COMMERCE 7037 - Research Methodology (M)

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2018

This course equips students with the awareness and skills to conduct scholarly research at an advanced level. It is based around two interlinked themes - 1. theoretical issues of research (eg philosophy, epistemology, ethics etc) and 2. practical considerations of research design. The first of these provides an essential framework for quality research, necessarily underpinning all professional research activities and guiding participants through a critical journey of engagement with the inevitable limitations and delimitations of research in the 21st Century. Candidates will be introduced to a number of research issues and controversies (eg debates around deductive, inductive and abductive approaches; qualitative and quantitative methods, cross sectional and longitudinal strategies; archival, observational, survey-based or experimental techniques; sampling, data collection, data analysis and dissemination). The course's overall aim is to prepare candidates, more generally, as academic researchers.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMMERCE 7037
    Course Research Methodology (M)
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Business School
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 36 hours
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 2 courses at specialisation level
    Assumed Knowledge At least 2 courses within a specialisation
    Assessment Exam/assignments/tests/tutorial work as prescribed at first lecture
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Cate Jerram 
    Location: Nexus Tower – Room 10.34, 10 Pulteney Street

    Telephone: 8313 4757 (office)
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Monday 16:30 – 19:00 (4:30 pm – 7:00 pm)
    Venue: currently Nexus 10, level 2, computer lab 220
    Ligertwood 228 (weeks 7 & 8)

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On completion of this course, successful candidates will be able to:

    1. apply methodological theory to critically evaluate existing research in business and related research.

    2. differentiate between alternative research methodologies, philosophies and strategies in business oriented research and identify their limitations and implications.

    3. explore relevant ethical issues and apply (systematise, defend, recommend and implement) ethical principles to the conduct of scholarly research.

    4. plan, design and conduct a scholarly research project.

    5. reflect critically and transparently on their own research preferences, philosophy and ideology when evaluating existing research and conducting their own investigations.

    6. engage in scholarly discussion and debate within the academic community in the spirit of collegiality.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    2, 5
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Course Text 1:
    Klein, D & Cathcart, T. (2016) Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar… Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes. London, UK: Oneworld Publications.
    Course Text 2:
    Clough, P. & Nutbrown, C. (2012) A Student's Guide to Methodology, 3rd Edition, London: Sage.

    RE Course Text 2: There are a large number of research methods texts in business and management (some below). However, there are very few specialist accessible and critical methodology texts in our field. This text, though more focused on education, explores methodological issues that are relevant to any sort of social research and, as such, it provides a particularly useful introductory framework for this course. This also reinforces the necessarily interdisciplinary nature of business research, within the even wider field of social research (business is, after all, a wholly social activity), so candidates are encouraged to read widely across the diverse types of social research during (and after) their program of studies. Weekly readings will seek to apply the key ideas introduced here into a more business-oriented context.
    Course Text 2 can be accessed online through the library; simply search the title in the library catalogue and log in using your normal credentials.

    Note re Course Text 1: this text is newly added for the course in 2018. It is an unusual approach and, sadly, is not yet available through our library (but will be shortly, I trust). However, unlike most educational texts, it is relatively inexpensive – and a LOT of fun to read, while still conveying some really valuable information in an enjoyable and engaging manner. I trust you all enjoy it as much as I do.

    Other Required Readings
    1. Couvalis, George (1997) The Philosophy of Science: Science and Objectivity, London: Sage, (Chapter 2, Induction and Probability, pp.46-61). Electronic book accessed through library catalogue
    2. Dubois, A., & Gadde, L. E. (2002). Systematic combining: an abductive approach to case research. Journal of business research, 55(7), 553-560.
    3. Hatch, MJ. & Cunliffe, AL. (2013) Organization Theory, 3rd Ed, Oxford University Press (Chapter 2, ‘the history of organization theory’, pp.25-60).
    4. Karataş‐Özkan, M., & Murphy, W. D. (2010). Critical theorist, postmodernist and social constructionist paradigms in organizational analysis: a paradigmatic review of organizational learning literature. International Journal of Management Reviews, 12(4), 453-465.
    5. Keat, R. & Urry, J. (1982) Social theory as science, 2nd ed., London: Routledge (Chapter2, Realist philosophy of science pp. 27-45).
    6. Kolakowski, L. (1993) An overall view of positivism, in Hammersley, M. (ed.) (1993) Social Research: Philosophy, Politics and Practice,pp.1-8, London: Sage.
    7. Le Voi, M. (2002) Responsibilities, Rights and Ethics, in Potter, S. (ed) (2002) Doing Postgraduate Research, pp153-164., London: Sage.
    8. Lipscomb, M. (2012). Abductive reasoning and qualitative research. Nursing Philosophy, 13(4), 244-256.
    9. National Health and Medical Research Council (2015) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (Updated May 2015), accessed 29-01-2016 from:
    10. Ransome, Paul (2013) Ethics and Values in Social Research, Basingstoke: Palgrave (chapter 4, ‘the values of the researcher and evaluation research’, pp74-101).
    Recommended Resources
    There are many student texts and other scholarly works on research methodology, research philosophy, research ethics and research methods/techniques. As explained above, candidates are also expected to draw from published research. Various other readings will be recommended during the course, though candidates are expected, increasingly, to discover, discuss and evaluate sources for themselves during the course.

