Sunday, June 30, 2013

Research Methodology - Videos


Research Methodology - Conceptual Foundation

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6CmfbWwRTU

More videos from Ignousoss




Content Analysis

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Presentation by Dr. Catherine Corrigall-Brown, Jan 23, 2013 at The University of Western Ontario: "A Practical Introduction to Content Analysis." The presentation outlined what content analysis is, discussing how contents are coded, and illustrated types of analyses that can be done with the technique. Dr. Corrigall-Brown also presented a few examples of studies done with content analysis. Slides for this presentation are online at the RDC website.  http://rdc.uwo.ca/

Knol - 4798

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions - Thomas S. Kuhn - Bibliography

Philosophy Economics



Book Information: On the Reliability of Economic Models: Essays in the Philosophy of Economics
Daniel Little
Springer, 01-Jan-1995 - Business & Economics - 283 pages
This volume represents a contribution to the philosophy of economics with a distinctive point of view -- the contributors have selected particular areas of economics and have probed these areas for the philosophical and methodological issues that they raise. The primary essays are written by philosophers concentrating on philosophical issues that arise at the level of the everyday theoretical practice of working economists. Commentary essays are provided by working economists responding to the philosophical arguments from the standpoint of their own disciplines. The volume thus represents something of an 'experiment' in the philosophy of science, striving as it does to explore methodological issues across two research communities. The purpose of the volume is very specific: to stimulate a discussion of the epistemology and methodology of economics that works at the level of detail of existing 'best practice' in economics today. The contributors have designed their contributions to stimulate productive conversation between philosophers and economists on topics in the methodology of economics
Google Book Link with Preview facility
http://books.google.co.in/books/about/On_the_Reability_Ofeconomics_Methods_Ess.html?id=NqcY21jzDEwC

Making Sense of Social Theory - Charles H. Powers - Book Information



Making Sense of Social Theory opens by carefully exploring what it means to follow the scientific method in a field like sociology.

The book goes on to analyze sociology as a genuine science with a body of explanatory insights. Sociological theory is applied in ways that make its relevance and power apparent so that theory no longer stands divorced from real world research or practice.

Making Sense of Social Theory clearly establishes the pertinence of sociology's great theoretical insights for all social science researchers and practitioners.


Rowman & Littlefield, 01-Jan-2010 - Social Science - 281 pages

Google Book Link with Preview Facility
http://books.google.co.in/books?id=cw8nRx08ix0C

Hermeneutics



Hermeneutics is the theory of interpretation.

Originally, hermeneutics represented an attempt to provide surer foundations for the interpretation of biblical texts. Subsequently, it developed as a philosophical underpinning for the interpretation of an increasingly wider range of texts, such as historical documents and literary works.

The sort of things which concern hermeneutic theorists are: what are the methods and purposes of interpretation itself? Is it possible to uncover the intentions of original meanings of an author? What is the relation between the context of a text's production (its genesis in the past) and the context of a text's interpretation (relevance in the present day)?


Source:
Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method and Research
Jonathan A Smith et al.
Sage, Los Angeles, 2009




http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hermeneutics/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics by Michael N.  Forster
http://philosophy.uchicago.edu/faculty/files/forster/HERM.pdf


Lot of information on Hermeutics
http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/WeirdWildWeb/courses/wphil/lectures/wphil_theme19.htm



Social Scientific Models for Interpreting the Bible: Essays by the Context Group in Honor of Bruce J. Malina
Bruce John Malina, John J. Pilch
BRILL, 2001 - Religion - 438 pages
Google Book Link with Preview facility
http://books.google.co.in/books?id=zqoJj4WhJXAC

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Qualitative Research in Management - Thesis - The management of people, processes and places in the virtual workplace



This study explored the manner in which virtual workers executed their activities through the use of technology, the type of business processes supporting them and the challenges experienced by them.

This study also developed the Extended Hermeneutic Circle of Learning which was used as guideline for the research conducted as part of this thesis. The deeper understanding created through the use of this research guideline assisted in providing structure to the research, thus enabling the researcher to derive the proposed framework for the management of people, processes and placed in the virtual workplace.

http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-06062011-170612/


Doctoral Thesis - ILSE Geledenhuys

Chapter 1
http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-06062011-170612/unrestricted/01chapter1.pdf

Literature Review - Video Presentations




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Tamu video


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Effective Literature Review
Yair Levy

Research in Graduate Studies - Videos




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Doing Research Right
David Knauft

Research Methodology - Introductory Lectures - Videos



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Debashish Banerji - Uprsedu
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwgxI-JjKDQ

Falsifiability - Popper - Videos and Articles




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Falsification or falsifiability is an important idea given  by Karl Popper.

Research Methodology - MIS - Amgad Badewi - Videos - Blog Posts

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Business and Management Research in Perspective - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary

“What is different about research in business and management studies or is it just the same as any other social science?”


First of all,  the stakeholders who have a direct interest in business and management research are different from those with interests in areas such as anthropology, education, sociology, pyschology and other social sciences.

Second, whatever stakeholder group is being considered in business and management studies there is a strong emphasis on the application  of knowledge rather than on the creation of knowledge for its own sake.

The third issue which makes business and management research different from other subjects in social science is the very broad nature of this field of study.  Business and management studies range from enquiries into stock markets to debates as to how to display the merchandise on the shelves of supermarkets.

The fourth important issue that distinguishes business and management research is the context in which the research takes place.  The fast  pace of change in  both the theory and practice of management creates a challenging context in which to conduct research . For example, in strategic management, a move away from the design school approach to the resource-based view of the firm took place in just a few years.

Should highlight that business and management is a field of study within the broad scope of the social sciences, and thus the research methodologies available to students in business and management studies will be drawn from those also available to other social sciences.

The PhD Degree
To obtain a PhD a candidate needs to have undertaken a substantial programme of original research and in so doing to have produced a material dissertation that makes a valuable and significant contribution to the body of knowledge.
For this degree to be awarded it is essential that the contribution made by the researcher is regarded by his or her examiner to have added something of value to the discipline which is being researched. The contribution made to the body of knowledge may in fact be quite small and indeed it is often said that a PhD adds only  a few grains of new knowledge to an already established mountain. However, this does not detract from the value of the degree, which owes as much to a demonstration that the candidate has mastered the research process and the self-development of the degree candidate as it does to the actual result achieved.

While the PhD dissertation needs to be original, such originality (Howard and Sharp, 1983) may have one or more dimensions. Originality can be based on the fact that a new theory is being developed; it can be related to a new or novel research methodology that has been developed in the research programme. Or it can be because the domain in which the theory and the methodology are being applied has not previously been studies in this way.

A PhD candidate is expected to be fully familiar with all the literature appertaining to the subject area that is being researched as well as having a broad knowledge and understanding of the discipline in general.  The candidate has to show he or she has understanding of the discipline in general.

The candidate has to show he or she has understood well the discipline and then extend the body of knowledge by developing a new dimension of the discipline.  Candidate to know the range of research methodologies available.  This is because the researcher has to claim  and demonstrate that a sound approach has been taken to do the research.



The Research Programme and Process - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary


Research is not a linear process, and many masters and doctoral students in business and management studies pursue their research  in a recursive and reiterative way.  However, researchers frequently find it useful to have a research programme or structured plan of the research process that they can, at least theoretically, think about, if not actually follow step  by step.  In some universities and business schools a structured research plan is considered so essential that it is an integral part of the research proposal.

The Field of study and the Research Problem
Establishing a field of study is usually straightforward and most researchers will decide to study a problem either in their original discipline or in the area in which they are or have recently been working.  Clearly the more competence the researcher  has in the proposed field of study the easier it will be to identify a suitable research problem or question.

The research problem should remain open at least until the literature review has been completed because this will reveal interesting research questions and problems that the researcher needs to consider.
The wide end of the funnel is where the general field of study is selected and as the researcher travels further into the funnel so different issues are consider.  Some are rejected in the process, and on arriving at the point at the end of the funnel the research question has become obvious.


Eight Phases of the Research Process

It is useful to think of the research process as consisting of eight specific phases.

