COMMERCE 7039OL - Business Research Methods (M)

Online - Trimester 1 - 2016

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 7039OL
    Course Business Research Methods (M)
    Coordinating Unit Business School
    Term Trimester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s Online
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 36 hours
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange
    Course Description 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.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Cate Jerram

    Dr Cate Jerram
    Email cate.jerram@adelaide.edu.au
    Work Phone 088313 4757
    Office Location 09.03 Nexus 10
    Office Hours: Flexible about time, but email for appointments.
    Personal Link http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/cate.jerram

    Dr Cullen Habel
    Email cullen.habel@adelaide.edu.au
    Office Location Level 09, Nexus 10
    Office Hours: Flexible about time, but email for appointments.
    Work Phone 08 8313 4763
    http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/cullen.habel


    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from 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)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    1 - 5
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    1 - 5
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    3, 4
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    1 - 5
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • Able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    4, 5
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    1 - 5
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Gill, John & Johnson, Phil. (2010). Research Methods for Managers, 4th edition, London: Sage. Oaks, California, USA: Sage Publications, Inc.
    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.

    Similarly, the Advanced Word program will benefit students in multiple ways that will reduce time taken to accomplish many of the writing and NVivo tasks to be undertaken during this course. As with Excel, Microsoft Word online training has (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.

    There is a plethora of literature supporting the various forms of research studied in this course. A small selection includes:
    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
    Core content of this course is supported by pre-recorded mini-lectures, rather than lectures of live classes. Live classes are interactive, and not ideal for recording.
    The recorded lectures are sufficient to ensure 'safety' if a student misses classes due to ill health or work, but we strongly recommend that students attend all classes they possibly can.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This course is 100% online.
    Each week there is:

    • a set of readings to accomplish
    • multiple mini-lecture video recordings to watch and note (theory lessons)
    • multiple mini-lecture video recordings to watch and follow (software lessons)
    • a set of activities to accomplish, based on the text book (or occasionally from other sources)
    • a private blog (called "Scribblepad") to be used to conduct working out and thinking through (unmarked but strongly recommended)
    • a Discussion Forum (marked) with required postings and responses.
    Every week there will be at least one occasion on which synchronous communication will be offered with one or other of the lecturer/instructors in the course, and fellow-students. This will be through Adobe Connect.

    Although this course contains no "teamwork" per se, and is very much focused on individual production of individual research, there is a strong commitment to building a Community of Practice, so class interaction is prized highly as a significant part of your learning journey.
    Workload

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

    As Business Research Methods is responsible for most of your preparation for your Research Project, the workload is a heavy one to ensure that you receive a grounding in:

    • Research Methodology and underlying Philosophies
    • Qualitative Research Methodologies
    • Quantitative Research Methodologies
    • Qualitative Research Methods
    • Quantitative Research Methods
    • And 4 different Software programs to support your research:
      • NVivo11 Pro (Qualtiative and Hybrid Data Analysis support)
      • SPSS (Statistical support)
      • EndNote (Bibliographic support)
      • Qualtrics (Survey platform)

    One of the principle aims of the course is to not only give you the grounding for conducting research, but to help you build the Research Proposal and the foundations of your Research Project Literature Review for your subsequent Research Project. This entails a significant amount of reading above and beyond the reading specified in the course.

    Consequently, we recommend that students reserve a minimum of 10, but preferably 12 hours per week for studying Business Research Methods.

    Learning Activities Summary
    Learning Activities are comprehensively laid out week-by-week in the course's online learning platform LEARN.
    Specific Course Requirements
    Participation in all Discussion Board activities is critical and therefore is required. All assignments must be submitted. Details can be found on the Course LEARN site.

    Any need to deviate from any of the stated expectations must be negotiated with either of the Course Instructors.
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    There is no official "teamwork" or "groupwork" in this course.

    However, this course, with a focus on developing independent and interdependent researchers capable of producing professional business research, reports and other forms of publication, moves students to the next stage of collaboration beyond the Small Group Discovery Experience and works at the level of Community of (Research) Practice.

    Collaboration is encouraged. Collusion is unacceptable.
    Peer Review and support is required.
    Critical Analysis (of own work and each other's) is absolutely necessary.

    Ideally, if a Community of Practice is genuinely developed during this course, it will help each of you create a network that can build to sustain and support you throughout your entire career.
  • 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

    Assessment Description

    Due Date

    Weighting

    Discussion Contribution

    Wed. - Sunday

    All Weeks

    10%

    W1-6 / W7-12

    Research Brief

    Sunday

    Week 5

    20% 

    Quantitative Assignment

    Sunday

    Week 9

    15% 

    Qualitative Assignment

    Sunday

    Week 11

    15%

    Research Proposal

    Sunday

    Week 12

    40% 

    Total

    100%

    Assessment Related Requirements
    The critical things to note about the assessments in this course are that:
    • Discussion forum assignments are very interdependent - built on the concept of community of practice and peer support. ie: if you miss deadlines or mess up, your colleagues suffer as well as you.
    • The assessment activities contribute significantly to your actual research project. 
      Therefore:
      • be timely - meet deadlines
      • but be sane - when you can only do it by half-killing yourself - negotiate
      • collaborate (note: acknowledged collaboration is a powerful professional and academic strength; UNacknowledged collaboration is called 'collusion' and is seen as cheating)
      • have fun (if you don't learn to enjoy it now, it will be 'unpleasantly hard work')
      • know that it DOES get easier - every piece you do makes the next one easier; every impossible-to-understand article you read makes the next one more possible and more readable - and your blogs will help you scale that wall faster and more easily than you can expect... the discussion board collaboration with your peers will make a world of difference. Therefore, your feedback to one another is critical!
    Assessment Detail

    Discussion Contribution (10%)

    due: Wednesday - Sunday, all weeks [assessed weeks 1-6 & 7-12]
    Students will be required to contribute several times a week to the Discussion Forum, as well as engage in preparatory activities in their private Blog (called "ScribblePad").