    This reading should include, but not be limited to refereed journal articles and monographs in their disciplinary field. Such sources may be methodological in nature, but it is also important to read empirical, review and conceptual/theoretical work through a methodological lens in order to better understand the philosophical and methodological influences of authors, thus contributing to a more critical approach to reading and ‘doing’ scholarly research.

    Online Learning

    The course utilises MyUni as a communication tool and as the main means for coursework submission and feedback provision. Students should be actively scanning the MyUni course webpage regularly for course updates and additional information.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This is a challenging and interactive course; research methodology is underpinned by a variety of (often conflicting) theories of, and assumptions, regarding human existence and knowledge. The subject itself is controversial and complex and cannot be effectively ‘taught’ or ‘learnt’ in traditional didactic lecture sessions. Much of the learning experience is based on scholarly discussion and debate in the classroom environment; this requires all participants to develop an awareness and openness towards alternative ways of thinking and research paradigms. It is not necessary to agree with each other, but it IS necessary to demonstrate scholarly respect for other ways of doing research.
    In order to perform well in this course, students must have a strong command of the relevant research theories and concepts covered in class and successfully apply them in their assessment and project. Therefore, students are expected to have reviewed the topic to be discussed every week and be fully prepared. In addition, it is essential for participants to engage in seminar discussions in an informed way. The communication skills developed in seminars by regularly and actively participating in discussions are considered to be most important by the School and are highly regarded by employers and professional bodies.

    Although face-to-face classes will vary in approach. After week one, a typical class will normally involve most of the following activities:

    Weekly guided preparation (activities and/or reading). This will include readings suggested by the course coordinator and student-selected weekly seminar readings. Weekly preparation will often also include more practical activities.

    Individualised preparation.
    Each week, every candidate is required to search for, find and analyse a relevant additional reading and come to class prepared to introduce the reading to course-mates. This reading should be a scholarly piece of work (such as a research article or an edited chapter/conference paper or monograph) relevant to the week’s topic. This preparation should, whenever possible, focus on the candidate’s own research. The tutor guided reading list reduces as the semester develops, based on the expectation that candidates will increasingly search out their own readings relevant both to the topic under consideration and their own research plans.
    Class content
    Course coordinator introduction to the topic (normally including key discussion questions).
    Group discussion of guided readings.
    Individual sharing of additional readings/prepared activities.
    Seminar workshops.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This means that, for this course, you are expected to commit approximately 9 hours for private study (i.e., the study time outside of your regular classes). Students are required to attend all class sessions.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Course Schedule:

    Theme 1: Theorising Knowledge and Research
    1. Plato & a Platypus pp 1 - 74
    2. A General Introduction to the Course & to Research Methodology. (Clough and Nutbrown, 2012, Ch 1 and 2)
    3. Research Philosophy in historical context. Philosophy; epistemology; methodology etc. (Hatch and Cunliffe, 2013, pp.25-41; Kolakowski, 1993; Keat and Urry, 1982, pp.27-45)
    4. Research Philosophy into the 21st century. (Hatch and Cunliffe, 2013, pp. 41-56; Karatas-Özkan & Murphy, 2010)
    5. Philosophical questions; methodological ‘answers’: Deductive reasoning; induction; abduction etc. (Couvalis, 1997, pp.46-61; Lipscomb, 2012; Dubois & Gadde, 2002)

    Theme 2: Researcher Values and Ethics
    1. Plato & a Platypus pp 75 - 122
    2. Defining and theorising Ethics for Research. (Le Voi, 2002)
    3. Formalising Ethics for researchers; ethics and risk management (NHRMRC, 2015)
    4. Researcher values; the value of research. Evaluation research; evaluation of research etc. (Ransome, 2013)