These are:
Reviewing the literature;
Formalising a research question;
Establishing the methodology;
Collecting evidence;
Analysing the evidence;
Developing conclusions;
Understanding the limitations of the research
Producing management guidelines or recommendations.

The Literature Review
The literature review is a material part of the research process, taking a significant amount of the time and the energy to be expended on the research degree.   Furthermore the literature review is never completed, as the researcher has to remain abreast of the latest literature right up to the final publication of the dissertation.

As already mentioned, in the first instance the researcher should have some idea of the field of study, or the area of his or her interest in which the research is to be carried out.  This will perhaps be related to earlier undergraduate academic interests, or to current working experience, or both.  Defining the field of study in such broad terms would be specific enough at the early stage of the research project.

The next step is to review the literature in this general area in some detail. This means reading as much of the published material on the subject area as possible.  Initially the researcher needs to review all possible references available, including textbooks, academic papers, professional magazines and newspapers.  In addition television broadcasts and video recordings are also acceptable sources during this stage of the literature review.  Emphasis should be placed on the most recent material.

However, as the researchers’ interests begin to focus on a possible research topic, the literature emphasis should be increasingly placed on papers published in academically reviewed journals.  The popular press and even textbooks should be given relatively low emphasis at this stage.  Of course, it is sometimes the case that the topic is so new or novel that the popular press or videos have be used as a primary source of reference material.  In such cases it is important that support for views expressed in these media be sought from experts in the field.

The literature review should indicate a suitable problem to research as well as give the researcher some idea of the research methods or approaches that have been traditionally used in this field.
In reviewing the literature it is useful to look for contradictions or paradoxes.  These usually suggest that there is an interesting research question which could be addressed for a masters or doctoral degree.


It is important to note that in the dissertation the literature should be critically evaluated and not just accepted on face value.  It is this critical evaluation of the thoughts of other academics which usually leads to the formulation of suitable research question.

Traditionally researchers used paper reference indexes available in the university or business school library as the way of initiating a literature search.  These references lead researchers to seminal papers in the field of interest and these papers in turn contained references to other important papers.  However, increasingly this type of paper-based literature search is being replaced by electronic searchers.

Many libraries now supply their students with access to electronic databases, either over telecommunications networks or on CD-ROM.  In addition, there are extensive literature search facilities on the Internet, which is currently available to researchers at a low cost.

By the end of the literature review the researcher should have a vision of what he or she wishes to achieve in his or her research.

Choosing the Methodology
In the first place the literature review should reveal not only a suitable problem to be researched but also a suitable methodology which has been applied to this type of research question in previous research projects.  This implies that the researcher is familiar with the range of methodologies, research strategies and tactics available, and knows something about their individual strengths and weakness.

As a general rule, precedent should be followed, although this may be abandoned if a suitable case can be made for a new methodological approach.

For example case studies may be used to establish a grounded theory (Glaser and strauss,1967), a survey may be used to confirm a theoretical conjecture and a longitudinal study may be employed to see if the effect of some action research is sustained.

Formalising a Research Question
Research questions usually mature and develop throughout the early part of the research project.  They are artefacts that help direct and focus the researcher’s thinking in the creation of new knowledge.

Although working experience is a good starting point for establishing the research question, it is the literature review that should reveal problems or areas of incomplete knowledge in the field of interest.  Establishing a research question without appropriate evidence from the literature is a risky approach and should not be undertaken lightly.

This usually means developing a theoretical conjecture and deriving from this statement a set of hypotheses or empirical generalisations.

It is important that there should only be a small number of research questions in any one study, in the order of three to five.

Evidence  Collection
The  essence of the research process is to answer the research questions, by producing suitable evidence supported by appropriate arguments.  Thus a suitable tactic for the collection of evidence is required and the researcher may choose from those listed in Chapter 3.

In general, business and management researchers at the masters and doctoral level ask questions related to how and why.  To answer these types of questions it is necessary to use evidence collection techniques that focus on these sorts of questions.  These tend to be phenomenological approaches that are generally of more value in the academic environment than those concerned with questions of how much or when.

On the other hand, some research questions such as those involving the financial and international currency markets, do actually lend themselves to qualitative evidence as opposed to the more quantitative evidence.

Analysis of Evidence

Iterpretative analysis which is employed by the phenomenologist relies on an entirely different skill set which is at least as demanding as the mathematical skills required for quantitative analysis.  This skill set consists of the ability to conceptualise on the basis of the evidence available and the patterns emerging from it.  This type of analysis may be referred to as hermeneutics.

Conclusions of the Research
Drawing conclusions from the evidence and presenting it is a convincing argument can be the most creative part of a research project.  The conclusions should convince the reader that something of value has been added to the body of knowledge.  As Collins(1994) points out, the conclusions deduced from the research need to be carefully argued in such a way that they will convince the research community, which in the case masters or doctoral research will be the supervisor, the external examiners and perhaps the research sponsor.

The conclusions in business and management research should offer advice to practicing managers as to how to conduct their business and management practices more efficiently and more effectively.  Good research results are those that are put to use and which remain in use for some time.  Bad or poor research results are either not used at all or are only used for a short period.  The conclusions section of a dissertation will usually suggest ideas for further research.

It is important to understand that the conclusion of a masters or doctorate degree may be to reject the theoretical conjecture from which the research questions have been derived.  This is sometimes seen as a problem by the researcher, but in fact it is not.  The refutation of a conjecture is generally regarded as just as important a contribution to the body of knowledge as the confirmation of conjecture.  Of course in such a case the reasons why the original conjecture are rejected will have to be carefully argued.

Understanding the Limitations of the Research
As the research proceeds the researcher develops a greater understanding of the research question, the research process and the research findings.  This means that the final dissertation will be a piece of work that could be improved upon if the researcher were to start the research project again.  

An understanding of the limitations of the dissertation is a key part of the development of the researcher and this self-discovery needs to be demonstrated in the final chapter of the dissertation.  This is sometimes referred to as reflectivity because it represents the main opportunity the researcher has to reflect on his or her work and to be self-critical of the approach taken as well as of the findings produced.  This is a critical part of a research degree, especially at the doctoral level.

Producing Management Guidelines or Recommendations
As a business and management research is essentially a field of applied studies it is appropriate that a masters or doctoral degree should conclude by converting its findings into a series of practical management guidelines.  These management guidelines will simply offer advice to managers on how they may improve the performance of the operation either in terms of increased efficiency or enhanced effectiveness.

This is a useful way to conclude the research for a masters or doctoral degree especially if the researcher is able to offer these guidelines or suggestions to managers and see if they agree with the proposals.

The Positivist Approach to Empirical Research - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary

The Central Role of Observation

The essence of modern ‘knowledge is that it is derived from observations made on the world.  All our research derives from, and ultimately refers back, directly or indirectly to our observations, our experiences and our measurements.  Things that cannot be observed either directly or indirectly through their effects of consequences are generally regarded as being outside the domain of science and thus not amenable to research.

There are several ways in which observations can be made of the world around us, including passive observations, observations of the consequences of uncontrolled interventions, or observations of the results of deliberate interventions.  These three types of observation are not mutually exclusive and a single research project could include any or all of these approaches.

Passive Observation is the method most frequently used in business and management research when the researcher is unable to conduct an experiment and has to rely on evidence that already exists.  The researcher collects evidence in the form of interviews, written reports, questionnaires, artefacts and so on.

2.   Uncontrolled Intervention   involves observing the effect of a major change in a driving variable  on one or more dependent variables.

3. Observation of Deliberate Intervention also involves observing the effect of a major change in a driving variable on one or more dependent variables, but in this case the researcher deliberately brings about the change in the driving variable.
 
Combinations of Approaches

In a research project it is possible to employ more than one of the above three approaches.  This is especially true in business and management studies at the doctoral level where the researcher might begin with a study based on passive observation, follow this by studying the effects of an uncontrolled intervention, and then try a deliberate intervention to see if it confirms the deductions made from the earlier studies.

Literature Review

Once the literature has been fully and critically reviewed, the researcher should be able to provide a narrative description of the current understanding in the field of study, including at least one area where there is incomplete knowledge which could be further investigated.

