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OUM Business School

BMBR5103

Business Research Method

Copyright Open University Malaysia (OUM)

BMBR5103
BUSINESS RESEARCH
METHOD
Choo Sze Yi

Copyright Open University Malaysia (OUM)

Project Directors:

Prof Dato Dr Mansor Fadzil


Prof Dr Wardah Mohamad
Open University Malaysia

Module Writer:

Choo Sze Yi

Moderator:

Assoc Prof Dr Zorah Abu Kassim


Open University Malaysia

Developed by:

Centre for Instructional Design and Technology


Open University Malaysia

First Edition, April 2016


Copyright Open University Malaysia (OUM), April 2016, BMBR5103
All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced in any form or by any means
without the written permission of the President, Open University Malaysia (OUM).

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Table of Contents
Course Guide

ixxiv

Topic 1

Business Research
1.1 Introduction to Business Research
1.2 Types of Business Research
1.3 The Importance of Business Research
1.4 Ethics in Research
1.5 Features of a Good Research
1.6 Scientific Research Characteristics
1.7 Terms in Research
1.8 Scientific Method
1.9 Developing and Verifying Theories
Summary
Key Terms
References

1
2
3
5
7
8
10
12
15
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Topic 2

Research Process
2.1 Nature of Business Research
2.2 Stages in the Research Process
2.3 Defining a Research Problem
2.4 Preparing a Research Proposal
Summary
Key Terms
References

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25
29
32
37
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Topic 3

Reviewing Literature
3.1 Why Do We Do Literature Review?
3.2 The Critical Review
3.3 Literature Sources
3.4 Literature Searching
3.5 Writing the Literature
Summary
Key Terms
References

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55
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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Topic 4

Research Design
4.1 The Purpose of Research Design
4.2 Basic Research Design
4.3 Qualitative and Quantitative Methods
4.4 Research Sampling
4.4.1 The Reasons for Sampling
4.4.2 Stages in Sampling
4.4.3 Types of Sampling Methods
Summary
Key Terms
References

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Topic 5

Data Collection
5.1 Methods of Data Collection
5.2 Primary Data Collection Method: Survey
5.2.1 Errors in Survey Research
5.2.2 Methods of Communication When Conducting a
Survey
5.3 Secondary Data Collection Methods
5.3.1 Objectives of Secondary Data Research
5.3.2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Secondary Data
5.3.3 Sources of Secondary Data
Summary
Key Terms
References

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101
102
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Research Instruments and Measurements


6.1 Questionnaire design
6.1.1 Content and Purpose of the Questions
6.1.2 Phrasing and Constructing Questions
6.1.3 The Art of Asking Questions
6.1.4 Question Sequence
6.2 Layout of Questionnaires
6.3 Measurement and Types of Scales
6.3.1 Measurement
6.3.2 Types of Scales
6.4 Measurement Criteria
6.5 Attitude Measurement and Rating Scales
6.5.1 Attitude Measurement
6.5.2 Rating Scale
Summary
Key Terms
References

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Topic 6

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Topic 7

Data Analysis
7.1 Stages of Data Analysis
7.1.1 Editing
7.1.2 Coding
7.2 Data Entry
7.3 Basic Data Analysis: Descriptive Analysis
7.3.1 Introduction to Basic Data Analysis
7.3.2 Tabulation
7.3.3 Cross-tabulation
Summary
Key Terms
References

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Topic 8

Business Statistics
8.1 Hypothesis Testing
8.2 Bivariate Analysis: Chi-Square, T-Test, Anova,
Regression and Simple Correlation Coefficient
8.2.1 Chi-square Test
8.2.2 T-test for Comparing Two Means
8.2.3 ANOVA
8.2.4 Regression
8.2.5 Simple Correlation Coefficient
8.3 Multivariate Statistics: Factor, Cluster, Discriminant and
Manova
8.4 Non-parametric Statistics: Mann-Whitney,
Wilcoxon-Match Pair and Kruskall-Wallis Tests
Summary
Key Terms
References

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Topic 9

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Analysing Qualitative Data


201
9.1 Quantitative versus Qualitative Data
201
9.2 Qualitative Analysis
202
9.3 Deductive-based and Inductive-based Analytical Procedures 203
9.3.1 Deductive-based Analytical Procedures
204
9.3.2 Inductive-based Analytical Procedures
206
9.4 Using Research Software for Qualitative Data Analysis
207
Summary
209
Key Terms
210
References
210

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Topic 10

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Report Writing and Presentation


10.1 Generating the Report
10.2 Format of Report
10.3 Report Writing Tips
10.4 Report Presentation
Summary
Key Terms
References

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COURSE GUIDE

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COURSE GUIDE

ix

COURSE GUIDE DESCRIPTION


You must read this Course Guide carefully from the beginning to the end. It tells
you briefly what the course is about and how you can work your way through
the course material. It also suggests the amount of time you are likely to spend in
order to complete the course successfully. Please keep on referring to the Course
Guide as you go through the course material as it will help you to clarify
important study components or points that you might miss or overlook.

INTRODUCTION
BMBR5103 Business Research Method is one of the courses offered by the OUM
Business School at Open University Malaysia (OUM). This course is worth 3
credit hours and should be covered over eight to 15 weeks.

COURSE AUDIENCE
BMBR5103 Business Research Method is one of the required courses for the
Masters of Business Administration programme. The course assumes you have
little or no previous knowledge of conducting research but you are required to
identify business problems in your organisation and undertake a scientific
business research process that will be discussed later on in the course. This is a
three-credit hour course conducted over a semester of 14 weeks.
As an open and distance learner, you should be acquainted with learning
independently and being able to optimise the learning modes and environment
available to you. Before you begin this course, please ensure that you have the
right course material, and understand the course requirements as well as how the
course is conducted.

STUDY SCHEDULE
It is a standard OUM practice that learners accumulate 40 study hours for every
credit hour. As such, for a three-credit hour course, you are expected to spend
120 study hours. Table 1 gives an estimation of how the 120 study hours could be
accumulated.

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COURSE GUIDE

Table 1: Estimation of Time Accumulation of Study Hours


Study Activities

Study
Hours

Briefly go through the course content and participate in initial discussion

Study the module

60

Attend 3 to 5 tutorial sessions

10

Online participation

12

Revision

15

Assignment(s), Test(s) and Examination(s)

20

TOTAL STUDY HOURS ACCUMULATED

120

COURSE OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
1.

Identify business issues that arise in an organisation, plan, determine and


carry out research to aid managerial decision-making;

2.

Gather and analyse data;

3.

Prepare, write and present a research proposal and report; and

4.

Develop the skills and knowledge required to be a good researcher.

COURSE SYNOPSIS
This course is divided into 10 topics. The synopsis for each topic can be listed as
follows:
Topic 1 outlines the concept and definition of business research. The topic
describes basic and applied research. Here, you will also discuss the importance
of good ethics in conducting research. Next, you will learn the characteristics of
scientific research and basic research terms such as a theory, concepts and
propositions. Finally, you will be exposed to the procedures of scientific research
and the generation and verification of theories.

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Topic 2 focuses on the importance of business research and the characteristics of


good scientific research. You will see the different natures of business research,
followed by a discussion on the stages of the research process. Next, you will
discuss identifying a research issue and generating a research problem. Lastly,
you will also learn extensively about how to write a research proposal.
Topic 3 explores the different natures of business research the stages of research
process, as well as the importance of preparing a thorough research proposal. In
this topic, you will discuss reviewing literature for research, followed by the
different sources of literature that are available. Next, you will learn how to
conduct searches for literature. Lastly, you will be exposed to the ways to
produce a good literature review write-up for your research.
Topic 4 discusses the importance of a good literature review for research. This
topic will highlight the concept of research design, followed by a discussion on
basic research design techniques. You will come across two distinctive methods
of research; qualitative and quantitative methods and the different techniques for
each method. Research sampling, the purposes of sampling and the stages
involved in sampling will also be discussed. Lastly, the various types of sampling
frequently found in business research will be identified.
Topic 5 covers research design and the importance of sampling in business
research. This topic describes the methods of data collection commonly found in
research, followed by a discussion on primary data collection methods, including
the advantages and disadvantages of these methods, errors in survey research
and methods of communication when conducting a survey. Lastly, you will also
learn about secondary data collection methods, followed by a detailed
explanation of the advantages and disadvantages of these methods and the
sources of secondary data.
Topic 6 introduces the primary and secondary data collection methods
commonly used in research. The importance of questionnaire design and the
guidelines for questionnaire layout will be discussed in this topic. The major
types of scales commonly used in business questionnaires and the important
criteria of good measurement in a questionnaire will also be covered. Lastly, you
will learn about attitude measurement and the various types of attitude rating
scales used in research.
Topic 7 elaborates on questionnaire design and the different types of rating scales
and measurements used in questionnaires. It explains the important stages of
data analysis which consists of editing and coding. The differences in coding
fixed-alternative and open-ended response questions and the importance of data
entry to your research will also be discussed. Lastly, you will explore descriptive
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COURSE GUIDE

statistics and its various measures, tabulation and cross-tabulation that will serve
as an introduction to the following topic of business statistics in this module.
Topic 8 focuses on the important stages of data analysis and basic descriptive
statistics. The importance of hypothesis testing and its types of errors will be
highlighted in this topic. Different statistical approaches including bivariate,
multivariate and non-parametric analysis will be explored as well.
Topic 9 discusses the application of business statistics in research. This topic
focuses on qualitative data analysis namely the deductive and inductive analysis
approaches with a detailed discussion on qualitative data analysis procedures.
Lastly, you will discuss the use of research software in qualitative data analysis.
Topic 10 provides an in-depth analysis of qualitative data analysis. Here you will
learn about the major concerns in generating research reports, the format and
content of a research report, followed by a discussion of the criteria required for
good research report writing. The inclusion of visual or graphical aids in research
reports followed by a discussion on oral presentation will also be presented in
this topic.

TEXT ARRANGEMENT GUIDE


Before you go through this module, it is important that you note the text
arrangement. Understanding the text arrangement will help you to organise your
study of this course in a more objective and effective way. Generally, the text
arrangement for each topic is as follows:
Learning Outcomes: This section refers to what you should achieve after you
have completely covered a topic. As you go through each topic, you should
frequently refer to these learning outcomes. By doing this, you can continuously
gauge your understanding of the topic.
Self-Check: This component of the module is inserted at strategic locations
throughout the module. It may be inserted after one sub-section or a few subsections. It usually comes in the form of a question. When you come across this
component, try to reflect on what you have already learnt thus far. By attempting
to answer the question, you should be able to gauge how well you have
understood the sub-section(s). Most of the time, the answers to the questions can
be found directly from the module itself.

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Activity: Like Self-Check, the Activity component is also placed at various


locations or junctures throughout the module. This component may require you to
solve questions, explore short case studies, or conduct an observation or research.
It may even require you to evaluate a given scenario. When you come across an
Activity, you should try to reflect on what you have gathered from the module and
apply it to real situations. You should, at the same time, engage yourself in higher
order thinking where you might be required to analyse, synthesise and evaluate
instead of only having to recall and define.
Summary: You will find this component at the end of each topic. This component
helps you to recap the whole topic. By going through the summary, you should
be able to gauge your knowledge retention level. Should you find points in the
summary that you do not fully understand, it would be a good idea for you to
revisit the details in the module.
Key Terms: This component can be found at the end of each topic. You should go
through this component to remind yourself of important terms or jargon used
throughout the module. Should you find terms here that you are not able to
explain, you should look for the terms in the module.
References: The References section is where a list of relevant and useful
textbooks, journals, articles, electronic contents or sources can be found. The list
can appear in a few locations such as in the Course Guide (at the References
section), at the end of every topic or at the back of the module. You are
encouraged to read or refer to the suggested sources to obtain the additional
information needed and to enhance your overall understanding of the course.

PRIOR KNOWLEDGE
No prior knowledge required.

ASSESSMENT METHOD
Please refer to myINSPIRE.

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COURSE GUIDE

REFERENCES
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Pearson Education.
Sekaran, U. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach (4th
ed.). United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Zikmund, W. G. (2003). Business research methods (7th ed.). United States: SouthWestern, Thomson Learning.
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

TAN SRI DR ABDULLAH SANUSI (TSDAS) DIGITAL


LIBRARY
The TSDAS Digital Library has a wide range of print and online resources for the
use of its learners. This comprehensive digital library, which is accessible
through the OUM portal, provides access to more than 30 online databases
comprising e-journals, e-theses, e-books and more. Examples of databases
available are EBSCOhost, ProQuest, SpringerLink, Books24x7, InfoSci Books,
Emerald Management Plus and Ebrary Electronic Books. As an OUM learner,
you are encouraged to make full use of the resources available through this
library.

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Topic

Business
Research

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Explain the concept of research;

2.

Discuss the differences between basic and applied research;

3.

Explain the importance and characteristics of a good research;

4.

Discuss when business research is needed and when it should not be


conducted;

5.

Describe the ethics in conducting research;

6.

Describe the characteristics of scientific research; and

7.

Distinguish research terms.

INTRODUCTION
In this introductory topic, we will discuss the concept and definition of business
research. Basic and applied research will be highlighted and their differences
identified. We will then discuss the importance of good ethics in conducting
research. After which, we will focus on the characteristics of scientific research
and basic research terms such as theory, concepts and propositions. We will then
emphasise on the procedures of scientific research. Lastly, we will discuss theory
generation and the verification of theories.

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1.1

TOPIC 1

BUSINESS RESEARCH

INTRODUCTION TO BUSINESS RESEARCH

The term research is no longer unusual for us. We come across this term daily
and have done plenty of research, be it small or extensive ones, every day. In
todays technology era coupled with easy access to our smartphones, iPads,
tablets and computers, for example it has become a norm for us to research or
gather information before purchasing or choosing a place to stay for vacation.
Another example is before we decide which new smartphone we ought to
purchase, we would make time to read reviews of the pros and cons of the
smartphone, we would even get first-hand information from friends who are
currently using the same model and analyse the information collected. All of us
have the tendency to conduct research in our own ways. The same goes for
business research.
The scope of research in business is wider as different people in the organisation
play different roles, but all of these roles lead back to one aim which is to acquire
accurate information for decision-makers. Business research is an indispensable
aspect that aids decision makers to formulate decisions based on constructive
and objective information.
Based on the definition from Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary (2010):

Research is a careful study of a subject, especially in order to discover new


facts or information about it.

The definition by Zikmund et al. (2013) in the book Business Research Methods
is:

Business research is the application of the scientific method in searching for


the truth about business phenomena. These activities include defining
business opportunities and problems, generating and evaluating ideas,
monitoring performance, and understanding the business process.

Business research consists of several stages such as the generation of idea and
theory, identification of problem, searching and collection of information, data
analysis and evaluation, interpretation of results and the presentation of findings
in a detailed report.

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TOPIC 1

BUSINESS RESEARCH

The key concept in the definition of business research is based upon the ideas of
scientific and systematic information methods. The term scientific is emphasised
in the definition to denote that accurate information is attained through research
and the findings or information should be able to support existing theories.
Likewise, the term systematic implies appropriate research processes or stages.

ACTIVITY 1.1
From your own understanding, define the term business research.
Compare and discuss your definition with your classmates.

1.2

TYPES OF BUSINESS RESEARCH

The primary purpose of research is to acquire information, be it for our better


understanding or for problem-solving purposes. In a business context, research is
divided into two main elements which are:
(a)

Basic Business Research


(i)

It is also known as pure research conducted to expand the limits of


knowledge without the need to solve the issue or problem (Zikmund
et al., 2013).

(ii)

Usually this type of research does not address or formulate specific


solutions for the organisation.

(iii) An example of basic research, sometimes known as fundamental


research is the formulation of an index on types of lifestyles in
Malaysia.
(b)

Applied Business Research


(i)

It is conducted with the goal of addressing and formulating specific


solutions for any given issue or problem.

(ii)

Usually involves specific and extensive research to solve a particular


problem or improve a situation.

(iii) For instance, an organisation conducts research to determine the


effects of advertising on the sales of product X.

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TOPIC 1

BUSINESS RESEARCH

As mentioned earlier, the scientific method in business research is applicable in


both basic and applied business research. Often, the nature of a good scientific
researcher lies upon his or her ability to conduct a study based on facts and
evidences. Scientific method is defined as research which involves the use of
knowledge, theory, procedure and empirical evidence to formulate significant
findings, results or conclusion for a certain issue or problem.

Figure 1.1: Scientific method in business research


Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

Figure 1.1 exhibits a graphic illustration of the scientific method used in business
research. It is important to note that a good basic or applied business research is a
research conducted using a scientific method. We will discuss further on
scientific method in the later parts of this topic.

ACTIVITY 1.2
Explain basic and applied business research using a situation for each
one, with the inclusion of scientific methods in both.

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TOPIC 1

1.3

BUSINESS RESEARCH

THE IMPORTANCE OF BUSINESS


RESEARCH

The question some of you may ask is what is the main purpose of doing
research? Why do we do research? As we are well aware, business research is
essential as a guide to aid decision makers in making well-founded decisions on
specific issues or problems. Research is a tool used by managers to gather
relevant information to assist them in identifying a problem or issue in the
organisation and as a means of resolving the problem with a systematic and
organised approach.
With that being said, however, it is not mandatory for organisations to conduct
business research. The key determinants of whether a business research is
necessary to be carried out in an organisation depend on:
(a)

(b)

(c)

Time Constraint
(i)

Research is a time-consuming activity making time a significant factor


in deciding whether a research should be carried out or not.

(ii)

Research is definitely not an option for managers if a decision requires


an immediate solution.

Availability of Data
(i)

The second determinant is sufficiency and accessibility of information


or data.

(ii)

If there is insufficient data to solve an existing issue, it is wise for


managers to instruct for a study to be conducted to collect necessary
information.

Nature of the Decision


(i)

Managers should also consider if the decision will have strategic or


tactical importance and the possible impact on the organisation.

(ii)

Strategic decision is mainly a decision that has long-term impact over


the whole business organisation, while a tactical decision is the
decision to carry out, implement and achieve the strategic decision
made by the organisation. For instance, the strategic decision of
Company A is to achieve the status of supermart leader in Malaysia.
The tactical decision of Company A in this case is to expand and open
supermart branches in major cities across Malaysia.
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TOPIC 1

BUSINESS RESEARCH

(iii) It is suggested that business research be carried out if a decision is


expected to significantly impact the organisation.
(d)

Benefits versus Costs


(i)

Business research is also cost-consuming as it may cost an


organisation a great amount of money. The decision of managers to
conduct business research should weigh upon these questions:

(ii)

Is the research worth the amount invested?

Will the research facilitate managers in good decision-making


efforts?

Are the research expenses well-spent?

By asking these questions, managers can identify whether the value


from research exceeds the cost or vice versa.

Figure 1.2: Checklist to conduct research

ACTIVITY 1.3
By using the checklist (see Figure 1.2), provide a situation which favours
conducting business research and another situation which rules out
business research in a company. Compare and discuss both situations
with your classmates.

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TOPIC 1

1.4

BUSINESS RESEARCH

ETHICS IN RESEARCH

Do you know that ethics is not only applicable to professionals such as doctors,
lawyers or accountants? By definition, ethics are moral principles or beliefs that
determine whether the behaviour or the doings of a person is right or wrong.
Researchers are therefore also obligated by a code of ethics or a code of conduct
which determines the right behaviour expected of them. A researcher needs to be
ethical to:
(a)

Respondents
(i)

Often times, privacy is the reason why respondents decline to


participate in many types of research or surveys. It is important for a
researcher to be ethical and seek a respondents permission or
willingness to share information before conducting the research.

(ii)

The researcher should not in any way coerce or impose threats or


stress on respondents.

(iii) He or she should be aware that any information obtained can only be
used for research purposes and this information should never be
disseminated to other parties.
(iv) Researchers should also bear in mind that it is the right of the
respondent to request for confidentiality or anonymity. Needless to
say, privacy and confidentiality are two of the main ethical elements
in research.
(b)

(c)

Client
(i)

In the event that a researcher is hired to conduct a survey or


observation on behalf of a client, the researcher is obligated to act in
the best interest of the client and not in the interest of the researcher
himself.

(ii)

In addition, the researcher should also ensure that the information


obtained is accurate and of high quality.

Other Researchers
(i)

A researcher should respect and appreciate the original work of other


researchers without any attempt to plagiarise their work. Plagiarism is
a serious offence in the research field.

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TOPIC 1

(ii)

BUSINESS RESEARCH

Should you be required to use other researchers work, please do


make sure that due credit is given to the original owner by citing and
referencing properly.

ACTIVITY 1.4
1.

In your own words, explain your understanding of ethics and


why you think it is important in research.

2.

Provide a research scenario on either an ethical or non-ethical


conduct by a researcher. Based on the scenario, discuss with your
classmates why you find it ethical or non-ethical.

1.5

FEATURES OF A GOOD RESEARCH

A good research is carried out using dependable sources or data in a professional


and systematic manner that generates accurate and reliable results to cater to the
needs of decision makers. As discussed earlier, a good research has to comply
with the scientific method which consists of:
(a)

(b)

Well-defined and Clear Purpose


(i)

The purpose of conducting a business research should be carefully


defined and outlined. A clear purpose is important to ensure that the
business research is properly executed and serves its purpose for the
researcher, decision makers and for future research (Cooper &
Schindler, 2013).

(ii)

The statement of problem should be discussed in detail to provide


readers with adequate knowledge and a firm understanding of the
issue that has led to the need for conducting the business research.

Comprehensive Research Process


(i)

Researchers should clearly outline and illustrate the research


procedure as well as highlight additional processes (where necessary)
to enable other researchers to execute similar research.

(ii)

Information such as the sources of data and methods of sampling


should be included. However, in cases where the researcher is
obligated to protect and safeguard sensitive information should the
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TOPIC 1

BUSINESS RESEARCH

information require confidentiality, he or she ought to cautiously


provide only necessary information.
(c)

(d)

(e)

(f)

Well-planned Research Design


(i)

A good research design includes a thorough write-up, clear sampling


techniques and a selection of data that is carefully planned and
discussed (Cooper & Schindler, 2013).

(ii)

Researchers should also maintain neutrality and avoid personal


feelings or biasness which might cloud their judgement. This is
especially relevant when the researcher is investigating using
quantitative methods of analysis.

Ethical Research
(i)

Researchers should conduct business research in a proper ethical


manner. It is important for a researcher to respect and be responsible
for protecting the confidentiality and anonymity of participants or
respondents.

(ii)

Researchers should also cite and acknowledge sources of information


used in their research.

Extensive Analysis
(i)

Researchers should ensure that the data obtained is reliable and valid
for the analysis that is to be carried out. In cases where a statistical
method is employed for analysis, the probability of errors and other
statistical estimation techniques should be carefully applied.

(ii)

It is important for researchers to conduct adequate analysis to achieve


reliable findings to further assist decision makers or other researchers,
whenever necessary.

Well-written Presentation of Report


(i)

A comprehensive report of the business research should be prepared


with the inclusion of the interpretation of findings. Researchers
should also provide ample discussions from the findings.

(ii)

Researchers should present a well-organised, detailed yet eloquent


written report of the research conducted.

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TOPIC 1

BUSINESS RESEARCH

A good business research is one that achieves the purpose of and assists the
researcher, decision makers or management of the company to make sound
decisions in solving a certain issue or problem. Academically, a good research
contributes to literature and leaves a significant contribution to the respective
fields of studies. A comprehensive discussion on each of these elements will be
presented in the remaining parts of this module.

1.6

SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH CHARACTERISTICS

Scientific research is a systematic way of studying an issue or idea empirically.


The focus point of a scientific research is problem-solving using organised
methods or procedures. The process of scientific research includes problem
identification, data collection and data analysis to form a valid and informed
conclusion or finding. Often times, scientific research takes the form of careful
observations which lead to a rigorous investigation that is time-consuming. The
characteristics of scientific research are:
(a)

Objectivity
(i)

When conducting scientific research, you as a researcher should be


able to maintain neutrality and not be influenced by your personal
opinions. It is important to bear in mind that your research should not
be clouded by your own perceptions or biasness as this could affect its
outcome.

(ii)

For instance, you were convinced that your lifestyle does not have any
influence on your health. However, through various scientific studies,
it is proven that a healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy body. Based on
this proven fact, you should not allow your mind-set to influence
your findings when researching this correlation.

(iii) Let us discuss another example: An experienced insurance agent


through his experience finds that younger customers are more
reckless in driving. However, his experience is not considered as
objective unless there is concrete evidence such as statistics
demonstrating that the numbers of accidents involving young drivers
are significantly more than those with older drivers.

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TOPIC 1

(b)

(c)

(d)

11

Verifiable or Testable
(i)

Scientific research does not just rely on conjecture or ideas but is


supported with empirical evidence or proven facts. It is therefore
reliable and provides precision to existing theories.

(ii)

For instance, we know that humans need oxygen to survive and our
brains would suffer severe damage without oxygen for approximately
three to four minutes at most. If you were to test the validity of this
statement, the result would be irrefutable because it has been tested
and verified based on many observations and studies.

Replicable
(i)

The term replication in research is described as an act that imitates or


mirrors previous studies in order to reproduce similar results. This
means that similar research using similar methods should bear similar
results for the research to be classified as a scientific research.

(ii)

For instance, the result of recent research conducted in your


organisation has established that a good team leader yields better
teamwork and productivity performance. If similar research is
conducted in another organisation using the same method and still
bears the same result as yours, you are thus able to say that you have
conducted a scientific research.

Accuracy
(i)
You should also remember that scientific research is all about
accuracy. Accuracy is when you are able to state a matter to its exact
point. In other words, it is simply being certain or definite of your
work. Hence, it is important to ensure that your research produces an
accurate finding or result.
(ii)

(e)

BUSINESS RESEARCH

For instance, you could minimise discrepancies by accurately stating


that 100 pairs of shoes are produced from 100 hours of labour.

Comprehensive
(i)

A scientific research is one that is complete and includes a theoretical


framework, detailed background study and research design, analysis,
findings and discussions. In other words, you should ensure that you
take into consideration major key aspects and conduct a thorough
research.

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TOPIC 1

(ii)

BUSINESS RESEARCH

For instance, in order to study the preferences of customers and


provide feedback for your companys newly launched product, you
should opt for 100 respondents in a survey rather than just 10 to 20
respondents to establish a more reliable finding.

ACTIVITY 1.5
1.

What are the criteria of good business research? In your opinion,


how can a researcher fulfill these criteria and produce good
research?

2.

List out and briefly explain the characteristics of scientific research


in your own words.

1.7

TERMS IN RESEARCH

This section explains the most common terms found in many research studies.
What do you understand from the word theory?
The definition of theory as stated by Zikmund et al. (2013) is:
A formal, logical and testable explanation of some events that includes

predictions of how things relate to one another.

The definition by Cooper and Schindler (2013) is:

A set of systematically interrelated concepts, definitions and propositions


that are advanced to explain and predict facts.

Theory is thus defined as a generalised proposition or concept with the intention


to provide reasonable explanation and prediction of two or more related ideas.
Theory is often established through a detailed review and studies of numerous
findings or similar cases. For example, to predict human behaviour, the Theory
of Reasoned Action (TRA) by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) is often used in business
research.
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BUSINESS RESEARCH

13

Concept on the other hand is defined by Zikmund et al. (2013) as:

A generalised idea about a class of objects, attributes, occurrences, or


processes that has been given a name.

While, Cooper and Schindler (2013) defined concept as:

A generally accepted collection of meanings or characteristics associated


with certain events, objects, conditions, situations and behaviours.

In short, concept is also known as an abstract of an idea or a building block to a


theory (Zikmund et al., 2013) that does not specifically represent anything.
Concept is a word or term that describes various incidents or conditions. We will
discuss two instances of concepts using the ladder of abstraction. The first is the
intangible concept, where wealth is the concept, with asset being a more specific
idea, while money is the most concrete way to describe the concept of wealth. Let
us now look at an example of a tangible concept, where an electronic device is the
concept, with computer being a specific description, followed by Mac Apple
laptop as the concrete example to the concept of an electronic device. Do
remember that as you move up the ladder (see Figure 1.3), the concrete concept
becomes more abstract or general.

Figure 1.3: Illustration of ladders of abstraction

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TOPIC 1

BUSINESS RESEARCH

Construct on the other hand is defined by Zikmund et al. (2013) as:


A term used to refer to concepts measured with multiple variables.

Similarly, Cooper and Schindler (2013) stated that construct is:

An image or abstract idea specifically invented for a given research and/or


theory-building purpose.
Construct then is a collective idea or event in an abstract form. Constructs are
combined concepts or ideas that are often used when the ideas or concepts are
not directly observable (Cooper & Schindler, 2013). For instance, fear, intelligence
or interests are examples of constructs.
Next, we move on to discuss the definition of propositions. Zikmund et al. (2013)
defined proposition as:

Statements explaining the logical linkage among certain concepts by


asserting a universal connection between concepts.
The definition by Cooper and Schindler (2013) states that proposition is:

A statement about observable concepts that may be judged as true or false.

Propositions can hence be defined as a statement that is used to connect and link
different concepts or variables together to form an explanation of the relationship
between these concepts or variables. This is an example of a proposition which
has not been verified: continuous heavy rain for a couple of days may cause flash
flood and massive traffic jam in the city.
Variable is referred to as an entity, symbol or characteristic with numerical or
measurable values. For instance, sales, age and salary are examples of measureable
variables.
Hypothesis is known as a statement of proposition that is formed for further
empirical testing or measurement. The result or finding of a hypothesis can turn
out to be in its favour or can be proven wrong. For instance, the probability of
heavy rain increases the probability of flood. This hypothesis can be tested and
proven.
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1.8

BUSINESS RESEARCH

15

SCIENTIFIC METHOD

As defined in the earlier part of this topic, scientific method makes full use of
general knowledge, theory, procedure and empirical proof to formulate solutions
to an issue. Zikmund et al. (2013) defined scientific method as:

A set of prescribed procedures for establishing and connecting theoretical


statements about events, for analysing empirical evidence, and for predicting
unknown events; techniques or procedures used to analyse empirical
evidence in an attempt to confirm or disprove prior conceptions.

The step-by-step procedure of the scientific method is summarised as follows


(see Figure 1.4):

Figure 1.4: Procedure of scientific method


Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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BUSINESS RESEARCH

ACTIVITY 1.6
1.

Define and differentiate theory, concept and proposition. Provide


an example for each term.

2.

Draft a research plan based on the standard procedure of


scientific method and discuss this with your classmates.

3.

Discuss with your classmates and prepare a research plan on the


topic of customer satisfaction. You can alternatively decide to
prepare a research plan on other topics that are appropriate for
your course of study.

1.9

DEVELOPING AND VERIFYING THEORIES

Based on the details in the previous section, you should by now have a clear
understanding of the term theory. You ought to know that often times theory is
generated mostly through deductive and inductive reasoning as explained in the
following:
(a)

(b)

Deductive Reasoning
(i)

Deductive reasoning starts out as a general statement or hypothesis


which aims to examine the possibilities of reaching a specific, logical
conclusion. This means going from the general (the theory) to the
specific (observations).

(ii)

For instance: Assume that School A is the only all-boy school in


Malaysia. K lives in Malaysia and has attended an all-boy school since
young. Based on this, we can logically deduce that K attends School
A.

Inductive reasoning
(i)

Inductive reasoning is the opposite of deductive reasoning. Inductive


reasoning makes broad generalisations from specific observations.
Therefore, from many observations, you can discern a pattern, make a
generalisation and infer an explanation or theory.

(ii)

For instance: The production of employees in Company C shows


random fluctuation mostly from the start to the middle of the month.
The manager through his observation noticed that the production of
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BUSINESS RESEARCH

17

employees were always higher during the first two weeks of the
month in conjunction with the handing out of high bonus and salary
pay-outs. He then deduced that the production of employees is
closely related to bonus and salary pay-outs. Therefore, the manager
of Company C generalised that the employees productivity will
increase if their bonus and salary pay-out are high.
After the process of theory generation, you can now conduct observations or
empirical analysis to verify your theory. It is worth noting that a proven solid
theory is one that has gone through numerous tests.

ACTIVITY 1.7
1.

How would you differentiate between basic business research and


applied business research? In your opinion, which would be a
better choice for a researcher? Why?

2.

Situation:
You are a director of an organisation who has hired a researcher to
conduct a research on recent employment issues in your
organisation. At the end of the research, the researcher presented
a full write-up report for your reference.
How would you be able to identify if it was a good research?

3.

Situation:
As the manager of a company, you see the need to conduct a
business research on the effect of productivity to your companys
operation after a major acquisition, in which the company
acquired another company in the same business. However, the top
management of your company does not seem quite interested in
the research.
How would you convince your companys top management that
this business research is very much needed for the betterment of
the company?

4.

In your opinion, what are the dos and donts of an ethical


researcher?

5.

What do you understand by deductive reasoning and inductive


reasoning? Discuss and differentiate between them with examples.

