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SPE4050 : Research Methods in Practice IV

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Laurence White
  • Lecturer: Dr Christos Salis, Professor Cristina McKean, Professor Julie Morris, Dr Nick Riches
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 40
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 30.0
European Credit Transfer System


The aims of this module are two-fold:-
1.       To allow the student to demonstrate their research expertise with the completion of an extended piece of empirical study in a dissertation.
2.       To enhance their research skills and knowledge via a series of complementary taught sessions, assisting students to complete their dissertation and to equip them for research in their practice context once qualified

The principal focus of the Research Methods in practice course in Year 4 is the dissertation. This has been set up in stage 3 with supervisor assigned, project outline approved and university ethical approval gained prior to the start of stage 4. Throughout the process of carrying out the dissertation students will be expected to link to their knowledge gained in Research Methods in Practice in stages 1-3.

In addition there will be an additional taught element to supplement and extend their knowledge about research, its conceptualisation, design, implementation and analysis. The detail of this course is provided below. Although the course will include a number of standard elements (for example about the professional execution of research, participant engagement in research etc.) there will be some flexibility in terms of some of the material covered in the latter stages of the course, for example in terms of specific analytical techniques or different approaches to systematic and narrative review processes.

In relation to HCPC Standards of Proficiency, this module builds on knowledge in Research Methods in Practice I-III, focusing specifically on:

2.7 understand the importance of and be able to obtain valid consent, which is voluntary, informed has due regard to capacity, is propotionate to the circumstances and is appropriately documented
6.5 recognise that the concepts of confidentiality and informed consent extend to all mediums, including illustrative clinical records such as photography, video and audio recordings and digital platforms
9.1 keep full, clear and accurate records in accordance with legislation, protocols and guidelines
9.2 manage records and all other information in accordance with applicable legislation, protocols and guidelines
9.3 use digital record keeping tools where required
12.2 demonstrate awareness of the principles and applications of scientific enquiry, including the evaluation of treatment efficacy and the research process
13.8 recognise a range of research methodologies relevant to their role
13.9 recognise the value of research to the critical evaluation of practice
13.10 critically evaluate research and other evidence to inform their own practice
13.11 engage service users in research as appropriate

Outline Of Syllabus

Students carry out and write up a piece of empirical research (quantitative, qualitative or mixed methods) under the guidance of a supervisor within Speech & Language Sciences (occasionally there is an external clinical supervisor or member of staff from another department, however, there will always be a supervisor internal to the section and they will always have prime responsibility for supervision and guidance).

The module draws together student learning from research methods in the previous three stages. It permits students to pursue a topic of research that has grown out of their theoretical or clinical interests during the whole course. It is aimed at creating clinician researchers who will be able to apply empirical methods to evaluation of their clinical practice in future years and to advance the evidence base for practices within their profession. It will also equip students more broadly for postgraduate research.

Students will:
1. design an appropriate research study* under the supervision of a staff member;
2. obtain the approval of the relevant Research Ethics Committee to conduct the research;
3. collect, analyse and interpret data;
4. present a comprehensive report in the form of a journal article.

* Normally, the first draft of this will have been completed in the Stage 3 Research Methods module (SPE3056).

In addition this module will include 11 taught sessions as follows.

Weeks 1 Study design and its implications for practice
Weeks 2 Outstanding research management and ethical consideration, including consent for research
Week 3 Applied Quantitative Data Analysis: Inferential statistics (revision and application); outcome measurement
Week 4 Reviewing the literature – reading and interpreting the systematic review; the use of meta-analysis
Week 5 Reviewing the literature – applying systematic approaches to your own project
Week 5 Applied Qualitative Data Analysis – interviewing, data structuring and thematic analysis in practice
Week 6 Applied Qualitative Data Analysis – discourse and conversational
Week 7 Research questions in practice – applying your knowledge to questions identified by practitioners
Week 8 Patient partnership – bringing service users into research
Week 8: Scientific writing and displaying information effectively - writing up and reporting findings in an accessible manner to different audiences
(Weeks 9 – 11 optional topics)
Week 9: Advanced methodological issues eg: Cohort data analysis (including birth cohorts and clinical cohorts such as those related to cleft palate and autistic spectruium disorder)
Week 10: Advanced methodological issues eg: Corpus data analysis
Week 11: Advanced methodological issues eg: The use of instrumentation
(Weeks 9-11 introduce a degree of choice, based on particular dissertation foci and/or student led interest.)

Relevant aspects of RCSLT curriculum guidelines:
The module trains the key graduate capabilities outlined in 4.2.4 research and evidence-based practice including section A, the ability to use the evidence base to support clinical reasoning and practice and section B research skills and methods with students applying research to practice and carrying out a research project.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Teaching content relevant to dissertations and preparing for further research within the UK context
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1520:00520:00See below in rationale
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDissertation/project related supervision141:0014:00Figure include face to face meetings, email contact and the reading of the draft dissertation
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study222:0044:00Content of activities determined by those leading the module & will be given to students in advance
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Independent study related to dissertation, including data collection as necessary:
The hours across fieldwork and independent study will vary according to the nature of the project. Some projects will involve data collection and therefore fieldwork hours; some will involve analysis from existing data sets. In these instances the expectations re analysis will be extended and independent study hours increased. These will all be discussed and agreed with individual students at the outset of the year.

The combination of supervision and taught sessions feed into the completion of the dissertation and the acquisition of the knowledge and skills outlined above.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Dissertation2M90Substantial piece of research which represents the culmination of Research methods teaching over the past 4 years.
Poster2M10Poster Presentation. Student present main finds from their dissertation alongside peers.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The dissertation will be an original piece of research which will depend on knowledge and skills which have been built up over the four years of Research Methods training. There is a page rather than word limit for two reasons. The submission will be in the form of a relevant journal article to provide the students with experience considering journal audience and requirements and this is in line with journal limits in the field. Additionally the page limit requires the students to be strategic about use of tables and figures. The student is accordingly expected to follow the formatting etc of the journal concerned (eg. Structured abstract, tables in APA, referencing in APA,Vancouver or Harvard etc). This approach is adopted to introduce the student to presenting their work in peer reviewed format and for some dissertations this will translate into such a publication.

The poster presentation will require the students to synthesise key findings from their own research and consider how to effectively to convey this to an audience of peers and academics.

Reading Lists