Welcome to the Business Research Methods module.

I hope you will find this an exciting and rewarding module. This handbook provides essential information you need about how the module 'works'. Note that a large part of the module involves independent research, reading and analytical assessment of information collected from academic journals and books. Therefore, please read and re-read this handbook to see how everything fits together, but you also need to read other documents apart from this handbook.

2. Contacting the Module Leader

I can be contacted in the following ways:

1. During office hours - please contact the secretary of the group for up-todate information about the correct day of the week and the correct hours.

2. E-mail:

Please note that I do not use the answer phone for student queries. You can send me an e-mail if you are unable to meet me during the normal office hours and I will endeavour to arrange an appointment at a different time, but this may not always be possible.

You will be given many opportunities to discuss your work in class - hence you should make full use of these. Your classroom tasks are designed to enhance your learning experience. Much of the material gathered and knowledge gained can be directly applied to the assessed pieces of course work.

You need to submit all assignments via Oasis, as well as hand in physical copies. Please check as soon as possible that you are able to access the system and see how to submit your assignments. The Oasis pages for this module will be developed during the semester. Thus, you should look for copies of material, latest information about coursework assignments, etc. Computer failures are not a valid excuse for late submission.


3, Timetable for Meetings

There will be one lecture every week on Friday at 0900 - tentatively scheduled in W146. The duration is 120 minutes.

There will also be seminars whose duration will be 90 minutes - it is currently proposed that there will be two streams. The streams will meet on Thursday 1600 - 1730 (C 218), and Friday 1530 - 1700 (CG 43).

The tentative details of what issues will be addressed in each of these sessions is laid out in some detail in Appendix 3. The deadlines for submission will not be changed.


1. Group Literature Review

November 12,2010

2. Individual Proposal

December 15, 2010

3. Final Dissertation

May 2,2011

All of the above need to be submitted to the Student Office by 2.30 pm on the date mentioned.


4. Essential Minimum Requirements

MGT3192 is a compulsory module for all third-year B.A. in Business Studies students. The module requires you to work independently, choosing a topic and methodes) of research, to produce a 10,000 word dissertation, with a structure as outlined in Chapter 15 of this handbook. It needs to be presented in good academic style, with appropriate Harvard System _ci~ns and references, It accounts for 70% of your marks. You must obtain a minimum mark of 40% on the dissertation to pass the module.

The lecture and seminar classes will cover research methods for conducting research. You are required to submit a (individual) research proposal which

• clarifies your research topic and the research question

• has an appropriate literature review

• draws a link between the literature review and the proposed methodfs)

• offers some details about the proposed methodts) of analysis to be used

• has adequate justification for the methodology or methodologies that would be used.


This research proposal should be about 2500 words in length. Tlle topic

. can choose as your topic. These restrictions are to be found in Sections 5 and 9. It needs to be submitted by December 15, 2010 by 1630 hours. This assignment has a weight of 20%.


In order to get you more practice in doing a literature review, students will be asked to form a group of 4 to 5 and carry out a literature review on an academic topic. The topic will be assigned to the group by the tutor seminar. The literature review, which is expected to be about 3000

~o 4500 words (excluding references), needs to b.e submitted to the.· tudent Office by the end of Week 5 (before November 12th, 2010). This ssignment carries a weight of 10%. .

On submission of the proposal, all students will be assigned a supervisor. You will work with the supervisor to refine the proposal. He or she will oversee the research and guide you through the process. You must meet with your supervisor a minimum of three times to get adequate and regular guidance. Note that the supervisor can request additional


meetings; if you do not meet the supervisor at his or her request, this may affect the quality of your work. You also need to submit the filled in contact sheet (see Appendix 2) - you can download this from Oasis. Your work will not be marked if you do not submit this form, which must contain three signatures from your supervisor indicating you have had at least three consultations with him or her.

Irrespective of which pre-requisites you have completed, you must fill out and include a risk assessment form with your proposal.

You are required to check your university email accounts a minimum of once a week and to check on Oasis-plus regularly. Crucial information about the module will be communicated through group emails or Oasis-plus. If you are having trouble with fees or registration for the module and are not therefore receiving group emails or Oasis-plus, you need to resolve it as soon as possible.

