Unit 7 Research Skills

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To equip learners with the knowledge and research skills needed to select a research question,and design a research proposal for a chosen topic of interest.

Unit abstract

Research skills equip learners with a higher level of knowledge and skills that will allow them to be self-directed and focused in a specific field of expertise. Research is undertaken in a range of disciplines and is quite prevalent in domains such as medicine, science and academia.Research is paramount in terms of establishing what has been experienced and discovered in the past, relating this to current studies in the field, and providing some sort of hypothesis or prediction for the future.Research involves the exploration of a range of primary and secondary sources of information.From theses sources, conclusions can be drawn regarding a particular question or theory that may need to be investigated and tested. Submitting a research proposal, may be based upon these original findings, and through the adoption of a research methodology, new discoveries could be unearthed and recorded.. There are a number of elements that contribute to research. These can include the application of a research methodology that will determine how the research is conducted and also whether it will be of a qualitative or quantitative nature. The research question should spearhead the studies and provide a focus on a specific area, idea, concept or development. On completion of this unit learners should be able to conduct a literature review that will engage them in identifying a range of primary and secondary information sources. Learners will be able to critique sources and triangulate the information gathered to determine currency and validity in the area of study undertaken. Learners will also engage in research seminars both as a participant and as a reviewer. The seminars will be used as a forum to disseminate good practice, and to create an awareness of topical issues within their chosen research field.

Learning outcomes

1 Understand different research methodologies

  • Research types and methodologies: types eg experimental research, survey research, evaluative research, observational research, developmental research; applied versus fundamental research
  • Data collection: methods eg primary and secondary data collection, observatory, experimental
  • Research pitfalls: problems eg dependency and access to information sources, time, money, expertise, introduction of bias, the Hawthorne Effect, the Halo Effect
  • Types of data: qualitative eg ‘information rich and data poor’; quantitative eg statistical analysis techniques, ratios.

2 Know how to conduct a literature review

  • Sources of information: types eg visual, audio, paper-based, electronic; benefits and drawbacks of types; categories eg primary and secondary sources, restrictions and limitations
  • Accuracy of information: validity eg triangulation of resources to ensure validity; currency
  • Literature review framework: styles eg Harvard referencing; adopting a formal format.

3 Be able to present a research proposal

  • Research question: defining the question eg selection and suitability; scope and boundaries; target audience
  • Survey methods: interview techniques eg unstructured, structured, semi-structured; administered questionnaire; attitude measurements eg Likert scaling, Thurstone scaling, Guttman scaling, semantic differential scaling; sampling eg random, quota, stratified
  • Research ethics: issues eg potential ethical issues arising during research, ways to address ethical issues in research; role of the Ethics Committee.

4 Be able to contribute to a research seminar

  • Research seminar: functions eg disseminate ideas and good practice; discuss research proposals; gather feedback to inform proposals
  • Delivery strategies: structure eg clear framework; level of detail; use of IT.


  • Burton N –Doing Your Education Research Project(Sage Ltd, 2008) ISBN 9781412947558
  • Fink A –Conducting Research Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper, Third Edition(Sage Inc, June 2009) ISBN 9781412971898
  • Kassem D, Mufti E and Robinson J –Education Studies: Issues and Critical Perspectives(Open University Press, 2006) ISBN 9780335219728
  • Sharp J –Success with Your Education Research Project(Learning Matters first edition, January 2009) ISBN 9781844451333
  • Wellington J –Educational Research: Contemporary Issues and Practical Approaches(Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd, 2000) ISBN 9780826449719


  • Education Action Research
  • International Journal of Educational research
  • Journal of Dissertation
  • Research Ethics Review

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