The Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods provides perspectives on topics relevant to research in the field of business and management
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Journal Article

Demystifying the Arduous Doctoral Journey: The Eagle Vision of a Research Proposal  pp130-140

Rahinah Ibrahim

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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Abstract

In fast‑paced business organisations, there is critical need for conducting systematic research in order to explain and solve recurring problems in the industry. However, we find many building professionals losing their patience over the unknown end of a doctoral study as most of them practise problem‑solving in their jobs since they were so trained. The purpose of this article is to present a visualisation tool developed by a built environment faculty to explain a typical three‑year journey that mature building professionals are required to take for solving their own research inquiries. We claim that if these mature students are given a quick overview on how and what their doctoral journey would involve at the start of their studies, they will be less fearful of uncertainties and will accordingly fulfil the requirements of their doctoral studies successfully. The Eagle Research Design Table (Eagle Table) is a self‑filled tool guided by three research question’s constructs. The key to expanding the Eagle Table is identifying these constructs in a research inquiry first. We have established three constructs—“WHO”, “WHAT” and “HOW”—through prolonged participatory experience in teaching research methodology to building professionals. The “WHO” construct refers to the element or subject being used in, or impacted by, the study while the “WHAT” construct refers to the body of knowledge that is required to solve the research inquiry. The final “HOW” construct refers to the action to be taken on the element or subject during the study. In this article, we present how these three research question’s constructs, when presented in a table form, proved to be successful in providing a quick overview of a doctoral study’s journey. Hence, enabling many mature building professionals to persevere in their studies. Consequently, the academic community would benefit from the rich experience and wisdom of their industry partners in handling and tackling recurring problems in the built environment.

 

Keywords: research proposal design, research methodology, eagle table, dissertation, research framework, graduate study

 

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Journal Article

Book Review: Writing a Research Proposal – Practical guidelines for business students  pp197-197

Dan Remenyi

© Sep 2011 Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue, Editor: Ann Brown, pp87 - 197

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Abstract

The new textbook Writing a Research Proposal – Practical guidelines for business students by Professor Pumela Msweli published by Juta ISBN 978‑0‑70218‑877‑0 is a professionally produced easy to access guide to a very important aspect of academic research. The research proposal is the first step in any important research project. It is the research proposal which sets the agenda for the research, indicates its feasibility and most of all it demonstrates the researcher’s ability to undertake the work required. It is therefore most important that a competent research proposal is developed. This short book which is only 120 pages is a good guide to the work involved when developing the research proposal. It is designed for the novice to have with him or herself during the early days of their research while they are finding their feet. Over the 8 Chapters the author addresses all the important issues in an easy to understand way. Another important aspect of the book is that many of the key concepts and terms which are used in academic research are explained. Useful diagrams and tables are supplied. The issue of research language is an important one. Many novice researchers find it very difficult to get started because they do not know the terms which are used by researchers. Novices stumble over issues like deduction and induction and non sequitur are explained. However a Glossary of terms would be a helpful addition to the next edition of this book. Books by their nature have a target readership and this one is written for the novice researcher in the business studies field. Books also have a pre‑determined scope and depth and this book is written as a starter‑book which is really needed and no doubt this book will be a great success. When considering a master degree more depth may be required even at MBA and MBL level. Perhaps the book would be fully adequate for those undertaking honours level research. Finally publishers are always optimistic about the utility of their books and on the back cover it is suggested that Research Proposal – Practical guidelines for business students would be of use to doctoral students. It is true that even doctoral students have to start somewhere but I would say that a doctoral degree candidate would need to move on to more detailed texts rather soon.

 

Keywords: research proposal design, research methodology, eagle table, dissertation, research framework, graduate study

 

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Journal Article

Learning from a Doctoral Research Project: Structure and Content of a Research Proposal  pp11-20

Javed Iqbal

© Jul 2007 Volume 5 Issue 1, Editor: Ann Brown, pp1 - 36

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Abstract

Students have to present a formal research proposal at the time of admission or at the end of their first year study in the case of a doctorate. Many of them feel uncomfortable in preparing such proposals due to lack of experience or knowledge. This paper describes the way a research proposal may be prepared for doctoral projects in social sciences. The paper provides a road map to write a suitable proposal acceptable to their supervisors or examination committee. The proposal is based on a case study undertaken by the author and addresses key issues in preparing a postgraduate proposal including researcher's professional background, selection of topic, research question, research objectives, and importance of the study, scope, methodology, conceptual framework and potential outcome. These themes have been grouped under four parts: the context, the content, the process and the product.

 

Keywords: research proposal, social sciences, postgraduate study, case study

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 5 Issue 1 / Jul 2007  pp1‑36

Editor: Ann Brown

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Editorial

For Business Schools and management departments, research methods are emerging as a subject not only as a core for staff and business students at all levels but also of increasing complexity. The subject is ramifying into a number of separate but related issues. The four papers in this issue of EJBRM reflect a number of these current concerns:

The quality and nature of business and management research methods and the practical value of the results achieved (Coldwell)

The scale and nature of the ethical responsibility of organizations, researchers and students (Lindorff, Naimi)

The training and supervision of doctoral candidates (Iqbal)

Coldwell argues that although truly causally adequate explanation is beyond the capacity of social science and management research and that adequate explanation on the level of meaning also is, at best, problematical, nonetheless it is possible to adopt a methodological approach that is capable of producing practically useable research outcomes. He proposes a methodology based on critical realism and offers considerable help in the practical steps to be taken when following this approach.

