COMMERCE 7039 - Business Research Methods (M)

North Terrace Campus - Trimester 2 - 2015

This course is designed to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to determine the information necessary to address an identified research problem (basic or applied) and, using this understanding, develop and use an actionable research proposal. In this process, the students will gain an understanding of relevant approaches and elements of undertaking a research enquiry specifically to provide insights to solving a relevant problem. They will develop critical core competencies and skills required to carry out such an enquiry. These competencies and skills include: defining research questions; setting appropriate research objectives; study design that incorporates research objectives and budgetary constraints; secondary and primary data collection and instruments; sampling and analysis methods; and effective reporting of results; as well as the importance of ethical conduct in conducting research in both a domestic and in international business contexts.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code COMMERCE 7039
    Course Business Research Methods (M)
    Coordinating Unit Adelaide Business School
    Term Trimester 2
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact 36
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites Students enrolling in this course, must have arranged for and met with their Research Supervisor (from their Discipline, School or Department) and have their supervisor's approval for the chosen research topic, before commencing this course.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Cate Jerram

    Course Coordinator: Dr Cate Jerram
    Location: 09.03, Nexus 10 (10 Pulteney St, University of Adelaide, 5005)
    Telephone: 8313 4757 (office)
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    The course is being presented in semi-intensive mode with seminars, tutorials and group discussion. All activities will be recorded for the benefit of students that are studying remotely.

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from the Course Planner. The information below is presented here for your convenience, however any changes to the timetable will be recorded in the Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    The course provides a strong grounding in understanding the research process enabling students to either engage an external research organisation to undertake a study on their behalf in a business environment or, alternatively, action and complete a research project themselves as either the sole researcher or as part of a research team. In addition to the technical skills and knowledge required to be successful in these endeavours, the course also provides students with a clear understanding of the ethical considerations involved in undertaking research and the special challenges evidenced in international and cross cultural studies.

    On successful completion of this course students will be able to:
    1. Apply an advanced understanding of business research design options, methodologies and analysis methods (both qualitative and quantitative), including respective terms, definitions and applications to the design, implementation and evaluation of a research project.
    2. Distil an identified business problem into a succinct research problem (or problems) and articulate this into a comprehensive research brief for investigation by a research team locally or internationally.
      • This brief will include a statement of the resulting research problem and the objectives that need to be achieved to provide the information necessary to tackle the business problem and the decisions that need to be made respective to it.
    3. Complete, from the brief created, a research proposal for implementation at either a local or international level.
      • This will include (but not be restricted to), a literature summary at the necessary level of depth to ensure a thorough understanding of what is already known about the problem to be addressed, the proposed research design, data collection, sampling, analysis methods to be employed along with an indicative time frame for each stage of the research proposed and budget.
    4. Apply a broad understanding of issues specific to undertaking business research across international boundaries, including cultural, geographical, language and cost related challenges and respective strategies and approaches that may be employed to solve them to the design, implementation and evaluation of a research project.
    5. Recognise, and take account of, the importance of ethical conduct in undertaking research, including potential implications for business relationships, effects on potential respondents and sensitivity to cultural differences and honesty and integrity in analysis and reporting in the design, implementation and evaluation of a research project.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. All
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 2, 3
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. All
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 3, 4, 5
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 1, 2, 3, 4
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. All
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 3, 4, 5
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 3, 4, 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    GILL, John & JOHNSON, Phil (2010) Research Methods for Managers, 4th edition, London: Sage.

    Recommended Resources
    For the required level of Advanced Excel Skills: these skills are articulated on the university's ITS online training site. If you are unsure if you have the necessary level of Excel expertise, book the online courses provided by ITS. Note: Excel online training has 3 courses (levels 1, 2 & 3). You need all three. You can only book one at a time. You have 2 weeks to accomplish each level (but can progress faster if you wish or rebook to repeat a level). You will need to have accomplished level 3 by commencement of session 1 in Business Research Methods.

    ANDREWS, Frank et al. (2nd edition / 1981). A Guide for Selecting Statistical Techniques for Analyzing Social Science Data, University of Michigan Press (more recent editions exist).

    BOYD, Jr. Harper W., R. Westfall, and S.F. Stasch (6th edition / 1985). Marketing Research: Text and Cases, Irwin.

