This course is about obtaining research skills related to designing a research project proposal. It relates to the MEEM final attainment target no. 7 (“Graduates have academic and research skills, such as critically reflecting on literature, designing a research proposal and executing and reporting on an (applied) research project.”), and comes with a focus on skills related to the very first stage of doing research.
This course builds upon the knowledge and skills acquired in the MEEM Academic research skills course in quartile 2. At the same time, it is the preparatory stage for the Master thesis project.|
As such it flows from:
- choosing your specialization;
- getting assigned two supervisors;
- choosing your topic;
- doing preliminary research into relevant theories and methodologies, as well as into possible empiricaly;
- determining your research question(s);
- writing your draft proposal;
- submitting your final proposal.
While this seems like a linear process, one should keep in mind that between steps 4-7 you may find you will move back and forth. This is not unusual, but it is important that students keep in close contact with your supervisors (especially the 1st) if only to avoid unnecessary loss of time.
There is a dual work-process across this course:
Time planning of the lead process is arranged between the student and his/her (1st) supervisor(s); planning of the support process is managed by the course coordinator. As this is a 3EC course it involves a nominal workload of 84 hours, so about 1 day a week across the 10 weeks of the
- The lead/primary process is that of periodical meetings between the student and her/his (1st) supervisor(s), basically to discuss and go through the above 7 steps. "There should be at least 2 meetings: one at the start of Q3 (first Ideas / most important work arrangements), and one at the end of Q3 (discuss draft proposal/ make follow-up arrangements for Q4 – this meeting could be at the very beginning of Q4) – ideally students and his/her supervisors also arrange for a mid-Q3 meeting (discuss & evaluate progress / new arrangements);
- The support/secondary process is that of several compulsory activities that students need to engage in. These are outlined on Canvas but will surely include: a. a peer-2-peer presentation and discussion of draft research questions (and supporting theory and methodology) b. a meeting/workshop on literature reviewing.
While the lead process is specifically linked to the individual student's thesis project, the support process has a more generic objective, which should support work in the lead process but also supports general understanding of what makes for good scientific research, while the students can use
their own project to reflect and compare (content and progress) with that of others.
As regards the assessment, activities in the support process require (serious) participation in all compulsory activities to get a ‘pass’, while the lead process is about the assignment of producing a proper Thesis proposal to get a ‘pass”. Two/both ‘passes’ are required for obtaining the final pass on the whole course.
NB1: a pass on the Thesis proposal means that the proposal will also be forwarded to the coordinator of Academic research skills for the final assessment of its fit with the requirements of that course (without any positive or negative consequence for the pass in this course).
NB2: a pass on the Thesis proposal does not exclude the possibility that thesis supervisors may later require improvements as part of the Master thesis project (in quartile 4). The assessment (pass/fail) in this (quartile 3) course will be on having made proper progress serious progress that at least addresses all key components of a proposal and reflects a coherent at least basic understanding of relevant theories and methodologies. If that is not the case, then a ‘fail’ is given which means that improvements need to be made (until a ‘pass’ is given) before this course is concluded.
NB3: a fail given for the support process (activities) will bring that a replacement assignment will be prescribed (on for each activity that was not seriously participated in). Only when sufficiently fulfilled can the ‘fail’ assessment be changed to a ‘pass’.