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Lesley's thoughts: Research design, dissemination and getting published

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Lesley Shield
12 January 2013

So, here's a brainstormed suggestion. It links to study skills, communication skills, academic writing ...

Context: This arises from observations about similar needs for a wide range of (newish) researchers, as follows:

  1. Postgraduate students on programmes such as the Open University’s MA in Online and Distance Education (MAODE)
  2. Reviewing proposals from teachers at various levels (primary, secondary, tertiary, higher, further, special needs, and so on) to international conferences
  3. Reviewing submissions to several peer-reviewed journals in the areas of learning technology and technology-enhanced language learning

Challenge New(ish) researchers often have little experience of research methodologies.  This lack of experience can lead to disappointment in terms of assignment marks or acceptance of presentations or papers for publication because certain protocols have been omitted in the research design. Related to this is the need to heed the requirements stated in assignment rubrics, conference calls and journals’ information for authors… something here about academic writing?

As a result, innovative and interesting research may not reach a wider audience and some researchers may be discouraged in their quest to disseminate their work. 

For academics, the challenge in the current economic climate, failure to publish and/or disseminate research findings may lead to redundancy. I would, therefore, like to offer a short, general research methodology course that would be appropriate for both postgraduate students and CPD purposes working in the fields of education  and learning technologies.

Aim: The aim is to give participants the tools to design and disseminate their research effectively.

While it is recognised that there are intercultural differences between research methodologies, this online, international course would concentrate on the Anglo-American tradition of research, though participants would have the opportunity to share their own traditions, discussing the benefits and disadvantages of different approaches.

Designing and communicating research in education and learning technologies

Designing your research

  • Identifying a ‘gap’: the importance of the literature review
  • Developing a research question
  • Designing your method
    • Identifying the target
    • Quantitative or qualitative?  Both? Or neither?
    • Designing your instrument(s)
    • Ethical considerations
    • Data collection
  • Data analysis
  • Drawing conclusions
  • Identifying gaps in the research and areas to take forward

Disseminating your research

  • Identifying your audience
    • Who is your audience?  Your tutor? An international conference? An academic, peer-reviewed journal?
  • Checking requirements
    • What are the requirements of the assignment? The call for proposals and, if accepted, the presentation? The journal?
  • Communicating appropriately
    • Following instructions
    • Degrees of formality
    • Academic writing
  • Acting on feedback

Participants will have the opportunity to share and critique each other’s research proposals and/or conference abstracts  and/or potential journal submissions, depending on their backgrounds and needs.

Potentially, this could be developed as a formal or informal course, within a highly structured VLE or a wider MOOC.

Potential resources

  • Free online resources around research methodologies (e.g. Palgrave Study Skills -
  • Example ‘guidance to authors’ from sample peer-reviewed journals in the field (e.g. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, Computer Assisted Language Learning Journal, ALT-J etc.)
  • Other participants’ research proposals, papers and abstracts
  • Feedback from other participants regarding research proposals, papers and abstracts.
  • Other?


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Anne Bradbury
7:43pm 12 January 2013

This sounds very interesting, Lesley and a useful introduction to research skills .

Would be interested in working on this one.


Lesley Shield
7:47pm 12 January 2013

Sounds good, Anne. I've suggested forming a study group in response to your proposal. I think there are areas of overlap we could usefully develop further, as described there.



Marion Waite
11:59am 13 January 2013

Hi Lesley

This sounds really interesting and is very similar to my project, which I have just posted in terms of buliding confidence in research  and dissemination. Would you like to form a study circle?


Lesley Shield
5:19pm 13 January 2013

Yes, of course, Marian. There may also be overlap with Anne's ideas, too. L.

Mark Johnstone
6:49am 14 January 2013

This is a great idea Lesley. I'm on a PhD course at Lancaster and we spend the first two years of the program exploring research methodologies and honing our research skills. I don't know how people just jump into research projects with no training at all... obviously there is a great need for this type of thing.

I'd be interested in participating in a study circle built around your idea.


Lesley Shield
9:37am 14 January 2013 (Edited 2:03pm 14 January 2013)

Hi Mark,

A study circle would be good - it looks as though we have four people interested anyway. Let's wait to see if anyone else expresses interest, then I'll set something up in the way of a study circle (still working on the difference between a circle and a group as terms are not being used quite as I'd use them ;-)! )

Good to hear you think it could be a useful thing to look at!


Siglinde Pape
7:11pm 14 January 2013

yes, watching out for this study circle as well :-)

I'm also trying to follow what's happening in the "hack your PhD" group on facebook - there are some interesting and disruptive ideas about how to redesign research and scientific communication...

david mcdade
11:30pm 25 July 2013

Hi Lesley,

I am currently finishing off the MAODE course, I am also very much a novice researcher. This kind of information is invaluable.



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