Two physical copies of your research proposal (along with its electronic version) must be submitted to the Student Office by 1630 hrs, December 15th, 2010. The proposal must contain the originality statement (details in Section 10). This submission will form 20% of your final mark. General feedback for the class will be provided after the submission of the proposal. Your project supervisor should provide you with specific, informal feedback on the research proposal.


If you do not submit your proposal by December 15, 2010, the assessment will be treated as a non-submission. If you have not obtained a deferral, then the maximum marks obtained for the research proposal submitted after December 15, 2010 will be limited according to the rules followed by the business school.

Until you submit your research proposal to the student office, you will not be officially allocated a supervisor. If you do not have a supervisor allocated to you officially, your research proposal and dissertation will not be marked; you will be given o (zero) marks.


If you obtain a deferral from submitting the research proposal or are submitting late for any other reason, you must submit your proposal by March 15th, 2010. Proposals submitted after this date will not be allotted a supervisor for the academic year 2010-11. The assessment will be treated as a non-submission.

If you get poor marks in the proposal, you might fail the module, despite submitting a final dissertation at the end of

the year. '


Two typed and spiral-bound copy of your dissertation must be handed in to the student office by 1630 hrs, May 2nd, 2011. The report must contain the originality statement (details in Section 10) and a filled-in C tact Sheet (shown in Appendixz), This submission will form 70% of your final mark. The electronic version of this dissertation must be uploaded via Turn-it-in before you submit the hard copy. The Turn-it-in report must be included with the hard copy.

If ~ny of the documents mentioned in the above paragraph are missing, the submission will not be marked and treated as a non-submission.

You need to make and keep a third copy of your project for yourself. You are reminded that the original will not be handed back to you. Note that the deadline cannot be extended; if you are unable to submit you should contact the student office to check whether you can apply for a deferral.

Do inform your supervisor and the module leader if you are going to apply for a deferral. Miscommunication may result in you being penalised. If you are granted a deferral at the student office, your work will be due in and marked at the end of the next term.

You may be asked to attend a viva voce, i.e. a discussion of your project with one or both examiners. If requested to do so, you are required to attend the viva-voce after handing in the assignment but before the meeting of the Assessment Board.


Two examiners will assess your project and agree on a mark, according to the generic university guidelines for assessing third-level work, adapted to MGT 3192.

The feedback would be provided according to the marking scheme shown in Appendix 2. The Assessment Criteria for both the research proposal and the dissertation are included at the end of this handbook.

Generic feedback for the project proposal may appear on Oasis-plus shortly after the submitted material for all students is marked. Individual feedback will be given by the allotted supervisor. In the case of the project, the individual supervisors will provide the relevant feedback.


When you copy from fellow students, texts, articles or any published sources of information when doing research, you may be guilty of plagiarism. Please note the following:

• Even using one word from another writer, without speech marks, can be plagiarism.

• Sources MUST be paraphrased, i.e., rewritten in your own words when not directly quoted.

• Whether paraphrased or quoted, all sources MUST be acknowledged in the Harvard style just after the point taken from the source and later in a list of references. Failure to acknowledge in an appropriate manner makes you guilty of plagiarism.

• The commonest form of plagiarism at Middlesex University is called 'patchwork plagiarism' by the university committee on plagiarism. This is when bits and pieces of research are cut and pasted together.

• Patchwork plagiarism is as much against the university rules as copying something from beginning to end and presenting it as your own work. Work that includes patchwork plagiarism would violate


the law, if it were to be published. DON'T DO IT! (See sections 6, 11, 12 and 13 later) and also visit

Rules and Regulations: all students should be aware of the University's policies towards academic dishonesty. See the University Guide and Regulations, section F, on 'Infringement of Assessment Regulations-Academic Misconduct'. The procedures outlined there will be followed if a student is suspected of academic dishonesty, which is what plagiarism is. It is the presentation by a student as his / her own work of material, which is wholly or partly the work of another. You must visit the following web-sites:

hUp:/ skills/hss.pdf

If the person evaluating your work suspects plagiarism, then the Module Leader will send the work to the Registry. They will communicate with you about their procedure and findings.


