Hi, I’m Tara and I’m in my third year of studying an Education and Arts degree at Flinders. I completed the Research Project in 2013 and I know a lot of you will be about to start, or have just started, it too. I have some tips that will hopefully provide you with an insight on how to make your project successful and enjoyable. Research Project was something I was initially hesitant about but it came to be one of my favourite subjects in high school. It was also very useful in improving my ATAR!
In my opinion, the most challenging part of Research Project is choosing your topic. There are three boxes your chosen topic should tick;
- It should be a passion of yours.
- It should have significance outside of Research Project as a subject/topic.
- It should have lots of information about it out there already.
As I was passionate about Psychology and found myself battling anxiety, I decided to research anxiety and its impact upon academic performance. This was also a great topic as there were many sites of information for this, but it was not too broad (such as anxiety in general), as this would’ve made my project lack direction. So once you have an area of interest, formulate a focus question that narrows down and frames your project.
Collating information from resources such as websites, books and newspaper articles is a great starting point for your research. However, it is important to then branch out and find “qualitative” information from those with knowledge in your area of research. Flinders Uni was able to assist me with my research, using their “Ask an Expert” webpage. This is an excellent way to potentially find academics and professionals in your study area to contact. For me, I simply typed in “anxiety” into the “Ask an Expert” panel, and several names and contact details of psychology academics from Flinders University popped up. Don’t be afraid to email many different people – this is a brilliant way to obtain valuable information and shows you went to that extra effort. Creating a survey is a really fabulous way of gaining community views on your area. Also go out and experience your topic for yourself – for instance, I attended a meditation class and reflected on my experience, which provided another layer of depth to my understanding and project. Once you have the information, annotate and reflect as much as possible. Quality is more important than quantity as you only send 10 pages off to SACE – so make sure your research is thoroughly analysed. Do this by posing questions to yourself on your pieces of research, such as “is this true?” or “where can I find more evidence to support this?” Go crazy with annotations – this shows critical thinking!
Finally, ensure you manage your workload by constructing a timetable and sticking to it. Despite this, if you have a final product you wish to complete (I aimed to create a brochure on anxiety for students), it is okay if you do not fully complete this like me. Even though I didn’t have a final product, I earned a solid grade as I discussed my failures, successes and everything in between in my written pieces to show evidence of all my research processes. So embrace the challenges that come your way and enjoy doing a subject that is designed by you!