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TOPIC 1

BUSINESS RESEARCH

Business research is a systematic process which includes identifying


problems or issues, the gathering of information, evaluation and analysing of
data and the presentation of a research report.

Business research is categorised into basic business research and applied


business research. Basic business research is carried out often with the
intention of validating or furthering our understanding of an issue without
the need to solve it. Applied business research on the other hand is
conducted with the goal of specifically solving an issue or problem.

The consideration of conducting a business research often takes into account


constraints, availability and accessibility of data, nature of the decision and
the benefits in relation to the cost incurred.

Researchers are obligated to conduct ethical research and are responsible to


respondents or participants, clients and other researchers.

A good business research consists of a well-defined purpose, a detailed


research process and research design, execution of ethical research
guidelines, comprehensive analysis and a complete report write-up.

There are five characteristics of scientific research which consists of objectivity,


verifiability or testability, replicable, accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Theory is a generalised proposition or concept that provides explanation and


leads to a prediction of ideas. It can be generated through deductive
reasoning and inductive reasoning.

Concept is an abstract of idea or words that describes a certain incident or


condition.

Proposition is a statement used to connect or provide linkage to two or more


concepts.

Hypothesis is a statement of proposition waiting to be tested empirically.

Scientific method is an approach that uses theory, procedure and empirical


evidence with the intention of formulating a solution to an issue.

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BUSINESS RESEARCH

Applied business research

Hypothesis

Basic business research

Inductive reasoning

Business research

Proposition

Concept

Scientific methods

Construct

Theory

19

Deductive reasoning

15 steps to good research. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.library.georgetown.


edu/tutorials/research-guides/15-steps
Anthony Yeong. (2011, July). Introduction to business research methods.
Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/anthonyyeong/introductionto-business-research-methods
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Characteristics and criteria of good research. (2011, December 18). Retrieved from
http://www.slideshare.net/AnkitBist/characteristics-and-criteria-of-goodresearch
Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary. (8th ed.). (2010). Oxford University Press.
Research and presentation Purpose of business research. (2010, February 6).
Retrieved from https://businessdevelopmentandsupport.wordpress.com/
2010/02/06/research-and-presentation-purpose-of-business-research/
Smith, D. (2003). Five principles for research ethics. Retrieved from http://www.
apa.org/monitor/jan03/principles.aspx

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BUSINESS RESEARCH

What are the qualities of a good research topic. (2013, February 14). Retrieved
from
http://readingcraze.com/index.php/what-are-the-qualities-of-agood-research-topic/
Zikmund, W. G. (2003). Business research methods (7th ed.). United States:
South-Western, Thomson Learning.
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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Topic

Research
Process

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Explain the different natures of business research;

2.

Discuss the important stages of the research process;

3.

Define research problem; and

4.

Prepare a thorough research proposal.

INTRODUCTION
In Topic 1, we discussed the importance of business research and the
characteristics of good scientific research. By now, you should be able to
understand and have a basic idea of what business research is. We will now
continue to discuss the different natures of business research, followed by
examination of the stages of the research process. We will also work on
identifying a research issue and generating a research problem. The methods of
writing a research proposal will then be extensively elaborated upon.

2.1

NATURE OF BUSINESS RESEARCH

The aim of conducting research is to gather information for further analysis and
problem-solving. We often have the perception that research revolves around
major issues and requires extensive studies. It is undeniable that research
requires a long process, but mind you, it does not necessarily focus on major
issues. We carry out research for various purposes. The different natures of
conducting business research can be classified as: exploratory research,
descriptive research and causal research, which will be explained in greater
detail as follows:
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(a)

TOPIC 2

RESEARCH PROCESS

Exploratory Research
(i)

It is conducted when there is a need to clarify a problem or when a


researcher does not have much information at hand regarding the
issue. Its need often arises when a researcher is uncertain of an
existing idea or problem and similar existing studies are not available.

(ii)

It is important to know that exploratory research is only a preliminary


research that does not provide a conclusive result, thus further
research is often required subsequently.

(iii) It is the first step in determining if it is necessary for a research to be


carried out. Exploratory research aids decision makers in deciding
whether additional research is necessary or whether further research
should be abandoned.
(iv) For instance, the manager of a software company considers
introducing their new programming software for a certain group of
users. This is a preliminary move to gain additional insight on their
new product for future enhancement of the product should the need
arise.
(b)

Descriptive Research
(i)

It usually aims to provide a detailed description of the subject,


individuals or parties that are related to the research. It illustrates the
entire picture of the research through the conventional questions of
who, what, when, where and how.

(ii)

It is often carried out after a researcher has a clear picture and precise
understanding of the research issue.

(iii) It is necessary to note that accuracy plays a vital role in this form of
research as it provides conclusive evidence which may be used for
problem-solving or decision-making purposes.
(iv) For instance, the owner of a family-owned hotel plans to expand the
hotels buildings to cater to the increase in room reservations during
peak seasons. The manager of the hotel needs to be as accurate as
possible when estimating the number of rooms that are needed as part
of the expansion so that the owner is well informed of the number of
employees to hire and the additional cost that may be incurred
through the entire process.

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(c)

RESEARCH PROCESS

23

Causal Research
(i)

It is used to establish the dependencies of each variable through cause


-effect relationships. It relies on the logic that one action will cause
another effect to follow through.

(ii)

Often times, it is best if the researcher has a good understanding of


the issue being studied as this will enable him or her to make an
educated guess on the relationships between the variables.

(iii) You ought to know that causal research is time-consuming as it may


take time for effects to occur.
(iv) For instance, the manager of an organisation invested a great amount
of money in advertising a new product to boost the sales of the
organisation. In this case, the advertisements are the cause while
hitting high sales is the effect. Therefore, the manager can establish
through a cause-effect analysis that advertising increases the sales of
the product.
These three types of business research are inter-related. Each one establishes the
foundation for another, just as exploratory research is the building block for
descriptive research and as descriptive research is for causal research (Zikmund
et al., 2013). Table 2.1 exhibits the characteristics of business research according
to the different natures of research.

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RESEARCH PROCESS

Table 2.1: Characteristics of Business Research


Exploratory
Research

Description

Descriptive
Research

Causal Research

Level of uncertainty
on decision
situation

High

Partially defined

Clearly defined

Key research
statement

Research question

Research question

Research hypothesis

Timeline for
decision-making

Early stage

Later stages

Later stages

Research approach

Unstructured

Structured

Highly structured

Nature of results

Discovery oriented,
productive, but still
speculative. Often
in need of further
research

Can be
confirmatory
although more
research is
sometimes still
needed. Results can
be managerially
actionable

Confirmatory
oriented. Fairly
conclusive with
managerially
actionable results
often obtained

Examples

What are
customers
expectations of
new products?

What product
sells the most in
the first quarter
of the year?

Will new
innovative
products attract
more customers?

The productivity
of employees
drops
drastically?

What are the


additional
customised
features that
customers
prefer?

Will combo
promotion items
increase sales?

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

ACTIVITY 2.1
Search for information from the internet or other sources such as
magazines and newspapers for an example of each type of business
research: exploratory, descriptive and causal. Why do you think these
types of research are categorised as mentioned? Compare and discuss
your answer with your classmates.

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2.2

RESEARCH PROCESS

25

STAGES IN THE RESEARCH PROCESS

A well-known philosopher was once quoted saying that the destination does not
matter, it is the journey that matters most. The same applies to the research
process however in this case the outcome of the research is equally as important.
Each small little part or stage of research is connected to other parts. Just as DIY
furniture pieces require a step-by-step assemble sequence instruction guidebook
for users to refer to, business research stages work as a guideline for a researcher
when conducting research. The stages to conduct business research are as
follows:
(a)

Identifying and Defining the Research Statement


(i)

The first step in research is to identify the problem or situation. The


need for research arises from a situation or problem that requires
investigation and actionable solution.

(ii)

Once you have successfully identified the situation, you should begin
to define the problem into a research statement. A research statement
is also known as a problem statement.

(iii) A clearly-defined problem statement aids you in developing


objectives that lead to answerable research questions. The objectives
of research should be clearly formed and stated as they are the core of
the research process. A research objective is the objective (purpose) of
the phenomenon that you intend to investigate. For example, in a
study on customer satisfaction, your research objective will be to
investigate the factors that determine customer satisfaction of bank
patrons in the Klang Valley.
(iv) It is important to bear in mind that research is a continuous process in
which one part is related to another. A research problem is a question
regarding an issue or situation. Research objective then becomes the
purpose of investigating the phenomenon and research design is the
process of getting to the answers posed by the research question. The
research process ends with a written report.

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(b)

TOPIC 2

RESEARCH PROCESS

Selection of Research Design


(i)

Research design is the framework or blueprint that describes the


methods, techniques and procedures for data collection and data
analysis. It draws the plan for the research to be executed in detail.

(ii)

As mentioned previously, as research objectives are the core of the


research process, it is therefore important for you to include the
objectives of study in the research design to ensure that the study
does not deviate from its original intended purpose.

(iii) In addition, sources of information or data, the techniques of data


collection, sampling and cost incurred during the research process
should also be included.
(c)

Planning a Sample
(i)

Sample is the portion of population targeted for the purpose of data


collection or information gathering from the whole population. In
other words, sample is a small portion of a big population.

(ii)

It is important to carefully determine the sample for research as it


exhibits or represents the population as a whole.

(iii) After the targeted population has been identified, you will need to
determine the size of the sample for analysis purposes. Do bear in
mind that in quantitative research, sample size plays an important
role in the outcome of the research.
(iv) Therefore it is vital for you to select the appropriate sample size to
ensure that the sample can fully represent the entire population.
(d)

Data Collection
(i)

Once the sample and sample size has been identified, you can begin
the data collection or information gathering process based on the
proposed technique during the research design stage.

(ii)

The methods of data collection or information gathering may vary


from observations, survey, interviews and questionnaires to
reviewing secondary data.

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TOPIC 2

(e)

RESEARCH PROCESS

27

Data Analysis and Interpretation


(i)

You should then begin to prepare or process the collected data for
analysis. The process of editing and coding the collected data will take
place before further analysis is conducted.

(ii)

Editing includes correcting errors, omitting errors and screening data


for legibility and consistency purposes. Editing ensures that the data
collected are clear and consistent for analysis.

(iii) Often times, coding occurs when a researcher assigns alphanumerical


codes or symbols to edited data to ease storage and processing of the
data.
(iv) After the data have gone through the process of editing and coding, it
is entered into a computer for further analysis.
(v)

(f)

Data analysis involves understanding and evaluating the processed


data thoroughly by observing similar or significant traits and by
applying statistical procedures in quantitative analysis. You should
then be able to generate and interpret the findings based on data
analysis.

Conclusion and Report Preparation


(i)

Following this, you should now be able to arrive at a conclusive


finding or result for your research write-up.

(ii)

Your write-up should include necessary information for readers


clarification, overview of the research, interpretation of findings,
concluding remarks and recommendations for future action.

(iii) You must be mindful to prepare a research report that suits the needs
of the reader. Often, research reports for organisation and managerial
viewing ought to be simple and brief, while research reports for
academic research purposes ought to be thorough, precise and
detailed.

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TOPIC 2

RESEARCH PROCESS

Figure 2.1: Stages of the research process


Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

Figure 2.1 depicts a graphic illustration of the stages in the research process
which we will discuss in greater detail in the later topics of this module.

ACTIVITY 2.2
Based on your readings, provide examples of the types of business
research that organisations often conduct. Why do you think
organisations conduct these types of research?

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TOPIC 2

2.3

RESEARCH PROCESS

29

DEFINING A RESEARCH PROBLEM

As discussed earlier, defining a research problem provides a guideline to assist


researchers from deviating off the intended problem. Research problems can be
likened as a lighthouse for ships at sea. A well-defined research problem is a
precise navigation tool for a researcher to carry out the research. Problem
definition illustrates the problem or situation that requires improvements or
problem-solving. Only with a written problem statement can research objectives
and research questions be formulated. We will now discuss the steps involved in
identifying and defining research problems (see Figure 2.2):
(a)

Identifying the Background of Study


(i)

Firstly, as a researcher, you should begin by gathering background


information or finding out the context of the study and other
necessary information to gain a better understanding and awareness
of the situation. A clear understanding helps to draw a precise picture
of the situation that requires problem-solving.

(ii)

Through discussions and an interview process between an employer


or sponsor and other related individuals, you will be able to identify
the situation or problem that requires research to be carried out for.

(iii) As a researcher, you can also propose a preliminary solution or


alternative to the existing problem in order to provide a firm ground
for executing a research.
(b)

Differentiation between Symptoms and Problems


(i)

Often times, we tend to mistake the real problems and symptoms.


When you are confused between these two terms, you should bear in
mind that doctors diagnose our illnesses through symptoms.
Symptoms are common traits to a problem, whereas a problem is the
issue that you need to solve.

(ii)

For instance:

Situation 1
Symptom : Significant drop in the number of hotel reservations.
Problem : Rooms are dirty and outdated.

Situation 2
Symptom : Preferences of product A over product B.
Problem : Product A lacks value-added features.
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(c)

TOPIC 2

RESEARCH PROCESS

Prepare a Decision Statement and Research Objectives


(i)

Once you have a clear understanding of the situation, you should


begin formulating decision statements and research objectives.
Decision statements consist of executable plans on the existing
problem, while research objectives are the goals to be achieved from
the research.

(ii)

By this stage, you should have a brief plan of the method of research
and the research approach that you intend to take.

(iii) Referring to the symptoms and problems discussed in the previous


example:

Situation 1
Decision statement
Objective

Situation 2
Decision statement
Objective

(d)

: What changes are necessary to attract and


encourage more room reservations?
: To determine why hotel guests choose to
stay in an XYZ Hotel.
: What are the new innovative features that
should be added to improve the product?
: To identify innovative features that are
important and preferred by customers in a
product.

Determine the Unit of Analysis


(i)

A study which specifies who or what should provide the data and at
what level of aggregation is known as unit of analysis (Zikmund et al.,
2013).

(ii)

At this point, you will need to decide whether the data collection
should involve individuals, groups of people, business organisations
or other objects.

(iii) For instance, in terms of preferences of hotel stay, the unit of analysis
that is most appropriate would be individuals.

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TOPIC 2

(e)

RESEARCH PROCESS

31

Determine the Relevant Variables


(i)

After you have determined the unit of analysis, you can identify the
key variables that need to be studied to answer your decision
statement.

(ii)

Variables that are explained by and associated to other variables are


known as dependent variables (DV). Independent variables (IDV) are
variables that stand alone and influence dependant variables (DV).

(iii) For instance, the drop in the number of hotel reservations is due to
dirty and outdated hotel rooms. In this case, the dependent variable is
the drop in the number of hotel reservations while the independent
variables are the dirty and outdated hotel rooms.
(f)

Form the Research Questions and Hypotheses


(i)

Once the variables have been identified, you can state your research
questions as well as research hypotheses. Often but not necessarily,
research questions state the objectives of research in the form of
questions. On the other hand, research hypothesis is defined as an
unproven statement that needs to be tested empirically.

(ii)

Research questions address the issues or situation that requires


solving and your focus should be to answer these questions and
achieve the solutions.

On a side note, as we have discussed before, research is a time-consuming task,


therefore you must exercise patience in allocating a considerable amount of time
to carefully identify the problem or issue in order to form relevant objectives and
hypotheses for your research. As a researcher, always remember, The time spent
on research is time well-spent.

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TOPIC 2

RESEARCH PROCESS

Figure 2.2: Steps to define research problems

ACTIVITY 2.3
1.

From your readings of newspapers or magazines of organisations,


identify the types of business problems that exist.

2.

In your opinion, what are the recommended courses of action to


the problems above?

3.

Formulate research objectives for the business problems that you


have identified earlier in Question 1.

2.4

PREPARING A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

A research proposal is an important written document that is often used as a


communication tool between a researcher and readers. A good proposal would
also determine whether the research will be executed as planned or in the case of
academic research, would determine if research funds can be allocated to a
researcher.
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The definition of a research proposal by Zikmund et al. (2013) is given as:

Written statement of the research design which includes a statement


explaining the purpose of the study in the form of research objectives,
definition of the problem in the form of a decision statement, research
methodology, detailed procedures that will be used during each stage of the
research process and schedule of costs and deadlines of research.

You may ask, what is the purpose of preparing a research proposal? Research
proposals can be likened to a report card or ticket to your next destination. How
is this so? The following provides an explanation on the importance of a research
proposal:
(a)

Planning Tool
(i)

Research proposals can be used as a planning tool as it serves as stepby-step guidance for you in conducting research. For instance, you
can never plan the methods of data collection without first knowing
the issue and objectives of your research.

(ii)

Research proposals enable you to properly plan the research


execution with essential information and to put your plan in a written
form for future reference.

(iii) A good research proposal should contain all the necessary


information of the research for readers viewing and understanding. It
will also reflect on your commitment and preparation to further
convince the reader that it is a worthwhile task.
(b)

Contract or Agreement
(i)

In cases where you are hired as a researcher for an organisation or for


academic research purposes, a research proposal is seen as the
contract or agreement binding you and your employer.

(ii)

It serves as a form of acceptance of your proposed research should


your employer agree to it. It should be treated as a formal record and
agreement that your research service is required.

(iii) The acceptance of your research proposal signifies that your research
work is on the right track.

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RESEARCH PROCESS

Now that you know the importance of a research proposal, do you feel
encouraged to produce a good proposal? We will now briefly explain the basic
content and guidelines of a research proposal:
(a)

(b)

Title
(i)

Your title should illustrate your proposal well and provide a clear
picture of your research to readers.

(ii)

In the preliminary stages it is normal if your title changes from time to


time as you are still working on your research. Rest assured, it will
have the right title once you have developed your research questions
and research objectives.

Overview or Background of Research


(i)

This section often works as an introduction in which you provide


your readers with the context of your research.

(ii)

You may include an overview of previous studies in this section to


briefly highlight the existence of similar issues in the past. Please do
take note that this is just a brief overview or opening for your research
topic and it is not to be treated as your literature review (Saunders et
al., 2009). For example, if you are investigating the purchasing
behaviour of teenagers in the Klang Valley, your background of study
would be to write on the population density of the area and the
importance of teenagers purchasing power.

(iii) You could provide supporting evidence such as statistics to justify


your reasons for embarking on the research. For instance, in the
previous example of purchasing behaviour of teenagers in the Klang
Valley, you can support the importance of the teenage market by
saying that 30 to 40 per cent of the population in Klang Valley are
below 20 years old.
(c)

Research Questions and Research Objectives


(i)

You should clearly state your problem statement, research questions


and research objectives in this section.

(ii)

A well-defined problem statement, research questions and research


objectives will enable readers to understand the necessity of carrying
out the said research.

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(d)

(e)

(f)

(g)

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35

Literature Review
(i)

This is the section in which you can include a detailed and


comprehensive discussion of previous studies and theories related to
your research for readers reference.

(ii)

You should also provide a thorough review of past literature


including theoretical explanation, hypothesis, methodology and
empirical analysis.

Research Design
(i)

You should include your research design in this section.

(ii)

Provide readers with precise knowledge of the choice or method of


data collection used in your research, including the types of sampling,
techniques of sampling, sample size and research instrument. Then
share justifications for your methods of choice.

Timeline
(i)

In this section, you should highlight to readers the estimated time


frame required for each research stage.

(ii)

You can prepare a schedule, for example a Gantt chart denoting


activities, duration or length of your research in order for your
readers to track your research progress based on the proposed
timeline.

Cost and Budget


(i)

This is the section in which you should list out all the expenses that
you may incur in undertaking this research.

(ii)

It provides readers with a rough estimation of the cost of the research


so that they may evaluate whether it is worthwhile to proceed with
the research.

(iii) Costing is also important for budgetary purposes. For example, if you
are embarking on an academic research, this will allow for allocation
of funds for the research.

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SELF-CHECK 2.1
1.

Briefly elaborate on the importance of a well-prepared research


proposal.

2.

Draft a simple research proposal including the following:


(a)

Title

(b)

Synopsis of background of study

(c)

Problem statement

(d)

Research design with elements of:


(i)

Methodology;

(ii)

Data collection procedures;

(iii) Sampling techniques;


(iv) Type of sample size;
(v)

Unit of analysis; and

(vi) Type of analysis that will be used.


(e)
3.

Costing and timeline using a Gantt chart

Compare your proposal with that of your or from those that you
find on the internet.

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ACTIVITY 2.4
1.

How would you differentiate between exploratory research,


descriptive research and causal research? Justify your answer and
give examples for each type of research.

2.

Discuss in detail the stages of the research process.

3.

What are the guidelines in defining a research problem?

4.

In your opinion, what is the importance and purpose of preparing


a research proposal? Justify your answer.

5.

Situation:
As an academician, you assigned your students with the task of
preparing a research proposal. The best research proposal
submitted will be allocated a certain amount of research fund.
How would you justify the contents of a good research proposal?

The nature of conducting business research consists of exploratory research,


descriptive research and causal research. Exploratory research is conducted
when there is a need to clarify an issue or when researchers lack information
at hand. Descriptive research provides a detailed picture and description of
the subject, individuals or parties related to the research. Causal research is
employed to establish the dependencies of each variable through the causeeffect relationship.

The various stages involved when conducting business research are:


identifying and defining the research statement, selection of research design,
planning a sample, data collection, data analysis and interpretation, as well as
conclusion and report preparation.

Research design is the framework or blueprint that describes the


methodology, techniques, data collection and data analysis of the research.

Sample is the portion of a population targeted for data collection or


information gathering that represents the whole population.
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RESEARCH PROCESS

The steps in defining research problems are firstly to identify the situation,
differentiate between symptoms and problems, prepare decision statements
and research objectives, determine the unit of analysis, determine the relevant
variables and lastly, form the research questions and hypotheses.

Problem definition is known as the problem or situation that requires


clarification or problem-solving and is usually written in the form of research
questions and research objectives.

Dependent variables are variables that are explained or affected by another


variable.

Independent variables are variables that directly or indirectly influence the


dependent variables. Independent variables are stand-alone variables.

Research questions state the objectives of the research in the form of


questions.

Research hypothesis is an unproven statement that is waiting to be tested


empirically.

Research proposal is important as it can be used as a planning tool and to


serve as a contract or agreement.

Research proposals contain a title, overview or background of research,


research questions and research objectives, literature review, research design,
timeline and cost and budget for the research to be carried out.

Causal research

Research hypothesis

Dependent variable (DV)

Research proposal

Descriptive research

Research question

Exploratory research

Research statement

Independent variable (IDV)

Sample

Problem definition

Unit of analysis

Research design
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Business research process. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.springer.com/


cda/content/document/cda_downloaddocument/9783319005386-c2.pdf?
SGWID=0-0-45-1411622-p175152513
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Discovering customer needs through research. (2016). Retrieved from http://
businesscasestudies.co.uk/barclays/discovering-customer-needs-throughresearch/introduction.html#axzz3mGLzoajw
Horoszowski, M. (2015, March 6). What is good for the world is good for
business, research proves it. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.
com/mark-horoszowski/what-is-good-for-the-world-is-good-for-businessresearch-proves-it_b_7496688.html
Kamat, P. (n.d.). How to write an effective research paper. Retrieved from
http://www3.nd.edu/~pkamat/pdf/researchpaper.pdf
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Pearson Education.
Sekaran, U. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach (4th
ed.). United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
White, T. (2006, March). Principles of good research and research proposal guide.
Retrieved from http://www.richmond.gov.uk/research_proposal_guide.
pdf
Zikmund, W. G. (2003). Business research methods (7th ed.). United States:
South-Western, Thomson Learning.
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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Topic

Reviewing
Literature

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

State the importance of literature review;

2.

Carry out a critical review on literature;

3.

Differentiate the sources of literature;

4.

Conduct a proper literature search; and

5.

Write a good literature review.

INTRODUCTION
In the previous topic, we discussed the different natures of business research and
the stages of the research process, as well as the importance of preparing a
thorough research proposal. Now in this topic, we will provide an extensive
discussion on reviewing literature, followed by an examination of the different
sources of literature. Then we will teach you the methods involved in conducting
a search for literature. Lastly, we will explain the criteria required in producing a
good literature review write-up for your research.

3.1

WHY DO WE DO LITERATURE REVIEW?

The term literature review has always brought major headaches to most
researchers and students. Literature review may be the chapter in your thesis or
research proposal that you wish you could skip entirely. As a researcher, it is
understandable that literature review is one of the most time-consuming and
challenging task, which is probably why many researchers hate it. However, as
you learn of the importance of literature review, you might even begin to love it.
You will then probably ask, What are the reasons for doing a literature review?
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Rest assured we will come to this in the later part of this topic, but first, lets
underline the definitions of literature review.
Zikmund et al. (2013) defines literature review as:

A directed search of published works, including periodicals, and books,


that discusses theory and presents empirical results that are relevant to the
topic at hand.

Similarly, Cooper and Schindler (2013) defined it as:

Recent or historically significant research studies, company data, or


industry reports that act as the basis for the proposed study.

The definition by Sekaran (2003) is:

The documentation of a comprehensive review of the published and


unpublished work from secondary sources of data in the areas of specific
interest to the researcher.

Based on these definitions, literature review is a comprehensive compilation of


previous research studies which focus on both theoretical and empirical
discussion of the topic related to your research.
With that being said, literature review is a vital aspect of your research as it
comprises detailed discussion of relevant knowledge on a specific field of study.
It is a channel for researchers to include valuable arguments, opinions, ideas and
justification for further research on the designated research topic.
The purposes of literature review include:
(a)

As Foundation for the Designated Topic


(i)

Literature review is a practical tool to lay foundation for both


researcher and reader on the topic of research. It is included in the
research process to assist you to generate and refine your research
topic.

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(ii)

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As you read the many previous works of other researchers, scholars


or authors, you are able to develop a thorough understanding and
ability to build upon other literature for your research topic. As you
write your literature review, you would then be able to provide ample
discussion and argument where necessary. The same applies to your
reader as well, in that literature review is the door or insight to the
research being conducted.

(iii) For instance, assume that as a doctor, you were presented with a
patient and a file containing the medical information and medical
results from tests that your patient has gone through. Would you as a
doctor conduct an operation procedure on your patient without first
reading and reviewing the prior medical results?
(iv) Therefore, as medical results and medical information are important
to a professional medical doctor before diagnosing an illness or
conducting further medical procedures, literature review is important
to lead you as a researcher in the right direction or serve as a guide for
you to conduct your research in a proper manner.
(b)

To Provide a Comprehensive Discussion and Clarify Understanding


(i)

The second purpose of literature review is when it serves as a concise


discussion for a specific topic. As a researcher, by critically reviewing
literature, you would be able to identify flaws and gaps in previous
research, inconsistencies in the findings and other research problems
that past researchers have encountered.

(ii)

It is important to bear in mind that literature review is not an


effortless task in which you merely discuss and summarise findings.
A good literature review is one where you carry out a critical and
comprehensive review of your research. You ought to provide a
detailed critique and analysis of how to improve your research based
on past theories, limitations and findings.

(iii) A good review on literature reveals extensive knowledge of your


research topic, thus giving you a good head start to attract your
reader and convince your reader of the necessity and importance of
your research.
(iv) For instance, A presents you a brief and lifeless report on how he or
she would develop your investment project. On the other hand, B
presents a detailed and compact report on how your investment
project would be under his or her care. B also includes a
comprehensive report on other existing investments and how you
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43

ought to include additional features or recommendations to improve


the investment plan. As an investor, would you be more interested to
invest in a project proposed by A or one proposed by B? Now, ask
yourself, why?
(v)

Hence, you should realise that literature review is important in


enriching your knowledge on your research topic as well as to assist
you to overcome problems and issues that you may encounter as you
journey on your research.

A good literature review can be likened to the head light on your car that flashes
and lights your way as you drive down the road to your destination. Literature
review may be a difficult task for some, but know that as you read and write, you
will be able to see the beauty of it and you will begin to love it too.

SELF-CHECK 3.1
Based on your own understanding, define the term literature review.
Compare and discuss your definition with your classmates.

3.2

THE CRITICAL REVIEW

As we have gone through the importance of a good literature review, we should


now focus on how to generate a good literature review based on your research
topic. There are three important aspects that you should adopt in writing a good
critical literature review (refer to Figure 3.1):
(a)

Reading
(i)

As a researcher and reviewer it is important that you read plenty of


materials ranging from published work such as journal articles or
books to unpublished past studies such as past dissertations relating
to topics that are connected to your research to generate good
background and sufficient knowledge of your research topic.
Therefore you should read extensively and widely from various types
of sources of information.

(ii)

By reading previous research, you should be able to identify and have


a better understanding of relevant points related to your topic. You
should also include notes and opinions as you read so that you will be
able to record and capture your initial thoughts on a specific point for
further references later on.
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(iii) As Saunders et al. (2009) stated, as you read, try to ask questions such
as why the author chose this field of study or methods, how can I
apply this in my research, what can I do to improve my research
based on recommendations by this author, where should I include
this important point in my research and so on.
(iv) By asking these questions, you are trying to evaluate what you are
reading so that you are able to relate or incorporate the information
into your research.
(v)

(b)

After reading, you should allow yourself to digest, understand the


materials and give yourself time to think it through.

Content
(i)

The content of your literature review should include a combination of


theories related to your study, concepts, empirical findings and ideas
for your research. A comprehensive evaluation of the related
problems or issues should be included in a critical review of literature.

(ii)

As a reviewer, you should also compare and contrast your research


with past research studies in order to provide a convincing analysis of
the said topic.

(iii) The pros and cons or the strengths or weaknesses of past research
studies and theories should also be included. As you conduct an
assessment on the literature, you will be able to select the
methodology that best suits your research topic.
(iv) By evaluating and assessing the recommendations proposed in
previous studies, you would be able to identify gaps in the research.
Thus, you would then be able to improve your research to cover these
new areas and establish and contribute new findings or insights to
your research area.
(c)

Structure
(i)

Do bear in mind that as literature review is one of the lengthiest


chapters in your research proposal or thesis, you should ensure that
your write-up is able to attract your reader to continue reading the
rest of your proposal or thesis.

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(ii)

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45

When drafting your literature review, you may adopt the concept of a
funnel in your writing. A funnel is broad on top and gets narrower
towards the end. The same should apply to your literature review.

(iii) You may begin by providing a general discussion of your research


area or field of studies that works as a background or introduction to
your research topic.
(iv) Then you could proceed to a narrower concept with detailed
discussion of previous research theories, findings and evaluation that
are related to your research topic.
(v)

You should also divert the attention of your reader to the new
contribution or new findings that you wish to achieve in your
research in order to keep your reader engrossed in your research
work.

Figure 3.1: Funnel of a literature review structure

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ACTIVITY 3.1
1.

In your own words, discuss and explain what a good literature


review is with your classmates.

2.

Find a topic that interests you and write an outline of a literature


review and compare this with your classmates.

3.3

LITERATURE SOURCES

In general, there are vast resources available that contain useable information for
research, comprising of primary, secondary and tertiary sources (see Figure 3.2).
As we are all aware, the Internet is the first source that often comes to mind
when searching for information. It is therefore important that you source your
information or literature from reliable and credible channels to ensure that the
content of information are factual and dependable.

Figure 3.2: Literature sources


Source: Saunders et al. (2009)

(a)

Primary Literature
(i)

This category includes both published and unpublished reports,


theses, conference proceedings, reports, memos, letters and other
government publications.

(ii)

It is sometimes known as grey literature as the sources of these


information materials are mainly untraceable.
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47

Secondary Literature
(i)

Books, journals, newspapers and government publications are among


the sources that fall under this category.

(ii)

Secondary literatures are available and accessible via the Internet and
publication databases. These are one of the most frequent channels for
researchers and students to search for literature reviews.

(iii) Journals are usually published in printed form and are commonly
accessible online through subscribed journal publication databases
services.
(iv) Secondary literature sources contain reliable contents as these
publications are often evaluated and verified by academicians, field
experts and publishers beforehand.
(c)

Tertiary Literature
(i)

It is commonly known as search tools where we use to search for


primary and secondary literature sources.

(ii)

This category of literature consists of indexes, abstracts, catalogues,


encyclopaedias, dictionaries, bibliographies and citation indexes.

ACTIVITY 3.2
1.

Using the OUM library, what types of databases are available for
you to use when searching for information?

2.

What types of journals are available in those databases?

3.

Using search engines such as Google Scholar, check and identify


the types of thesis or documents that are available for your
reference.

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3.4

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REVIEWING LITERATURE

LITERATURE SEARCHING

Does this conversation sound familiar?


We can say for sure that we have all gone through this and for some of us, we
still are. We did look for it in the same spot as our mother, but it was never there
the first time we looked and then it miraculously appeared for our mother to find
it. Have you thought about why our mother knows where to find everything in
our house? Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps we were not looking with
our eyes?
The truth is that most of the time; we do not search for things carefully and
thoroughly. Literature searching sometimes feels like looking for a needle in a
haystack. It need not be this way though if you know the right way to search for
literature. We will now discuss how to conduct a literature search.

