Research Methods

Overview

The first coursework assignment (CW1) requires you to write a 1500-word practical report summarising a piece of qualitative research that you have conducted. We will introduce the practical, provide you with some interview data, and give guidance on transcription and analysis during your workshops in week three, four and five. Marking criteria are provided in Appendix 1.

How assignment satisfies leaning objectives/outcomes
The assignment satisfies the first three learning outcomes in terms of:

  1. Demonstrating knowledge of how to design, conduct, and analyse the results of qualitative studies
  2. Demonstrating a critical appreciation of the strengths and limitations of qualitative research methods
  3. Demonstrating an understanding of ethical considerations as outlined in the British Psychological Society’s Ethical Principles for Conducting Research with Human Participants as well as broader professional issues in psychological research, such as open science, replicability, and study pre-registration.

In addition, it also equips you with all transferable skills concerning:
        1.      Investigating problems using rigorous scientific methods

        2.      Identifying relevant, reliable, and valid sources of information

        3.      Analysing and interpreting qualitative data

4.      Writing clear and concise research reports and proposals

5.      Synthesising and summarising complex information

Topic area

The theoretical background to which (experiences of ‘Stop and Search’ in ethnic minority communities) will already be familiar to you, having been addressed in 5001PC and 5003PC.  Some relevant reading will also be provided on the module webpage (Viki et al. 2006).

Word guide

It is suggested that you aim to write approximately 1500 words in total. You may exceed the word guide by a small amount (approximately 10% or 150 words). Word guides for the main sections of the report are as follows:

  • Abstract: 150 words
  • Introduction: 400 words
  • Method: 200 words (including sub-sections for Design and participants, Data gathering and ethics, and Data analysis procedure. Note: this will be quite brief as you are using secondary data)
  • Results: 400 words (the word count does not include quotations from interview transcripts)
  • Discussion: 350 words

Marking

In order to pass the assignment you need to achieve a mark of at least 40%. Marking criteria are outlined below in appendix 1. Marks and feedback will usually be returned 15 working days weeks from the submission date. You will have the opportunity to re-sit the assignment if you fail, with marks capped at 40%.

Referencing, plagiarism and collusion

Coventry University has adopted APA 7th edition as the standard format for citations and references. The Centre for Academic Writing (located next to the library) can provide detailed support on the APA 7th Edition referencing style.

The University takes very seriously any attempt to cheat in coursework or examinations by any student and if a case is proven this can result in expulsion from the University.  Cheating refers to plagiarism, collusion, taking unauthorised materials into an examination (this list is not exhaustive). Please refer to the essential information within your Student Handbook and the Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct Policy.

Even though you will be discussing your practical report (CW1) with other students during your workshops it is essential that your assignments are completed independently. Failure to adhere to this could result in your work being investigated for collusion.

Other sources of support and information

You will receive detailed guidance regarding the assignment during the relevant workshop classes (see above). It goes without saying that you should attend these classes, pay close attention, participate fully in the activities, and make careful notes! If there is anything that you don’t understand, please make use of the General Discussion Forum on the module webpage and post your questions.

Several helpful resources will also be made available on the module webpage as we progress through the semester. For ease, these will be posted under the relevant workshops and also compiled in the Assignment information section. In addition to this Assignment Brief, you should make use of the following:

  • Marking guidelines for qualitative reports
  • Key reading (e.g., Viki et al. 2006)
  • Your secondary interview data
  • Reading on Thematic Analysis by Braun and Clarke (2006)

Finally, don’t forget to review the other essential texts in your Reading List.

