BUSINESS RESEARCH METHODS: THEORY AND PRACTICE

SHE Level 3
SCQF Credit Points 20.00
ECTS Credit Points 10.00
Module Code M3N225492
Module Leader Claire MacRae
School Glasgow School for Business and Society
Subject Management
Trimesters
  • B (January start)
  • A (September start)-B (January start)

Pre-Requisite Knowledge

Normally successful completion of level 2 or equivalent

Summary of Content

This module is designed to introduce students to the principles of research design, data collection, analytical skills, and writing proposals to develop research skills. It is designed to give students the pre-requisite knowledge for the Honours Dissertation. This module adopts a multidisciplinary approach to delivery and students are introduced to a comprehensive range of research methods used in business, media and journalism and social contexts. These transferable skills will prepare students for the Honours level dissertation by proving a critical knowledge of research paradigms, methodologies and a range of research techniques to underpin an extensive and independent research project in their cognate area. Students will be encouraged to identify and investigate contemporary research topics which directly address issues which face organisations and industries for example, social, legal, ethical, economical, media and communication, international business, financial, human resource or marketing and how such issues may be successfully researched. The objective of this module is not to provide an in-depth competence in any specific method per se but to explore the theoretical assumptions and logic underlying various research methods and philosophies- across all subject disciplines undertaking this module. On completion of this module students will emerge better equipped to undertake independent research that will produce valid inferences about social, political, economic and institutional phenomena. They will also acquire the ability to become analytical thinkers in their selected fields of business, management and the creative industries. The delivery is split into three parts. In block 1, the module explores generic themes and those debates underpinning the competing and complementary approaches to knowledge and what is constructed as truth and corresponding research strategies. In addition, the Learning Development Centre (LDC) delivers a number of sessions on writing the research proposal, literature searching and academic writing skills in block 1 of this module. In block 2, the module focuses on quantitative and qualitative techniques with a particularly on data analysis using SPSS in the interpretation of numerical results and Nvivo in qualitative data analysis. In block 3, students engage with the specific research perspectives and techniques utilised by those disciplines represented across the Department. By the end of the module students will be equipped to select and develop a topic for their Honours Dissertation and to reflect on the best research strategy.

Syllabus

In this module we will follow the following syllabus structure: lectures delivered in substantive blocks, followed by a related seminar organised around an exercise in addition to SPSS/Nvivo labs depending upon the discipline requirements. Block 1: Research Theory and Practice Introduction: the importance of research in informing debate; Theory and methods of research; Ethics in Research; Literature searching and review; and research question(s) to data acquisition and sampling Block 2: Qualitative and Quantitative Research Design Qualitative research design, collection and analysis Nvivo coding, generating themes and content analysis; Quantitative research design, collection and analysis SPSS introduction to statistical analysis packages, with particular reference to univariate, bivariate and multivariate methods; and the Internet and research: collecting quantitative and qualitative data exploring large data sets Block 3: Multi-disciplinary approaches to research subject specific Discourse analysis, content analysis, behavioural analysis, ethnography, participant observation, financial data sets, survey design, interviews, focus groups. -360

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, the student should be able to:1. Critically appreciate key research debates and theoretical perspectives which underpin research and to consider what constitutes reliable sources of information and data. 2. Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to conduct research by developing an appropriate and coherent plan to execute a programme of research, qualitative or quantitative, in the form of a research propose 3 .Demonstrate critical awareness of the main philosophical and methodological perspectives surrounding the use of evidence and in the acquisition, analysis and interpretation of results in answering the research question; 4. Evaluate academic research in terms of rigor, ethics and significance to research and understand issues related to ethical and professionalism in the design of research and handling of data. 5 .Demonstrate the ability to conduct research for a project in the chosen area of business research.

