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   Business Research Methods

 

7BUSS003W (BMAM708)

 

MA Management

 

 

Module Handbook & Module Assessment

 

Semester 2/3 – 2016/2017

This document has been prepared for the January 2015 intakes of the MA Management full-time and the MA Management [Advanced Standing] part-time. And any retake students from previous cohorts of this module.

 

 

Module Assessment submission        13th June 2017

       Submission will be electronic via the module Blackboard site

       Submission deadline 1:00pm 13th June 2017.

 

 

You are strongly advised not to leave your hand-in until the deadline as this can result in lateness penalties due to many unforeseen circumstances including queues, PC failure, etc.

 

 

Module Title:

BUSINESS RESEARCH METHODS

Short Module Title:

BRM

Module Code:

BMAM708

Module Level:

7

Academic Credit Weighting:

20 level 7 CATS credits

School:

WBS

Department:

 

Length:

Two semesters

Site:

Marylebone

Host Course:

 

Status:

Core

Relevant Course titles/pathways:

 

Subject Board:

 

Pre-Requisites:

None

Co-Requisites:

None

Assessment:

100% Coursework

Special Features:

None

Access Restrictions:

 

SUMMARY OF MODULE CONTENT

The module aims to develop students’ knowledge and competence of the research process and the application of research methods in the area of Business and Management. It covers qualitative and quantitative research methods and considers the contexts within which different methods are useful and how they should be applied in practice. It focuses on research design, data collection and analysis, and the presentation of findings.

MODULE AIMS

The purpose of this module is to develop students’ knowledge of effective and academic research design at master’s level and provide guidance on the purpose and design of literature reviews; strategies of research problem definition and ethical considerations. Equally, the module aims to ensure students have an advanced understanding of how the range of qualitative and quantitative approaches can be most appropriately applied in business and management (sub) contexts; and to develop students’ ability to identify/collect and analyse relevant data and literature sources and reference them appropriately. Finally, to help students apply this knowledge and establish the most effectual research design and method for their project and write a successful research proposal.

LEARNING OUTCOMES

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

                demonstrate a critical awareness of the different business and management research methodologies, design and methods and different paradigms on which they are based;

                appreciate the need to draw upon academic and practitioner literature to support and justify the selection of appropriate research question(s), research design, methods, and analysis;

                critically evaluate the range of data and information collection and analysis methods that are used within business and management in general and their project subject specialism in particular, and make informed decisions about their relevance for different purposes;

                understand the research and supervision process and the responsibilities of student and supervisor, including research ethics considerations.

                draw upon academic and practitioner literature to support and justify the selection of appropriate research question(s), research design, methods, and analysis;

                write a research proposal that outlines and evaluates the most appropriate research design and method(s) to investigate the chosen research question(s).

                structure and produce a research proposal that demonstrates a writing style appropriate to the business and management discipline and to an acceptable standard of written Business English.

INDICATIVE MODULE CONTENT

                Process of research topic/ problem definition

                Research design – the ontological and epistemological issues

                Major types of research design in business and management and implications for data collection and analysis. Appreciation of variation in dominant method of enquiry and discourse within business and management sub-disciplines or fields

                Reviewing literature, using library resources, Harvard standard referencing

                Research ethics

                Main methods of qualitative and quantitative data collection (including primary and secondary data)

                Main methods of qualitative and quantitative analysis including use of specific software packages

                Researching within organisations: access issues and managing client relationships

                Presentation of findings

                Project management: managing research; time management; managing supervisor; writing up

                Allocation of supervisor to support the preparation of the research proposal

                Preparing the research proposal document

Teaching and Learning Methods

The module is planned as a combination of lectures, interactive sessions, group discussion and individual meetings, employing a range of methods suited to the different learning objectives. These in turn facilitate learning and application across the breath of the curriculum. Students are expected to participate fully in all sessions and supplement their learning with additional reading.

