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LUBS5988M Research Design and Analysis: Further assignment advice

Rubric

The main aim of this assignment is to test your understanding of approaches to Research Design and Analysis. In particular, it will assess your ability to identify and justify appropriate research methods and analyses to address clearly articulated research questions.

In addition, it is designed to give you a basis from which you may develop your dissertation. In other words, there will likely be significant overlap of topic in this assignment, your dissertation proposal and your final dissertation. Please note the following:

· This assignment it is NOT your dissertation proposal – your dissertation proposal will be required separately, depending on your Programme’s dissertation requirement (and it is likely to be required before the submission date for this assignment). This assignment is independent from the dissertation proposal, although it is designed to be useful to you as you develop your dissertation.

· If you do develop this assignment for your dissertation, you should not use content from this assignment word for word in your dissertation as this might result in self-plagiarism.

· In some circumstances it may not be possible or desirable to develop this assignment for your dissertation (e.g. your chosen topic is deemed not appropriate/too ambitious/not timely or relevant/supervision in this domain not available etc). In this case you will need to develop an appropriate alternative topic for your dissertation, independently from this assignment.

· You are under no compulsion to develop this assignment for your dissertation, (although in most cases, this is recommended).

· If your dissertation supervisor is allocated before submission is due for this assignment, you may of course discuss your research ideas with them but under no circumstances should they be asked to read/comment on this assignment.

· If you fail this assignment, the resit assignment will require you to design a new research plan on a topic that will be provided for you, that is independent from, and unrelated to, your dissertation.

Further advice on each section can be found on the following pages.

Further advice and Frequently Asked Questions

(1) Craft a research question or hypothesis that could be suitable for your dissertation (worth 40 marks in total).

1a) State your research question(s) or hypothesis(es) succinctly and clearly. (5)

How do I develop my research question (RQ) or hypothesis appropriately?

Choosing a research topic is exciting, but can be a little daunting, especially if you intend to use this topic for your dissertation. You should think about an area that you have found especially interesting, inspiring, relevant to your chosen career, in order to explicitly identify an issue of importance to management (which may be theoretical or practical). You will be expected to explain why what you are proposing to look at is important. This can be something relating specifically to your programme of study or to wider societal issues but an issue which then raises important issues for management. There is usually a balance to be struck: it needs to be an area that is well enough developed to give you a starting point with sufficient existing evidence to justify your ideas, but one where there is scope for you to identify a research gap, and make an original contribution.

Articulating your final RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) will probably be one of the later sections you finalise for your assignment. You will initially have a broad idea of the topic you are interested in (a draft RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) if you like) and through further focussed reading and research, you will finesse the final version before submitting your assignment. In the light of what you find, you may indeed have to rewrite your draft RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) completely. This is entirely normal, and demonstrates the iterative nature of the research process.  Remember, your final RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) should be precise (no vague terminology); grammatically correct (to demonstrate you understand subtle but important detail), appropriate (ie related to the literature review and the research proposed) and specific (ie achievable within the confines of the project you propose).

It is fine to take the same general topic for this assignment and your dissertation (although you don’t have to). However, the specific RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) may be different, given that you will carry out a much more extensive literature review for the purposes of your dissertation, and so your early ideas will undoubtedly develop.  What you need to demonstrate in this assignment is that you know how to use the literature appropriately to sensibly inform. RQ(s)/hypothesis(es).

The most common problem we have seen is that the identified topic is too broad to be researched within the ‘confines’ of any one piece of research (even if you had limitless resources, including that of time). In these cases, you need to identify a more specific RQ(s)/hypothesis(es), and it will really help you to then develop your research plan. Indeed, you can’t actually decide what is an appropriate research design and method(s) until you have a clear RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) to be researched.

More ‘specific’ does not mean developing a RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) which relates to a specific organisation. Neither does it mean developing a RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) which simply allows you to describe a situation, or answer with a simple statistic.  What it means is looking at some up-to-date research. See what we already know, see what the limitations are to our knowledge, or what researchers put as 'future research directions' and then choose a more specific RQ(s)/hypothesis(es)  which still fits with your stated philosophical stance (question 1d. of the assignment).

Can I develop more than one Research Question or hypothesis?

Yes, if your investigation requires some further fine-grained elaboration, but remember, these should be very closely related (not on different topics), and all adhere to the requirements above.  You should not assume that more RQs or hypotheses are better than a single, well justified and clearly articulated one.

Refer to lectures 1 & 2, seminar 1 and Saunders, chapter 2 for further detail about RQs and hypotheses.

