Jamie BaxterWestern Social Science

Labs/Assignments

Assignment Schedule and Policies

Submission Policy and Late Policy

Material will typically be handed in at the beginning of class. There will be a 5%/day penalty for material handed in late (not including weekends, clock starts "ticking" at the end of class/lab on the due date). I will not accept assignments once the papers are handed back to the rest of the class (if you have a legitimate reason for not handing in material - e.g., medical - we can reweigh course components). Unless otherwise stated, material should be presented on letter size paper and stapled together. Please do NOT use any sort of folder, binder or protective cover (they are cumbersome).

Illness/Medical Absence

Please see the following policy: http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/handbook/appeals/accommodation_medical.pdf

Plagarism

The Department of Geography has a zero tolerance policy towards plagiarism. If a student commits plagiarism, the instructor will assign a grade of zero to the assignment. A second instance of plagiarism is regarded as a scholastic offense and will be dealt with according to The University of Western Ontario policy for Scholastic offenses - more on our policy on plagiarism via this link. The most common offense is failing to cite properly - if you quote directly, cite the author! You do not get the benefit of the doubt (you are not presumed innocent until proven guilty) when such offenses are committed. That is, the burden of proof is reversed. Can you prove "it was an accident" (this is a rhetorical question)? The following is an excerpt from the university secretariat:

“Scholastic offences are taken seriously and students are directed to read the appropriate policy, specifically, the definition of what constitutes a Scholastic Offence, at the following Web site: http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/handbook/appeals/scholoff.pdf. For a full set of regulations please visit this website: http://www.uwo.ca/univsec/handbook/exam/crsout.pdf"

Turnitin.com

Unfortunately turnitin has "caught" several offenders in my classes, please do not be the next one - it is awkward for everyone involved. If you write and cite properly this tool ensures your paper is not marked relative to that of somebody who is plagiarising. The univerisity has provided this mandatory wording: "All required papers may be subject to submission for textual similarity review to the commercial plagiarism detection software under license to the University for the detection of plagiarism. All papers submitted will be included as source documents in the reference database for the purpose of detecting plagiarism of papers subsequently submitted to the system. Use of the service is subject to the licensing agreement, currently between The University of Western Ontario and Turnitin.com"

Go to the Timetable section of the syllabus or see table above for turnitin login information.

Assignments

Assignment: Study Proposal

Objectives

Designing a research activity and writing a research proposal to support that activity are skills that are useful in numerous contexts, not just in academia. This assignment will involve planning a research study from initial idea likely contributions. Each individual student is expected to submit an original research proposal, although students can share ideas and give suggestions to one another. By the end of this assignment you should be able to:

- concisely identify a research problem

- ask a limited number of research questions to address your research problem

- identify a method for addressing your research questions

- identify how your reesarch will make contributions to existing literature/policy

Group Projects/Individual Submissions

The research done in this class will be done in small groups. Nevertheless, individuals must still write and hand in their own original assignments, including the proposal, shorter lab assignments, and the final paper. For example, each individual can share their data from their individual research activities to the group for analysis in the final research paper. We are doing a group project because it will allow you to experience collaborative research, share results and experiences during the design and implementation of the research. This also provides an opportunity to gain experience in using and analyzing data from multiple methods if so desired. As a group you will need to identify a research problem and research questions relevant to the subject of geography that can be at least partially addressed within the constraints of a thirteen week course. You should pick a topic that interests you! We will cover several possible examples in lectures and labs, so start thinking about what you want to do as soon as possible.

Include

1. Title (1 mark): Should indicate general topic or question.

2. Introduction (2 marks) : This section should give relevant background information for your research topic. Why does this topic matter?

3. Research Problem (2 marks) - Define the problem that will be addressed - this can be part of your introduction, but the problem should be clearly identified within that section (e.g., use a phrase like "the research problem addressed by this study is...")

4. Research Questions (3 marks)- Define the research question (s) that you are investigating. Clearly define any concepts used.

