Choice of topic
This module will be assessed by a research report produced by you on a business or management topic of your choice. However, it is important that your choice of topic meets the following criteria:
1. The research must be focussed on a business or management problem/issue (or opportunity) for a specific organisation. The research report needs to present some good supporting evidence of this (e.g. if the research is about staff absenteeism, what is the absenteeism rate in the chosen organisation? how does it compare with the sector average? has it been increasing? what problems/costs have resulted?).
2. The research report must include primary data (i.e. data that you have collected and analysed). It is strongly recommended that you use innovative methods, for example a recorded interview or an electronic forum for interviews. If carrying out a questionnaire survey, the minimum number of completed questionnaires to be analysed should be 40, but it would be preferable to collect more – 60-80 would be good. If doing semi-structured interviews, the research should be based on at least six interviews, each lasting around 15-20 minutes. Primary data can be collected from staff and/or managers within an organisation, if you have access, or from customers of an organisation (a survey does not require the organisation’s permission if it is carried out on the pavement outside the premises).
3. There should be enough academic literature on the chosen subject to allow you to produce a good literature review.
4. The topic should be one that is realistic to complete within the time available. As a general rule, it is better to choose a topic that looks narrow rather than one that looks very broad. You should also avoid combining two different subjects in one piece of research.
Further advice will be provided in class, along with an opportunity to discuss your proposed topic with fellow students. You should also agree the topic and broad approach with the module tutor before commencing your research.
Research reports generally follow a standard format, you are expected to follow this approach:
1. Research Proposal – this should introduce the problem, issue or opportunity that is the focus of the research. It needs to provide some evidence to show why this topic has been chosen and why the research is potentially going to help the organisation. Background on the chosen organisation should be kept short, relevant and factual. You should indicate how the research was planned and annex to the report a table showing how you broke the work down into stages and the key considerations relevant to each stage. The chapter should end with a research aim, objectives or research questions. [LO 1 and criteria 1.1, 1.2, 1.4 and 1.5]
2. Literature review – this chapter should include a review of relevant books and articles on the subject. It is not necessary to look at a wide range of sources; relevance and a demonstration that you understand the material are more important. The literature review has two main purposes:
a) to find out what other people have written on the subject that is directly relevant in addressing your research topic (e.g. good practice ideas for reducing absenteeism at work);
b) To give you ideas about how to conduct your primary research, including the main questions to ask (e.g. by identifying a model used in previous research that could be used, perhaps with some modifications, in your primary research). LO 2, criterion 2.2 and LO 3 and criteria 3.1 and 3.2]
3. Method – this chapter should briefly explain why you chose your primary data collection method and then outline the main stages you went through in collecting and analyzing the data. [LO 2, especially criterion 2.1]
4. Results – this chapter needs to set out the results and also analyse them. The approach taken will depend on whether the primary research uses a quantitative or qualitative method. Analysing quantitative data does not require you to use complex statistical techniques, although you will need to be able to use percentages and create and interpret charts, cross-tabulations etc. [LO 2, criterion 2.2 and LO 3 and criteria 3.1 and 3.2]
5. Conclusions and recommendations – the conclusions need to set out what you found in your research, compared with the original research aim, objectives, questions etc. The recommendations follow on from this and should set out 2-4 specific ideas for the organisation to consider, based on the evidence you have collected from the literature and your primary research. [LO 3 and criterion 3.3]
LO 4 will be assessed based on the overall structure and coherence of the research report, including referencing of sources using the Harvard referencing system.
There is no maximum or minimum word limit, but as an indication the research report is expected to be around 5,000 words long, excluding annexes and the list of references.