Master of Business Administration
As part of the formal assessment for the Master of Business Administration you are required to submit a Research Methods assignment.
You are required to produce a research proposal for a dissertation in a management related field. The proposal prepared may be the one which you follow for your dissertation but this is not essential. If you eventually choose another topic for your dissertation you will have to go through a similar process as that required for this assessment on that topic. It would therefore be sensible to think carefully about the topic choice and decide now what your dissertation will be about.
Your answer should include the detail below.
The format should broadly follow the plan provided below. Diagrams and charts may be added to clarify and illustrate points.
1) Research Questions & Objectives
Explanation of the problem/issue and justify why it is important, both from an organisational and a personal perspective, and a series of precisely written objectives, to include observable outcomes, that flow from this.
2) Literature review : Demonstrate knowledge of relevant literature by identifying key debates: concepts and theories within the topic area and how the literature will be utilised to inform your research.
3) Methodology : Explanation of fundamental issues in methodology followed by a full description of the methodological approach to be adopted. This and your data collection methods should be justified and you should explore issues of validity, reliability and generalisability of the research proposal.
4) Reflections & Resources :Appraisal of resource and ethical implications, including an audit of researcher’s knowledge and skills, and an action plan that demonstrates the sequence of the research and shows the viability of the proposal.
5) Overall Structure of Proposal :Appropriate use of references. Harvard referencing to be used in both the text and bibliography – all detail to be included. Logical structure, report format.
Assessment criteria :The proposal will be assessed for its overall quality; in particular the extent to which the components fit together and its suitability for masters level research. You will need to demonstrate that you have withheld pre-conceived ideas and organised your arguments logically. The proposal needs to convince the reader as to its suitability and your ability to undertake the work. A mark sheet and marking criteria are attached. The work will be marked on a percentage basis, with 40 percent being the pass mark. You should take careful note of where marks are allocated and ensure that you address these areas in your proposal.
Key to marking scheme in each section
The writer is request to provide appropriate space and words to each section and justify it in accordance marking criteria.
1) Research Questions and Objectives : 15%
Clearly explains problem/issue, justifying why it is important both from an organisational and a personal perspective and provides precisely written research questions and observable outcomes that flow from this
2)Indicative Literature Review 25%
:Demonstrates knowledge of the relevant literature by identifying key debates, concepts and theories and explains how the literature will be used to inform the research design
2) Methodology 35 % divided in two sections
a) Provides an explanation of fundamental issues of research methodology. 10%
b) Explains and justifies the research strategy and data collection methods to be used and in relation to the proposed research explores the concepts of validity, reliability and generalisability -25%
3) Reflections and Resources : 15% Fully appraises the resources needed (including an audit of the researcher’s knowledge and skills) and ethical implications associated with the proposal and provides an action plan, or chart, that demonstrates the proposal is viable, given the available resources – time, researcher skills, access to data etc
4) Overall Structure —————— 10%
Uses report format and presents items in a logical structure. Uses Harvard referencing in text and bibliography
Guidelines from teachers
To identify the purpose of the literature review
To explain the key areas of the literature search
To describe how the literature review should be structured
To describe and discuss the correct use of citations and the construction of the reference list
The Purpose of the Literature Review
What research already exists in your topic area?
What are the key themes emerging from the literature you are considering?
What are the main limitations of this existing work?
What research gaps exist in the literature that your research might fill?
The Literature Search
Preparation: background reading should have identified key words , terms and what types of materials will you be searching for?
Key materials: books, journal articles, electronic journal articles, reports, conference papers, theses
Key sources: libraries and online sources such as EBSCO (search terms)
Structuring Your Literature Review
• Introduction and conclusion at beginning and end of review
• Broad to narrow approach (broad context, quickly focussing upon topic to be studied ( with sub-headings to guide the reader)
• Compare and contrast through-out
• Addressing a topic within your literature review
• Critically analyse the topic literature documented Illuminate text with models of key factors
• At master level your work must be fully supported with
Citations and Reference List (must be Harvard)
The work must be completely in your own words and correctly supported with citations. Like this extract from my own work:
The Purpose of the Research Methodology
To highlight a credible approach has been taken during the research
To provide processes which help provide answers to the research questions
To allow other researchers to evaluate the rigour of the study
To allow the coherence of the study to be evaluated
Facilitates replication and provides direction for future research
Key Elements of a Research Methodology
1. Discussion of the philosophy of the research: ontology and epistemology
2. The research aim, questions and objectives
3. Rationale for methodology selected (Discuss competing design perspectives)
4. Select methods for the achievement of collecting and analysing data to answers research questions (full discussions)
5. Discussion of sub-elements relating to methods selected (i.e. sampling, reliability and validity)
6. Specify and follow a clear research design
Structuring Your Research Methodology
• Introduction and conclusion at beginning and end of methodology
• Clear sub-headings to highlight the key methodology issues addressed:
• Select methods consistent with your ontology and epistemology (and your research design)
• Provide rationales for your selections
• Evaluate key strengths and limitations of methods selected
• Do not omit key headings (I Examples include: induction/deduction sampling, i.e. reliability and validity, data analysis, ethics)
• Do not omit key content (i.e. how data will be analysed must be addressed, key ethical considerations)
• At masters level your work must be fully supported with citations
Reflections, Resources and Ethics
Above must communicate to the reader that your understand the underpinning theory and key issues
• Discuss competing perspectives
• Provide rationales for selections
• Evaluate selections
The above carries significant marks so give it your attention
• The research methodology is a key area of proposals and dissertations
• You are basically communicating your understanding of the totality of the research process
• GIGO: poor methodology will result in poor findings and conclusions drawn
• It needs to be given a lot of attention It needs to be rooted to your interpretation research methodology literature