5. Literature Review (6 marks) - Discuss other geographic research that has been conducted on your topic. This should be an overview of the main ideas and research related to your research topic. Give at least 5 examples, using a combination of sources (e.g. academic books, peer-reviewed scientific journal articles). Use proper citation format (i.e. APA style, see http://www.lib.uwo.ca/files/styleguides/APA.pdf for more information). Use a periodical or journal database to find journal articles (http://www.lib.uwo.ca/dbt/a.html). Some examples are GEOBASE, Web of Science, JSTOR, SOCINDEX and Scholars Portal. Your literature review should do the following:

- Discuss what is known about this topic, any gaps/unanswered questions or inconsistencies in the findings to date.

- Identify what key concepts and / or theories are relevant, and clearly define any concepts or terms used.

- Discuss what research methods have been used previously to study this topic.

- Discuss how your research question contributes, contradicts, challenges, or otherwise has relevance for an established body of research related to your question. This section should explain why your research is important.

- Note: in reviewing the scientific literature, do not summarize each article or book in extensive detail, but briefly summarize main findings and explain how your research relates to what is already known about this topic, and what gap in the research you intend to pursue.

6. Research Design (6 marks) - Describe which design you intend to use in your research, including sample size(s) sampling method(s), and research methods. Provide a clear rationale for design choice. Provide as many details as possible as to what you intend to do and a rationale for these choices (e.g. site location, sampling method, research approach).

Submit

1. Your paper, formal style, title page, refernce list, proper citation, 12 pt font, double spaced, 2200 wds max.

For Turnitin login information. Go to the Timetable section of the syllabus.

Marking (Style - automatic deductions)

i. title page (-1)

ii. reference list (-1)

iii. spelling/grammar (-2 max) - up to two marks can be lost, the first few are free, from then on marks are deducted at the TA's discretion

iv. formal style (-2 max) - other formal style issues (e.g., slang, acronyms, contractions) TA's discretion

v. Turnitin (-1) - the paper must be submitted to Turnitiin by midnight on the day the paper is due.

Assignment: Study Final Paper/Report

Objectives

The purpose of the term project is to give you experience in the design, implementation, analysis and write-up of social scientific research in Geography.

Description

The research done in this class will be a group project. As a group project, individuals must still write all assignments, including the proposal, shorter lab assignments, ethical review and final paper. However, each individual will share resources within the group: e.g., literature (e.g., shared dropbox of journal articles), design, data collection, data etc. . Most groups will be three people, so you will have a single study but each team member will write-up the findings in their own way. We are doing a group project because it will allow you to experience collaborative research, share results and experiences during the design and implementation of the research. Though there are a number of credible research designs that do not involved primary data collection, you will get the most out of this course if you use some form of primary data collection (e.g., survey, interviews, observation).

As a group you will need to identify a research question relevant to the subject of geography that can be at least partially addressed within the remainder of the time we have left in the term. The question must be identified by Sept. 18/19in order for everyone to move forward. Please think about potential research questions and be prepared to discuss your ideas for a research project with your peers, the instructor and your TA. Once your group has identified a clear research problem and research question(s), please email it to me for feedback. You must have "ethics approval" from myself before you can begin your data collection. NOTE: due to the tight timing in the course, we will ironically allow you to begin your research before your proposal is submitted. Nevertheless, you will need to be clear how your research will contribute to knowledge (i.e., do some literature review work) prior to data collection.

The research project should incorporate at least one research method, such as: semi-structured interviews, questionnaires (survey), observation/ethnographic methods, focus groups, discourse analysis, secondary data analysis. You will be learning these methods during the course, and trying out some of them as part of your labs. You and your group members can divide up the tasks to complete the research. You need to make sure that you allow time to conduct the research and analyse the data that addresses your specific research question, in order to complete the final paper.

Your final paper should address your research problem and question(s), but part of good social science is to reflect on what you learned so that others can benefit from your experiences. What went wrong? What new issues arose? How do your findings link to the literature on this topic? You may discover that you cannot answer your original question adequately, due to the limitations of your data; in this case, indicate what limitations, issues and problems arose during the course of the research, and how you might conduct the research differently, should you do another research project.

The final research paper should build on and reflect on the original research proposal. The first section (introduction and problem definition) may be very similar to the original proposal, but should have changes and additions once the research has been completed. The bulk of the paper should be devoted to a longer description of research design and data collection methods, results and discussion/interpretation of the data. Integrate all your research activities and discuss the results in light of your research question. Go into depth in your analysis section to assess what you have learned from the research. Have you answered your research question? If not, what questions remain? What follow-up research would need to be addressed?

