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Business and Social Research: Formulating, Planning and Justifying a Relevant Research Project

Learning Outcomes:

a) Analyse the various approaches to business and social research and the difference between primary and secondary research

b) Critically review extant knowledge in a disciplinary area for the identification of researchable problems

c) Understand and justify the use of quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis

d) Investigate a range of data collection methods and tools

e) Conceptually map the research process, developing a defensible framework for proposed research

f) Evaluate the ways management research may be written and disseminated

This assessment aims to equip students with the ability to formulate, plan and justify a relevant research project in response to a business-related problem. 

For this assessment, students are required to produce a research proposal that discusses the research context, investigates the research problem, reviews relevant literature, and recommends a suitable methodology to undertake the project.

A Research Proposal can be defined as:

“A plan that offers recommendations for conducting research.. details the who, the what, the where, the when and the how of research and the information associated with it”.

Section 1: Research Context

The research context outlines the background of the study and the research problem established in Assessment 1 (Note: it is best to approach this section as though the reader is unaware of the preceding presentation).

Section 2: Literature Review

Using the research problem established in Assessment 1, students are to conduct a thorough secondary research and produce a literature review. The purpose of this literature review is to place the research problem in the context of what is already known and aid in better understanding the issue at hand. This will also help identify any gap in knowledge (that is, “What Information we still need to get?”) which will inform the research objectives and proposed primary research.

In this section, students must demonstrate familiarity with the existing body of knowledge and methods used in the relevant area of research. Additionally, students are required to synthesise and critique the literature which have been reviewed.

Section 3: Research Methodology For A Primary Research Project

In this section, students are expected to present and justify the methodological decisions of the research project. This section requires the following key points to be addressed:

  • The (revised) research objectives linked to the research problem and ‘knowledge gap’ identified in the previous section (literature review).
  • The research approach to be applied – Specify whether the proposed study will be designed as an exploratory, explanatory, descriptive or causal research. This section should also provide justification as to why the recommended approach suits the problem/information requirements and how using the recommended approach will yield superior information/results.
  • Details of methodology to be applied – For example: qualitative, quantitative or mixed-methods
  • The proposed data collection method(s) – For example: focus groups, interviews, surveys, experiments and/or observation. Include a justification as to why this technique(s) would be most appropriate.
  • The population of the study, including a discussion on the overall population size.
  • The proposed sampling method – For example: simple random sampling, cluster sampling, quota systematic sampling, purposive sampling, convenience sampling, etc. Provide a justification as to why this method would be appropriate and aligned with the overall research approach.
  • The proposed data analysis method – For example: thematic analysis, content analysis, grounded theory, descriptive statistics, or inferential statistics. Include a justification as to why this technique would be most appropriate.
  • Implementation plan – Details on how the research design will be administered. This should include a timeline of the project, as well as details relating to the storage of data and dissemination of research outcomes.
  • Suggested questions/topic areas to be investigated - For example, if the proposed data collection method is a structured interview, then sample questions to be asked should be provided. These questions should relate directly to the objectives of your research.

Section 4: Ethical Considerations

  • All research must be conducted in alliance with the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007, plus amendments). Upon revision of this document, write a description of the ethical considerations you will take in preparation for and in the process of your proposed study. Be sure to refer to the specific components of the National Statement that are relevant to your study. Note that students will not be allowed to conduct research that involves the following:

- minors below the age of 18;

- people with physical, sensory, psychiatric, neurological, cognitive and/or intellectual disability;

- the deception of participants and/or evading the requirement of obtaining informed consent

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