Programme Title: Honours Bachelor of Arts in Professional Social Care (Disability)
Year Stage: Award
Academic Year: 2020/21
Module Title: Applied Research Methods
Learner Group Code: L8MBACDS21OC
You are required to complete the following assessment for this module:
1. Research Proposal (20%)
2. Presentation on Your Proposal/Progress (10%)
3. Research Project (70%)
Please refer to the rubric for details on how the assessment is marked.
Please ensure to read the Assessment Submission section of this document which details the submission requirements for this module. The Assessment Checklist is at the end of this document.
You can email your tutor at any point during your studies if you have any questions or queries. Your tutor will reply within 48 hours on week days. The tutorial date for this module will be posted in the News Forum on My Learning Centre. It is strongly encouraged that you use your tutorial support as you are working through your module. Your tutor’s email address is available in the News Forum.
The e-learning department will provide you with any technical support that you require throughout this module. You can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that the E-learning Department will provide you with support around the technical elements of your study such as library access, using Google Drive and Google Docs, uploading assignments and accessing resources on MyOTC Learning Centre. Any questions relating to the content of your module and assignment or the academic side of your study needs to be directed to your tutor.
Part of assessment Date of submission How to submit
Part 1: Research
9 November 2020 1. Through Google Drive and shared with email@example.com
2. Upload to Turnitin.
Part 2: Presentation on your
20 January 2021 1. Presentation will be delivered before lunch on day 2 of the Current Issues workshop online. A presentation schedule will be posted on My Learning Centre prior to this date.
2. Email a copy of the presentation to firstname.lastname@example.org on or by 19 January 2021.
Part 3: The Project 28 June 2021
1. Through Google Drive and shared with email@example.com
2. Upload to Turnitin.
Please ensure that you follow the College’s assignment naming scheme:
Surname, First Name, Module, Learner Group Code.
This refers to the file name in the top left corner of the document, this is not the header.
You can find your Learner Group Code on top of the previous page (below the module title).
Your submission is complete when you have shared your completed assignment with firstname.lastname@example.org. Assignments not named correctly will not be accepted by the Assessment Department and you will be required to resubmit which may incur a late submission penalty (see Student Handbook for further detail on penalties).
Please also note that once you submit your assignment, no changes will be accepted after the submission date. Late submissions will require an approved extension or else they might incur a late submission penalty.
Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure that you name and submit your assignment correctly.
Part 1: Research proposal (20%)
Design and develop a research proposal on a disability related topic of your choice.
This proposed research must meet the following requirements:
? Be based on an idea related to the disability sector and be of benefit to the quality of life of people with disabilities (either directly or indirectly)
? Be achievable within the given timeframe
? Use one or more of the methods outlined in the module
? Be ethical in nature
? Follow the headings provided in the detailed proposal guidelines below.
The aim of a research proposal is to show that you have a worthwhile, ‘doable’ research project in mind and that you have the skills and knowledge to carry it out. A strong proposal demonstrates to the reader that you have clearly thought through the steps of the research process and have considered the practicalities of how you plan to conduct your project. Your proposal needs to clearly demonstrate:
? What you plan to research
? Why you want to do it and why it is important
? How you intend to carry it out
The assessor will look for the following factors when marking your proposal:
? Is the proposal well thought-out and considered?
? Is the proposed research realistic and ‘doable’ in the given timeframe?
? Is the planned research worth doing? What is its relevance to improving the quality of life of people with disabilities?
? Is it ethical and has the student sufficiently addressed the necessary ethical issues involved?
? Has the student considered the steps of the research process in sufficient detail?
? Is the selected methodology and proposed data analysis appropriate for the research topic/question?
While it is acceptable for you to build on a proposal that you developed for your undergraduate degree, you must not submit the same proposal here. You can use the same topic and draw on the literature that you have already researched but you must develop this in more depth for your honours proposal. It is your responsibility to check the Turnitin report for your proposal to ensure that you have not overlapped too significantly with previously submitted work. You should give yourself plenty of time before the submission date to upload your proposal into Turnitin and explore your report here.
Structuring your research proposal
Your research proposal should be structured under the following headings.
You will need to provide a clear, concise, interesting title for your proposed research. This will be the first piece of information that the reader will see on your project so you need to be sure to provide a title that is informative and succinct. Please note that the research process is very fluid. This title can change as you progress through the process.
