what are the similarities and differences in the approach to the research topic and in the findings?

In this assessment, you will analyze comparatively two papers in your field of interest, in terms of their underlying assumptions, research design and methods, and contribution to the field of knowledge. Based on this you will present a rationale for an outline a descriiption of a research design for your own dissertation project.
Comparison of two papers
The overall emphasis is upon a critical analysis of the papers. By critical we mean that you must not simply describe what the authors of the papers did, but explain the contribution to knowledge and understanding the paper make in terms of the consequences of the design/methodological choices made by the authors, and evaluate those choices in terms of their effects on generating valid knowledge in ethical ways. You must draw comparisons across the papers: what are the similarities and differences in the approach to the research topic and in the findings? What are the consequences of these, and what does this tell us about the different research designs?
Suggested pairs of paper will be provided, relevant to a number of different topic areas for each Masters’s program, but you may also select your own. A list of suitable journals is provided to guide this selection, but you may go outside these if you have good reasons. It is strongly recommended that if you wish to select your own papers, and in particular if you go beyond this journal list, then you check your choice with the module coordinator. Two criteria must be fulfilled:
a) the papers must have original empirical content, reporting on a piece of the research described in sufficient detail to enable the comparison to be made (so entirely theoretical pieces or review articles are not suitable); and
b) the papers must contrast with each other in their approach to research, again in order to enable a meaningful comparison. The nature of the contrast may be in the nature of the data collected (e.g. quantitative/qualitative, visual/textual, etc.), the overall design (e.g. survey/case study, primary/secondary sources, etc. ), or underlying philosophy (positivist/interpretivist/realist). In part, this will depend on your Masters’s program, but you should also be guided by your interests in choosing methods for your dissertation.
You must cover all the following elements in your essay:
Aims and contribution
You should identify the overall research question the papers were addressing, and where relevant (which will almost always be the case) the real-world problem that the research is supposed to help address. You must concisely summarise the key findings and contributions to the knowledge of the two papers. Remember, contributions to knowledge may be empirical (knowledge about the world) theoretical/conceptual (new ways of understanding the world), or both. Were the questions clear? Did they answer them?
Underlying assumptions
What kinds of knowledge were they seeking? What underlying assumptions are there about the nature of the world and how it can be known? (This may be about what kinds of ‘thing’ they were researching, or you may wish to delve deeper into the papers’ underlying research philosophy. The latter is not, however, a requirement.)
Research design
What are the key features of the research designs? (What overall strategy was adopted? What types of data were collected, and how were these collected and analyzed?) How well are these linked to the research aims and the assumptions being made?
Conclusion
Are the results valid and generalizable? (Can you tell this from the write-up they provide?) Was the research ethical? How do the answers to these questions relate to the design choices which were made, and how do they compare between the two papers? Overall, do the authors make a good case for their research in the way they write it up? Do they provide enough, and good enough, explanation and discussion to allow you to make a judgment about the quality of the research?
Referencing
While you must cite all the sources you draw upon in the normal academic manner (using the Harvard method) you do not need to continually cite the two papers under review in the normal way, though some way to clearly identify each is necessary. )You might, for instance, simply refer to them by the author’s name(s), or as ‘paper A’ and ‘paper B’.

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