• Class Number 4021
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Christopher Cvitanovic
    • Dr Christopher Cvitanovic
    • Dr Becca Shellock
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
SELT Survey Results

This course will provide students with an introduction to both quantitative and qualitative research methods as they relate to the fields of science communication and engagement.  This will include, but not be limited to, surveys, interviews, content analysis, focus groups and social network analysis. The course has been structured to (i) provide students with an in-depth theoretical understanding of each research method, (ii) gain experience in designing actual research projects in the fields of science communication and engagement, and (iii) develop practical skills in data collection, analysis and interpretation. The course will also introduce students to the critical ethical considerations associated with undertaking scientific research.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate an applied understanding of the role and importance of quantitative and qualitative scientific research methods within the context of science communication.
  2. Identify and critically evaluate quantitative and qualitative research methods within the scientific literature.
  3. Demonstrate an understanding of the challenges (both logistical and ethical) associated with applying quantitative and qualitative research methods to science communication, and strategies for overcoming these challenges.
  4. Develop and articulate research hypothesis, and design quantitative and qualitative research projects to address these hypothesis, in relation to science communication.
  5. Undertake exploratory data analysis for a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods, and report research results both in writing and visually.

There are no prescribed texts for this course, however, for students seeking relevant material to support their learning the following text is suggested:

Bryman A (2012) Social Research Methods. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU 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.

Other Information

All teaching activities related to this course will be delivered entirely online.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to Research Methods in Science Communication
2 Research philosophy, epistemology and ontology
3 Key considerations for designing social science research methods
4 Choosing research participants
5 Ethics for Science Communication Research
6 Literature Reviews
7 Surveys
8 Content Analysis
9 Interviews and Focus Groups
10 Social Network Analysis
11 Research Methods in the Humanities and their application to Science Communication
12 Visualising data and writing papers

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
In-class quiz 20 % 01/04/2022 15/04/2022 1,2,3
Designing and writing a research project proposal 35 % 11/04/2022 26/04/2022 3,4
Completion of a human ethics application 20 % 26/04/2022 10/05/2022 3,4
Short research report 25 % 03/06/2022 17/06/2022 5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU 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 Requirements

The 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 Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks 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.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 01/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 15/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3

In-class quiz

The first assessment item is an in-class quiz. The quiz will be focused on assessing your understanding of the theory covered in lectures and tutorials during the first 5 weeks of semester. It will consist of a combination of multiple choice and short answer questions. The quiz will be run during the tutorial in Week 6. 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 11/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 26/04/2022
Learning Outcomes: 3,4

Designing and writing a research project proposal

Writing a research proposal will encourage you to clarify your objectives and key ideas. It will enable you to think about each stage of the research process so that you can develop a clear and detailed plan. It will also help you to foresee problems that you may encounter during your research and allow you to think about how you will manage them when they arise.

The purpose of a research proposal can be summarised as follows:

·      To propose a research project that will result in a significant contribution to knowledge.

·      To formulate a detailed plan of the project including methodological approach and theoretical framework.

·      To ensure that the proposed research is achievable within the required time and with the available resources.

The required content and structure of a research proposal varies from one field of study to another. In general, however, a research proposal consists of the following elements:

·      Background to the topic, significance and research problem

·      Research aims and questions

·      Review of literature

·      Study/project design

·      Timeline

·      Expected outcomes/impact

This assessment item is designed to develop your skills in developing and writing a strong research proposal, based on the research question that you have selected. Specifically, you will develop a comprehensive research proposal that clearly articulates:

1.     A title that outlines the intent of the proposal.

2.     The background to the topic, including significance of the research problem. In this section it is important to situate your questions within the broader literature on the topic (i.e. incorporate a literature review).

3.     The overarching research questions, and specific study aims and objectives.

4.     Proposed study design, including specification of methods which will be used to address the research question, and a justification for the methods you have selected. 

5.     Potential limitations of your proposed study design.

6.     Reference list.

Students enrolled in SCOM4019 have a maximum word count of 1,500 words, while students enrolled in SCOM8019 have a maximum word count of 2,000 words for this assessment item. The title, reference list and in-text citations do not count towards this word count.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 26/04/2022
Return of Assessment: 10/05/2022
Learning Outcomes: 3,4

Completion of a human ethics application

Any research involving human participants requires Human Research Ethics approval prior to commencing data collection. The aim of this assessment item is to provide students with the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of Human Research Ethics protocols, and practical experience in how to complete Human Research Ethics applications.

Specifically, in Week 5 (following the lecture on Research Ethics) students will be provided with a modified Human Research Ethics application form. They will be required to complete this form in relation to their chosen research question and proposal (assessment item 2). In doing so they must be able to demonstrate an awareness of the risks associated with their research proposal (i.e. risks to human participants) and the types of strategies that can be used to mitigate those risks. 

Students enrolled in SCOM4019 have a maximum word count of 1,000 words, while students enrolled in SCOM8019 have a maximum word count of 1,500 words for this assessment item.  

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 03/06/2022
Return of Assessment: 17/06/2022
Learning Outcomes: 5

Short research report

The final step of any research project is synthesising the results to generate a research report (i.e. thesis, peer-reviewed paper, etc.). This assessment item is designed to allow students to gain practical skills in interpreting their data and writing a research report.

As part of this assessment items students will be required to collect primary data for inclusion in their report – however, sample sizes will be small. For example, if students are using a survey, then they will only require a sample size of 5 (i.e. have 5 people complete the survey). If students are using interviews, then a sample size of 3 is required. Further information about data collection and this assessment item will be provided in tutorials.

The final research report will be comprised of:

·      An informative title.

·      An introduction to frame and situate the project, including a clear statement of research objectives.

·      A methods section to the standard of what is required for peer-reviewed publications.

·      A results section that presents ‘key findings’.

·      A discussion that situates key findings within the broader field/literature.

·      A reference list.

Students enrolled in SCOM4019 have a maximum word count of 2,000 words, while students enrolled in SCOM8019 have a maximum word count of 2,500 words for this assessment item. The title, reference list and in-text citations do not count towards this word count.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to 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 be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, 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 Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For 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

  • Late submission permitted. 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 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 Requirements

Accepted 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.

Returning Assignments

Assessment items submitted through Turnitin will be returned through the system with electronic comments. 

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted 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

Please fill out the “resubmission of assignments” box. Is resubmission permitted? Yes/No

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic 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 students

The 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).

Dr Christopher Cvitanovic

Research Interests

Dr Christopher Cvitanovic

Dr Christopher Cvitanovic

Research Interests

Dr Christopher Cvitanovic

Dr Becca Shellock

Research Interests

Dr Becca Shellock

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions