Introduction

This course introduces you to analysing academic writing and, in particular, the way an article might be structured to clearly explain an investigation to other researchers. It explores the issue of observation of children and young people across the age range birth to 18 years using qualitative observation approaches in small-scale studies.

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 3 study in Author(s): The Open University

4.4.1 Engaging with the content

For example, when I read in paragraph 3 of Layard's article that ‘41 per cent of people in the top quarter of incomes are ‘very happy’’ I asked myself:

  • Why is ‘very happy’ in quotation marks?

  • Is 41 per cent about what I'd expect?

  • What is this telling me?

As soon as I thought about it, I realised that ‘very happy’ could be a response that people had ticked on a questionnaire. Perhaps th
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2.2 The ‘academic’ style

You might also be put off by the ‘academic’ style of writing. In everyday life, what you read is usually written to grab your attention and get a message across quickly before you ‘switch channels’. By contrast, academic texts often raise broad, abstract questions and are unconcerned about arriving at quick answers. For example, where a newspaper headline might say:

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2.1.3 Concept cards

Another way to tackle unfamiliar words is to start a ‘concept card’ system, using index cards. When you meet a word which seems important, take a new card and write the word at the top, followed by any useful information you have found. File the cards alphabetically and add details as you come across new information. (It is worth getting an index card box anyway, then you can try out various ways of using it to organise your studies.)


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1 The experience of reading

The best way to develop your understanding of the reading process is to follow the principles of the Kolb learning cycle, by doing some reading and then reflecting on your experience. To this end, Activity 1 asks you to read an extract from an article by Richard Layard (2003) titled ‘The secrets of happiness’ which appeared in the New Statesman. To keep the task manageable I have reduced the article to half its original length and, for ease of reference, paragraph num
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1.2.1 Boundaries and terminology

In another context Shakespeare asked, ‘What's in a name?’, and suggested by way of an answer that a rose may smell as sweet whatever it is called. In the context of social boundaries, however, the language used is actually very important in determining ‘who's in’ and ‘who's out’.

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2.10 The failure of CAM therapeutic relationships: sexual abuse and exploitation

Another issue that can cause a therapeutic relationship to break down is the failure to maintain appropriate personal or professional boundaries, to the extent that it constitutes serious abuse. A broad spectrum of activities can be called abuse. The term ‘abuse’ originates from the Latin meaning ‘a departure from the purpose (use)’ (Rutter, 1990, p. 41). Given this meaning, clearly some of the boundary issues mentioned above are on the fringes of the category of abuse within CAM. Muc
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References

Abram, J. (2001) The Contribution of the Product Definition Process to a Successful High Volume Software Application, unpublished MSc dissertation, Milton Keynes, The Open University, p. 48.
Andriole, S.J. and Freeman, P.A. (1993) ‘Software systems engineering: the case for a new discipline’, Software Engineering Journal, vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 165–79. Reprinted in Dorfman and Thayer (1997), pp. 29–4
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Keep on learning

Study another free course

There are more than 800 courses on OpenLearn for you to
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Conclusion

This course has covered the background to systems engineering. It began by addressing the question ‘Why is systems engineering important?’ Two reasons were discussed:

  • projects go wrong, and the increasing incorporation of software means that they go wrong more often now than in the past

  • complication, complexity and risk are all increasing and need to be managed.

In the second section I examined the development of
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5.3 The systems engineering methodology used in the course

The aim of systems engineering is to achieve a solution that is effective and sustainable through its life cycle, together with the associated processes and facilities needed to realise the system and introduce it into the real world. Therefore it is important that systems engineering is itself conducted in full consideration of the following five systems:

  • the technology development system that provides new or modified technology for the other systems
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5.2 The aims and principles of system engineering

The aims of systems engineering can be divided into those to do with its outputs and those associated with the process itself. As far as its outputs are concerned, systems engineering aims to ensure that:

  • the requirements of all the stakeholders are taken into account in engineering the system

  • the system, as engineered and realised, meets the requirements of stakeholders

  • the system, while meeting the req
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5.1 Introduction: the general framework

The general framework of systems engineering adopted in the course consists of: a hierarchy of elements; aims associated within its outputs and process; a set of principles; a division into technical and managerial components of the process.

The lexicon of system engineering used in the course contains the hierarchy of elements:

  • strategy: meaning the accumulated decisions concerning the areas in which an organisation operates and its lon
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4.7 Summary

This topic has examined the historical development of systems engineering and modern concepts of the subject. It has discussed:

  • the beginnings and early development of the subject as policy analysis

  • the use of systems engineering in organisations

  • the development of methodologies associated with information technology.


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4.5 Methodologies associated with information technology

I recently undertook an exercise in a company that manufactures various types of agricultural machinery. I was happily using the term ‘system’ in its general sense when a senior manager stated ‘In this organization we use the word “system” to mean a computer system, for other types of procedure or activity we use “process”.’ This is a commonly encountered distinction and the evolution of computer systems, and particularly software, has been an important contributor to systems
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3.11 Summary

This topic has introduced the systems approach, which is the foundation of systems engineering. The systems approach consists of three elements.

  • A set of concepts that can be used to understand the structural and dynamic features of operations systems.

  • Methodologies for managing change. Two current methodologies have been presented: the hard systems approach can be applied in situations where there is a measure of agreement about the
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3.10 Systems techniques

The two systems methodologies provide a framework for the application of problem solving, analysis and design techniques. These fall into three groups.

  • Diagramming: ranging from single systems maps to complex flow charts. Diagrams of one sort or another provide a method of analysis, design and communication.

  • Modelling: simulation is used extensively to analyse the dynamics of an existing system and to predict the behaviour of a propos
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Stage 7: Implement changes

Finally, the agreed changes are implemented.

Like the hard systems approach, soft systems methodology is not seen as a ‘one pass’ procedure, but as a learning process. Iteration is a feature of the methodology's application. Learning is achieved in both approaches by the use of models, although soft systems has subsequently been enhanced to include a specific analysis of the culture and politics of the problem situation, as shown in Author(s): The Open University

Stage 6: Debate on feasible and desirable changes

The comparison undertaken in the previous stage can have two results.

  • It can cause opinions to change on the problem situation and the issues arising from it.

  • It can provide an agenda for change.

In either case (though both may result), the objective of this stage is to debate, with all concerned, the changes proposed to ensure that they are both desirable and feasible. The aim is to arrive at consensus about the prop
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Stage 5: Comparison of Stages 2 and 4

The objective of the comparison stage is to relate the conceptual model to the problem situation as depicted in the rich picture. The idea is to highlight differences between the two so that potential improvements to the problem situation can be identified.


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