot answer the question, then you probably need to conduct more research since all the topics are heavily researched areas with a lot of scholarly research published about their various aspects. See above on varying your search terms.   30. Do we have to answer the questions for the discussion in the order that they are in the Study Guide? There’s no need to answer these questions as they appear – think of them more as a ‘guide’ to help you with what content to include in this section.]]>

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