    Theme 3 Designing, Planning, Doing, and Communicating Research
    1. Plato & a Platypus pp 123 - 184
    2. The role of the literature: conceptual frameworks and contribution (Clough and Nutbrown, 2012, ch 5)
    3. Research design: problem, aim, objective, question or hypothesis (Clough and Nutbrown, 2012, ch 7)
    4. Data issues: collection, analysis and interpretation (Clough and Nutbrown, 2012, ch 6)
    5. Communicating research: Proposals; Dissemination (Clough and Nutbrown, 2012, ch 8)
    6. Proposal Presentations

    Tentative seminar schedule

    Please note that after seminar 5, students will be delivering/facilitating seminars, subject to numbers; specific titles/foci will be negotiated with the course coordinator within the broader weekly topic area.
    Seminar 1: What is research and how long is a piece of string?
    Seminar2: Can research in a business school ever be truly scientific?
    Seminar 3: Do some researchers really think there is no truth or ‘reality’?
    Seminar 4: What is the ‘problem of induction’ and is it really relevant to business research?
    Seminar 5: TBC
    Seminar 6: TBC
    Seminar 7: TBC
    Seminar 8: TBC
    Seminar 9: TBC
    Seminar 10: TBC
    Seminar 11: TBC
    Week 12: No seminar (Proposal Presentations)
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    This course assumes team-work between class members as peers, but working as supportive individuals, not as 'a group'. The course is preparation for each student's thesis, so coursework and assessment is, as much as possible, tailored to individual thesis topics.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary

    Assessment Item


    Due Date

    Learning Outcomes

    Essay (1000 words) 10% 5:00pm Wednesday Week 3 1, 5
    Seminar presentation (45 mins) 20% assigned & negotiated date in-class 5, 6
    Participation 10% weekly, throughout semester 1, 6
    Research Proposal Presentation (30 mins) 20% negotiated date 4, 6
    Research Proposal (2500 words) 40% 5:00pm Wednesday Week 13 2, 3, 4
    Total 100%
    Assessment Related Requirements

    In order to pass this course, students must achieve at least 50% overall, and achieve a passing mark of, at least, 50% for their final research proposal.

    Assessment Detail
    In order to pass this course, students must
    [a] achieve at least 50% overall, and
    [b] achieve a passing mark of at least 50% of the assessment grade for their final research proposal.

    Any requests for extension or modification to coursework deadlines and requirements must be made using the appropriate university form (available from the examinations website)

    The assessment components are as follows:

    Individual essay (10%):
    You should prepare an essay exploring your initial research plans. You have already considered a broad area of interest to pursue with your thesis research (outlined in your application proposal). This essay requires you to develop your original proposal and introduce your topic area and research questions/problem in relation to the literature. This essay requires you to provide an overview of your research plans concisely, briefly positioning your research within the relevant disciplinary literature and outlining your chosen methodological approach; you should carefully justify this approach, drawing from the literature on social research, with a particular focus on the specific context of business, management and/or marketing.

    Essay assessment criteria:
    1. Positioning of research (question, problem, hypothesis etc) within the existing disciplinary literature.
    2. Selection and critical evaluation of methodological theory
    3. Quality and relevance of support material (up to a MAXIMUM of 10 RESEARCH references)
    4. Strength of argument (to explain and justify methodological approach)
    5. Grammar, structure and presentation.

    You should submit the essay on MyUni by the submission deadline.

    Seminar Presentation (20%)
    Each candidate will prepare, organise and deliver a relevant seminar based on the weekly topic areas (specified above). These seminars are designed to complement the lecturer-led learning sessions in a particular and specific aspect of the more general topic area. This gives the class an opportunity to explore a more focused issue/question in rather more depth. This will also give the candidate leading the seminar opportunity to explore an issue of particular interest and/or relevance to their own research work. There is considerable flexibility in the seminar title/focus, although candidates are recommended to discuss their initial ideas with the course coordinator in advance to ensure their plans are appropriate. Early seminars will be facilitated by the course coordinator, providing examples to guide you towards effective facilitation.
    You should prepare a brief overview of your seminar including a brief introduction to the topic, bibliographic details of a single reading for other participants and possible seminar questions to discuss (maximum one page in total). This should be submitted via MyUni at least by 9am on the Friday prior to your seminar, so that it can be posted to the seminar page by the course coordinator. It is your responsibility to ensure that the reading is available electronically, ideally through our library resources. This preparatory overview contributes to assessment criteria 1 and 2 (below).