ASSESSMENT RATIONALE

This module supports the student in the development and application of their business and management subject research knowledge and skills, focusing assessment on the students’ understanding of academic research development. Therefore, it is important to make sure that students:

       have a breadth of critical understanding across a range of methodological approaches in business and management to research design, collection and analysis;

       can demonstrate a critical evaluation as well as an application of the taught aspects of the business research methods module through an individual project proposal justifying full description of appropriate design and methods for their project. There is a need to focus on and provide formal feedback on the academic standard and viability of the student’s project proposal at an early stage in the project development. Therefore, the student research project proposal is assessed through this module.

During the run of this module, the student is assigned an individual project supervisor, who provides guidance in the development of the project proposal and in the further development the master’s student project itself. The latter is not part of this module, but part of the subject specific project module.

Assessment Criteria

The student’s project proposal assesses students on the extent to which they are able to:

       demonstrate advanced understanding of the elements which are important in the business and management including research design and process; review of literature; data identification/collection and analysis, presentation of analysis and provide clear reasons for choices made.

       demonstrate critical evaluation and application of the business and management research knowledge through their own research project proposal in which they:

       identify, define and justify research objectives which are both worthy of and capable of investigation within the resources and time available;

       provide an initial review of academic/practitioner literature relevant to their research that places their work into context of work already published;

       design a methodology of enquiry appropriate to their proposed investigation and taking account of the contextual ethical considerations;

       identify specific research questions, propositions and/or hypotheses to guide the investigation;

       determine, and justify, data and information collection methods along with initial strategies for data analysis;

       appreciate the likely limitations of their study and determine contingency plans;

       demonstrate familiarity with the seminal theories, frameworks and authors, and the ability to reference according to the Harvard standard and cite from such work.

Assessment Methods and Weightings

One piece of coursework: the student’s project proposal (100% of the module marks). The overall pass mark for the module is 50% minimum. The project proposal word limit is between 2500 and 3000 words.

Structure of the project proposal

It is anticipated that proposals will follow a traditional social sciences approach and generally comprise the following sections:

       Introduction/context

       Literature review

       Research questions

       Research design and methodology

       Research methods

       Project plan including time line/Gantt chart

       Resource requirements

       Ethical considerations

       Limitations, including an identification of contingency plans, where relevant

       References

Also see the Mark/Feedback Sheet for the precise distribution and expectation.

Maximising your learning from this module

In UK higher education, you as the student take primary responsibility for your own learning.

In practice, your studies are a partnership between you, your peers and your lecturers. It is a mix of timetabled activity and your own personal study. ‘Scheduled Contact/Activity Time’ (aka ‘Contact Hours’) involves interaction with, or supervision from, teaching and associated staff and the activities they set up for you. It is there to help shape and guide your studies. This is where you may be introduced to new ideas and knowledge; shown practical skills for you to practise independently; offered guidance on project work; or provided with personalised feedback. It may be face-to-face or mediated through other channels.

Alongside your scheduled studies, your private or ‘independent’ study is very important. This is the time that you spend learning without direct supervision from, or contact with, a member of staff and this makes up a large part of your studies. It is likely to include background reading, preparation for seminars or tutorials, follow-up work, wider practice, the completion of assignments, revision and so on. Some independent study may be structured for you as a key part of your learning, but it also is the additional study you choose to undertake to further improve your learning.                                (Based on: QAA (2011) Contact hours: a guide for students. p.2).

To summarise, very broadly your study activity will break down into:

       Scheduled contact/activity time (lectures, seminars, tutorials, supervisions and other directed activities)

       Structured independent study (such as preparing for scheduled learning activity)

       Module and course-based wider study (such as reading the business media, employability activities, personal tutoring activity )

       Assessment (working on coursework and/or preparing for and taking tests and exams)

Allocating your study time on this module

This is a 20 credit module. In general, you should be putting in 10 hours of study time for every credit so, for this module you should plan to commit 200 hours over the duration of the module and its assessment.

