If you are studying a course at university, then you will likely have the option to conduct your very own research. This usually takes place over the final year of your education. If you are studying an undergraduate course at college, then this research will likely be juggled across the second semester of your studies.

On the other hand, if you are a masters student this research will begin in the second semester and will carry through over the summer months. Many masters programs will have their thesis module run right through the academic calendar.

Luckily for you, this module is usually weighted 20 credits, meaning that a first-class hons in the module would be like attaining the same grade four times over in any of your other modules. This is because of how the modules are weighted in the university grading process. So all of your hard work will be rewarded!

The university staff will be able to support you in your academic learning across your modules as well as in helping you to prepare your final applied research pdf. It is important to work smart and allocate sufficient time to data collection as well as the other modules and projects in your course.

This research will help you to develop key research skills that will help you to succeed in the other modules in your course as well as in projects that you may encounter when you find work in academic research afterwards.

The research module will give you the opportunity to apply the skills that you will have developed on other modules and university projects and work on a data and research-oriented project alongside other students.

If it is your first time collecting data for an applied research project or conducting your own academic research, then you should consult your project supervisor. There is a lot of academic support from the university staff that are there to help students with the applied research as well as the other work or projects in their course.

Let’s take a look at some important learnings that might help you with your own applied research projects!

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Your university will have great resources to help your research. source: pixabay
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Consider using Focus Groups in your Research

If you decide to conduct your own focus groups or mini groups within your qualitative research you should focus on being an effective moderator to ensure that the session runs smoothly.

Being an effective and inclusive moderator has more of an influence than you might have considered prior to your research.

An effective moderator must handle focus groups by constantly checking behaviours against attitudes, challenging and drawing out respondents with opposite views to further discuss their points whilst looking for the emotional component of these responses.

This brings up, the role of critical thinking within the research process. It is important for you, the researcher to think critically and objectively about the respective research method and what exactly it is that you are trying to extract from their proposed questions.

This is a great time for students to study research practice and spend time practising their data collection skills. You have time to apply learnings from your other modules from your course and use them in your academic applied research projects. This support will help students to maximise their grades in the course when they submit the pdf of their projects.

If you are in the process of submitting your university applied research project, then you might want to double-check your data. You can always reach out for some academic support either from the university staff or another student that has spent time completing the same modules or a similar research project.

This will help you to save time trying to find any flaws in the data or research process all by yourself and will ensure that your final academic project will be ready to go. You will need to submit a hard copy of the academic piece as well as a digital soft copy in pdf form.

Take a look at how you can conduct your own research at university.

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College is a great place to go to study and improve your research skills - Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Advice for your Qualitative Research

There is a consensus across published literature on the qualitative research method being primarily concerned with multi-method research design, primary research, and conducting research on people’s own views and understandings.

It is predominately adopted within research when a researcher wishes to extract personal accounts or perceptions in a more discursive format than other methods may allow for.

There is certainly an inherent loss in the quality of communication with the shift from a personal to a digital space. There is an absence of many important communitive indicators such as body language as well as behavioural defences in participants who often behave differently across the internet than they otherwise would in person.

Though it is thought that there are methods which can be employed within the online session in order to mitigate these potential behavioural differences and ensure the results obtained are viable. There is a need for moderators of the online focus groups to find appropriate ways to approach participants to achieve good-quality data.

It makes sense that with the change in environment, there is a need for our techniques and methods to be amended accordingly.  Academics provide how orchestrating exercises with the participants can often provide an alternate avenue for extracting valuable information and is beneficial, for instance, for more reflective participants.

You might want to consider running a series of ice breakers to help with the engagement with the groups, although when analysing the published literature on the topic. You might find that these exercises may also provide an effective method for discussing more sensitive topics and comforting participants in what is an otherwise foreign digital environment.

Read up on completing an undergraduate dissertation here.

Obstacles that might affect your Applied Research

Another potential disruption when conducting focus groups in an online setting would be the extensive ethical clearance required which may interfere with the validity of the collected data.

Online focus groups through platforms such as zoom may require security features to mitigate the occurrence of security breaches and illegal collection of data, something which doesn’t concern a personal one-to-one setting.

Online focus groups provide an effective medium for gathering a diverse set of participants and responses and can take a significantly lesser amount of time and resources.

While online qualitative research methods will never totally replace traditional research, the lack of non-verbal information in online variants of qualitative research can largely be compensated for by the specific content and practical performance of these techniques.

While there are certainly elements missing from the online substitute, evidently it can provide some advantages and its negative effects can be mitigated through best practice research techniques such as the exercises discussed.

You can seemingly do quite a bit to ensure the validity of your research. Believe me, this will go a long way towards improving your grade in the applied research in your undergraduate or masters level research.

You will need to adopt and practice these inclusive techniques for better communication and subsequent research as we increasingly adopt online research across this digital era.

Hopefully with this advice, you will save time and maximise your result when conducting your applied research at university!

Students and staff will work together to ensure that their academic work or research provides valuable learning and best practice research skills are applied across all of the projects. This support from the academic staff is a great resource to get your research off the ground and ensure your research project or work has high-quality data!

If you are interested in learning what is expected at masters level click here!

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Collaborate with other students in your research - Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

More tips for your applied research at Uni.

It is important to critically assess your research method and if there are any implicit biases in the research such as ‘volunteer bias’ whereby Participants volunteering to take part in a study intrinsically have different characteristics from the general population of interest.

Another potential bias could occur where the participants selected have a relationship with the researcher thus giving them the information that they perceive them to want. Selection bias may also occur when conducting focus groups whereby the selected participants are chosen in a way that proper randomisation is not achieved.

Such biases may impact the validity of the research to varying degrees, for example in some instances it may not be important that the participants are selected at random, while in other research it may result in the collected data being rendered useless.

One potential bias which you might expect to occur is when some participants potentially have drawn inspiration from previous answers for some of the more elementary questions.

Some participants might have answered similarly to the previous answer in your applied research. In this case, you will need to determine whether this impacted the viability of your findings.  Nonetheless, it is good if you are able to identify it as a potential disruptor to your research.

In short, you will need to take a step back and question the validity of the data that you are collecting every now and again. Being aware of the different biases that may have impacted your results is important. You will have to mention these within the limitations section of your applied research.

Don’t worry this will not impact your grade if you do find that there are potential limitations within your research. In fact, mentioning these within your limitations often helps students to pick up a few extra marks in their applied research grade.

Students shouldn’t neglect the other projects or modules that they might be involved in when they get around to collecting data for their applied research projects. It is important to get in touch with the support staff to ensure you allocate time to keep up with the learnings across your other work or modules in the course.

Click here to learn more about research skills and methods.

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Samuel

I enjoy reading fiction, playing chess, live music and traveling.