COMMERCE 4037 - Research Methodology (H)
North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2019
General Course Information
Course Code COMMERCE 4037 Course Research Methodology (H) Coordinating Unit Business School Term Semester 1 Level Undergraduate Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 36 hours Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N Prerequisites At least 2 courses at specialisation level Assumed Knowledge At least 2 courses within a specialisation Course Description 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.
Course Coordinator: Dr Peter Sandiford
Location: Nexus Tower – Room 10.28, 10 Pulteney Street
Telephone: 8313 2017 (office)
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
Course Learning OutcomesOn 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)
1 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
6 Career and leadership readiness
- technology savvy
- professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
- forward thinking and well informed
- tested and validated by work based experiences
4 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
3 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
Required ResourcesThere are a large number of research methods/methodology texts in business and management (some below). However, no single source provides everything we need in a course like this one. This is partly due to disciplinary and philosophical differences (so much so, that few scholars seem to agree on what to do or how to do it, when discussing research). So, we do not have a single core text for the course, but will use various different sources, normally available through the library and/or the myuni website. It is alos worth bearing in mind that a lot of the issues we will explore in this course are faced by researchers in other fields of social sciences (eg psychology, sociology, anthropology, education etc) – after all business is a social science itself – so don’t be surprised to see readings from different disciplines to your own. This also reinforces the necessarily inter-disciplinary 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. These are taken from the following sources (these sources include ‘required reading’ for the course, but you are encouraged to explore other books and articles, especially more specialist sources that apply more fully to your own research):
Clough, P. & Nutbrown, C. (2012) A Student's Guide to Methodology, 3rd Edition, London: Sage.
Saunders, M. Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2016) Research Methods for Business Students, 7th Ed., Harlow, UK: Pearson.
Williams, M. (2000) Science and Social Science : An Introduction, London: Routledge.
All these e-books are included in the weekly readings, though you are likely to find their other content useful throughout the course and the whole program.
Other e-sources (available through myuni)
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
Dubois, A., & Gadde, L. E. (2002). Systematic combining: an abductive approach to case research. Journal of business research, 55(7), 553-560.
Hatch, MJ. & Cunliffe, AL. (2013) Organization Theory, 3rd Ed, Oxford University Press (Chapter 2, ‘the history of organization theory’, pp.25-60).
KarataÅâÖzkan, 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.
Keat, R. & Urry, J. (1982) Social theory as science, 2nd ed., London: Routledge (Chapter2, Realist philosophy of science pp. 27-45).
Kolakowski, L. (1993) An overall view of positivism, in Hammersley, M. (ed.) (1993) Social Research: Philosophy,Politics and Practice,pp.1-8, London: Sage.
Le Voi, M. (2002) Responsibilities, Rights and Ethics, in Potter, S. (ed) (2002) Doing Postgraduate Research, pp153-164., London: Sage.
Lipscomb, M. (2012). Abductive reasoning and qualitative research. Nursing Philosophy, 13(4), 244-256.
National Health and Medical Research Council (2015) National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research 2007 (Updated May 2015), accessed 29-01-2016 from: http://www.nhmrc.gov.au/_files_nhmrc/publications/attachments/e72_national_statement_may_2015_150514_a.pdf
Ransome, Paul (2013) Ethics and Values in Social Research, Basingstoke: Palgrave (chapter 4, ‘the values of the researcher and evaluation research’, pp74-101).
Recommended ResourcesThere 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.
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 ModesThis 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.
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.
Course coordinator introduction to the topic (normally including key discussion questions).
Group discussion of guided readings.
Individual sharing of additional readings/prepared activities.
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 SummaryTheme 1: Theorising knowledge and research
1. General Introduction to the Course & to Research Methodology
2. Research Philosophy in historical context. Philosophy; epistemology; methodology etc.
3. Research Philosophy into the 21st century.
4. Philosophical questions; methodological ‘answers’: applying epistemology, deductive reasoning; induction; abduction etc.