Appendix 1

Marking Criteria for qualitative report

Marking Criteria (Weighting)Poor (0-35)Fair (42, 45, 48)Good (52, 55, 58)Very Good (62, 65, 68)Excellent (72-100)
Abstract (5%)Incoherent, grossly misrepresented and/or poorly structured summary. At the lower end, virtually no or missing abstract. (0-1)Serious omissions, lack of clarity and/or misrepresented summary of report. Very limited or excess detail evident.  (3)Partially complete, clear, and accurate. One salient aspect is omitted. Excess detail and/or repetition evident. (3-4)Complete, clear, and accurate. Most salient aspects of the report are summarised and in the correct order. Minor redundancy or excess detail evident. (4)Fully complete, succinct, and accurate. All salient aspects of the report are summarised and in the correct order. (4-5)
Introduction (25%)  Very brief/missing discussion of the theoretical basis and research background to the study. No critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation of key literature. The work relies exclusively on dated sources or irrelevant sources. The study rationale is incoherent/ virtually missing, and there is no/or minimal justification for the research question. The research question maybe completely incoherent. The question fails to reflect two or more of the phenomena, qualitative approach, sample and focus of the study and question is not suitable and cannot be addressed. At the lower end the research question may be missing altogether. (0-9)Some fair discussion of the theoretical and research background to the study, although one or the other might be lacking/missing. Minimal critical analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of key literature. The work may rely quite heavily on dated or irrelevant sources. The study rationale is incoherent/ virtually missing, and the research question lacks justification. The research question is incoherent. The question fails to reflect two or more of the phenomena, qualitative approach sample and focus of the study and question would be difficult to address/answer. (10-12)Good discussion of the theoretical basis and research background to the topic, although one or the other might be lacking. Analysis, synthesis and evaluation of key literature is somewhat evident. The study rationale may lack clarity in summarising the key flaws of past work and justifying the current research question. The research question is only partly clear. It does not fully reflect the phenomena, qualitative approach, sample and focus of the study. The question may be slightly vague or broad to the point where it is becoming difficult to address/ answer. (13-14)    Very good discussion of the theoretical basis and research background to the topic. Critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation of the most relevant, up-to-date literature is mostly evident in setting up the study rationale and justification for the current research question. The research question is clearly and fully stated. It mostly reflects the phenomena, qualitative approach, sample and focus of the study and is clear how it could be answered. (15-17)Excellent discussion of the theoretical basis and research background to the topic. Critical analysis, synthesis and evaluation of the most relevant, up-to-date literature is evident in setting up the current study rationale and research question. The research question is clearly and fully stated. It completely reflects the phenomena, qualitative approach, sample and focus of the study and is totally clear how it could be answered. (18-25)      
Methods (20%)Few relevant details are provided, and replication would require substantial additional questioning. The research design is grossly inaccurate &/or missing (including justification for the philosophical approach taken). Other sub-sections (i.e., participants, data gathering and ethics, data analysis procedures) contain incoherent, limited or redundant content. Poor consideration or omission of standard ethical issues.  (0-7)  Some relevant details provided although replication would require substantial additional questioning. The research design is inaccurate (including justification for the philosophical approach taken). Other sub-sections (i.e., participants, data gathering and ethics, data analysis procedures), are incomplete, incoherent and/or lack understanding. Only bare minimum ethical issues are considered. (8-9)  Some good detail provided although replication would require some additional, non-trivial questioning. The research design is only partly accurate (including justification for the philosophical approach taken). The description of other sub-sections (i.e., participants, data gathering and ethics, data analysis procedures) lack clarity and/or include redundant/excessive content. Most ethical issues are considered. (10-11)Mostly comprehensive and coherent description presented in very good detail that will allow replication with minimal further questioning or clarification. The research design is mostly clear and accurate (including a justification for the philosophical approach taken). The description of other sub-sections (i.e., participants, data gathering and ethics, data analysis procedures) are mostly clear and precise. Consideration of ethical issues associated with the study are acknowledged. (12-13)Fully comprehensive and coherent description presented in excellent detail that will allow replication with no further questioning or clarification. The research design is described fully and accurately (including a justification for the philosophical approach taken). The description of the other sub-sections (i.e., participants, data gathering and ethics, data analysis procedures) is all succinctly described and precise. Dutiful consideration of all ethical issues associated with the study are acknowledged. (14-20)
Analysis (20%)The data has not been analysed properly. At the bottom-end, it may be incomplete or missing. The brief overview is missing, along with the omission of the thematic table/map. The attempt at the analysis is incoherent. Theme identification is lacking with inappropriate labelling and description. At the bottom-end, theme identification may be missing altogether. Minimal or excessive data extracts are used but inappropriately (e.g., paraphrased). The commentary is virtually missing or superficial (e.g., describing only the data). The research question, if it exists, cannot be answered. (0-7)    Inadequate presentation and disorganisation of the analysis. The brief overview is missing, incoherent or fails to identify the theme(s)/sub-themes properly.  A thematic table/map is likely to be missing or difficult to interpret if included. The analysis is not set out according to theme sub-headings and the labelling of the theme(s) is inappropriate. Inadequate description of each theme/sub-theme provided. Data extracts are used inappropriately (i.e., large volume) and lack support of theme derivation. The commentary of the theme content (i.e., data extracts used) is virtually missing or superficial. It bears no relevance to answering the research question. (8-9)Relatively good presentation of the analysis but with some minor disorganisation. The brief overview may identify the theme(s)/sub-themes too broadly or in excessive detail.  