Ahhh the research project - the subject of developing a specific, (but not too specific!) open-ended research question on the topic of your choice. Your entire semester will revolve around this developed question, and you’ll keep on coming back to it to write reflections on your progress as you go. As daunting as this may sound, let’s first dive into what the research project is and how you can make it as useful to you as possible (and maybe even fun!)
So what is the research project?
Unlike your other SACE stage 2 subjects being 20 credits, the research project is a 10-credit SACE subject you will either complete in year 11 or 12 depending on which high school you attend. The subject consists of three parts: the folio, outcome, and review for research project A or the evaluation if you are undertaking research project B. Despite research projects A and B having different performance standards, both encourage you to explore a topic of choice in depth, gathering various sources and writing reflections on your learning. In the first few weeks of the subject, your teacher will guide you when developing your question. The folio is 10 pages in length and typically consists of your reflections and the main sources you have collected through your research (both primary and secondary sources!). You will then write an outcome that is essentially answering your original research question. Lastly, comes the evaluation or review where you will write an overall reflection and evaluate the findings in the outcome.
So why is the research project necessary?
While the big workload can be overwhelming at first, the research project is good at teaching you analytical and research skills. Doing source analysis enables you to critically evaluate your chosen sources. You will scrutinize the reliability, credibility, and validity of each of your sources. While the relevance of doing all these analyses may be hard to see at this time, the skills you develop are extremely useful during university and in the workplace. You want to be confident that the information you use can be relied upon and is not something just made up by someone. Treat the research project as a practice for your post-high school life. You want to make sure that you have these skills in your toolbox for when you really need them!
How do I develop the best question for my topic of interest?
The most important part of the research is picking the right topic. You want to pick something you have a strong interest in. This way, it will be much easier for you to feel more motivated to sit down and do your research. However, at the same time, you want to pick a topic that will have lots of research behind it, you don't want to be stuck for sources! To avoid this, write down a list of topics you have an interest in and do some research on each - see what is available online or at a local library. This way, you will be more prepared when your teacher comes over to your desk to ask you what you have done so far! Once you have picked your topic, create another list of possible questions you could investigate. These questions should be open-ended, not just with a simple yes or no answer. Keep in mind you will be writing a 1500 to 2000-word answer to this question, so make it a question you can go into complete depth with. Typical questions should be specific and may begin with ‘to what extent’, ‘evaluate’, ‘what’ or ‘how’. For example, if you picked social media as your topic, your question could be ‘to what extent does social media use impact the attention spans of teenagers aged 13-17?’ rather than ‘does social media impact attention spans?’. You may then have to break down your main question into four more guiding questions to help you structure your folio and outcome. For example, ‘how much time do teenagers aged 13-17 spend on social media every day?’. It is important that you keep documentation of this process as you will be displaying it in your folio.
If you're interested in learning how to write the best SHE task - check out this comprehensive guide.
But how do I complete my folio?
The folio is the first assessment of both research projects A and B. There is no right or wrong way to complete it but you do have to follow specific SACE criteria if you want the highest marks. The majority of students start their project with how they came to their question and a reflection on this process. You can then include the main sources you have used with source analysis. Organising interviews with professionals in your topic’s field and sending out surveys really impresses SACE markers as it shows your engagement with the subject. It demonstrates your research skills and independence to create your own data to support your outcome. Your folio should also include a capability statement to show how you have developed in your chosen SACE capability.
What should I write in my outcome? How do I do my evaluation or review?
Your outcome is the synthesis of all your ideas and findings. You can structure it however you want. This may be in the form of a magazine, report, project, video or in any other form which demonstrates all that research you have done. You must clearly conclude your findings and cite your sources. For research project A, the review begins with a 150-word summary of the process and then a 1500-word review follows which focuses on a reflection of your knowledge and skills as well as the quality of your outcome. For research project B, you should also begin with a 150-word summary of the process and then follow with a 1500-word evaluation, critically evaluating your decisions and processes as well as determining the quality of your outcome. Above all, keep in mind that your teacher is there to help you through this process. It is exciting as you begin to come up with an answer to your question. If you need any help during this time, you can find your best local tutor at: https://kisacademics.com/find-a-tutor. SACE tutors understand how stressful it can be and are more than happy to help!
Written by KIS Academics Tutor for SACE English, Biology and Psychology, Charlotte Kenning. Charlotte is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Speech Pathology at Flinders University and has received stellar reviews from her past KIS Academics students. You can view Charlotte's profile here and request her as a tutor.