Research Proposal(Management) 300 Words


University College Dublin

Description: Description: Description: UCD headed note paper


BSc22 – Sri Lanka

Management Research Project (BMGT3004L)


Bachelor of Science

Copyright December 2015

Author: Richard Chua (2015), incorporating material previously prepared by Dr Teresa Brannick, Dr Linda Dowling-Hetherington and Dr Orna O’Brien.

This manual was prepared for University College Dublin as a comprehensive support for students completing the above mentioned Degree programme.

© This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part without permission from University College Dublin.

Module Coordinator: Prof. Ganga Karunathilaka

Mobile: +94 777314272

Email: [email protected]

Table of Contents


Introduction 4

Module Description 4

Learning Outcomes 4

Programme Goals 5

Project Specification 6

Selecting a Topic 7

Identification of a Research Question and Research Objectives 7

Prior Learning 8

Module Coordinator 9

Online Resources 9

Teaching Arrangements 9

Required Submissions 11

Module Content 19


This is a project-based module and is completed over one stage of your programme. It is expected that you will begin work on this module at the start of the stage and will dedicate sufficient time to this project at a steady pace throughout the course of the stage. This study guide provides you with a course outline which details the project specification and the submission requirements and guidance on writing both a project proposal and literature review.


The recommended textbook for this module is:

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module you should be able to:

· Produce a comprehensive research proposal.

· Write a literature review on a selected management practice.

· Demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of your chosen area of management practice and to be able to identify the implications of your chosen topic for the practicing manager.

Programme Goals

Programme Goal

Learning Outcome

Module Title: Workplace Practice

Management specific knowledge

Explain current theory/practice


(Assignment 2: Research proposal report )

Apply business models


(Assignment 2: Research proposal report)

Knowledge of qualitative and quantitative techniques

Business communication

Short business presentation (written / oral)


(Assignment 2: Research proposal report)

Research / analyze business case/problems & report


(Assignment 2: Research proposal report)

Locate Information sources to facilitate research


(Assignment 1: Project proposal; Assignment 2: Research proposal report)

Personal development / reflective learning

Module related team activities

Explain essence of workplace practices to business managers


(Assignment 2: Research proposal report)

Global / multi-cultural / diversity perspectives

Identify factors & variables which impact on MNEs & firms operations


(Assignment 2: Research proposal report)

Demonstrate an understanding of diverse business perspectives

X (Assignment 2: Research proposal report)

Devise and develop plans, strategies and organizational structures that are appropriate for organizations operating in the global marketplace

Strategic thinking

Identify Business opportunities & complete analysis & resolution

Evaluate quantitative & qualitative data from differing perspectives

Analyze Developments in key business sectors

Project Specification

The purpose of this module is to allow you to examine in detail an aspect of management practice and to examine this practice with reference to the academic literature in the area, i.e. with reference to the existing body of knowledge on the selected topic.

You will be required to prepare a project with the following specification:

1. Human Resource Management Practice

a. Submission of a Project Proposal (300 words).

b. Through the preparation of a literature review regarding an aspect of human resource management, e.g. recruitment, selection, reward management,etc. (4,000 words).

c. Outline two research methods of data collection which would be appropriate to investigate this HR activity. Outline why they are suitable from a research perspective (1,500 words)

2. The weighting assigned for each component is shown in table below:




Due dates

Project proposal



22 March 2020

Research Proposal Report



28 June 2020

Selecting a Topic

Selecting the topic for investigation is one of the most important tasks you will faced with during this module. Careful selection of a narrow, focused topic which will be possible to research during the time available during the semester will result in a stronger piece of work than a broader topic with a wider scope. Start by considering an area that most interests you. Before selecting a topic, please review Chapter 1 of the textbook by Anderson entitled ‘Investigating and Researching HR Issues’.

Identification of a Research Question and Research Objectives

Once you have selected a topic, the next step is to set out a clearly defined research question – i.e. precisely what you are setting out to address – and also four or five research objectives – i.e. the issues you will need to address in order to answer your research question. This research question and also your research objectives should be included in the introduction to your literature review in order to orient the reader to the precise focus you have taken to your topic. The following is an example:

Research Question:

What are the HRM implications of absenteeism in Company X?

Research Objectives:

· To identify the causes of the high level of absenteeism.

· To review the costs associated with absenteeism.

· To identify the absenteeism management policy in place within Company X.

· To identify the difficulties created for frontline staff of absenteeism.

Here is an overview of some suitable and unsuitable topics:

√ Suitable Topics

X Unsuitable Topics

Review a reward management programme at Bankco

Investigate staff motivation in a hospital in Sri Lanka

Assess the reliability of recruitment and selection methods at PharmoBio

Investigate social habits of employees in Hong Kong

Evaluate the overseas performance management policy of Retailco’s Subsidiary

Review the Singapore government policy on work visas during the recession

Review the voice management systems of team workers at AirlineFly

Compare the business strategy’s of Singapore’s big 5 Companies

Topic 1 provides an overview of some of the topics you have studied on the programme to date which may be suitable for your project.

The topics outlined here which are suitable are clear in focus. They review a very specific area of the HRM theory. There is a clear objective to the project to be completed. For the unsuitable topic, it is clear the projects are far wider in scope. There is no clear focus and the objective of the research is not clear. Some projects do not even clearly relate to the HRM discipline. It is important that you can link your intended area to a specific topic from the module ‘Human Resource Management’.

Prior Learning

It is expected that you will draw upon your learning and reading material in other related modules during the course of this module. These modules will have helped to provide you with a good theoretical foundation on your selected topic and may be helpful to you in shaping the content and structure of your literature review and in identifying suitable academic literature relevant to your chosen topic. You will be expected to use the relevant material and recommended readings identified in these modules and to source additional readings as appropriate, using UCD online journals and databases and other suitable sources of academic literature.

Module Coordinator

Contact details for the module coordinator will be provided at the outset of the Stage. Generally, this module coordinator will also act as your supervisor throughout the course of the Stage. The role of the supervisor is to:

· Advise on topic refinement

· Comment on progress

· Offer guidance and direction in relation to the literature to be reviewed and how best to structure your literature review (where required).

Please note that the role of the supervisor is not to offer a writing/editing service or to share the student’s responsibility for the completion of this project.

Online Resources

BrightspaceBrightspace will be a key feature of this module. Therefore, it is essential that you check this on at least a weekly basis for updates and additional resources UCD Connect can also be used to access the university’s online journals and databases.

Teaching Arrangements

This is a project-based module and will be delivered almost entirely through the use of Brightspace and through self-directed autonomous student learning, with guidance provided by an appointed supervisor. In addition, a number of class contact hours have been scheduled (eight hours in total). These will be scheduled as follows:



8th March, 2020

8.30 am to 12.30 pm

20th March, 2020

9.00 am to 1.00 pm



Student Prior Preparation

Student Work

At the start of the Stage (3 hours)

Review of

Study Guide and Module Requirements

Read the Study Guide before coming to class

Formulate questions in relation to the process / tasks to be completed

Within two months of the start of the Stage (2 hours), plus Individual questions and answers session (1 hour)

Writing a Literature Review

Review the section in this study guide on writing a Literature Review and listen to the audio clip on Brightspace (under Study Skills button)

Bring questions to the session in relation to the Literature Review

2 hours

Review of Research Methods

Group Questions and Answers Session

Ensure that a first draft of the final submission has been completed by this stage.

Identify any remaining questions relating to the final submission.

Required Submissions

Regardless of which topic you chose, you will be required to make two submissions, as follows:

1. Submission 1 Research Project Proposal (300 words)

Due date: 22 March 2020

You are required to provide an outline of your proposed project topic. This submission should include the following sections:

a. Identification and outline of the management practice that will form the basis of your research

b. Rationale for choosing the particular topic

c. Preliminary identification of relevant academic literature you may use

Please see the enclosed template in Appendix One. You are required to use this for your Research Project Proposal. In Appendix Two is a sample of a completed Research Project Proposal.

2. Submission 2 Final Report

Due date: 28 June 2020

a. Literature Review (4,000 words)

b. Identification of two suitable data collection methods for a researcher to use if they wished to research the topic. (1,500 words)

You are required to submit the following:

a. A literature review on your selected management practice. Should you experience any difficulty in locating relevant literature, please consult with the Module Coordinator. A minimum of ten pieces of literature should be incorporated into your literature review (these ‘pieces’ of literature can be either textbook chapters or suitable journal articles). However, you will inevitably read a larger number of pieces before deciding those most appropriate for inclusion in your review. Please refer to the guidance on writing a literature review later in this course outline.

b. You are asked to outline two data collection methods which would be suitable to investigate the topic you have selected. You need to provide a rationale of why they are suitable.

