Research methods for language and linguistics

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
26 March 2019


Requisites for this module


LG219, LG831

Key module for

BA QX31 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL),
BA QX41 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) (Including Foundation Year),
BA QX51 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) (Including Placement Year),
BA QXH1 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) (Including Year Abroad),
BA QV3C English Language and History (Including Year Abroad),
BA QQ13 English Language and Linguistics,
BA QQ15 English Language and Linguistics (Including Placement Year),
BA QQ16 English Language and Linguistics (Including Foundation Year),
BA QQ3D English Language and Linguistics (Including Year Abroad),
BA QQ23 English Language and Literature,
BA QQ24 English Language and Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA QQ32 English Language and Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA QQ35 English Language and Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA QB36 English Language and Language Development (Including Year Abroad),
BA QQ3C English Language and Language Development,
BA QQ3F English Language and Language Development (Including Placement Year),
BA Q100 Linguistics,
BA Q101 Linguistics (Including Year Abroad),
BA Q102 Linguistics (Including Foundation Year),
BA Q103 Linguistics (Including Placement Year),
BA L390 English Language and Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA LQ31 English Language and Sociology,
BA RQ93 Modern Languages and English Language,
BA RQ99 Modern Languages and English Language (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA RQ91 Modern Languages and Linguistics,
BA RQ98 Modern Languages and Linguistics (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA QP10 English Language with Media Communication,
BA QP11 English Language with Media Communication (Including Year Abroad),
BA QP12 English Language with Media Communication (Including Placement Year)

Module description

The module provides an introduction to research methods in language and linguistics. It familiarises students with the steps involved in undertaking a research project in language and linguistics: reviewing the literature, formulating research questions and hypotheses, choosing a suitable research design, data collection methods and analysis techniques, and reporting findings. It builds on the first-year module LG113-4-SP 'Understanding data in linguistics'.

Module aims

The module is aimed at enabling students to develop their own research project, that is, the final-year linguistics project that became compulsory in 2017/18. This aim will be achieved by introducing students to the conventional structure and sections of a research report, including the purposes of each section, by offering practice in identifying and formulating research questions and/or hypotheses, and by offering an overview of research designs and methods, including data collection methods/instruments and data analysis methods and tools.

Module learning outcomes

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will have achieved the following:
(1) Awareness of basic concepts in linguistics research, different research designs, methods, data collection and analysis tools;
(2) Ability to write a literature review;
(3) Ability to identify and formulate research questions/hypotheses
(4) Ability to choose a research design, data collection techniques and analysis methods that are suitable and appropriate for addressing specific research questions/hypotheses;
(5) Awareness of how to structure and write a research report.

Module information


1. Research in language and linguistics: Basic concepts LL (wk 16)
Theory and data; research questions and hypotheses; reviewing literature; how to arrive at research questions and/or hypothesis based on the literature.

2. Writing a literature review LL (wk 17)
Summarising and critical evaluation; how to prepare a literature review; what (not) to do when drafting a literature review.

3. Introduction to research methods AGG (wk 18)
General characteristics of quantitative, qualitative and mixed-methods research; types of research design: longitudinal vs. cross-sectional; advantages and disadvantages of each; research quality: validity and reliability; research ethics; piloting.

4. Data collection instruments: Language data KRB (wk 19)
Naturalistic vs. elicited data; common data sources: (a) acceptability judgements, (b) response times, (c) elicited production, (d) corpora; examples of tasks (for a-c) and resulting data associated with each instrument/data source.

5. Data collection instruments: Participant data KRB (wk 20)
Collecting background information for descriptive purposes: demographic questionnaires; participant data as research variables: behavioural and attitudinal questionnaires, oral interviews.

Quiz – week 21

6. Quantitative research methods: Software and tools for data analysis KRB (wk 21)
Introduction to basic concepts (variables, statistical significance, null hypothesis, errors and confounds, parametric and non-parametric statistics) and analytical software and tools for quantitative analysis (e.g., SPSS to perform T-test, ANOVA, Pearson correlation).

7. Practice session: Data analysis with Excel – 2-hour lab session in 3 groups CDL (wk 22)
Using Excel: Basic descriptive and inferential statistics; tables and graphs; the notion of statistical significance.

8. Qualitative research methods: Data management and analysis AGG (wk 23)
Introduction to basic concepts in qualitative research (e.g., reflexivity, context, thick description, transcription, coding). Introduction to analytical software and tools for qualitative data management and analysis (e.g., NVivo, Elan, CMaps, CLAN).

9. Research design: Answering research questions AGG (wk 24)
Looking at the overall strategy for answering research questions: How the different components of the study relate to each other and contribute to addressing the research topic and issues.

10. Writing a research report LL (wk 25)
Overall presentation and organisation of a research paper, typical sections and their purposes, referencing.

11. Data archive T.B.C (wk 30)

Quiz – week 31

12. Ethics Dr De Paiva (wk 31)

Learning and teaching methods

The module has a 1 (lecture) + 1 (seminar) format, with a 1-hour lecture for the whole group of students followed by a 1-hour seminar at least one day later, taught in three smaller groups. The exception is Session 7 (see above), which consists of a 2-hour lab session taught in three smaller groups.


  • Wray, Alison; Bloomer, Aileen. (2013) Projects in linguistics and language studies: a practical guide to researching language, London: Hodder Education.
  • Experimental Linguistics in the Field, https://experimentalfieldlinguistics.wordpress.com/
  • Sharma, Devyani. (2013) Research methods in linguistics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Quiz    15% 
Coursework   Quiz 2    15% 
Coursework   Extended project proposal Part 1 (literature review and research questions)  07/02/2020  35% 
Coursework   Extended project proposal Part 2 (research questions and methodology)  20/03/2020  35% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Karen Roehr-Brackin, email: kroehr@essex.ac.uk.
Dr Karen Roehr-Brackin, Dr Adela Ganem-Gutierrez, Dr Claire Delle Luche
Dr Karen Roehr-Brackin; room 3.306; ext 2189; kroehr Dr Adela Gánem-Gutiérrez; room 3.308; ext 2207; aganem Dr Laurie Lawyer; room 4.340; ext 2082; l.lawyer Dr Claire Delle Luche; room 4.342; ext 2113; c.delleluche



External examiner

Dr Christopher Lucas
University of London
Senior Lecturer in Arabic Linguistics
Available via Moodle
Of 44 hours, 38 (86.4%) hours available to students:
6 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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