Approaching the halfway mark of this course and I have to say I’m learning loads!
In the third week we covered actually starting research and the different sources available; including primary and secondary sources, academic journals, broadcast media and datasets. Most of which I already had some knowledge of from my studies with The Open University. Yet I found it useful to reinforce that knowledge.
We also covered ways of recording your findings, making it easier when it comes to referencing the sources at the end of your project. Something which I admit I tend to struggle with as I have no consistent way of noting down my sources; they tend to be jotted down here, there and everywhere so locating them when I need them can be rather bothersome! But I always manage it somehow. Hopefully using the checklist provided from this course, and the other stuff I’ve learned, I’ll be able to be a bit more organised in future.
Exploding out search terms was also covered, which I found quite interesting too. This is where you identify other words with the same meaning as those in your search terms, as well as related words. Then you can use all these combinations to effectively search the internet for information on your topic. This is something I’ve used a lot over the years without even realising it.
In week four we covered research methodologies. This is where I found things got a little tougher. Methodologies are the system of methods used for your research, there are many different types, mainly falling into two broad categories of quantitative methodologies with facts and figures behind the findings and qualitative methodologies which are more contextual.
The reason I think I found this fourth week tougher is because I still only have a rough idea for my project. I’m doing this course in preparation for my next Open University module which is a project, but right now I still have no real definitive idea of what the specifications for this project are so narrowing down my research question and identifying the methodologies best suited to answering that research question is difficult. I’m doing my best to complete this course and give it as much attention as it needs but I can’t throw myself into a research project just for the sake of it, not with my health the way it is. I’m hoping that even with just a vague idea for a research project I’ll still be able to complete this course and it will help me when the time comes to complete my project.
As I write this we are nearing the end of week 5 on academic reading which I still haven’t had a chance to start. Catching up again as usual!
Current and future runs of this course are available here: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/research-project-3/details