Assessment of the Established Theory
There are agreed facts and established (if sometimes conflicting) theories, and the researcher may have deduced a new theory by analysing and then sythesising ideas and concepts, already present in the literature of the discipline.

In business and management  studies established and accepted theories are unlikely to be available.  There is little grand theory and few, if any, authors who have developed seminal theories of the kind offered by Freud, Marx or Keynes.  As a result the business and management researcher needs to generate a grounded theory, a concept developed by Glaser and Strauss(1967), which they define as: ‘ an inductive, theory discovery methodology that allows the researcher to develop a theoretical account of the general features of a topic while simultaneously grounding the account in empirical observations or evidence.’              

The grounded  theory methodology normally relies heavily on the use of in-depth interviews with experts in the field of study for the collection of evidence that will be used in an inductive way to assist in the theory generation.

Theoretical Conjecture

The primary aim of the researcher developing a grounded theory is to describe the phenomena of interest accurately.  The grounded theory emerges through the process of concept discovery, within which the researcher develops abstract concepts and categories from the evidence.   It is important to note that in this approach to research, concepts and theories are regarded simply as more or less useful and not as more or less true or valid.

Once the grounded theory has been developed, the researcher in business and management studies is in a position to  make a theoretical conjecture or thesis, but there is no structured methodology for doing this.  Rather, this aspect of research or scientific study can be regarded as an art that relies almost entirely on the imagination and creative abilities of the researcher.

It is not acceptable for the researcher completely to invent a theoretical conjecture, and he or she needs to be able to defend how the concepts and ideas which exist in the literature and which arose from the evidence lead to the theoretical conjecture.

The following is an example of a theoretical conjecture developed through the use of the grounded theory approach for a doctoral dissertation in information systems management(Remenyi,1990a).

Strategic Information Systems (SIS) occur as a result of pressure or opportunities directly related to industry drivers.  The firm’s response to this pressure or opportunity is influenced by its strategy and by its critical success factors (CFS), and these issues determine the formulation of the SIS.  The decision to attempt to take advantage of SIS is made with little attention to detail concerning cost-justification and vendor selection, but with more attention to communicating with the staff, training appropriate people and setting up support facilities.

An important change occurs at this stage of the research.  Whereas the formulation of the research problem began as a description of the known facts from which a narrative theory was developed, this narrative will now be used paradigmatically.  That is to say, it will provide a set of logical conjectures as the basis on which to predict and explain observations.  

Whereas in the physical sciences the theoretical conjecture will frequently be expressed as a formula or as a series of simple propositions, in business and management research the theory or thesis will often be reduced to a diagram for the purpose of clarification

Hypotheses or Empirical Generalisations

When the new theoretical conjecture or paradigm has been developed the next step is to use it to derive hypotheses or empirical generalisations.  If the theory or thesis has been derived from a review of the literature without recourse to grounded theory then the term hypothesis is more generally used, while if the grounded theory approach was employed then the term empirical generalisation is usually more appropriate.  

Strategic Information Systems occur as a result of pressure or opportunities directly related to industry drivers.
The firm’s response to this pressure or opportunity is influenced by its strategy and by its CSFs and these issues determine the formulation of the SIS.

The decision to attempt to take advantage of SIS is made with little attention to detail concerning cost-justification and supplier selection.

More attention is given to communicating with the staff, training appropriate people and setting up support facilities.

Note that from the theoretical conjecture provided on the previous page, four hypotheses or empirical generalisations were developed.  This is regarded as a reasonable number of empirical generalisations with which to work at a doctoral level.

Some research studies stop at the stage of theoretical conjecture, perhaps having developed some hypotheses or empirical generalisations.  It is argued that at this stage a contribution has already been made to knowledge and this may well be so.  Certainly achieving a theoretical conjecture and producing empirical generalisation would normally be more than adequate for a masters degree and depending on the subject area it might even be enough for a doctorate.

However, if the newly discovered knowledge is to be more widely useful, then it is usually necessary to progress to a further stage in the research in which the new thesis is tested against a larger sample population.  In most circumstances this additional step would be required for a doctorate degree.  

Measuring Instrument
In business and management studies the collection of evidence for the purposes of testing empirical generalisations frequently, although not by any means always, requires the preparation of a questionnaire which is sometimes referred to as a measuring instrument (Oppenheim,1966).  The researcher needs to ensure that the questionnaire is unambiguous, reliable and valid for the purpose for which it is to be used.

Testing and Analysis
To establish super-variables that simplify the interpretation of the evidence.

Confirmation and Refinement of  Theory
Testing and analysing the evidence may lead the researcher to confirm or reject the theoretical conjecture or to develop a fuller or more refined theory.
In addition, provided that the sample was representative of the broader population and the measuring instrument was valid and reliable, it should be possible, at least to some extent to generalise the theory.

Research is almost always too complex for each step to follow from the previous step in the planned or desired way the first time it is attempted, and sometimes a problem that arises in one step will only become apparent when a later step is in progress.  Thus the researcher may have to retrace his or her steps several time during a major project such as a doctorate degree.

Uncontrolled Interventions
The second research category or approach referred to as uncontrolled intervention arises as a result of a change that has been brought about by an agency external to and independent of the researcher.  This approach to research comes close to what could be regarded as a field experiment.

Literature Review
In this case however, the literature review might be used to identify and consider likely events which could be regarded as uncontrolled interventions and which thus could provide the focus for the research.

Evidence Collection Design
Evidence needs to be collected relating to the situation both before and after the uncontrolled intervention and, where possible, for a control group that is unaffected by the intervention.

Primary and Control Evidence
The use of control evidence is typical of an experimental design that will be discussed below under research based on deliberate interventions.

Testing and Analysis
However univariate stastistical analysis is more likely to be the central analytical tool in the case of this category of research.

Confirmation and Refined Theory
Thus this approach is much more focused in the type of research problem or question than research based on passive observation.

Deliberate Intervention
There are circumstances where some degree of experimentation in an organisation is possible and the controlled introduction of a computer system to a part of the firm on a trial basis might be just such an example.

Experimental Design
The design of experiments is an extensive and involved topic of considerable importance to the researcher.  The key issues involved are:
the form that the intervention will take.
What evidence will be collected before, during and after the intervention;
What sort of control group(s) is required;
How a sample may be chosen to represent the whole population;
Who will make up the experimental team;
Who in the organisation will provide the interface for the purposes of evidence collection.


Measuring the variables Ex-Ante
If an organisation is to be studied by way of an experiment, the first stage is to collect evidence concerning the performance of the organisation before the deliberate intervention occurs.  This evidence might be based on accounting or statical data or on opinion surveys.  This is the base evidence that will be compared to the corresponding evidence after the intervention has been completed.  

If, as is desirable, there is a separate control group to which the intervention is not applied, the evidence for the control group should clearly be collected at the same time as the evidence for the intervention group.  The importance of a control group, which should match the intervention group in all of the relevant parameters, is that if the change is not in fact due to the intervention, it should be observed in the control group.  Conversely, it it is due to the intervention it should not be observed in the control group.

Testing and Analysis
It is worth pointing out that in this context modelling refers to the creation of simplified abstractions of reality which capture the critical or key features of the situation.

Relationship Between the three Categories
Passive observation is the most general category.  Here there may not be a prior theory and therefore the researcher may have to develop a grounded theory by induction from a priori observations.  The development of theories of gravitation, from Keppler through to Newton and eventually Einstein represents the most important example of this in the natural sciences.

These approaches are attempts to create knowledge in such a way that theory may be developed with some sort of predictive power.  Category one research actually has holistic undertones, while categories two and three are clearly reductionistic.



Collecting Empirical Data - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary

Ch.8. Collecting Empirical Data

This chapter discusses various approaches to the acquisition of appropriate evidence which will be used to support or refute the theory or hypothesis developed by the researcher.
The chapter further considers the role of evidence in formulating a theory, as happens when using a grounded theory approach.

Why Collect Empirical Evidence?

