Course Syllabus

Analysis of Professional Literature

James Neill
Last updated:
17 Mar 2003



About this Course

This course teaches the process of conducting research; it investigates why and how scientific research is conducted, with a focus on approaches used in social sciences and human movement studies.

The teaching methodology of the course involves students in learning by doing, with guided feedback, accompanied by reading, lecture, classroom exercises, and group discussion.

Assessment is largely based upon the literature review and research design projects which are undertaken on a research question within individuals' specific disciplines and areas of interest.  Students are strongly encouraged to develop a research question in consultation with a likely supervisor and which can form the basis for a graduate thesis or advanced studies project.  The other main assessment is via short answer exams on quantitative and qualitative research methods.

It is advantageous if students have undertaken at least an introductory statistics and have recently, or are concurrently, engaged in in specialized study of theory and research within their field of interest.

Aims & Learning Outcomes

This course aims to build students' knowledge of the processes and methodologies involved in pursuing academic, research-based answers to questions.  The skills learnt in this course should prepare for students for the rigor of designing and writing a graduate-level project/thesis and provide introductory research skills for doctoral students.

At its most pragmatic level, the course teaches students how to write a good research question, conduct efficient literature searches, develop a plan for, and write, reviews of research literature (critically reviewing and writing about underlying theory and related research findings), and design research studies to address different types of research questions.  The class also provides introductions to the both quantitative and qualitative research methods and on the principles and practice of conducting research ethically.

On successful completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Describe the assumptions, purposes, data collection methods and analytical strategies used in the major scientific research traditions in the social sciences

  • Identify typical steps involved in a research project;

  • Formulate and present a cogent research question;

  • Conduct effective searches for relevant research literature;

  • Write a critical review of research literature;

  • Design a research study using qualitative or quantitative methods to answer a research question;

  • Understand ethical principles and prepare an IRB submission.

Outline of Course Content

(also see Course Schedule)

Introduction to Research

  • What is research?  (the process of scientific inquiry)

  • Thesis vs. project

Developing a Research Question

  • What is a Research Question?

  • Why do we need a Research Question?

  • Characteristics of a good Research Question

  • Brainstorming and concept mapping

  • Steps to developing a Research Question

Writing a Literature Review

  • Developing an outline for the literature review (The Funnel)

  • Developing the theoretical basis for the Research Question

  • Searching for, locating and organizing relevant professional literature

  • Using traditional and meta-analytic literature reviews

  • Critically reviewing the literature

  • Refining the research question

  • Research Questions vs. Hypotheses

  • Writing a first draft

  • Obtaining, giving, and making productive use of feedback

  • The redrafting process

  • Professional formatting

Understanding Research Methods

Designing a Study

  • Consider the range of possible methods

  • Select a research method

  • Sampling

  • Design

  • Materials

  • Procedure

  • Analysis

Ethics in Research

  • Ethical research

  • Ethical use of human subjects

  • Informed consent forms

  • Completing ethics proposals


Most of the material for class will be online or handed out as hard copies.  In addition, we will utilize substantial sections from: 

Gall, M. D., Borg, W. R., Gall, J. P. (2003).  Educational research: An introduction. (7th Edition). White Plains, New York: Longman. (purchase from Durham Bookshop)

Rozakis, L. (1999). Schaum's quick guide to writing great research papers New York: McGraw-Hill. (available for free as an e-book via http://www.library.unh.edu/whatsnew/ebooks.htm)


All assessment should be submitted electronically as attached documents via email to james.neill@unh.edu by midnight on the date below.  Use this text in the subject line of your email "KIN901: Name of Assessment Task" and name your attachment "KIN901 Name of Assessment Task Firstname Lastname.doc".

Marks will be made available via Blackboard.  A list of the assessment tasks is on the course homepage.

: Students are required to complete all the assessment components in order to pass the course, including the submission of drafts even where drafts do not directly contribute to the overall grade.  If there is any doubt with regard to the requirements of any particular assignments or assessment procedure, the onus for clarifying the issue rests with the student who should contact the instructor about the matter.  More detail about the requirements for each piece of assessment will be provided in class.


Grading: Assessments will be graded using A through to F.  Students are advised that deciding grades is an exercise of academic judgment.  Although the grades will be subjected to review upon presentation of relevant argument by students, final grade assignment will be determined by the instructor’s academic judgment.


Due dates: If you anticipate being unable to complete an assessment by the due date, then please contact the instructor as early as possible to make alternative arrangements.  Early notification of needs will receive much more leniency than late requests.  Requests for extensions within a week of the due date will generally not be approved, except for emergency cases.  Late penalties will be applied to assessments that are late without approval, @ -5% per day.


Students can expect this course to:

o        be reading and writing intensive,

o        develop reading, writing and research skills. 

o        involve a variety of readings, lectures, internet search exercises, student presentations, class discussions, writing exercises, and peer review of written work.


It is expected that in addition to attending the three hour class each week, it is recommended that students do a minimum of a further four hours out of class study per week in order to complete set readings and set exercises.  In general, however, students who do particularly well in this course tend to spend closer to an average of six to ten hours per week out of class, allow them to engage in more depth with the advanced course materials and in individual areas of interest.


Feedback to Instructor:

Students are encouraged to provide the instructor with feedback regarding their learning needs and their progress in the course via questions and comments in class or contact in student consultation hours or via email.  A formal evaluation will be conducted on course completion.

Feedback to Students:

Students are encouraged to seek feedback from the instructor above and beyond what is normally provided in class or on assessment.