Pearson BTEC HNC/D Diploma HND Computing and systems development- Unit 7 : Research Skills

Unit Description

This Research proposal assignment is given in UK college of Business and Computing.

Introduction

Research is the process of analysing, processing and managing several sources of historical data and information regarding a particular topic. This process is basically a combination of several types of processes that help the organisations use to identify, collect, process, store and manage relevant information about a particular issue, which in turn helps the organisation to take major business decisions in the present time. The methods of research allow the already present data and historical events in the past to affect the decisions to be taken in the present and future. The methods of research can also be defined as the processes in which the works of others are referred to complete the current work. The methods of research are used by the organisations in various different situations
. An organisation may use a research techniques to determine the demand of a particular product in the market, determine the needs of the customers, determine the trends in the market along with its size and cost, determine the available resources in the market, determine the threats and opportunities in the market, determine the marketing strategy and promotional strategies to be used for a particular product and to stay responsive to the changes in the market. The methods of research allow an organisation to gain and maintain a competitive advantage over its competitors in the same industry. The basic steps of a research method include identifying the issue, determining the purpose of research, determining the method to be used, collecting data, analysing and evaluating the collected data, reporting the evaluations of the research and communicating the research reports to people who require those data.

LO1 Understand different research methodologies

1.1 Different research methodologies

There are several methods of researches which are differentiated by the purpose of the research, the type of the issue, the data to be collected, and the subject of the research, scope of the research and the importance of the research. The various established methods of research focus on each of these factors to a different extent. Some of the different types of research methodologies are mentioned below for development of Research skills.

Experimental research – This type of research is done when a particular experiment is being performed in a particular scope or a particular theory is being tested. There are several factors that can affect the result of the experiment or can affect the events that occur during the experimentation. This type of research allows the researcher to gain a complete perception of all those factors (Cooper, 2003).

Survey research – This type of research is done by the organisation in a situation in which they are trying to collect data regarding a particular issue from the primary sources of data. This type of research is done by the organisations trying to communicate directly to their current and potential customers (Kothari, 2004).

Evaluative research – This type of research is done by the organisations to determine and analyse the impact of a particular process, method or policy. The effect of that process is evaluated to determine the success rate.

Observational research – This type of research is based on the concept of taking a step back and observing from a distance. This type of research method observes and records the behavioural patterns of individuals, groups or organisations. This type of research helps the organisation to gather data regarding the occurrence of various processes (Kothari, 2004).

Applied research – This type of research is used by organisation to gather information to decide the course of action of a particular event, situation or issue. This type of research helps the organisation to take business decisions regarding a particular issue or problem in the business environment (Cooper, 2003).

1.2 Use of a research methodology

Research proposal is the document which describes the course of action that should be taken by the organisation while carrying out a research. The research proposal describes the issue for which research is being done, the methodology to be used for the research, the type of data and information to be collected in the research, the evaluation methods to be used to process the collected data and the type of report to be created describing the findings of the research. The research proposal is the most important piece of document that is needed before the research process begins. This is the document which explains the requirement of the research to the management and higher authorities in the organisation (Harris, 1997).

The research methodology to be used in the research process is clearly defined in the research proposal. The choice of research methodology depends on the number of the required subjects, the type of the issue being solved, the environment in which the research is being done and the amount of the required data and information. There are several research methodologies that can be used in a research process depending on the set of factor mentioned above.

Primary and secondary data collection –  The research methodology of primary data collection involves the processes in which the organisation conducting the research collects the data and information regarding a particular issue or event from the primary sources of data. The primary sources of data are the customers, potential customers, employees and critics. So the data collection is done directly by the organisation carrying out the research (Robson, 1997).

In the case of secondary data collection methodology, the organisation carrying out the research collects relevant data and information from secondary sources of data. Secondary sources of data are the repositories of data being managed by several private and government organisations which collect data and information regarding the particular issue or event. These secondary sources of data are analysed and processed to determine the result of the research.

Observatory research methodology – This type of research methodology is used by the organisation which aims to observe the current trends in the environment along with the demands and needs of the customers. This type of research methodology is used in a research where the major aim of the process is to observe the behavioural pattern of individuals or groups (Cooper, 2003).

Experimental research methodology – This type of research methodology is used in a research method in which the researcher wants to check the validity of a particular theory, process or theory in a particular environment. This methodology is proposed in the research proposal document to determine the effect of a policy on the environment (Robson, 1997).