Creating a Theory
A research project may, on the other hand, require evidence to be collected before a theoretical conjecture can be established and subsequently expressed in terms of hypotheses and empirical generalisations which can be formally tested, perhaps at a later date in another project.  
An important technique for doing this is grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967) in which the researcher uses empirical evidence to establish directly the variables, concepts and relationships which will be combined in the theory.

Understanding and Explaining Phenomena
From the phenomenological point of view, evidence may also be collected in a less instrumental way in order to understand and explain phenomena.
Here the researcher will have a much more open view as to how the evidence will be treated and what the evidence might reveal.

  Phenomenological evidence collection is considered in more detail in chapter 6.

Approaches to collecting Evidence
Several approaches to the collection of evidence are open to the researcher and the approach chosen will depend upon the research strategy and tactics being followed as well as the research question itself.

Primary and Secondary Sources
Evidence may be collected from primary or secondary sources.
Evidence is collected from a primary source when the researcher goes directly to the originator of the evidence.
An example would be an interview with the managing director about the organisation’s marketing strategy.

A secondary source would be information that is already published or available indirectly, so in the previous example the researcher might be able to obtain essentially the same information from the annual financial statements.
A number of databases containing useful evidence and information for research in business and management studies are available and the Internet and the World Wide Web are rapidly increasing in importance as source of secondary evidence in business and management research.    
                                       
Direct and Remote Evidence Collection
Primary evidence may be collected either directly or remotely.
In direct evidence collection the researcher interviews the informant personally and records the responses directly.
In contrast, remote evidence collection would correspond to a situation in which the informant completes a questionnaire without the interviewer being present.  There are of course intermediate approaches, for example where the researcher interviews the informant on the telephone or engages in a dialogue with him or her by E-mail.

Valid and Reliable Evidence
‘Triangulation’ which Loveridge (1990:18) defines as ‘using multiple methods to capture a sense of reality.’  
In business and management research the term triangulation refers to obtaining evidence from multiple sources to ensure that a biased view is not being obtained from one informant.

Evidence for Formal Testing
The formal testing of hypotheses and empirical generalisations usually requires numerical evidence that will be analysed statistically.
Numerical Evidence
Here the key issues are to identify the evidence required and to prepare an appropriate measuring instrument.

Non-Numerical Evidence
In these cases techniques such as content analysis may be used to convert qualitative evidence into numerical form so that standard statistical tests may be used in the analysis.
Converting qualitative evidence into a numerical form is problematical and relies on assumptions concerning the homogeneity of the responses since counting the frequency with which a particular opinion occurs implies that each occurrence of that opinion is given equal weight.

NUD.IST
A popular computer package for text analysis is QSR NUD.IST (Non numerical Unstructured Data Indexing Searching and Theorising) ‘ a computer package designed to aid users in handling non numerical and unstructured data in qualitative analysis.  One highlights a particular block of text and creates a reference to this block of text under a suitable heading.  The different headings can themselves then be linked conceptual a paradigm sections of text referring to different aspects of the argument.  Phenomenologist generally recommend a more hermeneutic approach to the interpretation of such evidence.

Evidence for Creating a Theory
At this level the evidence-collection process is creative, making it difficult to provide specific and detailed guidelines.  However there are some general principles which may be helpful.

Both primary and secondary sources of evidence should be consulted.
Evidence should be collected from as many different informants as possible.
Informants should where possible represent a spectrum of individuals who may have quite different perspectives on the problem under consideration.  It is important, for example, to involve both top management and relatively junior staff.
All evidence should be corroborated by means of some form of triangulation.

In the process of theory creation the evidence provides the raw material but it is the researcher’s imagination and creative talents which lead to the development and formulation of the theory.

While the evidence is critical, the way in which it is perceived, analysed, synthesised and understood will determine the extent to which it is used effectively.

Understanding and Explaining Phenomena
The non-positivistic or phenomenological research paradigm is discussed in Chapter 6.
Rather, the evidence will be collected in order to achieve a greater level of understanding or to develop an explanation of the observed phenomena.
Evidence Collection ; Planning and Design
Whatever research strategy and tactics are used, the quality of the evidence will be improved if the research is well planned and designed.
How to obtain access? In particular, how will the researcher gain acceptance to/by the organisations required and not be seen as an inconvenience?
How to be introduced to the right people in the organisation?
        Specifically the researcher needs to find out who are the gatekeepers to the required evidence and the departments or sections within the orgnisation.

Does the researcher have to collect the evidence personally or can some of it be collected remotely, i.e. by using questionnaires?
What arrangements can be made for triangulation to ensure the integrity of the evidence?
What sources of secondary evidence can these organisations supply?
Can external triangulation by means of, a trade organisation, a bank or a trade union be obtained?

Access to Informants
Sometimes researchers find it difficult to contact organisations directly.
On such occasions the researcher may try to use an intermediary to arrange an introduction.  Members of staff of the university or business school may sometimes be helpful.  Management consultants may be prepared to collaborate with researchers and thus introduce them to the appropriate organisations.
If the researcher offers to help with an in-house project or offers to provide the informants with  a copy of the results of the research, this may improve access to organisations.
Direct Evidence Collection
The golden rule is never to force the pace by trying to obtain more evidence than is naturally and comfortably offered.

Indirect Evidence Collection
E-mail is a form of asynchronous communication and therefore closer to remote evidence collection.
The main drawback of remote evidence collection is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to probe the informant.


However one of the problems associated with the use of the Web is the fact that there are not yet any really hard and fast rules about how to cite references properly.
As a general approach researchers should provide sufficient information about the Web site to enable another person to access the same information subsequently.

The Questionnaire or Measuring Instrument - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary





Questionnaire Research

The types of information sought when surveying individuals or objects, such as firms, usually include evidence on demographic and socio-economic variables.
In addition,  evidence is sought on opinions or beliefs related to behaviors, experiences activities and attitudes.
The philosophical attitude that underpins the use of a questionnaire for the purposes of evidence collection is that there exists a generalisable public opinion that is available to be tested through the use of these sorts of questions.

Questionnaire Design
The point of departure in the design of a questionnaire is a clearly defined problem and explicit terms of reference and objectives.
There should be no ambiguity about the purpose of the study.  That is, it is important to be clear about the phenomenon to be described and/or explained and the hypotheses to be tested.  Once this has been achieved it will be possible to identify and define the concepts to be measured and how these are to be measured.  At this point the first draft of the questionnaire can be designed.

The draft questionnaire is the product of qualitative research.  This qualitative component is likely to include a search of the academic, trade and professional literature as well as the use of interviews, brainstorming and focus groups.  Internalisation of how others have undertaken questionnaire-based research can be beneficial.

The use of existing questionnaires or questions from them is permissible but it is important to establish where the copyright for these resides.

Pre-testing the Questionnaire
Pre-testing of the questionnaire needs to be undertaken before it is finally administered.
Approaches to pre-testing can be fairly informal where one consults friends, colleagues, experts and people of diverse opinions, or it could be more formal, involving a pilot study which is a replication, on a small scale, of the main study.
Ideally the research candidate should attempt to ensure that the measuring instrument is pre-tested as far as possible.

Types of Questions
Questions can be either open ended or closed ended.
The type of question chosen has implications for the type of evidence that can be obtained and therefore on the method of analysis of the evidence.

Open-ended Questions
Open-ended questions are typically used in exploratory studies where the researcher is not in a position or is not willing to pre-specify the response categories.
The response is in the form of a narrative which has to be analysed qualitatively, but which may be converted into a form suitable for quantitative analysis.
A popular technique for analysing narrative is content analysis.

A disadvantage of open-ended questions is that they require the respondent to be articulate and willing to spend time on giving a full answer to the question.
Questions of this type are typically used in personal interview surveys involving small samples.

Closed – ended Questions
Closed-ended questions are typically used in quantitative studies.
The assumption is that detailed knowledge is available on the attributes of interest and therefore it is possible to pre-specify the categories of response.  These can be pre-coded so as to be amenable to computer analysis using statistical packages such as SPSS and SAS, which are two of the more popular systems used to analyse questionnaire- based evidence.

Closed-ended questions are difficult to design but simplify the collection and analysis of evidence making the task of the respondent easier.  Such questions are typically used in studies involving large samples.