You must submit all assessment to Brightspace using the appropriate assignment submission links.

Three Important Documents to Review

Two important documents must be consulted before you commence your studies on this module:

1. Grading Criteria

The following grading criteria will be used when grading the assessment submitted for this module. Please review these criteria carefully before embarking on this assessment requirements for this module.

Table 3: UCD Grading System

Module Grades

Module Grade

Grade Point











Very Good 




























No grade - work submitted did not merit a grade



No work was submitted by the student or the student was absent from the assessment

Grade Descriptor


Additional criteria more relevant to module levels 3 and 4 in the categories of analysis, synthesis and evaluation


An exceptionally deep and systematic engagement with the assessment task, with consistently impressive demonstration of a comprehensive mastery of the subject matter and discerning judgement, reflecting

· a deep and broad knowledge and highly-developed critical insight, as well as effective synthesis of extensive reading

· a critical comprehensive and perceptive appreciation of the relevant literature or theoretical, technical or professional framework

· an exceptional ability to organise, analyse and succinctly present arguments fluently and lucidly with a high level of critical analysis, supported by very convincingly deployed evidence, citation or quotation

· a highly-developed capacity for original, creative and logical thinking


A deep and systematic engagement with the assessment task, with consistently impressive demonstration of a comprehensive mastery of the subject matter, reflecting

· a deep and broad knowledge and critical insight as well as extensive reading

· a critical and comprehensive appreciation of the relevant literature or theoretical, technical or professional framework

· an exceptional ability to organise, analyse and present arguments fluently and lucidly with a high level of critical analysis, amply supported by evidence, citation or quotation;

· a substantial capacity for original, creative and logical thinking


A substantial engagement with the assessment task, demonstrating

· a thorough familiarity with the relevant literature or theoretical, technical or professional framework

· well-developed capacity to analyse issues, organise material, present arguments clearly and cogently well supported by evidence, citation or quotation

· some original insights and capacity for creative and logical thinking


An intellectually competent and factually sound answer with, marked by

· evidence of a reasonable familiarity with the relevant literature or theoretical, technical or professional framework

· good developed arguments, but more statements of ideas

· arguments or statements adequately but not well supported by evidence, citation or quotation

· some critical awareness and analytical qualities

· some evidence of capacity for original and logical thinking


An acceptable level of intellectual engagement with the as task showing

· some familiarity with the relevant literature or theoretical, technical or professional framework

· mostly statements of ideas, with limited development of argument

· limited use of evidence, citation or quotation

· limited critical awareness displayed

· limited evidence of capacity for original and logical thinking


The minimum acceptable level of intellectual engagement the assessment task with

· the minimum acceptable appreciation of the relevant literature or theoretical, technical or professional framework

· ideas largely expressed as statements, with little or no developed or structured argument

· minimum acceptable use of evidence, citation or quotation

· little or no analysis or critical awareness displayed or is only partially successful

· little or no demonstrated capacity for original and logical thinking


An unacceptable level of intellectual engagement with the assessment task, with

· no appreciation of the relevant literature or theoretical, technical or professional framework

· no developed or structured argument

· no use of evidence, citation or quotation

· no analysis or critical awareness displayed or is only partially successful

no demonstrated capacity for original and logical thinking

2. Guidelines for the Presentation, Assignment Deadlines and Submission of Assignments

This document provides a detailed outline of the rules and regulations surrounding the presentation, submission and marking of assignments. The guidelines provided must be adhered at all times to avoid an unnecessary loss of marks.

Guidelines for the Late Submission of Coursework

This document provides a detailed outline of the rules and regulations surrounding the presentation, submission and marking of assignments. The guidelines provided must be adhered at all times to avoid an unnecessary loss of marks. Further details on

3. A Briefing Document for Students on Academic Integrity and Plagiarism

The University understands plagiarism to be the inclusion of another person’s writings or ideas or works, in any formally presented work (including essays, theses, examinations, projects, laboratory reports, oral, poster or slide presentations) which form part of the assessment requirements for a module or programme of study, without due acknowledgement either wholly or in part of the original source of the material through appropriate citation. Plagiarism is a form of academic dishonesty. In any assignment, plagiarism means that you have presented information or ideas belonging to someone else falsely as being your own original thoughts on a subject. Students are strongly advised to ensure they are familiar with the above document which can be found on Brightspace.

All assessment submitted must be the result of your own work.

The following statement must be included on the cover page of all assignments submitted:

I declare that all materials included in this essay/report/project/dissertation is the end result of my own work and that due acknowledgement have been given in the bibliography and references to ALL sources be they printed, electronic or personal.

Tips on Successful Completion of the Project

Some of the factors which will contribute to the successful completion of this project include:

· Careful choice of topic – choose a focused topic which will be manageable within the timeframe available.

· Thorough understanding of the topic through reading of academic literature.

· Ability to engage with the literature and the various arguments and debates being presented by the different authors.

· Submission of project proposal and literature review by the specified deadlines.

· Engagement with the Module Coordinator. This will help to ensure that you remain ‘on track’ at all times.

· Ensure that you familiarise yourself with the Harvard Style of Referencing and follow this style throughout.

Project Guidelines

· Marks will be deducted for careless punctuation, sentence structure, spelling, grammar, referencing, poor structure/layout, lack of headings etc.

· All submissions should be typed in 1.5 line spacing, 12 font size and Arial font style.

· The project must be the result, solely of your own efforts. All the sources from which data is drawn must be acknowledged in the text and the sources fully cited in the bibliography. Students should refer to the referencing guidelines previously circulated.


Topic One

An Outline of the Research Process

Essential Reading:

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD - Chapter 1 ‘Investigating and Researching HR Issues’ and Chapter 2 ‘First Stages Towards a HR Project’

Recommended Reading:

Bryman, A. & Bell, E. (2015): Business research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press - Chapter 1 Business Research Design


This section is designed to provide students with a brief introduction to the concept of research in general and the nature and conduct of research assignments in particular. Because the concept of research is somewhat confusing it is important that students read this study guide carefully: students are very often unclear about what is meant by research and, secondly by what is expected from a research project.

The proposal for research will identify an area of business for research that interests you (Step 1). The next task is to refine the topic and reduce it to a format appropriate for research. This is done by the student informing him/herself of current knowledge and thinking through a search and review of relevant academic literature (Step 2), and using this to construct a research question that will provide a focus for their own research effort, and the basis of a planned programme of research methods that will generate data to help answer the research question (Step 3). The final part of the exercise is to carry out the research, analyse the data generated and formulate findings and conclusions of the research (Steps 4 and 5). You are not required to complete Steps 4 and 5 for this module. Indeed, as part of Step 3, you are only required to finalise a research question.

Figure 1.1 A Map through the Research Process

1. Introduction/Proposal

2.Literature Review

3. Research Methodology

4. Research Findings

5. Conclusion

6. Have you outline a logical research design which will answer the research question set out at the start of this process?

Remember the ‘TAE’ approach to academic writing. In the research process, your Literature Review is T (Theory), the findings chapter are A(Application) and the Conclusions Chapter is E

(Evaluation of theory in light of its application).

For your project you do not actually complete any research. We want you to show an understanding of the literature review process and also how to select data collection tools which would be suitable if you were to research the topic.

What is Research?

Over the past year you have read many course-related articles, books and journals (i.e. literature), many of which present and discuss the findings of research undertaken by their authors. But what is the central focus or meaning of research?

Research is essentially concerned with the process through which certain pieces of information are obtained that will provide an answer to a particular question or that will add to knowledge in a particular field. Primary Research refers to the process in which the researcher (or student researcher) creates information his or herself, whereas Secondary Research refers to the process wherein the researcher draws on primary research undertaken by other researchers. An example of primary research is the design and conduct of a survey questionnaire by the researcher, while an example of secondary research would be using annual reports to ascertain the financial position of a company. Primary research involves the researcher going into the field and creating information. The researcher is effectively, through the research process, creating information that does not already exist. He/she is not using previous research as a source of information but is instead creating information from his/her own primary research. Primary research does not need to be original: others may have conducted similar work in the past.

