General research-related workshops
The general research workshops are likely to include the following:
Starting to Think about your Research Workshop
The workshop intends to help students either at Masters or Honours level, who have had no previous experience doing empirical research but who are already working towards formulating a research topic. Much of this short session will be devoted to an introduction of the key terms used in the writing of a research proposal. It is hoped that as a result of the discussion of these terms a basic understanding of the nature of the research product and the research process will be provided.
Proposal Writing Workshop for Social Science Students
Writing a proposal for a MA research report thesis (or an Honours research essay) is the most important part of the postgraduate research process as it determines the student's research focus for the rest of the year. This workshop focuses on the four key areas of a proposal: the Aim, the Rationale, the Methodology and the Literature Review. Students are taken step-by-step through the processes that are needed to produce a proposal that will be accepted by the Graduate Studies Committee. This workshop focuses on those aspects of the proposal that are particularly relevant to Social Science students.
Proposal Writing Workshop for Humanities Students
Writing a proposal for a MA research report thesis, (or an Honours research essay) is the most important part of the postgraduate research process as it determines the student's research focus for the rest of the year. This workshop focuses on the four key areas of a proposal: the Aim, the Rationale, the Methodology and the Literature Review. Students are taken step-by-step through the processes that are needed to produce a proposal that will be accepted by the Graduate Studies Committee. This workshop focuses on those aspects of the proposal that are particularly relevant to Humanities students.
Planning and Writing your Honours Long Essay (Research Report)
Students often have difficulties with the planning and organisation of their research reports. Issues such as how and where to present, analyse and discuss their research findings, as well as the differences between these three processes, are often experienced as problems In addition, it is often difficult to decide on how much weight to give to background or contextual material and how to restructure the literature review in a proposal in such a way as to make it articulate with the research findings. This workshop aims to assist students plan and write-up their research, and will be particularly useful to students whose research involves questionnaire or interview based material.
Research Report Planning and Writing Workshop
Planning the order and focus of chapters; maintaining the ''thread of argument''; combining narrative with analysis; these are all difficult problems that beset postgraduate students when they start writing up their research. This workshop looks closely at a range of real research reports and dissertations completed by students in the past so as to provide students with working examples of layout and writing to guide their own work. The workshop also analyses examiners' reports commenting on actual students' work (together with samples of this work) so students can see what external examiners expect from them.
How to Write an Abstract
A good abstract is an important part of any research report, dissertation or doctoral thesis and is a component upon which external examiners often place a great deal of emphasis. In addition, being able to write a good abstract is essential if you wish to present your research at a conference, because the organizers often choose papers on the basis of the quality of the abstracts submitted.
The Graduate Centre's support for postgraduate research includes a series of workshops introducing students to a wide range of research methods. It has also produced an extensive bibliography of research methods materials which is available in e-copy or hard-copy from the Centre's front desk.
The research methods workshop series is likely to include the following:
Action Research: Principles and Practices
Two key words associated with action research are involvement and improvement. Action research is sometimes referred to as practitioner-based research because the researchers usually aim to (i) understand an aspect of their workplace practice, (ii) plan and implement critically-informed action which is designed to bring about improvement to this aspect of practice and (iii) monitor and evaluate the effects of the action. The workshop will begin with a review of some of the key texts in the action research literature, which outline the main principles, practices and debates. Participants will then have an opportunity to apply knowledge of these principles, practices and debates to the planning of an action research project.
Approaches to Discourse and Discourse Analysis
In this workshop different understandings of the term 'discourse' will be discussed in order to show how each of these meanings of the term act as a basis for a particular type of discourse analysis. The meanings of the term to be discussed include those used in Linguistics and Applied linguistics as well as those associated with the work of Foucault, Fairclough and Kittler.
Discourse Analysis in the Social Science Tradition
A number of research projects in the Social Sciences, in social psychology in particular, now use Discourse analytic methods of the kind exemplified in the work of Jonathan Potter and Margaret Wetherell and Ian Parker. During this workshop the similarities and differences between discourse analysis in the Social Science tradition and those used in other discourse analytic traditions will be discussed and some demonstrations of this method at work will be presented.
In the words of the title of a recent re-examination of ethnographic practice, ethnography is described as Writing Culture . In other words, ethnography attempts to capture the unsaid and to construct implicit meanings that are present in both the everyday activities of people and in the extraordinary activities involved in ritual, ceremony and public performances of all kinds. The ethnographer does this through what is called participant observation , a method that requires the participation of the ethnographer in the life he/she attempts to describe, and a close reading of the activities, meanings and interpretations of those he/she observes. This seminar will examine in particular specific ethnographic techniques such as the non-directed open-ended interview, the use of visual records, note taking and coding.
Selecting and Using an Appropriate Research Instrument
A coherent relationship between instrument, data and analytic method is imperative for any good research project. This workshop will explore the main research instruments likely to be used by researchers in the Faculty. These include the questionnaire, the interview, the survey, the focus group and the vignette. The presenter will discuss the characteristic features of each of these instruments, focusing on their powers and limitations in relation to the types of data they are able to gather and the types of data analysis methods they are therefore able to service.
This workshop will initially introduce students to the principles and fundamentals of quantitative data collection within the realism/empiricism paradigm. The workshop will then describe and introduce a number of common methods of doing quantitative empirical research, including: Experimental and quasi-experimental designs, Survey/Questionnaire research, quantitative interviews, Case study research, and Field research. The workshop will pay particular attention to the differences between these approaches, pointing out why each is suited to answering research questions of a particular kind and analysing particular types of data.
Researching the Media
This session will introduce participants to a number of approaches to media research and methods of researching the media in both the quantitative and qualitative traditions.
How to do Thematic Content Analysis
This session will take the form of a demonstration by way of examples, of how Thematic Content analysis could be done. In this workshop it is likely that actual examples provided by current students will also be used.
How to do Critical Discourse Analysis
This session will cover a range of approaches to Critical Discourse analysis using the work of Norman Fairclough, John Thompson and Michael Halliday. It will take the form of a demonstration by way of examples of how Critical Discourse analysis is actually done and will offer students rubrics to assist them in the initial analysis of texts.
On Choosing a Qualitative Research Method
This workshop will take the form of a description of a number of common methods of doing qualitative empirical research including: Action research, Case study research, Discourse analysis, Ethnography and Thematic content analysis. It will pay particular attention to the differences between these approaches, pointing out why each is suited to answering research questions of a particular kind and analysing particular types of data.
Starting to Process Qualitative Data
The task of writing up various kinds of qualitative data such as interview transcripts, open-ended questions on questionnaires, student diaries, policy and media documents etc is often a challenging one. Using actual examples, various ways of starting to process qualitative data of this kind will be discussed.
- Graduate Centre Research Methods Workshop Series 2009 -Second Semester Programme (pdf)