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(a)

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49

Identify and Select a Research Topic


(i)

The first step is to identify a research topic that is researchable. In this


phase, try to begin with a broader search as this will ease your search
process. You can begin a literature search by zooming in on the main
concepts of the research topic.

(ii)

You may also want to begin searching for a research topic from
various research fields based on your interest if you do not already
have one. In addition, you may also read up on literature review
written by other researchers in order to assist you in gaining better
understanding of the research topic.

(iii) It is normal for your research topic and title to change a little as you
read and write your literature review.
(iv) As you progress in selecting your topic, you may begin on a specific
narrow search for previous studies that are similar to your research
topic.
(v)

(b)

At this stage, do consult your project paper supervisor or thesis


supervisory committee should you have difficulties in developing a
research topic or have any doubts about your research topic.

Identify Search Sources


(i)

There are plenty of sources and databases through which you can
search for literature for your research. The Internet and tertiary
literature sources such as citation indexes and abstracts can be used to
help us collate primary and secondary literature sources.

(ii)

You can also search for additional literatures through the references
or bibliography listed at the end of journal articles or books. This is a
wise and time-saving move as you would be able to identify journals
or books that are closely related to your research.

(iii) In recent years, many universities and private colleges subscribe to


databases and indexes to ease students access to published journal
articles and E-books.

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(iv) Here is a list of selected databases and indexes for your reference:

(c)

Emerald;

JSTOR;

Oxford Journals Online;

SAGE Journals Online;

Science Direct;

Springer Link;

Taylor and Francis; and

Wiley-Blackwell.

Conducting Articles Search


(i)

After you have successfully identified the sources, you can conduct a
search to access full text articles if you have the exact title of journal
articles or books.

(ii)

Otherwise, you can search for relevant literatures through the


keyword and terms searches method. It is important to be as specific
as you can when conducting keyword or term searches to avoid
unrelated articles or books to show up in the search result.

(iii) For instance: you may want to search for total quality management
instead of management; financial economics instead of finance;
or food processing industry instead of food industry.
(iv) You should use a refined keyword or term instead of general ones to
narrow your search to relevant and useful resources for your research.
(v)

As the search results pop out on your computer, try to select the
journal articles or books that suit your research needs by briefly
reading and browsing through the abstracts and contents before you
decide to download and have it printed out for a more detailed read
later on.

(vi) Remember the scenario presented at the beginning of our discussion


on literature searching? Just as our mother knows what and where to
look for, the right keyword or term would ensure an effective and
quick search process.

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Now that we have discussed how to conduct effective literature searching, try to
apply these methods sin your next search. You would be surprised to see the
differences compared to when you were searching in the dark. When you know
exactly how, what and where to look, literature searching becomes an easy task.
The next time you search for your belongings in your home, try to impress your
mother too with your newfound searching skills!

ACTIVITY 3.3
Briefly draft out how you would conduct an effective literature search.
Compare and discuss your plan with your classmates.

3.5

WRITING THE LITERATURE

As discussed earlier in Section 3.2 on writing a critical review of literature, you


should learn to compile your literature review in a comprehensive and organised
write-up. As mentioned, it is best to arrange your literature review in a way that
shows a flow of discussion from broad and general topic reviews to a more
detailed and specific review. There are three major criteria that you as a reviewer
and researcher ought to take into consideration when writing the literature
review:
(a)

Proper Citation
(i)

It is appropriate to quote another authors work or a researchers idea


as you write your literature review in your research report or
dissertation.

(ii)

One of the mistakes that students tend to do is to summarise and


discuss an article or an authors findings in one paragraph
individually. Instead, you should carefully combine or pool similar
points or findings of various authors together. By citing and quoting
on similar argument points, you would be able to illustrate and help
your reader understand your literature review effectively.

(iii) It is important that we acknowledge or give credit when it is due to


the original author or source. As much as we hope that we get
recognition for our good work, other authors and researchers would
want the same too.

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(iv) For instance, wherever appropriate, researchers can use the APA Fifth
Edition style to cite original source(s) as follows:

(b)

According to Choo and Abd Jalil, (2014),..;

Following Zikmund et al. (2013),..;

Based on this..... (Saunders et al., 2009); and

Subsequently, it is confirmed that..... (Sekaran, 2003).

Reference List
(i)

All the articles or books that you find relevant to your research topic,
you should list them out in this section.

(ii)

Often times, we tend to leave this troublesome task to the end of our
research. A piece of advice that is worth following: never put this off
as you could have a hard time sorting out and listing all the relevant
references later on in your research.

(iii) You should prepare the references as you write your literature review
and as you quote and cite other peoples works. The References tab
in Word would come in handy as you could use it to insert citations
and references easily.
(iv) You should also record your references based on your universitys
reference requirements for research students or your sponsors
reference requirements for hired researchers.
(v)

There are a number of citation styles ranging from American


Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association of
America (MLA), Harvard referencing and Chicago style just to name a
few.

(vi) The most common reference style for university students is the APA
Style, with the format of author-date citation.
(vii) It is important to note that, according to the APA citation style, your
reference list should only include sources that you have cited in your
research.

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(viii) In the reference list, the format of citations based on APA reference
style are as follows:

Journal
Authors last name, initials (year). Title of journal article. Journals
name, volume number (issue), page numbers.
Choo, S. Y., & Abd Jalil, S. (2014). Excess capacity and entry
deterrence: The case of Malaysian palm oil refining industry.
Malaysian Management Journal, 18, 3-12.

Book
Authors last name, initials (year). Title of book. Place of
publication: Publisher.
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods
for business students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Prentice Hall,
Pearson Education.

Book chapter:
Authors last name, initials (year). Title of chapter. In name of
editor (Ed.), Name of book (page numbers of chapter). Place
of publication: Publisher.
Ordover, J. A., & Saloner, G. (1989). Predation, monopolisation and
antitrust. In R. Schmalensee & R. Willig (Eds.), Handbook of
industrial organisation, I,. 538-596. Amsterdam, Netherlands:
Elsevier Science B. V.

(c)

Plagiarism
(i)

Do you know that literature review is the chapter with the highest
plagiarism rate compared to other chapters in many research reports or
dissertations? This is because literature review is where we quote and
cite other authors or other researchers published work.

(ii) Do you know that plagiarism is a serious offense in the academic field?
The act of plagiarism is the analogy of a robber or thief, where they rob
and steal your belongings and later pretend that they are the rightful
owner of the items.

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(iii) Therefore we should be really careful not to plagiarise other peoples


work by knowingly stealing information or resources, copying others
work without proper citation or acknowledgement and deliberately
claiming that the copied work is our original work.
Now that we have covered all the necessary parts in reviewing literature, it is
hoped that you would be able to put what you have learnt into practice and
produce a good literature review for your research report or dissertation.

ACTIVITY 3.4
1.

Briefly explain the important criteria in writing a good literature


review.

2.

Explore the different referencing tools such as Mendeley, EndNote


or other tools that are available for free online and discuss the
functions of each one with your classmate.

ACTIVITY 3.5
1.

What do you understand about literature review? In your opinion,


why is literature review an important aspect for your research
report or dissertation? Provide justifications for your answers.

2.

What are the three literature sources commonly known to


researchers? Which one do you think you would use the most?
Why?

3.

Situation:
As a lecturer, you assign your students the task of searching for
materials as part of their literature review write-up for their
research report.
How would you advise your students to conduct an effective
literature search?

4.

What are the important writing criteria that you should know as a
researcher?

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55

Literature review is a comprehensive and detailed compilation of previous


research studies that focuses on both theoretical and empirical discussion on
a topic related to your research.

Literature review serves as a foundation for providing a critical and


comprehensive discussion for both the researcher and the reader on a specific
topic of research.

The three important aspects in writing a good literature review are reading,
content and structure. Critical reading technique is the habit of asking
questions as you read. The content of a good literature review is one in which
you include a comprehensive evaluation and analysis in your discussion. The
structure of a literature review should be broad with general discussions as
introduction in the beginning of a review, followed by a detailed and
narrowed discussion later on.

The categories of literature sources are listed as primary literature, secondary


literature and tertiary literature.

Primary literature are mostly reports, theses or dissertations, company


reports, conference proceedings, emails, unpublished manuscripts and
government publications. It is sometimes known as grey literature as the
sources of these materials are mainly untraceable.

Secondary literature sources are books, journals, newspapers and


government publications. The contents of secondary literatures are reliable,
credible and verifiable.

Tertiary literature is the search tools we use to search for primary and
secondary literature sources. It consists of indexes, abstracts, catalogues,
encyclopaedias, dictionaries, bibliographies and citation indexes.

The steps to conduct literature search are identify and select a research topic,
identify search sources and carry out a search for articles.

When writing a literature review, you should include proper citation by


acknowledging the original source where necessary, prepare a complete
references list for all the sources that you use for your research and lastly
avoid the act of plagiarism.
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APA style

References list

Citation

Secondary sources

Critical review

Tertiary sources

Literature review
Literature search
Primary sources
Plagiarism

Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw Hill.
How could I write my literature review? (2014, April 9). Retrieved from https://
student.unsw.edu.au/printpdf/208
How to write a literature review. (2015, August 4). Retrieved from https://
library.concordia.ca/help/howto/litreview.php
Literature reviews. (2012). Retrieved from https://writingcenter.unc.edu/files/
2012/09/Literature-Reviews-The-Writing-Center.pdf
Literature reviews: An overview for graduate students. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/litreview/
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
Sekaran, U. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach (4th
ed.). United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Taylor, D. (n.d.). The literature review: A few tips on conducting it. Retrieved from
http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/images/stories/Documents/literaturereview.pdf
Zikmund, W. G. (2003). Business research methods (7th ed.). United States:
South-Western, Thomson Learning.
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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Topic

Research
Design

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Explain research design;

2.

Identify the types of research design;

3.

Differentiate between qualitative and quantitative methods in


research;

4.

Explain the purpose of research sampling;

5.

Describe the stages of research sampling; and

6.

Differentiate between non-probability and probability sampling


techniques.

INTRODUCTION
In the previous topic, we discussed the importance of a good literature review for
research. In this topic, we will highlight the concept of research design, followed
by a discussion on basic research design techniques. We will also examine two
distinctive methods of research; qualitative and quantitative and the different
techniques for each method. We will then explain research sampling, the
purposes of sampling and the stages involved in sampling. Lastly, we will
discuss the various types of sampling frequently found in business research.

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4.1

RESEARCH DESIGN

59

THE PURPOSE OF RESEARCH DESIGN

As mentioned earlier, research is a continuous process in which after completing


one stage, you will have a few other stages to get through. Research may be a
long-winding road, but always remember, the fruit that it bears is sweet and
fulfilling. Now that you have completed the literature review stage, you have
arrived at the point to plan for your research design.
As quoted from Zikmund et al. (2013) research design is defined as:

A master plan that specifies the methods and procedures for collecting and
analysing the needed information.

Similarly, Cooper and Schindler (2013) defined it as:

The blueprint for fulfilling research objectives and answering questions.

The definition by Saunders et al. (2009) is:

The general plan of how you will answer research questions. It will contain
clear objectives, derived from your research questions, specify the sources
from which you intend to collect data and consider the constraints that you
have as well as discussing ethical issues.

Research design underlines the sources of data, method of data collection, how
analysis of data will be carried out and data sampling based on research
objectives. It contains detailed descriptions of how the research will be
conducted, the methods or techniques of data collection and plans of the sample
size that is appropriate for the research.
Research design can be likened to the design plan of a building. When
constructing a building, construction workers would first need a blueprint or
design plan of architecture in order to proceed with the estimation of materials,
workers and time schedule to complete the construction. The same applies to
research where research design is the work plan to establish the direction or flow
of a research.

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SELF-CHECK 4.1
Using your own words, describe research design? Discuss with your
classmates.

4.2

BASIC RESEARCH DESIGN

There are many research designs that you can adopt in your research. It is
important that you select the appropriate design(s) that suits and enables you to
fulfil your research objectives and research questions. It is worth noting that no
research design is of better-quality or superior to another. As a researcher, it does
not matter which method is used, what matters most is that the selected research
design is able to accomplish whatever that you wish to attain from the research
and enables you as a researcher to accomplish your research objectives. The basic
research design techniques are:
(a)

Survey
(i)

It is defined as a research technique in which respondents are selected


to undergo structured interviews or observations. It is commonly
adopted in business research to collect data, mainly in exploratory
and descriptive research. Surveys may include face-to-face interviews
or be done virtually through the Internet, email or telephone.

(ii)

Usually, a survey is conducted using questionnaires or interviews that


allow researchers to gain access to a larger and more specific
respondent pool.

(iii) In order to collect the data needed, the respondent is often presented
with a set of questions generated by the researcher on a specific
research issue. The survey could be in a printed form of questions or
in an electronic form through the Internet or via email or telephone
calls as well.
(iv) The questionnaire survey method is a time-consuming task as it
requires researchers to carefully select or hand-pick respondents to
represent the whole population being researched.

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(b)

RESEARCH DESIGN

61

Secondary Data
(i)

Research data that was collected previously or has been originally


used for other purposes is referred to as secondary data. Secondary
data is usually prepared or gathered beforehand and the researcher
has no direct or indirect access to the participants or respondents
unlike primary data.

(ii)

Secondary data includes published reports, statistics databases,


archived data, historical databases, etc.

(iii) Convenience and time-saving are two known advantages of


secondary data.
(c)

Experiment
(i)

An experiment is defined as a study in which the researcher alters or


manipulates the subject to examine the effect of changes that may
follow through as a result.

(ii)

Experiments are commonly adopted in causal research to identify


cause-and-effect relationships between studied variables. In business
research, test-marketing is a form of experiment that is commonly
used.

(iii) Often times, business organisations employ test-marketing as a tool to


study the cause-and-effect of a subject in an actual market setting.
(iv) For instance, the owner of a caf wishes to introduce new dishes to the
menu. In test-marketing, the new dishes are set at two different
pricing. For customers patronising the caf during lunch hour, the
new dishes are presented at a lower price as a value add-on meal
together with a designated main course. At dinner time, customers are
entitled to a free flow of drinks for ordering the new dishes at original
prices. Customer feedback is collected for further improvement of the
dishes and on the pricing of these dishes. In this case, the owner
manipulates or alters the prices in order to study the cause-and-effect
of new dishes sales.

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(d)

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Observation
(i)

It is referred to as a process in which the observer or researcher


records the behaviours or traits of a subject in a systematic manner.

(ii)

The researcher or observer is able to carry out observations without


any contact or communication with the subject. The researcher merely
observes or watches the subject and records necessary information.

(iii) Observation is limited to tracking the movement or locations,


behavioural patterns in terms of expression, reaction and verbal
communication, temporal patterns in terms of time spent or the length
of time for reaction and the physical and graphic objects of a subject.
(iv) Due to the fact that observation studies actual behaviours or traits, it
is a useful data collection tool especially for business research
(Zikmund et al., 2013).
(v)

(e)

However, observation is a costly task to be carried out over an


extended period of time such as for weeks or months and does not
provide reasoning or clarification for the cause or the effect.

Case Study
(i)

The definition by Yin (2003) is:

An empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary


phenomenon within its real-life context especially when the
boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly
evident.

(ii)

It is an empirical study of a designated group, subject, individual or


phenomenon in an actual life setting.

(iii) Case study is especially useful for business research as it provides an


in-depth and detailed research that will enable researchers to have a
clear understanding of the specific subject under study.
(iv) For instance, researchers who are interested in studying the aviation
industry may want to conduct a thorough case study on Boeings
dominancy as the worlds largest commercial aircraft manufacturer.

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In addition, as a researcher, you may want to decide on the time dimension when
you are planning your research design. There are two time dimensions that are
commonly adopted in research, based on the research question or research issue
and they are as follows:
(a)

Cross-sectional Studies
(i)

It is identified as a research that studies various variables focusing on


one specific point of time.

(ii)

A cross-sectional study is like taking various snapshots on a special


day. On your graduation day, you would take lots of pictures with
your families, friends and course mates. These different shots on the
very same day can be likened to cross-sectional studies, in which your
families, friends and course mates are the various studied variables,
while your graduation day is the specific period of your research.

(iii) More often than not, survey studies and cross-sectional studies are
synonymous in business research.
(b)

Longitudinal Studies
(i)

It is defined as studies that observe multiple variables at various


points of time.

(ii)

Longitudinal studies can be described as having multiple diaries from


multiple individuals. It is especially useful when your research
requires you to analyse changes in various variables over an extended
period of time.

(iii) Longitudinal studies can be divided into:

Time Series Study

Similar variables or subjects are analysed over multiple time


periods.

For instance, a researcher would like to analyse the monthly


trend of the Malaysian Ringgit against the United States Dollar
over the period of one year in 2014. In this case, the Malaysian
Ringgit and the United States Dollar are the two variables or
subjects, while the time period of study is from January to
December of year 2014.

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Panel Study

It is a combination of cross-sectional and time series studies in


which the same set of variables or subjects are collected over a
specific time frame.

For instance, a researcher would like to study the efficiency,


productivity and performance of all the four departments in
company Y over the period of five years from 2010 to 2014. In
this case, the four departments in company Y are the subjects,
while efficiency, productivity and performance are the
variables to be studied and the time frame is set from 2010 to
2014.

Cohort Study

Studies on subjects or variables with common and similar


characteristics within a specific time period. It is commonly
used in business to study the behaviours of customers and
employees, such as the customer retention rate.

For instance, as a manager of a company, you would like to


study the customer retention rate since they begin their
membership signup. Referring to the table in the following
page, the column is the month or lifetime of the customers
membership and each cell illustrates the retention rate of the
customers in line with the lifetime of their membership.

Table 4.1 explains the data based on time dimension.

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RESEARCH DESIGN

Table 4.1: Illustration of Data based on Time Dimension


Cross-Sectional Studies
Time Period: Day P

Subject 1

Subject 2

Subject 3

Variable 1

Variable 2

Variable 3

Longitudinal Studies
Time Period:
Year 1 Year 3

Variable A
(Year 1)

Variable B
(Year 2)

Variable C
(Year 3)

Subject X

80

99

80

Subject Y

90

65

75

Subject Z

65

55

58

Time Series Study


Year

Variable 1

Variable 2

Variable 3

2005

3.80

3.50

3.00

2006

3.60

2.65

2.90

2007

3.20

3.55

3.35

Panel Study
Subject

Year

Variable 1

Variable 2

Variable 3

2011

50

80

88

2012

60

90

79

2011

55

40

70

2012

96

77

80

Cohort Study
Month 1

Month 2

Month 3

Month 4

Month 5

January

90

97

93

89

80

February

80

88

83

60

March

100

96

88

April

92

94

May

87

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ACTIVITY 4.1
1.

Search for two empirical journal articles in the OUM Library and
identify the types of research designs used in both. Provide
justification for your reasoning.

2.

From the two chosen journal articles, identify which type of time
dimension was used for each study. Provide evidence by carefully
reading the methodology section of each journal article.

4.3

QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE


METHODS

Generally, in social science, particularly in business research, there are two major
research methods that are frequently employed, namely qualitative and
quantitative methods. With the on-going debates and comparison of these
methods, it is worth noting that both are equally useful and neither is superior
over another, as long as the chosen method suits and serves your research
objectives. For example, as there are many modes of transportation which you
could use to arrive at the destination of your choice, you have to choose the
transport that best suits your journey. If your destination was Cameron
Highlands for instance, you could either choose between driving up the hill in a
car or hop on a bus, but you could never choose a ship to bring you there. The
details of the methods are elaborated further in the following:
(a)

Qualitative Business Research


(i)

It is referred to as research that does not involve numerical data or


measurement but depends on elaboration or the researchers
interpretation through words. Therefore, sample size is not important.
Qualitative research is able to provide a detailed and elaborate
explanation of a specific issue or situation.

(ii)

It is especially useful for research that requires in-depth insight or


understanding and the researcher ought to observe, interpret or
decode, listen and describe a certain phenomenon or reasoning of the
occurrence of a particular incident. Phenomenon could be a noticeable
and repetitive trend or pattern of a given incident such as why
customers behave negatively towards a new product or the
preferences of consumers for a particular brand.
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(iii) Qualitative research is usually used for exploratory research purposes


or when there is a need to gather deeper insights into a particular
phenomenon.
(iv) For instance, caf A has been in business for a long time and female
customers have been seen to patronise this caf more than male
customers. You as a researcher would like to find out the reasons why
there are more female customers patronising the caf as compared to
male customers. This type of research is categorised as qualitative
research. The phenomenon in this example is the trend where
customers patronising the caf are mostly female.
Therefore, the research question is: Does gender make a difference in
patronage of the caf? Qualitative research often uses interviews which
allow respondents to answer freely with open-ended questions. By
conducting a qualitative study, you could interview customers for their
opinions on why they prefer to patronise caf A. You could select 10 female
customers and 10 male customers as your sample. You could then compare
the differences between the answers from female and male customers.
Table 4.2 summarises the techniques that are commonly used in qualitative
research.
Table 4.2: Qualitative Research Techniques
Technique
Focus Group Interviews:
Small and flexible
discussion or interview
group with six to 10
participants and a trained
facilitator

Benefits

Flexible, easy to
conduct and can be
completed in a short
period of time

Able to generate
multiple perspectives
and detailed discussion

Limitations

Costly and does not


represent the whole
population

Results are subject to


facilitators
perspectives or
interpretation

Inappropriate for
discussion on sensitive
issue or topic

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Depth Interviews:
Interview or discussion
with one participant and
one trained facilitator

Able to generate
detailed perspectives or
individual insights

Useful for discussion of


sensitive issues or
topics and to gain
knowledge or
understanding of
unusual behaviours

Conversation (Discourse
Analysis):
Discussion involving
participants and a trained
facilitator in an informal
setting

Inexpensive way to
generate information or
insight

Useful for discussion of


sensitive issues or
topics

Word Association or
Sentence Completion:
Records participants first
response or thought to
stimulus

Can be conducted
quickly in an
inexpensive way

Effective to know what


participants think

Observation:
Documentation or
description of observed
subject

Able to obtain actual


condition or pattern

Can be an inexpensive
way to generate
information

Requires an
experienced facilitator
to draw out views from
all participants and to
prevent vocal
respondents from
dominating the
interview

Time-consuming and
very costly to conduct

Results are subject to


facilitators
perspectives or
interpretation

Results are too specific


to represent the whole
population

Results are subject to


facilitators
perspectives or
interpretation

Easily deviated from


the intended topic and
can only gain limited
information

Fails to produce
creative and detailed
description or
explanation

Can be costly to carry


out if it requires
researcher-participant
observation

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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(b)

RESEARCH DESIGN

69

Quantitative Business Research


(i)

Research that relies on empirical analysis of numerical data or


measurement in business studies is known as quantitative research.
Larger sample sizes are important for the results to be representative.

(ii)

It is solid empirical work that focuses on numerical analysis with less


interpretation by the researcher compared to qualitative research. The
results or findings of this type of research are generated from
systematic empirical estimation or statistical procedures.

(iii) For instance, as a hotel manager, you would like to study the hotel
guests satisfaction during their visit to your hotel. You could conduct
a survey to gauge their satisfaction of hotel services. You can obtain a
list of all your hotel guests and through a simple random sampling
technique select 500 guests as your sample. Then send out an email
questionnaire to your selected hotel guests to gather their opinion of
their level of satisfaction. Of all the questionnaires that may be
returned, only 350 questionnaires are usable. From these 350
respondents, you can perform a simple statistical analysis to ascertain
the level of satisfaction of hotel guests during their stay at your hotel.
This is classified as a quantitative research.
Table 4.3 provides a comparison between qualitative and quantitative
research.
Table 4.3: Comparison of Qualitative and Quantitative Research
Comparison

Qualitative Research

In-depth insight or
understanding

Theory building or
discovering new ideas

Focus or approach

Sample size and design

Objective or purpose

Types of data

Quantitative Research

Test and identify


variables or sample

Observe, understand
and interpret

Describe, measure, test


and predict

Small sample

Larger sample

Non-probability

Probability

Verbal or pictorial
descriptive data

Numerical data

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Data collection

Unstructured, flexible
free-form

Structured

Data analysis

Non-quantitative
method

Statistical or
mathematical method

Findings

Subjective, dependent
on researchers
perspectives

Objective, descriptive
and conclusive

Researchers involvement

Intimately involved

Detached

Nature of research

Exploratory research

Descriptive research

Causal research

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013); Cooper and Schindler (2013)

ACTIVITY 4.2
Search for two empirical journal articles that have both qualitative and
quantitative methods:
(a)

Compare with one journal article that has qualitative methodology


and the other journal article with quantitative methodology.

(b)

In your opinion, why do you think the researcher(s) have chosen


the particular types of research methods?

4.4

RESEARCH SAMPLING

What do you understand from the word sampling? In our daily lives, if you
dont already know, we frequently sample. A small cup or food packages
distributed to passers-by at a promotion stall set up in a shopping centre or by
taking a few sips of wine at a store selling new brands of wine and arriving at the
conclusion that the wine is good are both examples of sampling. The act of
randomly selecting a magazine or book, flipping through a few pages and
quickly reading a few sentences from these pages before deciding to buy is also
another form of sampling. What does sampling really mean then?

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Sampling as defined by Zikmund et al. (2013) is:

Any procedure that draws conclusions based on measurements of a portion


of the population.

Similarly, Cooper and Schindler (2013) defined it as:

An act of selecting some of the elements in a population to draw conclusion


about the entire population.

Figure 4.1: Population and sample illustration

In other words, sampling is where we select a few representatives to generate a


conclusion to signify the whole population (see Figure 4.1). Population is the
entire set of element with common characteristics. Sample is thus a small portion
of the entire population. Census takes into account all elements in the entire
population.

4.4.1

The Reasons for Sampling

You may think that if census covers all the elements in a population, is it not a
better measure compared to sampling? Well, not necessarily. We will tell you
why by discussing the purposes of sampling in business research:
(a)

Cost Factor
(i)

Cost is one of the most important characteristics that you as a business


researcher ought to take into consideration. It is impossible for a
business research to cover the whole population due to the enormous
expenses or costs that will be incurred.

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(ii)

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RESEARCH DESIGN

It is also impractical and not prudent for you to interview or collect


data from each element or individual in the population.

(iii) Census is only suitable if the population is of a really small number,


while sampling is definitely a wiser option for a big population.
(iv) For instance, to study the impact and feedback of hotel guests on the
recent implementation of heritage fees on hotels in Malacca and
Penang, a researcher through probability sampling could derive that a
sample of 500 hotel guests is more than adequate for the researcher to
arrive at a conclusion to reflect the entire hotel guests population.
(b)

Accuracy and Reliability


(i)

In order to ensure accuracy and reliability of the research findings, it


is important for a researcher to select the proper and right sample size
to represent the population as a whole.

(ii)

This is because with a small number of samples size in qualitative


research, a researcher is able to closely monitor and carefully
supervise the research compared to a large group of population.

(iii) With the right sample, you will be able to generate accurate and
conclusive findings compared to census which may contain
redundant and unnecessary information.
(iv) For instance, you received complaints on the bad quality of your
companys products. As a manager, you are responsible for
investigating these complaints. You should start by studying the
employees in the production and quality assurance departments as
they are responsible for ensuring that the products are in good quality
to be sold. The sample for you to conduct the study is production and
quality assurance employees instead of all the employees in the
company.
(c)

Time Factor
(i)

Time is of the essence for businesses, therefore it is important to


conduct and complete your research within a short period of time.

(ii)

By sampling, you would be able to conduct effective yet shorter time


frame studies without compromising the results or findings.

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(iii) For instance, it would be a tedious job and time-consuming task to


insert and study the feedback from all 2,000 survey respondents,
when instead you could conduct a time-effective research with the
right sample size.
A good and valid sample is one that is able to project a precise and accurate
finding. Hence, do bear in mind that even in our daily lives having a lot of
money is not necessarily a good thing. The same goes for your research, with the
right sample size, your research will be on the right track.

4.4.2

Stages in Sampling

Now that you know of the importance of sampling in your research, you ought
to learn the stages of sampling. The process of sampling is as follows:
(a)

Identifying the Target Population


(i)

The first step in sampling is to identify and determine the target


population. The target population should be related to the issue that
you are researching on.

(ii)

Identifying the correct target population is important as this is the


population from which you would extract necessary information or
data for the purpose of your research.

(iii) For instance, you would like to investigate the consumption pattern of
undergraduates in your university. The target population would be
all the undergraduate students in your university. This does not
include for example, postgraduate students.
(b)

Selecting a Sample Frame


(i)

Sampling frame is commonly referred to as working population. It


contains all the potential elements in the target population that may
be selected as a sample.

(ii)

The list may however contain redundant elements and incomplete or


inaccurate information, which we describe as sampling frame error.

(iii) For instance, referring to the example in (a), the list of undergraduate
students in your university is the sample frame for your research.

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(c)

TOPIC 4

RESEARCH DESIGN

Determining Sampling Methods


(i)

Next, you should decide on the sampling method that you need to
adopt in your research. You may choose between probability
sampling and non-probability sampling.

(ii)

Probability sampling as defined by Zikmund et al. (2013):

A sampling technique in which every member of the population


has a known, non-zero probability of selection.

(iii) Non-probability sampling is stated by Zikmund et al. (2013) as:

A sampling technique in which units of the sample are selected


on the basis of personal judgement or convenience; the
probability of any particular member of the population being
chosen in unknown.

(iv) It is worth knowing that probability sampling provides unbiased


results as it is free from the researchers personal judgement and thus
is a preferred method for research especially in quantitative methods.
(v)

(d)

We will discuss more on sampling methods in the later part of this


topic.

Determining the Sample Size


(i)

It is true that you would only be able to reflect the results of your
research on the entire population with a large sample size. However,
an appropriate sample size is good enough.

(ii)

Do bear in mind to take note of the following when determining the


sample size:

Usually the confidence level is set at 95 per cent.

Conduct an estimate on the standard deviation of the population.

Determine the acceptable error or magnitude of error.

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75

(iii) To estimate a proportion sample size (Zikmund et al., 2013) the


following formula can be used:

n=
of which,

n
Z cl2
p
q
E2

=
=
=
=
=

Z cl2 pq
E2

sample size
square of confidence level in standard error units
estimated proportion of successes
1 p , or estimated proportion of failures
square of the maximum allowance for error
between the true proportion and the sample
proportion

(iv) As quoted, to estimate mean sample size (Zikmund et al., 2013):

ZS
n =

E
of which,

n
Z

S
E
(e)

= sample size
= standardised value corresponding to confidence
level
= sample standard deviation or an estimate of the
population standard deviation
= the acceptable margin of error

Fieldwork Execution
As soon as the sample size is successfully determined, you are all set to
begin collecting data or information from your sample.

ACTIVITY 4.3
1.

Search for empirical journal articles and examine the types of


sampling methods used in your chosen journal articles. Provide
justification as to why the researcher(s) has chosen such sampling
techniques. Discuss with your classmates.

2.

Tabulate the differences between population, target population


and working population. Give examples from business research
that you have read from newspapers, magazines etc.

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4.4.3

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Types of Sampling Methods

The following describe the different types of sampling methods:


(a)

Non-probability Sampling
(i)

(ii)

Convenience Sampling

It is defined as the sampling that is obtained in a convenient and


easy manner.

Although it is the fastest, easiest and most economical to conduct,


it produces the least reliable findings and has risky results.

However, it is often employed as a means to collect ideas from


respondents or as a pilot study to obtain basic information.

For instance, an interviewer conducts an interview in a mall by


randomly selecting the first five respondents who walks past him
or her.

Judgement Sampling

A method which selects the sample based on a certain trait or


characteristic through the judgement of the researcher. It is
sometimes referred to as purposive sampling.

It is useful for researchers to achieve a particular purpose or


objective, although it may produce bias and unreliable results.

For instance, the forecast of election results prior to the election


based on past records of selected districts.

(iii) Quota Sampling

It is a method of classifying samples of similar characteristics in a


population together and setting the sample based on proportion.

It is often used to ensure that the sample is well-represented and is


commonly adopted in surveys.

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77

For instance, assuming that 60 per cent of the students are male
and the remaining 40 per cent of are female, the quota sampling
would set the sample on the ratio of 60 per cent male to 40 per cent
female.

(iv) Snowball Sampling

(b)

Involves selecting respondents based on the probability method in


the early stages and additional respondents are gathered from
information provided through referral of initial respondents
(Saunders et al., 2009; Zikmund et al., 2013).

It is sometimes known as chain-referral sampling.

It is useful when the researcher has difficulty identifying or


locating respondents of a specific group.

Snowball sampling may project a bias result as respondents are


dependent and may bear resemblance of homogenous traits.

For instance, a researcher who wishes to study the work


performance of alcoholics may first reach out to an ex-alcoholic.
The ex-alcoholic may have attended an alcoholic support group
like AA (Alcoholic Anonymous) that would eventually lead the
researcher to a bigger sample.

Probability Sampling
(i)

Simple Random Sampling

It is a method where all the elements in the population have equal


chances of being selected.

The selection of sample is a random process and is widely used.


Although it is easy to conduct, it is a time-consuming task as it
requires an extensive list that includes all the elements of the
population.