4. Group Literature Review

November 12, 2010

5. Individual Proposal

December 15,2010

6. Final Dissertation

May 2,2011


5. Introduction

This module gives you the chance to learn how academic research is done and to undertake a substantial piece of individual work of approximately 10,000 words. You can follow up on an issue you have come across in one of your modules taught in one of the modules by the Business & Management Department. It is also a wonderful chance to clarify in your own mind the requirements of serious research and can therefore help you in choosing your future education and/or work.

Research differs a great deal from the content of most other modules, even though you may have been asked to do some research for some modules. The topic you choose must be -

• Narrow, rather than broad as is the case with most other modules, which cover a variety of topics within one general area; here you dig deep into one small topic

• Accessible - you must find sufficient background reading in the field to complete a literature review (i.e. your summary of relevant concepts, debates, models, etc.); for primary research, you will also need access to people to interview or fill out questionnaires or join focus groups, etc.

• Subject to real debate: what are the questions that should be asked about this topic to arrive at generalisable answers? How can you discover information that may help to resolve disputes within the topic? This is different from what a consultant might do in determining whether or how a particular business decision is viable. An academic research project like the one you are attempting needs to have conclusions that are more widely applicable than to a single firm or any other narrow group of firms.

You must have enough confidence in your ability to write up your research entirely in your own words.

• It means you have to deal with a complex subject, in chapters - citing the sources of information you have found while paraphrasing that information. To paraphrase means to rewrite the information in a


new set of words, chosen by you and generally called your own words. Usually paraphrases are summaries.

• You may not directly copy anything from your sources of information, not even a two or three-word phrase, without indicating that you are quoting. (This does not apply to commonly-used technical terms in a given field - you need to use your judgment here.)

• There is a separate section of this handbook on plagiarism, paraphrasing, summary and quotation, which you need to study carefully.

Module Learning Outcomes - Knowledge

• Develop a recognition and appreciation of clear aims and appropriate objectives in research

• Understand that there can be different approaches to qualitative and quantitative research, along with their strengths and weaknesses. Further, you must be able to determine the appropriateness of different methods for a particular context

• Understand that there are appropriate methods of data collection, search and analysis - for both primary and secondary data.

• The specific subject knowledge will largely be determined by the nature of the problem or issue tackled in the research project.

• You will be expected to research the background to the topic area and apply your findings to existing literature and research evidence.

• By engaging with your supervisor and from previous participation in research methods sessions, you will have knowledge of issues around data collection, data analysis, how to structure and present your research project, etc.

Module Learning Outcomes - Skills

At the end of the module, you should be able to

• explain the topic area of your research project; choose an original and feasible research topic


• formulate relevant research questions to form the basis of your project

• find appropriate secondary sources to carry out a literature review that covers both background and theory

• evaluate, select and apply appropriate data collection methods and analysis

• develop a carefully researched and documented research proposal

• determine appropriate tools for qualitative and quantitative data collection, according to the context and requirements of the project

• execute the developed research proposal and judge how to alter it according to the increasingly wider and deeper understanding of the topic

• structure the presentation of the project in an appropriate manner and write it up in a clear and reader-friendly manner

• discuss findings in the context of your knowledge of relevant theory

and practice

• formulate conclusions based on your findings

• identify realistic recommendations

• reflect on your learning experience

• paraphrase sources of ideas and information

• use consistently a chosen form of the Harvard system of citation and referencing


6. Literature Review: Paraphrasing / Summarising

This section is about reporting and analysing material about your topic that you have found - your secondary findings. (Primary findings consist of data you collect and which you are the first person to write about.) You may wish to give:

((a) An account of facts, )

I (b) A discussion of theories or

(c) Summaries of important related research which you wish your research to build on. This means any secondary material you find in

textbooks, specialist books, newspapers, journals, unpublished company documents, unpublished research or film/video/TV/radio.

you have to do three things when writing up the literature revie'Y .1-_ \eC 3

In your research: ~ ~ (II .

(1) Describe or report what others have done C> (2) Identify the source of the information and ) (3) When and where appropriate, critique the work done by others,

Here we will discuss reporting your findings.

Paraphrase-you have two choices of how to present other people's ideas or data, i.e, secondary research: paraphrase or quotation. This section is about paraphrasing your research, the most important writing skill required for reporting secondary findings. Quotations can only be relatively short and cannot be used just to relay simple information. As much as 99% of your findings in secondary sources must be paraphrased. Many students are unaware that paraphrasing is required. If this is a gap in your prior education, you need to learn to paraphrase now.

