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ICT80011/40005 - Research Methods

Introduction to Research Methods (based on Unit Outline)

What is research & a researcher?
Role of student and supervisor

Module 01

Reading: Textbook Chapter 1

Extra reading: Phillips&Pugh Chapters 3, 4, 7, 8 and 11

Prepared by Prof. Yun Yang

Note: more or less interchangeable terms:

- research question, project problem/objective

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Unit objectives (and assessment)

Students who successfully complete this unit of study will be able to:

After successfully completing this unit, you should be able to:

identify the basic principles of academic research and the fundamental

concepts of research methodology

present research/project ideas

- Note: assignment 1

interpret and critically evaluate previously published work in a formal

literature review

- Note: (examination: final assessment)

describe the characteristic features of common research methods and

debate their relative merits

identify a research question (or project problem/objective) and justify

the selection of an appropriate and ethically managed research

Research/project proposals
Research/project reports and/or papers

conduct research (or project)

- Note: assignment 2: MCQ for basic concepts

produce a written research/project proposal/report/paper and

effectively present information in an oral presentation

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Unit content

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Key generic skills for this unit of study

Defining research

Specifying roles of student and supervisor

You will be provided with feedback on your progress in attaining

the following generic skills:

Developing a research/project question/problem/objective



Presentation techniques

solving skills,

Reviewing the literature


Planning research/project design




Writing a research/project proposal


Critical thinking

Qualitative and quantitative research methodologies

Writing a research paper and a technical report with corresponding writing skills

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Swinburne University of Technology


to tackle unfamiliar problems, and

to work independently

What should you be prepared? a quiz in classroom

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What isnt research?

What is research?

Research is not mere information gathering (e.g.

information discovery)

Originates with a question or problem

Requires a clear articulation of a goal

Research is not mere transformation of facts from one

location to another (e.g., fact discovery)

Follows a specific plan of procedure

Usually divides the principal problem into more manageable


Is guided by the specific research problem, question or


Accepts certain critical assumptions

Requires the collection and interpretation of data in an attempt to

resolve the problem that initiated research

Research is not merely rummaging for information (e.g.

information checking)
Research is not a catchword used to get attention

Have you got any (research) ideas?

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Research process

Researcher (Phillips & Pugh, 2002)

Someone who has:

something interesting to say that peers want to hear

knowledge of their area sufficient to evaluate the worth of other work in

that area

ability to discover where they can make a contribution

awareness and conformity to ethical principles

mastery of appropriate techniques and awareness of their limitations

ability to communicate results in professional arena

awareness of international arena

Swinburnes definition of an active researcher

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Student perspective
Why are you doing research?

Supervisor perspective
Why do supervisors take a research student?

Make a contribution to your chosen field

Contribution to building or maintaining a research profile

Satisfaction of doing research for its own sake

Enhance career opportunities

Satisfaction of watching a student gain the skills and

confidence to become an independent researcher

Cant think of anything else to do!

The opportunity to discuss problems and teach in their

area of specialisation

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Swinburne University of Technology

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Supervision styles

The student as an autonomous researcher (coming of

age model)
Student is expected to develop their own research topic and

work as individuals

The student as an apprentice

How not to submit a thesis (1)

Not wanting to do the hard work

Not understanding what is required

More about determination than brilliance

Overestimating: Your work should show some originality, but

you dont have to win a Noble prize or precipitate a paradigm


Student works on problems related to supervisors area of

interest, but have freedom to explore

Underestimating: Research work not just a description of a

topic requires analysis and explanation of a research

question - a thesis is not a text book

Student expected to follow a protocol set out by the supervisor

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How not to submit a thesis (2)

Having a supervisor who is not clear about


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Managing your supervisor (1)


Expects too little

Submission of written work that is not just a first draft (i.e.,

Expects too much

Losing contact with your supervisor

Taking on too much outside work

What supervisors expect:

avoid typos, incomplete sentences etc.)

Regular meetings
Agree on frequency of meetings
Set up a timetable if possible
Be well prepared and make it easy for your supervisor to be

prepared (timing, giving text in advance, setting a topic for


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Managing your supervisor (2)

Honesty in reporting progress

Let your supervisor know if you are having problems (e.g., if

you are blocked, lost confidence or are having personal


Follow their advice when you ask them for it

Enthusiasm (be excited about what you are doing),

surprise your supervisor with new evidence and

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Swinburne University of Technology

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Managing your supervisor (3)

Joint supervision (1)

Increase range of expertise
Three-way meetings are important, but you may feel

Diffusion of responsibility
Conflicting advice
Playing one supervisor off against another
Lack of an overall view

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Managing your supervisor (4)

What you expect from your supervisor (1)

Joint supervision (2)

Make sure all three of you meet early to discuss how the

project will develop

Regular meetings
Minor frequent meetings

Send each supervisor a copy of what you are writing but

make it clear whether it is for your information only or for

Keep each informed of what you are doing

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Less frequent formal meetings

Read your work well in advance

Written comments and overall evaluation

Be available when you need them

Be friendly, open and supportive

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What you expect from your supervisor (2)


The process (for research degree)


Harsh criticism is not appropriate


Praise is important

Constructive criticism

Increasing interest in work developing self confidence

Good knowledge of research area

Gaining independence from supervisor

Encourage discussion in meetings


Point you in the direction of interesting or relevant



A job

Take an interest in furthering your career (i.e., introduce

and recommend you to other researches)

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Getting in first

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Discussion items

Chapter 1 of the textbook states: "Research is, by its

nature, cyclic or, more exactly, helical." Explain why
cyclical is an appropriate description of the
research process. Then explain why helical is a
better description.

Describe an example of the word research being

used inappropriately. Be clear about how your
example deviates from the definition of research
offered in the chapter.

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Swinburne University of Technology