    Discussion topics are taken predominantly (but not exclusively) from the assigned text 'Stop and Think' exercises, and readings. Occasionally discussions will be assigned in the online lectures. You will need to do some additional outside research and reading to support your responses. While the text offers links to supportive articles, and we will direct you to others, it is most critical in this course that you develop the skill to determine what resources you need, locate and access them yourselves. This requirement reflects the course objective to enable and empower you to conduct your own research.
    You will be graded on the quality of your posts, definitely not on the quantity—what is expected is substantive participation in all assigned discussions.

    Successful online learning requires active participation in the discussions. Substantive participation includes responses to discussion questions as well as discourse related to the subject matter between students. Substantive responses must be based upon the course content, theory, research, data, or personal experiences . . . not mere opinion. A simple ’I agree’ will not count. Substantive responses and inputs should also include appropriate documentation, or citation. Critical thinking is expected, but it is important to understand that 'critical' in this sense is not necessarily 'negative' - appreciative inquiry and appreciative discussion responses can (and should) also be critical.
    You are to post an initial response to the assigned discussion prompts by the posted due date. You also are to read all discussion area postings, and then post 4-5 follow-up responses and comments on your classmates’ postings within the posted timeframe. The quality of your responses and your demonstrated understanding of the concepts and your ability to apply them will be graded.

    Your discussion participation will be graded on the criteria:
    • Participant’s postings demonstrate critical thinking and insight.
    • Participant’s postings contribute new topics, add depth and/or extend thinking.
    • Participant’s postings link ideas to provide new insights.
    • Participant's postings are articulate and well written, demonstrating professional level writing (including grammar and referencing).
    • Participant provides multiple substantive contributions to the discussion.
    For greater detail, a grading rubric is provided in the online LEARN course platform.

    Research Brief  (20%)  

    due: Sunday, Week 5
    Students will 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.

    For greater detail, a grading rubric is provided in the online LEARN course platform.

    Quantitative Assignment (15%)

    due: Sunday, Week 9
    Students are required to read a short case study provided in this brief and answer 5 questions, selecting the appropriate statistical test to answer each business problem.

    This is an individual assignment. So, make sure you conduct data analysis and prepare a summary report individually. The written report represents a summary of key insight from your data analysis, demonstrating an ability to choose an appropriate statistical technique to provide answers to specific business research objectives, as well as an ability to correctly interpret results and develop preliminary conclusions and recommendations.

    The title for this report should also include the words Assignment 1_quant_student ID. Please submit this assignment as a Microsoft Word file. The assignment should not exceed 1,500 words (excluding the Appendix). Please use only the key tables or charts in the main body of your report with all support tables attached in the Appendix.

    Learning Objectives
    This assignment focuses on student’s ability to:
    • Develop skills in statistical analysis
    • Understand the need to relate research and management objectives to analysis and findings
    • Demonstrate an understanding of quantitative research and required analytical skills
    • Develop knowledge in the choice and application of inferential and descriptive statistical tests
    • Understand how quantitative research fits into the broader management and business planning process
    • Apply an advanced understanding of quantitative analysis methods to a specific research problem

    In addition, the aim of this assignment is to develop advanced knowledge in relation to the fundamental quantitative business and marketing research processes, such as:
    • Data preparation and re-coding
    • Descriptive data analysis and charting in SPSS and Excel, use of filters
    • Significant difference testing using ANOVA or an Independent-samples T-test
    • Factor analysis
    • Correlations and regressions
    • Provision of a short summary of key findings and recommendations

    For greater detail, a grading rubric is provided in the online LEARN course platform.

    Qualitative Assignment (15%)

    Sunday, Week 11
    Students will complete a qualitative assignment that supports their upcoming research project and is relevant to the research design they are pursuing in their proposal. This accomplished by working in, and builing your project in, the software program NVivo11 Pro.The full software database employed is submitted via dropbox. This assignment lays the foundation for the research project literature review and methods chapter, and gives students important practice in practical aspects of developing qualitative instruments and analysing and interpreting results. More information will be provided on the LEARN site. 

    For greater detail, a grading rubric is provided in the online LEARN course platform.


    Research Proposal (40%)  

    due: Sunday, Week 12
    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 culminating Research Project. 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:
      • can it be done this way?
      • is it an appropriate design - is there a precedent for this design/approach?
      • will it provide the right kind of data and enough of it?
      • will analysis of the data provide the insights required?
      • 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 15 pages (not including references and appendices), and follow the "Document Guidelines". (Please note: The University of Adelaide's version of Harvard Referencing is to be used.)

    For greater detail, a grading rubric is provided in the online LEARN course platform.

    Submission
    All submissions are online.
    Research Brief, Quantitative Assignment, and Research Proposal will be submitted electronically through MyUni.
    Qualitative Assignemnt will be submitted live (in person, in the lab) and through Dropbox.
    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 (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) 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
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