Research is more than just theory – you can actually use your findings to help optimise the activities of businesses and even entire industries.
Learn to plan a research project and gather data that can prove valuable in informing the current operations or future planning of a business.
Duration: 100 hours
More than just theory – your research can help businesses run better
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There are 7 lessons as follows:
1. Determining Research Needs
2. Searching For Information
3. Research Methods
4. Using Statistics
5. Conducting Statistical Research
6. Research Reports
7. Reporting On A Research Project.
- Demonstrate your ability to collect, collate and interpret data and prepare reports in ways relevant to the work environment;
- Monitor and evaluate one’s own work in order to develop a responsible attitude to workplace performance and quality assurance;
- Identify areas where there is a valid need for research which are relevant to area of study;
- Explain research methods, including experimental techniques, commonly used in your area of study;
- Explain the basic statistical methods used for research;
- Locate, collect and evaluate information for a specific research purpose;
- Prepare a research report in a format which conforms to normal industry procedures.
Extract 1 from the Study Guide:
For many students, their first experience with research occurred in school where they were required to prepare a research report or a presentation on a particular subject. This is the fundamental level of research, and its aim is to gather information on a topic, which is later to be presented to an intended audience (a class, teacher etc). Examples are research on a particular country, animal, or political system.
Another level of research aims at answering a research question (often called the thesis question). The information that is gathered and presented is chosen in order to answer that question. Examples of research questions are: What main social and political factors contribute to poverty in your country? Why is the Madagascan lemur an endangered species? How was language used to justify and maintain the Cold War last century? Well formulated and pertinent questions can lead to meaningful research projects that can greatly increase our understanding of the world and ourselves. The problem with this kind of research, though, is that it can be very difficult to know what questions to ask.
IDENTIFYING RESEARCH NEEDS
Research projects are not always handed to us. Much of the time, we conduct research, or are asked to do so, in response to a perceived need. For the student seeking a meaning, relevant research project, the first step is to identify a need for that research. The need not be great or immediately pressing; it can be as simple as satisfying someone’s curiosity, or as practical as seeking a way to do things better or solving a persistent workplace problem. Therefore, there is no single correct way to find a need for research. You can begin investigating by talking to people in the field, listening to their needs and problems, asking around, observing processes, and even by asking yourself: What do I want to know but can’t find the answer to?
You can identify research needs by reading through the conclusions and recommendations of existing reports relevant to Horticulture, Horticulture research, environmental impacts in horticulture, horticulture business trends, etc. Information can be found in conferences reports, review papers and books and in the internet. Report writers often note areas needing further investigation or where the current information is inadequate. You can also do what is called a survey of the current literature in that field (which can be limited to main trade journals in that field or extend to a survey of recent books as well as academic or professional journals in that field). This can help you identify some persistent or common questions or problems, and can also help you get an idea of what else you might like to know, or what area arouses your curiosity.
Another way is to identify problem areas in your workplace (or intended workplace) and consider how these problems might be solved. For instance, you work in retail horticulture and have noticed that while sales are good, you get many complaints from existing customers, and little return business. You might discuss this with others and also observe what’s happening, and might identify a possible problem in post-sale customer service. This presents a possible area of research in which you might examine the processes in place, the training, business culture etc. to identify specific weakness and needs and make recommendations for improvement.
Another example: Let us say that you are around 40-50 years old, and without much thinking about research, you have talked to friends also in your age group, some of whom are employers, managers and ordinary workers. Time and again, they complain that young people just don’t have a work ethic and cannot be relied upon to do their jobs well. You wonder about that, because you believe that your children, for instance, are hard-working and thorough, and you wonder how true your friends’ perceptions are. There is a possible research topic.
What do you do? When you have an idea, do a preliminary research to find if that topic has already been thoroughly investigated.
Maybe you find a few small studies, based on a very limited number of subject, but nothing that can allow you reach an informed conclusion. There, you have possible area of research. Now, you need to narrow your focus more to come up with a research goal.
The Research Goal
The first question to ask after you have chosen a general area of research, and are trying to narrow it down to a research topic is: What is my research goal? This might seem like a simple question, but it is not always easy to answer. Let us say you plan to start an online school to teach English for business worldwide, and you want to research the need for grammar instruction in the business world. Think about what kind of information you need. Do you want information on available grammar courses? Do you want information on how well or how poorly business people use correct grammar? What grammar do you want to focus on? Basic grammar or higher level grammar? All aspects or specific aspects of grammar, such as punctuation or sentence structure? What business world: in your country, in general, in a specific sector? In one continent? In one city? In one particular industry in your region? A specific research goal in this instance might be: To identify common areas of written English grammar deficit among low to middle level managers in Asian economies.
The Research Question
Now, you need to form the research question: a carefully worded question that your research will attempt to answer. One reason for forming a research question is that the purpose of research is to find answers; therefore, you need to ask a question. A question presents the problem as an enquiry. A goal, on the other hand, is a statement of intent, and in itself, it implies certain things about the topic. Take the goal: To identify common areas of written English grammar deficit among low to middle level managers in Asian economies. The assumption in that statement is that there are common areas of written grammar deficit in the target group. Also, the function of a goal is to focus on an outcome, whereas the function of a question is to stimulate discovery or learning. Forming the goal into a question removes the assumption hidden in the goal and creates a more open-ended research thesis.
Consider the following research question that can be derived from the above-stated goal: What common areas of written English grammar deficit can be found among low to middle level managers in Asian economies? Or let’s try a more neutral question: Are there common areas on written English grammar deficit among low to middle managers in Asian economies?
Extract 2 from the Study Guide
Using a variety of different reports (such as technical reports, financial annual reports, company reports, sales records, marketing analysis, etc) collect examples of different graphic materials used in the reports, including:
Prepare a short written interpretation of each example you have collected.
1. Further research and define the following report terms:
2. Compare four alternative methods for presenting written reports, and determine a situation where each is appropriate.
3. Submit the results (examples of graphics, written interpretations) you prepared in set task 1 for this lesson.
4. Describe the function of each of the following sections of a report:
methods and materials
Do not use the explanations provided to you in the text above. Use your own words and add examples to show your clear understanding of the various sections.
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