Research Project IV (Thesis Preparation) BGN301

Plan a Major Research Project that will Culminate in a Thesis Presentation
  • Learn to prepare for and plan a thesis.
  • Start any time, work at your own pace
  • Be guided by highly qualified and experienced academic tutors

This is a unique course developed to expand a person's knowledge of research methodology; for students, writers, academics and entrepreneurs.

Course Structure and Content
There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. The Problem Statement
    • Introduction
    • What is a problem
    • Selecting a topic
    • Structure of a problem statement
    • How does a problem statement relate to quantitative and qualitative research
    • Referencing and reference types
  2. The Literature Review Part One
    • What is a literature review
    • Relating your literature review to the problem statement
    • Types of literature
    • Collecting information
    • Finding literature: text books, journal articles, indexes, abstracts, internet
  3. The Literature Review Part Two
    • Critical reading
    • Literature review structure
    • Writing
    • Verbs
    • Quotations
    • Presentation of work
  4. The Hypothesis
    • What is a hypothesis
    • Definitions
    • Scientific method
    • Structuring a hypothesis
    • What is not a hypothesis
    • Null hypothesis
    • Correlation vs cause and effect
    • Occam's razor
  5. The Method
    • Introduction
    • Structuring your research method
    • Research strategy
    • Data collection
    • Quantitative data
    • Qualitative data
    • Data sampling
    • Sampling methods
    • Research integrity
  6. Data Collection
    • Introduction
    • Primary and secondary sources of data
    • Quantitative data
    • Qualitative data
    • Data collection
    • Literature review
    • Key informants
    • Experimental
    • Correlation
    • What is correlation
    • Questionnaires, Surveys and Tests
    • Interviews
    • Documentation
    • Observation
    • Focus groups
    • Case studies
    • Combination and triangulation
  7. Research Proposal
    • Introduction
    • Outline
    • Cover Page, abstract, introduction, problem statement, hypothesis, context background, literature survey, research methodology
    • Time schedule, budget, terminology, resource list, appendix
    • Academic writing
  8. Thesis Writing
    • Nature of thesis structure
    • Thesis structure guidelines: different types
  9. Ethics
    • Ethics of collecting data
    • Human research
    • Non human research
    • Ethics committee
    • Categories of research
  10. Where To From Here
    • Pitfalls
    • Finalising a thesis submission

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Course Duration:  100 hours

Selecting a topic/research problem

Before you start to think about writing a problem statement, thought and time need to be given to actually selecting a problem to research.  It is worth investing in this step carefully as the rest of your research will ride on selecting a problem that is interesting, relevant and manageable.

Define what interests you: although this sounds deceptively simple, it is important to find a topic that you consider interesting and worthy of spending time on, especially if you are considering a long term research project.  This is very important in terms of motivation to continue with your research.  Generally students will decide on a topic that they are already familiar with either from general interest or previous studies.  Thus they can build on an already solid foundation.  For example your passion may be marine mammals.

Refine your interests:  You need to narrow down the focus to one aspect of your topic.  You may not always have the latitude to select your own research topic, it may in some institutions be decided for you to fit in with research funding and other administrative concerns.   For example: you may decide to focus on Southern Right Whales in particular. This is still too general a topic for research so you will have to narrow your focus further still.

Background reading: At this stage you need to read widely to really narrow your focus down to a particular problem.    This will help you determine an area that others may consider worth further research and why.

Access to subjects & research materials: Consider if you can access subjects easily enough and in sufficient quantities, as well as any other materials you may need for your research.  Is it affordable and manageable?

When reading, keep a list of all sources as well as notes.  These can accumulate rapidly and need to be organised well.


Structure of a problem statement

There are many ways of structuring a problem statement.  Regardless of the parts of your problem statement, they will need to relate to each other.  Problem statements usually include the following:

  • A lead in: State your topic and get readers attention.  State why there is a problem, what are the variables?
  • Acknowledgment if this has been dealt with elsewhere (or lack off).  What questions does this raise and what are the consequences of investigation?
  • How will this be investigated?  What will be achieved by the study? Who will benefit?

Do not:

  • Imply blame
  • Point fingers
  • Make blanket statements
  • Use emotive language
  • Do not use “I”
  • Use Jargon

In its simplest form the problem statement can be dealt with in three sentences that

In its simplest form the problem statement can be dealt with in three sentences that

  1. Lead in
  2. Acknowledge previous studies or gaps; and what this study would achieve
  3. Justify the study

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Fee Information (S3)
Prices in Australian Dollars

PlanAust. PriceOverseas Price
A 1 x $834.96  1 x $759.05
B 2 x $451.44  2 x $410.40

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