1b) What does the literature say about your chosen topic, and how has this helped you to make your question or hypothesis more specific?  A brief literature review is required (approximately 500 words). You will need to supplement this considerably if you develop this assignment for your dissertation. (15)

Here, you need to show how the available literature has helped you to develop a specific RQ(s)/hypothesis(es).

Do I actually have to conduct a literature review?

Yes. Remember, if you decide to use this topic for your dissertation, you would be expected to cover more breadth (wider reading, perhaps in other applied domains) and demonstrate more depth (more sophisticated understanding and critical awareness) in your dissertation literature review. We know that your literature review for the assignment will be brief, but that does not mean it should be superficial or lacking coherence or completeness. We would expect you to use illustrative references to explain the key areas of your topic for the assignment literature review, and then expand these with further, related references if you develop this topic for your dissertation to show greater depth and/or breadth.

For example, if you were considering a topic of “The effectiveness of Prospect Theory in Insurance Marketing in the field”, your short literature review for the assignment would introduce and explain the original works by Kahneman and Tversky (e.g. 1979 etc), and indicate the way in which Prospect Theory has developed theoretically (e.g. Cumulative Prospect Theory, 1992, K&T etc). You would probably also provide a brief review of how it has been shown to be influential in insurance-like decisions (perhaps in the laboratory), hence justifying your extension to the field and perhaps introduce a basic overview of marketing theory, especially in applied settings. This approach would provide you with the justification for developing RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) for your assignment. Your dissertation would develop these strands more fully, for instance explaining other marketing implications and applications of Prospect Theory (which you can draw to support your application in the domain of insurance).  

How many references should I use?

There is no specified number of references - it will depend entirely on the topic that you choose for the assignment as some are more extensively researched than others.  We would expect to see some evidence of extra reading around the research design and data analysis techniques that you select.

Refer to lecture 2, seminar 2 and Saunders chapter 3 to remind yourself how to go about a literature review.

1c) Describe why your research is timely and relevant, by drawing on contemporary theoretical or applied issues you identify as being of particular importance. Explain how you are using them to support (justify) your choice of question or hypothesis.

As mentioned above, this assignment requires you to explicitly identify an issue of importance to management (which may be theoretical or practical), and then demonstrate how you used this knowledge to justify your choice of RQ(s)/hypothesis(es). Why is what you are proposing to look at important?  This can be something relating specifically to your programme of study or to wider societal issues which raises important issues for management. So, your RQ(s)/hypothesis(es) should be:

i) Timely and relevance in real world sense and/or

ii) Timely and relevance in research topic sense

In other words, this part should address the ‘so what?’ test of research.

For the best marks here you will need to draw on current literature from your field (within the last 12-24 months), including journals, conference proceedings, periodicals and perhaps trade journals, newspapers and the like.

d) Explain the philosophical considerations (ontology, epistemology and axiology) which need to be taken into account and discuss how they have influenced your choice of question or hypothesis. (10)

e) Evaluate whether the research should be inductive or deductive. (5)

How do I know what my philosophical perspective is?

If you are in doubt here, look at the table we discussed in seminar 3 - from chapter 4 from Saunders on research philosophy. You will recall we time in the seminar focusing on this, and if you look at Table 4.3 on pp.136-137 this very succinctly summaries five major philosophical approaches. (Ideally, your philosophy should drive your methodological choices, but if you are really struggling with this, then work backwards, i.e. design your research, and then look at this table and see how your methods and design fit with each philosophical stance and make your choice on this basis. The table details all three aspects - ontology, epistemology and axiology). The role of theory (theory-building or prediction) you choose to adopt determines whether inductive or deductive approach is appropriate.

You should refer to Saunders, chapter 4 in this respect, which we considered in lectures 3 seminar 3.

2. Design a research project to answer your question or to test your hypothesis (worth 60 marks in total).

a. Describe, evaluate and justify your proposed research design, method of data collection and method of data analysis. (45)

How do I ensure my RQ (or hypothesis) is coherent with my proposed research design and method(s)?

See the advice on question 1a above.

Should I use quantitative or qualitative methods?

This will depend on your RQ(s)/hypothesis(es). Some things to bear in mind:

Quantitative Research is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to generalize results, and methods are much more structured, e.g., questionnaires. This usually requires larger sample sizes.

Qualitative research is primarily exploratory research. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying complexities, processes, reasons, opinions, and motivations and this should be apparent in the type of question you have posed.

Qualitative data collection methods vary using unstructured or semi-structured techniques. Some common methods include focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews, and participation/observations. The sample size is typically small.