The following is an example of the process through which information and knowledge is created through primary research. A number of researchers in the Industrial Relations and Human Resources Group at UCD decided that they would like to find out the extent of management-union partnership arrangements among Irish firms. Therefore their research question was: "To what extent are unions and management working on a partnership basis in Irish firms?" The issue for this team of academics was: "How will we find this information? What can we do to get such information" They decided to send a standard survey to the human resource manager in over a thousand companies that asked questions on union-management relations and decision-making in these companies. Therefore the research approach (sometimes referred to as the Research Design or Research Methodology), i.e. the method through which they answered the research question) was a Survey. When the questionnaires were returned to UCD the results were recorded and, their research findings were published.

Why complete a research project and the Uses of Research

Why is research undertaken? Academic research is undertaken for a number of reasons. The principal reason being that research can create information and add to academic knowledge. In addition to being interesting at an academic level, the outputs of research may also be practically useful. For example, the results of a study on poverty in inner cities will be practically useful for policy-makers concerned with that issue.

From the student's perspective, this project can provide you with first-hand experience of the research process. It enables you to choose and explore an issue of particular interest to you. It is not expected that you undertake or produce in-depth or exhaustive projects on the scale of research conducted by professional academics. Instead, the project is expected to be a very modest exercise in which you will undertake a contained and managed piece of research. This project is primarily a test of your organisational and decision-making skills: your capacity to identify a suitable topic and plan the research and to implement that plan according to the timetable and requirements laid down.

This project allows to you to look at the research on a topic in depth and then to reflect on how it might be useful for a practicing manager. You are asked to think about the theory selected by the literature and think about it for a practicing manager. You may like to localize this discussion to think about this topic in a particular company or context and thus tailor the considerations to management in this company or context.

General Principles of Academic Research

The most important principle in academic research is that it is scientific. This means that the research is conducted according to certain principles and rules. The purpose of this is to ensure the reliability and quality of the research. This point is best illustrated by an example which refers to the natural sciences. If scientists in country X conducting research into the effectiveness of anti-AIDS drugs rank drugs on the basis of their "gut feeling" or the colour of the liquid, then it is obvious that their conclusions will not be what is understood to be "scientific." Instead they would be considered unreliable. Similarly, research in the social sciences needs to be undertaken in a scientific manner such that the results can be reliable and so that another researcher undertaking similar research would reach the same conclusion. For example, a person conducting research into management control in his/her own organisation who failed to set aside his/her own subjective biases in the presentation of results will be likely to produce unreliable and unscientific research.

This need for reliability and uniformity has led to the establishment of a certain number of rules and principles governing research in the social sciences. Another reason why research in the social sciences is conducted according to principles and rules is because in this way consistency and usefulness of results across the academic community is promoted: if academics in each country were to conduct research according to markedly different rules and principles then research would not be comparable between countries.

In brief, some of the general principles underlying academic research are the following:

- it is scientific

- it is objective

- it is a planned process which has a number of separate stages

Steps Towards Completion of a Research Project

1. Choice of Topic

The topic that an academic or student chooses to research is, first and foremost, the one that you find interesting. This is a business programme of study so the topic should originate from the modules on the programme you have studied to date.

How does one identify a topic? A useful approach to adopt is to ask oneself: what questions or issues am I interested in that could be answered through research? Topics are often suggested by the existence of gaps or lacunae in the literature or by issues raised in the literature. For example, while the UCD study on workplace partnership was able to show the percentage of firms with partnership arrangements in place, it did not provide in-depth information as to the exact nature of such arrangements. As interest in partnership has grown, the absence of this more detailed information came to be seen as a gap in the literature and therefore a subject or question worthy of research or about which research could be very useful.

A consideration that can significantly determine the choice of topic is the question of access to a possible research site. You are not expected to conduct primary research in the field due to the size of this project. Some of the considerations that might influence you choice of topic might include the following:

· A practical interst problem at work – for example, why is ‘x’ happening in my organisation?

· Theory – for example, seeing how something that you have read about in your course plays out in ‘real’ life?

· An existing piece of research that you might want to up-date/test under a different set of circumstances – for example, is ‘x’ still the case or is ‘x’ the case in my organisation?

· Something from your own experience that you would like to explore – for example, how has ‘x’ affected me as a worker or is my experience of ‘x’ the same for my colleagues?

· Something that you would like to know more about – for example, I have always been interested in ‘x’ and would like to explore the area in more detail.

Developing your Topic

What do you want to know about your topic? Do you want to -

· Describing something – to find out the facts about a situation (Descriptive)?

· Explore something – are you looking for patterns/new insights (Exploratory)?

· Explain how or why (Analytical or Explanatory)?

· Forecast the likelihood of particular events (Predictive)?

1. Formulation of Research Proposal

Once you have chosen the general area and issue that you are interested in, it is then necessary to formulate a research proposal.

The research proposal will outline the issue or question for research, justify the research and outline relevant academic literature. It will answer the "what" and "why" questions, i.e. "what are you interested in finding out?" and "why am I going to research it?". Usually, a research proposal would also contain some discussion of the research methodology that would be used to provide information on "how" and the "what" question will be answered. As no primary research is required in this study, there is no discussion of methodology required.

B. Your Timetable

Research is a process that must be planned in advance and which must be conducted in a number of distinct, step-by-step stages. It is important that you demonstrate your ability to manage the research process and the deadlines it requires. Preparing a month by month plan is advisable. This allows you to manage the research process in light of other commitments which you might have on the programme or other personal and professional commitments.

Topic Two

Selecting your Research Project

Recommended Reading

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD - Chapter 2 ‘First Stages Towards a HR Project’


This section deals with the practical issues of choosing an appropriate topic for your project, and as with all important task of developing a research proposal. The practicalities of evaluating topics from your potential list of topics, in order to choose the most appropriate will be dealt with, along with how to formulate a good research question. The functional role of the research proposal is detailed. The proposal acts as an exercise in thought and also as a motivational device.

On completion of studying this topic:

· You should understand the importance of choosing a research topic that lends itself to a doable project.

· You should be able to evaluate potential topics.

· You should be able to formulate a valid research question (and hypothesis if appropriate).

Topic Overview

Below are some of the issues you might consider in selecting your topic and preparing for your research proposal. Below is a listing of suitable topics from you might like to review in order to identify your topic. Very often a student will focus on one particular aspect of one of these topics for their project.

Table 2.1 Possible Suitable Topics

Human Resource Management

1: HR Planning

HR Info Systems

HR and Law

2 Strategic HRM

Job Analysis/Design

Quality Work Life

3 – The Hiring Function

Recruitment & Selection

4 – HR Development

Appraisal, Training, Career Planning

5 Compensation & Benefits

6 Employee Health and Safety

7 - Managing Change

8 International HRM

A sample of a successful completed proposal is provided in Appendix Two.

The Management Research Project is designed to introduce you to the research process. In searching for a potential topic, you might consider the following:

· Based on the modules you have completed to date, is there a particular topic which you found particularly interesting? Perhaps, you would like to research the topic or phenomenon in your own organisation?

· It is not advisable to draw on two disciplines, e.g. to draw upon both Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management to research performance management. It is advisable to decide which discipline you are interested in. For example, using this example is it the theory of goal-setting and motivation which you are interested in and if this is the case the topic should be firmly located in the OB discipline. If you are more interested in the implications of performance appraisal, then the topic should be firmly grounded in the Human Resource Management area. Good proposals tend to focus upon a clear discipline, rather than confusing different disciplines for a project.

· There may be a particular issue or problem, such as absenteeism, cross-cultural communication or training, which you would like to investigate further. If so, it is important to look at the academic literature which might relate to this topic.

In considering the feasibility of topic, some of the questions that you might ask yourself in preparation of a suitable proposal are:

· Does this topic fit within the business discipline? If this topic is not oriented towards the business discipline, it is not suitable for this project. You should be able to relate your topic to one of the modules on the programme.

· Is the topic of interest to you? The project is going to demand a lot of work so try and pick a topic which is of genuine interest to you.

· Whose perspective are you investigating? Generally, problems or issues do not exist objectively. They are uniquely framed or perceived by different people. For example, both employees and management are likely to view workplace-related issues differently.

· What are the different dimensions of the topic? Most issues are fairly complex and the more you drill down into them, the more you end up seeing more and more angles to the issue. It will often only be possible for you to look at one dimension of an issue.

· What resources are available to me? How feasible is your topic in terms of resources such as time, access to academic literature, etc.

