Overview of the Research Process for Business Students

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What is Research?
People undertake research in order to find things out in a systematic way, thereby increasing their knowledge (Jankowicz, 1995). “Systematic” suggests that research is based on logical relationships and not just beliefs (Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2010). To “find things out” suggests there are a multiplicity of possible purposes for your research (Becker, 1998). It is therefore an activity which has to be finished at some point to be of use. The results of research really are all around us in everyday life. Politicians often justify their policy decisions on the basis of research; Newspapers report the findings of research companies. Documentary programmes tell us about research findings and advertisers may highlight the results of research to encourage consumers to buy a particular product or brand. The most difficult hurdle to overcome in doing research is not in learning the techniques or doing the actual work or even writing the report. The biggest obstacle, surprisingly, lies in figuring out what you want to know. Two problems are very common: choosing a topic which is too broad… or “dressing up” a topic (Kane, 1987) Formulating and clarifying the research topic is the starting point of research (Ghauri and Gronhaug, 2010; Smith and Dainty 1991). Most research originates from a general problem. Usually, the problem is broad enough that it could not be addressed in a single research study. Consequently, the problem is narrowed into a more specific research question. A well-constructed research question is one described by Maylor and Blackmon (2005, p.54) which “identifies the scope of the research and guides the plan of the project”. The research question is the central issue being addressed in the study and from this research objectives can be set. The table below sets out criteria to help devise useful research objectives. Criterion| Purpose|

Transparency| The meaning of the research objective is clear and unambiguous| Specificity| The purpose of the research objective is clear and easily understood, as are the actions required to fulfil it| Relevancy| The research objective’s link to the research question and wider research project is clear| Interconnectivity| Taken together as a set, the research objectives illustrate the steps in the research process from its start to its conclusion, without leaving any gaps. In this way the research objectives form a coherent whole| Answerability| The intended outcome of the research objective is achievable. Where this relates to data, the nature of the data required will be clear or at least implied| Measurability| The intended product of the research objective will be evident when it has been achieved|

Saunders (2012) Research Methods for Business Students, Table 2.3 p.44

Literature Review

A literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge on a particular topic. Its ultimate goal is to bring the reader up to date with current literature and forms the basis for another goal, such as justification for future research the area.

“Knowledge does not exist in a vacuum, and your work only has value in relation to other peoples” (Jankowicz, 2005). It seeks to describe, summarise, evaluate, and clarify/integrate the content of previous researches and assists in limiting the scope of inquiry while conveying the importance of studying a topic to readers.

Literature sources available include Primary, Secondary and Tertiary. Primary data is original data that has been collected from the original source with a purpose in mind. Secondary sources are the subsequent publication of primary literature and tertiary sources (search tools) are designed to either help locate primary and secondary literature or to introduce a topic.

Tertiary

Indexes
Databases
Catalogues
Encyclopaedias
Dictionaries
Bibliographies
Citation Indexes
Secondary

Journals

Books

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