A thematic table/map may be included but only partly defined. The analysis may not be clearly set-out under theme sub-headings and/or the labelling of some theme maybe inappropriate and lack meaningfulness. Good description of each theme/sub-theme supported by data extracts but maybe lacking either vividness, representativeness, or use of appropriate volume. The interpretative commentary of the theme content (i.e., data extracts used) maybe lacking and only partly transparent to the reader. It’s relevance to answering the research question is not explicit enough. (10-11)Very good presentation and organisation of the analysis. The brief overview captures the identified theme(s)/sub-themes very well and is supported by a clear thematic table/map. The analysis is set-out under theme sub-headings that are mostly sensibly and meaningfully labelled. Very good description of each theme/sub-theme mostly supported by data extracts that are vivid, representative, and used in appropriate volume. The interpretative commentary of the theme content (i.e., data extracts used) is very good and mostly transparent to the reader. It is also relevant to answering the research question. (12-13) Excellent presentation and organisation of the analysis. The brief overview impressively captures the identified theme(s)/sub-themes and is supported by a clearly defined thematic table/map. The analysis is set-out under theme sub-headings that are sensibly and meaningfully labelled. Excellent description of each theme/sub-theme fully supported by carefully chosen data extracts that are vivid, representative, and used in appropriate volume. The interpretative commentary of the theme content (i.e., data extracts used) is excellent and transparent to the reader. It is also fully relevant to answering the research question. (14-20)
Discussion (25%)Minimal discussion. The summary and interpretation of the findings is incoherent or missing. The discussion may not be linked to background theory and research or relevant to past literature on the topic. Implications (e.g., theoretical, practical), limitations (e.g., qualitative approach taken) and future directions are severely lacking, entirely basic/ exhaustive or missing (as is the. overall conclusion). (0-9)    Limited discussion or confusion over interpreting the findings with unclear, incoherent, or incomplete explanations. The summary is confused, incoherent, elemental, or incomplete. The discussion of the findings in relation to theory and/or extant literature reviewed on the topic is limited, incoherent or incomplete. Implications (e.g., theoretical, practical), limitations (e.g., qualitative approach) and future directions are lacking or too basic. The conclusion is either missing or does not offer a clear ‘take-home message’. (10-12)Generally good discussion of the meaning of the study findings, although with some controversial or unclear explanations. The summary of the findings is somewhat clear but may be incomplete or contain redundant/incorrect content. Good discussion of how the findings relate to relevant theory and the extant literature reviewed on the topic, although this maybe incomplete or incoherent. Implications (e.g., theoretical, practical), limitations (e.g., qualitative approach taken) and future directions are identified but maybe exhaustive/limited, less pertinent, or unclear. The conclusion does not offer a clear ‘take-home message’. (13-14)Very good all-round discussion of the meaning of the study findings. The summary of the key findings is mostly clear, concise, and precise. There is a relatively clear, intelligent, and comprehensive account of how the findings relate to relevant theory and the extant literature reviewed on the topic. Identification and a succinct explanation of some pertinent study implications (e.g., theoretical, practical), limitations (e.g., qualitative approach taken) and future directions. A short conclusion with a relatively clear ‘take-home message’. (15-17)Excellent all-round discussion of the meaning of the study findings. The summary of the key findings is clear, concise, and precise. There is a clear, intelligent, and comprehensive account of how the findings relate to relevant theory and the extant literature reviewed on the topic. Identification and a succinct explanation of the most pertinent study implications (e.g., theoretical, practical), limitations (e.g., qualitative approach taken) and future directions. A short conclusion with a clear ‘take-home message’. (18-25)
General (5%)There are persistent grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors throughout the entire work. Writing style is informal, incoherent or unclear. General presentation is poor, ignoring conventional ordering of sections, use of sub-headings and APA formatting. APA7 adopted for references and in-text citations are poorly formatted. Referencing may also be sparse.    There are grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Writing style may frequently be informal and there may be multiple sections that lack clarity. General presentation is fair, although there is deviation from the ordering of sections and use of sub-headings. APA formatting is lacking. APA7 adopted for references and in-text citations contain frequent errors and omissions. Referencing may also be limited. (3)There may be some grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors. Academic writing style is appropriate but there may be sections that lack clarity. General presentation and ordering of sections, including table/figure formatting and use of (sub)headings is good but deviates from APA standards. References and in-text citations adopt APA7 formatting style but with some errors and omissions. (3-4)  Grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be mostly accurate. Academic writing style is mostly appropriate although there may be some minor deviations from this. General presentation and ordering of sections, including table/figure formatting and use of (sub)headings, follows APA standards. References and in-text citations are fully congruent with APA7 formatting style. (4)    Excellent attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Academic writing style is entirely appropriate. General presentation and ordering of sections, including table/figure formatting and use of (sub)headings, adheres to APA style. References and in-text citations are fully congruent with APA7 formatting style. (4-5)  

Appendix 2

Title page and feedforward form (to go at the beginning of your coursework submissions)

TITLE PAGE

COURSE:

MODULE TITLE:

MODULE CODE:

WORD COUNT:

ORIGINALITY STATEMENT:

☐I declare that this is entirely my own independent work, and that all sources of information I have used to help me develop this work have been accurately cited and referenced. This assessment is in accordance with University guidance on good academic conduct

Feedforward Page

Feedforward – What do I want to learn from the feedback on this assignment?

Feedback is a two-way process. We want to understand how previous feedback has helped you develop your learning, and to hear which areas you would particularly like feedback on for this assignment. Please answer the following questions on this front sheet before submitting, so that markers will know this information. This will not be included in the word limit.

Summary of Developmental Feedback I’ve had from previous assignments
 e.g. Completeness: Too descriptive, not analytical enough
             
Summarise how I’ve tried to respond to that feedback in this assignment
e.g. I’ve weighed up evidence using previous research to back up my analysis.
             

Which areas of this assignment would you particularly like feedback on?

Summarise what I want feedback on this time
e.g. Have I demonstrated greater analytical skill in this assignment by using evidence?