· Will you be able to complete your project in the timeframe allocated? This is important to ensure that the project can be completed within the time allocated. If it will take you longer to collect the required data and complete this topic, it is not suitable for this project.

If you are able to address each of these above questions comprehensively, you are now ready to start to prepare your proposal for submission.

Topic 3

The Literature Review

Recommended Reading

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD - Chapter 3 ‘Finding and Reviewing HR Literature and Information Sources’.

On completion of studying this topic:

· You should be able to identify the features of academic writing.

· You should know where to search for literature.

· You should be aware of the major journals in the field you have selected.

· You should be familiar with the major electronic databases of both full-text articles and abstracts.

· You should be familiar with how to search using the major electronic databases.

· You should be able to evaluate the quality of internet based information.

· You should know how to review and critically evaluate the research literature.

· You should be able to organise the literature that you have evaluated.

· You should understand that a literature search should be conducted multiple times throughout the research process.

· You should be able to use the literature to refine your research question.

· You should understand what constitutes plagiarism.

· Please also review the referencing guidelines for the programme which are expected format for all references.

Critical Thinking

How can you ensure that you get the most from your reading?

Key terms to familiarise yourself with from readings above:

Systematic review, thematic review, narrative review, plagiarism

A literature review presents

a summary of the academic literature on your chosen topic and serves to

inform the research to be engaged in. It d

evelops knowledge of the chosen topic/research question and h

elps put shape on areas to be probed further in the course of the research. All in all, it provides a framework upon which a research programme can be designed (the research objective in the form of a question; the methods to be employed in undertaking the research).

A good literature review

· Goes beyond simply listing relevant literature

· Is a critical essay

· Assesses the range of literature available

· Is a critical summary of the literature

· Examines the background against which your own research is set

· Relates different writings to each other, compares and contrasts

· Does not take the literature at face value

· Shows an awareness of the theories and values that underpin the research

Sample Structure of a Literature Review

· Introduction

· Topic/Research Question/Research Objectives

· Areas of literature to be reviewed, how you selected the literature (why some areas are included and other areas are not included)

· Begin by setting your topic within the broader business context

· No need to make reference to or discuss the research site or organisation at this stage.

· Conclusions

· Bibliography

The following is an extract from the guidelines provided by the UCD Library on writing a literature review.

A literature review offers an overview of the relevant and significant literature on a research area. It reviews the critical points of current knowledge on a particular topic - ie. a survey of articles, books, conference papers, theses etc. It is usually limited to a particular timeframe, and should include a description, summary and critical evaluation of the materials presented.

A literature review is not a list describing or summarising one piece of literature after another.

The purpose of a literature review is: to demonstrate your ability to identify the relevant information and outline existing knowledge;   identify the "gap" in the research that your work will address; produce a rationale or justification for your study.

Remember: There is no one single correct method to writing a literature review.

For further information and guidance on Literature Reviews, consult:

Process of Preparing a Literature Review

1. Locate several books or articles which address your topic. First review your study guide or textbook for one of the modules completed to date. Sometimes it is helpful to review the bibliography of the one of the first scholarly resources you have located on the topic as it will help you locate further material.

1. In preparing your literature review, remember there are two aspects which you are attempting to complete:

1. Define your research question

1. Read and evaluate significant literature which is directly relevant to your question.

1. Compare the articles and books to evaluate where they are similar and where they diverge.

1. Form an argument/thesis which can be supported by the material you have located.

1. Decide upon how to organize the material thematically and how to plan the literature review.

1. Using headings, prepare the literature, comparing and evaluating the different aspects of your research topic.

1. Write an introduction which introduces your research question and provides the reader with an overview of the organization of the literature review.

1. Write a conclusion that reconciles key similarities and differences between the sources on the topic and which links back to your research question.

Ultimately, the review should start with broader themes and should ‘filter’ down to the more refined themes which are more directly linked with your research question (see the figure below).

Figure 3.1 The Literature Review Process

(Horn, 2009: 94)

It is your research question what defines what is relevant to your literature review.

Your literature review will inform the research question and the research question will inform the literature you select for your review.

This is an iterative process.

A sample literature review is available in Appendix Three.

Topic 4

Analysing the literature

Recommended Reading

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD - Chapter 3 ‘Finding and Reviewing HR Literature and Information Sources’.

Analysing the Literature

Generally after the literature review, a research project would continue to outline the project research design and then its findings. However, due to the size of this module, the final part of this project is look at the implications of the theory you have selected for management practitioners in the field.

At this point, you might select three or four key themes which arose during the literature review and to discuss these critically in light of what implications it has for a manager. What are the practical issues with the themes? For example, if you were to focus your research on performance management, what might be practical issues of implementing a performance management system? Might there be considerations in terms of the systemic nature of performance management cycle and implementing this? Perhaps there are practical limitations to aligning individual performance goals with organizational goals? What are the issues a line manager would encounter with these issues?

In order to allow for a robust discussion of the implications for the topic for management, you may like to focus the discussion a particular company or a particular industry. This will allow the discussion be grounded in particular context and avoid it being too abstract.

Topic 5

Research Design – Getting Answers

Essential Reading:

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD - Chapter 1 ‘Investigating and Researching HR Issues’

Choice of Research Design and Methodologies

According to Anderson (2004; 253), methodology is ‘an explanation of how the issue was investigated as well as a description of procedures undertaken in order to gather, record and analyse data’. You will need to select two data collection tools and why you think they would help you investigate the topic you selected. You will be asked to provide an explanation of your tools and their selection. It is important that you demonstrate an informed approach to this discussion and that you demonstrate your understanding and reading of the material which has informed your selection of research strategy. The following chapters are designed to guide you through this process and help you understand the different between research design and data collection.

The headings which are generally expected in a research methodology section for a major research project (not your assignment) include the following.

· Research Question and Research Objectives

· Research Design Discussion

· Data Collection

· Managing Access

· Unit of Information

· Selecting your research participants (sampling)

· Response Rate

· Data Analysis

Research Strategy

Research strategies are determined by fundamental questions regarding the nature of what exists which in turn guides the collection of empirical evidence. Bryman and Bell (2011) provide a good overview of the nature of knowledge and some of the philosophical considerations. They outline some of the epistemological (i.e. what is considered as knowledge and ontological (i.e. what is the nature of social entities) considerations. You are not expected to engage to any great extent in these considerations but rather to be aware of them and their influence over your research design.

In Chapter Two of Bryman and Bell, consideration is provided to the research design of Research Methodologies. As mentioned earlier, primary research refers to the process in which the student undertakes his/her own research in the field, thereby creating or generating new pieces of information or knowledge. By contrast, secondary research consists of an examination of primary or secondary research that has already been conducted by others. Primary research leads to the generation of primary data, while secondary research leads to the collection of secondary data. The term research methodology refers to the process or methods that are used to gather data.

Criteria of Research

Generally, the criteria by which research is evaluated are replicability (i.e. can others reproduce what you have done), reliability (i.e. can the study be repeated) and are the results valid (i.e. the integrity of the results).

Research Designs

Generally, there are 5 types of research design:

· Experimental Design

· Cross- Sectional (/Social Survey) Design

· Longitudinal Design

· Case Study Design

· Comparative Design

Please consult chapter 2 of the Bryman and Bell text which outlines the rationale for the different designs and when they may be suitable. In the social sciences, including the business discipline, most research tends to be case study design. The following chapter outlines the approach of case study designs. It is important that you demonstrate a rationale for which research design you have selected and why could be a suitable method to use for exploring a project on the topic you suggest.

Note to Students

The following topics cover data collection and ethics. You are not required to complete any primary research. For this project, you are asked to select two data collection methods, describe them briefly and to provide an insight into why these two methods would be suitable to investigate the topic you have selected.

Topic 6

Data Collection


Denscombe, M (2010): The Good Research Guide: For Small-scale Social Research Projects, 4th edition, London: Open University Press – Read Part II Methods of Social Research

On completion of studying this topic

· Understand the difference between qualitative and quantitative research.

· To select a quantitative or qualitative approach for your own research

· You should be aware of the major characteristics of qualitative or quantitative methods of inquiry.

· You should be aware of the popular qualitative or quantitative methods suitable which may be your dissertation.

Key Terms

Qualitative research, quantitative research, scales of measurement, replicability, reliability, validity, linear research path, sampling, sample size.

