Click here to submit proposal topic
Note: New deadline for submissions: 16:00 Monday 4 March 2002

Study Guide 2002

Prof G.D.J. Stewart
( 031-3086782 Email


Programme: B.Tech. Degrees (Commerce and Arts)

Examination: Annual - 1 x 3 hours (Written paper)


1 Purpose of the course

The course is intended for B.Tech students. Students who complete this course will be competent at selecting and applying appropriate research methods and techniques in the process of formulating a research proposal and conducting research.

The approach is both theoretical and practical. Students must be able to apply theoretical concepts in the completion of their research projects.

2 Learning outcomes

2.1 Outcomes

A detailed research proposal is formulated to achieve the aim of the research project.

Demonstrate an understanding of research terminology and to apply this knowledge to specific research problems.

Demonstrate an understanding of research instruments and use appropriate instruments in the research project.

Demonstrate an understanding of the steps in the research process and to use the steps in the completing of a research project.

Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the literature review in the research procelss and to apply this knowledge in a research proposal as well as a research project.

Demonstrate an understanding of basic research statistics and be able use and interpret statistics in research projects.

Accurately use referencing techniques to reflect sources of ideas and quotations from the work of others in the research process.

Present results and draw conclusions on the basis of a critical review of evidence.

Make recommendations based on the findings of the research.

Generate research outputs from the project.

Solve problems: think creatively and critically.

Work with others and develop teamwork.

Organise oneself effectively.

Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate information.

Communicate effectively.

Use technology and be environmentally aware.

See the world as a set of related systems

2.2 Underpinning knowledge

It is assumed that the students who embark on this course will have the following basic research skills:

understand the steps in the research process

able to access information from hard copy sources

have completed a research project in the major course at third year level

able to conduct a survey using interviews and questionnaires.


3 Course structure

3.1 Modules

The course consists of two modules:

Theoretical module (50%):


Information literacy

Basic statistics

Practical module (50%):

Discipline specific research project of limited scope

Part-Time Students

Part-time students will be expected to complete a detailed research proposal and one research instrument to complement the proposal.

3.2 Course marks (Semester Programme)

The course mark is based on one assignment and a test. The assignment carries 200 marks and the test 100 marks.










(300 3 = 100)


The course mark is expressed out of 100. 50% of the course mark counts towards the year mark expressed out of 100, while the final written examination (also out of a total of 100 marks) counts for the other 50%. (See General Technikon Rule G9: 9.10).


4 Pass requirements (Annual Programme)

The pass mark is 50% (computed as 50% of the course mark and 50% of the exam mark). A sub-minimum of 40% must be obtained in the written examination. A candidate who obtains 75% or more, passes with a distinction which will be indicated on the Degree. (See General Technikon Rules G14/15).

5 Supplementary examination

A supplementary examination will be granted to a candidate who obtains at least 45% as a final mark. (Refer to General Technikon Rule G11 for further information).

6 Course outline

Research Planning and Design

Data Collection

Literature Review

Research Techniques: Observation, interviewing, surveys, case studies.

Proposal writing


Validity and Reliability

Research Reports

Ethical issues in social research

Basic Statistical Techniques:

Measures of central tendency

Measures of variability

Plotting and displaying data


7 Expanded syllabus guideline

7.1 Tools of Research

Library and its sources

The Literature Review

Computerised data bases and information services

Referencing Techniques, Language and Technical Editing

7.2 The Research Design and Stages

Planning: deciding what to investigate/study

The problem statement and its demarcation

Formulation of research objectives

Importance of the Study/Project

Literature Review/Study

Formulation of hypotheses

Defining a good questionnaire

Methods of investigation and data collection

Interpreting the data and drawing conclusions

Writing the research report

7.3 Questionnaire Construction

Requirements for a good questionnaire



The covering letter


7.4 Interviewing

Requirements for good interviewing

Types of research interviews - structured, unstructured.

7.5 Basic Statistical Techniques

Types of data: Nominal, Ordinal, Interval, Ratio

Sampling : Probability and Non-Probability Techniques

Parametric tests

Non-parametric tests

Analysis and interpretation of Results

Histograms, Polygons and representation of data

7.6 Preparing a Research ProposalProtocol

Various layout options.

7.7 Report Writing

7.8 Referencing - The Harvard Method and Bibliography

        (For B.Tech: Environmental Health - Vancouver Method)

        American Psychological Association (APA) Method

7.9 Presentation, Layout, Editing and Proof-reading

8 Prescribed text

Melville, S. & Goddard, W. 2001. Research Methodology. - An Introduction. Second Edition. Kenwyn: Juta & Co.

9 Recommended reading

Aaker, D.A., Kumar, V. & Day. G.S. 1995. Marketing Research. 5th Edition. New York: Wiley.

Babbie, E. & Halley, F. 1994. Adventures in Social Research: Data Analysis Using SPSS. California: Pine Forge Press.

Bless, C. & Higson-Smith, C. 1995. Fundamentals of Social Research Methods - An African Perspective. 2nd Edition. Kenwyn: Juta & Co.

Huysamen, C.K. 1994. Methodology for the Social and Behavioural Sciences. International Thomson Publishing.

Huysamen, G. K. 1998. Descriptive Statistics for the Social and Behavioural Sciences. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik.