Teaching / Learning Strategy

The purpose of the module is to introduce students to research approaches to critical inquiry. This module provides knowledge on research design across key areas and adopts a critical perspective in comparing and contrasting alternative research paradigms, adopting a reflexive approach to the underlying epistemological and ontological research questions. The module is delivered through a combination of lectures and labs/workshops and subject-specific seminars. Lectures and seminars will be clustered by themed routes and provide a supportive and collaborative learning environment for all participants. This module engages blended learning through the use of online resources and classroom teaching. Through the use of seminar based discussion groups and lab based tutorials this module prepares students for applying their investigative skills and knowledge in context. Distance learning students can access the same resources as on-campus students. All students are provided with the lecture slides, lecture notes, additional reading, interactive LDC videos and resources to support teaching available online on GCU learn. In addition to being used as a repository GCU Learn is used as a platform for student discussion and a way for DL students to engage in peer-to-peer learning with on-campus students. Using padlets, wikis and blogs both on-campus and DL students will have the opportunity to engage with each other and various points across the module. GCULearn will be used to encourage communication between the students as they formulate their ideas for their dissertations and as a forum for discussion on elements of research design. Innovative techniques such as visual methods, internet-based data collection, wikis, blogs and internet forums will be used to engage students in contemporary issues for the purpose of formulating the research problem and as a method to search for supporting literature and debates specific to their research area. The learning and teaching approach is driven by a focus on developing critical thinking skills and independent learning. It is informed by the research work of the research active module leader and tutors to provide contemporary examples of comparative and good practice in research. Classes will combine examples of research from the teaching team, discussions, online searching and identification and evaluation of techniques, and will be focused on acquisition and development of skills appropriate to independent research. In blocks 1,2 and 3, during lectures and seminars, the use of relevant research examples to ground concepts is also a particular feature. Blocks 1 and 2 of this module focus on the knowledge and practical skills for research whilst block 3 relates to their focused application. Discussion topics, lectures and exercises are designed for students to develop the necessary research techniques to conduct high quality independent research evident in the completion of a defined research topic. In block 3 students will examine those research methods and theories (as identified in block 1 and 2) akin to their specific discipline and case studies examples will be used to demonstrate their applicability. The development of the proposal in this module allows students to prepare for the research by adopting a disciplined, logical and systematic approach to investigating a research problem. Lectures and seminars will be supported by a series of labs and will be based upon applied research methodology case studies. The practical labs will allow students to apply their knowledge of statistics gained through both lectures and on-line directed study, to the statistical data analysis package, SPSS and on-line survey generators, e.g. SNAP and SurveyMonkey and for qualitative methods of analysis the application of Nvivo in content analysis. Academic staff and the Learning Technologists will continue to work together to develop and operate this module on GCULearn, ensuring effective student support and information sharing. Students are provided with formative and summative feedback via a variety of mechanisms throughout this module. Feedback on coursework is normally provided online within 3 working weeks of submission.

Indicative Reading

Books and Articles Punch, K. (2014). Introduction to social research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches (3rd ed.). <https://discover.gcu.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=44GLCU_ALMA2161785710003836&context=L&vid=44GLCU_VU1&search_scope=default_scope&isFrbr=true&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US> Wilson, J. (2014). Essentials of business research: A guide to doing your research project (2nd ed.). <https://discover.gcu.ac.uk/primoexplore/fulldisplay?docid=44GLCU_ALMA2158965230003836&context=L&vid=44GLCU_VU1&search_scope=default_scope&isFrbr=true&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US> Support Texts: Collis, Hussey, Hussey, Roger, & Dawsonera. (2014). Business research : A practical guide for undergraduate and postgraduate students (Fourth ed.). <https://discover.gcu.ac.uk/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=44GLCU_ALMA2161761780003836&context=L&vid=44GLCU_VU1&search_scope=default_scope&isFrbr=true&tab=default_tab&lang=en_US> Silverman, D. (2013) Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook 4th Edition , London: Sage. Field, A. (2013) Discovering statistics using SPSS statistics: and sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll . 4 th Edition. Sage: London Atkinson, P. and Hammersley, M. (2007) Ethnography: Principles in Practice, 3rd Edition, London: Routledge. Yin, R K (2009) Case Study Research Design and Methods 4 th Ed. Sage: London Baert, P. (2005) Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Towards Pragmatism , Cambridge: Polity.(core text 2) Barbour, R. (2014) Introducing Qualitative Research: A Student's Guide , 2nd Edition, Sage: London. Bryman, A. (2016) Social Research Methods . 5th Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press Seale, C. (ed) (2012) Researching Society and Culture, 3rd Edition, London: Sage. Further readings are available either at the library or online on GCU Learn. Please note that the course will be heavy on the reading side given the variety of topics that we will cover and additional videos, academic journal articles will be provided on a week-to-week basis. Online sources: Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods; Evaluation: The International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice; International Journal of Social Research Methodology; International Journal of Research and Method in Education, Research Methodology in Strategy and Management.

Transferrable Skills

By the end of this module students will have gained competence in the following key areas: Analytical and critical thinking skills; Interpretation and critiquing of secondary sources; Communication skills (oral and written) including interviewing skills; Discussion skills; Research Proposal writing; Quantitative and qualitative data analysis and problem solving skills; Interpersonal skills; and Time management skills -360

Module Structure

Activity Total Hours
Seminars (FT) 8.00
Assessment (FT) 26.00
Lectures (FT) 24.00
Practicals (FT) 4.00
Independent Learning (FT) 138.00

Assessment Methods

Component Duration Weighting Threshold Description
Exam (School) n/a 30.00 35% Online class test
Course Work 01 n/a 70.00 35% Research Proposal Week 12.