As a postgraduate research candidate you will need to determine your research topic, define a question to be answered and undertake your literature review.
We recommend that from the beginning of your candidature you use bibliographic software such as EndNote to manage your references in a private library
Working with your supervisor to develop your research design and a search plan will be helpful in managing your time achieving success in your research.
Areas of new research may come from problems to be solved or obvious gaps in previous research. You may have already identified an area of interest. Or, 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 theses and dissertations, reports, journal articles, books, and reviews in related areas. This reading should complement discussions with the supervisor, research candidates and others within the University.
You are strongly advised to seek the assistance of the University’s library staff in identifying relevant literature in the area being considered for research. Information on library resources, including staff specialising in specific disciplines, can be found via the ECU library website.
An essential first step in your research is to convert an area of interest or problem 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.
The literature review should:
You will need to carry out a literature review in two stages. The first stage is carried out while deciding on a topic. This 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.
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.
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.
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.
A referencing style appropriate to the discipline should be used consistently throughout the thesis for in-text and end referencing. Consult with your supervisors 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.
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