Note: You can use the same written material from the shorter lab assignments, but make sure you improve on these assignments. Take our comments into account.

Prior to data collection

Each group must:

1. have their research problem and question(s) approved by your TA and me via email.

2. receive "ethics approval" from from the TA or me. The basis of this approval will be a one-page statement about how you will address: informed consent, minimal risk, confidentiality and anyonymity (see Marking below).

Marking (content) 49/60 marks

The following elements will be considered in grading the content of the paper:

1. Introduction and problem definition (5 marks)

i. Clearly stated research question

ii. Compelling explanation/rationale for the importance of the research question, provides adequate background to the topic

iii. Literature review: at least 5 outside sources of other studies on this topic are discussed to explain the need for research on this research question. Please refer to longer description in the proposal guidelines. The sources MUST be peer-reviewed scientific journals. Cite sources appropriately using APA citation format. The textbook is not considered an outside source. If you did poorly on this section of your proposal, you will need to show evidence of improving this section to get full marks.

2. Research design, data collection and analysis (5 marks)

i. Clearly outlined research design including type (cross sectional, longitudinal etc) and rationale for the choice of research design

ii. Thorough description of data collection carried out (where, when, how, what and by whom)

iii. Rationale for choice of methods used

iv. Brief description of analytical procedures used

v. Brief explanation of how the work was divided amongst the research team

3. Results (20 marks)

i. Main findings in relation to your question (s)

ii. Use visual tools where appropriate (i.e. graphs, tables, maps) and a written description of results that link to each other. Do not just stick a graph in – it should be referred to in the text, be clearly labeled and link to your overall question. If you are dealing with text only (e.g., interviews, discourse analysis) d graphs and tables may not be necessary, but a figure that shows how key concepts are linked to other may be very useful.

iii. Identification of any gaps, issues or problems identified with design, methods or results

4. Discussion (15 marks)

i. Discussion of the results in relation to your research question and the research literature. What new knowledge if any can you contribute to the literature that already exists? To what extent do your findings:

1. corroborate/confirm

2. contradict

3. tweak

concepts/findings that already exist in the literature

You should also comment on limitations of your data (keeping in mind that every study only produces partial knowledge).

5. Conclusion (4 marks)

i. Potential implications of your findings for e.g., policy, theory.

ii. Future directions for research.

Marking (Other) 6/60

1. Peer Review

Completed peer review form (-1 if omitted - marks apportioned to other two members)

The purpose of peer review is to anonymously (other members do not see your reviews) apportion 10% of the final report grade (10% of 60 is 6 marks) for each individual in the group.

Please download and print the peer review sheet. Compelte a peer review table for each member of your group. If you have a group of 4 or more you will need to print multiple sheets. Hand in the completed form with your final assignment.

Marking (Style) 5/60 marks

i. title page (-1)

ii. reference list (-1)

iii. spelling/grammar (-2 max) - up to two marks can be lost, the first few are free, from then on marks are deducted at the TA's discretion

iv. formal style (-2 max) - other formal style issues (e.g., slang, acronyms, contractions) TA's discretion

v. Turnitin (-1) - the paper must be submitted to Turnitiin by midnight on the day the paper is due.

Lab Assignments

Lab Assignment: Critical Appraisal

Objectives

In this assignment you will learn about the importance of finding relevant literature and critically appraising it. Critical appraisal is a building block of good literature reviews, which are in turn a major building block of good reasearch design. You will focus on critically appraising a journal article - a report about an empirical study. A key theme of critical appraisal is to understand that even research that is done well provides only partial answers. This will help you to start thinking about the design of your own study, but challenging you to think about what could have been done differently.

Tasks

1. Locate an empirical journal article - using the strategies described and discussed in lab.

2. Critically appraise the article using the critical appraisal form (copy and paste it into your word processor).

3. Submit the completed form to your TA by the beginning of next lab.

Marking (5% of final grade)

Lab Assignment: Observation

Objectives

The objective of this assignment is to introduce you to social science fieldwork. The assignment concerns unobtrusive observation - observation without engaging with those you observe. Besides easing you into fieldwork, the goal is for you to provide systematic description of behaviour. You will hand in an individual assignment, but you are expected to work in groups to collect and share observations. You will have approximatley 1hr to conduct the observations with the remainder of the time devoted to planning and follow-up.