Below is an indicative split of study time for this module:

Learning and Teaching Activity Type

Category

Hours*

Lecture/Seminar

Scheduled 

18

Workshop

Scheduled

18

Project Supervisor Meeting

Scheduled

0.5

Total Scheduled Contact/Activity Hours

 

36.5

 

 

 

BlackBoard Study Skills exercises

Independent

30

Inter Session Activities

Independent

14

Project Idea Development

Independent

30

Initial Feasibility Literature Search

Independent

5

Research Design Method Investigation

Independent

20

Supervisor Meeting Preparation

Independent

4.5

Work on Project Proposal [Assessment]

Independent

60

Total Independent Study Hours

 

163.5

 

 

 

Total Learning and Teaching Hours

 

200

*these hours are indicative only and may be subject to change. They also indicate what would be typical. Your particular study needs may vary.

 

If you are unclear on any aspect of making the best use of your study time on this module, speak to your seminar or module leader.

Electronic Submission of Coursework

Unless explicitly stated otherwise in writing by the module leader, all coursework on this module is submitted via Blackboard only. It will automatically be scanned through a text matching system (designed to check for possible plagiarism).

       DO NOT attach a CA1 form or any other form of cover sheet;

       YOU MUST include your name and student ID on the first page of your assignment.
To submit your assignment:

       Log on to Blackboard at http://learning.westminster.ac.uk;

       Go to the relevant module Blackboard site;

       Click on the ‘Submit Coursework’ link in the navigation menu on the left-hand side, as
advised by the module teaching team;

       Click on the link for the relevant assignment;

       Follow the instructions.
You will be given details by the module teaching team about how and when you will receive your marks and feedback on your work.

REMEMBER:

It is a requirement that you submit your work in this way. All coursework must be submitted by 1:00 p.m. on the due date.
If you submit your coursework late but within 24 hours or one working day of the specified deadline, 10% of the overall marks available for that element of assessment will be deducted, as a penalty for late submission, except for work which is marked in the range 50 – 59%, in which case the mark will be capped at the pass mark (50%).
If you submit your coursework more than 24 hours or more than one working day after the specified deadline you will be given a mark of zero for the work in question.
The University’s mitigating circumstances procedures relating to the non-submission or late submission of coursework apply to all coursework.

SOURCES

Set Text

       Saunders, M. Lewis, P. & Thornhill A. (2012) Research Methods for Business Students, 6th edition, Prentice Hall

Essential Reading

Collis, J. & Hussey, R. (2014) Business Research, 4th edition, Palgrave Macmillan

Further Reading

       Alvesson, M. & Sandberg, J. (2013) Constructing Research Questions, Sage Publications.

       Anderson V. (2009) Research Methods in HRM, 2nd Edition, CIPD.

       Bazeley, P. (2013) Qualitative Data Analysis: Practical Strategies, Sage Publications.

       Ryan, B. Scapens, RW. & Beattie V. (2002) Research Methods and Methodology in Finance and Accounting, Thomson Learning.

       Bell, E. & Thorpe, R. (2013) Management Research: A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about —, Sage Publications.

       Bowling (2009) Research Methods in Health: Investigating Health and Health Services, Open University Press.

       Briony, J. ((2006) Researching Information Systems and Computing, Sage Publications.

       Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2011) Business Research Methods, 3rd Edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

       Creswell J.W. (2013) Research Design – Qualitative, Quantitative and Mixed Methods Approaches, 4th Edition, Sage Publications.

       Denzin, N. K. and Lincoln, Y. (eds.) (2005) The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research, SAGE Publications.

       Easterby-Smith, M. Thorpe, R. & Jackson, P. (2012) Management Research, 4th Edition, Sage Publications.

       Fisher, C. (2010) Researching and Writing a Dissertation: An Essential Guide for Business Students, 3rd Edition, Financial Times/ Prentice Hall.

       Gill J. and Johnson P. (2010) Research Methods for Managers, 4th Edition, London: Sage Publications.

       Gillet, A. Hammond, A. & Martala, M. (2009) Inside Track: Successful Academic Writing, Pearson Longman.

       Grix, J. (2004) The Foundations of Research, Palgrave Study Guides.

       Hardy, M. and Bryman, A. (2004) Handbook of Data Analysis, Sage Publications.