Measurement Considerations
Questionnaire responses can be quantified by assigning numbers to the responses according to a given set of rules.
This is what is understood by measurement.  
While those variables measured at the interval or ratio level are referred to as quantitative variables.

Nominal Scales
These numbers are no more than labels, and no ordering is implied.
Therefore, the only meaningful quantitative analysis that can be performed on such evidence is to determine the frequency (or relative frequency) of occurrence of responses in each of the categories.

Ordinal Scales

Numbers have no meaning and it is meaningful to compute such non-parametric statistics as the median, quartiles and rank correlations.

Interval scales
Pearson’s correlation coefficient.

Rating scales, such as the questions in  Part B in Appendix B, are strictly.
 However, in practice, especially in the marketing area, these are treated as being measured at the interval level.
In fact, the more categories.

Structure of the Questionnaire

Questionnaires usually comprise sections.
Typically these sections provide information through asking questions of the following types.
Background Questions
Background questions provide demographic and socio-economic information on the individual or firm.
At the individual level these include evidence on age, gender, occupation, income, education level, while at the level of the firm it can include evidence on the industry in which the firm operates, the number of staff employed, their turnover and position in the company. All of part A of the questionnaire in Appendix B collects typical background information.

Attitudinal Questions
Attitudinal questions provide information on the strength of feeling or opinion about objects, issues, activities and interests.  For example, one may wish to determine the attitude of respondents towards privatisation, their jobs, management, internal marketing, computer-assisted learning techniques and so on.  Attitudes can be measured through the use of single-item rating scales and multiple-items rating scales.  Single-item scales are applied when a single question is used to measure the construct of interest whereas multiple-items scales are applied when two or more questions are used to measure the construct. The most popular approach is to use a 5,7 or 9 point rating scale.                                                                                                                                                                
Single-item Scale
In practice a minimum of three items is normally required.

Activity and Usage Questions
Activity and usage questions provide information on the extent of involvement in activities such as water sports, radio listening, surfing the Internet and so on.

Sequencing of Questions
It is generally agreed that the best way in which to order the questions is to place general questions first, followed by specific questions and then attitudinal questions.  Hard questions should be placed fairly early and interspersed with easy questions.  Further, there is a need to ensure that the questions are structured in such a way that the respondent will find it easy to answer questions within a topic, and also not be burdened with questions that are irrelevant to him or her.

Funnel Questions
Funnel questions are used to provide a sequence within a particular topic using a set of questions in which each question is related to the previous question with successive questions having a progressively narrower focus.

Filter Questions
Filter questions are used to exclude the respondent from being asked questions that are irrelevant to him or her.

Questionnaire Administration
Methods for collecting evidence fall into two categories: self-completion and interviews.
Self-completion methods include mailed and computerised questionnaires.  Interview methods include personal or face-to-face interviews, and telephone interviews.  There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each of the methods.
Mailed Questionnaires
Mailed questionnaires allow one to obtain a large sample with wide coverage, at a relatively low cost.  It allows the respondent to complete the questionnaire in his or her own time, thereby ensuring that the responses are free from possible interviewer influence.
It will invariably guarantee anonymity to the respondent and offer incentives such as a copy of the final report.  A good covering letter can contribute significantly to increasing the response rate.

Preferably not taking more than 20 minutes to complete.  These factors are also important determinants of the response rate.
For a large survey, a response rate of 60 per cent is seen to be exemplary.  Response rates as low as 1 per cent have been reported.

Computer-Administered Questionnaires
Disadvantages of this approach include the sample being restricted to users of the network and the complexities of designing and programming the questionnaire, which is likely to require considerable time and money.

Telephone Interview Questionnaires
It is possibly the most used method at present.
Despite most households  having telephones, a sizeable number have unlisted numbers- in excess of 60 per cent in some areas.  Omission of these from the sampling frame can result in serious response bias error.
This problem has, to a large extent, been overcome by the use of random digit dialing.

It is important that the interviewee be convinced that the approach is genuine and that the interview will be short.  The latter requires that the questions be brief, simple and focused.  If open-ended questions are used, it is strongly advised that such questions do not exceed fifteen words and that the interviewee not be excepted to give lengthy answers.
For closed-ended questions the number of precoded options presented to the interviewee should not exceed five and these, should in no way be ambiguous.
Response rates for telephone interviews are typically in the range from 35 per cent to 75 per cent.

Personal Interview Questionnaires
It provides an opportunity to probe complex issues in a relaxed atmosphere.  Response rates are higher than for other approaches, typically between 50 and 80 per cent.

A Checklist for Using Questionnaires
The following is a step-by-step guide to conducting a survey in a firm.
Determine sample size and sample frame Calculate the response rate and then use this to decide on the required sample size.  The mathematics required for this is discussed in Chapter 12.
Produce questions focus groups of six to ten informants to identify the key issues to be addressed by the survey and from these develop a list of appropriated questions.

Questionnaire layout  of an appropriate scale, structure, layout, length and wording.
Conduct a pre-test Perform a pre-test using the questionnaire to determine initial responses.  If a pilot study is used this may encompass between 50 or so individuals.
Revise the questionnaire Using the results of the pre-test and or pilot study, revise the questionnaire so that it focuses more closely on the key issues.

Collect results It may be possible to discard partially complete questionnaires in favour of complete ones, depending on the response rate achieved.
Edit and code result The results of the questionnaires should be coded appropriately, in order to make analysis and interpretation easier.  Sometimes some editing has to be performed.
Analyse and interpret  The coded results should be analysed to determine the overall results of the survey.  Careful analysis will reveal whether the survey was successful.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Sample - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary

Definition of a Sample
The sample normally comes from a larger group of individuals or objects, called the target population.

Choice of Sampling Frame
To obtain a working definition of the population to be studied, which constitutes the sampling frame.
The Electoral register, the ‘Yellow Pages’ telephone directory, or companies listed on the New York stock exchange.

Types of Sample
Sampling techniques fall into two broad categories, namely non-probability samples, which are the domain of the phenomenologist, and probability samples, which are used by the positivistic researcher.   Examples of nonprobability samples include convenience samples, judgment samples, quota samples and snowball samples.

In probability sampling the assumption is that each individual  or element of the population has a known, not necessarily equal, probability of being selected.  Examples of probability sampling include simple random sampling.  systematic sampling, stratified sampling, cluster sampling, and multi-stage sampling.  Probability samples can be rigorously analysed by means of statistical techniques.

Non-Probability Samples
From the point of view of phenomenologist, the selection of a random sample is seldom if ever relevant.
Non-probability samples are particularly relevant in exploratory research.  The more popular non-probability sampling methods are described below.

Convenience Samples
Convenience samples comprise those individuals or organisations that are most readily available to participate in the study.

Judgment Samples
Judgment samples, also called purposive samples, are samples where individuals are selected with a specific purpose in mind, such as their likelihood of representing best practice in a particular issue. The composition of such a sample is not made with the aim of it being statistically representative of the population.  This approach is extensively used in the exploratory research stage.
 
Snowball Samples
A snowball sample is one where the researcher uses an informant to help him or her find the next informant.  Sometimes this is the only way in which a researcher will obtain access to appropriate informants.

Probability Samples
In obtaining a probability sample, use is made of some random procedure for the selection of the individuals or organisations.  This is done in an attempt to remove the possibility of selection bias.

Simple Random Sampling
In simple random sampling each member of the population should have an equal chance of being selected.  This can be achieved by numbering the individuals in the sampling frame, and then selecting from these using some random procedure produced manually or on a computer.

Should there be some pattern present in the sampling frame, then such samples will be biased.  For example, a systematic sample from the daily sales of a supermarket could result in picking out sales figures for Saturdays only.

Stratified  Sampling
In stratified sampling the population is subdivided into homogeneous groups, called strata, prior to sampling.  Random samples are then drawn from each of the strata and the aggregate forms the stratified sample.  This can be done in one of two ways:  
   The overall sample size n can comprise items such that
     the number of items from each stratum will be in
     proportion to the size of the stratum.
   The overall sample size can comprise items from each    
     stratum where the number of items from each of the
     strata are determined according to the relative
     variability of the items within each of the strata.
   
