Research Method for Business
Some Common Q&As on Research Methods for Business Students

What are the major benefits and drawbacks of using the Internet as part of an international study?

On the positive side, the Internet offers the following:

  • Access to new and valuable sources of information that came into being because of the Internet. These include electronic journals (e-journals) and Internet discussion groups.
  • A more efficient route for accessing certain standard information sources such as newspapers, particularly overseas papers and electronic versions of existing print journals.
  • Access to an enormous amount of information. Currently it is estimated that there are about 800 million pages of information on the Web.
  • Access to non-mainstream views. Fringe groups and those without access to the media or a printing press can now make their opinions known on the Internet.
  • Access to obscure and arcane information. Because there are so many people with such diverse interests on the Internet, a search can often turn up the most unusual and hard-to-locate nugget of data.
  • Access to international information. Not only can researcher can easily find official data from other countries by connecting to embassies, consulates, and foreign governmental sites, researcher can also search other countries’ newspapers, discuss issues with citizens from around the world on the newsgroups, and locate Web sites established by individuals from other nations.

 

On the downside, the Internet has certain drawbacks. Among the most significant are:

  • Diverse collection of information. The diversity of all sorts of information makes it difficult to separate out and pinpoint just the type of relevant information a researcher want.
  • Lack of context. Because search engines will return just a single page from a multipage document, researcher can miss the larger context from which that information was derived.
  • Lack of permanence. Web pages are notoriously unstable. They appear, move, and disappear regularly. This can be of particular concern for academic researchers, who need to cite a stable page for reference purposes.
  • Selectivity of coverage. Despite the size of the Internet, the vast majority of the world’s knowledge still resides in print. So a search for information on the Internet in no way represents a comprehensive search of the world’s literature or knowledge.
  • Lacking in qualitative research design that require face to face meeting.

 

How valid are the results of the research likely to be?

Overall, the research results can be assumed to be satisfactory. However, it is also reasonable to expect the research results may suffer from several limitations that degrade its usefulness and applications.

 

The several points that enable the research findings to be useful/ valid are:

  • The sample size selected is large
  • The databases selected are famous and huge. Besides, the database is specific to the industry under researched.
  • As the research is carried in the developed country, the result findings from internet can be assumed to be representative of the actual characteristics of the population. This is because in the developed country, the internet penetration rate is high and most of the people have access to the internet. Besides, a large percentage of the citizens in the developed countries use internet daily (e.g., Facebook).

 

The reasons that the research findings may not be 100% accurate/ valid is because:

  • The research findings may not be accurate because it is reasonable to expect that not all people in the population use internet.
  • Secondly, the research findings do not include opinions or feedback from people who refuse to participate in the research.
  • Thirdly, the database may not accurately reflect the population. Those who have secure job and satisfy with their current job may not submit their CV to the databases.
  • As the researchers try to ask the interviewees to recommend the others that are willing to participate in a survey, the research findings may skew towards opinions from those who are willing to participate in the survey.

 

Outline the advantages and disadvantages of ‘snowballing’.

Snowballing is a type of research design that scout for research participants by requesting the subjects with desired traits or characteristics to give names of further appropriate subjects. The advantage of such method is it make possible to include members of groups where no lists or identifiable clusters even exist (e.g., drug abusers, criminals, or in our case, the interviewees that do not have a habit of using internet). The disadvantage is under such technique, there is no way of knowing whether the sample is representative of the population. Not only that, it is highly likely that the research findings may be skewed towards those who are willing to help out in the survey. Many of the other sample in the population, for example, people who are not sociable, may be excluded from the research design.

 

What do you consider are the ethical issues raised by this research?

One of the ethical issues is that the researchers had used the databases in selection of the interviewees, but in fact, there are some people who input their details on the database wish not prefer to have their personal information being disclosed to other parties. Secondly, the location of those people in the databases is also being disclosed, and if such information is leaked to other parties, those people with information in the databases may face unfavorable disturbances or danger. Thirdly, even for those who are willing to participate in the research, they may not want to disclose their opinion to the third party. Thus, it is important for the researchers to understand such a factor and take relevant care in ensuring the information collected from the research design is secured, kept confidential and being used solely for the purpose of the research survey. Besides, the personal details of the interviewees should also not be identified in the research report.

Discuss the research process and explain why it is important to follow.

The research process has several steps as follow. First, researcher has to select a research topic that interests him in some way. It is useful for the researcher to list down key words to help him in looking up information about the topic. Besides, the researcher should also refer to encyclopedia, or other reference source, to get an overview of the topic. Then, researcher need to write a statement of purpose about the focused topic. The rationale of the research project should be investigated. After that, a review of the previous literatures or researches available for the topic selected should be performed. Academic databases can be used to access to relevant peer-reviewed journals on the research topic. Next, the research should draft an outline of the intended research methods and structure. Under this stage, the research methodologies should be clarified and the main structure of the research paper should be identified. Researcher should choose either quantitative or qualitative research design suitable to his research study. The various tools or software, such as SPSS or Microsoft Excel that will be used in the research process should be identified as well. Besides, the research methodology defined should also acts as a blueprint of research process and include several items as follow: (a) Methods for collecting and preparing quantitative information; (b) Determining the need of this information; (c) Scaling and measuring procedures; (d) Designing sample Questionnaire; (e) Formulating case studies and sampling process; and (f) Planning information analysis. Later, the researcher will engage in data collection process. After the data collecting stage, data analysis is performed. This process is the most important process in the research as the results are generated on the basis of data preparation. Then, research can start to write the research paper from all the available information. In the writing process, it is important for the researcher to provide proper citation and referencing in the writing process. Upon completion of the research report, an executive summary should be provided. Then, the researcher should carry out a comprehensive checking on his work, to fine tune the research report as well as to correct any error found in the report.