       Malhotra, N. K. & Birks, D. F. (2006) Marketing Research: An Applied Approach updated, 2nd European Ed., London: Prentice-Hall International

       Sage University Papers Series in Quantitative Applications in the Social Sciences, Lewis-Beck M.S. (Series editor), Sage Publications.

       Sekaran, U. & Bougie, R. (2013) Research methods for Business, 6th Edition, Wiley

       Silverman D. (2006) Interpreting Qualitative Data – Methods for Analyzing Talk, Text and Interaction, 3rd Edition, Sage Publications.

       Symon, G. & Cassell, C. (2012) Qualitative Organisational Research, Sage Publications.

       Travers M. (2001) Qualitative Research through Case Studies, Sage Publications -Wisker, G. (2001) The Postgraduate Research Handbook, Palgrave Study Guides.

       Walliam, N. (2011) Your Research Project, 3rd Edition, Sage Publications

       Wilson, J. (2014) Essentials of Business Research, 2nd Edition, Sage Publications.

       White, P. (2009) Developing Research Question, Palgrave Macmillan

       Yin, RK. (2012) Applications of Case Study Research, 3rd Edition, Sage Publications.

 

 

7BUSS003W [BMAM708] January 2017 (S2/3 – 16/17) Schedule

Date

Day

Time

 

Topic

Reading

L

23 Jan

Mon

6:00 – 9:00

S1

Introduction: to the Module: Research/ Business Research

SLT Ch 1 C&H Ch 1 & 2

KP

30 Jan

Mon

6:00 – 9:00

S2

Literature Search & Literature Review: Practice, & Process.

SLT Ch 3 C&H Ch 5

EM

06 Feb

Mon

6:00 – 9:00

S3

Research Approaches & Research Design

SLT Ch 4 C&H Ch 4

EM

18 Feb

Sat

Lab

10:00 – 5:00

W1

Quantitative & Qualitative Approaches to Research: Principles; Data Collection; Data Analysis.

SLT Ch 12, 13, 8 & 4

C&H Ch 7, 8, 9 & 10

KP

13 Mar

Mon

6:00 – 9:00

S4

Exploring the Four Types of MAM Project.

SLT Ch 2 & 4

C&H Ch 2 & 3

KP

18 Mar

Sat

10:00 – 5:00

W2

Topic Development: Developing the Title; Creating the Topic Outline.

& Ethical Considerations

SLT Ch 2, 5 & 6

C&H Ch 3 & 4

KP & EM SK

20 Mar

Mon

6:00 – 9:00

S5

Question Design: Linking Objectives; Data Collection; & Data Analysis.

SLT 5

C&H Ch 3

EM

6 Apr

Thurs

1:00 pm

 

Submit Title/Topic

 

 

11 May

Thurs

 

 

Supervisor Allocation

 

 

20 May

Sat

10:00 – 5:00

W3

Writing up! Using Academic Language; the Project Proposal; the Project.

SLT Ch 14, 2 & 3

C&H Ch 6 & 13

KP

22 May

Mon

Lab

6:00 – 9:00

S6

Quantitative Approaches: Practice & Applications

SLT Ch 12

C&H Ch 11 & 12

SK

13 June

Tues

1:00 pm

 

Submit Proposal

 

 

23 June

Thurs

 

 

Submit Ethics Form via VRE

 

 

28 June

Weds

 

 

Agreement of Mark between Markers

 

 

30 June

Friday

 

 

Mark submitted by Module Leader

 

 

03 July

Mon

 

 

Provisional Marks released

 

 

19 July

Wed

1:00 pm

 

Resubmission of Proposal [as required]

 

 

28 July

Fri

 

 

Agreement of Mark between Markers

 

 

SLT:     Saunders, M. Lewis, P. & Thornhill A. (2012) Research Methods for Business Students, 6th edition, Prentice Hall.

C&H: Collis, J. & Hussey, R. (2014) Business Research, 4th edition, Palgrave Macmillan

KP = Keith Patrick, EM = Elisabeth Michielsens, SK = Sumita Ketkar

 

Coursework Specification

This module is assessed by a single piece of coursework, the Project Proposal worth 100% of the module marks.