Qualitative Research

It is often argued that the qualitative method of inquiry is unscientific, Harré (1997), notes that it is not always clear just what is meant by such a criticism. Qualitative methods of data collection and analysis may not lead to numerical results, however as the following sections will demonstrate they are nevertheless of great precision. Compared to quantitative methods of inquiry, qualitative research has less agreement on what constitutes the essentials due to the diversity of the field, and the differing guiding qualitative paradigms. Therefore what follows, focuses on methods and techniques that you can use for your dissertation, for example ethnography, participant observation, interviews (will be dealt with in the next section) and focus groups.

Table 6.1 Qualitative Versus Quantitative Methods

Qualitative Methods

Quantitative Methods

Emphasis on understanding

Emphasis on testing and verification

Focus on understanding from the respondent’s / informant’s point of view

Focus on facts and / or reasons for social events

Interpretation and rational approach

Logical and critical approach

Observation and measurements in natural settings

Controlled measurement

Subjective insider view and closeness to data

Objective ‘outsider view’ distant from data

Explorative orientation

Hypothetical-deductive; focus on hypothesis testing

Process oriented

Results oriented

Holistic perspective

Particularistic and analytical

Generalization by comparison of properties and contexts of individual organism

Generalization by population membership

Ethnography and Participant Observation

There are a number of observation techniques, in quantitative research a structured approach is taken, where categories to observe are predefined, whereas qualitative researchers utilise a more unstructured approach, and observations are made in a natural open ended fashion without the use of pre-determined categories. Participant observation is a very popular intense research method used by qualitative researchers, however it is usually beyond the scope of undergraduate research. Participant observation involves social interaction between the researcher and the participants, often referred to informants. This approach in quite labour intensive.

Focus Groups are basically group interviews. Chapter 19 of the Textbook by Byrman and Bell does a very good job at describing the practical issues involved to carrying out a focus group type study.

Quantitative Research

The long standing quantitative approach to inquiry emphasises precise measuring of variables and testing hypotheses that are usually linked to general casual explanations. Quantitative researchers are usually concerned about issues of design, measurement, and sampling, because their deductive approach emphasises detailed planning prior to data collection and analysis.

Data Collection

Depending on your overall approach to the research design, different data collection methods are available to you to suggest.. Be careful not to mix up a research design (e.g. a case study) with the tools of data collection. There are generally two parts of this section on data collection. First, you should give some kind of overall description, providing the “big picture”. The opening section of your research findings may also serve to remind the reader of what you set out to achieve in this research assignment (i.e. your research question and research objectives.) Second, you should present and analyse. The ensuing chapters provide an insight into these different tools – you will most likely select one or two data collection tools. At this stage, please acquaint yourself with the various tools available before your select those most relevant to your research. You will need to provide a rationale of why you have selected particular tool, e.g. why pick semi-structured interviewing over a survey.

As can be seen from the above examples, the choice of research methodology is strongly influenced by a number of considerations including:

· the nature of the information requested

· the possible sources of information

· the practicalities of obtaining the information and conducting the research

methods used to collect secondary data

Topic 7:

Data Collection: The Case Study

Essential Reading

Bryman, A. & Bell, E. (2015): Business research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter 3 ‘Research Design’.

Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989): Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review, 14 (4), 532-50

Voss, C., Tsikriktsis, N., & Frohlich, M. (2002): Case research in operations management. International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 22(2), 195-219.

Additional Reading

Yin, R.K. 2009. Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Case studies are often used in applied areas such as management. The case study consists of a detailed investigation of people usually over a period of time within their context. The aim of carrying out a case study is to provide an analysis of the context and processes that illuminate the theoretical issues under investigation (Hartley, 2004). Therefore, if the aim of your research is a detailed and rich understanding of contextual dynamic social processes then the case study may be an appropriate method of inquiry.

On completion of studying this topic:

· You should understand the benefits of case study research

· You should understand the difference between case study research and the use of cases as anecdotal evidence.

· You should be able to decide if the case study method is suitable for your dissertation.

Critical Thinking

· Decide if the case study method might be suitable for your dissertation, and if so, how would you go about this type of research?

Key Terms

Single case, multiple methods.

The Case Study

Many students will select a case study design. A case study is a common methodological approach in the business and humanities. A case study involves the researcher in studying one or more particular "case". It is not expected, and indeed not desirable, to conduct more than one case study for the purposes of this dissertation.

Conducting a case study generally involves undertaking in-depth research into a particular organisation, sector etc. Again, the nature of case studies can best be illustrated by an example. A number of years ago, a student was interested in exploring the issue of the impact of enterprise partnership arrangements on company performance and productivity. It was decided that information in relation to this issue could be generated through the conduct of a case study of one particular company that had a partnership arrangement. The conduct of a case study involves the researcher conducting in-depth research into a particular organisation. In the partnership study, in order to examine the impact of partnership on company performance the student collected a lot of information about the company from secondary sources such as company reports, union reports, official company documents etc.

The student through interviews also obtained detailed information on the operational changes introduced as a consequence to the introduction of partnership. Having drawn up a detailed profile of the organisation the student then identified a list of performance indicators about which he wished to obtain information on. For example, production costs were one of the indicators about which he wanted to examine the impact of partnership. By using secondary data on costs provided by the company in combination with semi-structured interviews with production managers and Advisors, the student was able to explore the relationship between cost performance and the partnership working arrangements.

When designing your research, you may decide to select a case study approach. A key advantage of the case study approach is that it allows explanation of complex social phenomena. It also allows you to draw on the context of the case. If you select a case study, it is important that you provide rich contextual information on the research site,in order for the context of the case to be understood. Another of its strengths is its ability to deal with a variety of evidence, providing rich empirical material and facilitating data cross-checking (Roche, 1997). It is generally associated with finding answers to the ‘how’ and ‘why’ type of research questions. It provides more detailed, accurate and ‘nuanced’ insights into your research topic. Case study research is not a methodological choice but a choice of what is to be studied (Stake, 2000). It is associated with the interpretivist tradition and if selected, it should be discussed as part of your research design in your methods chapter/progress report. (It should not be discussed as part of the section on data collection, as it is not a method of data collection in its own right). The case study is defined by interest in an individual, particular case, rather than the methods of inquiry that is utilised. It is a methodology that explores a single phenomenon (the case) in a particular context, using a number of methods to obtain in-depth knowledge (Collis and Hussey, 2009). Yin (2003) highlights three key characteristics of the case study:

1) The research does not commence with a set of research questions about the limits within which the study is to take place – this will resonate with many of you who took this approach when you commenced your research last August with a topic in mind, rather than the specific research question that you have since identified.

2) The research study will use multiple methods to collect data that may be qualitative and quantitative.

3) The research attempts to explore and understand certain phenomena within a particular context.

Case Studies may also be categorised as:

- Unique or Typical

- Intrinsic/Comparative/Purposive Cases

- Single of Multiple Cases

The case study approach draws upon the concept of triangulation, which triangulates the descriptions and interpretations through the duration of the study. This reduces the chance of researcher misperception by using multiple perceptions to clarify meaning (Stake 2000). By triangulating the findings of your research, it allows you establish the ‘facts’ of the case as one type of data verifies another. Triangulation provides a more robust set of data, as a result.

For further resources on case studies, please consult the following:

Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2007): Business Research Methods, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press: Oxford

Campbell, D.T. (1975): ‘Degrees of freedom and case study’, Comparative Political Studies, 8:178-93

Collis, J. And Hussey, R. (2009): Business Research: A Practical Guide for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students, Basingstoke: Palgrave

Cooper, D, and Schindler, P. (1998): Business Research Methods, 6th ed., London: McGraw Hill

Roche, W.K. (1997): ‘Selecting case studies in business research’ in T. Brannick and W.K. Roche (eds.), Business Research Methods: Strategies, Techniques and Sources, Dublin: Oak Tree Press

Stake, R. (2000): ‘Qualitative Case Studies’ in N. Denzin and Y. Lincoln (eds), The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, Thousand Oaks: Sage

Yin, R. (1993): Applications of Case Study Research, California: Sage

Yin, R. (1989): Case Study Research: design and methods, London: Sage

Topic 8

Data Collection: The Survey

Recommended Reading

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD - Chapter 9 ‘Collecting and Recording Quantitative Data’.

The Survey

The survey method consists of the systematic gathering of specific data from respondents. You might decide to select the survey approach if you wish to collect data from many respondents and you will not have time to discuss the topic with them individually or if your research question warrants the use of a larger sample size. The term survey generally stimulates a picture of a detailed questionnaire that is completed by individual respondents. In addition to the use of questionnaires, personal interviews are also a survey method that can produce the information required. As will be outlined below, the choice of which survey method to use will be determined by the nature of information one is looking for and who might be in a position to provide it. Whether a questionnaire or interviews (or both) are administered will also be significantly determined by practical considerations, such as the amount of time and resources the student has available.


