KC7023 - Research Methods and Professional Practice

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What will I learn on this module?

You will learn about the techniques and methods used in applied, contract, academic and/or professional research. You will also develop your understanding of the theoretical philosophies underpinning research, as well as how to design and run research in an applied context. This will focus on the problems and issues that occur in establishing empirical knowledge in the information science area. You will explore various research philosophies and methodologies which can be applied to professional practice. You are also encouraged to apply models of reflective practice throughout the module.
Topics include:
1) The research landscape (research philosophies)
a) The epistemology and ontology of major research paradigms
b) Limitations of the research philosophies
c) The research hierarchy

2) Information Discernment
a) High level of Information Literacy in all domains
b) Developing critical arguments in support of the students own research
c) Identifying appropriate evidence from practice literature to demonstrate engagement with the profession
d) The ethical researcher
e) The reflective researcher
f) Developing research questions, aims and hypotheses

3) Research methods, data collection techniques and data analysis
a) The use of methods in research and implications of choice
b) Exploring methods, including; phenomenology, ethnography, case study, action research, Delphi study, experiments, quasi-experiments, survey etc.
c) Exploring techniques, including; questionnaire design, interviewing, focus groups, observation, diaries etc.
d) Data analysis, including; descriptive and inferential statistics, statistical modelling, multivariate techniques, constant comparative analysis, grounded theory and theoretical sensitivity.
e) Research data management
f) Writing research proposals

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn on campus through a series of lectures, which will deliver theory and practical examples to enable you to explore the theory and concepts further through practical exercises during seminar discussion.

If you are learning at a distance, you will learn using online learning materials, in addition to discussion boards and online activities. This is facilitated by our University eLearning Portal which has been successfully delivering distance learning provision for a number of years. It is expected that you will draw heavily on your own working experience to contextualise the theory learnt.

Whichever mode of study you are undertaking there will be a significant amount of independent learning and to that end you will be encouraged to establish Action Learning Sets to work with your peers face to face or virtually. The underpinning learning theory for this module is the Race model of learning i.e. ‘wanting/needing; doing; making sense; feedback; coaching / teaching; assessing’ Your Action Learning Set will facilitate the final stages in this model.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported by feedback from tutors during small-group seminars and tutorials and also an open-door policy so that you can come and see us to discuss module questions on a one-to-one or small group basis face-to-face as and when the need arises. If you are learning at a distance, tutors can make use of the eLearning portal web conferencing software to talk to you face-to-face, in addition to simpler technology such as telephone calls. This allows you to make appointments to discuss, clarify or confirm anything concerning the module either virtually or face to face. In addition tutors will respond to questions via the module’s discussion board at the University’s eLearning Portal so that the whole group can benefit. The University Library also offers a series of Research Skills events to all PGR students and you will be encouraged to attend these.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at: http://readinglists.northumbria.ac.uk
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team – http://library.northumbria.ac.uk/readinglists)

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
1. You will be expected to critically evaluate up-to-date and relevant literature
2. You will examine the relationship between research philosophy and research design including methodology, method, techniques and analysis

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
3. You will construct appropriate research questions, hypotheses and/or aims for Masters Dissertation proposal.
4. You will design an appropriate methodology for the collection of data and analysis based on a critical understanding of all elements.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
5. You will critically appraise the ethical considerations in conducting applied research.

How will I be assessed?

Your first piece of assessment will be a Topic Outline Form (TOF) (30%) providing a brief outline of your intended research project. (MLO: 1, 3,5)Your final assessment will be Research Proposal (70%) which enables you to apply the theory and concepts learnt to an actual research project design. (MLO 1-5)
This proposal will detail the approach you intend to take for your Masters Dissertation. A critique of up-to-date and relevant literature and its relationship to professional practice will provide context. An explanation of the proposed methodology, primary data collection tools, planned analysis and anticipated timelines will be included in the proposal. You will be expected to give consideration to ethical issues - although these will not substitute for ethical approval prior to data collection.
The rationale for these tasks is twofold. Firstly, to thoroughly assess the depth of understanding you have gained in relation to your chosen field of research. Secondly, to prepare you for the process of the Masters Dissertation and Professional Practice.

Formative assessment will be through the Learning and Teaching strategy and peer support processes. You will work with the module team and your peer support network on your research project ideas and discuss potential issues and practicalities. The module team will task you with the development of protocols and procedures for your data collection and will critically appraise and advise on these. Peer support will allow you to share ideas for projects and receive feedback. Online and face to face discussions will add perspective to your view of research, allowing you to gain an insight into what and how research is being performed elsewhere. Action learning sets provide ideal forums for instant formative feedback.

Pre-requisite(s)

None

Co-requisite(s)

None

Module abstract

The module will be focussed on the development of higher level skills and will include further learning on techniques and methods used in applied, contract, academic and/or professional research. You will also develop their understanding of the theoretical philosophies underpinning research, as well as how to design and run research in an applied context. This will focus on the problems and issues that occur in establishing empirical knowledge in the information science area. You are also encouraged to apply models of reflective practice. A variety of approaches will be used to facilitate learning including the use of e-learning portal (discussion boards, podcasts), seminars, lectures, action learning sets, workshops and directed learning. The assessment for this module is to produce a research proposal identifying the approach to the Masters Dissertation. You will receive written feedback on your research proposal, which will assist you in further developing your Masters Dissertation.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 2 years distance learning

Department Computer and Information Sciences

Location Pandon Building, Newcastle City Campus

City Newcastle

Start September 2018

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