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SOC 224 – Methods of Social Research

2017 – S1 Day

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit Convenor
Tobia Fattore
Contact via tobia.fattore@mq.edu.au
Credit points Credit points
3
Prerequisites Prerequisites
12cp at 100 level or above
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description
Social research is essential in the contemporary world and an important field of employment for graduates in the social sciences and humanities. This unit gives students an opportunity to develop practical skills designing social and organisational research; and in collecting, analysing and presenting data to address research questions. You will consider the best research methods to use and the problems, limitations and traps likely to be encountered by inexperienced researchers. You will also consider the ethical issues in social research, and the impact of new information technologies on social research. The emphasis is on the practical side of research. A series of active workshops introduces major methodological techniques, basic qualitative and quantitative approaches, including interviewing, case studies, group techniques, textual analysis, and participant observation. Students also receive a basic introduction to SPSS. Research methods useful to community generated research are also explored. No knowledge of statistics is required. The unit is suitable for all students in social sciences, humanities, media, creative arts or business and finance. It is particularly useful for those seeking interesting and meaningful employment after graduation or for anyone wanting to go on to do Honours and higher research.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at http://students.mq.edu.au/student_admin/enrolmentguide/academicdates/

Learning Outcomes

  1. Learn about the range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods and know when each should be used in social research.
  2. Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  4. Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  5. Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Assessment Tasks

Name Weighting Due
Information Skills Modules 5% By the end of Week 5
Literature Review 20% End of Week 6
Research Proposal 40% End of Week 12
On-line test 20% Week 13
Participation 15% Weekly

Information Skills Modules

Due: By the end of Week 5
Weighting: 5%

As part of preparing for the Literature Review Task, students will be required to undertake four Information Retrieval Skills modules. These modules develop students abilities to search for a range of academic sources and assess the quality of such sources. Each module has a quiz testing skills developed in that module. The results of these quizzes will comprise 5 percent of the overall mark for SOC224.

Internal students will undertake these modules in the Workshops in Weeks 2 to 5. External students will be able to access the modules online and undertake them as self-guided modules.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Literature Review

Due: End of Week 6
Weighting: 20%

For this task, students are required to present a research literature review, which will provide some of the background for the research proposal undertaken later in the unit. Students will be required to:

  • Provide a brief outline of a social research topic they are wanting to investigate.
  • Provide bibliographic details of articles and/or books related to the topic
  • Undertake a concise review of two of these studies

Further details will be presented in the Unit Outline.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Learn about the range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods and know when each should be used in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.

Research Proposal

Due: End of Week 12
Weighting: 40%

Students will be required to submit a research proposal outlining the research topic, background to the proposed study and a methodology for investigating their research question. The proposal should identify the research methods proposed and justify their use. In most cases, it will incorporate a summary of the revised literature review submitted earlier in the course.

Further details will be provided in the Unit Outline.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Learn about the range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods and know when each should be used in social research.
  • Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

On-line test

Due: Week 13
Weighting: 20%

The on-line test examines concepts covered in the lectures and workshops. This includes questions about quantitative and  qualitative methods, research design and social statistics. A few questions will involve interpreting research materials, including tables and charts. The exam will be accessed via the unit iLearn page.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Learn about the range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods and know when each should be used in social research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.

Participation

Due: Weekly
Weighting: 15%

The workshops are designed to develop practical research skills.All students will be assigned a mark for participation in the workshops or, for external students, their contribution to the weekly discussion forums.  The mark will be based on attendance; evidence that student's are completing the readings each week; and contribution to discussions and involvement in workshop activities.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Learn about the range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods and know when each should be used in social research.
  • Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Delivery and Resources

The course comprises a one-hour lecture and a two-hour workshop each week. The workshops take the form of practical, skills-development sessions, involving demonstrations, discussions and research exercises, related to the methods discussed in the lectures. 

Readings for each week will be made available through e-reserve. However students might consider purchasing Bryman, A. Social Research Methods Oxford University Press: Oxford. (Fourth of Fifth Edition are appropriate)

Additionally a workbook covering the exercises for each week's workshop will be made available on the SOC224 iLearn page.

Unit Schedule

Week

Lecture

Workshop

1

Introduction: Research in the social sciences

No Workshops

2

Research Traditions, Design and Questions

Start of workshop program.

Selecting research themes and developing topics/ Scoping a research project

3

Research data and using secondary sources

Research development: Research questions and using existing data

4

Introduction to Qualitative research

Qualitative research methods I: Observation in practice

5

Collecting qualitative data

Qualitative research methods II: Conducting interviews

6

Analysing qualitative data

Qualitative research methods III: Working with focus groups

7

Qualitative research in practice - lessons from the field

Qualitative research methods IV: Analysing qualitative data

8

Introduction to Quantitative Social Research

Social statistics I: The Census, opinion polls and classifying data

9

Social surveys and sampling

Social statistics II: Working with social surveys and reading quantitative data

10

Writing social surveys: conceptualising and operationalising

Social statistics III: Introduction to SPSS

11

Quantitative data analysis I: Uni-variate analysis

Social statistics IV: Analysis with SPSS

12

Quantitative data analysis II: Choosing the right statistical test: Bi-variate analysis

Ethics in social research

13

Ethics in social research

Course Reflections and Wrap-Up

 

 

 

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central. Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Academic Honesty Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/academic_honesty/policy.html

Assessment Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/assessment/policy_2016.html

Grade Appeal Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/gradeappeal/policy.html

Complaint Management Procedure for Students and Members of the Public http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/complaint_management/procedure.html​

Disruption to Studies Policy http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/disruption_studies/policy.html The Disruption to Studies Policy is effective from March 3 2014 and replaces the Special Consideration Policy.

