UTS Library

Research Methods 16238

This guide has been constructed to touch on the various resources that might be useful in helping you complete your research proposal assignment for Research Methods 16238. It covers what a reserach proposal is, what types of information are out there, both freely and via the library's holdings, and finally what you might use those information resources for.

 

The Research Proposal

A research proposal is usually an initial step in a longer process of research, the final product of which is often a dissertation or thesis. However the research proposal can just as easily be used in a business or organizational context. In any context the purpose and use of the reserach proposal should be the same:

* It identifies a gap in the existing literature on a given topic

* It proposes a way in which this gap might be filled with research

* It proposes a methodology by which the research can be assessed.

There is a lot of good information in the library about the research proposal. The best place to look is the library catalogue, where you will find books and scanned readings to assist you. Because your research proposal is not for a research degree, its a good idea to balance what you might read against the ideas of your lecturer.

A document from our catalogue describing the research proposal process

Information Types

Books - Books are good starting points for an information search. They are detailed, and often take an instructional approach - introducing you to a topic and explaining it to you as a teacher might. Books are a good way to ground yourself in theoretical and procedural issues, that are neccesary for you to form a core body of knowledge you can then apply to your research. Examples include the research process and background information on strata title, or coal seam gas exploration. General and comprehensive, what the book is often not very good at is providing you with specifics, or examples.

Where to look - books are everywhere -but the library catalogue is a good place to start looking. From our library catalouge you can also access the BONUS service - which contains 10 million books from a variety of Australian and New Zealand universities.

News

News is premised around facts. Dates, people, places and events. For this reason news is a good way to locate issues in time, and provide examples of things occuring. News is the forefront of information, so it arrives first, before anyone can turn the facts into analysis. When you are doing research often news will be useful as it will provide indications of trends and provide timeframes for you to test ideas you might have about whether there are patterns occuring in business cycles or people's behaviour.

Where to look - News is freely available on the internet and also via library subscription in places like Factiva. Remember to use capitalized joining terms like AND in Factiva, and to use inverted commas around phrases like "coal seam gas".

Data - Data is a growth industry in the information field, and is useful for researchers especially because it provides something tangible and factual to support or test assumptions, theories and arguments. Frequently a person doing research will assemble their own data, but increasingly they will provide that raw data online after they have completed their research to advantage others. Still other forms of data are bought from companies or made available by governments and orgs.

Where to look -

For residential house price data - both on an individual unt level and also by suburb - you can use library subscription services like RP Data (now called Property Info) and Domain (now called Pricefinder)  Though it isn't pertinent to the research proposal assignment you have been assigned for 2013, CityScope also provides data on high rise retail and commercial leases. IF you look up a building on CityScope, like The Peak, you should be given a lot number, which you can then search for in RP Data using the 'parcel search' option.

For economic figures, industry reports and census data - there is the Australian Bureau of Statistics service. IBISWorld also offers industry based information for Australia. You can get a report on the australian mining industry here, for example. MintGlobal provides information on a company level, for international companies, and Company 360 for Australian companies.

For general data - portals like Statista offer a promising step forward but are still in the fledgling stage at this point and likely will not be of much use to you for your 2013 assignment questions

Government and Organisational Reports
If your research has anything to do with governmental business or policy, or is to do with an issue controlled by a peak body, or an NGO, then these bodies will be sources of invaluable reports and documentation that is often in effect research, though may not meet the strict criteria of research - which is that it is peer reviewed. The other good thing about government and organisational reports is that they are for the most part free and findable via an internet search.

Where to look - Google will let you specify government and organisational material by using an inurl search. Eg: coal seam gas inurl:.gov.au or m7 motoway inurl:.nsw.gov.au . This type of search will return only hits that have the type of website you specify in their url.

Trade journals and repository articles - These are forms of writing that sit between news and research articles on the scale of academic rigour, and in some ways sit alongside government and organizational reports in that they are written by professionals to inform and involve analysis and research, but are not peer reviewed. Despite not being peer reviewed they can be useful, especially if peer reviewed content is not available.

Where to look - Google Scholar has repository articles, which are usually written by research students or staff in an academic setting but are published in house, or are published 'inpress' whilst the author is looking for an academic publisher. Trade journals can be found in library proprietary databases like Proquest.

 

Research articles and theses - Research articles and theses are published in an academic setting and are subject to peer review before publication. The process of peer review subjects the content of these materials to methodological scrutiny and is intended to produce verifyable, reproducable and definite conclusions and thus assure quality and rigour. This is especially so in the hard sciences, but applies also to social sciences including economics.

Where to look - Google Scholar has reseach material, but it is mixed in with non research material so you will need to know how to identify it. Large 'aggregating' databases like Proquest contain research articles and theses, mixed in with other material, but do let you sort according to your taste. Some databases, like Scopus and Web of Science, contain only research material.

Trove (the National Library of Australia database) also contains PHD theses, a lot of which are scanned and availabel in full. Restrict your trove search to 'thesis' to find them. 

Research Tools - Tools like Ulrichsweb and Journal Citation Reports can help you verify whether a journal is peer reviewed, and if so, what it's 'quality' is.

Ulrichsweb - type the name of a journal into ulrichs and it will tell you whether it is peer reviewed. Useful if you find something in Google Scholar.

Journal Citation Reports - will show how many citations are generated by the average article in a journal. Using these figures it will then rank journal titles in their field.

EndNote - Is a piece of referencing software that helps document references as you research, stores these references for you, and then can turn these references into a bibliography according to various referencing styles, including Harvard UTS. EndNote also does in-text referencing.