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What can good research skills do for you? Good research skills will enable you identify emerging trends and changes that affect horticulture, and to help formulate better strategies, practices and uses for horticulture. Your ability to conduct and present research can lead to innovations that address crucial local and global issues, or to the provision of cutting-edge horticultural services. This course will develop your ability to research and present a critical, written and numerical assessment of information related to social, technological, environmental and economic issues that impact on Horticulture today.
Good research skills will enable you be an innovator in horticulture, and to identify trends, issues, and needs that can create new opportunities and directions in horticulture.
This course has been developed by professionals in both New Zealand and the UK, with the aim of being relevant throughout the world.
This is a module in the Royal Horticultural Society’s Master of Horticulture
The course contains seven lessons:
Determining Research Needs
Searching for Information
Conducting Statistical Research
Reporting on a Research Project
For many students, their first experience with research occurred in school where they were required to prepare a research report or a presentation on a particular subject. This is the fundamental level of research, and its aim is to gather information on a topic, which is later to be presented to an intended audience (a class, teacher etc). Examples are research on a particular country, animal, or political system.
Another level of research aims at answering a research question (often called the thesis question). The information that is gathered and presented is chosen in order to answer that question. Examples of research questions are: What main social and political factors contribute to poverty in country X? Why is the Madagascan lemur an endangered species? How was language used to justify and maintain the Cold War last century? Well formulated and pertinent questions can lead to meaningful research projects that can greatly increase our understanding of the world and ourselves. The problem with this kind of research, though, is that it can be very difficult to know what questions to ask.
What you will do in this course
Conduct preliminary investigations to determine areas where there is a valid need for research in social, technological and environmental issues that impact on horticulture today
Conduct an information search into a defined issue related to social, technological and environmental issues that impact on Horticulture today.
Explain research methods, including experimental techniques, commonly used.
Demonstrate and explain the basic statistical methods used for research.
Conduct a minor statistical research project into a well defined area, relevant to your area of study.
Prepare a research report in a format which conforms to normal industry procedures.
Demonstrate critical analytical thinking, reviewing skills and report writing skills
Scope of Each Lesson
1. Determining Research Needs
Identifying research needs
The research goal
The research question
Other questions to clarify the research goal
Sources of information
What information is required
Depth and breadth of data
Setting realistic research parameters
2. Searching for Information
Kinds of exploratory research
Primary data research
Secondary data research
3. Research Methods
Key research terms
A controlled environment
Steps in collection and analysis of data
Conducting a crop trial
Setting up a Comparison trial
Running a trial: records and recording
Evaluating the trial
Interviewing skills: procedure, asking questions, types of questions
Ways of handling difficult questions
4. Using Statistics
Overview: Descriptive statistics, Inferential statistics
Reasons for using statistics
Advantages of statistics
Statistics: as guides and motivators
Disadvantages of statistics
Issues to consider
Observed and expected rates
Reliability of statistics
Presenting statistics: pie charts, bar charts, histograms
Descriptive statistics: mean, median, mode, variation, variance, standard deviation, correlation, probability, etc
5. Conducting Statistical Research
Collecting quantitative data
Conducting a survey
Form of data
Planning a formal survey
Designing a questionnaire
6. Research Reports
Report writing tips
Structure of a report
The report online
7. Reporting on a Research Project
This lesson brings together what you have learned in previous lessons, in terms of critical assessment of other authors research papers or reports, and demonstrating your report writing skills.
Interested? Request a free information pack today!
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