Theme 2: Researcher values and ethics
5. Defining and theorising Ethics for Research.
6. Formalising Ethics for researchers; ethics and risk management
7. Researcher values; the value of research. Evaluation research; evaluation of research etc.
Theme 3: Designing, Planning, Doing and Communicating research
8. The role of the literature: conceptual frameworks and contribution
9. Research design and planning: problem, aim, objective, question or hypothesis
10. Data issues: negotiating access, data collection, analysis and interpretation
11. Communicating research: Proposals; Dissemination
12. Applying methodology in practice – from idea to thesis and beyond
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
Essay (1000 words) 10% Week 4 1, 5 Seminar presentation (45 mins) 20% assigned & negotiated date in-class 5, 6 Participation 10% weekly, throughout semester 1, 6 Research Proposal (2500 words) 40% Week 13 2, 3, 4, 6 Research Proposal Presentation (30 mins) 20% 13 SWOT week 4, 6 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.
The assessment components are as follows:
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.
Candidates will collaboratively (in pairs or small groups) present one seminar to the whole class. Each group 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 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)
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 nquiries/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)
The written proposal is the culmination of your work in this course and provides the basis for your study and the resulting thesis. The proposal must include:
A clear, concise title.
A short, one paragraph summary.
Statement of the research problem.
Overview of the literature demonstrating where the proposed research will contribute.
Philosophical and methodological framework for the study.
Research design and plan (include details of time-plan, sample, specific methods and techniques, limitations etc).
Assessment criteria for research proposals:
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.
Research Proposal Presentation
All participants are required to prepare and deliver ashort presentation of their research proposal to the school at the end of 1stsemester. This is scheduled to take place during the last week of formalclasses. The main purpose is to obtain valuablefeedback and suggestions for improvements to your research design from moreexperienced researchers. The presentations will be relatively short so it isessential for candidates to prepare well (in particular, you should avoid‘death by overhead’ – keeping visual aids few, , informative, clear anduncluttered); it is a good idea to give a short introduction, outlining yourresearch aim and rationale; a crisp overview of the key literature (ideallyshowing how your plans ‘fit’ into it; a critical introduction to yourmethodological approach; clear and specific methods/techniques, with particularattention to planned sampling strategy, data collection and dataanalysis/interpretation; and, of course, ethical issues and researchlimitations/delimitations. You will be required to address audience questionsat the same time as receiving their feedback/comments.
It is a good idea tosolicit feedback to particular issues/challenges/questions that have arisenduring your preparation – do make good use of your more experienced audience.
You should prepare a small number ofpowerpoint slides to support/illustrate your presentation – do take care not tokeep these clear, relevant and helpful to the audience. You should upload yourslides in a single file to myuni at the latest by 5:00pm on the day precedingyour seminar.
Assessment Criteria for ProposalPresentation:
1. Critique and appropriateness 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
Submission1. All written assignments must be submitted on myuni through the relevant link, preferably each should be submitted as a single word document.
2. 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 be made using the appropriate form (in line with the university’s assessment policy), available from:
3. 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 accepted.
4. Please note that all requests for extensions should be directed in writing to the course coordinator no later than 48 hours before the due date. Extension requestsb after this time will only be granted for exceptional circumstances. This doesnot include poor time management or poor file management.
5. 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 marks for each day, or part of a day, that it is late.
6. Assessment marks will be provided on the course myuni site. Students are encouraged to check their marks and notify their tutor and he 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 ssignment Cover Sheet that must be signed and dated by the student before submission. Lecturers will withhold students’ resultsuntil 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.
Markers can refuse to accept assignments hat do not have a signed acknowledgement of the University’s Policy on
Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:
M11 (Honours Mark Scheme) Grade Grade reflects following criteria for allocation of grade Reported on Official Transcript Fail A mark between 1-49 F Third Class A mark between 50-59 3 Second Class Div B A mark between 60-69 2B Second Class Div A A mark between 70-79 2A First Class A mark between 80-100 1 Result Pending An interim result RP Continuing Continuing CN
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.
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