8246 (Course Director) [email protected] For students

C91MR Research Methods Course Outline Department of Psychology School of Social Sciences Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh EH14 4AS, United KingdomStaff Contact Details Dr Terry Lansdown +44131 451 8246 (Course Director) [email protected] For students studying in Edinburgh: Dr Terry Lansdown [email protected] For students studying in Dubai: [to be added] For students studying in Malaysia: [to be added] For students studying at an ALP: Your Course Tutor in the first instance.Table of Contents Introduction to the Course ……………………………………………………4 Learning Outcomes ………………………………………………………… 4 Course Units ………………………………………………………………… 5 Course Content……………………………………………………………… 5 Course Reading List………………………………………………………… 6January 2017 4 Introduction to the Course This course describes how to carry out scientific research in everyday contexts. The course provides explicit preparation for the M.Sc. Research Portfolio, but the material (is presented so that it) also has direct relevance to students’ practice in real life contexts. Indeed, a good understanding of scientific method and how to design, carry out, analyse, and interpret scientifically-valid research is a highly marketable skill. The material in this course aims to educate students in how to carry out systematic, scientifically-valid assessments of the benefits or otherwise of new practices, and how to determine precisely why they are effective. Additionally, this course describes the limitations inherent to certain research methods, e.g., what specifically would a piece of research not tell you. By understanding this, students will be well-placed to evaluate the quality of the evidence on which they base real-life workplace decisions. Students come to this course from a wide variety of backgrounds, and so no prior knowledge of research methods is assumed. As such, the course describes techniques of varying degrees of sophistication, some of which will already be familiar to students who have studied scientific methods previously. However, even in the case of those techniques for which some students already have some knowledge, they are covered here in an overtly work-related context that is different to the approach taken by, for example, a conventional undergraduate degrees. Note also that the course makes reference to SPSS, which is the most commonly-used computer software for carrying out statistical analyses. A copy of the software is available while registered as a student at Heriot-Watt. Students having difficulties installing this software should email: <[email protected]>. The course is divided into eight Units, each of which addresses a discrete topic. At the end of each Unit are ‘learning checkpoints’, namely several questions that students are strongly encouraged to consider both to test their understanding of the material and to provide an opportunity to further consider the practical implications of the material. Each Unit ends with recommended readings. These are available to students electronically via Vision. Learning Outcomes By the end of the course, students should be able to understand: • the basic principles of what constitutes scientifically-valid research • the major ethical considerations associated with conducting scientific research • what constitutes a ‘good’ literature review and how this should be carried out • the use of qualitative methods to conduct research in workplace settings • the key principles and challenges associated with carrying out survey researchJanuary 2017 5 • the basic principles and techniques involved in carrying out experimental research in business settings • the basic principles underlying inferential statistics, how to select appropriate inferential tests, how to carry out a range of inferential tests, and how to interpret the results of these, and • how to report research. Course Units The course comprises the following eight Units: Unit 1 – Introduction to Research Methods Unit 2 – Literature Reviewing Unit 3 – Qualitative Research Methods Unit 4 – Quantitative Surveying Methods Unit 5 – Experimental Research Methods Unit 6 – Analysing, Interpreting, and Reporting Survey Results Unit 7 – Analysing, Interpreting, and Reporting Experimental Results Unit 8 – Writing Research Reports Course Content Unit 1 introduces the notion of how scientific research provides the optimal basis for expanding the knowledge-base in any area of working practice. It focusses on the concept of validity; how different types of research (i.e., experimental versus correlational) are more appropriate in answering different types of questions; and the basic processes that are involved in planning a piece of research. The Unit ends by considering ethical issues in research (including plagiarism). Unit 2 describes the process of carrying out a literature review. It begins by describing why it is important to carry out a review of the existing literature in the field, and the issues that a good literature review should address. It then provides guidance on using PsycINFO, the most commonly used literature searching tool, and how to subsequently produce a narrative literature review. This is one of the key skills that will be needed by students in their M.Sc. Research Portfolio. The Unit then ends by describing meta-analysis, which is a powerful technique that allows a researcher to say whether the existing body of evidence as a whole supports or does not support the efficacy of a given concept. Unit 3 introduces qualitative research methods. It begins by describing several approaches to this (positivism, post-positivism, critical theory, and constructionism), before then describing the specific methods used in qualitative research. Finally, the Unit provides explicit guidance on how to analyse qualitative data via grounded theory, and then how to report the results of this. Unit 4 describes quantitative surveying methods. It describes different approaches to sampling and to designing survey research. It then discusses the different methods of collecting survey data, and how to develop good questionnaires.January 2017 6 Unit 5 describes experimental approaches to collecting data. It describes the basic principles of experimental research and the different types of experimental designs that can be used. It then considers quasi-experimental research, which is the type very often carried out in work-related contexts. Unit 6 describes how to analyse, interpret, and report the results of survey research. We cover the inferential tests used most commonly in analysing survey data namely correlation, multiple regression, factor analysis, and chi-squared tests, including a description of what each test does in practical terms, how to carry out the test using SPSS, and how to interpret and report the output of this. Unit 7 describes how to analyse, interpret, and report the results of experimental research. We briefly consider measures of central tendency, before then moving on to the inferential tests used commonly in analysing experimental data, namely t-tests, one-way ANOVA, and ANOVA, including a description of what each test does in practical terms, how to carry out the test using SPSS, and how to interpret and report the output of this. Unit 8 describes how to write reports of research. It overviews the standard format of a report that should be used in your MSc Research Portfolio manuscript, or more generally writing a report of research findings for an academic journal. Note that this same format can also be extremely helpful in reporting the results of research carried out in the workplace, as it ensures that crucial information is included. Course Reading List The eBook ‘Research methods and statistics in psychology’ by Hugh Coolican is the recommended textbook for this course. It can be accessed from here: . </ithel
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