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FAQs: Society and Culture Personal Interest Project (PIP)

What happens if a teacher suspects that a student is submitting work that is not their own?

All PIPs must be developed and produced by the student under the supervision of the Society and Culture teacher. Schools must have procedures in place to ensure the effective supervision of the development of work by the students. If the teacher is unable to verify that the work a student is submitting has been entirely developed and written by themselves, the teacher should complete the Non-certification form (available on Schools Online in Memos and Documents), including an explanation of why the teacher believes this to be the case. The student should also complete this form, where they can refute or verify the allegations.

Can a student include copies of their questionnaires and interview transcripts in an appendix?

Students must be aware that any material included in an appendix will not be considered by the markers in the marking process. Any material from primary research that is considered essential to the PIP should be included in the central material, where it will be considered in the marking process.

Can students present their PIP in multimedia forms?

No, all projects must be written reports, submitted electronically in PDF format.

What if a student wishes to complete their project on issues or activities that may be illegal, highly controversial or dangerous?

Any topics which students wish to consider that may be viewed as unethical or controversial must be discussed with their teacher. If in doubt, teachers should consult appropriate senior school staff. Students should be aware that activities that may be illegal or dangerous, such as underage drinking or sexual activity, are very difficult to research in an ethical manner, and may lead the student to conduct research which is considered inappropriate or unethical. This sort of research may have an unfavourable impact on the marking of the project.

Can students use pictures to illustrate their PIP?

Students may wish to include graphs and other representations of research data in their PIPs. This is encouraged provided they are integrated into the text. Students should avoid the use of pictures merely to illustrate their PIP, unless they are effectively integrated into, and analysed within, the text of the project.

Is it possible for students to use the names of other students at the school in the PIP?

No. Students can use fellow students at the school in their research process, but they must not use the names of those students or the name of the school at any point in their project.

What happens if a student can’t hand in their PIP by the deadline set by the Board of Studies?

Students are not granted extensions by the Board of Studies and the due date is final and cannot be changed.

How many chapters should students be writing?

There is no recommendation on using chapters in the PIP. However, students need to be aware that they are being assessed on their ability to write coherently and logically, which means that their central material needs to be organised and sequenced logically. Chapters or subheadings may help to enhance the clarity and coherence of a student’s work.

What will happen if a student’s computer fails and their work is lost?

There is no special consideration granted by the Board of Studies for technology failure on the submission date so it is highly recommended that students always back up their work throughout the process of writing the PIP.

How many methodologies should be used?

There is no recommended number of methodologies for the PIP in the syllabus. However, it is recommended that students use both primary and secondary research to support their topic or their research findings.

Can students have more secondary research data than primary research findings in their PIP or should there be a balance of primary and secondary research in the PIP?

The balance of primary and secondary research data should be determined by the student for the topic being studied and should always be linked to the topic and justified in terms of the choice of methodology.

How do students make their PIP personal?

The project can be made personal by referring to both a micro and macro perspective on the topic being researched. Using cultural experiences about family, school and peer groups can be a way of personalising the PIP, but these issues need to be referred to objectively and appropriately. No issues that raise concerns about ethical or safety issues of the student or anyone being referred to in the PIP should be expressed in the PIP, as it is not the forum to express these personal issues. This also detracts from the level of social and cultural literacy being demonstrated by the student in the PIP.

Which referencing method is preferred?

The syllabus does not prescribe a referencing system but does recommend using a consistent and correctly formatted referencing system throughout the PIP. The ‘Harvard’ or ‘Oxford’ methods are recommended as they are widely used and taught to students doing the PIP.

How many concepts should the PIP include?

There are no syllabus recommendations on the number of concepts to be included in the PIP. However, students do need to integrate the fundamental concepts throughout the PIP. It is also recommended that other specialised concepts are integrated throughout the PIP to highlight the social and cultural literacy and the application of Society and Culture concepts in the PIP.

What is appropriate for a cross-cultural perspective?

There are numerous possibilities but whatever a student chooses has to be explained and justified as to why it offers a cross-cultural perspective that is different to their own perspective on the issue or topic. This could include: comparing different ethnic or cultural groups, looking at a subculture, comparing males and females in terms of some cultural differences, a generational comparison, class or socioeconomic differences.

What should be in the Log?

The Log should not be presented as a diary-style entry of activities associated with writing the PIP. It should be written as an analysis of the ‘processes’ of choosing and designing the topic. Then the Log should highlight the processes of researching, writing and editing the PIP. It should include some dates about the process but does not need to diarise these dates throughout. The Log is specifically about the process of research and does not need to mention the findings or content in the PIP.

Does the word count need to be strictly followed?

Yes. The syllabus mandates the word count for each section of the PIP.

What should be included in the Resource List?

All resources used in the PIP. These include all secondary research sources such as books, articles and websites, and all resources used for the primary research, including interviews and focus groups. There should be an acknowledgement of how they assisted in the research. It needs to be an annotated resource list which means that comments on how they were used must be included.

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