This section sets the context for the proposed research. It provides background information on the topic or problem you are proposing to study. It introduces the research area and provides a clear sense of the purpose of the study. The introduction needs to establish the importance of the proposed research and its relevance to the wider field of disability. It needs to convince the reader that your research is worth doing and of value to people with disabilities. You can draw on your own personal and professional experience here if it is relevant to the context.
A strong introduction needs to:
? Set the scene for the proposal
? Introduce the topic being researched
? Locate this topic in a broader context to establish why it is important
? Outline why you selected the topic
? Logically lead into the specific research question/hypothesis
? Provide a clear roadmap to the document
This part of the proposal will clearly outline the specific question(s) or hypothesis that you intend to study. You will need to demonstrate here that you have carefully considered the aims and objectives of your project. If using qualitative research these questions may more general than if using a quantitative approach but they will still need to be carefully considered. Be very clear on the boundaries of your project here and what it proposes to achieve.
The Literature Review
This section will need to meet the requirements of the literature review (See, for example, the supporting reading, Unit 4 of Social Research Methods). For the purpose of this proposal, you will need to locate at least ten pieces of literature that is relevant to your topic. The literature you chose for your review must be credible and illustrate the main issues/debates that are present on the topic. Please note that you are not required to have your literature review completed for the research proposal. But you do need to show that you have considered this important step in detail and to suggest some broad subheadings/themes that are likely to be relevant to your literature review. Obviously, these may be added to or altered as you continue your reading. However, if you do have your literature review completed by this time you can send it in as part of your proposal and you will receive feedback on it.
Under this heading, you will need to outline how you propose to gather the data for your research. It should address the following areas:
? Provide a clear statement of the type of approach you plan to use – qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods or action research – the key features of the approach and why it is most appropriate for your proposed research.
? Sampling – how do you intend to select the people for your sample? What profile of a sample do you need? What technique will you use? Remember this technique must be appropriate for the research approach you have selected. You will need to briefly explain the technique and outline how you intend to locate your sample.
? Your data collection method – you will need to describe your selected method (in-depth interviewing, focus groups, structured interviewing or questionnaires) and outline why it is appropriate for your planned research.
? Provide a general overview of the types of questions/topics that you intend to cover in your data collection method here. This overview of the questions/topics can be provided in an appendix to the proposal, which will not be included in the word count.
Here you will provide specific detail on how you will collect the data and any instructions or procedures that you intend to follow to ensure the data is gathered in a reliable and valid way.
In this section of the proposal you will briefly outline how you will go about getting ethical approval from your organisation (if relevant to your topic) and the respondents/participants that will be involved in the research. You will need to discuss any relevant ethical issues and considerations that you feel are important to your proposed research project here.
Here you will briefly explore how you propose to analyse the data you collect. You will need to briefly tell the reader what the data will look like – transcripts of interviews, focus groups, coded answers from questionnaires or interview schedules. You will then need to explain how you plan to use and analysis this data to get results. This is a very brief section.
In this part of the proposal you will need to highlight and address any potential weaknesses or limitations of your proposal. You will need to consider why they are present and whether they are important for the particular purpose of your proposed research. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of the approach that you did not select to highlight the strengths, weaknesses and limitations of your own project.
Here you need to illustrate that your proposal is realistic and doable in the given timeframe. You need to consider issues such as travel, access, time to transcribe and analyse, etc. This can be presented as a table or chart and can be included in the appendices with a brief overview provided in the proposal.
This reference list will include the ten pieces (minimum) of literature that you referred to in the literature review, as well as any other relevant resources you have accessed and researched for this proposal. These resources could include: organisational policies and procedures, organisation’s annual report if relevant, the module, previous modules if relevant to your research topic, articles and references on research methodology directly related to your proposal, professional ethical guidelines and any other relevant literature. This section is simply presented as a reference list. No additional commentary is necessary here and this is not included in your word count. You must ensure that you use the Harvard style of referencing here.
Word count for the research proposal is 2000 – 2,500 words. (There is no 10% above/below the stated word-count allowance on this section).
It is strongly advised that you should not proceed to carrying out your data collection until you receive feedback from the College assessment team on your proposal.
Part 2: Presentation of your Proposal/Progress (10%)
An important part of the research process is sharing the information with the wider community and developing a community of practice. With this objective in mind, you will deliver a presentation of your proposal and the progress on your research to date at the Current Issues in Social Care workshop on Wednesday the 20 January 2021. This will be a ten-minute presentation, with a short Question and Answer session afterwards.