Example:

Research Question: Are women more polite than men in mixed gender conversations? Hypothesis: Men will interrupt another speaker in a mixed gender conversation more than women.

Tasks

1. Read Ch 6 "Structured Observation" prior to lab.

2. Select a series of sites to conduct your observations of human behaviour. Each individual in the group should observe different people to mazimize the number of people studied.

3. As a group devise a research question and an hypothesis (or hypotheses) to test with your observations. We will dispense with the need for a research problem this time around - but keep in mind that good social science should address a relevant social problem. Both structured and unstructured observation will likely be important.

4. Before going "into the field" have a observation recording plan. How will you select people to observe? Will you randomly select people - e.g., every nth person to enter a store? How will you record the observations? What precisely will you record? In the above example, the concepts "interrupt" and "conversation" will have to be defined precisely.

5. You may decide that a brief period of unstructured observation is needed prior to solidifying your structured observation plan.

6. Ensure you have a mechanism for recording unstructured observation throughout to help make sense of all observations. You will be asked to write about what you might do differently in your write-up.

7. After the fieldwork is completed - meet back at the lab to discuss and analyze your observations with your group. If time permits discuss your findings with the other groups. What are the patterns that emerged? Do observations differ from one observer to the next - and can you account for such differences? Devise a scheme for sharing the data within the group. If you like you can make plans to replicate your study with a more polished observation plan and more fieldwork at new sites (but this not required).

8. Submit (see below) your writeup at the beginning of next lab.

9. Conduct your research in an ethical manner.

Submit

The full report should be 500 words double spaced with a title page and an appendix of your structured observations. Please include at least the following:

1. An introduction indicating the general topic, the research question and the hypothesis(es).

2. Describe the settings (time, place, physical layout, etc.) in which you performed your observations.

3. Describe the patterns in your findings. Account for things like unexpected observations, inconsistencies, and problems in the field.

4. Outline what, if any, implications there are from what you found.

5. Provide some directions for future research in your area of enquiry - particularly with regards to further unobtrusive observations.

Marking (5% of final grade)

Lab Assignment: Surveys

Objectives

The objective of the next two labs and the assignment is to learn how to construct and use a self-administered survey questionnaire. Questionnaires are by far the the most common method for gathering social science data for research, but it is not simply a case of asking a collection of interesting questions related to a topic. There should be clear links bewteen the questions asked and the hypotheses being tested - most survey studies operate in the deductive logical mode of enquiry. In the lab you will work as a group to design and pre-test a questionnaire to test hypotheses that are in turn linked back to an assigned research question. Each individual will take what they learn in the lab to edit their group's questionnaire to your own personal liking and then write-up the lab to be handed in on the due date. You will work over two lab sessions and all groups address the following research question:

research question: What are the key determinants of the use of active modes of transport for daily travel?

research problem: Despite many purported benefits, there is relatively low uptake of active transport in Canada.

Tasks

Lab Session 1

1. Read Chs 4 and 5 prior to lab.

2. Break into your groups and design a self-administered questionnaire that is no more than two pages long and measures five different concepts (besides basic sociodemographic variables like age, gender, education) plus the dependant variable. This is not as simple as it may seem. For example, your dependant variable will be something that measures "use of active transport", but you may need multiple questions to distinguish different modes of "active transport" - e.g., walking, biking, roller blading. Since all of these survey items measure "active transport" this would be considered one concept. By the way, what does "use" mean? What does "daily travel" mean?

3. Pay attention to the "rules" for asking questions in Chapter 5.

4. Include elements at the begining to cover ethical issues: see form 1g003.

5. Keep in mind that because this is self-administered layout matters. Layout can influence the validity of responses and ultimately whether or not somebody chooses to complete the questionniare.

6. Prepare to pre-test your quesitonnaire. Create at least three good copies of the questionnaire to be "administered" to one of the other groups - i.e. one copy for every member of another group - at next week's lab session.

Lab Session 2

7. Your group will be paired with another group in the lab - exchange questionnaires and "administer" them as they would be "in the field" - remember, these are self-administered not researcher-adminstered questionnaires.

