- Class Number 7444
- Term Code 3160
- Class Info
- Unit Value 6 units
- Topic On Campus
- Mode of Delivery In Person
- AsPr Llewelyn Hughes
- AsPr Llewelyn Hughes
- Class Dates
- Class Start Date 26/07/2021
- Class End Date 29/10/2021
- Census Date 14/09/2021
- Last Date to Enrol 02/08/2021
This course provides students with important skills for interpreting and using policy research. Students will be introduced to the process and methods of empirical policy research. The course begins with an introduction to the research process and its basis in the philosophy of science, before moving on to discuss aspects of concept formation and operationalization. Students will explore the craft of formulating research questions and generating hypotheses, discuss aspects of causal inference and consider various research methods including qualitative, quantitative, experimental, observational and mixed methods approaches. Through practical cases, students will reflect on the role of research in the policy process, the ethics of policy research, and how to navigate the interface between research and practice to get effective policy outcomes.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- define and explain a variety of approaches to research in social sciences (L1);
- demonstrate a basic knowledge of commonly used methodological tools in empirical research, including surveys, interviews, content analysis, case selection and comparison, and basic statistical methods (L2);
- appraise strengths and weaknesses of existing methodological approaches, including: assess conditions under which one can properly apply tools of measurement and systematic ways to make inferences and interpret data (L3); and
- formulate research questions, develop arguments and choose proper research design in its support (L4).
The course is designed to enable students to assess independently the validity of policy research, and to survey major approaches to policy research. Students will be actively involved in assessing and designing research throughout the semester.
Additional Course Costs
There are no expected additional costs.
Examination Material or equipment
There is no examination.
All resources are provided electronically via Wattle.
Staff FeedbackStudents will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
- Written comments
- Verbal comments
- Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups
Student FeedbackANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.
|Week/Session||Summary of Activities||Assessment|
|1||Week 1: Introduction||Topics: Course overview (outline, requirements); why policy research matters|
|2||Week 2: Questions and Concepts||Topics: What are concepts and why do they matter?|
|3||Week 3: Theory, Hypotheses, Measurement||Topics: Inductive vs. deductive research, theory and hypothesis, measurement reliability and validity|
|4||Week 4. Causal Inference||Topics: Fundamentals of causal inference; how do different research strategies deal with threats to causal attribution?|
|5||Week 5: Qualitative Approaches to Causal Inference||Topics: Approaches to causal inference using qualitative data|
|6||Week 6: Data Analysis - Statistical I||Topics: Types of statistical data; sampling|
|7||Week 7: Data Analysis - Statistical II||Topics: Advantages and disadvantages of statistical methods; statistical strategies for causal inference|
|8||Week 8: Experimental data & analysis||Topics: Why are experiments considered the "gold standard" for demonstrating causality?; internal vs. external validity|
|9||Week 9: Worldviews - Positivism vs. Interpretivism||Topics: What are interpretivism and positivism as distinct research traditions? A key focus is on differences in the assumptions that lie behind these two approaches.|
|10||Week 10: Interpretivist Approaches||Topics: Data collection and analysis in the interpretivist tradition|
|11||Week 11: The Ethics of Policy Research||Topics: What are the ethical principles involved when conducting research?; what protocols exit to manage ethical concerns?|
|12||Week 12: Review: The Research Frontier||Topics: The methodological frontier; recapping lessons from the course|
Tutorials are available.
|Assessment task||Value||Due Date||Return of assessment||Learning Outcomes|
|Literature Review Exercise||30 %||20/09/2021||06/10/2021||L1, L2|
|Research Design Exercise||30 %||12/11/2021||02/12/2021||L1, L2, L4|
|Regular Short Evaluation Exercises||30 %||27/08/2021||*||L1, L2, L3|
|Participation||10 %||*||02/12/2021||L1, L2, L3, L4|
* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details
PoliciesANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:
Assessment RequirementsThe ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.
Moderation of AssessmentMarks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.
See Assessment Item #4 above.
There is no examination.
Assessment Task 1
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2
Literature Review Exercise
In this exercise we ask you to carry out a meta-analysis of key findings around an important area of public policy.
Length: approx. 1,250 words
Assessment Task 2
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2, L4
Research Design Exercise
In this exercise we ask you to go a step further and design research for yourself, including defining a research question.
The second assignment requires you to design two studies to answer a public policy question that is amenable to research, with the research design chosen from those introduced in the class. You will need to ask yourself questions like:
- How can I define a policy question that is amenable to research?
- How should I define the outcome of interest?
- What research designs might offer useful information about the outcome of interest
- What might be the ethical and political implications of my research, if any?
Length: approx. 1,500 words
Assessment Task 3
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2, L3
Regular Short Evaluation Exercises
There will be three (3) short evaluation exercises through the semester, designed to assess and assist understanding of the written material.
Assignment 1 due 27/8/2021, return 10/09/2021
Assignment 2 due 8/10/2021, return 22/10/2021
Assignment 3 due 22/10/2021, return 5/11/2021
Assessment Task 4
Learning Outcomes: L1, L2, L3, L4
Participation is a requirement for the class. Students need to participate actively in group activities in support of learning outcomes. Note this assessment item applies to the lecture period only, not tutorials.
Academic IntegrityAcademic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.
Online SubmissionThe ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.
Hardcopy SubmissionFor some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.
Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.
Referencing RequirementsAccepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.
Assignments will be returned via the Wattle interface.
Extensions and PenaltiesExtensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.
Resubmission of Assignments
There is no ability to resubmit an assignment.
Distribution of grades policyAcademic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.
Support for studentsThe University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
- ANU Health, safety & wellbeing for medical services, counselling, mental health and spiritual support
- ANU Diversity and inclusion for students with a disability or ongoing or chronic illness
- ANU Dean of Students for confidential, impartial advice and help to resolve problems between students and the academic or administrative areas of the University
- ANU Academic Skills and Learning Centre supports you make your own decisions about how you learn and manage your workload.
- ANU Counselling Centre promotes, supports and enhances mental health and wellbeing within the University student community.
- ANUSA supports and represents undergraduate and ANU College students
- PARSA supports and represents postgraduate and research students
energy and climate change policy, political economy, business-government relations, Asia-Pacific
AsPr Llewelyn Hughes