    CASSELL, Catherine & Symon, Gillian (Eds). 2004. Essential Guide to Qualitative Methods in
    Organizational Research - Pub ISBN-10: 0761948880 | ISBN-13: 978-0761948889

    CRESSWELL, John W. (2007) Qualitative Inquiry & Research Design: choosing among five approaches. 2nd ed. Sage: London.

    CROTTY, M (1998) The foundations of social research: meaning and perspective in the research process. Sage: London.

    ERIKSSON, Paivi: & Kovalainen, Anne (2008) Qualitative Methods in Business Research. Sage: London.

    FLICK, Uwe (2006) An introduction to qualitative research. 3rd ed. Sage: London.

    LYNN, Kelley, D. (1999). Measurement Made Accessible: A Research Approach Using Qualitative, Quantitative, & Quality Improvement Methods, Sage Publications.

    MARTIN, William E. and K.D. Bridgmon (2012). Quantitative and Statistical Research Methods: From Hypothesis to Results, Jossey-Bass/Wiley, (ISBN: 978-0-470-63182-9).

    MAXWELL, Joseph A. (2012). A Realist Approach for Qualitative Research, Sage Publications, Inc.

    NEUMAN, William L. (2010). Social Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches, Pearson.

    ROBSON, Colin (3rd edition / 2011). Real World Research, Wiley.

    SILVERMAN, David (2005) Doing Qualitative Research. 2nd ed. Sage: London.

    SYMON, Gillian & Cassell, Catherine. 2012. Qualitative Organizational Research: Core Methods and
    Current Challenges. SAGE Publications Ltd (• eBook ISBN 13:9781446258279• Print ISBN 13:9780857024114

    SUDMAN, Seymour, and N.M. Broadway (1986). Asking Questions, Jossey-Bass.

    ZIKMUND, William G., B.J. Babin, J.C. Carr, and M. Griffin (9th edition / 2013). Business Research Methods, South- Western/Cengage Learning, (ISBN: 978-1-111-82692-5).
    Online Learning
    All topic lectures will be recorded for the benefit of those that can't attend the sessions. (Interactive discussions and sessions cannot be recorded without permission from every person participating). A comprehensive reading list will also be available in addition to lecture slides (although this is not a 'slide intensive' course) etc. All resources will be available via the course MyUni site. All assessments are to be provided electronically and will be marked and returned electronically, where possible, mostly via the Turnitin portal on the MyUni site. Online discussion tools will be available for students to maintain contact with each other between intensive sessions.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is delivered during 6 intensive days of teaching over the trimester period. During these 6-hour sessions (which of course will include lunch and short breaks) students will engage in lectures, tutorial discussions and applied problem solving via case studies. The focus of the course will be an interactive research project with one of our industry mentors and fellow group members. For students studying remotely, all lecture and tutorial sessions will be recorded as with interviews and debriefs with our industry mentors (Ms Harvey and Mr Croser). However, it is expected that group members will maintain close contact between intensive sessions in order to complete the required tasks and maximise learning outcomes.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The University expects full-time students (i.e. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote a total of 48 hours per week to their studies. This means that, for this course, you are expected to commit approximately 9 hours for private study (i.e., the study time outside of your regular classes). Students are required to attend all class sessions.
    Learning Activities Summary

    Session 1

    • Course overview and assessments.
    • The nature and importance of research (business or applied research vs purely academic research).
    • Dimensions of research.
    • Ethical considerations and the importance of research integrity.
    • Identifying and elucidating the business problem.
    • Research design (qualitative, quantitative, hybrid and mixed approaches).
    • Determining over-riding research questions and setting research objectives.
    Session 2

    • Introduction to NVivo and Research Project Management.
    • Secondary data sources - determining what is already known about the 'problem'; (organising information and parsimonious writing).
    • Using the online data bases and other sources of information.
    • NVivo exercise (thematic coding and analysis for literature review & identifying previous research on a problem)
    Session 3 

    • Non-reactive data & analysis; and content analysis
    • Qualitative methodologies and data analysis approaches. eg:
      • focus groups
      • in-depth interviews
      • case study analysis
    • NVivo exercises (working from thematic coding and analysis for data exploration; integrating quantitative and qualitative data)
    Session 4

    • Research proposal structure and 'checklist'.
    • The research proposal budget.
    • Quantitative data collection instruments and analysis methods.
    • Alternative sampling and measurement methods.
    • Survey designs and applications (questionnaire development).
    • Compiling a research brief - what does it contain?
    Session 5