8. Both groups then meet and discuss the questionnaires - share ideas about what worked and what did not and why.

9. Discuss, as a full tutorial group, the advantages and disadvantages of various concepts, measures, response modes, general layouts, self administered vs researcher-administered questionnaires, and any other relevant issues.

10. Edit your questionnaire based on the experiences in this second lab and your personal preferences (everybody in your group may hand in a slightly different version) and then submit as per below.

Submit

The full report should be 500 words double spaced with a title page and your questionnaire as an appendix. Please include at least the following and be sure to use concepts from lectures and the text where appropriate (e.g. validity, reliability):

1. Your revised questionnaire as an appendix.

2. The five hypotheses that you would test with your survey. One for each of your concepts.

3. Describe the rationale for the specific concepts in the hypotheses and identify how each item in the questionnaire maps on to each concept in the hypotheses (e.g., "questions 1-4 measure use of active transport, which is divided into four main sub-dimensions as follows...")

4. Outline the rationale for choosing the measures that you did (i.e. the questions in the questionnaire) - e.g., by describiing alternative measures that did not make the final cut. Comment on the response mode you selected where appropriate - e.g., Likert scales, the type of Likert scale.

5. Summarize the advantages and disadvantages of conducting this as a self-administered as opposed to researcher-administered questionnaire.

Lab Assignment: Quantitative Analysis

Objective:

The main objective of this lab is to work with some existing quantitative survey data to produce results that address specific research hypotheses. You will learn some of the basics of bivariate analysis in SPSS. This exercise should help you refine your group's analytical strategies.

Tasks

1. Meet in Geography's Spatial Data Analysis Lab (SDAL) SSC 1425. for lab this week.

2. We are using the SDAL because SPSS (PASW) is already installed on the machines. If you want to use your laptop and SPSS is not on your computer, use Windows Remote Desktop to access UWO SSCNET - which is a virtual machine that has SPSS for this lab and NVivo for next lab.

3. Open this webpage on the remote machine.

4. Download the data <<

5. Open the data with SPSS/PASW by double clicking the file wherever you saved it. Two windows will open.

6. Open this file with instructions about what to do in SPSS. You will generate one bar chart and some statistical output related to some hypotheses.

7. If you are new to SPSS or need a refresher, these two videos should help http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADDR3_Ng5CA and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CWeHF3Mn00

Submit

1. A list or table of your hypotheses numbered so they can be linked to what follows.

2. A brief rationale for your hypotheses (e.g,. existing research - Baxter and Greenlaw, or some reasonable logic)

3. Your graph.

4. A summary table with your Chi Square, Spearman Correlation, and Significance values. This table should be linked to your hyotheses table, or perhaps include the information for items 1 and 4 in the same table?

5. A brief statement about what conclusions can be drawn from your statistics.

6. A comment on the role of the don't know/refused category for many of the variables. How could this category be handled differently?

7. The full report should be 500 words max. double spaced with a title page and reference(s) where appropriate - tables and figure are not part of the word count. Be sure to use concepts from lectures and the text where appropriate (e.g. dependant variable, p-value).

Unmarked Labs

Research Problems and Questions (...and a bit about Concepts and Methods)

Objective

The main goal of this lab is to work in your groups and distinguish research problems, research questions, concepts and methods. You will also be asked to start thinking about the justification/rationale for your basic design choice, and the likely limitations of this design choice.

Tasks

1. Read the material for lecture and lab and review your lecture notes.

2. Identify the research problem.

3. State no more than three research questions to address the problem (make sure each is clear, ethical and feasible).

4. Identify at least 2 key concepts/variables that you will need to define and measure related to the research question.

5. Identify the method you feel will be most appropriate (ethical, feasible, relation to theory - inductive? deductive?).

6. Identify some limitations of this method for addressing your research problem+question(s) (despite the fact that it still may be the "best" method).

7. Group to submit a document approximately 400 words to TA (appoint a designate). Once the TA feels your idea is okay to proceed, then submit your revised 400 word max. document to me. This document needs to be approved before you can move on to ethics approval.

