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Short Learning Programme
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Research Design
Postgraduate study and research endeavours, in general, require that a researcher be able to conduct rigorous and cutting-edge research and communicate the process and findings in a clear, transparent and understandable way. The ability to do so requires knowledge of how to plan, organise, conduct and communicate research. Therefore the researcher must demonstrate both the familiarity with the basics of research methodology, as well as the mastery of the sophisticated and advanced methods and analyses techniques. The programme provides an overview of quantitative and qualitative research methods, how to design and implement good research, how to improve scientific thinking and writing, and how to communicate research findings. The programme is primarily aimed at postgraduate students (a) who have been out of a research environment for a period of time since completing either a Honours or Master’s degree and require a refresher course; (b) who have never completed a research-based degree before (such as students who completed a Master’s degree by coursework). It is also aimed at prospective postgraduate students as well as staff in research departments of government agencies and business firms who wish to brush up on their basic understanding and knowledge of research.

Purpose of the course:

This short learning programme is intended as a foundation for research methodology aimed at postgraduate students and researchers in the social sciences. Postgraduate – and increasingly even undergraduate – study requires that a student be able to conduct rigorous and cutting-edge research and to communicate the research and the research results in a clear, transparent and understandable manner. Students should now be familiar with the basics of research methodology. The aim of this intensive course is to provide an overview of research methods (techniques), how to improve scientific thinking and writing, and how to communicate research findings. The general outcomes of this short learning programme include familiarising the student with the dimensions and methods of research and to orient the student to make an informed choice from a large number of research designs and associated methodologies available. Students will also be enabled to formulate and present a good research proposal. The programme will aim to familiarise the student with the nature of research and scientific writing and to empower the student with the knowledge and skills they would need to undertake a research project and to write a scientific article.

Admission requirements:

Admission requirements: 
Researchers and/or (prospective) Master’s and/or PhD students who would already have an honours degree (or an equivalent four-year degree) in the social sciences or a related field can be admitted to the programme. They must have a basic understanding of research and an indicated area of application and implementation.
Learning assumed to be in place: 
Basic understanding and interest in social sciences research

Course outcomes and assessment criteria :

Course outcomes and the associated assessment criteria: 

Study Unit

Outcomes

Assessment Criteria

 

After completion of this course, participants will: Participant will be assessed on the following criteria:
Study Unit 1: Introduction to Science and Research To define research and describe the research process and research methods Indicate and justify an appropriate research method and process to be followed in research
Study Unit 2: Research Questions and Programmes in Optentia To understand the research context within the Faculty of Humanities Identify an appropriate sub-programme of research within the Faculty in which your research programme will be located
Study Unit 3: The Research Process at NWU To understand the processes and requirements for conducting successful research at the NWU Fulfil the requirements of the basic regulations and Guide for Postgraduate research with respect to starting and completing research
Study Unit 4: Basic Aspects of Research To know how to apply the basic aspects of the research process in order to plan and execute a research project that adheres to ethical principles Plan a research project on a topic relevant to your subject area and write a draft research proposal for this research project
Study Unit 5: Literature and Resources To effectively use the library and its resources in gathering information related to the research project Find two international journal articles relevant to your topic of research; two national journal articles relevant to your topic of research; two newspaper articles relevant to your topic of research; two dissertations, and two theses relevant to your topic of research.
 

Use the sources you found in the library, and write a synthesis (1 A4 page) to summarise the gist of the conceptual framework on which your research topic will focus

Study Unit 6: Basics of Qualitative Research To understand qualitative research and data collection methods and apply qualitative research principles to execute trustworthy qualitative research.
 

To understand the process of sampling, the use of questionnaires as data-gathering instruments, how a survey is carried out in terms of process and method, the uses of surveys and to be able to capture their own data.

Analyse a published qualitative study and comment on the rationale for using the qualitative approach, data-collection methods, sampling strategy, data analyses and trustworthiness of the design.
 

Carry out power analyses and sampling for study, design a questionnaire to answer specific research questions, select a research design most appropriate to the research questions, and do data capturing in an appropriate software programme

Study Unit 7: Basics of Quantitative Research To understand quantitative research and data collection methods and apply quantitative research principles to execute valid and reliable quantitative research Analyse a published quantitative study and comment on the suitability and rationale for using the quantitative approach, the strategy of inquiry, the methods for data collection, the sampling strategy, how reliability and validity were ensured and the procedures used for data analyses
Study Unit 8: Basics of Mixed Method Research

To understand mixed method research and data collection methods and apply mixed method research principles to execute rigorous mixed method research

To use software to conduct large-scale qualitative content analyses

Analyse a published mixed method study and comment on the suitability and rational for using the mixed method approach, the strategies of inquiry, the methods for data collection, the sampling strategies, how reliability and validity and trustworthiness were guaranteed and the procedures used for data analyses.

Use Atlas.ti to conduct large-scale qualitative content analyses

Study Unit 9: Introduction to SPSS To use SPSS to conduct statistical analyses Determine assumptions of statistical analyses; summarise data by computing descriptive statistics, determine relationships between variables by computing correlations and regression equations; compare means of populations; compute non-parametric statistics and interpret test statistics; assess the construct validity and reliability of a questionnaire/test
Study Unit 10: Advanced Uses of SPSS and Mplus To be able to use SPSS and Mplus to perform multivariate statistical analyses, including exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, one-way and multivariate analysis of variance, multiple regression analysis, logistic regression analysis, structural equation modelling, mediation and moderation effects and measurement invariance Select the correct statistical techniques for a specific research design, study population, apply SPSS and Mplus to perform the analyses, apply guidelines to assess effects, report results correctly in tables, and interpret results correctly OR Use a predetermined dataset and perform exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, multiple regression analyses, mediation and moderation effects, and measurement invariance testing and interpret these
Study Unit 11: Writing and publishing research

To be able to review and publish scientific articles

To be able to write a research proposal

Evaluate the quality of scientific articles according to specific criteria.

Write a research proposal according to the guidelines

 

Method of assessment: 
Formative assessment will include multiple choice tests, as well as case studies. Summative assessment is done one month after completion of this course through the research proposal. This proposal will be evaluated on criteria by three independent judges (researchers)

Additional information

Mode of delivery: 
Contact
Target group: 
The target group is postgraduate students (a) who have been out of a research environment for a period of time since completing either a Honours or Master’s degree and require a refresher course; (b) who have never completed a research-based degree before (such as students who completed a Master’s degree by coursework). It is also aimed at prospective postgraduate students as well as staff in research departments of government agencies and business firms who wish to brush up on their basic understanding and knowledge of research.
Contact us
Name: 
Prof Tumi Khumalo
Telephone number: 
016 910 3397