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Business

ASSIGNMENT FRONT SHEET


To be completed by student

Name .....................................................(print)
Certification: I certify that the whole of this work is the result of my individual effort and that all quotations from books, periodicals etc. have been acknowledged.

Date Submitted: .......................... Student Signature :

Student email address : Student Registration Number:

Programme : Business MBA Academic Year : 2010/11 Module title : Research Methods Module code: BUS728

Level : 7 Term: Spring (May July) Assignment no. : 2 Word guide: 1500 - 1800 Words

Percentage Weighting of this assignment for the module: 30% Issue date : Lecturer : Dr Martin Rafferty
Notes for students : 1. Students should ensure that they comply with the Institutes Plagiarism policy. 2. 10% of marks are awarded for satisfactory use of language and/or good presentation. 3. 5% of marks are awarded for satisfactory referencing and/or presentation of a bibliography where either is required. Students should make correct use of the Harvard referencing method. Guidelines for the Harvard method are included in Programme handbooks and are also available from the Business School Office. Special instructions (if any) : Assignment should be stapled in the top left corner. No plastic cover unless module tutor indicates otherwise.

Return date : 08.08.2011 Second Marker :

Comments

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Would students please note that achievement of the learning outcomes for this assessment is demonstrated against the assessment criteria shown below (which are not necessarily weighted equally). All marks/grades remain indicative until they have been considered and confirmed by the Assessment Board

Assessment Criteria
Clarity of research question and supporting objectives and aim Business/management/strategic relevance

Marks Awarded

Marks Available

25

Structure, flow, communication and originality Demonstrating clear links between all sections of the proposal

2
Insight into relevant theories to support the research question

10

3
Selection of appropriate methodology and supporting analytical tools

25

4
Range of resources/types of data textbooks, journals and correct use of Harvard Referencing Overall standard of presentation

25 05 10

The marks will be divided proportionately to give 30% of the total module mark

Additional comments from second marker or External Examiner (if required)

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Assignment 2 - Research Proposal You are required to prepare your own research proposal by proposing a research topic and theme in business / management using the following framework and sub-headings for the structure 1) Title Approximate word count - 30

2)

Research Question, Aim and Objectives Approximate word count 150 One question Three to four objectives maximum Commence each objective with a verb to ascertain, to compare, to measure, to analyse, etc

3)

Justification & Limitation of the Study Approximate word count 200 How will your study contribute towards the management of a business? What is the current weakness or shortfall and how will your study be of benefit? Limitations your access to research participants and overall sample size, statistical weakness, etc.

4)

Relevant Theme and Disciplined Area Approximate word count 200 Eg. Marketing; promotions HRM; training and development It is helpful to define the terms used from a recent academic text, journal or recognised professional body such as CIM or CIPD

5)

Relevant Theories Approximate word count 300 Eg using the impact of a business change on performance it would be appropriate to refer to Bridges (1991) model of transition. The work of Kotter and Schlesinger (1979) is widely cited in this area. Ford and Ford (2009) propose the value of feedback from those involved in change. Whilst dated, the Holmes and Rahe (1967) Social Adjustment Rating Scale remains relevant. Marks (2007) observations on discontinuous transitions and the cumulative effect of change is a further theory to support this section

6)

Previous Research Journals / Earlier Studies / Past Reports

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Approximate word count 150 Use emerald or google scholar to access academic journals that could be used in the literature search. Provide the full Harvard reference of the papers. Evidence of six publications is a satisfactory starting point Eg.

Chrusciel D (2008) What motivates the significant strategic change champion(s)? Journal of Organizational Change Management Vol 21 No 2 148-160
List in alphabetical order by authors surname Government reports MAY be relevant for this section

7)

Types of Data Employed Approximate word count 200 Define types of data what are the advantages of the different types Primary and secondary

8)

Method of Data Collection and Justification

Approximate word count - 200 Eg. Interview, questionnaire, focus group, etc Define the terms you use

9)

Preliminary Predictions / Hypothesis (Null & Alternative Hypotheses) Approximate word count 100 Two to three predictions are satisfactory ensure they have relevance and link to your research objectives

10)

Data Analysis

Explain and justify the data analysis methods and tools

11)

Direction for Further Research

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Approximate word count - 200

Approximate word count 100 Where might your work lead to? What additional areas could be studied?