Ethics Forms and Group Work

Objective

Before you start your research you need to submit one copy of your completed ethics form(s) for your group's project to your TA and Cced to me (we are your "ethics board") for approval. Allow up to a week for a response. Be prepared to have to address comments and resubmit - this is the rule more than it is the exception with our university's non-medical research ethics board. From submission to approval could take up to a couple of weeks. The lesson is, submit in a timely manner!

Though a lab slot has been reserved for completing the ethics forms, you can fill these out and get approval any time throughout the term. Do not leave it too late, be mindful of the final report deadline and the fact you have to collect analyse and write-up the data. You should start the online CORE module asap!

The main goal of this lab is to fill out your group's ethics form and get it approved and sent to me after lab. This can be done ahead of time, in which case your group can focus on practical matters that will get you out collecting data as soon as possible - it is November already!

Tasks

1. Please complete the TriCouncil Policy Statement on Ethics 2 CORE module (takes about 3 hrs, at your leisure).

2. All groups need to fill out form 1f002 (see resources section of Owl).

3. If your group is doing survey work fill out form 1g003 (see resources section of Owl)

4. If your group is doing interview work, fill out form 1i001 (see resources section of Owl)

5. Work with your TA to produce an "ethical" field strategy to submit to me for final approval.

6. If time permits work as a group to prepare futher for your fieldwork e.g., practice interviews, refine your survey questionnaire etc.

Qualitative Analysis

Objective

The purpose of this lab is to learn i) how qualitative data are reported in a journal article; ii) how qualitative data anysis software - NVivo - can be used to assist qualitative data analysis; iii) how to analyse semi-structured interview text by attaching themes (nodes) the sections of text using NVivo. Keep in mind that the "researcher-as-instrument" role does not stop once you start using qualitative data software to asist analysis - quit the contrary - it is your abiliity to think and interpret - in our case, conversations - that makes qualitative analysis effective. Some qualitative research projects involved several participants, thousands of pages of text and then write-up may only provide 10-20 quotations total. This lab explores how large amounts of textual (or other) data can be condensed into a few key concepts and quotations. Unlike statistical analysis, the data do not tell you what procedure is appropriate (e.g., what statistical test to use. Qualitative analysis is both murky and intensely rewarding.

Prior to Lab

1. Read the Chapter 14 on Qualitative Analysis. Have a look a the journal article posted on Sakai for this lab. Read the interview posted on Sakai.

2. Meet in the SDAL SSC1425 again this week - we will be using the computers again.

3. Bring a set of headphones if available (you may want to re-watch NVivo tutorials)

Tasks

1. Have a look at what the finished product of a qualitative project looks like - look over the reading posted on Sakai for this lab. Use this as a model for how you might write up qualitative findings.

2. Watch the following tutorials as a group (all tutorials can be found at the link above): Tutorial 5 - Work with interviews, articles and other documents; Tutorial 6 - Organize material in to themes with coding; Tutorial 9 - Finding themes and analyzing text; and Tutorial 8 - Explore your coding. (if for some reason you could not attend lab, Tutorial 1 will likely be the best place to start.

3. Read the interview provided on Sakai and start thinking about themes in the text. If you prefer to get started with your own data, go ahead and import one of your own trascribed interviews instead. The only disadvantage to this is that you will not have an existing list of codes/nodes to work with (not necessarily a bad thing).

4. Open NVivo on SSCNET. Use the Remote Desktop Connection utiility in windows (see all programs/accessories) to access SSCNET. That is type "SSCNET" in the computer field, then press "connect". I believe we only have about 10 licences, so you may have to work in pairs.

5. Import the interview into NVivo, by first saving it from Sakai to your remote desktop.

6. Code the interview using NVivo (attach nodes to sections of text). Though there are existing "nodes" available, create some of your own that make sense within the context of this study. Your TAs will provide a general research question to help guide your thinking about coding. This is a very new and different process for many of us, so it will be slow at first. Take some time to try some of the advanced features in NVivo - like text queries, tag clouds

7. Don't let frustration get the better of you...yes, that is a "task" for this lab and for your project analysis if you have interview data. At the end of the day, your goal in qualitative analysis is to identify a few key concepts that "emerge" from what the participants said, and use quotations to represent those concepts. All of the other (potentially confusing) features contained in NVivo may help you visuallize the data, but beware of getting lost in these "bells and whistles"