Learn to Conduct Horticultural Research Projects
Good research skills encourage innovation. With this course, you'll develop the skills and knowledge needed to plan, conduct and report on research in social, technological and environmental issues that impact on Horticulture today and which are needed for strategic business planning. These skills are essential in identifying trends, issues, and needs that can create new opportunities and directions in horticulture.
For many students, their first experience with research occurred in school where they were required to prepare a research report or a presentation on a particular subject. This is the most basic level of research, and its aim is to gather information on a topic, which is later to be presented to an intended audience (a class, teacher etc). Examples are research on a particular country, animal, or political system.
Another level of research aims at answering a research question, often called the thesis question. The information that is gathered and presented is chosen in order to answer that question. Examples of research questions include:
- What main social and political factors contribute to poverty in country X?
- Why is the Madagascan lemur an endangered species?
- How was language used to justify and maintain the Cold War last century?
Well-formulated and pertinent questions can lead to meaningful research projects that can greatly increase our understanding of the world and ourselves. The problem with this kind of research, though, is that it can be very difficult to know what questions to ask. In this course, you'll learn how to develop strong research questions, and work with your assigned academic to develop an appropriate plan for delving deeper.
There are 7 lessons in this course:
Determining Research Needs
Searching for Information
Conducting Statistical Research
Reporting on a Research Project
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Conduct preliminary investigations to determine areas where there is a valid need for research in social, technological and environmental issues that impact on horticulture today
Conduct an information search into a defined issue related to social, technological and environmental issues that impact on Horticulture today.
Explain research methods, including experimental techniques, commonly used.
Demonstrate and explain the basic statistical methods used for research.
Conduct a minor statistical research project into a well defined area, relevant to your area of study.
Prepare a research report in a format which conforms to normal industry procedures.
Demonstrate critical analytical thinking, reviewing skills and report writing skills.
How to Write Reports
A report may include any or all of the following parts.
-Used to protect the document (but should also be attractive)
-Often a binder or printed illustration on card or stiff paper
-Should contain report title
-A logo and sub title are optional
-Used only with formal reports
-This is a blank page inserted after the cover, and preceding the report
-Used to protect documentation inside.
3. Title Flyleaf
-Report title in capital letters
-Printed one third of the way down the page
-Only used in formal reports, even then, not always
4. Title Page
-This may also be the cover in either a formal or informal report (particularly in informal reports)
-The title is printed in capitals on the upper third of the page.
-The bottom two thirds may contain:
a/ The writers name & credentials (ie. title, organisation, qualifications etc)
b/ The client or readers name and credentials/position
c/ Date -Writing is commonly centered, but may be arranged otherwise, provided it is visually balanced.
5. Letter of Authorisation
-If relevant, a letter or document ordering or requesting the report may be included here.
6. Letter of Transmittal
-This may be included as a preface or forward to set the scope of the report
-It may state such things as the aim/purpose, method of research, limitations of the project etc.
-This may list persons who have contributed together with their credentials.
-Acknowledgments are often optional
8. Table of Contents
-A list of main topics and sub topics together with page numbers.
-May be unnecessary for small informal reports
-May be headed "Contents", "List of Contents" or "Table of Contents"
-Should be included in any larger reports, whether formal or not
9. List of Illustrations
-This may be included under table of contents, if there are only a small number of illustrations; however, if there is a larger quantity, it should be included as a separate page.
-May be headed "Illustrations", "List of Illustrations" or "Table of Illustrations"
-May be headed "Precis", "Summary" or "Abstract"
-This is a shortened version of the report, usually confined to no more than 1 page
-It allows the reader to get an accurate impression of the report without a lengthy reading of all details.
-Not always necessary to include this
-This generally contains three parts:
-Present this as paragraphs, dividing each of the three sections into topics and sub topics, with headings and sub headings.
-The introduction is relatively brief, providing a background to the why the report is being written.
-The body provides the bulk of the report, containing details which were compiled, discovered or developed as a result of the project.
-The conclusion (sometimes called "recommendations), makes the statements which arise from having conducted or pursued the project.
-This includes statistical or other data which is relevant to the report but better presented in a tabulated form.
-These are typed at the bottom of each page which they refer to.
-A footnote provides information relevant to something stated in the body of text on that page.
-The footnote and the text that it refers to are both marked the same (eg. with a small number)
-This contains background information to the body of the report such as extracts from documents researched, names and contact details of organisations or people contacted, etc.
-This is a list of relevant publications
-Information for books is usually presented in the following format:
Authors last name followed by first name, then book title, city of publication, publisher’s name, and finally the date of publication.
Articles from periodicals/magazines should start with author’s surname followed by first name, then title of article, periodical title, volume number and date and pages it is found on.
WHY STUDY THIS?
Research is an important part of decision making in the horticulture industry.
Whether choosing a new crop to grow, developing a new product or service or evaluating the viability of a project; decisions have less risk when they are based upon reliable and true information, and the way to obtain and verify that information is true is to conduct research. Good managers and entrepreneurs need to understand research even if they do not always conduct it personally.
Study this course so you can either conduct horticultural research properly; or so you can understand and male good decisions about using research (or both).