INFO614-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020

Research Methodology and Epistemology

30 points

Start Date: Monday, 17 February 2020
End Date: Sunday, 21 June 2020
Withdrawal Dates
Last Day to withdraw from this course:
  • Without financial penalty (full fee refund): Friday, 28 February 2020
  • Without academic penalty (including no fee refund): Friday, 29 May 2020


INFO614 seeks to provide students with a thorough introduction to the principal assumptions that underpin the development of research ideas in accounting, information systems and related disciplines. More particularly, it seeks to expose students to the theoretical and philosophical foundations of knowledge and reality. You will also be introduced to both quantitative and qualitative research methods

This paper provides an overview of the research process, and examines the different types of research philosophies used to help develop theory. An in-depth examination of qualitative and quantitative research techniques is provided to assist students when designing their own research study.

The estimated workload for this course is about 300 hours. This is made up as follows:

Lectures / tutorials 66 hours
Assignments 150 hours
Lecture preparation and follow-up 84 hours

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of competing research philosophies and paradigms.
2. Be able to develop a literature driven research question.
3. Demonstrate an understanding of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.
4. Demonstrate an understanding of qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques.
5. Be able to interpret the results of data analysis.
6. Be able to critically assess research articles and reports that use qualitative and quantitative methods.
7. Be able to write a research proposal for a defined audience.

Master of Commerce Learning Goals
1. Graduates can demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding of current theoretical concepts and frameworks within their major discipline.
2. Graduates are able to think logically, analytically and critically with respect to the academic literature in their major discipline.
3. Graduates can plan and carry out a supervised programme of academic research that shows a sound understanding of ethical practice.
4. Graduates are able to synthesise academic or professional literature and effectively communicate research orally and in written form.


Subject to approval of the Head of Department


ACCT614, ACIS614, AFIS614

Timetable Note

Tutorials and/or laboratories will accompany some lectures. Details are in the lecture schedule.


Markus Milne


Assessment Due Date Percentage  Description
One-page Initial Research Proposal 03 Apr 2020 5% One-page Initial Research Proposal
Methodology Analysis Assignment 06 Apr 2020 15% Methodology Analysis Assignment
Literature Review 27 Apr 2020 20% Literature Review
Problem-based Assignment 25 May 2020 15% Problem-based Assignment
Research Proposal Presentation 29 May 2020 5% Research Proposal Presentation
Research Proposal 05 Jun 2020 40% Research Proposal

Assessment Details

One-page Initial Research Proposal 3 April 5%
This one-page research project proposal will be used to assign your supervisor(s) for the research dissertation or thesis. The supervisor(s) will then be able to help with the development of your detailed proposal during Term 2. The full written proposal (and oral presentation) is due at the end of the course.

This short proposal will need to explain your research idea, catch attention, and show some awareness of the current literature surrounding the topic. The project details will be expanded and modified as the project proposal is refined in consultation with your supervisor(s).

Methodology Analysis Assignment 3 April 15%
For this part of the course you are required to write a 2400 word assignment which compares two empirical journal articles – i.e. articles which draw conclusions based on real-world data – each of which are based on a different social science methodology. Thus, any one article could be positivistic OR constructivist OR postmodernist OR critical realist. We are providing you with a choice of the following pairs for comparison:

1. Two papers on organisational culture:

Marcoulides, G.A. and Heck, R.H. (1993) ‘Organizational culture and performance: proposing and testing a model’, Organization Science, 4 (2): 209-225.
Parker, M. (2002) ‘Contesting histories: unity and division in a building society’, Journal of Organizational Change Management, 15 (6): 589-605.

2. Two papers on trust and accounting:

Lau, C.M., & Tan, S.L.C., (2007) ‘The effects of procedural fairness and interpersonal trust on job tension in budgeting’, Management Accounting Research, 17 (2): 171-186.
Busco, C., Riccaboni, A., and Scapens, R.W., (2006) ‘Trust for accounting and accounting for trust’, Management Accounting Research, 17 (1): 11-41.