Paraphrase and summary or precis: To paraphrase is to rewrite something in a new set of words, usually termed 'your own words'. A paraphrase should explain as well as report the original. Most paraphrases are summaries, and you may remember doing summaries or precis for GCSE English, Core Skills Communications levels 2 or 3, or, if you were educated in another language, in school elsewhere. Occasionally a paraphrase is more or less the same size as the original and occasionally a paraphrase expands on the original, though this is rarer. More


often, one summarises i.e. shortens the original, giving only the main points which are relevant to the new research. So you can think in terms of 'summary' if you like.

Why is a paraphrase termed 'in your own words'? One of the main reasons is that you are writing your own research or your own coursework, and the ideas expressed there ought to be re-formulated in your own words. It is a way of taking responsibility for what you are doing.

What is gained by rewriting what is already well-expressed by someone else into our own words? At first, it might seem that it does not make sense to rewrite something into a form that is possibly not even as well-written as the original. However, there are many reasons for this rule.

1. The most important gift you gain from learning to paraphrase, as a constant practice or habit, is the development of your own style, your own voice. You thereby claim your own work; you take responsibility for it.

2. A practical reason is that it enables you to make the issues in your research the correct size for your own purposes. Paraphrasing gives you freedom to use ideas from other writers as you chose to. For instance, you may be writing a literature review about the state of research in a certain area and be able to summarise 10 sources into one sentence.

3. Another practical reason: when you paraphrase, you test your comprehension of the original. If you cannot paraphrase it, you may well not understand it. If you can paraphrase it, you will understand it better.

4. You may sometimes review relevant theories by using textbooks from a module. Textbooks are acceptable sources and save time because part of the literature review has already been done. However, these textbooks are rather long and drawn-out in order to teach readers who are new to the field. Your project requires a shorter, more streamlined version written by you, giving the text credit for covering these theories in the citation you provide, e.g. (Porter, cited in 'surname', year).

5. It is best to go back to the original theorist's or researcher's work and paraphrase directly. You can usually locate them in the list of references or from the index of your textbooks. The textbooks can save time, however.

6. Paraphrasing is easier, once you are used to it, than forming patchwork quilts of other people's words. You write as you choose, and the


rhythm of your writing will improve and the flow will be smoother. The process will get quicker.

7. Ultimately, paraphrasing is important in intellectual development. Finding alternative, but equivalent, words for your original source requires you to review your present knowledge, make comparisons and contrasts and find connections with what you already know. You may need to use a dictionary and thesaurus, as well as ask your fellow students to find a suitable form of words. However, by paraphrasing, you add the new knowledge in a connected, clearer way.

8. Paraphrasing is part of a long academic tradition. It is the way things are done, the way the game is played. If for no other reason, you need to protect yourself by learning the rules of this game. Your contemporaries from Oxbridge and the red-brick universities are likely to have developed this skill, because they will have done A levels and because staff/student ratios at the older universities allow for better and more direct feedback on their writing than you get.

9. Since paraphrasing is the way research writing is traditionally done, your reader expects it. Due to custom and practice, as well as for logical reasons to do with consistent style, as stated above, you communicate better if you paraphrase.

To copy the words of another writer without clearly indicating that it is quotation (or without a citation) is plagiarism. It is against the university rules and can be severely punished. You do not want plagiarism on your record.

To publish copied words is illegal. A writer's words as well as his/her ideas are intellectual property, so to copy another's words or to paraphrase another's ideas without a citation is theft. If you ever want to publish your own research, you must paraphrase your sources, and cite them. (Citation and referencing will be discussed in some detail later).

Patchwork plagiarism makes for very badly-written work. Writing styles are individual, a bit like fingerprints, and every time the original writer changes-through bits of plagiarism-the reader feels it. The essay or report reads badly and therefore earns lower marks than might have been. Often points are made too slowly or quickly. The work is more likely to be incoherent, i.e. not to fit together logically.


How should you paraphrase / summarise?

What many writers recommend is that you read your source carefully, making sure you understand it (by paraphrasing in your head, for one thing). You may need to look at a dictionary or thesaurus or ask friends, 'Can you think of another way to say this?' 'Do you know what this means?' Then write down what the bits you want to use mean, not what the original says. You need to find your own way of saying what you want to use from the original.