The overall pass mark for the module is 50% minimum, a mark between 40% & 49% will require a rework and resubmission of the Proposal; see the Assessment Timetable for the date of the resubmission.  Any mark below 40 will be classed as a ‘retake’, which will require the module to be retaken at the next opportunity, and as with all ‘retakes’ it will require an additional fee payment

The project proposal is between 2500 and 3000 words in length

Task Requirements

Topic/Title of your Project Proposal:

This Project Proposal is based on the research Title/Topic you previously submitted.

Structure and Contents of your Project Proposal:

       The Project Proposal is an outline of your intended Project (worth 20 credit) providing information on the “What, Why, How conceptually, How practically of your research idea.

       The purpose is to show the reader you have managed to arrange your broad Project research ideas into a logical account of research intention; and that these plans are justifiable and achievable. It requires you to think clearly about your research objectives, research methods and relevant literature.

       The proposal will be assessed by your Project supervisor.

The following information (1 to 8) needs to be included in your Project Proposal:

1. Title of your Project Proposal

Indicating the focus of your research

2. Introduction-Background

This section should describe your broad research focus and explain the rationale and the context for identifying your research plans. You should provide sufficient background information on the issues you want to research for the reader to be able to understand the rest of your Project as well as its value. If you focus on an organisation you should provide enough organisational information to put your research plans into context.

3. Literature Review

This should be presented under a separate heading. This review is not intended as a full critical analysis of the literature at this stage, it should demonstrate how the project in grounded in theory and were appropriate practice. It should provide an identification of the themes from academic and other relevant recent and/or historically important literature, which acts as the basis for your intended study, and clarify where your intended study fits into this debate. If any particular theoretical models, frameworks or techniques are to be used as part of the analysis of the research data and findings this should also be included.

4. Specific Research Objectives and Research Questions

Your specific research objectives should make it clear to the reader exactly what is being planned by the proposed research. Well-­defined objectives should identify what is to be analysed, and to what purpose. Your objectives should provide sufficient scope for a Project of this size, but also be achievable within the resources available to you. They should not be vague or too general and should be leading to observable outcomes.

The research objectives will be used by the reader to judge the rest of your proposal, so make sure that your proposed research design, data collection and analysis fit with the objectives. Specific research questions (or hypotheses, if relevant) should be easily identifiable in your Project Proposal.

5. Research Design

This should provide an overall view of the approach and methods chosen to achieve your research objectives, as well as a justification for these choices. Providing information and justification for the research techniques and the methods you propose (for instance case study, cross sectional, time trends, etc.) and demonstrate your reading on the topic.

If relevant, it should also detail particular areas your research will focus on, such as sectors of industry or regions and the identity of your research population.

6. Data collection and analysis

In fieldwork based Projects, provide details of the data which needs to be collected; the way in which you intend to collect these data (for instance investigation of secondary data, survey, questionnaires) and the way you intend to analyse these data.

Be as precise as possible.  For instance: for secondary data collection, specify the exact data sources you intend to use; for surveys specify survey strategy, population and sample size; for interviews specify interview population, intended interview duration and way of analysis etcetera.

Provide clear information on access to this data: have you made sure all necessary data is available to you? If relevant, do you have the agreement of essential people to use certain data or conduct interviews? Is your Project agreed with the organisation you focus on if this is necessary?

Are there any other particular ethical considerations you need to abide by in your research?

7.   Time scale

A rough schedule of the tasks to complete between the submission of the Project Proposal and the submission of the Project, as either a Timeline with milestones or as a Gantt chart.