Choice of questionnaire or interviews will depend on the nature of the research assignment and the type of information that is being requested. This is best illustrated by reference to an example. One research project was concerned with getting information on the levels of commitment and views on work of part-time workers in the ESB. The information required was relatively basic: for example, the project was concerned with establishing the nature of the individual worker's job; the reasons why the worker chose to work part-time; and their views on their prospects for promotion within the company. For the findings to be of value it was necessary to get this information from a large number of part-time workers: for example, if the views of only four workers out of 150 were sought, then it would be impossible to rely on the research findings to draw conclusions about the complete body of part-time workers. By contrast a postal survey that provided 80 responses (i.e. from over 50% of all the part-time workers) would facilitate the making of statements and conclusions regarding the whole body of part-time workers. The fact that the information being sought was of a relatively simple nature and the need for a large number of responses made the postal questionnaire the appropriate methodological approach.

The purpose of questionnaire research is to obtain information that cannot be easily observed or that is not available in written or computerized form. Evidence from the questionnaire survey is then used for one or more of the following purposes – explanation, description or testing a hypothesis (Remenyi et al, 1998). Saunders et al (2007) note the various kinds of questionnaires as shown in Figure 7 below.

Figure 8.1: Types of Questionnaire


Source: Saunders et al (2009:363)

The following aspects of the questionnaire survey need to be considered:

· Purpose of the questionnaire

· Questionnaire design – type of question, structure, length etc.

· Pre testing the questionnaire

· Questionnaire administration – electronic, postal etc

· Sampling techniques – snowball, convenience etc

· Analysis of completed forms

Designing a survey

Designing a survey is a time consuming exercise but it is time well spent. Students often expect that they can quickly design a survey in an afternoon but designing a survey, piloting it and redrafting it can take much longer. In the first instance, you might like to look at the research you have reviewed for the literature review and see if the survey instrument was used for this research. If so, it is advisable to review the structure and content of the survey and examine if some of the existing questions may be suitable for your own study. Some articles will include copies of the questions asked or on occasion, they might include the entire survey. It is important to ask permission from the author if it is decided to replicate some of their survey.

Maylor and Blackmon (2005:188) suggest the following steps in designing a survey, if you were doing a survey:

1. Decide what you want to ask – start with the research question and objectives and see how you could break these questions down further for the survey.

2. Decide what respondents you want to include and how you want to ask them – you need to select your population sample. Consider who will have the answers to the questions you are asking. Consider where you have access to you and what you likely response rate is i.e. how many respondents will actually answer your survey.

3. Design your survey – Draw up a listing of your intended questions and then organise them in the best order. You might like to group them by theme, perhaps the themes that you used to structure your literature review. Consider if you will use open or close-ended questions. In deciding this, consider how you will analyse the answers. If you decide to use open-ended questions, how will you present these findings. Maylor and Blackmon advise to bear in mind the principles of clarity, simplicity, brevity and neutrality when designing the survey. Make sure the survey is not too long as this can be a deterrent to respondents. Consider if you will issue the survey in paper format or online – both have advantages and disadvantages.

4. Pilot your survey – Once you have designed your survey, it is important to pilot it so you can avoid any serious problems when it is issued. Try out your questions – do people understand your questions. How do they navigate the survey? Does it take too long for them to complete the survey?

5. Revise your survey – revise your survey once you have piloted it. If you have made major revisions, it may be necessary to pilot it again.

6. Seek Advice: Maylor and Blackmon do not have this in their process but I suggest that you ask the advice of your supervisor before you issue the survey.

7. Administer your survey - once you have piloted it and your Advisor has signed off on it, you can then issue it. Be sure to allow contingency time for you to issue reminders in case the response rate is very low.

There are different formats of questionnaire and modes of administration to consider, including:

· Self-completion questionnaires

· Postal questionnaires

· Online questionnaires

According to Bryman and Bell (2015), some of the advantages of self-completion questionnaires include:

· Cheaper to administer

· Quicker to administer

· Absence of interviewer effects

· Convenience for respondents

Some of the disadvantages to consider include:

· Cannot prompt the respondent

· Cannot probe the respondent

· Cannot ask many questions that are not salient to respondents

· Difficulty to ask other kinds of questions

· Cannot ask additional data.

· Possible lower response rates

Online questionnaires

A number of online questionnaire tools are available to help researcher design ar survey (e.g. Surveymonkey or Qualtrics). Wright (2005) outlines some of the advantages with such tools include:

· Access to difficult to access populations

· Time efficient for researcher and respondent

· Cost: cheaper to administer

Some of the disadvantages include:

· Sampling. The characteristics are not often known by the researcher of this online community

· Response rates: they can be lower if a response is sought via email

Topic 9

Data Collection: The Interview

Essential Reading:

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD - Chapter 7 ‘Collecting and Recording Qualitative Data’.

On completion of studying this topic:

· You should understand how to design and conduct a qualitative interview as a means of data collection

· You should understand how to prepare for structured, semi-structured, unstructured and telephone interviews

· You should be able to transcribe your data for qualitative analysis

Key Terms

Semi-structured interviewing, structured interviewing


Interviews are often used where the issues that the researcher is concerned with are of a complex nature and where it may not be possible to get the information required using a questionnaire. Again this can best be illustrated by reference to an example. Another past dissertation was concerned with examining and exploring the impact of the Single European Market and Economic and Monetary Union on collective bargaining in the banking sector in Ireland. As is evident from this, the project was concerned with complex and uncertain issues. Considering the question of "where" and "from whom" the student might get this information, the student decided to conduct interviews with senior figures on management and on the union side that were involved in bargaining in the banking sector. Because the information required would only be in the possession of a small number of people, it was not necessary to consider a postal questionnaire; in addition, the complexity of the issues at hand made the use of semi-structured interviews in which the student could explore and probe issues with the interviewee seem desirable.

There are three key types of interviews: structured, unstructured, semi-structured. Please see below. For most researchers in the business discipline, semi-structured interviewing is most appropriate:

· Structured

· Interviewer has a list of questions & sticks to the script

· Does not deviate or make additional comments

· Often used in large-scale studies when more than one interviewer is involved

· Typically used in market-research interviews

· Unstructured

· Interviewer’s approach is exploratory, not scripted

· Questions are intended to provoke conversation & draw out interviewee’s views on topic

· Interviewer interjects own comments as appropriate

· Style is free-flowing rather than rigid

· Semi-structured

· Some scripted questions but deliberate flexibility to allow for unexpected responses

· Seems to be popular in our area at the moment

The nature of the interview conducted will be determined by the information being requested. The more complex the issue at hand, the less the researcher will be able to structure the direction of the interview: in discussing a complex issue the interviewer may have to think of questions as the interview is being conducted; by contrast where only very basic the most common of which for our purposes is the semi-structured interview. Here the interviewer has a list of questions to ask, but allows for the possibility that the direction of the interview and the nature of questions asked can change depending on the responses given. This allows the interviewer to maintain a flexible approach to the examination of difficult issues. By contrast, when the information is of a basic nature a structured interview in which the content and order of questions is predetermined is preferable.

A researcher should prepare the interview questions having read the literature review. This will generate questions about the practices of the company in reality in comparison to what the literature suggests they should be doing. It is recommended that you have 8-10 questions in advance prepared if a researcher is conducting a semi-structured interview. It is advisable to use your research questions or the themes from your literature review to group and generate the interview questions.

In preparation for interviews, there will be a number of items required for a researcher to bring to the interview. These include:

· Informed Consent Form for interviewee

· Information Sheet

· A reliable recording device

· Pen and paper (for notes during and after the interview)

· List of interview questions

Topic 10

Data Collection: Documents and Secondary Sources

Essential Reading:

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD - Chapter 6 ‘Finding and Using Documents and Organisational Evidence’.

On completion of studying this topic:

· You should be aware of how to use secondary sources

· You should be evaluate which sources are relevant to your study

Key Terms

Primary research, secondary research, relevance

Conduct of Primary and Secondary Research

For this project, it is essential for you to collect primary research. Primary sources are those sources which contain data for the purposes of published research (Horn, 2009). Documentary analysis is considered as primary research. Denscombe (2010) gives good advice on how to manage documentary evidence.