The assignment should be structured as follows:

Section 1: Summarise the two papers – what was the particular topic(s) investigated? Why was this topic(s) chosen by the authors? How did the researcher(s) go about gathering their data? What kind of conclusions did they reach? And so on. (Suggest 600 words)

Section 2: Identify the methodology on which Paper A is based and identify the particular elements of its argument that allow you to make this classification. In other words you need to pick out the ways in which the researcher(s) has drawn upon, for example, positivism in producing their account of the social world. (Suggest 900 words)

Section 3: Do the same for Paper B. (Suggest 900 words)

We will expect to see explicit references to each of the ‘target’ papers in your assignment, but also to other sources which pertain to the methodologies exemplified (i.e. course reading and other pertinent texts). These should back up the arguments you make about how the pieces exemplify these epistemologies/ontologies/methodologies.

You will be assessed on the extent to which you:

(a) succinctly and competently summarise the papers you have chosen;
(b) demonstrate knowledge of the methodologies you are dealing with; and
(c) are able to identify the connections between these methodologies and your target papers.

Your assignment should also be well structured, clearly written and appropriately referenced. Please remember that in your assignment we want to see your understanding of the issues involved - it is therefore important that you develop a clear and consistent argument which, needless to say, is your own.  

Literature Review 27 April 20%
The literature review can be on a topic of your own choosing, which may be the literature review for your project. However, there is likely to be significant differences between this literature review assignment and what you hand in for the research proposal, as the proposal will need to be significantly more focused on the problem you are tackling. The literature review can also be an opportunity for you to work through different potential areas of interest.

The word limit is between 4,000 and 7,000 words, including references (remember that the reference list will make up a significant proportion of the word count).

The review must be in either APA or Harvard referencing style (no other referencing style is acceptable). Please use either 11 or 12 point font for text. The assignment should be either single or 1.5 spaced. Please ensure that there is a clear line space between paragraphs. Pages should be numbered consecutively. There must be a minimum of a 2cm wide margin.

Further discussion on undertaking literature reviews will be covered in class. A substantial body of readings is also available via Learn.

Problem-based Assignment 25 May 15%
Further details of this assignment will be provided in class.

Research Proposal Presentation 29 May 5%
The research proposal presentation will be based on your written proposal. It should focus on the research problem, give a brief overview of the relevant literature, outline your proposed methodology, and speculate on the academic and practical contributions of the research.

Presentation length should be between 15 and 20 minutes, including time for questions. The proposal will be presented to the whole class, the course lecturers, your project supervisor(s), and other academic staff depending on their availability. Feedback will be provided that you can then incorporate into your written proposal, due one week later.

Research Proposal 5 June 40%
Your proposal will outline the details of your dissertation or thesis. It should be no more than 20 pages long (excluding the references list), use 12pt Times New Roman font, 1.5 spacing, at least 2.54cm margins all around the page.  Please ensure you follow the APA style for citations and references. Potential headings to be used in the research proposal could include (but are not limited to) a short abstract, introduction (including aims and objectives), literature review, methodology (including justification for choice of method), timeline for research, budget, ethical issues and approval, potential academic and practical contributions, and a summary/conclusion. More details, including the marking criteria, will be provided during the semester.

Further details on assessment activities will be provided throughout the semester (in class and via Learn).

Textbooks / Resources

Readings are available on the course Learn site.

Online Resources
Lecture notes, assignment details, announcements relating to the course, and marks for assessment items will be available via the UC Learn site.

Check the course Learn site regularly for notices and updates.

Course links



Class Representative
A class representative may be asked to volunteer in the first few weeks of class. Any problems with the course can be raised with the class rep. Their email can be found at UCSA. The class representative will take up any issues raised by class members with the lecturer concerned as they occur.

Departmental Academic Policies  
The Department assumes that you have read this document.

You should also read the General Course and Examination Regulations

Dishonest Practice
The University of Canterbury considers cheating and plagiarism to be serious acts of dishonesty.  All assessed work must be your own individual work unless specifically stated otherwise in the assessment guidelines. Material quoted from any other source must be clearly acknowledged. You must not copy the work of another person (student or published work) in any assessment including examinations, tests and assignments. Any person, who is found to have copied someone else's work, or to have allowed their work to be copied, will receive a fail grade for that piece of assessment and may face disciplinary action which may lead to a fine, community service or exclusion from the university.

IMPORTANT: Where there are concerns regarding the authorship of written course work, a student can be required to provide a formal, oral explanation of the content of their work.

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $1,963.00

* All fees are inclusive of NZ GST or any equivalent overseas tax, and do not include any programme level discount or additional course-related expenses.

For further information see Department of Accounting and Information Systems on the departments and faculties page .

All INFO614 Occurrences

  • INFO614-20S1 (C) Semester One 2020