In cases where a large sample is needed, a random table or


computer-generated programme is used to randomly pick the
elements.

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(ii)

RESEARCH DESIGN

For instance, a researcher is interested to investigate whether


small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) are market oriented
and whether there is a relationship between market orientation
and the performance of SMEs. The researcher then obtains a list of
all SME companies from the SME Corporation and from that list
the researcher randomly selects SME companies to study. This is
an example of simple random sampling whereby all companies in
the list have an equal chance of being selected.

Systematic Sampling

Refers to a sampling method where a number is randomly picked


and the specific number of the elements is subsequently selected.

It is not entirely a random process as the selection of subsequent


samples is fixed.

The issue of periodic pattern does not occur if the arrangement of


elements is not of a systematic or chronological sampling.

For instance, a researcher randomly selects the 7th name from a


student list and subsequently, every 7th name in the list would be
selected to analyse the average performance of students in a
particular semester.

An example of a periodic pattern is when the list is arranged


based on the ranking or marks of students. Students who scored
high in their exams would be placed at the top of the list causing
bias in the results. Instead, the list can be arranged based on
alphabetical order or on students registration number.

(iii) Stratified Sampling

It is a method of dividing the population into groups in order to


conduct a simple random sampling on elements in the groups.

In other words, a researcher would first divide the population


based on specific groups and later on pick samples with similar
characteristics from each of these groups.

This sampling method ensures that each group is wellrepresented. This sampling method is deemed to produce an
efficient selection.
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For instance, a researcher wishes to analyse the income level of top


students from local universities in Malaysia. The researcher would
first have to divide the list of graduates according to local
universities, faculties and genders. Only then, he or she will be
able to isolate the top students based on each university, faculty
and gender groups in Malaysia.

Proportional stratified sample occurs when the size of sample that


is drawn from each group is proportionate to the size of the
population in that group (Zikmund et al., 2013).

For instance, assuming that the number of population of Faculty A


takes up 10 per cent of the population of University X, only five
per cent of the top female students and five per cent of top male
students in Faculty A (a total of 10 per cent) is selected as sample
in proportional stratified sampling.

On the other hand, a sample that is selected which is not


proportional to the size of the population but is based on specific
analysis is known as a disproportional stratified sample.

Therefore in this case, referring to the example given earlier, only


students who scored a 4.0 pointer in all semesters are selected to
represent top students in Faculty A in disproportional stratified
sample.

(iv) Cluster Sampling

It is a method that divides the population into groups and


randomly selects groups to sample from.

It is usually used in a dispersed or scattered population across an


area. It is sometimes known as area sampling.

This method does not draw samples from each group but rather
randomly selects only a few groups to study.

It is a quick process but may not be entirely precise in terms of


results as not all groups are covered in the analysis.

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(v)

RESEARCH DESIGN

For instance, in order to study the preferences of pizza flavours in


Kuala Lumpur, 10 pizza restaurants that are located in major
shopping malls in Kuala Lumpur are randomly selected and all
the customers patronising these restaurants during peak hours are
interviewed. The results from these 10 restaurants would then be
used to represent customers preferences of pizza flavours in
Kuala Lumpur.

Multis-stage Area Sampling

A sampling method which uses a combination of two or more


probability sampling techniques (Zikmund et al., 2013).

In this multi-stage sampling method, the sampling becomes


progressively smaller at each stage.

It is commonly employed when the coverage area is too large and


requires a quick process.

For instance, a researcher who wishes to study fast food


preferences in Malaysia would first sample consumers based on
states, followed by capital cities and then within major towns. The
researcher may also use stratified sampling to further divide
consumers into groups based on gender, age or educational
qualifications at each state capital cities and major towns.

Table 4.4 summarises non-probability sampling techniques. Meanwhile Table 4.5


explains probability sampling techniques.

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81

Table 4.4: Non-probability Sampling Techniques


Technique
Convenience sampling:
Most convenient,
economical and easiest way
of sampling

Judgement sampling:
Uses researchers
judgement to select samples
based on certain traits or
characteristics

Quota sampling:
Classifying population by
similar characteristics or
traits on a fixed quota

Snowball sampling:
Uses the probability
method in selecting
respondents at an early
stage and later selects
respondents through initial
respondents
recommendation or referral

Benefits

Limitations

Extremely economical
to conduct

Least reliable and risky


results

Does not require list of


population

Unable to represent the


population

Commonly used

Moderately economical
to conduct

Bias and unreliable


results

Useful for forecasting

Sample is sure to fulfil


certain criteria or
objective

Unable to represent the


population

Moderately used

Moderately economical
to conduct

Bias results

Non-random selection

Does not require list of


population

Sample is wellrepresented

Commonly used

Economical to conduct

Highly bias results

Useful to sample rare


and specific groups of
respondents

Samples are dependent


and may bear
resemblance of
homogenous traits

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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Table 4.5: Probability Sampling Techniques


Technique
Simple random sampling:
Each element has equal
chances of being selected

Systematic sampling:
Uses randomly picked
numbers and subsequently
to select respondents at a
fixed interval

Stratified sampling:
Divides the population into
groups and later conducts a
simple random sampling on
each group

Benefits

Only requires minimal


knowledge of
population

Easy to conduct and


analyse

Able to accommodate
large samples

Commonly used

Easy way to draw


sample

Easy to determine
sampling distribution,
mean or proportion

Moderately economical
to conduct

Moderately used

Each group is wellrepresented

Efficient way to select


respondents

Increased statistical
efficiency

Moderately used

Limitations

Costly to conduct

Time-consuming task

Requires an extensive
list of all elements in the
population

Requires a sampling
frame to work with

Major errors may result

Issue of periodic pattern


may exist

Requires accurate
information on each
group

May be costly to
conduct

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Cluster sampling:
Divides population into
groups and randomly
selects groups to sample
from

Useful for dispersed or


scattered areas

Multi-stage area sampling:


Combination of two or
more probability sampling
techniques and sampling
becomes progressively
smaller at each stage

RESEARCH DESIGN

83

Able to estimate
characteristics of groups
and population

May not be able to


precisely represent the
population

Does not require a


population list

Requires the researcher


to specifically assign
groups

Duplication, omission
and statistical error may
result

Economical to conduct

Commonly used

May be costly to
conduct

Useful for nationwide


surveys

Costly to conduct

Frequently used

Depends on techniques
combined

Depends on techniques
combined

Source: Saunder et al. (2009), Cooper and Schindler (2013) and Zikmund et al. (2013)

SELF-CHECK 4.2
1.

2.

Briefly explain the various types of sampling in:


(a)

Non-probability sampling; and

(b)

Probability sampling.

Explain and list the advantages and disadvantages of each


sampling method.

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ACTIVITY 4.4
1.

What are the five different types of research design techniques


that are commonly used in research? Give examples for each to
support your answers.

2.

Answer the following questions regarding cross-sectional and


longitudinal studies:
(a)

What are cross-sectional studies?

(b)

Define and briefly discuss longitudinal studies.

(c)

Provide examples for both cross-sectional and longitudinal


studies to support your answers.

3.

What are the two types of research methods in business research?


In your opinion, in which situation or case would you recommend
the use of these methods?

4.

What do you understand from sampling? Why do you think


sampling is important in research?

5.

How would you differentiate between non-probability sampling


and probability sampling?

6.

Situation:
Kevin has obtained a list of all 1,500 employees in Company A.
Kevin wishes to study if employees earning an annual income of
RM80,000 own a house or condominium in the city.
What type of sampling technique should Kevin use? Justify your
answer.

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85

Research design underlines detailed description of the sources of data,


method of data collection, sample size, sampling techniques and methods
used for analysis of data.

Research design is the blueprint or work plan to establish the direction or


flow of a research.

Survey, secondary data, experiment, observation and case study are among
the basic research design techniques that a researcher could adopt to collect
data or information in research.

Surveys are done when a researcher conducts a structured interview or


observation to gain information or data from respondents.

Secondary data is data that is collected previously or originally prepared for


other purposes including published reports, statistical databases, archived
data and historical databases.

Experiment is referred to as a study in which a researcher alters or


manipulates the subject to examine the effect of changes that may follow
through as a result.

Observation is known as a technique to collect information or data by


observing the behaviours or traits of a subject in a systematic manner.

Case study is an empirical study of a specific group, subject, individual or


phenomenon in an actual setting.

Two time dimensions that are commonly adopted in research are crosssectional studies and longitudinal studies. Cross-sectional study only focuses
on one specific point of time across various variables. Longitudinal studies
observe multiple variables at various points of time.

Time series studies analyse similar variables or subjects over multiple time
periods. Panel study is a combination of cross-sectional and time series
studies of a set of variables or subjects over a specific time period. Cohort
study studies a group of subjects or variables exhibiting similar
characteristics over a specific time frame.

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RESEARCH DESIGN

Qualitative business research does not use numerical data or measurement


but depends on the researchers interpretation and observation in its analysis.
Qualitative research includes focus group interviews, depth interview,
conversation, word association or sentence completion and observation
techniques.

Quantitative business research uses numerical data or measurement and


systematic statistical procedures in its empirical analysis.

Sampling is a procedure in which a researcher selects a few representatives to


generate a conclusion to represent the whole population.

Population is the entire set of elements sharing similar and common


characteristics.

Sample is a small portion of the entire population.

Census takes into account all elements in the entire population.

Sampling is necessary when it is impossible to cover the whole population


due to cost and time factors and to ensure accuracy and reliability of research
findings. A good and valid sample is able to produce precise and accurate
results.

The stages of sampling consist of identifying the target population, selecting a


sample frame, determining sampling method and sample size before
proceeding to execution of fieldwork.

Non-probability sampling selects samples based on personal judgement or


convenience. Convenience sampling, judgement sampling, quota sampling
and snowball sampling are categorised as non-probability sampling
techniques.

The sampling technique in which every element in the population stands a


chance of being selected is known as probability sampling. Probability
sampling includes simple random sampling, systematic sampling, stratified
sampling, cluster sampling and multi-stage area sampling.

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Case study

Qualitative business research

Census

Quantitative business research

Cluster sampling

Quota sampling

Convenience sampling

Research design

Cross-sectional study

Sample

Experiment

Sample size

Judgment sampling

Sampling

Longitudinal study

Secondary data

Multi-stage area sampling

Simple random sampling

Non-probability sampling

Snowball sampling

Observation

Stratified sampling

Population

Survey

Probability sampling

Systematic sampling

87

Brandenburg, E. (2013, June 14). Quantitative market research vs qualitative


market research. Retrieved from http://www.business2community.com/
marketing/quantitative-market-research-vs-qualitative-market-research0523710
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Market research and consumer protection. (2016). Retrieved from http://
businesscasestudies.co.uk/food-standards-agency/market-research-andconsumer-protection/introduction.html#axzz3mGLzoajw

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RESEARCH DESIGN

Mugo Fridah W. (2002, June 9). Sampling in research. Retrieved from http://
www.indiana.edu/~educy520/sec5982/week_2/mugo02sampling.pdf
Qualitative vs quantitative research. (2012, October 14). Retrieved from http://
www.aiuniv.edu/blog/october-2012/qualitative-vs-quantitative-research
Quantitave vs. qualitative research: Whats the difference? (2011, October 10).
Retrieved from http://www.mymarketresearchmethods.com/quantitativevs-qualitative-research-whats-the-difference/
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
Sekaran, U. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach (4th
ed.). United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Sheldon, R. (2016). Qualitative or quantitative Which method is for you?
Retrieved from http://www.marketingdonut.co.uk/marketing/marketresearch/qualitative-or-quantitative-which-method-is-for-youWeathington, B. L., Cunningham, C. J. L., & Pittenger, D. J. (2012, August 9).
Sampling: The first steps in research. Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.
wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781118342978.ch7/summary
What is research design? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nyu.edu/
classes/bkg/methods/005847ch1.pdf
Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods (3rd ed.). Applied
Social Research Methods, Vol. 5. United States: Sage Publication, Inc.
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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Topic

Data
Collection

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Describe the methods of data collection in research;

2.

Differentiate between primary and secondary data collection


methods;

3.

Describe the advantages and disadvantages of primary data collection


methods;

4.

Identify errors in survey research and methods of communication


when conducting a survey;

5.

Explain the concept of secondary data collection method; and

6.

Identify the advantages and disadvantages of secondary data


collection method and the sources of secondary data.

INTRODUCTION
In the previous topic, we discussed research design and the importance of
sampling in business research. In this topic, we will highlight the methods of
data collection commonly found in research, followed by a discussion on
primary data collection methods which include the advantages and
disadvantages of these methods, errors in survey research and methods of
communication when conducting a survey. Lastly, we will also discuss
secondary data collection methods, followed by a detailed explanation of the
advantages and disadvantages of secondary data collection methods and
identifying the sources of secondary data.

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TOPIC 5

5.1

DATA COLLECTION

METHODS OF DATA COLLECTION

Do you know that some researchers spend years collecting data for their
research? Data are facts or recorded information of a particular event,
phenomenon or variable that is collected for further processing or analysing.
Data are an essential aspect of your research, as without it, you could never move
forward to the analysis stage of your research. Data are important because they
are the inputs that you need for analysis in your research.
Generally, there are two types of data in research, the first being primary data
and the second is secondary data. Primary data are data that is collected or
gathered particularly by the researcher himself or herself, specifically to serve the
purpose of the research. Primary data collection methods are inclusive of
surveys, experiments or observations. It is an effort-consuming method that
requires the researchers supervision or contact with respondents.
On the other hand, secondary data are data that was previously collected for
other purposes by other researchers. Secondary data collection is carried out
mainly through databases, books, government sources or other sources which we
will discuss subsequently in this topic. It is a relatively effortless collection
method compared to that of primary data.
The purposes of data gathering include:
(a)

As an input to aid decision-making;

(b)

To acquire information for clarification;

(c)

As a record keeping procedure; and

(d)

For documentation for future use.

As you begin planning your research, you should already have in mind the types
of data that you would use. It is important that you do not put this off until the
data collection stage. By then, it would be too late to realise that you do not have
access to the data that you need or that the data that you require is simply
unavailable after you have completed all the stages prior to this. It would be a
waste of time to start over on a new research topic after you have completed your
academic research proposal or your business proposal.

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ACTIVITY 5.1
Browse newspapers or business magazines such as The Economist and
The Edge and identify the types of data used in the reporting of
business articles. Provide justifications as to why you think these types
of data are used and discuss your thoughts with your classmates.

5.2

PRIMARY DATA COLLECTION METHOD:


SURVEY

Survey is a common primary data collection method used in research. It can be


conducted in the form of questionnaires or interviews through face-to-face inperson interaction or in virtual form though the Internet, email, or telephone. As
mentioned earlier, survey is a primary data collection method based on
communication or structured interviews between a respondent and researcher.
Before we proceed, let us discuss the important terms in a survey that you as a
researcher ought to know.
Respondent as defined by Zikmund et al. (2013) is:

People who verbally answer an interviewers questions or provide answers


to written questions.

A respondent is thus the person whom you hand-picked to provide feedback to


your questions in an interview or questionnaire survey.
Sample survey as defined by Zikmund et al. (2013):

A formal term for a survey which emphasises that the purpose of contacting
respondents is to obtain a representative sample, or subset, of the target
population.
Hence, sample survey is the representative or the small portion of the population
that you select to study for your research.
Although we know that survey is an effort-consuming task, it is actually a quick
and effective way to acquire information from a sizeable population. In addition,
survey is economical, easy and convenient to be carried out. A properly executed
survey produces accurate and scientific results that are helpful in assisting your
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DATA COLLECTION

analysis in academic research and in business decision-making. We will discuss


in detail the advantages and disadvantages of each primary data collection
method later on in this topic.

5.2.1

Errors in Survey Research

There are two types of errors commonly found in survey research, the random
sampling error and systematic error (refer to Figure 5.1).
(a)

Random Sampling Error


(i)

Zikmund et al. (2013) defines this as:

A statistical fluctuation that occurs because of chance variation


in the elements selected for a sample.
(ii)
(b)

It is an error which arises from the difference in results of the sample


and census.

Systematic Error
(i)

According to Zikmund et al. (2013) it is an:

Error resulting from some imperfect aspect of the research


design that causes respondent error or from a mistake in the
execution of the research.
(ii)

It is usually referred to as non-sampling errors caused by flaws in the


execution of the research and in the research design.

(iii) Sample bias displays a persistent deviating result from the actual
value of the population parameter.
(iv) Systematic errors are categorised into administrative errors and
respondent errors.

Administrative errors: Arises from inappropriate research


execution such as a researchers carelessness, omission or other
human errors.

Data processing error:


documentation of data;

Error

that

arises

during

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93

Sample selection error: Unreliable sample results due to an


error that occurred during sampling or as a result of a flaw in
the research design;

Interviewer error: Error that arises due to incorrect


documentation by the interviewer in recording respondents
answers; and

Interviewer cheating: Intentional falsification by a researcher


or interviewer of respondents questionnaires or answers.

Respondent errors: Sample bias arising from respondents nonresponse or response bias. Non-response error is the difference
between the inclusion of those who responded and those who did
not respond to the questionnaire. Response bias refers to bias that
arises when respondents knowingly or unknowingly provide
distorted and misleading answers. Respondents may deliberately
falsify the answers in an attempt to appear intelligent, as a cover
up or they unconsciously misunderstood the question or
misrepresented the answer (Zikmund et al., 2013). The types of
response bias are as follows:

Acquiescence bias: Respondents may agree or disagree to all


the questions in the questionnaire or survey;

Extremity bias: Respondents responded with the extremes in


the options or answers of point-scale questionnaires;

Interviewer bias: Respondents answers are coerced or


influenced by an interviewers presence;

Auspices bias: Respondents answers are falsified and swayed


towards the sponsor or the organisation conducting the
survey; and

Social desirability bias: The tendency for a respondents


answer to intentionally or unintentionally gain favourable
impression or prestige.

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DATA COLLECTION

Figure 5.1: Survey errors


Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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5.2.2

DATA COLLECTION

95

Methods of Communication When Conducting a


Survey

When you are certain that you want to use primary data for your research, the
next step is to identify the methods of communication that you would adopt to
gather your data. There are three major communication approaches for survey:
(a)

Personal Interviews
(i)

This is an interview where a researcher or interviewer provides a list


of questions to ask respondents in a face-to-face in-person interaction.

(ii)

Advantages:

Allows for feedback, personal interaction and communication


with respondents.

Allows the interviewer to conduct a follow-up or ask probing


questions by seeking further clarification or explanation from
respondents.

Suitable for surveys that require a longer time frame as interviews


can take up to one and a half hours.

Able to ensure that the respondents do not leave any questions


unanswered.

Enables the interviewer to use visual aids and props as


illustrations.

Ensures the cooperation and participation of respondents.

Able to reach illiterate respondents and respondents in remote


areas.

(iii) Disadvantages:

Costly in terms of expenses to train interviewers, the length of


time needed and the additional costs involved in reaching
respondents in remote areas.

Does not provide respondents with anonymity and respondents


may be reluctant to discuss sensitive issues in person.

Unable to cover a wide geographical area.


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(b)

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DATA COLLECTION

Telephone Interviews
(i)

This is an interview in which the interviewer contacts respondents


over the telephone.

(ii)

Advantages:

Enables interviews to be completed within a very short time.

A relatively cheaper way to gather information as compared to


personal interviews.

Provides respondents with anonymity and respondents may be


more willing to discuss sensitive issues.

Ensures respondents cooperation and provides a sense of security


to them.

Allows interviewers to cover a bigger geographical area.


(iii) Disadvantages:

(c)

Lengths of the interviews are relatively short.

Unable to provide respondents with visual aids and props


illustrations.

May not be able to gain complete responses.

May not be able to cover all respondents as the telephone numbers


directory may be incomplete and respondents may be unreachable
at times, therefore response rates may be low.

Relatively expensive compared to mail questionnaire.

Self-administered Questionnaires
(i)

This is a questionnaire survey which requires respondents to fill up


the questionnaire themselves.

(ii)

Mail questionnaires: Questionnaire surveys that are sent via post to


respondents.

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97

(iii) Advantages:

Able to cover a wide geographical area.

Economical to conduct.

Respondents have the freedom to complete the questionnaire


survey at their convenience.

Provides respondents with anonymity.

(iv) Disadvantages:

(v)

Low response rate.

Questionnaire may be misinterpreted wrongly without an


interviewers detailed explanation, guidance or clarification.

The length of the questionnaire is restricted and cannot be too


lengthy.

Computer-delivered and other forms of questionnaires: Questionnaire


surveys that are sent via email, Internet, smartphones and fax
machines for example, through the use of Monkey Survey.

Now that we have discussed different survey methods, we will briefly focus on
the differences between structured, unstructured and disguised questions in
surveys. How would you differentiate between these questions?
Always remember, questions that restrict or limit responses are known as
structured questions. For instance, you may be asked to select your age based on
age groups such as age 20-29, age 30-39 instead of specifically stating your
actual age.
Unstructured questions provide respondents with freedom to state their opinions
through open-ended questions such as What aspect(s) in the hotels services do
you believe requires improvement? In this case, you are required to state your
opinion.

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Disguised questions are indirect questions that do not reveal the purpose of the
study to respondents. The reason for this is to allow the researcher to obtain
unbiased and true responses from respondents. Questions such as Have you in
anyway downloaded a copyrighted book from the Internet? and Have you
visited any webpages that enable you to downloaded copyrighted movies? are
examples of disguised questions. Table 5.1 summarises what you have learned
thus far regarding the methods of survey communication.
Table 5.1: Methods of Survey Communication
Personal

Description

Interview

Telephone
Interview

Self-administrated
Questionnaire

Concept

Face-to-face inperson interview

Interview that is
conducted over the
telephone

Survey that requires


respondents to
answer the
questionnaire
provided

Advantages

Allows feedback
and detailed
communication

Quick and time


saving

Inexpensive

Suitable for
survey that
requires longer
interview time

Able to cover
wide
geographical
areas

Provides
anonymity to
respondents

Economical

Convenient for
respondents

Provides
anonymity to
respondents

Ensures that
respondents
respond to all
the questions

The use of visual


aids and props

Ensure
cooperation and
participation

Able to reach
remote areas and
illiterate
respondents

Able to generate
good
cooperation and
provide a sense
of security to
respondents
Able to cover
wide areas

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Disadvantages

Extremely costly
to conduct, timeconsuming

No anonymity
for respondents

Limited
geographical
coverage area

DATA COLLECTION

99

Restricted
interview time

Low response
rate

Unable to use
visual aids and
props

Questions may
be
misinterpreted

Unable to gain
complete
responses

Unable to reach
respondents
who are not
listed in a
telephone
directory

Number of
questions asked
is limited as
respondents
might feel bored
or fatigue in
answering them
after awhile

Low response
rate

ACTIVITY 5.2
1.

Search for questionnaires that are used in academic research or


business research. Based on the questionnaires, identify the types
of questions (structured, unstructured or disguised questions) that
have been used.

2.

From the OUM library, search for two empirical journal articles
which:
(a) Conduct questionnaire surveys via mail, telephone or
Internet such as Monkey Survey, as a method of data
collection.
(b) Conduct questionnaire surveys to collect data from personal
or focus group interviews.
Compare these two survey methods in terms of their differences,
advantages and disadvantages and discuss with your classmates.

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5.3

SECONDARY DATA COLLECTION METHODS

This subtopic will discuss secondary data collection methods. In this subtopic,
we will look at the objectives of secondary data research, its advantages and
disadvantages and finally the sources of secondary data.

5.3.1

Objectives of Secondary Data Research

Generally, the three purposes of using secondary data in business research are:
(a)

Fact-finding
(i)

The main objective of using secondary data in business research is to


collect information to support and assist the process of decisionmaking, which is also referred to as fact-finding.

(ii)

Research objectives that require researchers to conduct a market and


trend analysis and to identify specific patterns in the market usually
use secondary data for analysis.

(iii) For instance, an investor seeks your advice on the potential of the
palm oil industry in Malaysia before investing in the industry. As a
researcher, you are required to collect secondary data on the
consumption of palm oil in Malaysia and in the world market and the
profits of local palm oil producers for the past ten years to conduct a
detailed market analysis before advising the investor.
(b)

Model Building
(i)

Involves specifying relationships between two or more variables and


developing descriptive or predictive equations using secondary data
(Zikmund et al., 2013).

(ii)

Model building is particularly important in forecasting or predicting


the growth of an industry through detailed analysis of the sales,
demands or exports of the products in the industry.

(iii) Referring to the example given, you are also required to forecast the
potential of the palm oil industry in the world market by studying the
market share of palm oil producers, analysing the demand of palm oil
products and forecast the sales of palm oil products, before advising
the investor.

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(c)

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101

Database Marketing
(i)

Involves using customer databases to promote a personalised


relationship between a company and its customers and for future
promotional and marketing purposes.

(ii)

Business organisations often keep records of customers profiles,


contacts and past purchases which can be used for promotional
communications and to enhance customer databases.

(iii) For instance, Uniqlo provides an online shopping portal that routinely
notifies customers of their companys special deals, other promotional
items and recommends new items based on past purchases through
emails.

5.3.2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Secondary


Data
We shall now discuss the advantages and disadvantages of secondary data for
business research:
(a)

Advantages
(i)

Availability: Secondary data are readily available.

(ii)

Time-saving: It is quick and does not take a long time to collect data.

(iii) Inexpensive: It is less expensive compared to primary data as primary


data may incur additional costs in hiring assistants to distribute
surveys and other field trip expenses.
(b)

Disadvantages
(i)

Outdated and incomplete data: Secondary data such as government


census on the number of employees or number of establishments in
finance firms may not be up-to-date as census is usually collected
once every few years.

(ii)

Differences in units of measurement and terms: The units of


measurement may differ to that of the researchers requirement such
as the annual report of businesses may be calculated in Malaysian
Ringgit while some businesses with firms abroad may be recorded in
the US Dollar for instance.
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(iii) Inaccuracy: As secondary data was initially collected for other


purposes, it may not be accurate (Zikmund, 2003).
(iv) Relevant: Much of secondary date is irrelevant to the phenomena
being investigated in the research.

ACTIVITY 5.3
1.

2.

5.3.3

Browse for financial data and other necessary information of one


of the public listed companies in Malaysia on:
(a)

Yahoo! Finance (finance.yahoo.com); and

(b)

Bursa Malaysia (www.bursamalaysia.com).

Assuming that you have to conduct a company analysis on one


public listed company, based on the secondary data from the two
sites mentioned, do you think the information obtained is
sufficient for you to analyse the company thoroughly?

Sources of Secondary Data

Secondary data can be categorised into internal and external data as follows:
(a)

Internal and Proprietary Data


(i)

This is secondary data that originates or is generated by the


organisation itself. It includes accounting and financial reports,
emails, memos, letter, minutes, invoices, customers and employees
profiles.

(ii)

Internal data are useful for an organisation for record-keeping and for
further analysis should the need arises.

(iii) For instance, a newly appointed manager of an organisation may


analyse the performance of the organisation by studying past
accounting and financial reports through the organisations internal
data.

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(b)

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103

External Data
(i)

It is known as the data that is created or gathered by other entities


outside the organisation. It includes government sources, newspapers,
books and periodicals, journals, libraries and the Internet.

(ii)

External data are accessible and can be purchased by the public from
these sources.

(iii) Public libraries, university libraries, government departments


libraries, the Internet and government databases provide researchers
with a vast collection of books, directories, indexes, statistics and
census that are useful for business research.

SELF-CHECK 5.1
1.

What are the two sources of secondary data?

2.

By assessing government databases such as the Department of


Statistics (www.statistics.gov.my), check for the types of data that
are readily available.

ACTIVITY 5.4
1.

In your own words, why do you think data collection is important


in research?

2.

Briefly define primary and secondary data. Give examples of the


types of business research that require:

3.

(a)

Primary data only;

(b)

Secondary data only; and

(c)

A combination of both.

Discuss the errors that are commonly found in survey based


research. Why do you think that as a researcher you need to be
aware of such errors?

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4.

Situation:
Hannahs manager has given her a name list of contacts, from which
she is to collect their opinions on their experiences of using the new
product launched by Hannahs company. The respondents on the list
are scattered across different states in Malaysia and Hannahs
manager hopes to receive feedback from her as soon as possible.
Which survey method would you recommend for Hannah to use?
Why? Provide justifications for the method of your choice.

5.

What is the importance of secondary data? Give examples of the


applications of secondary data in business research.

6.

Situation:
Jeremy has recently been hired by a public listed company to be the
companys consultant. As a consultant, Jeremy is required to provide
his expertise and opinion whenever necessary.
Which source(s) would you recommend to Jeremy to look for
information and reports? Provide justifications for your answer.

The two types of data that are commonly used in research are primary and
secondary data. Primary data are data that is collected particularly by a
researcher to serve specific research objectives. Secondary data are data
collected beforehand for other purposes by other researchers.

The purposes of data collection are as input to aid decision-making, to


acquire additional information for clarification, as a record keeping
procedure and for documentation for future use.

Respondent is the person whom a researcher selects to provide feedback to


questions in an interview or questionnaire survey.

Sample survey is the representative or the small portion of the population


that a researcher selects as the research sample.

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The two major types of errors commonly found in survey research are
random sampling error and systematic error. Random sampling error is an
error arising from the difference in the results of the sample and census.
Systematic error is non-sampling errors arising from flaws in the research
design and in the execution of the research.

Systematic errors are categorised into respondent error and administrative


error. Administrative error arises from inappropriate research execution due
to a researchers carelessness, omission or other human errors. It includes
data processing error, sample selection error, interviewer error and
interviewer cheating. Respondent error is a sample bias that arises as a result
of a respondents non-response or response bias. The five types of response
bias include acquiescence bias, extremity bias, interviewer bias, auspices bias
and social desirability bias.

There are three major approaches for surveys namely personal interviews,
telephone interviews and self-administered questionnaires.

Structured questions are questions that restrict or limit a respondents


responses or answers.

Unstructured questions are open-ended questions that allow respondents to


state their opinions freely.

Disguised questions are indirect questions that do not reveal the purpose of
the study to respondents.

The three main purposes of using secondary data in business research are
fact-finding, model building and database marketing.

The advantages of secondary data include availability, time saving in data


collection and being inexpensive. The disadvantages of secondary data are
outdated and incomplete data, differences in units of measurement and
terms, inaccuracy of data and relevancy of data.

Secondary data is classified into internal data and external data. Internal data
is data that is generated by the organisation itself. External data is data that is
collected by other entities outside the organisation.

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Acquiescence bias

Personal interview

Administrative error

Primary data

Auspices bias

Random sampling error

Data processing error

Respondent

Database marketing

Respondent error

Disguised questions

Sample selection error

External data

Sample survey

Extremity bias

Secondary data

Fact-finding

Self-administered questionnaires

Internal data

Social desirability bias

Interviewer bias

Structured questions

Interviewer cheating

Survey

Interviewer error

Systematic error

Mail questionnaires

Telephone interview

Model building

Unstructured questions

Advantages and disadvantages of secondary data collection nowadays. (2013,


December 11). Retrieved from http://xaperezsindin.com/2013/12/11/
advantages-and-disadvantages-of-secondary-data-collection/
Business market research and data collection business. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.haht.com/
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw Hill.

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Data collection methods. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://people.uwec.edu/


piercech/researchmethods/data%20collection%20methods/data%20collect
ion%20methods.htm
Metcalf, T. (2016). How to collect primary data for research in business. Retrieved
from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/collect-primary-data-research-business66217.html
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
Sekaran, U. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach (4th
ed.). United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Zikmund, W. G. (2003). Business research methods (7th ed.). United States: SouthWestern, Thomson Learning.
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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Topic

Research
Instruments
and
Measurements

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Explain the importance of questionnaire designs;

2.

Plan and arrange the layout of questionnaires;

3.

Explain measurement and the four major types of scales in


questionnaires;

4.

Describe the criteria of a good measurement;

5.

Explain attitude measurement; and

6.

Differentiate the various types of attitude rating scales.

INTRODUCTION
In the previous topic, we discussed primary and secondary data collection
methods commonly used in research. In this topic, we will highlight the
importance of questionnaire design and discuss the guidelines for questionnaire
layout. Later on, we will discuss the major types of scales commonly used in
business questionnaires and the important criteria of good measurement in a
questionnaire. Lastly, we will explore attitude measurement and the various
types of attitude rating scales in research.

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6.1

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109

QUESTIONNAIRE DESIGN

Have you ever been approached to fill in a questionnaire? Back then, while filling
in the questionnaire, did you have difficulty in understanding the phrases or
questions? As a questionnaire is an important tool in the collection of primary
data, you as a researcher ought to know what makes a good questionnaire.

6.1.1

Content and Purpose of the Questions

Good problem definition and outlining research objectives are informative and
useful to assist you in identifying the types of data that your research needs, the
methods to collect data and so on. Generally, relevancy and accuracy are two
important criteria that should be found in a questionnaire.
In order to maintain the relevancy of your questionnaire, you should make sure
that you only include questions that are relevant to your research. Any irrelevant
and unnecessary questions should be omitted.
A good questionnaire is able to influence respondents to cooperate willingly and
assist the researcher in obtaining accurate, reliable, valid and unbiased responses
from them. Therefore, you ought to include simple words, direct questions and
avoid lengthy and threatening questions (Zikmund, 2003; Zikmund et al., 2013).