 

It is important to follow a research process because:

  • Following a proper research process will ensure that the actual research process is well organized, planned and executed.
  • It also enables a researcher to focus on what is truly important to be performed in a research study.
  • It will save financial resource and time for the researchers as with a proper set-up in the research process, the process can become more effective and efficient.
  • Proper research process will ensure the researcher not to miss out anything important in executing a particular research design.
  • By following research process, the researchers can develop a proper time schedule in completion of the research project.
  • In short, a proper research enables the researchers to enhance the validity and accuracy of the research findings.
  • It can also avoid the researchers from drifting apart from the research objectives.

 

Discuss the importance of ethics in the research process. Explain your answer with reference to ethical issues.

There are several reasons why it is important to adhere to ethical norms in research.

  • First, norms promote the aims of research, such as knowledge, truth, and avoidance of error. For example, prohibitions against fabricating, falsifying, or misrepresenting research data promote the truth and avoid error.
  • Second, since research often involves a great deal of cooperation and coordination among many different people in different disciplines and institutions, ethical standards promote the values that are essential to collaborative work, such as trust, accountability, mutual respect, and fairness. For example, many ethical norms in research, such as guidelines for authorship, copyright and patenting policies, data sharing policies, and confidentiality rules in peer review, are designed to protect intellectual property interests while encouraging collaboration. Most researchers want to receive credit for their contributions and do not want to have their ideas stolen or disclosed prematurely.
  • Third, many of the ethical norms help to ensure that researchers can be held accountable to the public. For instance, federal policies on research misconduct, conflicts of interest, the human subjects protections, and animal care and use are necessary in order to make sure that researchers who are funded by public money can be held accountable to the public.
  • Fourth, ethical norms in research also help to build public support for research. People more likely to fund research project if they can trust the quality and integrity of research.
  • Finally, many of the norms of research promote a variety of other important moral and social values, such as social responsibility, human rights, animal welfare, compliance with the law, and health and safety. Ethical lapses in research can significantly harm human and animal subjects, students, and the public. For example, a researcher who fabricates data in a clinical trial may harm or even kill patients, and a researcher who fails to abide by regulations and guidelines relating to radiation or biological safety may jeopardize his health and safety or the health and safety of staff and students.

 

Explain the main difference between qualitative and quantitative research. Briefly critique the use of qualitative and quantitative research.

Qualitative research explores attitudes, behaviour and experiences through such methods as interviews or focus groups. It attempts to get an in-depth opinion from participants. As it is attitudes, behaviour and experiences which are important, fewer people take part in the research, but the contact with these people tends to last a lot longer. In contrast, Quantitative research generates statistics through the use of large-scale survey research, using methods such as questionnaires or structured interviews. For example, a market researcher stopped research participants on the streets, or to have the participant to fill in a questionnaire which has arrived through the post, this is called of quantitative research. This type of research reaches many more people, but the contact with those people is much quicker than it is in qualitative research.

 

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Each approach has its drawbacks. Firstly, quantitative research often “forces” responses or people into categories that might not “fit” in order to make meaning. This may degrade the validity of the research findings. Qualitative research, on the other hand, sometimes focuses too closely on individual results and fails to make connections to larger situations or possible causes of the results. This will cause the research findings to suffer from subjectivity bias. Secondly, quantitative methods have their aim in dividing into clearly defined parts, or variables. When we research an issue which we know how to quantify, for example, what can be quantified for sure, we may leave out the factors which are crucial to the real understanding of the phenomena under study. Thus, if this occurs, the real picture underlying the research topic may not be identified. Qualitative method, however, have open-ended questions. The use of qualitative methods will be heavily influenced by the researchers’ perceptions, knowledge, experience, knowledge, and personal biases. Thirdly, both the research methods share a similar weakness, i.e., they do not always underpin understanding of multi-dimensional pictures.

How and why is sampling used in research? Explain using examples of sampling strategies.

A sample is a finite part of a statistical population whose properties are studied to gain information about the whole. Generally, sampling is used in order to draw conclusions about populations from samples. By using sampling techniques, researchers can then use inferential statistics which enables us to determine a population`s characteristics by directly observing only a portion (or sample) of the population. There are also other special situations where the sampling method must be used in research design:

  • The economic advantage of using a sample in research is significant. Sampling methods can save costs and time. This happens when it is costly to perform a complete research on all of the people or units in a population.
  • Sampling may be required if the researchers require information urgently. A sample may provide researcher with needed information quickly. For example, a disease has broken out in a village within a particular area, the disease is contagious and it is killing within hours but nobody knows what it is. Sampling methods thus are required to conduct quick tests to help save the situation.
  • Sampling must also be used if the populations about which inferences must be made are quite large. For example, consider the research for the population of high school seniors in United States of America, a total of 4 million people. It is simply impossible for the researcher to carry out a survey on the 4 million people.
  • Sampling is important when sample in a population is very difficult to get access to.
  • Sampling is required when the act of observing the sample is destructive. Sometimes the very act of observing the desired characteristic of a unit of the population destroys it for the intended use. Good examples of this occur in quality control. For example, to test the quality of a fuse, to determine whether it is defective, it must be destroyed.

 

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