Critical Analytical Skills
2000 word research project (50%)
Important: Please read the instructions below carefully (and return to them before you submit this piece of assessment) as you will be penalised for not following these instructions.
Due: 9am Tuesday 11th of June, submitted electronically with no coversheet, but your name and student number on the title page, and student number in the header of each subsequent page next to page number.
Weighting: 50% of final mark
Length: 2,000 words (+/-10%) inclusive of in-text quotes and in-text references but not footnotes nor the bibliography/reference list
The research project: Each year the Australian Research Council (ARC) issues grants to academics based on submitted proposals. For this research project you will be required to imagine you are an academic and write a mock research proposal/grant application to the ARC. The proposal will be based around a question/topic that you develop – for example, your question/topic may be something like, how do young people perceive the current Australian government? What are the meanings older people attribute to retirement? How is social media used by Indigenous students in Australia?
Most significantly, you need to explain how you would explore this question/topic using the qualitative methods covered in this subject. You will need at least one data collection method and one data analysis method.
Your research project must be structured as follows:
1. Introduction: Short introduction explaining what your research question/topic is (expressed succinctly, ideally as a question or aim) and a brief overview of the methods you propose using to examine this question/aim. You might also briefly say something here about how the proposal fits in with the existing literature (as you will outline in more detail in part 2) and the value your proposed research has to society (as you will outline in more detail in section 4). (approx. 200 words) (10% of grade).
2. The existing literature: Describe the existing literature on this question/topic or related literature (based on our own research) and how your proposed study fits in/builds on this. You should also mention (if possible) what methods are used in the research you cite and then explain, in this section or section 3, how the methods you propose to use are answering this question/aim in a more satisfactory or innovative way than before. (approx. 400 words) (20% of the grade)
3. Method: Explain the methods that you propose to use to answer your question/topic. You must only propose to use methods covered in weeks 3-7 & 9 of this subject. You should not use mixed-methods (integration of qualitative & quantitative methods), but you can use multi-methods (more than one qualitative data collection or analysis method). So, for example, you may say you are going to explore question X by using interviews or participant observation to collect data and discourse analysis to analyze that data. In this section you may discuss but should not limit yourself to: - Explain how using these methods will help you answer the question/aim. - The virtues (or otherwise) of the methods you propose using (i.e., try and ‘sell’ the methods you propose to use but also try to counter any possible criticisms in the fictional ARC assessor’s mind). - How will you conduct the research? For example, how will you conduct your focus group (how will you recruit participants? When and where will the focus groups be done? How will you prevent biases?) - How will you deal with ethical dimensions to your research proposal? - What alternative methods could have been used that would be consistent with the research question/topic and explain why you are not using these? You must use only the methods covered in this subject. (approx. 1000 words) (50% of grade)
4. The question’s/aim’s significance: Explain the importance of your proposal in terms of practical and/or normative implications. For example, will it contribute to a pressing policy problem? Will it help address some sort of puzzle in the literature? Will it make some contribution to social science or your discipline (in Australia and/or internationally)? Will it form the basis for further or a much bigger study? (approx. 200 words) (10% of grade)
5. Conclusion: Briefly summarise your proposed project (the question/aim, method and importance) including a succinct summary of why you should be awarded a grant by the ARC. (approx. 200 words) (10% of grade)
- Please address your queries to your tutor as they will be marking your work. Often it’s easier to address your questions to your tutor in class or in their office hours. I will also give you time to ask questions in the lecture so it may be helpful for you to attend these in the weeks leading up to when the research project is due.
- This assessment is different from a standard research essay. You will be marked on the strength of your proposal. Built into the overall marking will be the quality/originality of your proposal and comprehension of the material covered in the course.
- Reference as you would in a standard research essay. There is no such thing as an ‘ideal’ number of references, but I would suggest something in the range of 10-15 references.
- This is only a proposal so you don’t need to come up with expected outcomes. You just need to have an appropriate (and hopefully compelling) question/aim that uses appropriate methods that we have covered in this course.
- The ARC grants significant amounts of money for research projects. We are not asking you to state the amount of money you are ‘applying’ for but you need to write it as if you are applying for money (i.e., you need to be convincing in why your proposal should be awarded over others). You can imagine the money you apply for is unlimited.
- Accordingly, don’t be afraid to be ambitious. You don’t have to confine your proposed research to Australia. You might say you are going to conduct interviews or run focus groups in Australia and Angola. However, keep in mind that being more ambitious means you have to better explain how you will conduct the research and anticipate any problems you will encounter as well as a justification of why you are doing this research overseas.
- Despite the ARC tendency towards funding research that has relevance to Australia you are welcome to use a non-Australian topic but this may make Section 4 slightly more difficult to argue. Page 21 of 27 - Avoid getting into the qualitative versus quantitative debate that we covered in the first 2 weeks of the course. You will be marked based on your understanding of what we are calling qualitative methods and are not expected to engage in debates in regard to quantitative methods. You can, but tread carefully if you do.
- You need to stick to the word limit of 2000 words (+/- 10%) inclusive of in-text quotes and in-text references but not footnotes nor the bibliography/reference list. You will be penalised for not doing so. The word limit is inclusive of all in-text quotes.
- The word limits for each of the sections are approximate word limits only. If you feel that your research project would be better if you shortened one section and lengthened another that is fine, but you must stick more or less to the structure/word limits as outlined. You will be marked according to these, although tutors will use some discretion here.
- If there is no literature on the topic/question you can say so and then draw on other relevant literature and say how your proposed research fits in/builds on this. You can also say, for example, research in the US has shown X, I will examine this in relation to Australia. If there is no literature at all (not even related literature) I would be inclined to change the topic/question.
- You are allowed to select a topic/question based on Sociology, Political Science, Criminology, Psychology or Economics research. If there are significant ethical dimensions to your proposal you will need to explain these and talk about how they will be addressed.
- You are allowed to use examples cited in the lectures and readings but will need to build an original component into this in terms of what you are going to add to this existing research.
- If your spelling and/or grammar and/or referencing are incorrect you will be penalised. Please proofread your research project (or, better still, have someone else do this). If you are uncertain about how to reference refer, to the School essay guide under ‘Assessment’ in LMS.