    Seminar assessment criteria:
    1. Preparation and communication of other participants’ preparation requirements
    2. Quality of references utilised
    3. Critical analysis or relevant theory
    4. Cohesion of seminar (theory application , activity and facilitated discussion)

    Participation (10%)
    All candidates are required to prepare carefully and participate in all the learning sessions; attendance alone is insufficient. You are expected to draw from your preparation and wider reading during discussions and volunteer constructive, critical and supportive questions, answers and suggestions during formal and informal learning sessions (eg presentations and/or classmate enquiries/reflections.
    Your participation in classroom settings will be assessed by the course coordinator based on the level and quality of your contribution to discussions and activities throughout the course.

    Participation assessment criteria:
    1. Contribution to discussion
    2. Participation in learning activities
    3. Evidence of thorough preparation (guided and independent)

    Research Proposal Presentation (20%):
    All participants are required to prepare and deliver a short presentation of their research proposal to the school at the end of 1st semester. This is scheduled to take place during the last week of formal classes.
    The main purpose is to obtain valuable feedback and suggestions for improvements to your research design from more experienced researchers. The presentations will be relatively short so it is essential for candidates to prepare well (in particular, you should avoid ‘Death by PowerPoint’ – keeping visual aids few, informative, clear and uncluttered); it is a good idea to give a short introduction, outlining your research aim and rationale; a crisp overview of the key literature (ideally showing how your plans ‘fit’ into it; a critical introduction to your methodological approach; clear and specific methods/techniques, with particular attention to planned sampling strategy, data collection and data analysis/interpretation; and, of course, ethical issues and research limitations/delimitations. You will be required to address audience questions at the same time as receiving their feedback/comments. It is a good idea to solicit feedback to particular issues/challenges/questions that have arisen during your preparation – do make good use of your more experienced audience.
    You should prepare a small number of PowerPoint slides to support/illustrate your presentation – do take care to keep these clear, relevant and helpful to the audience. You should upload your slides in a single file to MyUni at the latest by 9:00am on the day of your presentation.

    Assessment Criteria for Presentation :
    1. Appropriateness and critique of content (literature, research aim, methodology, methods etc)
    2. Quality of presentation (clarity, use of appropriate visual aids)
    3. Quality of discussion/questions generated and answered

    Research Proposal (40%):
    The written proposal is the culmination of your work in this course and provides the basis for your study and the resulting thesis.

    This document will be assessed on:
    1. Adequate assessment of the literature
    2. Clear identification and justification of research problem
    3. Clear identification of underpinning theoretical or conceptual framework
    4. Justification of proposed methodology within an appropriate philosophical and ethical framework
    5. Proposed data collection and analysis
    6. Quality of written presentation (referencing, grammar, punctuation and clarity)

    You should submit your proposal on MyUni within the submission deadline.

    All written assignments must be submitted on myuni
    through the relevant link, preferably each should be submitted as a single word

    Extensions to the due date of written assessments
    may be granted under special circumstances. An extension request based on
    illness or on exceptional personal circumstances must include the
    "Supporting Statement / Certification Form" that is on p. 4 of the
    replacement and additional Assessment application available at:


    Students applying for an extension based on medical
    reasons must visit their medical practitioner, with the approved University
    form, and have the medical practitioner complete it.  A normal doctor's certificate will not be

    Please note that all requests for extensions should
    be directed in writing to the Lecturer-in charge no later than 48 hours before the due date. Extension requests
    after this time will only be granted for exceptional circumstances. This does
    not include poor time management or poor file management.

    All assignments are to be lodged at, or prior to,
    the due date and time.  A late assignment
    where no extension has been granted will be penalised by a reduction of 5% of the mark given for each day, or
    part of a day, that it is late.

    Assessment marks will be
    provided on the course myuni site.  Students
    are encouraged to check their marks and notify their tutor and the Course
    Coordinator of any discrepancies.


    Presentation of Assignments

    Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted.

    All individual assignments must be attached to an
    Assignment Cover Sheet that must be signed and dated by the student before
    submission.  Lecturers will withhold
    students’ results until such time as the student has signed the Assignment
    Cover Sheet.

    Students may
    not submit work for an assignment that has previously been submitted for
    this course or any other course.

    can refuse to accept assignments that do not have a signed acknowledgement of
    the University’s Policy on Plagiarism:

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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