6.1.2

Phrasing and Constructing Questions

We will now discuss the guidelines and different ways to phrase and construct
questions:
(a)

Open-ended Response Question


(i)

It is a question that addresses problems or issues and requires


respondents to freely provide their answers or opinions using their
own words. It is also known as free-answer question as respondents
have the freedom to state or provide answers freely.

(ii)

This type of question is often used in exploratory research to gather


more information and spontaneous and accurate responses from
respondents.

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(iii) It is also useful to ask open-ended response questions in an interview


as an introduction or opening to the subsequent questioning process
(Zikmund et al., 2013).
(iv) The main disadvantage of open-ended response question is the high
cost involved in coding, editing and analysing the answers. It is a
tedious and time-consuming task to categorise and review all
respondents answers. In addition, the recording process may be
compromised by the interviewers responses instead of being solely
that of respondents as it is impossible for the interviewer to record
every word that the respondent has spoken. Therefore, a tape recorder
is essential for recording interview sessions. Often times, open-ended
response questions may not represent the entire population as it
requires longer answers, thus it may hinder respondents that are less
literate to participate.
(v)

(b)

Examples of open-ended response questions:

What can you contribute to this programme?

What are the things that you like most about our services?

What suggestion do you have in mind to improve the service


provided?

Fixed-alternative Question
(i)

It is a question which requires respondents to select their intended


answers from a list of specific limited-alternative responses. It is also
referred to as a closed-question as respondents are restricted to select
the closest answer to their own that is provided in the questionnaire.

(ii)

This type of question does not require an extensive time period and it
is easier for the interviewer to interpret and analyse the answers.

(iii) It is important to bear in mind that fixed-alternative questions may


cause bias results as respondents may randomly select an untrue
response if they do not see an alternative that they prefer or which
reflects their experiences. They may also select an alternative that is
socially acceptable to appear prestigious but which does not reflect
their true response, or by simply selecting whatever alternative is
provided instead of considering all the alternatives carefully.

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(iv) Examples of fixed-alternative questions:

(v)

Have you purchased any item online this week?


___Yes
___No

Did you use the companys portal at work this month?


___Yes
___No

How would you rate the quality of services provided by our caf?
___Good
___About the same
___Not as good

There are different types of fixed-alternative questions, as explained


in the following:

Simple-dichotomy Question

It is the simplest type of question which requires respondents


to select from two alternatives. It is also commonly referred to
as dichotomous-alternative question.

For instance:

Please state your gender


___Male
___Female

Did you log in to any social media like Facebook and


Twitter last week?
___Yes
___No

Determinant-choice Questions

It requires respondents to specifically select only one


alternative from various alternatives provided.

For instance:

Please select the Malaysia Airlines Frequent Flyer Enrich


programme that you are currently using to book your
flight
___Enrich Platinum
___Enrich Gold
___Enrich Silver
___Enrich Blue

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Frequency-determination Questions

It requires respondents to select the alternative that is related


to a general frequency of occurrence.

For instance:

How often do you shop online?


___Daily
___At least once a month
___Less than 6 times a year

___Weekly
___Once a year
___Never

Checklist Questions

It allows respondents to select multiple alternatives in


response to a single question asked. It is often used in
questions that are related to preferences and past experiences
and allows respondents to check off various alternatives.

For instance:

Please select the item(s) that you wish to subscribe to


receive promotional advertisement or newsletter in your
email. You may choose more than one:
___Beauty (facial treatment, spa, manicure, pedicure, etc.)
___Health (supplement, organic food, equipment, etc.)
___Holidays (hotels, tour guides, flights, etc.)
___Products (household products, utilities, etc.)
___Events (concert, celebrity-fans get-together, etc.)
___Celebrations (birthdays, Parents day, Christmas, etc.)
___Entertainment (movies, games, music, etc.)

What are the criteria that you would consider in a product?


Select all that apply.
___Price
___Brand
___Quality
___Feature
___Innovation
___Value for money

In order to increase respondents motivation to cooperate with the research and


to avoid respondents from fatigue and boredom when answering questions, most
questionnaires include combinations of open-ended and various types of fixedalternative response questions.

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113

The Art of Asking Questions

As a researcher, do bear in mind that there is no fixed format or rules that you
ought to follow to produce a perfect questionnaire. However, you could use the
following as a guideline to recognise the dos and donts in developing a
questionnaire:
(a)

Avoid Complex Language


(i)

You should refrain from using jargons, acronyms and complicated


and lengthy sentences in your questionnaire to avoid confusion,
misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

(ii)

You should understand that your respondents may come from all
walks of life with different social, economic and ethnic backgrounds;
therefore, it is best to use simple and direct language in your
questionnaire to cater to their varied understanding.

(iii) For instance:

Methodology should be replaced with a simpler word, method;

Value-added should be replaced with product or services benefits;


and

The word bandwidth has multiple meanings in different fields;


therefore, it is best to refrain from using this in your questionnaire.

(iv) Dos: Keep it simple. Use easy and direct language.


(b)

Avoid Leading and Loaded Questions


(i)

A leading question is a question with the tendency to suggest or


influence a respondents answer in a particular way. Often, this type
of question creates psychological effects in respondents which leads to
biases and false response in their answers.

(ii)

Examples of leading questions:

Most buyers prefer high quality products. What do you think is


the factor that you consider before purchasing a product?
___Price
___Quality
___Feature

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Should a responsible manager be attentive towards his/her


subordinates?
___Agree
___Disagree
___Somewhat Agree

(iii) Loading question is a question that suggests or evokes socially


desirable or emotional responses. This type of question often leads
respondents to provide inaccurate responses.
(iv) Respondents will select socially acceptable responses to appear good
and favourable even though the responses do not reflect their true
opinion or behaviour.
(v)

(c)

Examples of loading question:

Which of the following best describe the vehicle that you currently
own?
___Perodua MyVi
___Proton Preve
___Perodua Kancil
___Toyota Vios
___Honda City
___Mercedes Benz
___BMW
___Do not own a vehicle

We are happy that you enjoyed your stay with us. How would
you suggest that we improve our hotel services to better serve you
in the future?

I am capable of performing my duty without much supervision


from my leader.
___Agree
___Disagree

Avoid Ambiguity
(i)

You should refrain from using unspecific statements and indefinite


and ambiguous words.

(ii)

It is important that you use clear and definite words in your


questionnaire to avoid causing confusion.

(iii) For instance, words such as regularly, occasionally, fairly, poor, etc.
should be avoided as different people have different understandings
of these words.

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(iv) Examples of ambiguous statements:

(v)
(d)

How often do you patronise our supermarket?


___Always
___Occasionally
___Rarely

___Never

How would you rate our staffs performance?


___Good
___Fairly average
___Poor

___Bad

Dos: Use definite words and be specific in your statement.

Avoid Double-barrelled Questions


(i)

Double-barrelled questions are questions that state several issues in


one sentence.

(ii)

You should avoid jumbling two or more situations together in a


statement as respondents will be uncertain if only one of the
situations is applicable. It will cause bias results as you would be
unsure which answer the respondent is referring to.

(iii) Examples of double-barrelled questions:

Are you satisfied with the salary and bonus that you received
from your organisation?
___Agree
___Disagree

Do you think that employees performance is closely related to


employees benefits or to their superiors motivation?
___Yes
___Neutral
___No

(iv) Dos: Only discuss one situation or issue in one statement.


(e)

Avoid Making Assumptions


(i)

You should refrain from making assumptions or assume that the


respondents have had similar experiences or opinions on a particular
issue or situation.

(ii)

You should not include assumptions which respondents will feel the
same as you do, as this will cause a bias in their responses.

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(iii) Examples of assumptions questions:

(f)

Should the organisation continue its excellent training camp?


___Yes
___No

Are you a Samsung or Apple iPhone user?


___Samsung
___Apple iPhone

Avoid Burdensome and Taxing Questions


(i)

You should refrain from asking questions that require respondents to


recall past events or behaviour.

(ii)

It may be taxing and tiring for respondents to retrace past events and
as a result they may provide false responses.

(iii) Examples of burdensome and taxing questions:

What were the items that you purchased during your last visit to
our store?
1._____
2._____
3._____

Do you recall watching any advertisements yesterday?


___Yes
___No

(iv) Dos: Assist respondents by asking aided-recall questions such as


Did you purchase a dress from our store on your last visit? and Do
you recall watching an advertisement on fast-food yesterday?

6.1.4

Question Sequence

The arrangement or sequence of questions in your questionnaire will affect the


outcome of your questionnaire. At times respondents may feel reluctant to
answer the remaining questions or in some cases respondents may be
disinterested to take part in the survey. Order bias is referred to as bias that is
caused by the influence of earlier questions or by an answers position in a set of
answers (Zikmund et al., 2013). It is a bias of the sequence or arrangement of
questions and answers in a questionnaire. We will now discuss the different
techniques of question sequence and arrangement of questions in your
questionnaire.

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The question sequence that begins with general questions and then is followed
by more specific questions is known as the funnel technique. This technique
begins by asking respondents easy questions that do not require in-depth
thinking before proceeding to specific and complicated questions that require
deeper thought. This technique will enable you as a researcher to build or
establish good rapport with respondents to ensure that they are at ease,
comfortable and as a result be more willing to share their opinion or responses
with you. The funnel technique starts with broad general questions before
moving on to narrower specific questions.
Filter question is a question that is inapplicable to some respondents and allows
these respondents to skip to other questions. This technique filters respondents
from answering questions that are not applicable to them. However, you should
be mindful not to use filter questions too frequently in your questionnaire as
respondents may be annoyed or irritated as a result of having to skip questions
repeatedly. Examples of filter questions:
(a)

10.

Have you subscribed to our customer portal?


___Yes
___No (If No, please proceed to question 12)

(b)

11.

How would you rate our customer portal?


___User-friendly
___Difficult to navigate
(Please proceed to question 13)

(c)

12.

___Average

What is the reason for not subscribing to our customer portal?


___Difficult to navigate
___Uninterested
___Unaware
___Others (Please specify:_______)

Do bear in mind that the sequence or order of questions in your questionnaire is


important in assisting respondents to understand the connection or relationship
between each question. A well-arranged questionnaire motivates respondents to
cooperate, maintain their interests in answering and appreciate the researchers
purpose in conducting the questionnaire survey.

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ACTIVITY 6.1
1.

Search for sample templates of an open-ended response


questionnaire and a fixed-alternative response questionnaire that
are available online on SurveyMonkey for instance and identify
the different types of fixed-alternative response questions in these
questionnaires. Which one of these questionnaires would you
prefer to answer? Why? (Website: www.surveymonkey.com/mp/
sample-survey-questionnaire-templates/)

2.

Search for two questionnaire samples from SurveyMonkey for


instance and try to identify the error(s) in these questionnaires.
Discuss with your classmates on how you would suggest the
researcher to avoid these errors.

3.

Explain the technique in arranging the order or question sequence


in questionnaires.

6.2

LAYOUT OF QUESTIONNAIRES

Have you come across a questionnaire with a messy layout and arrangement?
Back then as a respondent, were you motivated to fill in, let alone complete the
questionnaire? Just as the appearance and front cover design of a book captures
your attention, the layout of a questionnaire is the key determinant in attracting
and encouraging respondents to complete the questionnaire. An organised and
neat questionnaire will first enable respondents to continue to pay attention to
your questions and a well-developed and well-planned questionnaire would
further ensure respondents cooperation to answer all of your questions. We will
discuss some of the questionnaire guidelines that you ought to know as a
researcher:
(a)

Introduction and Cover Letter


(i)

You should prepare a proper introduction of yourself as a researcher


and carefully explain the purpose of conducting the questionnaire
survey. As you may not be able to formally address yourself to your
respondents personally, the cover letter serves as your representative
to establish rapport with your respondents.

(ii)

You should include information of your institution or organisation


and the title of your research for respondents reference to keep them
informed that the research is not a scam or hoax.
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(iii) You should assure your respondents of the well-being of their privacy
and confidentiality and that the information in the answered
questionnaire will be used solely for research purposes. This
assurance is important to make respondents feel respected and
provide them with the comfort that their information will never be
disseminated or violated by other parties.
(iv) You should also include a polite and courteous thank you note to
your respondents for their time and effort in participating in the
questionnaire survey.
(v)

Figure 6.1 illustrates a sample questionnaire cover letter for your


reference.

Figure 6.1: Sample questionnaire cover letter


Source:
www.global.cmich.edu/forms/Sample-Survey-Cover-Letter.pdf and
www.ndnu.edu/academics/research/consent-cover-letter-for-survey-research/
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(b)

Organisation and Alignment of Questionnaire


(i)

A carefully organised questionnaire will assist respondents in


answering the questions smoothly. Be mindful of the question
sequence as discussed earlier on.

(ii)

You should take note of the alignment of each question and ensure
that the questions are printed correctly on each page. You should also
be careful not to split the question and answer into two separate pages
as it will be inconvenient for respondents to flip the pages back and
forth.

(iii) Should you have any open-ended response questions, leave them for
the later part of your questionnaire in order to allow respondents to
comment freely (Sekaran, 2003).
(iv) Do bear in mind to always arrange your questions into different
categories and sections with instructions and guidelines whenever
necessary. A well-coordinated questionnaire will help respondents to
focus and encourage them to be responsive.
(c)

(d)

Personal and Sensitive Data


(i)

According to Sekaran (2003), sensitive and personal information like


income, age, marital status and education level, should be arranged at
the end of the questionnaire as respondents may feel reluctant to
share private information at the beginning. It may also cause
respondents to feel vulnerable and they may decline to participate
entirely should these questions be asked at the beginning of the
questionnaire. Again, there are no hard and fast rules for this.

(ii)

As a researcher you should provide justification and clear explanation


of such how personal and private information is relevant to the nature
of your research. For example, in the questionnaire, you can state that
this section is to obtain a demographic profile of respondents.

Internet Questionnaire
(i)

If you are conducting a questionnaire survey over the Internet, you


should ensure that the questionnaire is easy to navigate and is userfriendly.

(ii)

You could include attractive colours and graphics to add visual effects
to make your questionnaire interesting and lively.
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(iii) You could make use of online survey templates in SurveyMonkey


which provide various design and colour options for Internet
questionnaires.
(e)

Length, Error and Conclusion of the Questionnaire


(i)

You should try to avoid a lengthy questionnaire. It is advisable that


you keep the length of your questionnaire short, simple and direct to
avoid respondents from getting tired of answering the questions.

(ii) You should make sure that your questionnaire is free of or at the very
least has minimal typing, spelling and grammatical errors.
(iii) You should include a courteous thank you note at the end of your
questionnaire and remind respondents to check all the necessary
questions and their answers before returning the questionnaire to you.

ACTIVITY 6.2
1.

In your own words, briefly describe the important aspects in the


layout of questionnaires.

2.

Based on the answer in question (1), discuss with your classmates


and construct a brief questionnaire to evaluate customer
satisfaction of hotel guests at a local hotel.

6.3

MEASUREMENT AND TYPES OF SCALES

This subtopic will discuss measurement and types of scales.

6.3.1

Measurement

In cooking, measurement of the amount of oil, sugar, salt or other ingredients are
often carefully described in recipes because the correct amount of ingredients are
important in cooking delicious dishes. The same applies to painting, in the
mixture of paints and water to produce attractive colours. In research,
measurement is referred to as the process of describing or assigning variables
with a set of number in a systematic manner. The set of number is used to convey
information which allows you to conduct hypotheses testing on the variables that
you are measuring. A simple example of measurement is that height is measured
in centimetres.
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For instance, in Malaysia, the cleanliness and hygiene of restaurants or cafs are
measured with grades A, B, C and D. Similarly, hotels services are measured
using the star ratings of 5 stars, 4 stars, 3 stars, 2 stars and 1 star. As a student,
your performances were measured through a grade system of A, B, C, D and F.
We will show you how the set of numbers or measures work to convey
information.
Examples of measurement:
1.

Restaurants, cafs or food premises


Grade A: 76 per cent and above
Grade B: 50 per cent to 75 per cent
Grade C: 49 per cent and below

: Clean premise
: Moderately clean premise
: Unclean (The issuance of notice
of closure by the City Council
Health Department)

2.

Hotel star ratings


5 Stars: Score 9 or 10 on each of the six criteria
4 Stars: Score 7 or 8 on each of the six criteria
3 Stars: Score 5 or 6 on each of the six criteria
2 Stars: Score 3 or 4 on each of the six criteria
1 Star: Score 1 or 2 on each of the six criteria

3.

OUM Grade system


Grade A: 80 to 100 per cent: GPA 4.00: Outstanding
Grade A-: 75 to 79 per cent: GPA 3.67: Very good
Grade B+: 70 to 74 per cent: GPA 3.33: Good
Grade B: 65 to 69 per cent: GPA 3.00: Pass
Grade B-: 60 to 64 per cent: GPA 2.67: Conditional pass
Grade C+: 55 to 59 per cent: GPA 2.33: Conditional pass
Grade C: 50 to 54 per cent: GPA 2.00: Conditional pass
Grade C-: 45 to 49 per cent: GPA 1.67: Fail
Grade D+: 40 to 44 per cent: GPA 1.33: Fail
Grade D: 35 to 39 per cent: GPA 1.00: Fail
Grade F: 0 to 34 per cent: GPA 0.00: Fail

Referring to these examples, a premise that has been given grade C represents an
unclean premise, which indicates that the caf or restaurant is extremely dirty
and filthy. The grade C of the premise also conveys the information that the
premise will be served with a closure notice by the City Council Health
Department to cease operations for 14 days. The premise is responsible for
conducting thorough cleaning and to have the premise inspected by the City
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Council again to determine whether the closure notice is to be lifted or the


premise is to stop its operations entirely. Likewise, a hotel with a 5 star rating
implies that the hotels services, amenities, cleanliness, environment and quality
of the staff and facilities are top-tier and exceptionally good. Lastly, assume that
at the end of your final exam, you were graded with 85 per cent for the Business
Research Methods course. In this case, the 85 per cent which is equivalent to
Grade A is the measure of your performance and is categorised as an outstanding
performance.
Generally in research, first you should know what needs to be measured in order
for you to eventually test the variables or constructs. You may then ask how does
one determine what to measure? The answer to this question lies in the problem
statement that you would have defined in the early stages of your research
process. The problem statement will present the answer to the construct that
needs to be measured. As we have already discussed these terms in Topic 1, we
will only briefly review them here.
Concept can be defined as a generalised idea which represents or describes the
idea with meanings attached. Concepts such as the age and number of employees
are easily measured, while concepts like customer satisfaction, loyalty and
performance are harder to measure. For instance, to measure customer
satisfaction you may want to measure the customers intention to re-patronise the
store or services again and the extent of how the customer is pleased or
displeased with the product or services provided. Construct is the combination
of concepts or ideas in an abstract form. Variable is an entity or characteristic
with numerical or measureable values. This means that variables are concepts
that have measurement assigned to them.
Operational definition by Zikmund et al. (2013) is referred to as:

The process of identifying scales that correspond to variance in a concept


that will be involved in a research process.

Similarly, Cooper and Schindler (2013) define operational definition as:

A definition for a construct stated in terms of specific criteria for testing or


measurement; refers to an empirical standard.

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In addition, Sekaran (2003) defined operational definition as:

Definition of a construct in measureable terms by reducing it from its level


of abstraction through the delineation of its dimensions and elements.

Operational definition is a definition that states a concept or construct in a


measureable term. Operational definition specifies the characteristics of how the
idea could be measured or observed (Cooper & Schindler, 2013). In other words,
it is definitions given by the researcher as defined by literature. Usually, a scale
is used as a device or tool to specify the value of the measured concept or
constructs in relation to a set of preset scale. For instance, you may assign scales
of one to five in your questionnaire for respondents to rate the level of customer
satisfaction on services provided, where scale one indicates highly unsatisfactory
services and a scale of five signifies highly satisfactory and exceptional services.
We will discuss the different types of scales in the following sub-section.

6.3.2

Types of Scales

Scale measurement is important in business research as it is used to state or


quantify an idea into a measurable and understandable term. The four types of
scales that are commonly used are:
(a)

Nominal Scale
(i)

It is the simplest form of scale, where the values assigned are


designed for identification or representation purposes only. It is a
qualitative scale in which the letter or number assigned does not
signify quantity and is merely a form of label.

(ii)

For instance, the number seven assigned to the iconic football legend,
David Beckham in the England football squad and terminals and
check-in counters at airports that assign letters and numbers to
passengers, serve as identification purposes only.

(iii) Examples of nominal scales for business research:

In a survey to study customers preferences of drinks, respondents


are presented with different drinks labelled as A, B, C and D.
Respondents are told to write down the drinks flavour that they
prefer the most. The letters A, B, C and D in this case are nominal
scales.
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A researcher may also assign the value one to indicate that a


respondent resides in West Malaysia and the value two to indicate
that the respondent is from East Malaysia when studying the
geographical preferences of respondents.

Ordinal Scale
(i)

It is a ranking scale that arranges items according to a systematic


order. It is sometimes referred to as ranking order.

(ii)

For instance, in a swimming championship, athletes are ranked based


on the fastest time the athletes reach the finishing line and students
performances are ranked based on their examination grades.

(iii) Examples of ordinal scales in business research:

Please rank the following drinks based on your preferences, where


1 indicates the most preferred drink, 2 as the second preferred
drink, 3 as the third preferred drink and so on.
___Soft drinks
___Chinese tea
___Teh tarik
___Fresh fruit juice
___Ice-blended tea
___Coffee

In your opinion, please rank the following airlines with the best

services, assigning 1 as the best airline, 2 as the second best airline


and so on.
___Emirates
___Malaysia Airlines
___Singapore Airlines
___Cathay Pacific
___British Airways
___Thai Airlines
(c)

Interval Scale
(i)

It consists of both nominal and ordinal scales that take into account
arithmetical operations and scales differences.

(ii)

For instance, besides identifying the first, second and third swimmers
based on the numbers assigned to them, the result chart also displays
the time differences between these swimmers, in which the first
swimmer is 35 seconds ahead of the second swimmer and the third
swimmer is 60 seconds slower than the second swimmer.

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(iii) Example of an interval scale in business research:

(d)

Referring to the scale, please select the scale that best describes
your feeling:
1-Strongly disagree 2-Disagree
3-Neither agree nor disagree
4-Agree
5-Stongly agree
1.

Hannahs Caf offers food at affordable prices


1
2
3
4
5

2.

I am satisfied with the services provided by Hannahs Caf


1
2
3
4
5

3.

I would recommend Hannahs Caf to others


1
2
3
4
5

Ratio Scale
(i)

It is known as the highest type of scale as it takes into account the


characteristics of the three scales. It also possesses a unique absolute
zero point that provides measurement for ratios.

(ii)

For instance, K earns RM2,000 per month, J earns RM1,000 per month,
M earns RM6,000 a month and A has no income. K earns twice as
much as J, M earns three times of K and six times as much as J and A
earns zero compared to K, J and M. The ratios of K:J equals to 2:1, M:K
equals to 3:1 and M:J is 6:1.

(iii) It is worth noting that the value of zero is interpretable and the range
of the value in the ratio scale could take the form of zero to any
definite figure.
(iv) Example of a ratio scale in business research:

How many people are in your household?


___person(s)

How many year(s) of working experience do you have prior to


joining our company?
___year(s)

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Table 6.1 summarises the types of scales.


Table 6.1: Types of Scales
Types of Scale

Description

Nominal

Ordinal

Interval

Ratio

Characteristic

Value is
assigned for
identification
and
representation
purposes only

Classification

Scale is based on
a systematic
ranking order

Classification

Combination of
nominal and
ordinal scales
Combination of
nominal, ordinal
and interval
scales and the
inclusion of the
unique absolute
zero

Example
Region
Gender

Order

Preferences
ranking
Performance
ranking

Classification

Temperature

Order

Time

Differences

Exam marks

Classification

Number of
households

Order
Differences
Absolute value

Income
Year(s) of
experience

Source: Cooper and Schindler (2013)

6.4

MEASUREMENT CRITERIA

We shall now discuss the criteria for good measurement:


(a)

Reliability
(i)

The indicator of consistency, precision and accuracy that is error-free


and without bias.

(ii)

This means that despite being tested over and over again, the results
obtained from these different tests are the same. A simple everyday
example would be the weighing scale. As you step on and off the scale
a couple of times, your weight at the particular point of time would be
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the same. If your weight is 50kg on the scale the first time you stepped
on it, it would still display 50kg the second, third or fourth time you
stepped on it for that day.
(iii) Reliability implies that the measure is consistent, stable and
equivalence. The methods to test consistency, stability and
equivalence are as follows:

Internal consistency: Represents the homogeneity or the degree in


which items are the same or similar. There are two methods to test
the consistency of a measure, namely split-half method and
coefficient alpha:

Split-half method: Involves separating the items into two


portions and checking one portion against the other. If both
portions are highly correlated and produce similar results, you
can verify that homogeneity or similarity exists, further
proving that the measure is consistent.
For instance, you may split the items according to evennumbered items and odd-numbered items and check the
results of even-numbered items against odd-numbered items.

Coefficient alpha: Commonly applied to estimate the scale


reliability of multiple items (Zikmund et al., 2013). It signifies
consistency of the items using the value of zero to one. The
value of zero indicates that there is no consistency in the items,
while the value of one indicates complete consistency. The
higher the coefficient value, the more reliable the
measurement (Sekaran, 2003).
For instance, you may compute the coefficient value through
statistical programmes like SPSS, Shazam, Eviews, etc. The
reliability indication of the coefficient alpha is given as:

0.80 to 0.95: Very good

0.70 to 0.80: Good

0.60 to 0.70: Fairly good

Below 0.60: Poor

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Stability (Repeatability): Consistency of results with repetitive


measures of the same respondent with the same instrument
(Cooper & Schindler, 2013). The method used to examine stability
is known as the test-retest reliability.

Test-retest method: Conduct the same measure on the same


person repeatedly for two or more times. The outcomes from
the separate tests will yield similar or same results.
For instance, you may conduct a test on subject A on the use of
detergent product X over a period of four weeks. On the first
week, subject A confirms that detergent product X is an
exceptionally good detergent that is able to remove oil stains
from clothes. On the second, third and fourth weeks, subject A
again confirms the same opinion of detergent product X.
Therefore, you could conclude from the test-retest method that
product X is indeed an exceptionally good detergent.

Equivalence: Similarity of results using different alternatives on


the same respondent. The method used to examine equivalence is:

Parallel form method: Imposes a variation or difference in the


test on the same respondent.
For instance, subject C is given two sets of questionnaires with
different orders, wording and phrases but which are similar in
terms of format and issues. The responses of subject C would
somehow yield the same results.

(b)

Validity
The accuracy or ability of a measure which represents an intended concept.
It determines whether or not we are measuring the right measure. The
methods used to measure validity are:
(i)

Face validity: Agreement that the scale is able to verify existing


concepts or definitions.

(ii)

Content validity: Provides adequate coverage or scope of a particular


issue being tested.

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(iii) Criterion validity (pragmatic validity): Ability of a measure to


correlate or provide similar outcomes on different types of measures.
(iv) Construct validity: Ability of a measure to confirm and verify all the
theories of a concept. This includes face validity, content validity,
criterion validity, convergent validity and discriminant validity.
Convergent and discriminant validity are elaborated further in the
following:
Convergent validity: A concept that is assumed to be related and is
indeed proven to be related.
Discriminant validity: A concept that is presumed to be unrelated
and is indeed proven to be unrelated.
(c)

Sensitivity
(i)

The ability of a measure to detect or measure variability or


differences.

(ii)

A highly sensitive measure is able to detect the slightest variation or


difference in the item.

(iii) For instance, you may increase sensitivity of scale by adding


additional responses such as:

1-Strongly agree
3-Agree
5-Somewhat disagree
7-Disagree

2-Somewhat agree
4-Neither agree nor disagree
6-Strongly disagree

Table 6.2 summarises the measurement criteria.

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Table 6.2: Measurement Criteria


Criteria

Description

Reliability

Indicators of a measures consistency and accuracy

Internal consistency

Degree to which instrument items are homogenous and


reflect the same underlying construct(s).
Methods: Split-half method and coefficient alpha

Stability

Reliability of a test when the same test is administered


twice to same subjects over a period of time.
Method: Test-retest method

Equivalence

Alternative forms of the same measures which produce


same or similar results.
Method: Parallel form method

Validity

Accuracy of a measure or the extent to which it truly


represents a concept

Face validity

Do experts validate that the instrument measures what its


name suggests it measures?

Content validity

Does the measure adequately measure the concept?

Criterion validity

How well does the measure work in practice?

Construct validity

Does the instrument measure the concept as theorised?

Convergent validity

Do two instruments measuring the concept correlate


highly?

Discriminant validity

Sensitivity

Does the measure have a low correlation with a variable


that is supposed to be unrelated to this variable?
Ability to accurately measure variability in stimuli or
responses

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013), Cooper and Schindler (2013) and Sekaran (2003)

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ACTIVITY 6.3
1.

Briefly discuss with your classmates the criteria of good


measurement. In your opinion, why do you think good
measurement is crucial in conducting a good research study?

2.

As a researcher, imagine that you have developed a questionnaire


survey based on published literature. What criteria do you need to
adhere to ensure that you have a good research instrument when
conducting your study?

3.

Search from the Internet or from OUMs databases, research


articles that have used questionnaire surveys as research
instruments. How you do as a researcher ascertain that the
measurements of items on the questionnaire are valid and
reliable?

6.5

ATTITUDE MEASUREMENT AND RATING


SCALES

In this subtopic, we will discuss attitude measurement and rating scales in


greater detail.

6.5.1

Attitude Measurement

The definition of attitude as adapted from Zikmund et al. (2013) is:

An enduring disposition to consistently respond in a given manner to


various aspects of the world, composed of affective, cognitive and
behavioural components.

Similarly, as quoted from Cooper and Schindler (2013) attitude is defined as:

A learned, stable predisposition to respond to oneself, other persons,


objects, or issues in a consistently favourable or unfavourable way.

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The definition of attitudinal factors by Sekaran (2003) is:

Peoples feelings, dispositions, and reactions toward the organisation and


factors in the work environment such as the work itself, the co-workers, or
supervision.

Attitude as defined consists of affective, cognitive and behavioural components.


Affective component describes a persons general feelings, emotions, intuition
and values towards an object such as I love my company or I hate the
product. Cognitive component includes knowledge, memories, feelings,
awareness of and beliefs about an object such as I believe the business of
company X has potential to grow because it has good and responsible staff and
the products are of high quality. Behavioural component represents
expectations and intentions that lead to a nature of action such as I would
therefore purchase products from company X as I expect the products to be of
quality.
As attitude is not observable, therefore in business research, attitude is treated as
hypothetical constructs. Hypothetical constructs are referred to as an
unobservable variable that is measured using indicators such as verbal action or
body language (Zikmund et al., 2013). Examples of hypothetical constructs
include customer satisfaction, happiness, feelings, emotions and preferences of
consumers. Customers and employees attitudes are vital to a business
organisation or management as these attitudes are determinants to the survival
of the organisation.
There are plenty of techniques to measure attitudes such as:
(a)

Ranking: The act of arranging items or objects in an order;

(b)

Rating: The act of estimating the magnitude or scale of an item or object;

(c)

Sorting: The act of classifying or assigning groups to concepts that are


printed on cards;

(d)

Choice: The act of making choices by picking or selecting a preferred object


from two or more choices.

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6.5.2

Rating Scale

Business research uses attitude rating scales when studying respondents


attitude, which we will now discuss in this section:
(a)

Simple Attitude Scales


(i)

It is the simplest form of an attitude scale with dichotomous choices


of two responses of agree and disagree or yes and no or like and
dislike.

(ii)

This type of scale has the characteristic of a nominal scale in which


respondents have to choose one out of two responses.

(iii) Examples of simple attitude scale or dichotomous scale:

Are you satisfied with our companys product?


___Satisfied
___Dissatisfied

What is your opinion on our new blueberry cupcakes flavour?

___Like
(b)

___Dislike

Category Scales
(i)

It is a scale that comprises of multiple responses or several categories


for the respondent to choose from.

(ii)

Category scale also has the characteristic of a nominal scale.

(iii) Examples of category scale:

How often do you visit our store?


___Often
___Sometimes

___Rarely

___Never

How long have you been in this job?


___Less than one year
___One year to five years
___More than five years

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Summated Ratings Method: The Likert Scale


(i)

It consists of multiple choices ranging from positive to negative


responses.

(ii)

In general, the responses may vary from three to nine choices, but five
choices are most commonly used and it is categorised as an interval
scale.

(iii) Example of the Likert scale in business research:

(d)

Using the scale, please indicate the scale that best describes your
feeling
1-Strongly disagree
2-Disagree
3-Uncertain
4-Agree
5-Strongly agree
1.