You never use qualitative methods to test any kind of hypotheses.

Should I consider mixed methods?

A mixed methods approach (remember, this does not mean more than one method it means using a qualitative and a quantitative method) should be very explicit what each method is adding, and how each would be analysed. While qualitative data could be used to develop hypotheses to be tested using quantitative methods, please do not think that using a mixed methods approach is necessarily better than one which takes either a qualitative or quantitative approach. Indeed, although this might be appropriate for the assignment, if you plan to develop this assignment for your dissertation, I would strongly advise you to take just one approach, and make sure that this enables you to answer your RQ(s)/hypothesis(es). If it doesn’t, it is worth revisiting and revising your RQ(s)/hypothesis(es).

Some research designs may present only a very limited number of methods of data analysis, whereas in others, there could be more options to choose from. You should be explicit in the reasons why you select a particular data analysis technique, especially when there are a number to choose from.

Should I include a full questionnaire, or survey or interview outline?

This assignment requires you to explain and justify a research and analysis plan, but you are not expected to produce a full research instrument. However, it might be helpful to include a few well-crafted examples to demonstrate your understanding of the technique.

Do I need to indicate exactly what data analysis techniques I propose?

Yes – you should provide a detailed account of the most appropriate data analysis technique for the kind of data your proposed research would generate. You will not conduct the analyses (you will not have any data, for a start), but you could provide illustrative examples with a clear rationale to demonstrate you understand the research design and analysis process.

Should I include a Gannt chart or schedule?

Whilst this might be useful in helping you plan about your dissertation, and you will certainly require one at that point, it is not a compulsory element of this assignment. It will only be beneficial to include if it helps explain a specific element of your research design that addresses your RQ(s)/hypothesis(es). For instance, it would be important for those research designs that include a longitudinal element. Remember, however, as we discussed in lectures, a longitudinal design is unlikely to be appropriate for your dissertation. 

For questions 2a you should refer to your lecture material & Saunders, chapters 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, depending on your chosen design.

b. Explain what ethical considerations need to be taken in account and how you will deal with these. (5)

Whilst the research plan outlined in this assignment will not necessarily be implemented, you should take into account what ethical practices you ought to take into account. Of course if you decide to develop this assignment for your dissertation, you will indeed need to follow these ethical practices you identify here.

For questions 2b you should refer to lecture material & Saunders, chapter 6.

c. Describe and briefly evaluate an alternative way in which you could carry out research to answer your question or test your hypothesis. (10)

Your alternative must be capable of answering your RQ(s)/hypothesis(es). If it cannot then it is not a plausible alternative. Given you have already stated your philosophical stance, and justified the choice of RQ(s)/hypothesis(es), this alternative may already feature some similarities to your chosen design.  As you are not asked to explain the method of analysis for your alternative, this will be a relatively short section.

Can I change my philosophical stance when I explain the alternative research?

No. Your philosophical stance must be the same (if it doesn’t, it demonstrates a misunderstanding about this topic).

For questions 2c you should refer to your lecture material & Saunders, chapters 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, depending on your chosen design.

Other FAQs

Is there a minimum word count?

We do not specify a minimum word count, but it is unlikely that an adequate assignment could be completed in less than 80% of the word limit.

What style. of referencing should I use?

We prefer you to use Harvard referencing – but whatever style. you use, it must be consistent (throughout the assignment).

Should I reference the lecture notes?

No, we do not expect you to reference the lecture notes – if necessary seek out the original source, and reference that.

Do I need to include a results section?

As you will not collect data for this assignment, you will not have a results section.

Will including extra material (like case study material) get me better marks?

Do not put in other material which has not been requested – it will be unlikely to get extra marks and might inhibit your answers elsewhere. Do make sure you do respond to all the questions posed in the assignment.

Do I write an essay or is it OK to put in headings?

Either an essay or report-style. response is fine.  

Should I write in the third person?

The first person works best for this assignment – but whatever you use, be consistent throughout.

Can I really do this assignment on a topic that I don’t intend to develop for my dissertation?

Yes you can, the two assessments are evaluated independently. In most cases we advise you to base the assignment and your dissertation on the same topic – for most students this is a pragmatic and practical approach. Some students might decide to change the topic before the dissertation or might be advised by the dissertation supervisor that the proposed research project is not viable as a dissertation topic – this is something to discuss with your dissertation supervisor.

If you have a specific question, that it not answered here, you can post in on the VLE assignment bulletin board: or email Hilary [email protected]

 

 


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