In embarking on your Honours candidature, you will need to identify a research topic and review the existing research and literature.
Areas of new research may come from problems to be solved or obvious gaps in previous research. Some students may have already identified an area of interest. For others, the area of interest might have been identified after discussions with potential supervisors. Whatever the source, the research area needs to be:
The process of identifying and developing an appropriate research topic requires wide reading, including:
This reading should complement discussions with the supervisor, research students and others within the University.
The University's library staff can help in identifying relevant literature. For more information see the ECU library website.
An essential first step in your research is converting an area of interest into a defined question that can be answered. Depending on the field of research, the problem can be defined as a question to be answered (for example in Social Science) or a hypothesis that can be supported or rejected (experimental sciences).
Successful research often depends on the ability of the researcher to get answers to their research problem. Confining the research problem to a well-defined question makes it easier to assess whether the objectives of the research can be achieved.
You will need to carry out a literature review in two stages. The first stage is carried out while deciding on a topic. The review will be included in the research proposal.
The second is a thorough investigation of literature relevant to your research. This review will be included in your final thesis.
The literature search involves three categories of material:
Some research studies will actually use the literature as a source of data. Examples of such studies include investigations of methodologies, bibliometrics, analysis of literary works and some historical studies.
The review should not only summarise relevant information, but also support the feasibility of your proposed research and place it in the context of the discipline or subject area.
It may also outline a conceptual framework or identify a theoretical base from the literature for the research project.
We recommend that from the beginning of your candidature you use bibliographic software such as EndNote to manage your references in a private library. Endnote is available for students to download from the ECU library web pages.
A search plan should be developed before starting the major review of related research and literature. Essential parts of the plan include:
Where relevant, non-print materials including audio and videotapes, movie film and photographic and graphic materials should also be viewed.
Consider the following procedures while carrying out a literature search:
A referencing style appropriate to the discipline should be used consistently throughout the thesis for in-text and end referencing. Consult with your supervisor regarding referencing style.
It is essential that you exercise great care with referencing to avoid accusations of plagiarism that can lead to the imposition of severe penalties including exclusion from the course.
The research design is critical to the success of the research project. If an inappropriate or incorrect design is chosen, you may find you are unable to find answers to your research questions.
Every school has their own process, with timelines and deadlines that you need to adhere to when undertaking an Honours degree. Your School Honours Coordinator can provide more information.
The following documentation should be submitted either by you or your supervisor to the School Honours Coordinator, in a timely manner as per the Honours program timeline:
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