12)

Additional supporting References not included in word count Where you have defined a term within your narrative, the reference should be included in this section. Additional references relating to aspects of data collection are also included here. It is not necessary to reproduce the references used for section 6

Assignment Two (30%) supporting notes 1. Writing a Research Proposal You are required to submit a research proposal for your dissertation. The proposal should be seen as a practical activity that requires the application of your conceptual and research skills. The activities required for successful completion of the proposal may vary according to the topic chosen such as strategy, finance, accounting, management, human resource, marketing, production, economics, information technology, and public or voluntary sector aspects. The research proposal should be based upon a substantial and disciplined investigation, and should extend substantially beyond the level to which related topics have been studied by you during the course in terms of indepthness and rigorousness. Thus, investigation and critical analysis are essential elements. In order to maximise the benefits that accrue from carrying out the research proposal, a number of key issues need to be given attention. These include the choice of topic, the specification of research questions, broad aims and detailed objectives, the research methods proposed, the conduct of practical activities and the approaches taken to the conceptual demands of the task. Mastering the 'Research Methods' module is the most important factor in determining the success of your research proposal. The methods should ensure that the conclusions arrived at are valid and reliable. The term 'methods' embraces all aspects of the investigation, from data collection to analysis and presentation of the research findings. It also implies an essential coherence between them. It is important that the form of analysis (for example, qualitative, quantitative or triangulation analysis) is suited to the types of information or data collected (e.g. nominal, ordinal, interval or ratio data). Other important topics include the nature and use of evidence, the forms of reasoning, and so on. You will be provided with more guidance in class about the principles underpinning an effective research method; however, it is expected that this will also be a subject for your self-directed private study.

2. Deciding the Choice of Topic Selection of your topic and the specific research question forms the basis of your proposal and the foundation on which you will build your subsequent dissertation. Considerable thought should be given to the topic area as an integral aspect of your self-directed study. The research proposal requires the selection of a specific area of knowledge or practice, which you are able to investigate further with a view to obtaining greater understanding or improvements in practice. The topic should relate to aspects of your studies. In some areas such as marketing and human resources, additional option modules have been available for study and you should only consider selecting a topic relating to an option if you chosen the specialized option. The topic should relate to a business issue (MBA), management (MSc) or marketing (MSc) that has contextual relevance. A wide range of proposals are readily developed from these broads areas and it is essential to consider the scope of your proposal. This is an area that students have difficulty with as the proposal needs to be specific with an aim. There should be a question that you are seeking to answer. The answer will be obtained through research carried out as part of your dissertation. Students are reminded of the point: NO DATA, NO DISSERTATION. Considering the practicalities and sources of data collection at this stage will go a considerable way towards supporting your dissertation and reducing difficulties when asking for permission to collect data and providing the supporting evidence that approval has been granted that adheres to current ethical policies of the University.

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Effective topics have focus, enabling the supporting literature search to provide a deep insight into a specific area. Initial thoughts relating to topics may be marketing, supply chain management, strategic management and so on. This is too wide for a research proposal, you need to select one area of the overarching subject. An example from supply chain management could be to focus on product wastage, in this way the topic moves from being general to specific. It is helpful to think using the words why, when, where, what and how to generate focus. The literature search would commence with defining the term supply chain management and breaking it down into the various components prior to expanding product wastage as one element of supply chain. Developing this example then requires reflection to frame a question which could be: What are the stock control processes that are most effective in minimizing waste? What are you actually going to do? In this instance check out, through research, what is actually happening in one area, where probably one company this is your scope it may even be one department. An objective could be to recommend a new or different process as a result of your research findings. An aim could be to suggest an implementation process. In this example there would be an element of cross-functionality as it may incorporate a training aspect in your conclusions. Allocating time to move through this type of process, based on your topic area will enable you to be specific and use a SMARTER framework to incorporate scope and contextual setting (when, where), justification and rationale of the research (why) and the proposed research methods (how) The final research proposal, aim and objectives would then require framing to include what you are going to do eg investigate effective stock control methods in company (insert name) to establish shortcomings and recommend changes/improvements.

