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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Putting the issue into your research

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Putting the issue into our Research Project brief

During our research project lessons we have been discussing the nature of issues and the need to frame our research within an issue context. That is, our research needs a purpose and not just finding out everything about something.

The following quotes from the Research Project Subject Outline are particulary relevant to this discussion:

A research topic:

• could be an idea or issue, a technical or practical challenge, an
artefact, a problem, or a question
• may be a new topic that is not related to a subject or course
• may be a topic that is linked to an existing subject or course. Work
that has been previously assessed for another subject or course
cannot be used in this subject. However, information gained or ideas
expressed in one assessment task can be extended in another
assessment task. For example, a student can use the research data
on a particular topic in another subject as part of his or her research

Here is some further clarification about what is an issue and how it may help the design of your Research Project.

The Research Project lends itself to studying an issue at local, national or global level. With an issue Research Project:

• Dispute is the essence of any issue.

• Issues often involve contending groups of people with conflicting opinions.

• The hardest part of any study is selecting an appropriate issue. Issues selected for investigation must show clearly conflicting elements and involve choices decided from a
range of alternatives.

• The investigation of an issue must consider the roles and perceptions of stakeholders (various groups in those places and other significant groups elsewhere) that have a vested interest in the issue.

An example of an issue Research Project would be:

“The age of drinking alcohol should be increased.”

I thought the following websites dedicated to exploring and providing information on issues would be a useful exercise for you to look at and maybe see a topic/issue that may support the exploration of your topic.

Here are the sites to explore:

* Newspapers to explore for issues at

* Find out the facts on a wide range of issues at

* Research issues at the Social Issue Research Centre at

* Investigate a catalogue of issues at

* Find out information for issue studies at

* Investigate a directory of issues at

* Look at this Australian social action issue site at

* Here is a resource with summaries of many issues

Spend some time over the next week looking at these sites, see how issues are described to create a context.

For many of you the Research Project may not be an issue. However it must be more than just “find out about”. You will need to create a statement which frames what you intend to do as a challenge or problem. For example if you wish to research life for new arrivals in Adelaide you would make a statement such as:

“New arrivals in Adelaide face many challenges that they overcome in a range of ways.”

If you are creating a product or event you also need to frame your statement as a problem. For example if you wished to make a cupboard:

"How can a solid,functional and well designed cupboard be made at a reasonable cost."

You would then design your focus questions to guide your research and the creation of the written response/product/event (more on the focus questions phase next week).

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