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1.3 Importance of qualitative and quantitative data

There are several types of data and information that are collected in a research method depending on the type of research, type of issue or problem, required size of data and importance of the research method. The major classifications of the data collected in a research method are qualitative and quantitative data.

Qualitative data – This type of data is generally very rich in information but very poor in terms of data. This type of data is collected by a research method to clearly understand the behaviour and trends of the environment. These types of data provide an in-depth description of the environment in terms of a specific issue or event. This type of data is quite tough to analyse as nothing is defined in terms of measurement in a particular scale (Liamputtong, 2009).

Quantitative data – This type of data generally provides statistical numeric values about certain event or issue in the environment. This of data is comparatively easier to analyse as compared to the qualitative data, because this type of data is measured on a particular scale. This type of data is collected by the researchers who are carrying out experimental or scientific research on the environment (Neuman, 2005).

For example, suppose a research is being carried out by an organisation on the students of a class. The qualitative data that are collected are related to several traits of the students such as school spirit, environmentalist, and friendliness. But the quantitative data that are collected in this research method are the number of students in the class, number of boys and girls in the class, number of students strong in specific topics and the percentage of the students who has scholarships.

Hence the type of data collected in the research method depends on the requirements of the research method. The methods to analyse these collected data are chosen depending on the type of the data. The analysis of the quantitative data is done by using statistical and mathematical processes (Patton, 1990).

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1.4 Problems that can arise when undertaking research

There are several problems associated to the business processes directly or indirectly can arise during the research. These problems can cause the research method to yield unreliable and invalid results. Some of the problems may cause the research process to fail before reaching completion. Some of the basic research problems are described below (Harris, 1997).

Dependency – There are several variables in the environment that depend on the values of several other independent variables. In the quantitative research methodology, these variables play a great role. So there is a type of problem that can arise due to the dependent variables if they are not determined on time and properly. For example the SAT score is the independent variable that is used to determine the freshman grade point average which is the variable dependent on the first one.

Information sources – There are several primary and secondary sources of data that are used by the organisation carrying out the research. The access to these sources can cause a problem in the research method if the access is not achieved in time. These information sources should always be accessible to the organisation carrying out the research for the research to be successful. For example, the research method goes into a pause if a specific required report is not available at the correct time (Taylor, 1984).

Time – There is a constraint on the research method in terms of the scheduled timeline associated with the entire research process. The unavailability of any resource or any other adverse event could cause the research methods to compromise its schedule, which poses a big problem to the organisation carrying out the research.

Money – The monetary resource is another constraint for the research method in terms of the budget associated with a particular research methods. This can also be a source of a problem in a situation of shortage of resource (Cooper, 2003).

Expertise – The expertise required to complete all the processes of a research method is another source of problem in the research process in terms of unavailability of a specific set of expertise.

Introduction of bias – The validity and reliability of the results of the research processes can be compromised if the researchers are biased by any of the factors in the environment.

The Hawthorne effect – Another major problem that may occur while the research is going on is defined by the Hawthorne effect. This effect suggests that some of the workers in an organisation tend to work harder when they are included in a research. This causes those employees to change their regular behaviour when they are included in any research. This compromises the validity and reliability of the findings of the research (Kothari, 2004).

The Halo effect – This effect specifies another problem that may occur while researching which defines that some of customers have a bias towards a product of an organisation due to a positive past experience with another product of the same organisation. For example, a customer having a good experience in using a product of Nike may have a bias towards another range of products by Nike.

LO2 Know how to conduct a literature review

2.1 Use of research sources

The literature review is basically an organised collection of the summary and synthesis of the information sources used in a particular research. It basically provides the readers and critics with the complete organised collection of the sources from which the information and data are collected during the research. There are several types of sources of information which are used in a research. These sources of information can be of several types such as electronic, audio, video or paper-based. These sources can be broadly categorised into primary and secondary resources. The literature review includes all these types of sources referred during the research (Kothari, 2004).

Primary sources – These are the reports, journals or published letters from the actual researchers i.e. the organisation carrying out the research. These sources may be accessible in the physical or electronics medium. These allow the organisation carrying out the research to communicate and interact directly with the subjects of the research. Generally the primary sources of data are preferred as compared to the secondary sources as the validity and the reliability of the information of these sources are not compromised (Cooper, 2003).