Two papers consider ethical issues in business research and teaching (Lindorff, Naimi). Lindorff is concerned with researchers’ ethical obligations to participants in their research. She presents a fairly bleak view of current practice, contrasting the comparatively indifferent attitude of almost all published business research with the central role that ethical practice takes within medical and psychology research methods literature. Her view that business researchers lack training on this aspect of research is neatly met by Naimi’s paper. This paper argues that we live in a cheating culture and claims that there has been a decline in ethical conduct and “right thinking” in society today. It proposes that universities need to incorporate modules on ethics into their degree courses and suggests some of the topics that such courses might include.

Iqbal provides a road map for the process of writing a suitable doctoral proposal. He is particularly concerned with the range of choices facing the new candidate at each step of the proposal. He offers a structured approach for navigating these decisions based on his own experience.

 

Keywords: adequacy at the level of meaning, alignment, beneficence, business, case study, causal adequacy, critical realism, dialectical triangulation, dualism, enterprise integration, ethics, evidence-based research, framework, grounded research, imponderable evidence, informed consent, justice, metadata interoperability, methodological triangulation, phenomenology, piecemeal social engineer, postgraduate study, research ethics, research proposal, respect for persons, social sciences

 

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Journal Issue

Volume 9 Issue 2, ECRM 2011 Special issue / Sep 2011  pp87‑197

Editor: Ann Brown

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Editorial

The subject of research methods in business is showing an extra‑ordinary level of activity and innovation and this conference (the 10th European Conference on Research Methods in Business and Management) reflected this. These papers dealt with the problems facing management researchers in a variety of ways. Many Papers offer help in applying new methods such as Mixed Methods and Design Science and introduce new ideas such the use of visual imagery as stimuli in research interviews. The final selection of papers was agreed by the senior editor of the Journal and the guest editors. The comments of session chairs were taken into account in making the final selection of papers for this issue of the EJBRM. The papers selected were chosen for their quality of writing, their relevance to the Journal’s objective of publishing papers that offer new insights or practical help in the application of research methods in business research and the degree of innovation in the subject matter.

The chosen Papers

Two papers constitute a useful introduction to mixed methods – one used case examples to illustrate the potential value of the method (Stefan Cronholm and Anders Hjalmarsson) and one assessed the challenges facing the researcher who opts for this approach.(Roslyn Cameron)

Design Science seems to be acquiring more supporters – particularly for research into Information technology. One paper explains the technique illustrating with a detailed description of an ongoing study (Carcary). The paper by Venables suggests that few research methods courses currently include this method.

The conference received a surprisingly large number of papers on the teaching of research methods and on Project Management. This issue includes three papers on teaching research methods. One addressed the issue of the expanding range of research methods available to business researchers and proposed a framework that would help teachers to introduce the full set of options (Venables). A growing trend is that of doctoral candidates coming forward from industry and the professions. Two papers offer some extremely valuable ideas on how supervisors can support the special needs of this group of doctoral candidates – One paper argues for choosing research methods that specifically exploits this experience for the empirical research work (Caroline Cole, Steven Chase, Oliver Couch and Murray Clark). The other paper offers a framework that could help such students to work through the bewildering first few steps in the research journey that often proves too confusing and time consuming for mature candidates (Rahinah Ibrahim). The papers on Project Management while of great interest to managers tended to focus on Project Management issues rather than research methods. However one paper identified the lack of research support for the existing sets of Project Management standards produced by the professional societies (BoK) and discussed the implications.(Miles Shepherd and Roger Atkinson)

An interesting paper presents a visual technique, infographics to aid interviewers in the elicitation of relevant experiences from interview subjects (Robert Campbell, Gillian Green and Mark Grimshaw ). Pearse contributed an unusual paper on the Likert scale. This is widely used but at low levels of granularity (no of scales) and this paper presents research suggesting that we should consider using a much wider range of scales.

The PhD paper that won the award for best PhD paper was by Nicola Swan. This dealt with the problems faced by researchers collecting data in the emerging countries where facilities and attitudes differ markedly from the developed countries.

I would like to thank the help given in the reviewing of the papers from the conference from Marian Carcary, Marie Ashwin, Martin Rich, Roslyn Cameron, Gill Green, Gary Bell and John Warwick.

Ann Brown

September 2011.

 

Keywords: body of knowledge; business research; case study; certification; critical reflexivity; critical discourse analysis; critical research; curriculum design; design science research; dissertation; eagle table; graduate study; graphic elicitation; hermeneutics; inductive profession; inter-disciplinary; IS; IT CMF; knowledge representation; likert scale; maturity models; method combinations; mixed approaches; mixed methods; paradigms; pragmatism; publishing; qualitative methods; qualitative research; quantitative methods; questionnaire design; research design; research framework; research into professional practice; research methodology; research methods; research proposal design; scale construction; scale granularity infographics; teaching design science; teaching research methods

 

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