Cluster Sampling
In cluster sampling, the population is considered to be made up of groups, called clusters, where the clusters are naturally formed groups such as companies, or locational units.
A cluster sample from a large organisation could be achieved by treating the various departments of a company as the clusters.  A random sample of departments could then be chosen and all individuals in the departments sampled.  In other words a census of the selected departments (clusters) is performed.

Multi-Stage Sampling
An extension of cluster sampling is multi-stage sampling.  The simplest multi-stage sample involves random selection of the clusters in the first stage, followed by a random selection of items from each of the selected clusters.  This is called two-stage sampling.  More complex designs involve more than two stages.
Size of Sample
Type of sample, variability in the population, time, costs, accuracy of estimates required, and confidence with which generalisations to the population are made.


Statistical Determination of Sample Size
The first situation concerns how to determine the sample size for estimating a population mean to a specified margin of error, or accuracy, with a specified level of confidence
.
The second situation shows how to determine the sample size needed to estimate a population proportion (or percentage) to a  specified margin of error, or accuracy, within a specified level of confidence.

Sample size to Estimate the Mean
The question is now what size of sample is needed to be 95 per cent confident that the sample mean will be within E units of the true mean, where the unit of measurement of E can be in, say, seconds or  minutes? E is therefore the accuracy required from the estimate.  Under the assumption that the population from which the sample is being made is very large, the sample size is given by:  
n  =    4σ ²
                              E ²                (1)
                   

Where σ is the population standard deviation of response times.  In practice σ is inevitably unknown and will have to be estimated.  This can be done by using response times for a pilot sample of size nр’ say, in the sample standard deviation formula:
S=         Σ(χ¡ -  m) ²
    n p – 1
               S R = max(χ¡ ) - min(χ¡ )  = range(χ¡ )
                               4                                4

Some texts suggest division by 6.  Of course a purely subjective estimate of σ is also possible. Level of 99 per cent, then the sample size is given by:

N = 9 σ ²
     E ²

Where σ can be estimated as described above.

Sample Size to estimate a Percentage
Suppose a firm wished to estimate the actual percentage, p, say, of its customers who purchase software from a competing company.

                           n =  4p(100 – p )  
                                     E ²
Where p can be estimated as described above.

The caveat in this case is that p is not known, as it is the parameter being estimated.  In practice the value of p used in the above formula can be estimated in a number of ways.  It can be estimated subjectively, i.e. guessed or it can be taken from a pilot sample or taken to be 50 per cent.  The latter results in the most conservative sample size estimate.

For a 99 per cent confidence level.

n = 9p(100-p)

Where p can be estimated as described above.


Grounded Theory Approach - Videos


The Creation of Theory:A Recent Application of the Grounded Theory Method 
by Naresh R. Pandit
The Qualitative Report, Volume 2, Number 4, December, 1996
(http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR2-4/pandit.html)
Pandit's Ph.d thesis used grounded theory method to develop theory on corporate turnaround.


Prof Tony Bryant

_____________________

_____________________


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmWKf5L0mfA
Video uploaded by Leeds Metropolitan University






Discovering Theory of Organizational Indifference: A Grounded
Theory Strategy
European Journal of Scientific Research
ISSN 1450-216X Vol.40 No.3 (2010), pp.450-460
http://www.eurojournals.com/ejsr_40_3_13.pdf

Phd Thesis

The Effects of Organizational Culture on Marketing Programs: Grounded Theory Approach
University St. Thomas, Minnesota, 2011
http://ir.stthomas.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1002&context=caps_ed_orgdev_docdiss



A good explanatory paper on grounded theory with good case examples
George Allan, The Use of Grounded Theory as a Research Method - Warts and All
Second paper in European Conference on Research Methodology in Business and Management, 2003
Google Book Link with Preview facility
http://books.google.co.in/books?id=ln-dxm6xxFAC

Knol 4808

Ethical Considerations - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary



Ethical Consideration in Research Process

Research and Trust

It is generally considered important that business and management researchers respect the confidentiality of the source of any evidence or information that is supplied to them by informants.  This is especially true if there is any question of the evidence having any competitive or commercial sensitivity.

Research into ways of controlling and manipulating the workforce could be considered questionable.

How the Research should be Conducted
In business and management studies how  the research should be conducted is perhaps of greater concern in an ethical sense
Openness with the Informants
In business and management studies the informants or participants in the study need to know a number of things and to be given a series of assurances.  The main issues are as follows :

It is imperative that the researcher does not have any hidden agendas.

It essential that the researcher be fully open and honest with the informants and participants.  This means that the informants and participants should be made aware of exactly why the evidence is required and exactly what will be done with it once the research has been completed.

It is necessary for the researcher to declare if he or she has any connections or relationships with organisations or  individuals that could in any way be construed to be competitive to the informant or to his her organisation.  Thus anything which could remotely relate to a conflict or interest needs to be specifically dealt with in advance of any evidence being revealed.

Where an informant does not wish to have his or her name associated with the evidence, this request should be respected.

The researcher should not obtain evidence from informants under duress.  Thus it would not be acceptable  for a researcher to have the managing director of an organisation insist that the staff complete a questionnaire if the individuals involved did not wish to so do.  The informant should be told that he or she can withdraw from the interview  at any time without any recriminations.

It is usual for the informants or participants to be aware of the final use of the evidence, and if at any stage the researcher wants to change how the evidence will be used, or to use it for additional purposes,  it is important that he or she seeks the permission of the informants to do so.

The Integrity of the Evidence

Presenting  in an unquestioning way evidence which the researcher feels is suspicious would not be acceptable.  Thus the researcher needs to be actively honest rather than passively honest in the presentation of his or her evidence and research findings.

It is sometime believed that the original source of the evidence, for example, a transcript an interview, or copies of the original questionnaire, should be kept for a period of time, say somewhere between two and five years, to allow other researchers access to the data.

Processing the Evidence
The researcher needs to give considerable attention to the ethical issues related to processing of the evidence.  Any attempt to window dress or manipulate and thus distort the evidence is of course unethical, as is any attempt to omit inconvenient evidence.  In statistical terms this does not mean that outliers have always to be included in the numbers, but it does mean that the occurrence of such outliers should be reported as part of the findings and a reason supplied for not including them in the statistics.

This is a difficult line to tread as it is important that the research should not be overwhelmed with personal biases.  It is not a useful or rational strategy to fabricate evidence or deliberately to misinterpret it, as a masters or doctoral degree does not rely on the candidate finding or proving a particular result.
This may not be easy to make with personal prejudices playing an overtly influential and important role.


With regards research findings, it is important that these are honestly presented and not produced in such a way as simply to support the opinions or prejudices of the researcher.  This is indeed hard to accomplish.  Ideally the researcher is trying to apply ‘ disinterested intellectual curiosity’,  but this is almost impossible as was pointed out by Gould(1980a) when he said, ‘Science is not an objective, truth-directed machine, but a quintessentially human activity, affected by passion, hopes, and cultural biases.  Cultural traditions of thought strongly influence scientific theories.’  Sometimes, if not frequently, personal bias is so subtle that the researcher is not even aware of it.  In fact, many would argue that a researcher should not attempt to compensate for bias, but should simply state clearly the possible biases involved and allow the readers to compensate for these themselves.

Using the Findings
It is important that the intention of the research is that the findings will be used for ethical purposes.  Thus research conducted for the purposes of perpetrating a fraud, for example, has no place in a university or business school. This is in keeping with the general spirit of a university, as well as being in recognition of the fact that most universities and most business are funded to a large, or at least substantial, extent from public money.


Of course it is expected that research conducted for a higher degree will only be presented to a single university towards the award of a single degree.  It would not be considered acceptable for the findings to be used for a number of different degrees at different institutions.

Funding the Research
Doctoral research is often funded by the individual candidates themselves with, in many, if not most instances, subsidies from the state in one form or another.  Only a limited amount of doctoral research is sponsored by private interests, such as commercial organisations.  Thus the central issue here is the possibility of there being a conflict of interest.  It is essential for the candidate to declare this explicitly to the university and to the supervisor at the outset of the work.  All informants who supply evidence for the research should also be aware of this.  Of course the external examiner or examiners should also be informed of such arrangements.

