Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Application Tools and Research Methods

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Rural Sciences and Food Systems

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will address two main components: (i) application tools with particular reference to statistical methods, and (ii) research methods.

The first component (statistical tools) will provide an overview of a range of tools and approaches relevant to data analysis and interpretation. The main tools to be investigated include:
- Combinatorics and Probability; Probability distributions (Normal distribution, t-distribution, Chi square distribution and F-distribution) Sampling techniques; Sampling distribution of means, proportions, difference of two means, difference of two proportions; Sample size calculation; Parametric tests (One-sample t-test. Paired samples t-test, Independent samples t-test and One-Way ANOVA test); Non-parametric tests (Sign test, Wilcoxon test, Mann Whitney test and Kruskal Wallis test)

The second component of the study-unit will address research methods, specifically knowledge and skills relevant to conducting original research and writing assignments and dissertations. Students will be guided through the process of identifying a suitable topic for research, structuring and planning their work, finding and appropriately utilizing relevant literature sources (including internet), developing and implementing a methodology, rigorously and objectively analyzing results obtained, and writing up/presenting their results and conclusions. The unit will also outline 'good practice' techniques relevant to producing high quality research. The students will also be guided to use on-line tools such as Turnitin in order to reduce the incidence of plagiarism in their work.

Study-unit Aims:

This study-unit aims:
- To familiarize students with a range of tools relevant research in the field of rural sciences;
- To enable students to appreciate that the choice of tool depends on various factors;
- To foster students' appreciation of the tool selection for particular rural sciences issues;
- To demonstrate how the development of 'solutions' to an issue are dependent on how the issue is framed;
- To familiarize students with the research planning process and its various stages;
- To develop students' research planning skills;
- To make students aware of fundamental tenets of good practice in academic research;
- To enable students to commence their dissertation planning.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Explain the scope and purpose of data gathering and data analysis and outline the process involved;
- Differentiate between the different statistical tools;
- Distinguish between qualitative, quantitative and mixed research;
- Explain the main characteristics of the different types of research methodologies;
- Understand the implications of plagiarism and raise awareness on how this can be avoided.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
- Identify a research topic and evaluate its feasibility;
- Develop a research question/hypothesis;
- Present a justification for research conducted;
- Develop a 'mind map’;
- Identify and critique relevant literature sources (including the internet);
- Evaluate the quality of source material;
- Plan and justify a research methodology;
- Outline a format for presentation of scientific research.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Greetham, B., 2008. How to Write Better Essays. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Wisker, G., 2001. The Postgraduate Research Handbook. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Peck, J. and Coyle, M., 2005. Write it Right: A handbook for students. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lecture notes and handouts.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Workshop

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation SEM1 Yes 10%
Assignment SEM1 Yes 40%
Workshop SEM1 Yes 50%

LECTURER/S Everaldo Attard (Co-ord.)
Liberato Camilleri

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The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.