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GER102 Research Skills Guide: Assignment Two

What are you being asked to do?

In this assignment you're being asked to develop a research proposal on a topic related to ageing and older people. This can be a continuation of Assignment One, or you can choose a new topic.

  1. Choose a research topic related to ageing and older people
  2. Identify a question to answer within your topic that you could develop into a research project. 
  3. Discuss why this would be an important research project to do. Reference other research on this topic.
  4. Develop a plan for completing your research project which includes aims and objectives, methodology, ethical considerations and timelines. 
    NOTE: You do not actually have to complete the project. You just need to plan how you would do it.

Please refer to your Subject Outline for more comprehensive instructions. Be sure to read your Subject Outline carefully, as well as any information about the assignment provided by your Subject Coordinator.

STEP 1: Choose a research topic

Choosing a research topic or question is a tricky task for all researchers.

Your topic should be broad enough that you can locate other research but narrow enough that you can develop a project with a realistic scope. You also need to be able to justify why your project will be important and contribute to the knowledge in your field

The best way to do this is to find a gap in the research - something no-one else has studied. 


Strategies for identifying a gap in the research.
  • While you're reading journal articles related to your topic, keep an eye out for opportunities. Researchers will often discuss questions their research has raised, or aspects of their research that haven't been investigated. 
  • Try combining two or three elements from your research and then investigate whether someone else has studied this. For example: your topic + age group/cultural group/social group + a common issue/influence/problem.
  • You might find an existing case study and be able to adjust it to study a different population segment, for example, a different cultural group or socioeconomic class. You will need to justify and explain why you're studying this particular group.

STEP 2: Develop your research question

Your research question needs to be clear and focused, allow you to make an argument or discussion, and lead you to a research project that is the appropriate scale and scope.

Use the Charles Sturt Common Instruction Words guide to ensure that the academic language you choose does explain exactly what you are proposing to do.

It's okay to start with a preliminary idea for a question and refine it as you do more research, or even while you're developing your project. 

Step 3: Conduct research on your topic

You will need to demonstrate that you have undertaken independent research to locate academic resources to support your proposal.


Academic sources of information

  • Books and eBooks are the best type of source for gaining an overview on a topic. They can be found using Primo Search.
  • Journal articles will discuss research into a topic or discuss the current literature. The can be found by using Primo Search, Journal Databases and Google Scholar.
  • Reports from reputable sources can also be used to demonstrate your understanding of the different disciplines and can be found using Google Search.
  • Websites can be used for background reading, though not all will be suitable to use in your assignment.

See the Identify tab for information applying search strategies.

Why is coming up with a research question so difficult?

Academic Skills, The University of Melbourne. (2018, February 14). Developing a research question.

Step 4: Develop a plan for your research proposal

Head over to the Developing your research proposal page for resources about planning your research. SAGE Research Methods Online will be a very useful resource during this stage.