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Research Skills for Professional Writing

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Print Futures
Course Code
PRFU 1102
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course provides an introduction to research, including the gathering and managing of information to prepare for researched writing tasks. Students will focus on the primary research process, on critical-thinking skills, on secondary sources of information such as libraries and archives, on fact-finding through interviews, on the use and abuse of statistics, on the organization of research data, and on research ethics. They will develop a practical perspective by conducting a simple primary research project and compiling a secondary research portfolio.
Course Content

  1. An Introduction to Research and Critical Thinking
    Successful students will:
    • identify the basic categories of research (e.g., primary and secondary; qualitative and quantitative) and the range of related techniques (e.g., surveying, interviewing, observing, database searching)
    • learn that information is meaningless without critical evaluation
    • learn how to improve their analytical skills
  2. Gathering Information Through Interviews
    Successful students will:
    • understand the impact of bias and pre-judgment in interviewing
    • know how to prepare for an information-gathering interview
    • examine the issues of comprehensiveness and credibility in interviewing
  3. Time Management and the Research Process
    Successful students will:
    • analyze reports of various research projects in terms of realistic goals, budgets, and priorities
    • review the pitfalls of faulty time management and the unrealistic scheduling of tasks
    • understand the role of time-saving communication techniques and technologies in conducting research
    • review basic ethical concerns and procedures for researchers
    • conduct a simple primary research project
  4. Analysis of Statistical Data
    Successful students will:
    • learn the basic terminology of statistical measurement: mean, median, mode, standard deviation, levels of significance, and significant difference
    • investigate effective survey design and the limitations for interpretation, including how broadly results can be generalized
    • understand the purpose of experimental and control groups
    • understand the difference between causality and correlation
  5. An Overview of Information Resources
    Successful students will:
    • learn about the information cycle (e.g., creation and distribution, storage and preservation, and retrieval of information) and its significance for writers
    • survey various kinds of libraries and information centres: public, academic, special
    • review how libraries function and the role of information specialists
    • survey various kinds of archival institutions
    • examine basic categories of reference materials
    • survey trends for print and electronic publications
    • review the impact of technological change on the creation and distribution of information
  6. Issues in the Use of Information Resources
    Successful students will:
    • learn how to develop appropriate search strategies
    • survey the use of bibliographic, statistical, full-text databases, and Web sites
    • learn how to judge the quality of information (e.g., currency, authority, reliability, suitability)
    • examine examples that clarify ethical problems (e.g., misinformation, fraud, plagiarism)
    • prepare a secondary research portfolio (i.e., construct a research portfolio in preparation for a written task using a variety of information resources)

Methods Of Instruction

This course will be based on lectures, seminars, and laboratory work. Students may be required to collaborate on specified assignments.

Means of Assessment

Students are expected to be self-motivated and to demonstrate professionalism, which includes active participation, good attendance, punctuality, effective collaboration, ability to meet deadlines, presentation skills, and accurate self-evaluation.

Evaluation will be based on this general format:

Critical review 15%
Primary research project (interview- and/or survey-based) 25%
Secondary research project (integrated portfolio including proposal, print, on-line materials) 40%
Lab exercises 10%
Professionalism 10%
Learning Outcomes

Students will be introduced to a wide variety of primary and secondary research resources available to them in a broad range of formats. They will develop a critical awareness of the information world, its formal and informal rules, and its practical application in writing assignments. They will also develop skills in gathering and managing information to prepare for researched writing tasks.

Textbook Materials

A list of recommended textbooks and/or materials will be provided on the instructor’s course outline, available to students at the beginning of each semester. Typically, this course requires reading of materials on reserve and/or available free on the Web.



Acceptance into program or permission of the coordinator


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
Langara College (LANG) LANG GNST 1XXX (3) 2004/09/01 to 2016/12/31
Simon Fraser University (SFU) DOUG CMNS 1218 (3) & DOUG PRFU 1102 (3) = SFU CMNS 261 (3) 2004/09/01 to 2016/12/31
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU ENGL 1XX (3) 2004/09/01 to 2009/04/30
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU ENGL 1XXX (3) 2011/01/01 to 2016/12/31
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU COMM 200 (3) 2004/09/01 to 2016/12/31
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) No credit 2005/05/01 to 2016/12/31
University of British Columbia - Vancouver (UBCV) UBCV ARTS 1st (3) 2004/09/01 to 2016/12/31
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC ENGL 1XX (3) 2004/09/01 to 2016/12/31
University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) UFV GE 1XX (3) 2004/09/01 to 2016/12/31
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC WRIT 1XX (1.5) 2004/09/01 to 2016/12/31

Course Offerings

Fall 2021

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.