    • Experimental designs and analysis
    • Introduction to online survey software (Qualtrics / Survey Monkey).
    • Time series.
    • Introduction to SPSS.
    • SPSS Exercise (Descriptive statistics and histograms).
    • Statistical exercises (SPSS / Excel / PSPP) (comparison of means, correlations, regression analysis and non parametric tools).
    Session 6 

    • Working with industry and other stakeholders - the partnership.
    • International Research
      • Working with international partners
      • Challenges of language and cultural understanding
      • Conducting a secondary data search overseas
      • Access to respondents.
    • Developing Proposal - workshop
    Specific Course Requirements
    • Document preparation guidelines should be observed in order for work submitted in this course to receive consideration.
    • Proper class attendance must be observed (this includes, for instance, proper attendance, punctuality, returning from a break in a timely way, and the like).
    • Academic writing PLC Workshop sessions are available. Students must attend at least one session.
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Weight %Due Name Learning Outcomes
    30% Monday 15 June
    12 noon
    Quantitative and Qualitative assignment/s 1, 3, 4
    20% Monday 20 July
    12 noon
    Research Brief 2
    50% Monday 17 August 
    12 noon
    Research Proposal All
    Assessment Related Requirements
    In order to pass this course, students must achieve at least 50% overall, and achieve a passing mark of at least 50% for their final research proposal.
    Assessment Detail
    Qualitative and Quantitative Assignment_______30%
    Students will complete qualitative and quantitative assignments relevant to the research design they are pursuing in their proposal. In both cases, a printout of the output file from software employed is required. The exercise will be used to give students important practice in practical aspects of developing quantitative and qualitative instruments and analysing and interpreting results. Soft and hard copy files of output with discussion of findings will be expected from students. More information will be provided in class and on the MyUni site.

    Research Brief __________________________20%
    Students are required to submit a research brief that summarises a stated business problem that requires specific information in order for Managers to decide a strategic direction to address the issue. This will include a background to the problem and the implications of not finding a solution. The nature of the information that needs to be sourced (from both secondary and primary sources), concise and actionable research objectives and an indicative time frame for the completion of the resulting study. This is not meant to be an 'argument' for the research per se - but it must provide any researchers that may take on the task with good understanding of the issues involved and nature of the information that is needed to find a solution. A sample brief will be provided to students and many others can be found from a variety of sources. This brief (including no more than 10 references) may not exceed 2000 words.

    Research Proposal________________________50%
    (as above) In order to pass this course, students must achieve at least 50% overall, and achieve a passing mark of at least 50% for their final research proposal.

    The written proposal is the culmination of the work in this course and provides the basis for the needed research. This document will be assessed on:
    1. Short restatement and justification of the research problem
    2. Relevance of objectives to the stated problem
    3. Adequate assessment of the relevant secondary data
    4. Justification of the research design and proposed methodology, including data collection and sampling methods. Questions to be answered include:
      1. can it be done this way?
      2. is it an appropriate design - is there a precedent for this design/approach?
      3. will it provide the right kind of data and enough of it?
      4. will analysis of the data provide the insights required?
      5. are projected costs defendable?
    5. Proposed analytical methods
    6. Research budget and timelines for completion of the project
    7. Quality of written presentation (referencing, grammar, punctuation and clarity).
    For the purposes of this course, this document is expected to be no more than 25 pages double spaced (not including references and appendices), and follow the "Document Guidelines".
    All assignments are to be submitted by the due date using the Turnitin facility on the course MyUni site. Software-based assignments (qualitative and quantitative) will require additional electronic submission (hard copy and soft copy). Assignments will be marked electronically and returned that way too. Please remember to keep a copy of all your work. each assignment must also have a cover sheet as its first page and title page after that.

    Late Assignment Submission 
    Students are expected to submit their work by the due date to maintain a fair and equitable system. Extensions will generally only be given for medical or other serious reasons. All requests for extensions must be emailed to the lecturer in charge of the course before the due date. Each request will be assessed on its merits. A late assignment (without prior arrangement) will be penalised by a 5% mark reduction for each day that it is late.

    Return of Assignments
    Lecturers aim to mark and return assignments to students, with written feedback, within two (2) weeks of the due date.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

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