Assessment 3 Description:
For this assessment, source a journal article of your choice on recent research about a current social issue (a social problem – examples include: crime, domestic violence, bullying, alcoholism and violence, racism, poor educational performance among some groups of people in Australia). The study should have been conducted within the last 5 years. The assessment asks you to critique the paper by discussing the component parts.
In answering this assessment, students should first briefly describe the paper, including:
1. the stated rationale and background for the study – why was the study conducted? What was the social problem the researchers were trying to understand or solve?
2. the aims and objectives of the study – did the study identify any aims and objectives? If so, you will need to comment on whether they achieved their aims or not. If they did not achieve their aims, why do you think this happened?
If the study did not identify any aims or objectives, comment on this. Was this a strength or a weakness in the study to not identify specific aims and objectives?
2. an overview of the research methods used, including the techniques for sampling, data collection and data analysis. - Don’t get bogged down by small technical details. You really need to demonstrate knowledge of overall methodology. For example, did the researchers use quantitative methods? Qualitative methods? If they used quantitative methods, what kind of methods were they? Surveys? Close-ended questionnaires? If they used qualitative methods, what kind of methods were they? Focus groups? Unstructured questionnaires? You should explain the main method used.
You should also explain the sampling process used – theoretical sampling? Random sampling? Sample size?
How was the data analysed – using quantitative tests or coding and categorization?
Then, after the above description of the paper, conduct a critical assessment of the methods used. This should include a critical discussion of the following areas:
1. the overall research design – was the chosen method (quantitative or qualitative) the best design for this study? Would there have been more valid and reliable results if researchers had used a different methodology or even combined methods? Why? Explain critically.
3. the sampling process -Was the sample large enough? Was the sample too small? Were the right groups of people sampled? Did they exclude an important group of individuals?
4. the data collection methods - Was it a quantitative or qualitative study? Did they use interviews, questionnaires, focus groups? Do you think a close-ended quantitative approach was the best approach for this kind of study? Or do you think a qualitative open-ended approach was better?
5. the way the data was analysed - Was data analysed using quantitative measures like SPSS or was it analysed using qualitative coding procedures? Was the method of data analysis appropriate? For example, if the study was a mixed-method approach, did the researchers only analyse the qualitative part of the data while forgetting about the quantitative part of the data? You will be surprised that many researchers do that because quantitative data is difficult to analyse. So critically comment on errors like this.
6. the approach to interpretation of results – was the interpretation of the results biased or limited in any way?
7. ethical issues – did the authors deal ethically with their participants? Were issues like confidentiality, privacy, informed consent etc etc addressed?
In your assessment, discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the methodological approach showing what could have been done differently and why. Issues of validity and reliability should also be mentioned. What measures did the researchers take to increase the validity and reliability of the study?
Overall, you are assessing the methods used in the study. While the above explanation may seem like a lot to get done in a short paper, remember that you should write concisely and effectively. Deal with each issue and move on – do not drag out the discussion. Most essays have too much unnecessary information that can be easily removed. So be strategic by addressing each of the above points in a concise and effective way. One of the ways you can do this is by structuring your paper with sub-headings exactly as laid out above. That way, you will cover each part of the topic. One paragraph in each section would suffice for explaining that issue. Remember to use research to support your discussions throughout.
Where is the best place to find research on a social issue?
- The library databases (check THINK databases for current research on your chosen topic)
- Google Scholar
- Or simply doing an online search for a journal article on your chosen topic within the last 5 years.
Note – the choice of article should be a journal article which discusses field research conducted on your topic. DO NOT discuss government reports which run into hundreds of pages, and tells very little about the methodology.
Journal articles are brief and fully explain aims, objectives and methodology used. They even explain ‘limitations’ – which will help you in the critical discussion of the methods.
If you are unable to find a suitable journal article, I am including a journal article which you are free to use for your assessment.
As your papers are due towards the end of the semester, I will not be able to give informal extensions for assessment 3. This is because I need to get all the marks in before the Exams Board deadline.
So, please do your best to get your papers in by the due date so that your own marks will not be delayed until next semester.
If you feel your situation is extreme (death in a family, serious hospitalization etc), then please complete the application form for an extension and submit it with all the required paperwork. Send the application to me and I will forward it to the Program Director for consideration. This has to be done at least 1 week before the due date – not after the due date. There will be no approval of requests for extensions after the due date has passed.
- All essays should be written in Times New Roman, font size 12.
- All papers should be double-spaced.
- Reference lists should be written on a new page – not on the same page the essay ends. - Any graphs, tables or diagrams should be placed in an appendix after the reference list.
- Do not use personal language in academic papers.
PLEASE ENSURE THAT YOU EXPLAIN IDEAS IN YOUR OWN WORDS, WHILE CREDITING YOUR SOURCES TO AVOID PLAGIARISM.