Module Narrative

Module Title: Research Methods
Module Code: THE503
Level: 5
Credit Points: 20 Credits
Compulsory or Optional: Compulsory
Pre-requisites/co-requisites: None
Excluded combinations or modules: None
Mode of attendance: Mixed

This module provides the student with an understanding of research principles, a range of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies useful for academic and professional investigations of information practices, texts and technologies. It aims to examine applications, strengths, and major criticisms of methodologies drawn from both the qualitative and quantitative traditions. This module permits an understanding of various decisions and steps involved in crafting a research methodology, as well as a critical informed assessment of published research. This module prepares students for dissertation.

Learning Outcomes
On completion of this module, the successful student will be able to:

1. evaluate quantitative and qualitative research methods and approaches that are used within the field of information systems;
2. demonstrate competence in critical thinking and exhibit competence in critiquing the research methods sections of research articles published in some of the leading academic journals;
3. write and present a research proposal and develop an appreciation of the challenges of writing qualitative research work for a thesis, conference paper and journal article.
This module will call for the successful student to demonstrate:
4. critical thinking skills, analysis and critical evaluation of published examples of qualitative research in academic journals and research works.

The module will explore an overview of the different approaches, considerations and challenges involved in social research. In addition to reviewing the core human research methods such as interviews, ethnographies, surveys and experiments, the module will explore methods utilised in critical analysis of texts and technologies (discourse/contents/design analysis, historical, case studies, etc.), with an emphasis on the digital. The module will also explore mixed method approaches, case studies, participatory and user-centred research.

Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy

This course will be taught through the art of facilitation aimed at drawing out insights from students in response to stimulating readings, lectures and videos.

Class time will be used for a combination of lectures, discussions of qualitative research articles and practical exercises. In additional to attending classes, students should be prepared to spend about another six hours per week on activities related to this course. These activities include reading the required and recommended articles of relevance to this course and preparing for assignments and preparation of an approved research proposal:

1. Evaluation of a Research Paper
Purpose: To critically evaluate research papers and dissertations
Students will be expected to use Rose’s ABCDE model to evaluate a research paper. This is to expose students to how they can become self critical when they write their own dissertations.

2. Academic Library Visit
Purpose: To prepare students for completing the research proposal
Students will visit an academic library to compile provisional reading lists for their dissertation topics. The tutor will determine the number of journal articles and books that each student is expected to compile.

3. SPSS Workshop
Purpose: To equip students with analytical skills for quantitative research design
Each student is expected to attend this workshop. The skills gained will be needed to complete the mini dissertation.

4. Thematic Analysis Workshop
Purpose: To equip students doing qualitative research design with an analytical framework.
Each student is expected to attend this workshop. The skills gained will be needed to complete the mini dissertation.

5. Completion of a mini dissertation
Purpose: To expose students to qualitative and quantitative research designs
Students will be given a research question for the mini dissertation. The tutor will divide the class into two groups and each group will use the other group as their population for surveys and questionnaires.

Assessment Scheme

• Evaluation of a published piece of research (1000 words) (formative assessment).
• Survey and analysis using SPSS (formative assessment)

• Students will visit an academic library to compile provisional reading lists for their dissertation topics. Written report as to why each book or journal article is important for their research. (1000 words) (summative assessment)
• Research proposal (2000 words) towards the final dissertation in year 3 (summative assessment)

Assessment Weighting

Report on books and journal articles 40%
Research Proposal 60%

Wisker, G. (2009) The Undergraduate Research Handbook. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
Bryman, A (2012) Social Research Methods. 4th ED, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Gillbert N. (ed) (2008) Researching Social Life. London: Sage
Robson, C. (2007). How to do a Research Project: A guide for undergraduate students. Oxford: Blackwells
Swinton, J and Mowatt, H. (2006) Practical Theology and Qualitative Research. London: SCM Press. (2nd Edition due 2016)
Walliman, N. (2000) Your Research Project: A Step-by-step Guide for the First-time Researcher.London: Sage
Becker, H.S. (1986) Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing & Publishing). Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Bell, J. (1999) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-Time Researchers in Education and Social Science. 3rd ed. Milton Keynes: Open University Press
Cottrell, S. (2014) Dissertations and Project Reports: A step by step guide. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Dunleavy, P. (1986) Studying for a Degree in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Basingstoke: Macmillan
Hammond, M. and Wellington, J. (2013) Research Methods: Key Concepts. London: Routledge
Hart, C. (1998) Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. London: Sage Publications
Walliman, N. (2000) Your Research Project: A Step-by-step Guide for the First-time Researcher. London: Sage.
Watson, G. (1987) Writing a Thesis: A Guide to Long Essays and Dissertations. London: Longman

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