Secondary sources – These sources of information are the repository of the information created and maintained by several other organisations for entirely different purpose. These are the published reports or papers from organisations that is not carrying the current research. These sources are used by the current researchers to find historical data related to a particular event or issue. Generally the choice of secondary sources of information should be taken carefully as the validity and reliability of the information of these sources are directly proportional to the reputation and image of the organisation that maintains them.

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2.2 Importance of using primary information sources

A primary source of information generally defines the reports or papers published physically or electronically by the organisation that is carrying out the research. This involves direct interaction with the subjects of the research which allows the organisation to gain a more in-depth knowledge as compared to the secondary sources. The importance of the primary sources of information are described below.

Reliability – The factor of reliability defines the extent to which the researchers can rely on the information of the sources. The reliability of the source defines the reliability of the data it provides. Hence primary sources are perceived to be more reliable as the organisation carrying out the research is the one collecting the data. So there is generally no doubt about the reliability of the data from the primary sources as the exposure of the data to compromising factors are minimum (Kothari, 2004).

Validity – This is the factor that defines the extent to which the relevant information is collected. The primary sources of information assure the researchers that the data being analysed and processed are relevant to the topics and issues of the research. The fact that the organisation which collected the data is carrying out the research assures the researchers that the data are valid.

Accuracy – The primary sources of data ensure the researchers about the accuracy of the data collected regarding particular topics or issue. This allows the researcher to use the data from primary sources with complete confidence of its accuracy.

Deeper understanding – Using primary sources of information allows the organisation to gain a deeper understanding of the trends in the environment and the needs of the customers. This allows the organisation to interact directly with the current and potential customers, which in turn allows the organisation to analyse its environment in a much better way (Cooper, 2003).

Some of the other major importance of primary sources of information are increase in critical thinking skills of the employees and the increase in the knowledge of the employees.

2.3 System for referencing

The reports prepared in a research or any other processes in an organisation require external sources of information that provide the researchers with relevant data. These external sources which are used in the report should clearly reference in the report. The clear referencing of the external sources helps readers to use available external sources, protects the writer from the plagiarism accusations, shows the knowledge and understanding of the writer regarding the corresponding topic, supports the arguments of the writer with the external sources and shows the extent to which the writer has researched. If something is taken from another published material by paraphrasing or directly quoting, it should be properly referenced in the report. This allows the writer not to lose credibility by being accused of plagiarism.

There are several types of referencing styles which are used to refer external sources in the report and those references are cited in the text of the report. This defines the sections referred from particular part of a particular external source (Cooper, 2003). The reference includes the name of the author, title of report or book, date of publishes, publisher details and the corresponding sections in the external source.

Harvard referencing system is one such referencing system used to refer to external sources in the report. The in-text citations in this referencing system are done in a (author, date) format where the date is the year of publish of the external source. The quotation marks ‘’ are used to directly quote something from the external source. Some of the arguments taken from the external sources are paraphrased into the words of the writer.

Generally the Harvard referencing system allows a list of all the references at the end of the text, which are alphabetically arranged according to the author name. The format of a general reference is author, date of publish, title and publisher. Generally in the Harvard referencing system, the title is the only thing which is in Italics in the entire reference.


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LO3 Be able to present a research proposal

3.1 Research proposal

To: The management of the social media organisation

From: The research department

Date: 1st March, 2014

Subject: Research proposal

Research topic: Effect of the social media on the individuals and families

Purpose: The research should explore the effects of the social media on the individuals and families. The research should also explore the advantages and disadvantages of the social media.

Background: The social media are being used heavily these days. Along with several benefits, the usage of social media has several disadvantages.

Scope: The usage of the social media by a group of individuals will be observed by the research team. The activity of the usage of social media will be observed thrice a week, each for two hours. The users are then interviewed regarding the process of usage of the social media. The effects on their families are also observed closely (Kumar, 2005).

Research method:

  1. A literature review is conducted on usage of the social media and their effects on the individuals and families.
  2. The group of individuals are closely observed thrice a week, each for 2 hours. The users are then interviewed about the usage of social media after each session. The family members are also interviewed to a certain extent.
  3. The users are then interviewed on the basis of the provided set of questions. These interviews can be conducted in a less formal way to get honest opinion of the users regarding various effects of the sessions.

