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HCS204 Research Skills Guide: Assessment Item 2

What are you being asked to do?

In this assignment you are being asked to demonstrate your ability to write a research proposal.

You will need to:

  • identify an area of need or interest related to Social Work/Human Services; and
  • create a research proposal that includes:
    • an outline of the research problem;
    • a literature review;
    • the aims of your research;
    • the methodology you will be using; and
    • the proposed plan (timeline and budget).

Where should you start?

Tip: You will find this assignment easier if you separate it into chunks!

The first assignment has provided you with a foundational knowledge of research methods that you can use to help you decide what sort of methodology you might employ to address your research problem.


Identify an area of need or interest
  • HCS204 subject learning modules and readings are a good place to start brainstorming your research topic. Look through the readings in your Readings and resources list in the left menu of your subject site. 
  • Newspapers, television and other media may offer ideas for topical issues in Social Work/Human Services and can be found using Video and News & Current Affairs database collections
  • Government or association websites could assist you in finding a topic.


Resources for your literature review
  • Books and ebooks will give you an overview, introduction, and/or background to your topic. You can find these using Primo Search.
  • Journal articles offer you the latest research and ideas on your topic, and examine aspects of your topic in very specific detail. You can find these in Journal DatabasesGoogle Scholar, and Primo Search.
  • Websites can be used to locate reports and documents from government, academic, or professional organisations.


Resources to assist you in choosing a methodology
  • Books and ebooks will provide you with some broad information about research methods in the social sciences and are a good place to start. You can find these using Primo Search, but note that SAGE Research Methods Online (SRMO) also contains many ebooks in this area.
  • SAGE Research Methods Online (SRMO) contains a comprehensive suite of information about research methods including ebooks, articles, case studies, and dictionary and encyclopaedia entries. I strongly recommend taking a look this resource, particularly the Project Planner.
  • Websites can be used to learn more about research methods though may not be appropriate to use in your assignment.

What is a literature review?

A literature review is a concise summary of the research that has been done on a particular topic. The emphasis is on integration and interpretation of primary research articles.The purpose of a literature review is to paint a picture of the field's collective knowledge and research on a specific topic while highlighting where further research may need to be conducted.

In general, when starting a literature review you will need to do the following:

  • define and write down your research question - what is it that you are going to research?
  • identify key words, terms and phrases - concept/mind maps can help tease out themes and keywords
  • identify synonyms
  • determine a timeframe from your research, if needed
  • consider what type of material you will include and why
  • identify where you will search for the information

Reviewing the SOC101 Research Skills Guide may be helpful when completing this part of your assessment task.