Please note you do not have to be at any particular point in your research by this date. The presentation will be based on your proposal and any progress you have made up to that point. As outlined above, you must email a copy of this presentation to email@example.com on or by the 19 January 2020.
Part 3: The Research Project (70%)
Word count – maximum 5,000 words
This project is based on your research proposal.
Develop and conduct a research project on a disability-related topic of your choice. This project must meet the following requirements:
? It must be relevant to the field of disability and in some – either directly or indirectly – be of benefit to the quality of life of people with disability.
? If you decide to conduct research with participants or respondents within your service you must follow the procedure for carrying out research outlined by your organisation and, where relevant, approach the ethics committee for approval before beginning your research.
? Your planned project must allow you to meet the minimum intended learning outcomes for this module (outlined on the Applied Research Methods site). ? Every stage of the research process must be ethical in nature.
? The design of your project must be consistent and logical – i.e. if you choose to use a quantitative approach, for example, your methodology and plan for data analysis must match this.
? The approach and methods you select to conduct your research must be appropriate to your research questions. You can choose to carry out quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods or action research here and then select whichever method(s) that you feel will best collect the data you need to answer your research question (questionnaires, structured interviews, indepth interviews, focus groups, observation, or a combination of methods). You will need to confirm your selected methods and the number of participants with your tutor before carrying out the data collection.
This project requires you to work through the stages of the research process to produce a completed research report (70% of marks) on the topic you have selected.
Please note: Before you approach any participants to take part in your research project it is important that you have a very good understanding of the research process. Many of the steps in the process – the literature review, refining your questions, developing your methodology, ethical considerations and the development of a consent form, deciding on your sampling technique and who to include in your sample – take place before you approach potential participants and begin data collection. Refer to the Introduction to the Research Methods module units provided as supported reading on My Learning Centre to re-familiarise yourself with the steps in the research process before you begin.
Your written assignment will need to include the following sections:
This section will briefly summarise your project in approximately 300 words (not included in the word count). You will need to outline what your project is about, what are its aims and objectives and how you intend to carry it out. You should state here whether you are using quantitative, qualitative or a mixed methods approach. The key here is to be as concise as possible. This section needs to provide the reader with a summary or overview of your project, including a brief reference to your key findings. It is best to write the abstract after you have completed the remainder of project.
You will need to provide a comprehensive introduction to your topic. You will need to define research here, briefly provide an introduction to the topic of research and your experience of this to date. You will then need to introduce your research topic and question under investigation (briefly as you will be covering this in more detail later) and provide a comprehensive roadmap to what will be covered in the research project report.
A literature review is a critical evaluation of what has been written on your chosen research topic. It draws on a selection of quality literature that explores the topic in detail and highlights theories or models that shape the topic and evaluates any issues, similarities and differences, strengths or weaknesses that exist in previous research. It is not simply a list of readings that you have conducted on the topic but rather it must logically show the path to your research question and establish the existing body of knowledge that is relevant to your research topic.
Please ensure that you read the learning materials in Section 4: The Role of Literature in the Research Process before commencing either the reading on your selected topic or the writing up of this section. Both the essential and the supportive readings in this section provide a very clear overview of how to conduct a literature review, its functions and purpose. They also provide information on how to structure and write up your literature review for your written report.
Refine and identify your research question(s)
You will need to outline your research topic here and clarify your exact research question(s) or hypothesis (if you decide to use this). You will need to outline the main themes that you want to explore in your research here and provide some brief context as to why this question(s) is important and requires this piece of research to be conducted. You should be very clear on the boundaries of your research project here and what it set out to achieve.
Under this heading, you will need to outline the approach and methodology that you use to conduct your research. This section is very important and should address the following areas:
? Provide a clear statement of the type of approach you have selected – qualitative, quantitative, mixed methods or action research. You need to briefly outline the key features of the approach and why it is most appropriate for your research project.
? Sampling – how did you select the people for your sample? What profile of a sample did you need? This section needs to address what method of sampling you selected. Please refer to the learning materials and video clips in Section 5 Selecting Participants: The Process of Sampling before you make any decisions about who you will conduct the research with. The supportive reading – Unit 5 of the Research Methods module – The Process of Sampling – is a very good starting point here.
Remember the technique you select to pick your participants must be appropriate for the research approach you have selected. You will need to briefly explain the technique and outline how you located your sample.