We can use a simple statement as an example. You may want to describe the general methodology of several of your sources. For instance, one source may say that:

• the problem will be dealt with by using both agreed models and by applying these to cases or

• the issue can be approached through general principles together with observation and measurement or

• the conflict can be looked at according to tried and proved methods and by seeing how solutions work in practice.

All these ways of describing the methodology could be summed up by the statement, 'This disagreement can be analysed both theoretically and empirically'. So you could paraphrase the three statements this way.

Sometimes you do not have and can not find 'your own words' to express something in one of your sources; this is interesting. Then perhaps you need to learn more about the topic until your vocabulary in that area grows.

Or, perhaps the writer has invented a new use for the word or expression and you need to use his/her term. Then quote. Explain why you think this word or expression is the best one to use to discuss an aspect of your topic. Give the author credit. From then on, you do not need to quote. (In fact, one of the legitimate reasons to quote another writer is to discuss that writer's use of language and to build an argument for your using this other writer's terminology. For instance, you might want to introduce Porter's five forces this way, briefly quoting and then using his well-known terminology. To spend a lot of time discussing Porter is time-wasting, when almost everyone interested in business knows about his 5 forces model. Say enough to remind readers of what they need to know in order to follow what you are doing with Porter's model.)


Perhaps the original is unclear and you can criticise the source for a lack of clarity-this approach needs care.

In some cases, where you want to emphasise an author's approach, either to agree or disagree with it, or even to dismiss it as irrelevant, you may want a closer paraphrase. There is no need to imitate the sentence structure or length even here. If the author is important or if the author is unclear, you may need to quote and paraphrase, in order to explain what the source means and why you are agreeing or disagreeing with what has been said. Consider the following example taken from an explanation of paraphrasing in a handbook for social science students at Middlesex University:

In modern society, the differentiation of deviants from the non-deviant populations is increasingly contingent upon circumstances of situation, place, social and personal biography, and the bureaucratically organised activities and agencies of control. (Kits use, 1961, p. 256) (Note that this quotation is long-more than 2 lines--and therefore properly presented by indenting it from the lefthand margin, single-spacing and using no speech marks.)

An acceptable paraphrase of Kitsuse's material might read something like this: labelling theorists have concluded that who and what are defined as deviant is determined by a host of factors that have little to do with behaviour itselfwhere and when the act is committed, who is committing it, and who is responding to it. (Kitsuse, 1962) (Here because the paraphrase is not a direct quotation, it is not indented, and the reference to the page number has been omitted. Even so the author and his book are indicated by surname and date of publication in the citation. Without a citation, this paraphrase would be plagiarism.)

This paraphrase of Kitsuse's words concentrates on the separation of behaviour from labels, emphasising the place the action is committed and the social status and experience of both those doing something and those, like the police we suppose, trying to control it. Here to compare the paraphrase with the original quotation, a second extended and analytical paraphrase has been created, in order to clarify. In some ways, a paraphrase is also usually an explanation and/or definition of what is being discussed. The use of the words 'labelling theorists' is a kind of interpretation of Kitsuse's process of


'differentiation'. By experimenting with and developing forms 'of words, we understand better what is said.

You may also want to suggest particular examples for such a general statement as Kitsuse's. It seems to say that white teen-age boys from Eton College might not be treated the same by the police as Afro-Caribbean boys from Harlesdon for exactly the same boisterous behaviour committed in Mayfair, an upperclass area. Which group would be labelled the 'deviants', as Kitsuse uses the word?

The relationship of paraphrasing to discussion and analysis should be clear from this example. Paraphrasing involves understanding, clarification, definition, comparison-in other words, it is the beginning of analysis. It should involve these things if we are going to use someone else's ideas or research constructively and/or to illuminate an issue for our research.


7. Group Literature Review

The group literature review is an assignment where a literature review needs to be written and submitted, as a group. The groups would be made up of 3-4 students. The literature review is expected to be about 3000 words in length (apart from the references). You can exceed this limit by about 15%.