My superior is a good and responsible leader whom I look


up to
1
2
3
4
5

2.

I have supportive colleagues


1
2
3
4
5

3.

My company has a good working environment


1
2
3
4
5

Semantic Differential
(i)

It is a series of ratings that uses a seven-point bipolar rating scale. The


score ranges from 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 or -3, -2, -1, 0, +1, +2, +3.

(ii)

This type of rating scale is considered as an interval rating scale, while


some researchers suggest it to be an ordinal data.

(iii) Example of a semantic differential rating scale:

Please rate your superior on the following traits:


Strong
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ Weak
Good
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ Bad
Active
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ Passive
Fair
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ Unfair
Friendly
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ Unfriendly
Intellectual __ __ __ __ __ __ __ Emotional
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(e) Numerical Scales


(i)

It is a rating scale similar to that of the semantic differential scale, but


displays numbers instead. It is sometimes referred to as multiple
rating list scale.

(ii)

This type of scale has the characteristics of ordinal and interval scales
with bipolar adjectives of 10-point, 7-point or 5-point numerical
scales.

(iii) Example of a numerical scale:

(f)

How helpful were our staffs on your visit?


Extremely helpful
5 4 3 2 1 Not helpful

Constant-sum Scale
(i)

It is known as an attitude rating scale similar to the ranking scale and


requires respondents to divide a particular value as an indication of
relative importance or preferences. It is also referred to as the fixedsum scale.

(ii)

It has the characteristics of an ordinal scale.

(iii) Example of a constant-sum scale:

(g)

What are the most important criteria that you consider when
purchasing a product? Allocate a total of 100 points for the
following:
Quality
______
Innovation
______
Value for money
______
Price
______
Brand
______
Total
100

Stapel Scale
(i)

It is a vertical rating scale that assigns an adjective in the centre with


even numbers on both sides, ranging from +3 to -3.

(ii)

It is considered as an interval scale.

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(iii) Example of a Stapel scale:

(h)

Please rate the quality of Object M


+3
+2
+1
High quality
-1
-2
-3

Graphic Rating Scale


(i)

It uses graphic representations as an alternative which allows


respondents to select their responses based on the question.

(ii)

This rating scale falls under the ordinal scale category.

(iii) Example of a graphic rating scale:

Please select the graphic that best describes your feeling after
consuming our health product.
Very good
Average
Very poor

(i)

Thurstone Equal-appearing Interval Scale


(i)

It is a complicated rating process, in which the first stage requires a


panel of judges to conduct ranking of scales on statements, followed
by a second stage where respondents are asked to respond to the
statements.

(ii)

It is worth noting that business research rarely adopts this rating scale
as it is a time-consuming and complicated method.

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ACTIVITY 6.4
1.

Conduct an Internet search for three business questionnaires and


identify the types of attitude rating scales used in the
questionnaires. Why do you think the researcher(s) use(s) the
selected types of attitude rating scales?

2.

Based on your business research project paper or thesis, prepare a


cover letter and questionnaire for your survey.

3.

Differentiate between an open-ended response question and a


fixed-alternative response question. Give an example of each and
discuss their advantages and disadvantages.

4.

Define and discuss the types of fixed-alternative questions.


Provide one example for each type.

5.

Situation:
Your student has difficulties constructing questions for his or her
questionnaire. Your student has thus consulted you for your
opinion.
As a lecturer, how would you advise your student on the dos and
donts of developing a questionnaire?

6.

What are the important criteria of a good questionnaire layout?


Provide justifications for your answers.

7.

In your own words, define:


(a)

Operational definition

(b)

Leading question

(c)

Loading question

(d)

Funnel technique

(e)

Order bias

(f)

Filter question

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8.

Define and provide an example for the types of scales commonly


used in research.

9.

A good measurement consists of reliability, validity and sensitivity.


What do you understand from this statement?

10.

Discuss the different types of attitude rating scales. Provide an


example for each one.

The two important criteria that should be found in a questionnaire are


relevancy and accuracy. A good questionnaire motivates respondents to
cooperate willingly and allows the researcher to obtain accurate, reliable and
unbiased responses.

There are two types of response questions frequently used in research


questionnaires namely open-ended response and fixed-alternative response
questions. Open-ended response questions, also known as free-answer
questions are questions that allow respondents to state their opinion or
answer freely using their own words. Fixed-alternative response questions,
also referred to as closed-questions only allow respondents to select answers
that are provided.

The four types of fixed-alternative response questions are simple-dichotomy


question, determinant-choice question, frequency-determination question
and checklist question.

Questionnaires should not contain complex language, leading and loaded


questions, ambiguous statements, double-barrelled questions, making
assumptions and burdensome and taxing questions.

Order bias is bias in the sequence or arrangement of questions and answers in


the questionnaire.

Funnel technique is a questioning technique that begins with general


questions and is followed by specific questions later on.

Filter questions are questions that are non-applicable and which allow some
respondents to skip from answering them.

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Well-developed and organised questions are important for a questionnaire.


The guidelines to prepare a good questionnaire layout is to provide a proper
introduction and cover letter, organise the questionnaire neatly, include
justifications on the use of personal and sensitive data, avoid lengthy
questionnaires and to include a courteous thank you note at the end of the
questionnaire.

Measurement is referred to as the process of describing or assigning variables


with a set of numbers in a systematic manner, in which the set of numbers is
later on used to conduct hypotheses testing on the variables that are to be
measured.

Operational definition is referred to as a definition that states a concept or


construct in a measureable term.

Scale is used as a device or tool to specify the value of the measured concept
or construct in relation to a set of preset values.

The four types of scales that are commonly used in business research are
nominal scale, ordinal scale, interval scale and ratio scale.

The criteria for good measurement are reliability, validity and sensitivity.
Reliability consists of internal consistency, stability and equivalence. The
methods used to measure validity are face validity, content validity, criterion
validity, construct validity, convergent validity and discriminant validity.
Sensitivity is the ability of a measure to detect variability or differences.

Attitude is the nature to respond that consists of affective, cognitive and


behavioural components. Affective component describes a persons general
feelings, emotions, intuition and values toward an object. Cognitive
components include knowledge, memories, feelings and beliefs about an
object. Behavioural component represents expectations and intentions that
lead to a nature of action.

Hypothetical constructs is defined as measuring unobservable variables


using indicators of verbal action or body language.

Attitudes can be measured using ranking, rating, sorting and choice


techniques.

There are several attitude rating scales that can be used when studying
attitude which are the simple attitude scale, category scale, the Likert scale,
semantic differential rating scale, numerical scale, constant-sum scale, Stapel
scale, graphic rating scale and the most rarely used scale in business research
known as the Thurstone equal-appearing interval scale.
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Affective component

Leading question

Attitude

Loading question

Behavioural component

Measurement

Category scale

Nominal scale

Checklist question

Numerical scale

Coefficient alpha

Open-ended response questions

Cognitive component

Operational definition

Constant-sum scale

Order bias

Construct validity

Ordinal scale

Content validity

Parallel form method

Convergent validity

Questionnaire

Criterion validity

Ratio scale

Determinant-choice question

Reliability

Discriminant validity

Semantic differential

Equivalence

Sensitivity

Face validity

Simple attitude scale

Filter question

Simple-dichotomy question

Fixed-alternative response question

Split-half method

Frequency-determination question

Stability

Funnel technique

Stapel scale

Graphic rating scale

Test-retest method

Hypothetical constructs

Thurstone equal-appearing interval


scale

Internal consistency
Interval scale

Validity

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Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Different types of questions in questionnaire design. (2016). Retrieved from
https://www.outsource2india.com/kpo/articles/questionnaire-types-ofquestions.asp
Dos and donts of questionnaire design in survey research. (n.d.). Retrieved from
http://www.nedarc.org/media/pdf/survey_survey_design.pdf
Institutional review board: Consent cover letter for survey research. (2015).
Retrieved from www.ndnu.edu/academics/research/consent-cover-letterfor-survey-research/
Measurement scales. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/
~smarkham/resources/scaling.htm
Plummer, B. (2010, October). The dos and donts of writing quality survey
questions.
Retrieved
from
http://www.quirks.com/articles/2010/
20101008.aspx
Sample survey cover letter. (2015). Retrieved from www.global.cmich.edu/
forms/Sample-Survey-Cover-Letter.pdf
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
Sekaran, U. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach (4th
ed.). United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Taylor, I. (2012). Four measurement scales every researcher should remember.
Retrieved from https://blog.questionpro.com/2012/01/04/4-measurementscales-every-researcher-should-remember/
Types of survey questions. (2016, January 1). Retrieved from http://canada
business.ca/eng/page/2685/

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Webb, T. (2014). What motivates customers to participate? Survey dos and


donts. Retrieved from https://www.ratingsplus.com/what-motivatescustomers-to-participate-survey-dos-and-donts/
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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Topic

Data Analysis

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Describe the important stages of data analysis;

2.

Explain the purpose of editing;

3.

Differentiate between coding fixed-alternative and open-ended


response questions;

4.

State the importance of data entry;

5.

Explain descriptive statistics; and

6.

Differentiate the various measures of descriptive statistics, tabulation


and cross-tabulation.

INTRODUCTION
In the previous topic, we discussed questionnaire design and the different types
of rating scales and measurements in questionnaires. In this topic, we will
highlight the important stages of data analysis which consists of editing and
coding. Later on, we will discuss the differences between coding fixed-alternative
and open-ended response questions and the importance of data entry to your
research. Lastly, we will briefly discuss descriptive statistics and the various
measures of descriptive statistics, tabulation and cross-tabulation that will serve
as an introduction to the following topic of business statistics in this module.

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STAGES OF DATA ANALYSIS

Lets consider the analogy of food on your health. The food that you consume
will determine the condition of your body and your health. If you consume more
fruits and vegetables, drink an adequate amount of water daily, consume
adequate meat in your daily diet and avoid oily food, you should be able to live a
healthy life. On the other hand, if you consume high cholesterol food, meat,
liquor and alcoholic beverages, you would not have a healthy and balanced diet
thus affecting your health in the later days of your life. The food that you eat
determines the quality of your health. The same applies to your research and
data. A proper procedure to input the data collected would determine the quality
of the output, in computer science terminology this is known as garbage in,
garbage out (GIGO), as shown in Figure 7.1. If you input rubbish data, you will
likely yield rubbish output for your analysis.

Figure 7.1: Garbage in, garbage out


Source: https://janeharris123.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/garbage-in-garbage-out.jpg

Data analysis includes the processes of editing and coding which we will discuss
in the following subsections.

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7.1.1

Editing

Once you have obtained the necessary data for your research, you should
transmit the raw data into information. Raw data according to Zikmund et al.
(2013) is:

The unedited information gathered from a respondent in the exact form as


provided by that respondent.

Often times, raw data contains errors or mistakes made by respondents which
require further editing by the researcher. Editing is defined by Zikmund et al.
(2013) as:

The process of checking the completeness, consistency and legibility of data


and making the data ready for coding and transfer to storage.

Cooper and Schindler (2013) define editing as:

A process for detecting errors and data omissions and correcting them
when possible; certifies that minimum data quality standards are met.

Similarly, Sekaran (2003) explains quotes editing as:

The process of going over the data and ensuring that they are complete and
acceptable for data analysis.

Thus, editing is the process of checking and ensuring that the data is free from
errors before analysis. The purpose of editing is to make sure that the data
presented for analysis is accurate, complete and consistent.

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Lets look at an example that requires editing:

Age: 28 years old


How long have you been working for this company? 25 years

Error:
In this case, the respondent has indicated that he or she is 28 years old. Therefore
it is not possible for the respondent to have been working for the company for 25
years. It is probably that the respondent intended to state 2.5 years or 25 months
instead.
It is therefore important that a researcher screen all data beforehand to correct or
omit errors. Researchers should be wise in correcting or adjusting information
sensibly and should the need arise, omit data which contains errors entirely to
prevent the data from producing misleading output.
(a)

Field Editing
Field editing is known as the process of screening or conducting
preliminary editing on the spot or as soon as possible during interviews or
questionnaire surveys. Field editing includes preliminary inspection for
unanswered questions and blank pages, legible handwriting and for other
minor errors such as the one presented in the example earlier.
Field editing is especially useful when conducting interviews or
questionnaire surveys as it enables researchers to seek clarification from
respondents promptly and when necessary. In addition, field editing is
commonly used to validate respondents participation. As a researcher may
not be present at all the interview sessions, he or she may randomly recontact or re-interview the respondents to verify that the respondents did in
fact participate in the interviews and that the interviews were carried out
accordingly.

(b)

In-house Editing
The process of conducting a thorough and detailed checking and editing is
referred to as in-house editing. It is also sometimes known as central
editing. For the purpose of a small study for your academic research, you
should make sure that the editing task is done by only you to ensure
consistency. However, in the case of a large scale research each editor
should be responsible for one section in order to maximise consistency
(Cooper & Schindler, 2013).

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In-house editing is also used to spot interviewers or researchers who


provide fake answers for interviews that did not happen in the first place.
Often times, in-house editing is able to detect fake answers for open-ended
questions as it is difficult to fake responses or answers to these questions.
This is due to the fact that each person has a unique and different usage and
construction of word choices and phrases, therefore, should interviewers
attempt to fake responses or answers, in-house editing would be able to
detect the patterns easily.
It is important for researchers to bear in mind that any editing or changes in
the data or questionnaire should be carefully recorded while preserving the
original responses by respondents or interviewers, for further references
should the need arise. The following are the various types of in-house
editing:
(i)

(ii)

Editing for Consistency

A researcher or editor should check for consistency in the


responses or answers of his or her respondents to prevent
contradictions.

For instance, respondents who are in the 18 to 24 years old age


group should not be included in the data collection if the research
only requires respondents in the age group of 25 and above.
Should the researcher or editor come across respondents who do
not belong to the specific age group, these data should be
removed and not be included in the analysis.

A researcher or editor should be really careful when editing to


ensure that the analysis displays a reliable and valid result.

Editing for Completeness

In cases where respondents only completed one part of a question


and did not answer the following part, the researcher or editor
should be wise in deciding whether to leave the part unanswered
or to randomly select an answer on behalf of the respondent or to
refer to responses for other questions to choose the answer closest
to the behaviour of the respondent.

Item non-response is an unanswered item on a questionnaire that


is deemed complete. The act of filling or choosing responses based
on educated guesses by referring to other questions responses or
available information in the questionnaire is known as impute.
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Often times, researchers will leave the unanswered questions


blank to avoid risking the accuracy of the analysis. On occasions
where the responses are important and the sample size would be
too small if the missing responses are dropped, the researcher
would opt for imputation methods instead (Zikmund et al., 2013).

If the questionnaire contains multiple unanswered questions or


missing answers, it would be sensible to drop the questionnaire
entirely from the sample to avoid bias and discrepancy.

However, it is worth knowing that most statistical analysis


software are able to handle item non-response using pair-wise
deletion as the data that is not missing can still be used for
analysis and need not be dropped entirely or impute the missing
responses for a complete data.

(iii) Editing Blank Responses

Researchers also at times encounter questionnaires with several


blank answers or a blank questionnaire from respondents because
some respondents may not understand the questions, may not
know the answers, or are simply unwilling to answer the
questionnaire. If more than 25 per cent of the questionnaire is left
unanswered, the researcher should drop the questionnaire from
the sample entirely (Sekaran, 2003). The researcher should also
carefully indicate in the final report write up the total number of
questionnaires received, the number of questionnaires that will be
used for analysis and the number of questionnaires that are
dropped from the analysis due to missing data, for readers
reference. The researcher also needs to provide justification as to
why the questionnaire had a low response rate of usable data for
analysis, if indeed there was a low count of usable questionnaires.

Usually when editing blank responses, a researcher will assign a


midpoint in the scale as the response to the particular item or to
dismiss the particular item during analysis (Sekaran, 2003).

The main concern of a researcher is the validity and accuracy of


the analysis result, therefore, it is best to omit the blank responses
altogether than to generate an invalid result from a large sample.

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7.1.2

Researchers should also take heed that if the number of blank


questionnaires or blank responses of a particular item is too high,
it is probably wise for them to reinvestigate or to seek further
clarification from respondents regarding the particular item.

Coding

After you have completed editing, you should move on to coding. Proper and
careful editing will ease and simplify your coding task. Coding is defined by
Zikmund et al. (2013) as:

The process of assigning a numerical score or other character symbol to


previously edited data.

The definition by Cooper and Schindler (2013) is:

Assigning numbers or other symbols to answers so that the responses can


be grouped into a limited number of categories.

Coding is the process of assigning and transcribing symbols or numerical values


to each response based on individual categories in a systematic way for further
analysis. A category is known as grouping or dividing the same data together.
Researchers will be able to interpret and classify data from the questionnaires
easily through coding.
The basic code construction rules include:
(a)

All responses in the questionnaire should be coded accordingly including


those with other responses. Usually, researchers will also treat the
missing data as other when assigning codes to empty or blank responses.

(b)

The coding categories should not overlap with one another. The response
or answer choice should be independent and only fall into one specific
category.

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Researchers may also pre-code the questionnaire before conducting a


questionnaire survey to speed up and ease the coding and data entry processes.
However, these codes typically will not appear on a respondents questionnaire.
Pre-coding can only be done when a researcher knows the categories and
responses that typically exist in fixed-alternative response questions. Pre-coding
would not work for open-ended response questions because respondents
answers or responses to these questions are varied and the researcher would not
be able to know the answers or responses for these questions beforehand.
Examples of coding:
(a)

Gender:
___Male

___Female

Coding: 0 is assigned to male and 1 is assigned for female. This is also


referred to as a dummy coding where there are only two choices of 0 and 1.
(b)

Education level:
___High school
___Bachelors degree

___Diploma
___Post-graduate

___Other (Please specify:___)

Coding: 1 is assigned to high school; 2 to diploma; 3 to bachelors degree; 4


to post-graduate; and 5 to others.
The different types of coding are explained in the following:
(a)

Coding Fixed-alternative Response Question


(i)

The task of coding fixed-alternative response questions is mostly


preferred over open-ended response questions as it is easy to be
coded and interpreted.

(ii)

An example of questionnaire coding is presented as follows (see


Figure 7.2):

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Figure 7.2: Sample questionnaire coding


Source: Sekaran (2003)

(b)

Coding Open-ended Response Questions


(i)

Coding open-ended response questions would require the


researchers judgement as responses or answers will differ from one
respondent to another. It is the researchers responsibility to convert
and classify these responses in the form of phrases and words to
numerical values or codes for further analysis.

(ii)

Researchers may screen through some of the answers from


respondents and group similar answers together under a code. Test
tabulation is a process of constructing coding categories based on a
small sample of responses or answers (Zikmund et al., 2013).

(iii) By using test tabulation, you would be able to generally know the
different types of answers that exist and you would then be able to
identify and determine the appropriate coding for these open-ended
questions.
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(iv) You should bear in mind that coding open-ended response questions
is a complex and tedious task which requires a longer time compared
to fixed-alternative response questions.
(v)

Example of coding open-ended response questions:

Why would you not try a new fast-food product?


1.
I dislike fast-food
I rarely consume fast-food
2.
3.
I prefer a warm-cooked meal
4.
Fast food is not tasty food
5.
Fast food is unhealthy food
6.
I do not consider fast food as fresh healthy food
Coding: Referring to the six different responses from six different
respondents, you could group responses (1) to (4) under code one
of dislike fast-food response and responses (5) and (6) under
code two of unhealthy response.

(c)

Code Book
(i)

It is a book which contains variables and their descriptions, code


name and position in the data matrix (Zikmund et al., 2013). The code
name will appear when you key-in the variable in the SPSS Variable
View.

(ii)

A code book eases the process of data entry and assists the researcher
in carrying out an efficient and accurate analysis as it contains
detailed descriptions and summary of all variables for the researchers
easy reference (Cooper & Schindler, 2013).

(iii) The book comes in handy for a researcher when the analysis involves
large data as it provides a detailed summary and description of the
variables used in the questionnaire.
(iv) An example of a code book with references to a sample questionnaire
are presented as follows (see Figure 7.3 and 7.4):

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Figure 7.3: Sample codebook


Source: Cooper and Schindler (2013)

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TOPIC 7

DATA ANALYSIS

Figure 7.4: Sample questionnaire


Source: Cooper and Schindler (2013)

ACTIVITY 7.1
1.

Describe the purpose of editing. How would you differentiate


between field editing and in-house editing?

2.

What do you understand by the word coding? Provide


examples in your explanation.

3.

Search for a sample questionnaire with both fixed-alternative


response and open-ended response questions and conduct coding
for the questionnaire. Prepare a codebook for the questionnaire.

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7.2

DATA ENTRY

Soon after you have coded questionnaire responses, you can proceed to record or
enter your data into the computer. Data entry is defined by Zikmund et al. (2013
as:

The activity of transferring data from a research project to computers.

The definition given by Cooper and Schindler (2013) is:

The process that converts information gathered by secondary or primary


methods to a medium for viewing and manipulation.

Data entry is thus referred to as the act of transferring or recording information


from one medium to another for the purpose of viewing and further analysis. It
is sometimes referred to as data conversion.
In recent years, data entry has been made simple with computer programmes,
statistical software and optical recognition systems. Optical scanning system is a
system that is able to directly read and register marked questionnaires into the
system without having to manually type them out. It is an easy method of
entering data into the computer.
In addition, spread sheets are typically used by researchers to organise and
record information from questionnaires. Spread sheets allow researchers to
manually enter the relevant data into different rows, cells and columns for
further analysis. As it is a manual procedure that is prone to human error,
researchers should be extra careful when entering the data to ensure that the data
are recorded correctly.
As questionnaire surveys often involve large sample sizes, you should take
considerable care to check and recheck for errors when entering data. Normally,
the task of entering data and the task of conducting error checks are done
separately by different individuals (Zikmund et al., 2013). As an academic
researcher, it is best that you conduct error checking or data cleaning once you
have completed the data entry process. Do you still remember the term garbage
in, garbage out which we mentioned at the beginning of this topic? This applies
here too. You should run a thorough check and verification for code errors and
typing error as a precaution before you proceed with your analysis. You should
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remember that even the slightest error in data can impact the output or outcome
of your analysis. It is better to be safe than sorry.

ACTIVITY 7.2
1.

Try to enter data by using software such as SPSS. Before you can
do this, you need to have raw data that can be bogus or real.

2.

In your opinion, why do you think error checking or data cleaning


is important? Discuss with your classmates.

7.3

BASIC DATA ANALYSIS: DESCRIPTIVE


ANALYSIS

This subtopic will discuss basic data analysis focusing on descriptive analysis.
We will also explore tabulation and cross-tabulation.

7.3.1

Introduction to Basic Data Analysis

As quoted from Wikipedia (2015), business statistics is defined as:

The science of good decision making in the face of uncertainty to provide


knowledge and skills to interpret and use statistical techniques in a variety of
business applications.

Business statistics is used to make deductions or implications on a given


population based on a sample that represents the entire population. It usually
includes statistical studies on descriptive statistics, distribution, etc., which we
will cover in the subsequent topics.
Descriptive statistics according to Zikmund et al. (2013) is:

The elementary transformation of raw data in a way that describes the basic
characteristics such as central tendency, distribution and variability.

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The definition by Cooper and Schindler (2013) is:

Display characteristics of the location, spread and shape of a data array.

It is referred to by Saunders et al. (2009) as a:

Generic term for statistics that can be used to describe variables.

Lastly, Sekaran (2003) quoted descriptive statistics as:

Statistics such as frequencies, the mean and the standard deviation, which
provide descriptive information of a set of data.

Thus, descriptive statistics can be referred to as statistics which provide


descriptive characteristics of the data or variables used in a study. It is an
analysis of data that provides simplified information and interpretation.
We will now briefly discuss the important statistical terms that are commonly
used in descriptive statistics:
(a)

Measures of Central Tendency


(i)

Mode: The value that has the highest occurrence or the value that
appears most frequently in a set of data.

(ii)

Referring to Table 7.1, as the value of 3 appears twice in the


observation, the mode is determined as 3.

Median: The value that falls in the middle or midpoint of an ordered


distribution.

By arranging the number of items in an ordered manner:


23357

The value of 3 is the median as it falls in the midpoint of the


distribution.

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(iii) Mean: The average value of the set of data. It is obtained by adding all
the values in the data and dividing it with the number of
observations.

where, n is the Mean , X

n
i 1

number of observations in the

sample, X is the observation value in the sample (Zikmund et al.,


2013).
As the total of number of items purchased is given as 20, and the
number of observations of individual A to E is 5, the mean of this data
is 4.
Table 7.1: Number of Items Purchased in a Week

(b)

Individual

Number of Items

Total

20

Measures of Dispersion
(i)

Range: Distance or differences between the largest and the smallest


values in the distribution.

(ii)

Referring to Table 7.1, the largest value is 7, the smallest value is


given as 2 therefore the range is calculated as 5.

Variance: Measures the dispersion or how far the observation values


are from the mean. As the differences grow bigger in terms of
observation values, the variance tends to be greater. A variance of
zero (0) indicates that there are no differences between the mean and
the values or that the values are the same (Zikmund et al., 2013). The
formula for variance:

Variance , S

n 1

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where, n is the number of observation, X i is the observation value


and X is the mean value.

As given, mean = 4;

Variance , S 2

3 4 2 5 4 2 3 4 2 2 4 2 7 4 2
51

Variance is thus equivalent to 4.


(iii) Standard deviation: Measures the distance or differences in values
from the mean of the data. It is the most commonly used method to
measure dispersion or spread (Zikmund et al., 2013).

Standard deviation , S S 2
where, S is the square root of variance S 2 .

(c)

As the variance is given as 4, the standard deviation is thus


equivalent to 2.

Measures of Shape
(i)

Skewness: Measures the degree of deviation from the symmetry, as


shown in Figure 7.5 (Cooper & Schindler, 2013).

Positively skewed (large values) is a condition where the tail


stretches to the right.

Negatively skewed (small values) is a condition where the tail


stretches to the left.

Zero skewed (0) is a symmetrical condition where the mean,


media and mode are all in the same location.

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Figure 7.5: Measures of shapes


Source: Cooper and Schindler (2013)

(d)

Kurtosis: Measure of the peakness or flatness of the distribution curve


(Cooper & Schindler, 2013).
(i)

Peak distribution (leptokurtic) occurs when the kurtosis has large


positive values of larger than 3.

(ii)

Flat distribution (platykurtic) occurs when the kurtosis has large


negative values of less than 3.

(iii) Normal distribution curve (mesokurtic) occurs when the kurtosis is


equivalent to 3.

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7.3.2

Tabulation

Tabulation is a summary of data presented in an orderly manner in the form of a


table for easy reference. Usually, simple tabulation which is also known as
marginal tabulation is presented in the form of a frequency table. A frequency
table contains information of count, percentage, cumulative percentage in row
and column arrangement (see example in Table 7.2).
Percentage columns are often included in frequency tables because it enables
clear and relative comparisons among variables and values. It enables readers to
understand and easily interpret the meaning of the values in the form of
percentage rather than in the values itself. Take for instance a number of 119,611
participants in the 2015 marathon event organised by the Ministry of Health. By
looking at the number of participants, we can only know that the event attracted
a large crowd but it does not provide any other meaning. However, when the
percentage value of 25 per cent is added to the figure, it is able to illustrate clearly
to convey a deeper meaning to the figure that the number of participants grew by
25 per cent in 2015, compared to the previous year. Percentages are able to
present a clear picture to the table and allow readers to easily interpret, compare
and understand the values or figures in the table.
Table 7.2: Frequency Table of Minimum Age for Social Networking
User

Frequency

Per cent

Cumulative Per cent

21 years old

60

18 years old min

180

18

24

16 years old min

330

33

57

13 years old min

280

28

85

10 years old min

50

90

Any age

60

96

No opinion

40

100

1,000

100

Valid cases: 1,000; Missing cases: 0


Source: Cooper and Schindler (2013)

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Cross-tabulation

Cross-tabulation is referred to by Zikmund et al. (2013) as:

The appropriate technique for addressing research questions involving


relationships among multiple less-than interval variables; results in a
combined frequency table displaying one variable in rows and another in
columns.

Similarly, Cooper and Schindler (2013) define it as:

A technique for comparing data from two or more categorical variables.

Therefore, cross-tabulation could be referred to as a method that is used to


compare relationships of two or more variables. Cross-tabulation allows for
analysing of results based on groups, categories, or classes (Cooper & Schindler,
2013). See example in Table 7.3.
Table 7.3: Sample Cross-tabulation Tables
(A) As you know, many older people share a home with their grown children. Do you
think this is generally a good idea or a bad idea?
Total
(Per cent)

Gender
(Per cent)

Age
(Per cent)

Adults

Male

Female

18-29

30-44

45-49

60+

Good idea

22.8

23.9

21.8

21.2

24.4

27.4

18.4

Bad idea

14.2

14.4

14.0

12.2

13.1

11.8

18.3

It depends

58.1

56.5

59.8

61.1

57.3

56.4

58.8

Dont
know

4.8

5.3

4.4

5.5

5.2

4.3

4.6

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(B) Parents ought to provide financial help to their adult children when the children
are having financial difficulty.
Total
(Per cent)

Gender
(Per cent)

Age
(Per cent)

Adults

Male

Female

18-29

30-44

45-49

60+

Strongly
agree

5.0

5.3

4.6

6.1

4.0

4.2

5.7

Agree

31.2

33.3

29.1

31.6

27.6

29.0

36.0

Neither

49.9

48.6

51.2

48.7

53.6

50.8

46.6

Disagree

12.0

10.9

13.3

12.8

12.6

13.6

9.9

Strongly
disagree

1.9

1.9

1.9

0.8

2.1

2.5

1.8

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

How do we read and interpret the data in Table 7.3?


(a)

Referring to Question (A), 23.9 per cent of the male respondents and 21.8
per cent of female respondents consider it to be a good idea for grown
children to share a home with older parents, of which 21.2 per cent belong
to the age group of 18-29, 24.4 per cent to the age group 30-44, 27.4 per cent
to the age group 45-49 and 18.4 per cent to the age group of above 60
respectively. A total of 22.8 per cent of adults approved the idea of sharing
a home with older parents. Similar interpretation techniques could be
applied to the categories of those who thought it was a bad idea to share a
home with older parents, who thought it depends and those who did not
know if it was a good or bad idea for grown children to share a home with
older parents.

(b)

Referring to Question (B), 36.2 per cent of adults strongly agree and agree
that parents ought to provide financial help to their adult children when the
children are having financial difficulties, while 13.9 per cent (disagree and
strongly disagree) of adults are against the idea of parents providing
financial aids to adult children. The remaining 49.9 per cent of adults
neither agree nor disagree to the statement.

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The cross-tabulation technique can be presented in two ways as follows:


(a)

Contingency Tables (see example in Table 7.4)


It is referred to by Zikmund et al. (2013) as:

A data matrix that displays the frequency of some combination of


possible responses to multiple variables; cross-tabulation results.

Table 7.4: Sample Cross-tabulation Results using Contingency Tables


(A)

(B)

Cross-tabulation of question Do you shop at Shopy? according to the sex of


respondents
Yes

No

Total

Men

150

75

225

Women

180

45

225

Total

330

120

450

Percentage cross-tabulation of question Do you shop at Shopy? according to the


sex of respondents, row percentage
Yes

No

Total (Base)

Men

66.7

33.3

100 (225)

Women

80.0

20.0

100 (225)

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

How do we read and interpret Table 7.4?


(i)

Table 7.4 illustrates a two-way contingency table of a 2 x 2 (R x C)


table with two rows and two columns respectively.

(ii)

Referring to (A), a total of 450 respondents responded to the question


Do you shop at Shopy? with both 225 male and female respondents
respectively. Respondents who answered yes to having shopped at
Shopy comprised of 150 male and 180 female, while 75 male and 45
female answered no to the question.

(iii)

Referring to (B), 66.7 per cent of the 225 men respondents shopped at
Shopy, while the remaining 33.3 per cent of men did not shop at
Shopy. Out of the 225 female respondents, 80.0 per cent did shop at
Shopy and the remaining 20.0 per cent did not shop at Shopy.
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(b)

Elaboration analysis (see example in Table 7.5)


It is known by Zikmund et al. (2013) as:

An analysis of the basic cross-tabulation for each level of a variable


not previously considered, such as subgroups of the sample.

Table 7.5: Sample Cross-tabulation for Elaboration Analysis


Single (Per cent)

Married (Per cent)

Men

Women

Men

Women

Yes

55

80

86

80

No

45

20

14

20

Do you shop at Shopy?

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

How do we read and interpret Table 7.5?