8. Reference list (Harvard standard)

All references should be in Harvard standard. For guidance on this, please download the library booklet: www.westminster.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/107629/2011_Referencing_your_work_booklet_e-version.pdf

 

Marking Schema

       Introduction/context                                                                10%

       Outline of what the project is about

       Outline of Organisation/Sector being researched

       Research questions/objectives

       Literature review                                                                      30%

       Core themes and writers

       Relevant academic or practitioner models, techniques, or frameworks to be used in the analysis

       Research Design                                                                      30%

       Overall approach to the Project

       Research methods & techniques to be used

       justification, acknowledgment of weaknesses/strengths

       Analytical frameworks & tools (as appropriate)

       justification, acknowledgment of weaknesses/strengths & the way they will be applied

       Project plan including time line/Gantt chart

       Conclusion                                                                             10%

       Brief overview of expected outcomes

       Miscellaneous                                                                          10%

       Resource requirements

       Ethical considerations

       Limitations

       Contingency Plan, (where relevant; i.e. were Primary data or interviewees or organisation is unavailable)

       References                                                                              10%

       All sources referenced appropriately in the body of the proposal and the References Listing.

 

Electronic Submission of Coursework

Unless explicitly stated otherwise in writing by the module leader, all coursework on this module is submitted via Blackboard only.  It will automatically be scanned through a text matching system (designed to check for possible plagiarism).

       DO NOT attach a CA1 form or any other form of cover sheet;

       YOU MUST include your name and student ID on the first page of your assignment.

To submit your assignment:

       Log on to Blackboard at http://learning.westminster.ac.uk;

       Go to the relevant module Blackboard site;

       Click on the ‘Submit Coursework’ link in the navigation menu on the left-hand side, as advised by the module teaching team;

       Click on the link for the relevant assignment;

       Follow the instructions.

Finance holds.

If on the due date you have a finance hold on your student account, you may not be able to access Blackboard to be able to submit electronically. If this is the case, you may be able to submit a paper copy to the Registry. Assignments submitted this way will ONLY be accepted if it is clear that you have a finance hold on the due date. The penalties for late submission will still apply.

You will be given details by the module teaching team about how and when you will receive your marks and feedback on your work.

 

REMEMBER:

It is a requirement that you submit your work in this way.   All coursework must be submitted by 1.00 p.m. (13.00) UK time on the due date.

If you submit your coursework late but within 24 hours or one working day of the specified deadline, 10% of the overall marks available for that element of assessment will be deducted, as a penalty for late submission, except for work which is marked in the range 50 – 59%, in which case the mark will be capped at the pass mark (50%).

If you submit your coursework more than 24 hours or more than one working day after the specified deadline you will be given a mark of zero for the work in question.

The University’s mitigating circumstances procedures relating to the non-submission or late submission of coursework apply to all coursework.

 

 

 

Westminster Business School

Project Proposal Marking & Feedback Sheet [BMAM708]

 

 

Student: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _       Student Id: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

Project Title:

 

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

 

 

 

Date: _ _ _ _ _ _         1st Marker: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _   Mark: _ _%

 

Date: _ _ _ _ _ _         2nd Marker: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Mark: _ _%

 

                                                                             Agreed Mark: _ _%

 

 

A. Introduction/Context                                                                10%

Outline of what the project is about, Outline of Organisation/Sector being researched [as relevant] Setting out of Research questions/objectives.

Comments

 

 

 

Improvement Guidance

 

 

 

B. Literature Review                                                                      30%

Core themes and writers. Relevant academic or practitioner models, techniques, or frameworks to be used in the analysis.

Comments

 

 

 

 

Improvement Guidance

 

 

 

C. Research Design                                                                       30%

Overall approach to the Project, Research methods & techniques to be used, [with justification, acknowledgment of weaknesses/strengths]. Analytical frameworks & tools (as appropriate) [with justification, acknowledgment of weaknesses/strengths & the way they will be applied]. Project plan including time line/Gantt chart.

Comments

 

 

 

Improvement Guidance

 

 

 

D. Conclusion                                                                              10%

Brief overview of expected outcomes.

Comments

 

 

 

Improvement Guidance

 

 

 

E. Miscellaneous                                                                          10%

Resource requirements, Ethical considerations , Limitations, Contingency Plan, (where relevant; i.e. were Primary data or interviewees or organisation is unavailable).

Comments

 

 

 

Improvement Guidance

 

 

 

F. References                                                                               10%

All sources referenced appropriately in the body of the proposal and the References Listing

Comments

 

 

 

Improvement Guidance

 

 

 

G. Additional Comments

 

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