In addition, a number of other policies can be found in the Learning and Teaching Category of Policy Central.

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/support/student_conduct/

Results

Results shown in iLearn, or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au.

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

Learning Skills

Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to improve your marks and take control of your study.

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.

Graduate Capabilities

Critical, Analytical and Integrative Thinking

We want our graduates to be capable of reasoning, questioning and analysing, and to integrate and synthesise learning and knowledge from a range of sources and environments; to be able to critique constraints, assumptions and limitations; to be able to think independently and systemically in relation to scholarly activity, in the workplace, and in the world. We want them to have a level of scientific and information technology literacy.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn about the range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods and know when each should be used in social research.
  • Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Assessment tasks

  • Information Skills Modules
  • Literature Review
  • Research Proposal
  • On-line test

Creative and Innovative

Our graduates will also be capable of creative thinking and of creating knowledge. They will be imaginative and open to experience and capable of innovation at work and in the community. We want them to be engaged in applying their critical, creative thinking.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Assessment tasks

  • Information Skills Modules
  • Literature Review
  • Research Proposal

Socially and Environmentally Active and Responsible

We want our graduates to be aware of and have respect for self and others; to be able to work with others as a leader and a team player; to have a sense of connectedness with others and country; and to have a sense of mutual obligation. Our graduates should be informed and active participants in moving society towards sustainability.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Assessment task

  • Participation

Discipline Specific Knowledge and Skills

Our graduates will take with them the intellectual development, depth and breadth of knowledge, scholarly understanding, and specific subject content in their chosen fields to make them competent and confident in their subject or profession. They will be able to demonstrate, where relevant, professional technical competence and meet professional standards. They will be able to articulate the structure of knowledge of their discipline, be able to adapt discipline-specific knowledge to novel situations, and be able to contribute from their discipline to inter-disciplinary solutions to problems.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn about the range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods and know when each should be used in social research.
  • Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.

Assessment tasks

  • Research Proposal
  • On-line test
  • Participation

Problem Solving and Research Capability

Our graduates should be capable of researching; of analysing, and interpreting and assessing data and information in various forms; of drawing connections across fields of knowledge; and they should be able to relate their knowledge to complex situations at work or in the world, in order to diagnose and solve problems. We want them to have the confidence to take the initiative in doing so, within an awareness of their own limitations.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn about the range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods and know when each should be used in social research.
  • Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Assessment tasks

  • Literature Review
  • Research Proposal
  • On-line test
  • Participation

Effective Communication

We want to develop in our students the ability to communicate and convey their views in forms effective with different audiences. We want our graduates to take with them the capability to read, listen, question, gather and evaluate information resources in a variety of formats, assess, write clearly, speak effectively, and to use visual communication and communication technologies as appropriate.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Assessment tasks

  • Literature Review
  • Research Proposal
  • Participation

Engaged and Ethical Local and Global citizens

As local citizens our graduates will be aware of indigenous perspectives and of the nation's historical context. They will be engaged with the challenges of contemporary society and with knowledge and ideas. We want our graduates to have respect for diversity, to be open-minded, sensitive to others and inclusive, and to be open to other cultures and perspectives: they should have a level of cultural literacy. Our graduates should be aware of disadvantage and social justice, and be willing to participate to help create a wiser and better society.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Assessment tasks

  • Literature Review
  • Participation

Capable of Professional and Personal Judgement and Initiative

We want our graduates to have emotional intelligence and sound interpersonal skills and to demonstrate discernment and common sense in their professional and personal judgement. They will exercise initiative as needed. They will be capable of risk assessment, and be able to handle ambiguity and complexity, enabling them to be adaptable in diverse and changing environments.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn about the range of qualitative and quantitative social research methods and know when each should be used in social research.
  • Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major problems confronting social researchers, especially: the scientific status of social science research; the strengths and weaknesses of different methods; questions relating to validity and reliability; and ethical considerations in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Assessment tasks

  • Information Skills Modules
  • Literature Review
  • Research Proposal
  • On-line test
  • Participation

Commitment to Continuous Learning

Our graduates will have enquiring minds and a literate curiosity which will lead them to pursue knowledge for its own sake. They will continue to pursue learning in their careers and as they participate in the world. They will be capable of reflecting on their experiences and relationships with others and the environment, learning from them, and growing - personally, professionally and socially.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Gain first-hand experience in using social research methods, including becoming familiar with the technologies used in social research.
  • Be able to scope a research problem, prepare a research proposal in response to this problem and outlinea program of research to address the issues being considered.
  • Develop proficiency in generic skills required to undertake social research. These include: high level information retrieval, critical reading and conceptual skills, problem development and writing skills; and skills in the preparation of research proposals, literature reviews and assessment of research.

Assessment tasks

  • Information Skills Modules
  • Literature Review
  • On-line test
  • Participation