If you wish to investigate further on the marital status variable of men and
women who shop at Shopy, you can proceed to conduct an elaborate
analysis. Table 7.5 provides details of an elaboration analysis with the
additional variable of the marital status of respondents to the question
stated previously. A total of 55 per cent and 86 per cent of men who
shopped at Shopy are single and married men respectively. On the other
hand, single men who did not shop at Shopy are 45 per cent of the
respondents, while 14 per cent are married men. It is worth noting that the
percentage of single and married women that did shop at Shopy are the
same at 80 per cent, while both 20 per cent of single and married women
did not shop at Shopy.
(c)

Moderator variable according to Zikmund et al. (2013) is:

A third variable that changes the nature of a relationship between the


original independent and dependent variable.

Referring to Table 7.5, the marital status of respondents is known as the


moderator variable. In the case presented earlier, it is suggested that the
marital status of respondents affect shopping preferences of male and
female respondents.
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SELF-CHECK 7.1
What are the common descriptive statistics to measure for:
(a)

Central tendency;

(b)

Dispersion; and

(c)

Shape.

ACTIVITY 7.3
1.

Define the term editing, field editing and in-house editing in


business research.

2.

Discuss three different criteria for editing.

3.

Discuss basic coding rules. Why do you need to code your raw
data?

4.

How would you differentiate between coding fixed-alternative


response questions and open-ended response questions? Which
one would you prefer to code? Provide justifications for your
answer.

5.

What is the purpose of descriptive statistics? Discuss three


common measures in descriptive statistics.

6.

Briefly draft a cross-tabulation table and explain the interpretation


of the tables that you have drafted.

7.

Search for two samples of cross-tabulation tables online and try to


interpret the tables. Discuss and compare with that of your
classmates.

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Data analysis includes the process of editing and coding. Editing is the
process of checking and ensuring that the data is free from errors before
analysis. Editing ensures that the data presented for analysis is accurate,
complete and consistent.

Field editing is the process of screening or conducting preliminary editing on


the spot or as soon as possible during interviews or questionnaire surveys.

In-house editing also known as central editing is the process of conducting


thorough and detailed checking and editing.

Item non-response refers to an unanswered item on a questionnaire that


would otherwise be complete.

Impute is the act of filling or choosing responses based on an educated guess


by referring to responses in other questions or available information in the
questionnaire.

Coding is the process of assigning and transcribing symbols or numerical


values to each response based on individual categories in a systematic
manner for further analysis.

Category is referred to as grouping or dividing the same data together.

Dummy coding is referred to as dichotomous coding with only two choices


between 0 and 1 or yes and no answers.

Coding fixed-alternative response questions is easy compared to coding


open-ended response questions which require the researchers judgement.

Test tabulation uses a small sample of responses or answers to construct


coding categories.

Code book contains code name and position, variables and variables
description in the data matrix.

Data entry or data conversion is the act of transferring or recording


information from one medium to another for the purpose of viewing and
further analysis.
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Optical scanning system is a system that is able to directly read and register
marked questionnaires into the system without manually typing or entering
the data.

Business statistics is used to make deductions or implications on a given


population based on a sample that represents the entire population.

Descriptive statistics is known as statistics which provide descriptive


characteristics of the data or variables used in a study.

Mode, median and mean are the three measures of central tendency. Mode is
the value that appears most frequently in the set of data. Median is the value
that falls in the middle or midpoint of an ordered distribution. Mean is the
average value in the set of data.

Measures of dispersion include range, variance and standard deviation.


Range is the distance or differences between the largest and the smallest
value in the data. Variance measures the dispersion or how far the
observation values are from the mean. Standard deviation measures the
distance or differences in value from the mean of the data.

Measures of shape consist of skewness and kurtosis. Skewness measures the


degree of deviation from the symmetry, while kurtosis measures the
peakness or flatness of the distribution curve.

Tabulation is a summary of data presented in an orderly manner in the form


of a table for easy reference. A frequency table contains information of count,
percentage and cumulative percentage in a row and column arrangement.

Cross-tabulation is known as a method that is used to compare relationships


between two or more variables.

Contingency table is a cross-tabulation table of a data matrix that contains the


frequency of responses of multiple variables.

Elaboration analysis is an analysis of additional variables of the crosstabulation table.

Moderator variable is the additional variable analysed in the elaboration


analysis.

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Business statistics

Item non-response

Category

Kurtosis

Central tendency

Mean

Code book

Measures of dispersion

Coding

Median

Contingency table

Mode

Cross-tabulation

Moderator variable

Data entry

Optical scanning system

Descriptive statistics

Percentage

Dummy coding

Range

Editing

Skewness

Elaboration analysis

Standard deviation

Field editing

Tabulation

Frequency table

Test tabulation

Impute

Variance

In-house editing

Business statistics. (2015, September 4). Retrieved from Wikipedia, The Free
Encyclopaedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_statistics
Chris, C. (2010, August 11). Six survey coding tips: Survey research in central NY.
Retrieved from https://rmsbunkerblog.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/6survey-coding-tips-survey-research-in-central-ny-upstate-market-researchin-syracuse-online-surveys/

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171

Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P.S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Data entry issues. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://web.csulb.edu/~msaintg/
ppa696/696codes.htm
Descriptive and inferential statistics. (2013). Retrieved from https://
statistics.laerd.com/statistical-guides/descriptive-inferential-statistics.php
Douglas, D. (2003). Inductive theory generation: A grounded approach to
business inquiry. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 2(1).
Retrieved from http://www.ejbrm.com/issue/download.html?idArticle
=129
How to quantify qualitative research. (2015). Retrieved from http://www.
uniteforsight.org/global-health-university/quantify-research
McNamara, C. (n.d.). Analyzing, interpreting and reporting basic research
results. Retrieved from http://managementhelp.org/businessresearch/
analysis.htm
Module 5: Data preparation and analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.
uniteforsight.org/research-methodology/module5
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
Sekaran, U. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach (4th
ed.). United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Suhr, D. (2003). Answering your research questions with descriptive statistics.
Retrieved from http://www.wuss.org/proceedings10/analy/2969_5_ANL
-Suhr1.pdf
Tips and tools #18: Coding qualitative data. (2012). Retrieved from http://
programeval.ucdavis.edu/documents/Tips_Tools_18_2012.pdf
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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Topic

Business
Statistics

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Explain hypothesis testing;

2.

Differentiate between Type I and Type II errors;

3.

Describe bivariate analysis;

4.

Explain multivariate statistics; and

5.

Analyse non-parametric statistics.

INTRODUCTION
In the previous topic, we discussed the important stages of data analysis and
basic descriptive statistics. In this topic, we will highlight the importance of
hypothesis testing and discuss the types of errors in hypothesis testing. Later on,
we will examine different statistical approaches including bivariate, multivariate
and non-parametric analysis.

8.1

HYPOTHESIS TESTING

As discussed in Topic 2, hypothesis is defined as an unproven statement that


should be tested empirically. Using a statistics procedure, we can empirically
verify or test a theoretical hypothesis.

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Null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis as defined by Zikmund (2003) are:

Null hypothesis: A statement about a status quo asserting that any change
from what has been thought to be true will be due entirely to random error.
Alternative hypothesis: A statement indicating the opposite of the null
hypothesis.

Similarly, Cooper and Schindler (2013) define null hypothesis and alternative
hypothesis respectively as:

Null hypothesis: A statement that assumes no difference exists between the


parameter and the statistic being compared to it.
Alternative hypothesis: The logical opposite of the null hypothesis.

Therefore, null hypothesis (H0) often indicates that there is no significant


relationship or difference between the tested variables, while alternative
hypothesis (H1) usually indicates the existence of relationships between variables.
For instance,

H0: There is no relationship between the sales and innovation of product A.


H1: There is significant relationship between the sales and innovation of product
A.
We will now discuss the procedures for hypothesis testing:
(a)

Carefully state the hypothesis based on the research objectives of your


research. Hypothesis is denied from the conceptual framework of your
study.

(b)

Proceed to collect sample for further analysis.

(c)

Determine the critical value or region.

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(d)

Compare the empirical results with the hypothesis that you developed
earlier on. You would then be able to decide if the empirical result supports
your hypothesis, or if your result proves otherwise leading you to reject
your null hypothesis.

The purpose of statistical hypothesis is for you to come to a conclusion whether


to accept or reject your hypothesis. The critical probability of accepting or
rejecting the null hypothesis in cases where the null hypothesis is found to be
true is referred to as significance level or . Significance level of 0.05 (equivalent
to 5 per cent) means that there is a 5 per cent risk that a difference exists when
there is no actual difference (Frost, 2015). On the other hand, a probability value
or better known as p-value is used to determine the significance of the result or
statistical hypothesis. This means that the null hypothesis is rejected if the
p-value is very small (not more than 0.05) or equal to the significance level also
known as . Confidence level which is commonly in the form of percentage or
decimal value exhibits how a researcher is certain or confident that the sample is
accurate or correct (Zikmund et al., 2013). Confidence interval consists of a
specific range of values or numbers that the population mean falls under
(Zikmund, 2003). The key indicator that supports a hypothesis often lies in the
significance level or the p-value. In order for you to better understand these
terms; we will further explain this in an example presented in the next part.
A scenario as provide by Zikmund et al. (2013):
Pizza-In collected opinions from 225 respondents on customer satisfaction of
their services. Pizza-In believes that their services should have a normal
satisfaction rate of 3.0, therefore, the null hypothesis being the mean is equal
3.0; while the alternative hypothesis would be mean does not equal 3.0:
Null hypothesis, H0: = 3.0 (Mean is equal to 3.0)
Alternative hypothesis, H1: 3.0 (Mean does not equal 3.0)
Next, we will have to determine the rejection region for this analysis. Referring to
Figure 8.1, each tail of the curve at = 0.025 (the dark shaded areas) is the
rejection region. The values that fall within the lighter shaded area is referred to
as acceptable at the 95 per cent confidence level or equivalent to 5 per cent
significance level or 0.05 significance level. Do note that if the value falls within
the lighter shaded area, you may conclude that the null hypothesis is true.

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Critical values of are defined as the values within the boundaries of the
rejection region. The formula of critical value is given as:

S
Critical value Z

n
Mean, = 3.78; Standard deviation, S = 1.5;
Confidence level = 95 per cent, z-value = 1.96; n = 225; therefore,
Critical value =
=
=
Lower limit =

Z(S/n)
3.0 1.96 (1.5/225)
3.0 1.96 (1) = 2.804; 3.196
2.804; Upper limit = 3.196

Based on the Pizza-In survey, = 3.78, in this case the is greater than the critical
values stated above, thus the sample is said to be statistically significant beyond
the 0.05 level. In order words, this means that the customers are very satisfied
with the services provided by Pizza-In.

Figure 8.1: Sampling distribution of hypothesis, = 3.0


Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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Type I and Type II Errors


As stated repeatedly in the earlier topics, there is no perfect research, sampling or
methods, the same applies to hypothesis testing. In general, when you are doing
hypothesis testing, two types of errors may arise, namely Type I and Type II
errors. As hypothesis testing is based on probabilities, there is a possibility that
an error could occur. We will now look into these two types of errors in
hypothesis testing:
(a)

Type I Error
(i)

It is an error of rejecting the null hypothesis when the null hypothesis


is supposedly true.

(ii)

It has the probability of alpha () which is the significance level that


you have preset earlier on.

(iii) In other words, this is the kind of error that occurs when a researcher
assumes that a relationship occurs when there is in fact none or vice
versa.
(b)

Type II Error
(i)

It is an error that occurs from the failure in rejecting a null hypothesis


when the null hypothesis is not true.

(ii)

It has the probability of beta ( ).

(iii) In other words, this is the kind of error which occurs when the
alternative hypothesis is indeed true but the researcher chooses to
accept the null hypothesis instead.
It is important to note that an inverse relationship exists between these two types of
errors, in which by reducing the probability of Type I error would mean increasing
the probability of Type II error, and vice versa (Do note that, 1 = ). Generally,
in business research, you should be more cautious of Type I errors because it is
considered as a much more serious error in comparison to Type II (Zikmund et al.,
2013). Table 8.1 summarises type I and II errors.

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Table 8.1: Type I and Type II Errors


Decision

Actual State in the


Population

Accept H0

Reject H0

H0 is TRUE

Correct No error

Type I error

H0 is FALSE

Type II error

Correct

No error

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

We will now discuss the methods of selecting an appropriate statistical analysis:


(a)

(b)

Type of Question
(i)

You should first determine the answers that you want to obtain from
your research. It is wise that you determine the statistical analysis
method followed by the research design and the types of data that you
require for your research.

(ii)

For instance, if you would like to compare the sales results of various
divisions, you should use the one-sample t-test. However, if you want
to compare the quarterly sales distribution, you should use the chisquare test.

Number of Variables
Next, your concern should be focused on the number of variables that you
need to study before opting for the statistical analysis:
(i)

Univariate analysis: Analysis that only focuses on one variable during


a particular time period;

(ii)

Bivariate analysis: Analysis that focuses on two variables using


different tests and measures during a particular time period; and

(iii) Multivariate analysis: Analysis that simultaneously focuses on more


than two variables during a given period of time.

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(c)

(d)

Measurement Scale
(i)

You should determine the scale measurement for your research in


order to determine the appropriate techniques to use.

(ii)

For instance, for a nominal scale, you may use mode to determine the
central tendency; while for an ordinal scale, you may opt for median
and percentile to determine the central tendency and dispersion
respectively. In the case of interval or ratio-scales, you may use mean
to determine central tendency and standard deviation to measure
dispersion.

Parametric and Non-parametric Hypothesis Tests


(i)

Parametric statistics refer to procedures that adopt interval or ratio


scales with a large sample size. It is commonly in the form of known
continuous distributions (Zikmund et al., 2013).

(ii)

Non-parametric statistics is known as procedures that adopt nominal


or ordinal scales that do not contain known or continuous
distributions (Zikmund et al., 2013).

Figure 8.2 explains the references for univariate analysis, especially the types of
variable.

Figure 8.2: Easy reference for univariate analysis


Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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ACTIVITY 8.1
1.

What is the purpose of conducting a hypothesis testing?

2.

In your own words, what do you understand statistically from the


terms significance level, p-value, confidence level, critical value,
type I error and type II error?

3.

Sample size = 60, sample mean = RM24,500, sample deviation =


RM2,350. Calculate the 95 per cent confidence interval for based
on the information provided.

(Solution: RM23,905.37 RM25,094.63)

8.2

BIVARIATE ANALYSIS: CHI-SQUARE,


T-TEST, ANOVA, REGRESSION AND
SIMPLE CORRELATION COEFFICIENT

This subtopic will discuss the bivariate analysis in greater detail. We will analyse
the chi-square, t-test, ANOVA, regression and finally the simple correlation
coefficient.

8.2.1

Chi-square Test

Chi-square test is a statistical test that allows you to determine if two variables
are related or associated. It also enables you to test for significance in the analysis
of frequency distributions between an observed and expected distribution
(Zikmund, 2003; Cooper & Schindler, 2013). The chi-square test is suitable for
analysis for variables with nominal or ordinal data. You will be able to determine
the goodness of fit by comparing the observed and expected distribution. You
could also conduct the analysis of Row Column (R C) contingency table for
significance. In cases where the hypothesis is true, the contingency table would
not exhibit random distribution in its frequency (Zikmund et al., 2013).
The formula for the chi-square test is thus given as:

(0i E i )2

Ei

where, = Chi-square; Oi = Observed frequency in the ith cell;


and Ei = Expected frequency in the ith cell
2

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To calculate the expected values for a specific cell:

E ij

RiC i
n

where, Ri = Total observed frequency count in the ith row;


Ci = Total observed frequency count in the jth column;
and n = Sample size
The degree of freedom (d.f.) is given as:

d.f. = (R 1) (C 1)
where, R = Number of row and C = Number of column
To enable you to have a clearer picture of how the test works, let us look at an
example of a survey that was conducted to study the living arrangements that
college students would prefer while pursuing their studies in Open College. The
null hypothesis is that gender and living arrangement preferences are
independent.
Living
Arrangement

Male

Female

Total

Dorm

16

74

90

Nearby Apartment

13

27

40

Distant Apartment

16

24

40

Live at Home

15

15

30

60

140

200

Total

Therefore, E ij is given as:


Expected Value E ij

Expected Value E ij

(Male)

(Female)

Dorm

(90 60) / 200 = 27

(90 140) / 200 = 63

Nearby Apartment

(40 60) / 200 = 12

(40 140) / 200 = 28

Distant Apartment

(40 60) / 200 = 12

(40 140) / 200 = 28

Live at Home

(30 60) / 200 = 9

(30 140) / 200 = 21

Living Arrangement

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(16 27)2
27
(74 63) 2
63

(13 12)2
12
(27 28) 2
28

(16 12)2
12

(24 28) 2
28

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181

(15 9)2

9
(21 15) 2
15

4.48 0.08 1.33 4.0 1.92 0.04 0.57 2.4


14.82

d .f . (4 1)(2 1) 3
From the chi-square distribution table, the critical value of 2 of 3 d.f. at 0.05
probability level is given as 7.82. Therefore, with the value of 2 14.82 7.82 ; we
reject the null hypothesis and conclude that the living preferences of students
does not appear to be independent of gender group or there is a relationship
between a students gender and living arrangement preferences.

8.2.2

T-test for Comparing Two Means

Usually when conducting business research, you may want to carry out
independent analysis on the mean scores of different samples or groups. In this
case, we assume interval data with small groups and the size of each group
should preferably not be more than 30. The purpose of the t-test is to determine if
the difference of mean scores of these samples or groups is equivalent to zero.
The null hypothesis assumes the difference of two sample means given as
(Zikmund et al., 2013):

1 2 , which is equivalent to 1 2 0
t-test is thus given as:
t

Sample mean ( 1 ) Sample mean ( 2 )


Variability of random means (S )
1

where, 1 = mean of sample 1; 2 = mean of sample 2; and


S = pooled, or combined, standard error of difference between means
1

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The pooled standard error takes on:

(n 1)S 12 (n 2 1)S 22 1 1
S 1

n1 n 2 2

n1 n 2
1

where, S 12 = variance of group 1; S 22 = variance of group 2;


n1 = sample size of group 1; and n2 = sample size of group 2
The degree of freedom to test two means is given as:

d.f. = n k
in which, n = sample size; and k = number of groups
Let us discuss the following example of a survey that was conducted to study the
sales performance of two groups of employees in a business department. The
hypothesis of this study states that there is no difference in the sales performance
between these groups; while the alternative hypothesis indicates that group X has
better sales performance in comparison to group Y:
Group X

Group Y

RM1,500

RM1,300

Standard deviation

225

251

Sample size

21

14

Average sales

Solution:

(21 1)225 (14 1)251 1 1 5.313


S

21 14 2

21 14
1

1500 1300
5.313

37.64

d .f . 35 2 33
Referring to the distribution of t-table, the significance level of 0.01 is given as
2.75. Therefore, as the calculated t-value (37.64) is larger than the critical level
(2.75), you should be able to reject the null hypothesis. It is concluded that group
X performs better in terms of sales.
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8.2.3

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183

ANOVA

Analysis of variance or widely known as ANOVA is a statistical analysis tool,


which, Zikmund et al. (2013) summarises as an:

Analysis involving the investigation of the effects of one treatment variable


on an interval-scaled dependent variable; a hypothesis-testing technique to
determine whether statistically significant differences in means occur between
two or more groups.
As quoted from Cooper and Schindler (2013):

Statistical method to test the null hypothesis that the means of several
populations are equal.
Thus, ANOVA is a method or technique used to test hypotheses and compare if
the means of the samples or groups are different or equal. Often, the null
hypothesis of ANOVA takes the form of:

1 2 3 ... k
in which, k denotes the number of groups or categories of an independent
variable. The alternative hypothesis would then be stated as:

At least one group mean is not equal to another group mean


Table 8.2 summarises the ANOVA analysis for easy reference.

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Table 8.2: ANOVA Analysis


Variation
Within
Groups:
The sum of
the
differences
between
observed
values and
the group
mean for a
given set of
observations;
also known
as total error
variance
Between
Groups:
Sum of
differences
between the
group mean
and the
grand mean
summed over
all groups for
a given set of
observations
Total:
The mean of
a variable
over all
observations,
also known
as grand
mean

Degree of
Freedom

Sum of Square

SSE X ij j
n

i 1

cn c
(Denominator)

Mean Square

MSE

j 1

SSB n j j
c

c 1
(Numerator)

MSB

j 1

SST X ij
n

t 1

j 1

F-ratio

SSE
cn c

SSB
c 1

cn 1

X: Individual score; 1 : Group mean of jth or ith group; : Grand mean


n: Number of observations in a group; c: Number of jth groups
Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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MSE

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Consider the following example for a clearer picture of ANOVA as adapted from
Zikmund et al. (2013):
Sales in Units (Thousand)
Regular Price
(RM0.99)

Reduced Price
(RM0.89)

Cents-off Coupon,
Regular Price

Market A, B or C

130

145

153

Market D, E or F

118

143

129

Market G, H or I

87

120

96

Market J, K or L

84

131

99

Mean

104.75

134.75

119.25

Grand Mean

119.58

SSE (130 104.75)2 118 104.75)2 (87 104.75)2 (84 104.75)2


(145 134.75)2 (143 134.75)2 (120 134.75)2 (131 134.75)2
(153 119.25)2 (129 119.25)2 (96 119.25)2 (99 119.25)2
4148.25

SSB 4(104.75 119.58)2 4(134.75 119.58)2 4(119.25 119.58) 2


1800.68

SST 4148.25 1800.68


5948.93

MSB

1800.68
3 1

900.34
460.91

900.34

1.95

MSE

4148.25
12 3

460.91

Numerator
c 1
3 1
2

Denominator cn c 3(4) 3 9

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Referring to the 0.05 level, the critical value of F for degree of freedom of
numerator 2 and degree of freedom of denominator table, F is given as 4.26,
which is greater than the calculated F-ratio (1.95). Therefore, we cannot reject the
null hypothesis and conclude that all the price treatments produce approximately
the same sales volume (Zikmund et al., 2013).

8.2.4

Regression

Regression analysis is a dependence measuring technique involving both


dependent and independent variables. The dependence technique is able to
explain the relationship of cause and effect by clearly depicturing the
independent and dependent variables. This analysis is often employed to predict
how a specific independent variable (X) influences the value of the dependent
variable (Y). In other words, you would be able to explain how X causes
movement to Y and how Y is affected as a result.
The simplest form of regression is known as the simple bivariate linear regression
that measures a direct relationship between independent and dependent
variables:

Y X
in which, Y: dependent variable, X: independent variable;
: intercept point of Y-axis; and : slope coefficient
Do note that and are the two parameters that you ought to estimate in
regression analysis. For instance, consider the equation as stated:

Y = 5.1 + 3X
From this equation, you could say that the intercept point of the Y-axis is given as
5.1, while the slope of the regression line is given as 3.
Ordinary Least-Square (OLS) Method
Ordinary least-square, also commonly known as OLS is a mathematical technique
that is used to find the best fitting straight line to the data that you have. OLS is
used to generate the best predicted line that minimises the sum of squared
deviations of the observed values (see example in Figure 8.3). Therefore, the best
line does not usually connect all the observation points (Zikmund et al., 2013).

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is minimum

i 1

in which, e i = Y i Y i (The residual); Y i : Actual value of the dependent variable;

Y i : Estimated value of the dependent variable (Y hat);


n: Number of observations, and i: number of the observation
The regression equation with inclusion of an error term:

Y X e
We will discuss the interpretation of OLS by taking the data example from
Zikmund et al. (2013) illustrating the relationship between sales and the issuance
of building permits:
Dealer

Sales (RM)

Number of Permits

77

86

79

93

80

95

83

104

101

139

117

180

129

165

120

147

97

119

10

106

132

11

99

126

12

121

156

13

103

129

14

86

96

15

99

108

Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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You may easily conduct a regression analysis using Excel for (see example in
Figure 8.4):
(a)

Estimated Regression Line

Y 31.5 0.546 X
(b)

(c)

Coefficients Points
Referring to the output generated from Excel, coefficients and :
(i)

Y-axis intercept = 31.5024

(ii)

Slope coefficient = 0.5464

ANOVA
From the Excel output ANOVA table:
(i)

F-test = 91.2985

(ii)

Significance f (p-value) = 0.000

The model could thus be interpreted as significant referring to the low


p-value of 0.000.
(d)

Coefficient of Determination, R2

R2 = 0.8754
The coefficient of determination could also be interpreted as 87.5 per cent,
in which it means that 87.5 per cent of the sales variation is explained in
relation to the number of permit variable.
(e)

T-test
(i)

T-test of intercept coefficient = 4.3040; p-value = 0.0009

(ii)

T-test of slope coefficient = 9.5550; p-value = 0.0000

The t-tests of intercept and slope coefficients both displayed low p-values
which also mean that these coefficients are significant.

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Figure 8.3: OLS regression

Figure 8.4: Excel output

8.2.5

Simple Correlation Coefficient

Correlation coefficient is a technique commonly used to determine the


relationship of the variables being tested. The change of one variable affecting
another variable is referred to as covariance. The correlation ranges between -1.0
to +1.0, in which r = +1.0 indicates a strong positive relationship between
variables, while r = 0 indicates no relationship and r = -1.0 reflects a negative
inverse relationship (Zikmund et al., 2013).
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The correlation coefficient of variables is stated as:

X
X

Y i Y

2 Y i Y 2

rxy r yx

i 1

i 1

where, represents mean value of the variable.


Assuming that the values of variables X and Y move in the same direction, a
positive covariance would be reflected, while a negative covariance would signify
that the values of variable X and Y move in different directions. Refer to Figure
8.5 for the correlation patterns.

Figure 8.5: Correlation patterns


Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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There are two methods that can be used in determining correlation:


(a)

Coefficient of Determination (R2)


Coefficient of determination also known as R2 or R-squared measures how
an independent variable predicts the proportion of variance of the
dependent variable. It provides a clear description of how the data fits the
model. Its formula is:

R2

Explained variance
Total variance

For instance, R2 = 0.961 indicates that 96.1 per cent of the variance of the
dependent variable is explained by the independent variable.
(b)

Correlation Matrix
It is a method used to present the correlation results, in which the diagonal
axis indicates the value of 1.00 as it is correlated with itself (see Figure 8.6).

Figure 8.6: Correlation matrix


Source: Zikmund et al. (2013)

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SELF-CHECK 8.1
1.

The chi-square test is suitable for nominal and ordinal data.


(True/False)

2.

What is the formula to calculate chi-square test?

3.

What are the formulas to calculate SSE, SSB and SST?

4.

What do and in regression equation mean?

5.

The null hypothesis is rejected if the p-value is small. (True/False)

8.3

MULTIVARIATE STATISTICS: FACTOR,


CLUSTER, DISCRIMINANT AND MANOVA

Multivariate analysis is a statistical tool that involves the analysis of three or


more variables. Let us now discuss the various multivariate statistics:
(a)

(b)

Factor Analysis
Factor analysis is a multivariate technique that is used to analyse
interdependence of variables. The factors are identified through a variate
from the measured variables without having to differentiate between
independent and dependent variables. There are two types of factor
analysis:
(i)

Exploratory factor analysis (EFA): It is used when you are unable to


distinguish the number of factors in the variables of your study.

(ii)

Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA): It is used when you are clear of


the number of factors and these factors relate to one another. It is able
to test or determine how the actual observation is reflected or
supported by the theoretical concept.

Cluster Analysis
It is a multivariate analysis that classifies subjects or objects under the same
group or cluster. Cluster analysis identifies and assigns subjects or objects
that exhibit similar behaviours or characteristics together. Clusters are
highly differentiated and varied between one another.

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It is a common analysis technique in business research where researchers


may be required to segregate group respondents under similar traits or
behaviours. It is especially useful to divide respondents based on market
segment such as urban and rural area.
(c)

Discriminant Analysis
It is an analysis that predicts the probability of a specific object belonging to
one or more groups. You are required to predict if the object would fall
under the specific category or not. For instance, you as a manager would
distinguish in a job interview if individuals A, B, C and D would fall under
the category of hired candidates or not.

(d)

MANOVA
Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) is a statistical technique that
predicts multiple dependent variables with multiple independent variables.
It is used to test the mean differences of two or more variables.

8.4

NON-PARAMETRIC STATISTICS: MANNWHITNEY, WILCOXON-MATCH PAIR AND


KRUSKALL-WALLIS TESTS

Non-parametric statistics do not make assumptions on the population


distribution using nominal or ordinal data. Table 8.3 states the advantages and
disadvantages of non-parametric statistics.
Table 8.3: Advantages and Disadvantages of Non-parametric Statistics
Advantages

Disadvantages

Avoid error on population distribution

Requires large sample size

Easy and simple computations

Null hypothesis is not specifically stated

Data are easier to collect

(a)

Mann-Whitney Test
It is sometimes known as the ranked-sum test, in cases where the
population is not normally distributed, it enables researchers to examine
group differences. The Mann-Whitney test is considered as a t-test
alternative involving two independent samples (Zikmund, 2003).

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(b)

(c)

Wilcoxon Matched-pairs Signed-ranks Test


It is a good difference measure to:
(i)

Test hypotheses that state the mean of a population is equivalent to


the mean of another population ( 1 2 ).

(ii)

Differentiate and compare ordinal rankings.

Kruskall-Wallis Test
It is a statistical analysis that compares three or more groups using ordinal
data. It is sometimes referred to as ANOVA for non-parametric test. In cases
where there are three population groups, the null hypothesis is stated as:

Population 1 = Population 2 = Population 3


Kruskall-Wallis test requires ranking the data in ascending order of lowest
to highest o or in numerical ranking. The test statistic for Kruskall-Wallis is
known as the H-statistic.

SELF-CHECK 8.2
1.

Cluster analysis assigns subjects or objects


characteristics into the same group. (True/False)

of

similar

2.

Analysis that involves multiple independent and dependent


variables is known as MANOVA. (True/False)

3.

Non-parametric statistics require large sample or data. (True/


False)

4.

The test statistic for Kruskall-Wallis is known as t-statistics.


(True/False)

5.

Mann-Whitney test is also known as ranked-sum test. (True/


False)

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ACTIVITY 8.2
1.

A public opinion poll is conducted to survey a simple random


sample of 1,000 respondents. A total of 400 male and 600 female
took part in this survey and their preferences for Product X, Y and
Z are displayed in the following table (Chi-Square Test for
Independence, 2016):
Preferences
Total

Product X

Product Y

Product Z

Male

200

150

50

400

Female

250

300

50

600

450

450

100

1,000

Total

Is there a gender gap? Do the preferences of men differ


significantly from that of womens? Use a 0.05 level of significance
to:

2.

(a)

State the hypothesis;

(b)

Calculate the chi-square statistics for this survey; and

(c)

Interpret the results.

Refer to the following and interpret the ANOVA table (The


ANOVA Table and Tests of Hypothesis about Means, n.d.):
Source

df

SS

MS

Between

27.897

13.949

9.59

Within

12

17.452

1.454

14

45.349

Total

p-value of F-statistics is given as 0.00325


(Use = 0.05 of F-distribution table)

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3.

Refer to the following and interpret the Excel output (Linear


Regression Analysis using Stata, 2013):

(a)

Regression line;

(b)

Coefficients points;

(c)

ANOVA;

(d)

Coefficient of determination, R2; and

(e)

T-test.

Hypothesis is an unproven statement that should be tested empirically. Null


hypothesis often indicates no significant relationship between the tested
variables, while alternative hypothesis usually indicates the opposite of the
null hypothesis. The purpose of statistical hypothesis is for you to come to a
conclusion to accept or reject your hypothesis.

The critical probability to accept or reject the null hypothesis when the null
hypothesis is true is referred to as a significance level.

Probability value or p-value is used to determine the significance of the result


or statistical hypothesis.
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Confidence level is used to indicate how a researcher is certain or confident


that the sample is accurate. Confidence interval denotes the specific range of
values or numbers that the population mean falls into.

Type I error is an error of rejecting the null hypothesis when the null
hypothesis is supposedly true.

Type II error is an error that occurs from failure in rejecting a null hypothesis
when the null hypothesis is not true.

The type of question, the number of variables that you need to study, the
measurement scale and whether you are using a parametric or nonparametric hypothesis test are guidelines to help you select an appropriate
statistical analysis.

Chi-square test is a statistical test that allows you to determine if the two
variables that you are testing are related or associated.

T-test is used to determine if the difference of mean scores of the samples or


groups being studied in your research is equivalent to zero.

ANOVA is a method or technique used to test hypothesis and compare if the


means of the samples or groups are different or equal.

Regression analysis is a dependence measuring technique that involves both


dependent and independent variables. It is able to explain the cause and
effect relationship of dependent and independent variables.

Ordinary least-square or OLS is a mathematical technique that is used to find


the best fitting straight line to your data.

Simple correlation coefficient is a technique commonly used to determine the


relationship of the variables being tested. The change of one variable affecting
another variable is referred to as covariance. Correlation range of +1.0
indicates a strong positive relationship between variables, correlation of -1.0
denotes a negative inverse relationship and correlation of zero indicates no
relationship between variables.

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Coefficient determination or R-squared (R2) measures how an independent


variable predicts the proportion of variance of the dependent variable.
Correlation matrix is used to present the correlation results in a table form.