3. Preparing a Skeleton of the Research Proposal Before commencing work for writing the research proposal, you must present a skeleton of the research proposal (see Appendix I), which will be one to two pages long. It explains the rationale for the questions you intend to investigate, the research aims, objectives and research methods you intend to use, and the likely outcomes of the endeavours (hypothetical prediction).

4. Assessment and Marking Criteria Marking of the research proposal will take into account the aspects of contents, structure and presentation. This will focus upon what you actually did in carrying out the proposal. It will describe the methods taken, the conceptual understanding of the topic and relevant contextual factors, the ability to frame questions, seek answers and generate and collect data, and the plan to analyse data and interpret information. The research proposal should contain: a statement of the initial terms of reference, a description and justification of the research methods proposed, background and relevant literature or other sources of knowledge, and an account of the proposed methods of enquiry, data generation and analysis. Account will be taken of your intellectual ability to apply knowledge gained during your studies and to show the evidence of originality and creativity in your proposal. It is expected that a high standard of reporting will be demonstrated to ensure that readers will understand and have confidence in the conduct and outcome of your research. Strict referencing using the Harvard system will be expected.

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Master Level Marking Criteria


No work has been submitted in the time allowed, or the work submitted demonstrates little or no understanding of the task or the subject matter. This may be evident where the work is substantially incoherent, irrelevant or lacking in factual content, or where these shortcomings are present in combination such that the work as a whole is unsound. Major errors of fact, or evidence of substantially poor cognitive or other relevant skills will also lead to a fail.

Fail: Marks below 30%

The work shows some knowledge and required skills are present to a degree. There may be appreciable error or omission of facts, poor structure, misdirection to the task, or poor conceptualisation or illustration of the work. Evidence of analysis and evaluation is weak. There will be indications in the work that the candidate is capable of improving it by further application to the task The work contains sufficient descriptive information. There is some analysis and explanation with appropriate illustration and example, and some attempt to evaluate. The work will generally be coherent and relevant, it will contain some useful proposals or solutions related to familiar solutions and there will be some attempt at originality. It will be communicated clearly. The work contains all the necessary contextual information. There will be adequate analysis, explanation and conceptualisation, with appropriate illustration and example, and sound attempts to evaluate and judge. The work will be substantially coherent and will contain relevant and feasible proposals or solutions related to familiar situations, some responses to uncertainty or ambiguity and some acknowledgements of the implications of change. The work will contain complete explanations using most available information. There will be substantial analysis; the ability to recognise evidence, use ideas, conceptualise, evaluate and judge in familiar situations will be clearly demonstrated. Proposals or solutions will be contextually relevant and useful, with substantial evidence of the skill necessary to operationalize them in a variety of situations, including those in which uncertainty, ambiguity or change are present. The work will provide evidence of originality and of useful knowledge transfer to novel situations. It will be coherent and convincing. The work will clearly demonstrate the ability to analyse accurately, reliably and fully, all relevant information; to use evidence; to conceptualise, evaluate and judge; to propose and operationalise effective solutions, and to show substantial originality and creativity in a variety of familiar situations or in the face of ambiguity, uncertainty or change. It will demonstrate valuable knowledge transfer and propose feasible solutions for a wide range of situations. Evidence of the ability to innovate will be present.

Fail: Marks in the range 30% 39%

Pass: Marks in the range of 40% 49% Pass: Marks in the range of 50% 59% Pass: Marks in the range of 60% - 69%

Pass: Marks in the range of 70% and above

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