1. Briefly define and discuss the six steps of the research process.
Step 1: Problem Definition
In defining the problem, the researcher should take into account the purpose of the study, the relevant background information, the information needed, and how it will be used in decision making. Problem definition involves discussion with the decision makers, interviews with industry experts, analysis of secondary data, and, perhaps, some qualitative research, such as focus groups.
Step 2: Development of an Approach to the Problem
Development of an approach to the problem includes formulating an objective or theoretical framework, analytical models, research questions, and hypotheses and identifying the information needed. This process is guided by discussions with management and industry experts, analysis of secondary data, qualitative research, and pragmatic considerations. Step 3: Research Design Formulation
A research design is a framework or blueprint for conducting the research project. It details the procedures necessary for obtaining the required information, and its purpose is to design a study that will test the hypotheses of interest, determine possible answers to the research questions, and provide the information needed for decision making. Conducting exploratory research, precisely defining the variables, and designing appropriate scales to measure them are also a part of the research design. The issue of how the data should be obtained from the respondents (for example, by conducting a survey or an experiment) must be addressed. It is also necessary to design a questionnaire and a sampling plan to select respondents for the study.
Step 4: Field Work or Data Collection
Data collection involves a field force or staff that operates either in the field, as in the
case of personal interviewing (in-home, mall intercept, or computer-assisted personal interviewing), from an office by telephone (telephone or computer-assisted telephone interviewing), through mail (traditional mail and mail panel surveys with prerecruited households), or electronically (e-mail or Internet). Proper selection, training, supervision, and evaluation of the field force helps minimize data-collection errors. Step 5: Data Preparation and Analysis
Data preparation includes the editing, coding, transcription, and verification of data. Each questionnaire or observation form is inspected or edited and, if necessary, corrected. Number or letter codes are assigned to represent each response to each question in the questionnaire. The data from the questionnaires are transcribed or keypunched onto magnetic tape or disks, or input directly into the computer. The data are analyzed to derive information related to the components of the research problem and, thus, provide input to the management decision problem.
Step 6: Report Preparation and Presentation
The entire project should be documented in a written report that addresses the specific
research questions identified, describes the approach, the research design, data collection, and data analysis procedures adopted, and presents the results and the major findings. The findings should be presented in a comprehensible format so that management can readily use them in the decision-making process. In addition, an oral presentation should be made to management using tables, figures, and graphs to enhance clarity and impact.
2. Discuss how the Internet can help in understanding the environmental context of the problem. Many of the factors to be considered in the environmental context of the problem can be researched via the Internet. Past information and forecasts of trends can be found by searching for the appropriate information with the search engines mentioned in the text.
For client-specific information, the user can go to the company home page and get the information from there....
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