Multivariate analysis is a statistical tool that involves the analysis of three or


more variables. Factor analysis, cluster analysis, discriminant and MANOVA
analysis belong to multivariate statistics techniques.

Non-parametric statistics is an analysis technique that uses nominal or


ordinal data and does not make assumptions of the population distribution. It
includes the Mann-Whitney test, Wilcoxon-match pair and Kruskall-Wallis
tests.

Alternative hypothesis

Null hypothesis

ANOVA

Ordinary least-square method

Bivariate analysis

Parametric statistics

Chi-square test

Probability value

Coefficient of determination

Regression analysis

Confidence interval

Significance level

Confidence level

Simple correlation coefficient

Correlation matrix

T-test

Critical values

Type I error

Hypothesis testing

Type II error

Multivariate analysis

Univariate analysis

Non-parametric statistics

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ANOVA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://explorable.com/anova


Chi-square goodness of fit test. (2016). Retrieved from http://stattrek.com/chisquare-test/goodness-of-fit.aspx?Tutorial=AP
Cooper, D. R., & Schindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).
Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Frost, J. (2015, March 19). Understanding hypothesis tests: Significance levels
(Alpha) and p-values in statistics. Retrieved from http://blog.minitab.com/
blog/adventures-in-statistics/understanding-hypothesis-tests%3Asignificance-levels-alpha-and-p-values-in-statistics
Frost, J. (2015, April 2). Understanding hypothesis tests: Confidence intervals and
confidence levels. Retrieved from http://blog.minitab.com/blog/
adventures-in-statistics/understanding-hypothesis-tests%3A-confidenceintervals-and-confidence-levels
Hypothesis testing: The null and alternative hypothesis. (2013). Retrieved from
https://statistics.laerd.com/statistical-guides/hypothesis-testing-3.php
Independent two-sample T-test. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://explorable.com/
independent-two-sample-t-test?gid=1586
LaerdStatistics. (2013). Linear regression analysis using Stata. Retrieved from
https://statistics.laerd.com/stata-tutorials/linear-regression-using-stata.
php
NIST/SEMATECH. (2012). The ANOVA table and tests of hypotheses about
means. Retrieved from http://www.itl.nist.gov/div898/handbook/prc/
section4/prc433.htm#ANOVA table
One-way ANOVA in SPSS statistics. (2013). Retrieved from https://statistics.
laerd.com/spss-tutorials/one-way-anova-using-spss-statistics.php
Rumsey, D. J. (2011). How to interpret a correlation coefficient r. Retrieved from
http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-interpret-acorrelation-coefficient-r.html

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Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
Sekaran, U. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach (4th
ed.). United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Statistical correlation. (2015). Retrieved from https://explorable.com/statisticalcorrelation
StatTrek. (2015). Teach yourself statistics: Chi-square test for independence.
Retrieved from http://stattrek.com/chi-square-test/independence.aspx?
Tutorial=AP
What are type I and type II errors? (2015). Retrieved from http://support.
minitab.com/en-us/minitab/17/topic-library/basic-statistics-and-graphs/
hypothesis-tests/basics/type-i-and-type-ii-error/
Zikmund, W. G. (2003). Business research methods (7th ed.). United States:
South-Western, Thomson Learning.
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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Topic

Analysing
Qualitative
Data

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Explain qualitative and quantitative data;

2.

Differentiate between deductive and inductive approaches;

3.

Explain deductive-based and inductive-based analytical procedures;


and

4.

Discuss research software qualitative data analysis.

INTRODUCTION
In the previous topic, we discussed the application of business statistics in
research. In this topic, we will focus more on qualitative data analysis namely the
deductive and inductive analysis approaches with a detailed discussion on
qualitative data analysis procedures. Lastly, we will briefly discuss the research
software used in qualitative data analysis.

9.1

QUANTITATIVE VERSUS QUALITATIVE


DATA

Previously in the earlier topics, we discussed some of the characteristics of


qualitative and quantitative research. We will briefly go over the definitions of
quantitative and qualitative research again. Quantitative research is research that
relies on solid empirical analysis of numerical data or measurement. On the other
hand, qualitative research is referred to as conceptual and descriptive studies that
do not involve numerical data or measurement.
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The differences in the concept or nature of qualitative and quantitative data are
presented and simplified as follows (see Table 9.1):
Table 9.1: Comparison of Quantitative and Qualitative Data
Quantitative Data

Qualitative Data

Solid empirical studies

Conceptual
studies

Nature

Numerical data

Verbal or pictorial data

Method

Statistical or mathematical analysis


method

Non-quantitative analysis and


conceptualisation framework

Definition

and

descriptive

Source: Saunders et al. (2013)

9.2

QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS

There are two types of approaches in qualitative analysis namely:


(a)

Deductive Approach
(i)

In deductive approach, existing theories are used as the main tool at


the early stages of your research especially in formulating research
questions and research objectives.

(ii)

It is common for a researcher to adopt a theoretical framework in the


process of building a hypothesis for his or her research. Once a
hypothesis is formulated, the researcher may then begin his or her
observation or experiments in qualitative analysis in order to validate
the hypothesis.

(iii) It is a usual research approach in which you identify the theory,


formulate the hypothesis and verify the hypothesis through
observation or analysis.
(iv) For instance, the sales of product A notably increase following the
change of packaging and design of the product. As a manager, you
can conduct a survey to know how and why customers are attracted
to buy the product with its new packaging and design.

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(b)

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Inductive Approach
(i)

The inductive approach begins with data collection and proceeds to


formulation of theory, research questions and research objectives
using the data obtained earlier on.

(ii)

In other words, a researcher would not formulate research questions


or objectives in the early stages of his or her research. Instead, the
researcher would identify the research problems or research objectives
through the data collected.

(iii) It is important to note that this approach is time consuming and


involves a lot of resources and research experience as you are required
to analyse the data thoroughly in order to develop or formulate
theories and research questions from the data analysis itself.
(iv) It is not a conventional or usual research approach as you are required
to generate the theory from the data first and later on validate or
verify the theory that you have developed to determine if both the
data and theory are applicable or otherwise.
(v)

For instance, as a newly appointed manager of a company, you go


through the companys past years performance report and find a
notable pattern in the performance graph. Thus you conduct a
research to understand the causes and reasons that may have caused
this pattern.

ACTIVITY 9.1
1.

Using your own words, describe qualitative data and quantitative


data.

2.

How would you differentiate between deductive and inductive


qualitative approaches?

9.3

DEDUCTIVE-BASED AND INDUCTIVEBASED ANALYTICAL PROCEDURES

In this subtopic, we will discuss deductive-based and inductive-based analytical


procedures.

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9.3.1

Deductive-based Analytical Procedures

The procedures applicable in deductive-based qualitative analysis include:


(a)

Pattern Matching
(i)

It uses a theoretical background to explain or predict the trait or


pattern of result of a particular issue (Saunders et al., 2013).

(ii)

First, you have to develop a conceptual framework for your analysis


based on an existing theory. Then as you put your conceptual
framework to test, you will be able to identify or determine if the
pattern or trait of your analysis is able to match the pattern of an
existing theory.

(iii) If the pattern of your analysis matches the pattern of the existing
theory, you are able to validate your study.
(iv) There are two different approaches to pattern matching procedures
(see Table 9.2).
Table 9.2: Two Approaches to Pattern Matching Procedures
Approaches

Description

Dependent
variables

In this case, using the dependent variables in your analysis, you


can identify the outcome that you expect based on past
theoretical literatures. As you conduct the analysis, you would
be able to determine if the expected theoretical outcome matches
the outcome of your analysis.

Independent
variables

Using this approach, you are required to identify several


explanations to the pattern of outcome that you anticipate from
your analysis. It is important to note that you ought to only
select one explanation that matches and supports the outcome of
your analysis.

As Yin (2003) stated, you would be able to further strengthen the


explanation of your findings when you present several similar
findings from other case studies that exhibit a matching pattern
and outcome that fits your study.

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(b)

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205

Explanation Building
(i)

It is referred to as an approach that develops an explanation for the


analysis while the researcher is still in the data collection and data
analysis stages.

(ii)

Do note that this approach differs from that of the independent


variables approach that we have just discussed, as the latter involves
developing explanations and then conducting tests to verify and
validate the explanations.

(iii) According to Yin (2003), the explanation building approach involves


the following procedures:

Develop a hypothesis based on theoretical literatures;

Proceed to data collection and analysis to further prove the


outcome of the hypothesis that was developed earlier on;

Amend the hypothesis based on the outcome or result of the


analysis;

Conduct a second data collection and analysis to compare the


outcome with the amended hypothesis;

Amend the hypothesis again based on the outcome or result of the


second analysis; and

Repeat the data collection, analysis and amendment of hypothesis


process until you are able to achieve a satisfactory outcome and
explanation (Saunders et al., 2013).

The deductive-based analytical approach focuses on establishing theories before


proceeding to data collection and data analysis. This approach provides you with
a theoretical background or theme to assist you in your data collection and
analysis stages.

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9.3.2

Inductive-based Analytical Procedures

We will now discuss several inductive-based analytical procedures in qualitative


analysis:
(a)

(b)

Data Display and Analysis


(i)

It involves the process of organising and arranging data in the form of


graphical visual or diagram displays.

(ii)

It often summarises, simplifies, transforms and compresses the


collected data for researchers easy reference.

Template Analysis
(i)

It involves the process of creating and developing a template that


consists of a list of codes and categories representing themes revealed
through the collected data (Saunders et al., 2013).

(ii)

It usually exhibits a hierarchy and relationship of codes, categories


and themes of data that would assist and underline the importance of
a particular data to the researcher.

(iii) It provides the researcher with a sense of urgency of a specific issue


that requires his or hers attention and focus in analysing qualitative
data.
(c)

(d)

Analytic Induction
(i)

Involves the process of examining several relevant cases rigorously in


order to establish empirical causes or reasons for a specific issue
(Saunders et al., 2013).

(ii)

It is ideal for a researcher to collect sufficient data to carry out


thorough data analysis beforehand and later examine similar cases to
develop an explanation to apply in support of the specific issue or
cases.

Grounded Theory
(i)

It is a theory that is generated and developed by data obtained from


observation or interviews using an inductive approach.

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207

It involves open coding (disaggregation of data into units), axial


coding (recognising relationships between categories) and selective
coding (integration of categories to produce a theory) (Saunders et al.,
2013).

(iii) It is a time consuming process that does not necessarily guarantee that
the outcome or findings of the analysis will match that of your
expected results.
(e)

Discourse Analysis
It is a three-dimensional analysis that covers wide aspects of text, discursive
practice and social practice in the analysis of language and specifically on
individual choices use of language (Saunders et al., 2013):
(i)

Text: The construction of the text and the purpose or aim of the text;

(ii)

Discursive practice: Examines the interpretation and context of text


production; and

(iii) Social practice: Examines the texts propositions.


(f)

Narrative Analysis
(i)

It is usually adopted to further indicate linkages, relationships and


explanations to a specific issue in a narrative manner.

(ii)

Often times, it uses various stories and plots as an elaborative


illustration for the audience or reader.

9.4

USING RESEARCH SOFTWARE FOR


QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS

Computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software, better known as CAQDAS


is software that is widely used for data organisation, transcription, coding, text
interpretation and other analytical tools, especially for qualitative analysis. The
functions of CAQDAS include:
(a)

Structure of work: Enables researchers to store data for research studies.

(b)

Data access: Offers researchers with easy data access and to conduct text
searches.

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(c)

Coding and retrieving: Eases the process of coding data and retrieving of
information.

(d)

Project management and data organisation: Allows researchers to manage


and organise data and research studies.

(e)

Recording: Provides researchers the ease to conveniently record memos,


comments, notes and data.

(f)

Output: Enables researchers to view materials and convert the data and
information to spreadsheets, reports and word formats.

There are many computer-assisted research software or programmes available to


enable researchers to easily analyse qualitative data such as QSR Nudi*ist,
ATLAS/ti, NVivo, Code-A-Text, MAXqda and XSight. It is important to note that
you should carefully select a software or programme that is appropriate for your
research data in order to fulfil the purpose of your research. The main criteria that
you should consider when opting for suitable data analysis software are:
(a)

Purpose: Does this software serve the purpose of my research?

(b)

Types of database: Is this software suitable for my research data?

(c)

Types of analysis: What are the type(s) of analysis that my research


requires?

For better understanding of the software, you could also read up on reviews of
some of the software before opting for a particular software or analysis
programme.
For reviews, you can visit:
http://www.surrey.ac.uk/sociology/research/researchcentres/caqdas/support/
choosing/index.htm

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ACTIVITY 9.2
1.

Discuss with your classmates the major differences between


deductive-based and inductive-based analytical procedures.

2.

List some of the common functions of CAQDAS that you know.

3.

What are the main procedures of deductive-based analysis?

4.

Briefly discuss five inductive-based analytical procedures.

5.

What are the important highlights of CAQDAS?

Quantitative research is research that relies on solid empirical analysis of


numerical data or measurement. Qualitative research is referred to as
conceptual and descriptive studies that do not involve numerical data or
measurement.

Deductive approach uses existing theories as the main tool in the early stages
of research to formulate research questions and research objectives.

Inductive approach begins with data collection and proceeds to formulate the
theory, research questions and research objectives using the data obtained
earlier on.

Pattern matching uses theoretical background to explain the trait or pattern of


a result of a specific issue. There are two different approaches in pattern
matching procedures namely the dependent variables and independent
variables approaches.

Explanation building is referred to as an approach that develops explanation


through the analysis while a researcher is still in the data collection and
analysis stages.

Inductive-based analytical procedures among others consist of data display


and analysis, template analysis, analytic induction, grounded theory,
discourse analysis and narrative analysis.

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The functions of CAQDAS include structuring of work, easy data access,


coding and retrieving, project management and data organisation, recording
and viewing of output.

Analytic induction

Inductive approach

CAQDAS

Narrative analysis

Data display and analysis

Pattern matching

Deductive approach

Qualitative data

Discourse analysis

Quantitative data

Explanation building

Template analysis

Grounded theory

Choosing an appropriate CAQDAS package. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.


surrey.ac.uk/sociology/research/researchcentres/caqdas/support/choosi
ng/index.htm
Deductive approach. (2016). Retrieved from http://research-methodology.net/
research-methodology/research-approach/deductive-approach-2/
Gilgun, J. F. (2014). An introduction to deductive qualitative analysis. Retrieved
from http://www.slideshare.net/JaneGilgun/an-introduction-to-deductive
-qualitative-analysis
Inductive approach. (2016). Retrieved from http://research-methodology.net/
research-methodology/research-approach/inductive-approach-2/
Ji Young Cho., & Eun-Hee Lee. (2014). Reducing confusion about grounded
theory and qualitative content analysis: Similarities and differences. The
Qualitative Report, 19(64), 1-20. Retrieved from http://www.nova.edu/ssss
/QR/QR19/cho64.pdf

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Rademaker, L. L., Grace, E. J., & Curda S. K. (2012). Using computer-assisted


qualitative data analysis software (CAQDAS) to re-examine traditionally
analyzed data: Expanding our understanding of the data and of ourselves
as scholars. The Qualitative Report, 17(43), 1-11. Retrieved from http://
www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR17/rademaker.pdf
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
Snyder, W. Chapter 12: Making meaning from your data. Retrieved from
http://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/45660_12.pdf
Thomas, D. R. (2006). A general inductive approach for analyzing qualitative
evaluation data. American Journal of Evaluation, 27(2), 237-246. Retrieved
from http://legacy.oise.utoronto.ca/research/field-centres/ross/ctl1014/
Thomas2006.pdf
Yan Zhang., & Wildemuth, B. M. (n.d.). Qualitative analysis of content. Retrieved
from https://www.ischool.utexas.edu/~yanz/Content_analysis.pdf
Yin, R. K. (2003). Case study research: Design and methods (3rd ed.). Applied
Social Research Methods, Vol. 5. United States: Sage Publication, Inc.

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Topic

10

Report
Writing and
Presentation

LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this topic, you should be able to:
1.

Describe the major concerns in generating reports;

2.

Explain the format of a research report;

3.

Discuss the criteria to good report writing; and

4.

Demonstrate visual aids in written report and oral presentation.

INTRODUCTION
In the previous topic, we discussed qualitative data analysis. In this topic, we will
highlight the major concerns in generating research reports, the format and
content of research reports, followed by a discussion of the criteria of good
research report writing. Lastly, we will discuss the inclusion of visual or
graphical aids in research reports and oral presentations.

10.1

GENERATING THE REPORT

As you already know and as mentioned repeatedly throughout this module,


research is a long journey and we have almost come to the end of this journey as
we approach our final destination of preparing our report. Some of you may
think that generating a report is an almost impossible task to perform. You may
have a hard time presenting your findings or research in the form of words for
audiences, readers, or managers. You may even spend hours starring at your
blank computer screen not being able to write anything. You may even think that
you are not a good writer to begin with, let alone having to prepare pages of a
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research report. The fact is that all of you have been able to write well daily in the
form of text messages, conversations, emails, blogs and comments on web pages
or social media. There is a writer in you whether you realise it or not.
Let us now briefly discuss the three different communication methods in
business research:
(a)

(b)

(c)

Research Proposal
(i)

It is a report which contains an introduction to your research or study,


the need for the research to be carried out (in the form of a problem
statement, research question and research objectives), literature
review, methodology, data and study design that you propose to
adopt in your research study, the proposed timeline, estimated cost
and budget for your research and a summary of expected outcomes or
results.

(ii)

It is often prepared to convince or get approval from your faculty in


the case of academic research and managers or sponsors in the case of
business research, emphasising the importance for the research to be
carried out.

Written Report
(i)

It is a full and elaborate report that presents the findings or results of


your academic research and business research containing a title,
abstracts, table of contents, introduction, methodology, findings or
results, discussion, conclusions, references and appendices.

(ii)

Often, it is prepared as a final report in which you discuss your work


and other research procedures thoroughly and in detail.

Presentation
(i)

It is an oral presentation in which you prepare a full but compact


report to address your audiences for both academic and business
research.

(ii)

It is usually presented verbally at the end of your research study.

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Now we will discuss the aspects that you should be concerned and aware of in
generating a research report:
(a)

(b)

Purpose and Reader


(i)

The first question that you should ask yourself before putting your
work in the form of a report is What is the purpose of preparing this
report? By asking yourself this question, you would know what to
include in your report. For academic research, your report is the
passport or ticket to your graduation, thus you ought to prepare a
detailed and full report. In the case of a business research, your report
should include more information on the benefits and
recommendations to your sponsor or organisation with the purpose of
resolving a specific issue.

(ii)

The second question is Who are my readers? This question will


provide you with the knowledge of the length of your report and the
information that you should include in your report. In the case of an
academic research, your report ought to be detailed and thorough
with sufficient arguments and recommendations for future research,
while in the case of a business research, your report should be
compact, straight to the point and not too lengthy.

Commitment
(i)

As a researcher, you should know by now that writing requires


commitment and concentration. You should be disciplined to allocate
sufficient time to write on a daily basis and not once in a while when
you feel like it. A successful and good writer writes with a strong
commitment and passion and he or she spends long hours daily doing
just one thing, which is to write and write.

(ii)

Remember the notion that our teachers and parents have always
reminded us: Practice makes perfect! The more you practice, the easier
it will be for you to write.

(iii) You should also write in an environment that you comfortable in.
That way, you willbe able to focus and concentrate on your writing.
(c)

Readability
(i)

In generating a report regardless of who your readers or audiences


are, your main concern should be the issue of readability and
understanding.
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215

You should generate a report that is readable in a manner where your


readers or audiences would understand easily. In general, readers
would prefer straightforward writing that would directly convey
information as they read. Therefore, do avoid complicated words,
explanation and phrases.

(iii) Do bear in mind that if you make it easier for readers to understand,
you would be able to capture your readers attention and effectively
communicate or present your research to them.
(iv) A successful writer is one who is able to encourage his or her readers
to continue reading.

ACTIVITY 10.1
1.

What are the three different types of reports in research?

2.

Discuss with your classmates on what concerns you the most as a


reader and as a writer in generating reports besides the points
presented earlier.

10.2

FORMAT OF REPORT

We will now discuss the format and content of a research report:


(a)

Prefatory Materials
This section is not directly related to your research or study but it is
important that you know what materials are normally found here as the
main purpose of this section is to provide assistance and guidelines to
readers.
(i)

Letter of Transmittal

This is a formal letter between the researcher and sponsor with a


brief statement indicating the research scope and purpose.

This official letter is commonly attached to the business research


report of a hired researcher and sponsor (client).

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(ii)

Title Page

It should address basic information noting the title of the report,


for whom the report is directed to, by whom the report is
prepared and the date.

(iii) Table of Contents

It contains the sections and divisions of the content of the report


with page references to each section for readers easy reference.

In cases where you have a long list of tables and figures, this list
should be presented separately (as appendices) and arranged after
the table of contents.

Titles in the table of content need to be short and concise.

(iv) Business Report

(b)

Executive summary or sometimes known as summary is a


compact but brief report that covers the introduction or
background information of the research, objectives and purpose of
the research, methodology, findings and conclusion of the
research.

It is important that you prepare this summary especially in


business research as most managers or sponsors would only read
this instead of the whole research report.

Research Report
This is the section where you address the content of your research.
(i)

Research Study

(ii)

It is a short summary usually half to one page of the full research


report which includes brief information about research questions,
the data and method that you adopted in your research, the
findings and the conclusion of your research report.

Introduction

The introduction section provides readers with basic and


background information related to the research topic. It is often
prepared at the research proposal stage and is included in the full
written report as well.
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Usually, it consists of problem statements, research questions,


research objectives and an overview or background of research as
discussed in Topic 2.

(iii) Literature Review

This is the section where you present theoretical literature


discussion, previous studies and arguments for readers reference.

It can be a review and synthesis on past literatures covering


theoretical discussion, hypothesis, methodology and empirical
analysis. A literature review can also be a critique of theories.

(iv) Methodology

(v)

This is the section where you present your chosen method for
conducting empirical analysis in your research.

It states the description of data that you used for your research,
sampling, method of data and method of analysis and research
design.

Results and Discussion

This is the section where you underline the empirical findings of


your research. It can be illustrated in the form of charts, figures,
graphs and tables for easy reference.

It presents the findings, interpretation of the statistical results if


any and discussion of the empirical results obtained during your
research.

It is basically a report of your findings coupled with a discussion


of how you interpret the results and what it means in relation to
your research objectives.

(vi) Conclusions

This is where you wrap up your research report with the inclusion
of limitations and recommendations for further studies applicable
for other researchers reference, managers and sponsors to act
upon later.

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(vii) References

This is the section where you include the list of all the past studies,
journals, articles and books that you referred to in your research.
As OUM uses APA citation style, you should only include sources
that you have cited or quoted in your research.

For more detailed information on this, do refer to Topic 3 for our


discussion on citation and references.

(viii) Appendices

This is where you include charts, tables, figures, graphs, statistical


results, questionnaires, forms and other related documents to
support your research.

ACTIVITY 10.2
1.

What are the important criteria that are often included in the
prefatory material section? Give an example that you have found
from secondary sources.

2.

Search from the OUM Library two different theses or dissertations


and compare these theses to those that you found online. What are
the notable similarities or differences in the format of these
research theses or dissertations?

10.3

REPORT WRITING TIPS

Writing is a journey that requires passion, time and effort. It does not come easy
but it is not impossible for you to write a good piece of work. We will discuss the
tips to good report writing in the following:
(a)

Clarity and Simplicity


(i)

It is best to keep your writing simple and straight to the point


especially for academic research report and business research report.

(ii)

As your report is important for academic research, you should keep


your discussion and content clear to aid the readers understanding.
Readers will continue to read if they are able to understand what you
are trying to imply in your research report.
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(iii) You should also engage your readers by providing an ongoing lively
discussion to capture their interest and attention as dull monotonous
and complicated writing is definitely a turn-off for readers.
(iv) Do bear in mind that this is an academic research or business research
report and are not fictional books or blogs. Therefore, you should
avoid using metaphors or parables in your research report. You must
maintain and be professional in reporting your research work as an
academic researcher or business researcher. Many academic research
reports require a distinct academic style of writing.
(b)

Report Organisation
(i)

You should organise your research report neatly to ensure a smooth


transition from one paragraph to another and from one section to
another.

(ii)

You should also arrange your points so that your discussion does not
overlap one another.

(iii) You should highlight and precisely state the point(s) of your
discussion to make sure that the reader is able to understand the
point(s) that you are arguing or discussing about.
(iv) You should also try to avoid or at the very least minimise error(s) in
your research report. Be mindful of the margin and alignment, proper
spacing between paragraphs and sections, sizeable graphic and tables
for readers references and that the number of pages are stated clearly
and arranged correctly. In other words, formatting the report is
important.
(c)

Language Use
(i)

As pointed out earlier, it is important for you to be professional in


writing your research report using proper and formal English. Do not
use slang or colloquial expression when writing.

(ii)

As you are writing, put yourself in your readers shoes. You would
not like to read reports or books with plenty of errors which impede
your ability to grasp the real meaning behind the phrases or
sentences, the same applies to your readers. Therefore, be mindful of
proofreading your research report repeatedly and avoid grammatical
and spelling errors.

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ACTIVITY 10.3
In your opinion, what are the additional report writing tips that you
should know that are not stated here? Discuss your thoughts with your
classmates.

10.4

REPORT PRESENTATION

Now, we will discuss report presentation and its various elements:


(a)

Use of Visual Aids


Do you notice that authors and researchers of journal articles and
dissertations often include visual aids in their reports? Visual aids are
important for researchers to present or communicate information to
readers. Visual aids not only add colour and contrast to research journals or
dissertations, they play a significant part in conveying simplified
illustrations to readers. For instance, by using numerical figures such as 35
per cent or 78 per cent, readers may not able to comprehend the actual
representation of these figures. However, if you translate the numerical
figures to a pie chart for instance, you would be able to show the readers
the actual representation to the numerical figures. The following are the
different types of visual aids that can be used in reports:
(i)

(ii)

Graphic Aids

Graphics such as line and bar graphs, pie and bar charts and other
pictorial illustrations and maps are able to provide readers with a
clearer and more accurate understanding of the research topics.

These graphic aids ensure that readers have a better visual


representation compared to words and phrases, as the former are
better able to capture readers attention compared to the latter.

Tables

Tables come in handy when you are required to present numerical


information or statistics as it provides readers with comprehensive
and detailed content.

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Tables enable researchers to quickly and directly point or


highlight important information or features that require the
readers attention.

By looking at the table, readers will be able to extract a lot of


information in a very short time as compared to reading
explanations and discussion in the form of words or text format.

However as much as tables are important, you should also include


explanation, discussion, interpretation or arguments in the form of
words or text for readers to read through.

The following illustrates examples of visual aids commonly used


in research reports (refer to Figure 10.1).

Figure 10.1: Examples of visual aids commonly used in research reports

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(b)

Oral Presentation
Oral presentation is a verbal form of presentation in which a researcher
presents the business research report or thesis dissertation of the major
findings, recommendations and conclusion of research studies to his or her
audiences. The length of an oral presentation is usually approximately 20
minutes to one hour. It is a platform for academicians, managers and
sponsors to seek clarification from researchers on his or her research work.
Often, in the case of business research, an oral presentation is where
managers or sponsors are being presented with the fruits to their
investment as most of them do not actually read the full research report.
These are key aspects that should be considered in oral presentations:
(i)

Materials and Content

As a researcher and presenter, it is important that you select the


points or highlight the parts of the research report that you intend
to present. You should carefully decide what to present and what
not to present in the oral presentation to fit within the 20 minutes
time frame, while the remaining time should be allocated for a
question and answer (Q&A) session. It is important that you keep
your presentation brief but compact.

One of the major disasters in presentation is to dump the whole


paragraph into the slides and expect your audiences to read them
word for word. You should keep your slides simple and brief
without lengthy phrases but keep your audiences engaged with
compact verbal input or explanation as you present your work.

You should ensure professional and interesting presentation


materials using sufficient graphical illustration to maintain your
audiences interest without too much animation.

The content of your oral presentation should include a brief


introduction or background information on the issues of the
research, findings and recommendations of your research and a
conclusion.

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TOPIC 10

(ii)

(c)

REPORT WRITING AND PRESENTATION

223

Delivery

Be well-prepared so that you can deliver your presentation with


confidence. It is important that you do not merely read the slides
out without engaging the audiences.

You should maintain eye-contact with your audiences as you


deliver your oral presentation and do engage your audiences to
ensure a positive and comfortable ambience in the presentation
room.

You should practice your presentation beforehand in terms of


pronunciation, speed of speech, voice and tone, postures and hand
gestures.

Besides PowerPoint slides, you may use flip charts, short video
clips, whiteboards, handouts, etc. to lighten up your presentation.

You should also be ready to defend your research report and


research results should the need arise during the presentation
session.

Follow-up
Research follow-up is when you re-engage or re-contact your sponsors or
managers for feedback after your oral presentation and after they have read
through your written research report. Usually, research follow-up is
applicable for hired business research where the follow-up works as a
platform for the hired researcher to gain understanding and clarification on
the workability of his or her recommendations to their clients.

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224 TOPIC 10 REPORT WRITING AND PRESENTATION

ACTIVITY 10.4
1.

Why do you think that graphical illustrations are important in


research report write-ups? Explain.

2.

Discuss with your classmates strategies that you can use to


prepare yourself for oral presentations.

3.

Briefly discuss the three communication methods in business


research.

4.

Situation: Laurel has difficulties in generating a research report for


her research. How would you advise Laurel?

5.

Situation: As a lecturer, your students consulted you on the


format and content of their research report. How would you
advise them to write a good research report?

6.

Situation: Assume that you are an academic theses examiner. How


would you justify a good research thesis write-up?

A research proposal contains an introduction, the statement of need for the


research to be carried out with the inclusion of problem statements, research
questions and research objectives, the literature review, methodology, data
and study design, proposed timeline, estimated cost and budget and a
summary of expected outcome or results.

Written report is a full and elaborate report that presents the findings or
results of an academic research or business research that contains a title,
abstracts, table of contents, introduction, methodology, findings or results,
discussion, conclusions, references and appendices.

An oral presentation is a verbal form of presentation that contains a full but


compact research report in addressing the audiences.

In generating a research report, you should be aware of the purpose of


preparing the report, the reader or audience of the report, allocation of
sufficient time and commitment to writing and ensuring the readability of the
research report.
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TOPIC 10

REPORT WRITING AND PRESENTATION

225

The purpose of prefatory materials is to provide assistance and guidelines to


readers and consists of a letter of transmittal, title page, table of contents and
executive summary.

Research reports usually contain an abstract, introduction, literature review,


methodology, results and discussion, conclusions, references and appendices.

The tips to writing are to maintain clarity and simplicity in the research
report, be mindful of the report organisation and the language of the research
report.

Visual or graphical aids are important for researchers to effectively present or


communicate information to readers for clearer and accurate understanding.

Oral presentation is a verbal form of presentation where researchers present a


business research report or academic research report of the major findings,
recommendations and conclusions of their research to audiences.

Research follow-up is a platform for business researchers to gain feedback


and clarification from his or her clients.

Abstract

Prefatory materials

Appendices

Presentation

Conclusions

References

Executive summary

Research proposal

Graphical aids

Results and discussion

Introduction

Table of contents

Letter of transmittal

Title page

Literature review

Visual aids

Methodology

Written report

Oral presentation

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226 TOPIC 10 REPORT WRITING AND PRESENTATION

Cooper, D. R., Schindler, P. S. (2013). Business research methods (12th ed.).


Singapore: McGraw Hill.
Krueger, G., & Foster, M. L. (2008, July 3). How to write a great report: 7 tips to
make your next report stand out. Retrieved from http://biggsuccess.com/
bigg-articles/how-to-write-a-great-report/
North, T. (2014, July 3). Business proposal writing made easy: Write successful
business and technical proposal. Retrieved from http://www.betterwriting
skills.com/Proposal-Writing-Sample.pdf
North, T. (n.d.). Report Writing: Business and technical reports made easy.
Retrieved
from
http://www.betterwritingskills.com/Report-WritingSample.pdf
Oral presentations. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://twp.duke.edu/uploads/media_
items/oral-presentation-handout.original.pdf
Oral presentation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www4.caes.hku.hk/epc/
presentation/
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business
students (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Prentice Hall, Pearson Education.
Sekaran, U. (2003). Research methods for business: A skill-building approach (4th
ed.). United States: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Tips for writing a good report. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://web.mit.edu/msrp/
myMSRP/docs/Tips%20for%20writing%20a%20good%20report.pdf
Zikmund, W. G. (2003). Business research methods (7 ed.). United States: SouthWestern, Thomson Learning.
Zikmund, W. G., Babin, B. J., Carr, J. C., & Griffin, M. (2013). Business research
methods (9th ed.). Singapore: South-Western, Cengage Learning.

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MODULE FEEDBACK
MAKLUM BALAS MODUL

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1.

E-mail your comment or feedback to modulefeedback@oum.edu.my

OR
2.

Fill in the Print Module online evaluation form available on myINSPIRE.

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