Jankowicz, A.D. 1995. Business Research Projects. 2nd Edition. London: International Thomson Publishing (ITP).

Leedy, P.D. 1993. Practical Research: Planning and Design. New York: Macmillan.

Martins, J.H., Loubser, M. & Van Wyk, H. de J. Editors. 1996. Marketing Research - A South African Approach. Pretoria: Unisa Press.

Neuman, W. L. 1997. Social Research Methods - Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. 3rd Edition. London: Allyn and Bacon.

Vithal, R. & Jansen, J. 1997. Designing your first Research Proposal. Kenwyn: Juta & Co.

10 Categories of research

Research as defined in Nated 02-118 (88/07) produces one or more of the following outcomes, viz.:

the creation of new knowledge;

re-organisation and/or the application of knowledge;

finding solutions to a management/industry problem;

an original contribution to the existing body of knowledge.

The following provides a brief overview of the distinguishing features, depending on the problem statement identified and the research objectives:

10.1 Basic research

Basic research is a creative and systematic investigation conducted primarily with the aim of increasing knowledge. Basic research thus aims at the solution or explanation of problems integral to the fields of knowledge, the exposure of new fields of research or the expansion of knowledge.

10.2 Applied research

Applied research is a creative and systematic investigating performed to increase knowledge with the primary aim of devising specific practical applications. The practical aim of applied research may be:to determine possible uses of basic research, or to determine new methods/models of achieving specific and predetermined aims.

10.3 Developmental research

Developmental research is the systematic activity in the utilisation of existing knowledge gained from research and/or practical experience, in order to design, evaluate, and adapt services, processes, systems, materials, products or devices, with a view to their implementation and/or manufacture; or to substantially improve existing models/processes. Development is directed towards bringing about new applications of knowledge and adapting and improving human and natural science technology, local or international in origin.

11 Types of research

There are 3 basic types of research:

11.1 Historical research

11.2 Descriptive research

The Survey Method

Motivation Research

Case Study Method

Community Studies

Casual Comparative Studies

Activity Analysis Studies

Time-and-motion Studies

Content or Document Analysis

The Follow-up Study

Trend Study

Exploratory Studies

11.3 Experimental Research

Laboratory Research

Classroom Research

(Note: Ethical considerations of experimental designs)

12 Challenges Facing South Africa In Research

The challenges facing South Africa are highlighted in the White Paper on Science and Technology (1996), viz.:

the promotion of competitiveness and job creation; the enhancement of the quality of life (QWL);

the development of human resources (HRD); the need for environmental sustainability; and the development of information society (IT).

Academic research is therefore an integral component in the student's development and academic life in order to meet these challenges.

13 Formulating/selecting an appropriate title/topic

Lecturers/Supervisors/Promoters do not formulate a research topic or title for the student. The onus is on the student to formulate the topic and the lecturer/Supervisor merely assists the student in "finetuning", "refining" or "synthesising" the topic area. Here, students should bear in mind that the topic/title chosen for the investigation satisfies several guidelines, viz:

Is the topic relevant i.e. in sync with current events/paradigms?

Is the topic researchable?

Is there sufficient literature available on the topic chosen?

Will the topic make any contribution to existing knowledge?

14 Questionnaire construction

Melville & Goddard (1996:43) outline the following as characteristics of a good questionnaire:

It is complete and elicits all the data (responses) required. It asks only relevant questions.

It gives clear instructions.

It starts with general questions.

It has objective questions with sensitive questions at the end.

Simon & Burstein (1985:302) propose the following guidelines:

Keep the study's purpose clearly in mind at all times. This will help ensue that all questions related to the study area are asked and that unnecessary questions that are irrelevant to the study, are left out.

Begin by jotting down the topics which enquire information without worrying about wording and logic.

Number the topics in a logical order.

Pretest the questionnaire by personally going out and asking the questions in an open-ended manner.

Rewrite ambiguous questions, reorganise the questionnaire where necessary, convert some open-ended questions to closed-ended questions and generally tighten up the questionnaire.

Write an introduction (covering letter) that will persuade potential respondents to participate. Be courteous and thank the respondent for his/her co-operation.

Improve the questionnaire.

Go into the field for part of the interview.

Check preliminary results for the satisfactory completion of the work.

There are 3 broad ways of modelling/framing questions:

Type A: Open ended questions

Eg. What is your view on the existence of aliens in space?


Type B: Closed Ended (place a tick or cross the response).

Eg. Do you believe that alien life form exists in outer space?





Dont know




Type 3: Ranking Type Questions (Likert Scale)

Eg. Evidence suggests that extra biological intelligent life forms exist on other planets.


Strongly agree


Neither agree nor disagree


Strongly disagree






In using structured questions with structured answers, the respondents are given various alternatives to choose from. Loubser (1996:221) outlines various types of structured questions, viz.:

Dichotomous questions, which offer only two fixed alternatives to choose from.

Multiple-choice questions with single answers, where the response is restricted to one of the given alternatives.

Checklists, where the respondent is requested to rate the responses in terms of the criteria given in accordance with their importance.

Ranking, where the respondent is asked to place a set of items in order of importance in terms of a given set of criteria.

Scaled questions, with an array of different types of rating scales.



15 Lecture schedule

Semester course

Annual course