Performance of the Work
There are a number of ethical issues relating to the more routine aspects of research work than those mentioned above and these include plagiarism, fudging references, measuring-instrument construction, choosing a sample, assistance from others, misrepresentations of work done, to mention only a few point.
Plagiarism.

Occasionally plagiarism is a problem as sometimes candidates may rely too heavily on the work of others, to the extent of copying large tracts of work without acknowledge the source.  This is obviously considered unethical and can lead, in extreme cases, to candidates being excluded from the university.  As a general rule, although research candidates are required to rely heavily on the ideas of others at the outset of the research, these ideas need to be appropriately referenced.  In addition, a dissertation, although it should include some quotations from other works, should not be too reliant on this type of printed evidence.  It is sometimes said that a quotation from another piece of work should not be more than 50 to 100 words in length.  Of course these are not hard and fast rules, but rather rough guidelines which if approximately followed will help avoid arguments.

Sometimes it is argued that there is an element of plagiarism present when a candidate attempts to replicate an experiment conducted in another country or conducted in another set of circumstances.  This view is somewhat controversial and provided there is no outright copying of a previous dissertation the author would not accept that replicating an experiment is essentially an act of plagiarism, especially if the original work is correctly referenced.

The Theft of Ideas
Ideas can be stolen.  A researcher may overhear others talking about possible areas of researcher preliminary findings and pursue these research ideas without reference to their origin.


Ideas can also been stolen by referees who see them in academic papers that they have been asked to review.  It is also possible to have an idea stolen by members of funding boards who are given early access to new ideas that require money to proceed.

The only safe position to take to prevent any possible accusation of stealing ideas is for researcher to acknowledge any and all sources of ideas, be they from journals or books, or from verbal presentations, conversations or discussions.  To prevent ideas being stolen, the best course of action is not to discuss interesting thoughts within earshot of colleagues until the ideas are reasonably well developed.  This will help reduce such incidents although clearly it will not eliminate them.  It is difficult to protect ideas from unscrupulous referees.

Fudging References
Is the issue of quoting an authority without having actually read the original reference, but rather having seen it published in someone else’s work. It is considered unacceptable to do this.  Any reference made in a dissertation to the work of another should only be made if the research candidate has read the original him or herself.  However it is acceptable to use the ‘cited by’ approach.  Thus if the eminent scientist Albert Einstein is quoted in a book by Joe Bloggs, the candidate may use Einstein’s words provided he or she states that the quotation was cited by Joe Bloggs in this book and a full reference is given to this work.

Measuring-Instrument Construction
Constructing a measuring instrument can be a critical part of research in the business and management field and there are many ethical issues around how this is handled and how the evidence collected with the measuring instrument is treated.

Increasingly. Personal questions are becoming unacceptable.  Issues of age, race, sex, educational standard achieved and so on are no longer regarded as issues about which researchers can expect to obtain information.  In fact some would argue that this has become are ethical issue.

Researchers are sometimes tempted to state that the questionnaire is anonymous, while at the same time placing some sort of indicator on the document to allow its origin to be determined.  The justification that can be given for this is that it enables the researcher to chase up those who have not completed the questionnaire.  Such practice is generally considered to be unacceptable.

Using leading questions that have a high probability of being answered in the manner desired by the researcher is also ethically questionable.

Choosing a Sample
However, it becomes an ethical issue if the sample is manipulated to show a desired result.  This may come about in two ways:
The researcher may choose only informants whom he or she knows will have opinions the researcher espouses.
The researcher may discard evidence from informants who do not comply with his or her views.
Samples need to be established honestly, which means they may produce results that will not necessarily support the views and/or prejudices of the researcher.  Inconvenient or conflicting evidence should be directly addressed and not hidden or ignored.

Assistance from Others.
The implication was that the member of staff would actually write the dissertation for him.  Clearly this was totally unacceptable and the offer was declined.
There is much anecdotal evidence of considerable assistance being given to degree candidates.  Research degree candidates and their supervisors sometimes publish joint chapters and this is a perfectly acceptable way in which they may work together and through which the supervisor any give considerable help to the student.

If the candidate seeks help from professionals such as statisticians, then the question of whether a payment is made may become an issue.  Many universities would regard paying for help of this kind as being ethically questionable.

Misrepresentation of Work Done
Candidates can purport to have conducted 30 interviews when they have actually only had 20. Interviews and questionnaires can be fabricated.


Any such misrepresentation is clearly unacceptable and furthermore is highly dangerous.  Candidates can be found out  and this type of misrepresentation would probably lead to the termination of their registration at the university.

Responsibility to the Greater Community
So far this chapter has only addressed the researcher’s ethical responsibility to the integrity of the research itself and to the university at which the researcher is registered.  There is however another important dimension to the ethical issue and that is the researcher’s responsibility to the greater community or the society of which he or she is part.

Discovery of Unacceptable Practices
A major ethical issue that a researcher may face relates to the discovery or uncovering of some misconduct within the organisation being researched.  There are three levels at which this may occur and these relate to:
Unlawful or illegal conduct;
Unsatisfactory practices which endanger staff;
Embarrassing revelations.
Unlawful or Illegal conduct

To discover unlawful or even illegal practices.  By employees, or perhaps by the employees on the firm’s customers.
Such a circumstance presents a difficult situation for the researcher.  The law requires that the presence of criminal acts or serious fraudulent practices should be reported to the authorities and it is essential that the researcher comply with the law in this situation.  If this happens during an important case study then the researcher’s work may be set back by a considerable amount of time.  However, this inconvenience, no matter how great, should not lead to the researcher refusing to comply with the law.

Endangering Staff
To worker safety or to customer safety, is not being complied with.  Nothing actually illegal is taking place, the situation as discovered by the researcher is highly unsatisfactory.
All that may really be said is that the researcher needs to discuss carefully these situations with his or her supervisor and that an appropriate course of action should be taken.  As already stated, such a course of action may well mean for the degree candidate the end of this part of the research exercise with the organisation  and people involved.


It is crucial to our modern world that there is a high standard of ethics, as without this it would not be possible to operate the highly sophisticated, large-scale, high-technology society which now exists.  Would not be possible without a highly honed sense of morality and ethics and thus a mutually agreed view of what is right and wrong.

Irrespective of any particular individual’s view of what is right or wrong many would agree that some notion of ethical behavior is important in research.  The authors believe that this is the case and suggest that one way to ensure a high standard of ethics in research is to focus on the three principles of medical research, which may be translated in business and management research as follows:

1. Ensure a high degree of respect for the autonomy of the individual;
2. Work towards the benefit of society as a primary motivation of research;
3.  Respect justice.




Research ethics is a challenging subject that the research candidate has to face, and  which, if not addressed correctly, the result of the research work to be considered tainted or even invalid.  It is therefore necessary for the research candidate clearly to understand the ethical restraints which his or her community places on the way he or she conducts the research work and publishes the results.

Doing Research in Business and Management - Dan Remenyi et al.

Writing up the Research - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary



A doctoral degree requires that the work conducted by the candidate has added significantly to the body of knowledge.  A doctoral dissertation would generally require between 200 and 400 pages.  This represents approximately 50,000 to 100,000 words.  More than 500 pages are sometimes sent back by examiners to be shortened.

Suggested List of Chapters

Introduction
Literature Review
Research questions
Methodology
Evidence collection and analysis
Interpretation
Summary and conclusion



Strategies for Writing Up the Thesis

The first, which is sometimes called the final lap approach, is to collect all the literature references, all the evidence and the analysis, and then write the dissertation.  Here the writing is done as a single task at the end of the research process when all the other contributory work has been completed.


The second strategy is to write up the work as it is an progress and to begin as soon as the research has been started.  This approach is recommended in most cases as it makes more manageable the time-consuming and difficult task of writing.  Whichever strategy is chosen it is important for the research candidate to keep detailed records of literature which has been read and quotations which will be used, as well as a concise record of the evidence collected.  The better the recording of the research work in progress, the easier the writing of the final dissertation will be.

