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Business Research

Methods: Research
Prof Tracie Mafileo

Beyond Silent Observation story



Research hypothesis
Statistical analysis
Example of quant

Research concerns
Thematic analysis
Example of qual

research question:
WHAT are the rates
of apostacism across
various age groups?

research question:
WHAT helps young
people in X region
remain active
church members?

Types of Research
Interview Structure

ured (closed, fixed
response; OR openended)

standardised/semiructured/ informal
guide approach
interview/life story

PAU Student Transport

(STRUCTURED - closed, fixed
1. How long have you been using PAU transport?
less than one year
1-2 years
3 or more years

2. In my experience, PAU transport is:

Always on time
Usually on time
Sometimes on time
Hardly ever on time
Never on time

PAU student transport

(STRUCTURED - open-ended)
When did you start using the PAU student

What time would you prefer the PAU bus to
leave town in the mornings?

PAU student transport (SEMISTRUCTURED - open-ended)

In our experience as a student, what is the

PAU transport system like?

What changes would you like to see in the
PAU transport system?

Life story interviews

narrative inquiry
captures biographical particulars as narrated

by the one who lives them (Chase, 2005:

a fairly complete narrating of ones entire
experience of life as a whole, highlighting the
most important aspects (Atkinson, 1998: 8).

General guidelines
for question

Avoid confusing phrasing

Double negatives eg Do you disagree that
there should not be a tax increase?
Avoid using words like dont and not in

Avoid double-barreled questions

NOT How well do you know and like the staff in
this programme (a) a lot; (b) pretty much; (c) not
too much; (d) not at all.
RATHER How well do you know the staff in this
NOT Now, the first question Id like to ask, just to
get us started is how you happened to find out
about the programme; what it was like when you
first came, you know, how you feel about it now,
and what impact its had on you?
RATHER How did you find out about the
Use singular questions

Minimise risk of bias

Specific words may trigger bias, or phrasing might
make responses more or less attractive to
particular groups
Eg Ross (199) seeking to determine interest in
household work rather than formal employment
If you could choose, would you rather do the kind of
work people do on jobs or the kind of work that is
done around the house?
Options: jobs, house, both, neither
NOT: If you could choose, would you rather do the
kind of work people do on jobs or the kind of work
that women traditionally have done around the

Use truly open-ended questions

a truly open-ended question does not presuppose

which dimension of feeling or thought will be salient for

the interviewee. The truly open-ended question allows
the person being interviewed to select from among that
persons full repertoire as possible responses those that
are most salient. Indeed, in qualitative inquiry one of
the things the inquiry is trying to determine is what
dimensions, themes, and images/words people use
among themselves to describe their feelings, thoughts,
and experiences. (Patton, 2002: 354)
NOT How satisfied are you with PAU transport
RATHER How do you feel about....? What is your
opinion of...? What do you think of....?

Using your identified research topic, devise

two questions:
Qualitative interview question
Quantitative survey question

Developing the

Sequencing considerations(Patton,
2002; Berg, 2009)
CONSIDER: education, culture or participants

and aims/focus of research

Start with easy, non-controversial THEN move
to opinions/feelings
Important questions for study
Present to past to future
Background/demographic questions space
them unobtrusively throughout or ask at end
to encourage thick description

Build on existing instruments or

create own
Literature review - reveal reliable and valid

questions used by other researchers

Reliability the extent to which a test or

procedure produces similar results under

constant conditions on all occasions (Bell,
1999, p.103)
Alternate forms method

Validity whether an item measure or

describes what it is supposed to measure or

describe (Bell, 1999, p104)

Introduction information for a self-

administered survey
Aim/objective of study, who you are, time

involved, anonymity, access to findings

Attractive questionnaire more likely to be

booklet form
response choices listed vertically rather than

proper path through questionnaire is identified
with arrows and instructions

Pretest the questions

Others familiar with the subject matter view

the questions (eg other researchers, PLHIV)

Have a practice run

Qualitative semi-structured interview guide:

Study motivation amongst first year
university students at PAU
1. Can you tell me about what motivated you to choose your
course of study?
2. What motivated you to choose PAU as an institution of study?
3. Reflecting on your experience in the first year, what did you
find motivated you the most in your studies?
Prompts: role of peers? Role of family/extended/wantoks? Cultural group?
Spiritual factors? Teaching approaches? Physical environment?

4. Can you tell me about any experiences where you felt

unmotivated in your studies over the last year?
Prompts: what factors contributed to you feeling unmotivated
your studies?


5. In those examples, what would have helped to improve your

study motivation?
6. Are there any other comments you would like to make about
study motivation amongst first year university students at PAU?