The set of questions is provided below.

  1. What was the aim of the session?
  2. Which social media were you using?
  3. Did you achieve what you wanted?
  4. What do you think about the result of the session?
  5. What do you think about the effect of the sessions?
  6. What do you think about the effect of the sessions on your family members?
  7. All the findings of each session are documented along with the observations.
  8. A final report is created.

3.2 Role of ethics in research

Ethics is very important in research as in any of the business processes. In the absence of ethical behaviour among the people included in the research processes, the data collected and analysed are not valid and reliable. Moreover the absence of ethical behaviour in the research methods causes the quality of the research results to be compromised (Vanderpool, 1996).

Possible ethical issues

Authorship – The ethical issue related to the authorship of the work includes actions by people submitting someone else’s work as their own.

Peer review – During the process of peer review in the organisation, unethical people deliberately evaluate their peers to be performing bad in order to decrease their value in the workplace.

Plagiarism – The absence of ethics in the research method allows people to put ideas and arguments from external sources as their own in the reports.

Conflicts of interest and research misconducts are some other ethical issues that may arise during the research (Simons, 2000).

Resolution of ethical issues in research

There are several ways to resolve the ethical issues that arise during the research. These ethical issues are resolved by the usage of several options described below.

The implementation of ethical guidelines in the organisations causes the employees to follow those guidelines, which ensures ethical behaviour from the participants in the research method (Sales, 2000).

The ethics committee established in the organisation carrying out the research reviews and observes the method closely. This committee ensures the compliance of the participants to the ethical guidelines.

The implementation of appraisal systems in adhering to the ethical guidelines causes the participants to behave ethically (Berenbeim, 1987).

LO4 Be able to contribute to a research seminar

4.1 Research seminar

The research proposal provided earlier suggests the research method of questionnaire to collect information about the effect of the usage of social media on individuals and families.

Some other ideas to research about the usage of social media are usage of media listeners with proper authorisations that can help the researchers to observe the usage and activity of the group of users of the social media. This can also help the researchers to collect data and information about the content of the social media sessions. The research about the usage of the social media can be automated by affiliations with the social media providers and managers. This allows the researchers to complete the research in a proper way (Jabine, 1984).

There are several good practices that can be followed during the research method to determine the effect of the social media usage on individuals and families. The interview questions to the users of the social media should be relevant to the research topic. The questions should not cross the personal space of the users. The research method and the participants must adhere to the ethical guidelines of the organisation. The set of questions should be properly arranged and organised to yield maximum result (Aguinis, 2002).

The research proposal can contain another method of opinion poll organised online or via telephone. These methods also yield maximum accuracy in determining the effect of the usage of social media on the individuals and the families. The interviews of the users of social media can be more formal to give them an experience and sense of being involved in the process.

4.2 Constructive feedback

There are several alternatives to the methodology proposed in the above research proposal. The proposal of obtaining affiliations with the social media providers and managers provide the researchers with a very clear framework to work in. The level of detail of the data and information gathered in this method are very high as it allows the researchers to have direct access to the social media usage sessions of the users. The information technology factor of this method is not that high (Jabine, 1984).

Another alternative provided as the proposal was to use online opinion poll as the method of gathering data and information about the effect of the usage of social media on the individuals and families. This method also has a clear framework having a comparatively low level of detail. This method includes a high usage of the information technology to gather data regarding the usage of the social media (Kumar, 2005).

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Conclusion

There are several methods and methodologies to carry out a research, which depends on the type of the research, type of the required data, type of the issue being solved, size of the required data and the scope of the research. The collection of qualitative or quantitative data is then analysed and processed to understand several facts about the environment being researched. This allows the organisation to gain in-depth knowledge about the environment by using the primary sources of the data. The secondary sources of the data are the collections of data by several other organisations. The research proposal is a very important document that provides the researchers and the higher authorities of the organisation with the details such as the issue being researched about, the method used to collect the data and the methods used to process the collected data.

References

Aguinis, H., & Henle, C. A. 2002. Ethics in research. Handbook of research methods in industrial and organizational psychology, 34-56.

Berenbeim, R. 1987. Corporate Ethics: A Research Report from the Conference Board. The Board.

Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. 2003. Business research methods.

Harris, R. 1997. Evaluating Internet research sources. Virtual Salt, 17.

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