Conversely, secondary sources are those that contact data from another study. It is the source of the data which determines its categorisation. If a study collects data from respondents, for example by interview or through surveys, it is a primary source. It is a primary source even, if it also has some secondary sources reported (Horn, 2009) The term primary or secondary sources relates to data collection only, it does not refer to the academic literature. As students with experience, you are likely to have access to a range of secondary sources for your research. Ensure that you appropriate draw upon secondary sources and reference them appropriately.

Topic 11

Reporting Research Results

Essential Reading:

Anderson, V. (2013): Research Methods in HRM, London: CIPD - Chapter 7 ‘Analysing Qualitative Data’ and Chapter 9 ‘Analysing Quantitative Data’

On completion of studying this topic

· You should be aware of the issues in preparing and validating data

· You should be able to structure your data analysis chapter

· You should have a sense of how to code your data

Key Terms

Reliability, replicability, validity, triangulation.

Reporting of Research Results/Findings

A research project is primarily an exercise in organisation and it is important that it be well presented with distinctive and clearly evident component parts. While the content and logic of research are of paramount importance, the organisation and style elements are critical to the acceptance of the research assignment by readers.

Remember your project for this module requires no primary research! This chapter helps you understand the process should you even undertake a research project.

Whatever the subject matter of the research assignment, an effective way to proceed is to answer the following four questions in order:

1. What was the topic/problem?

Your answer is the Introduction / Literature Review.

2. How did you study the topic/problem?

Your answer is the Research Methodology.

3. What did you find?

Your answer is the Results.

4. What do these findings mean?

Your answer is the Analysis/Discussion.

5. What importance does your research have for theory and practice?

Your answer is the Conclusion.

Discussion of Results/Findings

The following guidelines/principles will help to write a good discussion or analysis of the project results:

1. Try to present the principles, relationships and generalisations shown by the results. Remember in a good discussion you discuss do not recapitulate the results.

2. Indicate any exceptions or lack of correlation, and define unsettled issues. Provide tentative reasons for such unexpected findings.

3. Show how your results and interpretations agree or contrast with previously

published work.

4. Don’t be shy; discuss the theoretical implications of your work, as well as

any possible practical applications.

5. State your conclusions as clearly as possible.

6. Summarise your evidence for each conclusion.

The primary purpose of the discussion or analysis of results is to show the relationship among observed facts. All too often, the significance of the results is not discussed or not discussed adequately. If a reader of a research assignment finds him/herself saying “so what” after reading the discussion, the chances are that the author became so engrossed with the trees (the data) that he didn’t really notice how much sunshine (information) has appeared in the forest. The discussion should end with a short summary or conclusion regarding the significance of the findings/research. It is important to keep the research objectives under active consideration at this stage.

If a researcher has numerical results to present they should be given in tables and graphs and these should also be explained. Only meaningful relationships should be presented, i.e. information which supports or leads to the rejection of their hypotheses. Variables which are important determinants of the relationship being examined should be tabulated or graphed. Variables which do not seem to affect the relationship need not be presented. It is important, however, to describe even the negative aspects of your research. It is good insurance to state what you did not find. If statistics are used to describe the results they should be meaningful. The results should be short, without padding. The results section comprises the new knowledge that you are contributing to the world. The earlier submissions are designed to tell why and how they obtained the results; this submission is designed to tell what they mean. The results must be presented with crystal clarity. Avoid redundancy in the results. The most common fault is the repetition in words of what is already apparent to the reader from examination of the data in the tables and graphs. Even worse is the actual presentation, in the text, of all or any of the data shown in the tables or figures. Do not say “it is clearly evident from Table 1 that profits have declined as a result of the increase in labour costs”. Say instead “increased labour costs produced a decline in profits (Table 1)”.

Usually, the discussion of results or the analysis of results, is conducted as part of the narrative in which results are presented and described. Sometimes, however, a topic might best be handled by dividing up the sections reporting or describing the results and discussing or analysing the results.

Topic 11:

Managing Ethics

Recommended Reading

Bryman, A. & Bell, E. (2015): Business research methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter 6 Ethics in Business Research

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2012): Research Methods for Business Students, Essex: Pearson – Chapter 6 Negotiating Access and Research Ethics

Additional Reading

· Code of Ethics -

· UCD Code of Good Practice in Research -

This section deals with the crucial issue of ethics in management research in the planning, execution, and reporting stages of research. Instead of seeing management science and ethics as separate, a superior understanding recognises their essential interdependence. The topic also, highlights the codes of ethics laid down by a number of major professional bodies, to act as a shared moral framework for making ethical decisions.

On completion of studying this topic:

· You should be aware of the major functions of ethics codes, and why they play such a crucial role in management research.

· You should understand the interdependence of ethics and the research process.

· You should be able to make the necessary ethical decisions involved in the planning of your research project, in the status and welfare of your participants, and in the interpretation of your data.

· You should also be aware of the noteworthy issues involved in ethics for qualitative research.

Critical Thinking:

· Why is there so much controversy around the issue of informed consent?

· What exactly is involved in upholding the privacy principle?

· Outline the differences between anonymous participation and keeping participation confidential.

Key terms:

Informed consent, deception, competent caring, debriefing, privacy, confidentiality, anonymous, data protection, trust, integrity.

Ethics concern the moral principles that decide how we believe and act (Maylor and Blackmon, 2005). It is critical that, as a researcher prepares their research that they demonstrate an insight into the ethical considerations of the project. Ethics are the conventions for conduct that are based on particular principles or values, for example a responsibility to our participants, honesty, integrity, data protection and confidentiality. Bryman and Bell, (2011:128) cite Diner and Crandell who suggested four main areas of ethical principles:

· Whether there is harm to participants

· Whether there is a lack of informed consent

· Whether there is an invasion of privacy

· Whether deception is involved

It is the role of the researcher to ensure that they ethically complete ytheir reearch and to minimise the possibility of harm to any research participants. It is important that they evaluate the risk of harm to your participants. Most business and social science research carries a low risk of harm, compared to clinical research for example. In conducting research some of the times when ethical issues come to the fore are:

· Accessing the research site (/s): ensure that access to provide to the research site in a transparent fashion. You should inform them of your intended research and its purposes (an information sheet detailing the purpose and scope of the research can be provided to the organisation and research participants).

· Designing your research: The design of your research should be ensure that the data will be collected in an open and honest fashion.

· Informed consent: All interview participants should provide informed consent. This confirms their understanding of the research and provides their consent. This can be provided to interview participants using an Informed Consent Form and Information Sheet. It is advisable to retain these until your final degree grade is awarded. Survey respondents should be informed of the purposes of the survey they will complete.

· Considerations around confidentiality: For example, it is important that all data is retained confidentially and used for the purposes of your project only. It is important that you do not divulge the information or individual views of participants to each other or to anyone else within the organisation. Some research sites may request a letter of non-disclosure, which confirms that UCD will only retain your project for academic purposes and all information will be kept confidential. Your Programme Manager/Learning Support Officer will be in a position to provide you with this letter is necessary.

· Issues around anonymity: Some interview participants may request to contribute to your study if they are kept anonymous. In such instances, you need to carefully consider how your findings will be reported to ensure the anonymity of this participant. Equally, some research sites may grant access but request that the company identity is anonymous. In this scenario, you will have to consider how much background information you can provide on the organisation without divulging its identity (if you are not in a position to name the organisation, you should ensure that your Advisor is aware of who the organisation is).

· Data Storage: All data must be carefully stored. It is not advisable to store data, for example on a work computer, where it could be accessed by others.

· Represent findings correctly – don’t misrepresent your data. Ensure that the findings are accurately represented and that the conclusions you draw are specifically based on the findings you have made.

Concluding Note from Module Coordinator

This module was designed to introduce you to the research process. By completing a literature review and reviewing possible data collection tools, we hope you are sensitized to some of the foundation concepts of the research process. Hopefully, if you have to complete a research project in the future with your career. You have the fundamentals to commence this process.

With best wishes for your future career!

Dr Orna O’Brien

UCD Module Coordinator


The following is a list of some of the books you may wish to consult when preparing your literature reviews:

Human Resource Management

Armstrong, M. (1996): Personnel Management Practice. Sixth edition. London: Kogan Page.

Armstrong, M. (1999): Employee Reward. Second edition. London: Institute of Personnel and Development.

Armstong, M. (1994): Performance Management. London: Kogan Page.

