Solving a problem or taking advantage of an opportunity involves taking a decision that is selected after performing series steps. The effectiveness of the decision is based on how well the steps are followed, how well the criteria is set and how adequately weightage have been assigned to different criteria on which the decision is based.
Business Research process
A research design is the detailed blueprint used to guide a research study towards its objectives. Business research, is a scientific investigation that involves set of highly interrelated activities, if one activity is not performed properly it will have damaging effects forthcoming activities. The article explains the steps involved in the business research process
Step 1: Identification of Problem/Opportunity
The research process starts with the identification of the issues that needs to be researched. In case of basic research conducted by academics an area of interest or some new area is identified for purpose of research.
Step 2: Preliminary collection of literature/ consultation
After the identification of problem, the next Once the problem is identified, the next step is to preliminary collection of relevant data/literature that can help develop an initial understanding of the problem; in case of business problems/opportunity consultation can help in comprehending the situation. In academic research this stage can help in initial understanding of the issue to be researched, plus identification of value it has in the field of business, gaps in existing research, contribution the research can make.
Step 3: Statement of Problem
Although other authors haven’t included this step at an explicit step, but I find it important to clearly state the problem, delineating the problem with a statement can provide rich benefits. It can help in developing clear understanding of what issue needs to be resolved, it is helpful in clearly laying out the objectives, attainment of those would lead to the solution of problem. A problem statement is a clear, precise, and succinct statement of question or issue that is to be investigated with the goal of finding an answer or solution (Sekaran, 2003).
Step 4: Detailed Literature Review
An important part of academic research, literature review serves a soul of research. It broadens the horizons of research, helps develop focus, provides direction and reduces uncertainty. Literature review involves looking for relevant literature in the body of knowledge that would help in not only the identification of relationship amongst variables but also the direction of relationship, it would help in formulation of hypotheses, further in the research it is useful in discussions. Not only does literature review helps in gaining understanding of variables, it can help in identifying the research design that may be followed for a particular study, the analytical techniques, sample size and sampling technique. A critical literature review is not summary of existing research, where author writes summaries of each article he/she read, a critical literature review has critique, it goes away from the tide, you need to cement an arguments by looking for its supporters, plus one has to look for those who negated a particular argument in their research. A good literature review identifies the significance of factors, evaluates the strength and weaknesses of a particular issue concern, compares and contrasts information, gives reasons for selecting a particular factor, links pieces of information and draws appropriate conclusion. Literature review would have helped in gaining detailed understanding of variables, their characteristics, their effects or how are they affected. Once we know the list of variables and their nature, the next step is identification of key variable, there relationship and then putting them into a diagrammatic view that would help in easily identifying dependent, independent, mediating variables.
A theoretical framework should have the following ingredients
- Identification of variables considered relevant to the study
- Discussing on the direction of relationship between two or more variables
- How and why a certain relationship is expected, these must be supported by previous research findings.
- A schematic diagram to understand the theoretical relationships.
Step 5: Research Hypothesis
A hypothesis is an educated guess; it is referred to as an educated guess because it is based on the theoretical foundation laid down in the literature review and theoretical framework. A good hypothesis must be predictable and testable. After variables are identified, and relationship among them is established, we now need to establish if the relationships hold true or not. This starts with the formulation of hypothesis. A hypothesis is defined as a logically conjectured relationship between two or more variables expressed in the form of a testable statement (Sekaran, 2003). The book provides variety of examples on hypothesis, each of the tests in the book is preceded by a hypothesis that is then tested using an appropriate statistical technique.
Step 6: Research Methodology
During this step the researcher identifies how the study will be conducted. It is important that this section should have ample information for the reader, so that if he/she wants to replicate the study in their settings they can do it with ease (Huck, 2004). There are few questions that a researcher needs to answer which drafting research methodology.
- What is the Unit of Analysis?
- Who are the subjects in the research study?
- What is the sampling technique for the study?
- What is the sample size for the study?
- What statistical techniques would be used for testing hypothesis?
- Which instrument will be used for data collection?
Step 7: Data Collection
The next step after formulating the research methodology is the collection of data. Data can be collected through variety of means that includes telephonic interviews, personally administered questionnaire, mail questionnaires, face to face interview, and observation. A few issues highlighted in data collection include timing of data collection, individual collecting the data, and cost associated with the collection of data.
Step 8: Data Entry and Screening & Cleansing of Data and
This steps starts with entering the data into any statistical software that can help in timely analysis of data. This is discussed in detail in chapter 5. Once the data is entered it is important to screen and clean the data for any anomalies, failure to do so will result in incorrect results. For instance you record pay for the respondents, and each one answers between 10000 100000, but by mistake you enter 1000 instead of 10000, this will result in wrong interpretation of results. How to do it is discussed in detail in chapter 6.
Step 9: Data Analysis with Appropriate statistical techniques
Once the data is entered and cleaned, the next step is pursuing appropriate statistical analysis based on the research hypothesis. There are number of techniques that are applied to analyze the data. In order to understand if there exist differences between groups (depending on the number of groups) we can use tests to compare groups (T-Tests, ANOVA), to investigate relationship between variables we can use correlation and for prediction we can use Linear, Multiple and Logistic Regression. All these techniques are discussed in greater detail in later chapters. One of the problems with researchers is that they do not know what test to apply in what situation, this has been taken care off by identifying the scenarios in which the test are applicable, plus detailed examples in which the test is appropriate.
Step 10: Interpretation/Presentation of Results
Once the data is analyzed and you have the results on screen, the next step is to interpret the results, followed by its presentation.one of the key issues most research face is the interpretation of the results. The researcher has to determine if the results are significant, does the hypothesis hold true, and then present the results in a meaning full easy to understand manner. In order to facilitate the research, this book after running each and every test, discusses in detail the interpretation of the results and how shall they be presented in the thesis.
Step 11: Discussion
The Discussion section is a culmination of the research and the most important part of the paper, but one that is mostly ignored. Most newbies in research simply interpret the results but do not discuss the findings. Discussion involves reviewing the research results in light of the existing research. This section involves comparing and contrasting the research results with previous research studies, and it is seen if the results are similar or contradictory to old studies. If they are contradictory the researcher needs to look for reasons that are causing this change.
Step 12: Conclusion
Final step in a research study is providing a Conclusion. It provides an overview of the entire thesis while highlighting the focal points of the discussion. This section provides the findings of the research in a logical form. The conclusions can cite references where they concur with results from other researchers. You could summarize the main points of research, but do not just list points, try making it interesting but providing an overall picture that helps in developing understanding of your work. Conclude your paper by restating what you have found, acknowledge that there is more to be explored on the topic and briefly describe the issues that remain.
- Huck, S. (2012). Reading statistics and research (6th ed.). USA: Pearson.
- Sekaran, U. (2006). Research methods for business: A skill building approach (6th ed.). India: Wiley.