The review must be based on a topic of academic interest that has been taught in any of the modules taught by the Business & Management department. It is expected that you will take explicit permission of the seminar tutor about the topic before you start working on it. In fact, the seminar leader will help you narrow down your chosen topic to a suitable size for your groups to start.

This review must not only convey the history of the topic that you are researching, but also trace the main developments in terms of concepts and ideas. In addition, you should critique the development of the literature to find gaps that can be addressed by future research. Good work would look at not only the history of the literature, but also at its latest developments.

The tentative marking scheme for the literature review is shown in the Appendix. The format of the references at the end of the review is described in Chapter 12.

Your group must hand in two copies of the group literature review, along with a report from Turn-it-in.

The review is due to be handed in by November 12th.


8. Books about Research

Most books are meant for reference. They are in the Hendon Business School Library. Also, the core text book and another recommended book are indicated.

Bailey, C. (2006) A Guide to Qualitative Field Research, Sage USA

Blaxter, L., Hughes, C. & Tight, M. (2006). How to Research (3rd ed.). Milton Keynes: Open University Press

Core Textbook - Blumberg, B., Cooper, D.S. & Schindler, P.S. (2007) Business Research Methods (2nd ed.l Berkshire:

McGraw Hill

Brown, R.B. (2006) Doing your Dissertation in Business and Management, Sage

Recommended: Bryman, A. & Bell, E. (2007). Business Research Methods (2nd ed.) Oxford: Oxford University Press

Butler, F. (1999). Business Research Sources: A Reference Navigator. Boston: Irwin McGraw-Hill

Cameron, S. & Price, D. (2009). Business Research Methods: A Practical Approach (1st ed.) CIPD

Collis, J. & Hussey, R. (2003). Business Research: A Practical Guide for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students (3rd ed.) Palgrave

Cottrell, S. (2005). Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument. Palgrave

De Vaus, D. (2001). Surveys in Social Research (5th ed.). Routledge

De Vaus, D. (2002). Fifty Key Problems in Data Analysis. London: Sage


Denscombe, M. (2003). The Good Research Guide: For Small-scale Social Research Projects (2nd ed.). Milton Keynes: Open University Press

Field, A. (2005). Discovering Statistics Using SPSS (2nd ed.). London:


Fisher, C. (2004). Researching and Writing a Dissertation for Business Students. New York & London. FT Prentice-Hall.

Gray, D.E. (2004) Doing Research in the Real World, London: Sage

Ghauri, P. & Gronhaug, K. (2005). Research Methods in Business Studies (3rd ed.) New York & London: Prentice Hall

Gill, J. & Johnson, P. (2002). Research Methods for Managers. (3rd ed.) London: Paul Chapman Publishing

Hart, C. (1998). Doing a Literature Review. London: Sage

Keats, D. (2000). Interviewing: A Practical Guide for Students and Professionals. Milton Keynes: Open University Press

May, T. (1997). Social Research Issues, Methods and Process. Milton Keynes: Open University Press

Maylor, H. & Blackmon, K. (2005). Researching Business and Management. Palgrave

Miles, N. E., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative Data Analysis: A Sourcebook of New Methods (2nd ed.) London: Sage

O'Dochartaigh, N. (2007) Internet Research Skills: How to do Your Literature Search and find Research Information On-line. London: Sage

Richie, J. & Lewis J. (2003). Qualitative Research Practice. London:



.xiley, A., Wood, R, Clark, M., Wilkie, E. & Szivas, E. (2000). Researching and Writing Dissertations in Business and Management. London: Thomson Learning

Ryan, B., Scapens, R. & Theobald, M. (1992). Research Method and Methodology in Finance and Accounting. London: Academic Press Salkind, N. (2004) Statistics for People Who (Think They) Hate Statistics (2nd ed.). London: Sage

Salkind, N. (2005) Exploring Research (6th ed.). Prentice-Hall

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2007). Research Methods for Business Students (4th ed.) Harlow & London: Fl' Prentice Hall

Sekaran, U. (2003). Research Methods for Business (4th ed.) Chichester & New York: Wiley

Silverman, D. (2006). Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analyzing Talk (3rd ed.). London: Sage

Walliman, N. (2004). Your Undergraduate Dissertation: The Essential Guide for Success. London: Sage

Yin, R. K. (2003). Case Study Research: Design and Methods (3rd ed.). London: Sage


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