Research Assistantship Honours Course

2019-2020

Course Objective

The primary purpose of the Research Assistantship (RA) is to gain
first-hand research experience and enhance students’ research skills. It
entails a tutored research project at one of the research groups at
SBE, which may be part of a larger research project/program of the
group in which the student participates or may be set up as a separate
project specifically for the RA-ship.

Course Content

SBE HP students can choose to substitute their elective course for a
high-quality RA, preferably in their third bachelor year. It entails a
tutored research project at one of the research groups at SBE, which may
be part of a larger research project/program of the group in which the
student participates or may be set up as a separate project specifically
for the RA-ship. Two general formats can be chosen to set up the
RA-ship:

(1) as an independent component of the honours program (6 credits),
(2) a study combined with the BSc thesis, which allows to develop a
research project of larger scale and/or scope (12 + 6 credits).

The RA allows students to build on their skills developed during the
programme and, if combined with the BSc thesis, to extend this into a
more complete research experience.

Research should be considered in a broad sense, and can involve
different stages of research and different research methods. Although
typically the RA will include an empirical research component, it may
also involve extended literature research. Naturally, this should be
reflected in the project design. The form of the RA that is chosen is an
important determinant of the expected output and criteria used for
evaluation of the process and output. Option 2 seems the ideal way to
combine the regular BSc thesis work with a more in-depth empirical study
than is usually the case for the thesis.

In case of option 1 described above, expectations about output of the
project need to be in line with the credits (6 EC) that are available
for the RA-ship. When option 2 is chosen, the output of the RA can be
integrated into the BSc thesis (f.e. an extra chapter or appendix),
which results in a significant increase in expected output. Note that
the scope of the RA-ship, expected output and evaluation should be
proportional with the weights of the two components in the programme
(i.e. 6 + 12 EC).

Key for the evaluation of the RA is the provision of an independent
piece of research output either in the form of a research paper, or an
identifiable part of the thesis (f.e. an extra chapter or appendix). The
quality of the paper should be such that it can be graded and preferably
be submitted to an academic conference or perhaps even to an academic
journal. This paper can be complemented with other relevant project
output as part of the evaluation such as databases, measurement
instruments and a reference list. These elements may also be part of the
evaluation and grading of the project. Evaluation of the RA is context
dependent, since this depends on the nature of the research and the
tasks conducted by the RA.

General guidelines for evaluation and grading can, however, be provided
and include the following aspects:
• Quality, originality and relevance of the research question (or of
extensions/refinement of existing questions developed by the student);
• Theory development;
• Extent and quality of data collection and analysis;
• Description of findings and results;
• Development and discussion of inferences and conclusions;
• Independence (e.g. in formulating/developing/extending research
questions, theory development, data collection and analysis and drawing
of inferences);
• Overall quality of the research report (quality of writing, appearance
etc.).

Not all elements may be equally important for each RA-ship, and weights
should be determined in accordance with the nature of the project. When
the RA is combined with the bachelor thesis, supervisors are recommended
to take these criteria in conjunction with the evaluation checklist for
the thesis. In this case, the thesis and RA can be evaluated and graded
as if they are one study component, even though this grade will be
registered separately for the two components.

The possibility to engage in an RA and to gain hands-on experience in
conducting research is dependent on the availability of qualified
researchers and projects within the different research groups.
Interested honours students are advised to actively explore
possibilities through their contacts with School members in the BSc and
honours programme, and with their mentor in the honours programme.
Research projects will usually be formulated close to ongoing research
projects at the department or research group, and depending on students’
interests, they can apply at the appropriate research group and
supervisor.

Research-assistantships can start any time during the academic year,
although students are recommended to engage in an RA after, and not
before having completed their advanced methods course in the bachelor
program. Entry level requirement may also be set for specific projects,
which require certain quantitative or qualitative research skills.
Typically, the second half of the last year in the honours programme may
fit best when combining this with the BSc thesis.

Students engaging in an RA are required to notify the programme
coordinator up-front, and send a project proposal for approval to
honoursprogramma.sbe@vu.nl.

This proposal, developed jointly with the prospective supervisor, should
include:
1. Research problem;
2. Research question(s);
3. Research design;
4. Relevance;
5. Structure of the research paper;
6. Planning.

Teaching Methods

Conducting an independent research project under individual supervision.

Method of Assessment

Grading of the research paper and/or other research output by the
supervisor.

Literature

To be decided by the supervisor.

Custom Course Registration

Students who want to pursue a Research Assistantschip are required to notify the programme coordinator up-front, and send a project proposal for approval to honoursprogramma.sbe@vu.nl.

General Information

Course Code E_HP2_RASS
Credits 6 EC
Period Ac. Year (sept)
Course Level 300
Language of Tuition English
Faculty School of Business and Economics
Course Coordinator dr. H.E.D. Houba
Examiner dr. H.E.D. Houba
Teaching Staff

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Target audiences

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