Research, Analysis and Information Design

This course is designed to provide you with practical skills for research, analysis, and information design to enable you to:

  • Identify and apply effective research methods to unfamiliar topics
  • Elicit critical information from subject matter experts
  • Understand and apply information design principles based on the needs of your audience

You will learn to conduct user, context and task analyses to identify valuable information, as well as how to create a research plan to guide your research efforts.

Instructional hours: 15


Location: Online
Format: Self-paced within deadlines set by instructor
Duration: 5 weeks
Tuition: $525
Can be applied to:
Plain Language Certificate
Technical Communication Certificate


Upcoming Offerings

Register for a course at any time, with the option to apply to a program later.

Start Date
Seats Available
Start DateTue, May 9, 2023
  • Tue, May 9 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, May 16 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, May 23 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, May 30 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Jun 6 (self-paced all week)
InstructorEllen Ashdown
Seats Available22
Start DateTue, Oct 31, 2023
  • Tue, Oct 31 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Nov 7 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Nov 14 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Nov 21 (self-paced all week)
  • Tue, Nov 28 (self-paced all week)
InstructorEllen Ashdown
Seats Available25

What you will learn

After completing this course, you’ll be able to do the following:

  • Apply effective research methods to locate information on unfamiliar topics
  • Collect documents and information related to new products, processes or projects
  • Identify and elicit critical information from subject matter experts
  • Choose an appropriate writing style and document format
  • Explain how document design affects document acceptance and usage
  • Describe and utilize a variety of research and organization methods to:
    • learn about and characterize your audience
    • determine the type of information you have, whether it is valid and complete, and how useful it will be

How you will learn and be evaluated

  • Prepare to spend 10–15 hours per week on coursework
  • Expect reading and other assignments on a weekly basis
  • Plan to access the course at least once every few days to keep up with your work and group assignments

You will be evaluated on:

  • Assignments 
  • Group activity
  • Participation in online discussions

To graduate with the Technical Communication Certificate, complete all courses with minimum average grade of B- (70%).

Learning Materials

No textbook is required. We will provide all course materials online.

Recommended reading:

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition. University of Chicago Press, 2017. ISBN 978-0226287058

Note: Courses use the author-date style from the Chicago/Turabian (17th ed.) citation guide.

Once you begin the course you’ll be sent SFU library access information for this text. Alternatively, you may wish to access a 30-day free trial of the online version of Chicago Manual of Style.

Technical Requirements

For online courses, you will need a computer with audio and microphone that is connected to the internet. Canvas is the online system that will be used for the course. For more information and online support, visit Online Learning.

This course requires:

  • Microsoft Word or other word processing software that can create PDF files
  • High-speed internet access
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader

English language requirements

To succeed in this course, you will need an advanced level of written and spoken English. If you are unsure whether your English language skills are sufficient, we recommend you complete the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with the following minimums:

  • Overall band score minimum 6.5
  • No band below 6.0
  • Writing band score minimum 8.0

Please note we can’t refund your registration fees after the course start date if you find your English language skills are not adequate.

If you have questions or concerns about your English language proficiency, we encourage you to contact your local IELTS Test Centre.