When to Finalise the Dissertation

In practical terms the research is ready to be finalised when the supervisor or promoter agrees that the candidate has achieved the research objectives.

Clearly these decisions are subjective and depend on the standards set by the institution at which the degree is being done.  If the candidate has already had papers published or accepted for publication in referred journals, has presented his or her work at academic conferences, presented seminars to peers or to faculty, or has had a book on the research accepted for publication, these would be clear indicators that he or she is in a position to finalise the dissertation.

Producing Academic Papers on the Way

At the doctoral level a research candidate may be able to write two or three papers.  For example, at doctoral level the candidate might write a theoretical paper relating to the conceptualisation of the research problem, a paper discussing some element of the methodology and the evidence collection, and a paper which reports on the research findings.  It is important for doctoral candidates to have published in peer-reviewed journals and they should attempt to write up the key aspects of their work for publication in academic journals.

Fundamentals


Relevance, Rigour and Impact

Relevance refers to the requirement that the academic paper should address issues which are of interest to the target audience of the journal.  Rigour is concerned with whether or not the research reported in the paper has been carried out using an appropriate and sound research methodology.  The issue of impact concerns the reasons why top scholars or practitioners would be interested in the paper and motivated to read it and this requires a high degree of originality.

Finalising the Dissertation

It is necessary to produce the dissertation in a bound and final form.  If the dissertation has to be written from scratch, then writing the final document may take several months and the time needed should not be underestimated.

It is useful for the research candidate to obtain informal reviews of his or her work from friends and colleagues.

To make additions to the work, even if the dissertation is fully accepted, and these need to be completed as soon as possible while the subject is still fresh in the candidate’s mind.

Evaluation of Masters and Doctoral Degrees - Dan Remenyi - Chapter Summary





To obtain a doctorate a candidate needs to have undertaken a substantial programme of original research and in so doing produce a dissertation which makes a valuable contribution to the body of knowledge.   It is often said that a doctorate will normally add only a grain of new knowledge to an already established mountain.

To achieve this it is essential that the researcher be fully conversant with the wide range of research methodologies available,

In his/her thesis, the candidate is required to show ability to conduct an original investigation, to test ideas (whether his/ her own or those of others) and to demonstrate a broad knowledge and understanding of his or her discipline and of appropriate cognate subjects.   He or she should also demonstrate a knowledge of the research techniques appropriate to his/her discipline and cognate subjects and show that they have been successfully applied.



The dissertation should make a distinct contribution to knowledge and provide evidence of the candidate’s originality by the discovery of new facts or the exercise or critical power.  The candidate is required to show appropriate ability in the organisation and presentation of his/her material in the dissertation, which should be satisfactory as regards clarity of expression and literary form.  It should be  suitable for publication, either as submitted or suitably abridged.

Viva voce, from the Latin for ‘the living voice’, is generally regarded as the most challenging test for the candidate.  Furthermore, the candidate may need to defend his or her ideas and conclusions to a sceptical and critical examiner.

Candidates may also benchmark their work against other dissertations that have already been awarded a degree.

Evaluation Approach

This is especially true where a doctoral degree is seen as an apprenticeship in research.  Thus the dissertation needs to be well written, well argued and illustrated with appropriate figures and tables in order to prove convincingly the case being presented.
‘Is the dissertation ready to go on to the university library shelf?


Evaluating a Doctorate Degree
The central issue in evaluating a doctoral dissertation is whether or not the work has added something of value to the body of knowledge.  Expressed slightly differently, the doctoral candidate needs to make a theoretical contribution to  the subject that will hold up under the detailed scrutiny of the internal and external examiners. Creative synthesis of evidence and theory.

In the context of business and management research the contribution should also be of practical relevance to business orgnisations.
The dissertation of a doctoral candidate should show evidence that he of she is familiar with all the literature and all the arguments relating to the issues being researched.  The doctoral dissertation needs to focus on relevant material and synthesise the more important issues.


The candidate should know as much about the topic as anyone else, including the examiners.  Thus the candidate’s reading needs to be fully up to date.  In addition, the candidate must show a distinctly critical faculty in discussing the strengths and weakness of this body of literature.

A doctoral dissertation needs to express clearly a distinct point of view, which some scholars refer to as new insights or a new  vision of the subject matter being studied or researched.  The researcher should be able to demonstrate convincingly why this point of view should be regarded as important as well as being able to argue for its validity.
A doctoral dissertation in the business and management studies area should directly address the implications of the research for management.  It needs to establish that the findings of the research are relevant to current management problems or opportunities.
Quality  versus Quantity
Most of the thesis are above 200 pages.   On the other hand, documents in excess of 500 pages are generally regarded as being too lengthy and probably verbose.

Details that Examiners Inspect Closely
Examiners look for a considerable amount of detail in each chapter of a dissertation.

Introduction
It is important that the introduction captures the imagination of the reader by showing why the subject is important and thus worthy of the award of a degree.  Examiners will look for a comprehensive presentation of the background to the problem, which should include a clear and convincing argument that the subject of the research is topical, relevant and important.  In business and management research this implies that the work will lead to the development of guidelines which will be of direct use in business and management situations.  The introduction should include key definitions, a brief description of the research tasks, indicating the steps to be followed through the dissertation, and an outline of the main conclusions.

Literature Review
The literature review is of considerable importance and needs to be through and exhaustive.  The references should be taken primarily from the leading academic journals and not from general textbooks.  References to relevant textbooks or even to articles in the popular press are acceptable, but these should be kept to a minimum. References should be made to both theoretical and empirical issues pertaining to the research topic.  All references cited should be complete and should comply with the convention accepted by the university concerned.   The candidate should not simply regurgitate the ideas from the literature but is expected to evaluate and comment on them critically but constructively.  There should not be too many direct quotes from referenced works.  This is a central requirement, especially for a doctoral degree.  This model could be presented as either a narrative or graphical presentation, or both.

Research Questions
The research questions need to be directly related to the conceptual model developed from the literature review referred to above.  In a clear way and be easily operationalised .  If too many issues are covered; in some circumstances one research question may be perfectly adequate.  Research questions should be focused so they will have to lead to a theoretical conjecture or to hypotheses or empirical generalisations.

Methodology
The question of methodology is complex and there are many different views.
It is critical to spell out the philosophical approach being used to underpin the research.   The two main philosophical stances used in academic research are positivism and phenolenology and within these there are a number of different research strategies.

This chapter should include a full description of the process used to gather both primary and secondary evidence, which will normally be both qualitative and quantitative in nature.

Evidence Collection and Analysis
The questions asked here frequently relate to sampling procedures and instrumentation.  Where case studies have been used it is important to state why the particular orgnisations were chosen to be studied.  Examiners will consider the rigour with which this has been done.  They need to comply with accepted practice in the discipline being researched.

The results of the interpretation or the analysis need to be presented using traditional presentation techniques, such as tables, graphs, etc.  Key to assessing the validity of the findings from the research.  Any problems encountered in dealing with the above issues should be stated, together with an explanation as to how they were overcome.

Interpretation
Some specific interpretations of the results.
It is essential that the interpretation or the findings are consistent with the analysis.  Model, to the evidence, to the analysis, and then to the findings. Examiners look to see if the findings constitute a clear contribution to the field of study.  Thus the question,’ Are the findings useful?’, is frequently asked.

Failing to confirm a theory or hypothesis can be just as valuable as confirmation, and it could lead to the development of a new theory.  Senior degrees may be awarded even where the candidate has not confirmed his or her hypothesis, provided a contribution has been made to the body of knowledge.

Summary and Conclusion of the Dissertation
The conclusions should finish with a statement of the positive aspects of the research work, even if the research did not support the original model or beliefs.

The Limitations of the Research
This is an important chapter and even a relatively weak dissertation can be substantially strengthened by an insightful account of the research at this stage.

Management Guidelines or Recommendations
In this final chapter of a dissertation the findings are restructured in terms of practical guidelines which can be used by managers in order to improve their performance in working situations.


Source

Doing Research in Business and Management - Dan Remenyi et al.