Coursework Research project:U22244 Masters Project Preparation

Masters Project Preparation Coursework

University of Portsmouth

Project Preparation Coursework

Assessment No: 1

U22244|Masters Project Preparation Coursework

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U22244 Masters Project Preparation Coursework Research project management


1: Research Question / hypothesis: (5 marks)

Outline the research question / hypothesis you will use either for the project as a whole (if a study project), or to help you structure your literature review (if an engineering project).

Explain why you have selected the research question, why you feel it will be useful, and also note any personal biases that you think you might bring to the research question. You should also consider the difficulties might you face trying to answer this research question?

(See SWS 4 “The Write up” for a discussion of the research question)

2. Literature Review: (50 marks)

Prepare a short academic paper, which compares three (or more) research papers in an area that relates to your project. The comparison should be placed in the wider academic context (e.g by reference to other papers – perhaps those you aren’t considering in depth), and should include a discussion of the approach you are taking to the comparison. This should have a conference paper like structure, with the following elements:

  • Title Author Abstract Keywords Introduction (Sections as you require: This part of your paper ought to compare the different arguments advanced in the three papers) Conclusion References

You should ensure that you have cited and referenced your work correctly.

Your paper should be a 'conference' type paper, maximum length 1500 words (excluding any appendices), and you should follow a presentation format, such as the one described below: eWIC template MSWordPC .dot

(See SWS 1 for ideas about how to carry out this part.)


The first appendix is mandatory and will be worth 5 marks (of the 50 for this component)

  • A supplement to your bibliography. This should outline why you have selected particular papers; for example;
    • the date published (hint: Use the advanced search features to find work that has been published recently);
    • frequently cited (hint: Use Google Scholar to find out how many times it’s been cited) A novel approach to gathering/ analysing the data A particularly extensive bibliography Etc.
    The following are not mandatory, but could be included if you want feedback on them.
  • A list of search terms/phrases you used to start your searching, including phrases that didn’t work & why you thought they didn’t work, as well as the databases / search sites you used. A mind map showing how your paper developed. Any list of papers you felt weren’t suitable for inclusion (and reasons!) Any other blog posts/notes you have made during the planning.

3: Research Design/ Data collection: (25 marks)

Either: (If your intended project has a substantial element of primary data collection)

Outline the way in which you intend to gather data. This should include an overview of the research paradigm you intend to use, and the appropriate research methods. Make sure that you cover methods of data collection (e.g. survey/interview/online survey/ethnographic study etc.) focussing on reasons for your choice(s), and how it will help you answer your research question. You should indicate potential issues that could occur, during the collection of the data. Ideally, include a draft set of interview questions/questionnaire etc, as one of the appendices.

You should also discuss how you intend to analyse the data, once you have gathered it.

[N.B. We do not expect to see an in depth discussion of the differences between surveys and interviews etc., with an “I’ll use …” tagged on at the end. The selection of an appropriate tool, and the discussion of your choices will demonstrate that you know the differences between the methods]

Remember to tie this into the research question you outlined in part 1!

Or: (If your intended project is likely to not have a substantial element of primary data collection)


Identify sources of published data (e.g. the types of sites we looked at in SWS 3) that could be of use to you to support your research. Try to be critical of the data – for example, how reliable is it? What bias could the data collector have had? How relevant is it (e.g. look at the date gathered, the location gathered etc)? What about the questions that were asked? Could they be useful for part of your own data gathering? Remember: Link the data you’re planning to gather back to the research question you outlined in part 1!

In both cases: This section should be no more than 500 words long (excluding any appendices), you should cite and reference your work correctly. Remember to check if you are at all unsure about referencing particular types of source.

4: Ethical, legal and professional considerations: (20 marks)

Write a 500 word report on the potential ethical, legal and professional issues that could arise in the project you are planning, or – if your ideas are not yet finalized – in a project of a similar nature to the one you anticipate doing.

Further information.

Along with a project specification, due before you start work on your project, you will have to complete an ethical review form for your particular project. For this part of the coursework, we would like you to consider the broader ethical, professional and legal issues that could be encountered in a similar project. It may be that when you complete the ethical review form, you are able to select the “right” boxes, knowing that the type of data you will be using will not be confidential; or perhaps that you know all your potential interviewees will be over 18. For this report, it may help you to think about the “worst case scenario” / “what could go wrong” – i.e. those types of situations where you may need to tick the “wrong” boxes.

The type of aspects you may wish to consider in this report could be:

  • Legal issues
    • Relating in particular to a named country (not necessarily UK/EU, if you intend to work further afield).
    • Data protection.
  • Professional issues:
    • Codes of conduct from named countries.
    • Issues of re-use of others’ material – be it code / intellectual property.
    • Issues of protection of personal data.
    • Safety critical systems
  • Ethical Issues
    • Working with vulnerable individuals (e.g. under 18, those with reduced mental capacity)
    • Political issues – for example working in an environment with ethical standards with which you personally disagree.

This should be presented as a brief report, as such, you are more likely to be referring to professional / legal documentation than academic references. You may also want to use more of a report structure and language. (See or other items in Academic Skills Unit (ASK} pages at Portsmouth to help you understand the difference between a report and an academic essay)

Don’t forget …

There is information about critical writing etc., on the ASK website – you can get to this from the Student portal, the Library page or Moodle. The information is there … USE IT!


There is a FAQ – this is currently based on questions from previous years, but will be updated if new questions come in this year.

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