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Research Methods

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Guidelines for Assessment Task 3: Proposed research design

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The meat of a research proposal is the methods section. You have been preparing for the entire unit to assemble a rigorous, well-justified, feasible, and ethical research design for your proposed study. This proposal ought to resemble the methods section of most scholarly articles in your topic area.

Your task for the third assessment is to (1) write up a thorough and well-justified methods section for your proposed project; (2) discuss how the proposed study is feasible and ethical; and (3) reflect on the strengths and limitations of your proposed study using concepts covered in the course.

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These three elements of your assessment task map directly onto the marking rubrics (shown on pp. 4-6 of this document, pp. 16-18 of the unit outline). Criteria 1 and 2 refer to your methods section. Criteria 3 refers to your discussion of feasibility and ethics. Criteria 4 refers to your reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of your research design, drawing on unit’s readings and online content to make your arguments.

Recommended structure:

  • Start with a brief (re-)statement of the topic and research question (one paragraph).
  • Use the first majorsection to cover all relevant elements of the research methods. Be sure to both describe and justify your choices. Use headings for the following subsections:
    • Research design section: describe whether you have chosen to conduct a quant or qual study, as well as the specific type of quant or qual study (e.g. field survey, quasi-experiment, participant observation, semi-structured interviews).
    • Research setting section: describe the setting in which the study will be conducted.
    • Participants section: summarize and justify the intended sample, sampling strategy, inclusion/exclusion criteria to be used. If planning to use secondary data, consult with your lecturer for slightly revised guidelines.
    • Procedure section: summarize and justify how you will collect data, including but not limited to securing organizational access, recruiting participants, maximizing response rates, and collecting data (when, how often, from whom, which variables). If planning to use secondary data, consult with your lecturer for slightly revised guidelines.
    • Materials section
      • If quant, list the psychometrically validated measures to be used (if opting to construct your own measure, please consult your lecturer for revised guidelines) and any evidence that the measure is valid.
      • If qual, outline the interview schedule you plan to use (questions, probes) with supporting justification.
      • If using secondary data, describe in detail the indices to be used and any evidence for their validity.
      • Note: Remember that the term ‘valid’ has a precise meaning in research. If you are unsure, consult your lecturer.
    • Analysis section – very briefly describe how you would know if your hypothesis were supported (quant, secondary data), or how you would distil answers to your research question from the qualitative data to be collected (qual)
  • The second section (2-3 paragraphs) covers feasibility and ethics. Briefly summarize in one paragraph each the practical feasibility and ethical considerations in your study. For the paragraph on ethical considerations, you are expected to: (1) identify possible harms to participants from participating in the study; and (2) explain precisely how you mitigate that harm in your research design.In a separate short paragraph, you may also briefly discuss the implications of your proposed study for practice. Explain exactly how the knowledge generated in your study can be used in the workplace.
  • Use the third section (2-4 paragraphs) to summarize both the strengths and limitations of your proposed study,

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