? Your data collection method – you will need to describe your selected method (in-depth interviewing, focus groups, structured interviewing, questionnaires, observation or a combination if using a mixed method approach) and outline why it is appropriate for your research. You should provide a copy of any questionnaire, interview or observation schedule used in the appendix. Be sure to describe your data collection method and instrument in detail (for example, how you went about structuring the questions, what prompts you intend to use, did you pilot it to ensure its reliability, etc). Section 6: Qualitative Research Methods & Analysis, Section 7: Quantitative Research Methods & Analysis and Section 8: Action Research (depending on what approach you are using) will provide you with the information you need to develop your methodology.
Please note that the number of participants that you will need to collect data from will differ depending on the methodology you are using. For example:
Focus groups – you will need to conduct one focus group (with between 4 and 6 people)
In-depth interviews – you will need to conduct a minimum three interviews
Questionnaires – a minimum ten questionnaires will need to be completed
Here you will need to demonstrate that you have carefully considered and applied the relevant ethical considerations involved in conducting your research. This section must illustrate a comprehensive understanding and application of the relevant ethical issues discussed in Section 3:
Ethical Considerations for the Social Researcher and refer to professional ethical guidelines.
You will need to keep the topic of ethics in mind from the very beginning of the research process and a sensitivity to ethics should be applied at every stage of your project – from selecting your research question to collecting data from participants and reporting your findings. The considerations of full, free, informed consent, anonymity, confidentiality, avoidance of harm, wider benefits of participation (but not limited to these) need to be addressed here in direct relation to your research project. You should develop a consent form to give to your participants/respondents and include a copy of this in your appendices. Details of what could be included here can be found in the learning materials in Section 3.
In this section of your research report you need to outline and discuss how you gathered the data using the methods above. You need to discuss the practicalities of your data collection here. How did you go about gathering the data? What arrangements did you have to make with the participants?
What researcher skills did you use here to be sure you put the participants at ease and collected the data in a valid and reliable manner? How did you record the data collection (if using in-depth interviews or focus groups, for example?) What practicalities did this involve?
This section will explore how you analysed the data. If using in-depth interviews or focus groups the first step in this process will be to transcribe the data. You will need to briefly tell the reader what the data looks like – transcripts of interviews or focus groups, coded answers from questionnaires or interview or observation schedules. These should be included in the appendices. Please note you should not destroy any recordings or material that you made during the gathering of your data until after the external examiners process and the exam board in September 2021.
You will then need to briefly explain how you explored and analysed this data to get results. Section 6: Qualitative Research Methods & Analysis and Section 7: Quantitative Research Methods & Analysis (depending on what approach you are using) will provide you with the information you need to decide upon and conduct an analysis, along with examples of data being analysed. The supportive reading from the Research Methods module is a good starting point here.
You will need to present your factual findings. This is quite a straightforward section simply stating what you have found. Please ensure that you use a combination of text, charts and tables here if relevant. Avoid overusing tables and charts.
Discussion of findings
It is here that you are answering your research question. You will need to provide a detailed discussion of the findings and link them in with your literature review. You could also discuss any limitations that you feel may be present in your research process here (for example, if you feel the sample size would need to be bigger or perhaps upon reflection you would have structured your data collection instrument differently).
This section should provide a discussion on any recommendations and overall conclusions that you have come to based on your research, literature review and discussion of findings. What improvements or changes do you feel need to be made, based on your findings from this project?
Does any further research need to be done? Are there any gaps in the field of knowledge on the topic that you feel still need to be addressed?
Conclusion to the report
This is your general conclusion where you briefly evaluate topic you have covered and provide a summary of what was addressed in the report and what steps you took to complete your research.
Please follow the College style.
Please note your appendices should be used appropriately and include supporting documentation only.
Module Title: Applied Research Methods
Assessment Method Task completed
Read and understood the Minimum Learning Outcomes for the module & info on how to use the site (Please note that you cannot progress through the rest of the site until you indicate that you have read this document).
Research Proposal (20%) - Submission date 9 November 2020
? Turnitin Check
? Declaration of Own Work form completed & Turnitin score added ? Shared with firstname.lastname@example.org
Research Presentation (10%) – Submission date 19 January 2021
? Presentation in Marino
? Electronic copy of presentation emailed to email@example.com
The Research Project (70%) - Submission date 28 June 2021
? Turnitin Check
? Declaration of Own Work form completed & Turnitin score added ? Shared with firstname.lastname@example.org