Armstrong, M. & Murlis, H. (1994): Reward Management: A Handbook of Remuneration Strategy and Practice. Third edition. London: Kogan Page.

Bennison, M. and Casson, J. (1984): Manpower Planning, Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill.

Bramham, J. (1994): Human Resource Planning, Second Edition, London: Institute of Personnel and Development.

Bramham, J. (1990): Practical Manpower Planning. Fourth edition. London: Institute of Personnel Management.

Beardwell, I. and Holden, L. (2001): Human Resource Management. Third edition. London: Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

Beer, M., Spector, B., Lawrence, P. R., Quinn Mills, D. and Walton, R. E. (1984): Managing Human Assets, New York: Free Press.

Bach, S. and Sisson, K. (eds.) (2000): Personnel Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory and Practice. Third edition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Beaumont, P. (1993): Human Resource Management: Key Concepts and Skills. London: Sage.

Blyton, P. and Turnbull, P. (eds) (1992): Reassessing Human Resource Management. London: Sage.

Bratton, J. and Gold, J. (1999): Human Resource Management. Second edition. Basingstoke, Palgrave.

Brown, D. (2001): Reward Strategies, London: CIPD.

Dale, M. (1995): Successful Recruitment and Selection: A Practical Guide for Managers, London: Kogan Page.

Fombrun, C., Tichy, N.M., & Devanna, M.A., (1984): Strategic Human Resource Management. New York: Wiley.

Fischer, C. D., Schoenfeldt, L. and Shaw, J. B. (1996): Human Resource Management, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Gratton, L., Hope Hailey, V., Stiles, P. and Truss, C. (1999): Strategic human resource management: corporate rhetoric and human reality, Oxford: Oxford University.

Gunnigle, P., Flood, P., Morley, M. and Turner, T. (1994): Continuity and Change in Irish Employee Relations, Dublin: Oak Tree.

Gunnigle, P., Heraty, N. and Morley, M. (1997): Personnel & Human Resource Management: Theory and Practice in Ireland, Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.

Gunnigle, P (2001): Human Resource Management: theory and practice in Ireland. Second edition. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.

Harrison, R. (1997): Employee Development, London: IPD.

Hendry, C. (1995): Human Resource Management: A Strategic Approach, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Kochan, T. A. and Barocci, T. A. (1985): Human Resource Management and Industrial Relations, Boston: Little Brown.

Legge, K. (1995): HRM: Rhetorics and Realities, London: Macmillan.

Lundy, O. and Cowling, A. (1996): Strategic Human Resource Management, London: Routledge

Mabey, C. and Salaman, G. (1995): Strategic Human Resource Management. Oxford: Blackwell.

Mabey, C., Salaman, G. and Storey, J. (1998): Strategic Human Resource Management: A Reader. London: Sage/Open University

Mabey, C. (1998): Human resource management: a strategic introduction. Second edition. Oxford: Blackwell.

Mabey, C., Skinner, D. and Clark, T. (eds.) (1998): Experiencing human resource management. London: Sage.

Mabey, C. and Mayon-White, B. (eds) (1993): Managing Change. London: Chapman.

Marchington, M. and Wilkinson, A. (1996): Core Personnel and Development. London: Institute of Personnel & Development.

Marchington, M. and Wilkinson, A. (2002): People management and development: human resource management at work. Second edition. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Martin, M. and Jackson, T. (2002): Personnel Practice, London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Plumbley, P. (1991): Recruitment & Selection. Fifth edition. London: Institute of Personnel Management.

Roche, W. K., Monks, K. and Walsh, J. (eds.) (1998): Human Resource Strategies: Policy and Practice. Dublin: Oak Tree.

Salaman, G. (ed.) (1992): Human Resource Strategies. London: Sage.

Sisson, K. (ed) (2000): Personnel Management: A Comprehensive Guide to Theory & Practice in Britain. Third edition. Oxford: Blackwell

Sisson, K. and Storey, J. (2000): The Realities of Human Resource Management. Buckingham: Open University. (on order)

Sparrow, P. and Hiltrop, J-M. (1994): European Human Resource Management in Transition. Hertfordshire: Prentice Hall.

Sparrow, P and Marchington, M. (eds) (1998): Human Resource Management: The New Agenda, London: Financial Times/Pitman.

Smith, I. (1992): ‘Reward Management and HRM’, in P. Blyton and P. Turnbull. (eds), Reassessing Human Resource Management, London: Sage.

Storey, J. (1995): Human Resource Management: A Critical Text. London: Routledge.

Storey, J. and Sisson, K. (1993): Managing Human Resources and Industrial Relations. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Storey, J. (ed.) (1999): New Perspectives on Human Resource Management, London, International Thomson Business Press.

Stredwick, J. (2000): An Introduction to Human Resource Management, Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Taylor, S. (1998): Employee Resourcing, London: Institute of Personnel & Development.

Thomason, G. A. (1988): A Textbook of Human Resource Management. Second edition. London: IPM

Thierry, H. (1992): ‘Pay and payment systems’, in J. F. Hartley and G. M. Stephenson (eds.), Employment Relations. Oxford: Blackwell.

Thornhill, A., Lewis, P. Millmore, M. and Saunders, M. (2000): Managing Change: A Human Resource Strategy Approach. London: Financial Times/Prentice Hall.

Torrington, D. and Hall, L. (1998): Human Resource Management. UK: Prentice Hall.

Towers, B. (ed.) (1992): The Handbook of Human Resource Management. Oxford: Blackwell.

Taylor, S. (1998): Employee Resourcing. London: Institute of Personnel & Development.

Torrington, D, Hall, L, Haylor, I and Myers, J (1991): Employee Resourcing. Wimbledon: Institute of Personnel Management.

Tyson, S. (1995): Human Resource Strategy, London: Pitman

Tyson, S. and Fell, A. (1986): Evaluating the Personnel Function, London: Hutchinson.

Walker, J. W. (1992): Human Resource Strategy, New York: McGraw-Hill.

Lance Berger & Dorothy Berger (2010): “The Talent Management Handbook: Creating a Sustainable Competitive Advantage by Selecting, Developing, and Promoting the Best People”

Shaun Tyson and Phil Smith (2010), “Talent management”, Wiley

Richard Swanson & Elwood Holton, (2009), “Foundations of HRD”; McGraw-Hill

Jon M Werner & Randy DeSimone (2011), “Human resource development”, American Psychological Association

David Mankin (2009), “Human resource development”, Oxford University Press

Robert Craig (1996), “The ASTD Training & Development Handbook”,

Wexley & Latham (2002), “Developing and training human resources in organisations”, Pearson Co Ltd

Curtis , Hefley & Miller (2010), “People CMM: A framework for human capital management”,; Pearson Co Ltd


A sample proposal is available in Appendix Two


Research Proposal Form

Student Name:

Student Number:

Intake Number

Module Title

Proposed Project Title:

Please review the requirements of your study guide before you complete this form. This form should be no longer than 3 pages (or 300 words) in total when completed.

1. Subject Area of Research

The topic of study must relate directly to your programme of study.

(a) What is the module which your research will be based upon?

[] Human Resource Management [ ] Managing Change.

(b) Which specific topic from this module? (e.g. Topic 8 of HRM

Recruitment & Selection)


(c) Please indicate what is the research question in 30 words or less.


(d) What are your research objectives?

(i) _ __________________________________________

(ii) _______________________________________

(iii) _______________________________________

2. Rationale for the Selection of the Project (100 words)

Why is this topic worth investigating?

3. Preparation for Literature Review

Literature /Other Research Relevant to your Proposal (150 words)

(a) What academic literature is relevant to your proposed research?






(b) Have you identified other research that might inform your proposed research? (for example from professional bodies, government reports, etc.)



Research Proposal Form

Student Name:

Orna Ryan

Student Number:


Intake Number


Module Title


Proposed Project Title: A review of Performance Management in UCD

Please review the requirements of your study guide before you complete this form. This form should be no longer than 3 pages in total when completed.

1. Subject Area of Research

The topic of study must relate directly to your programme of study.

(a) What is the module which your research will be based upon?

[X] Human Resource Management [ ] Managing Change

(b) Which specific topic from this module?

Topic 8 of HRM Performance Management

(c) Please indicate what is the question which you intend to

research in 20 words or less?

How can the introduction of a performance management system impact on

staff motivation in the School of Business?

(d) What are your research objectives

(i) _ Outline the new performance management system ___

(ii) _ Assess the impact of performance management on staff motivation

(iii) _ Review the implementation performance appraisal system in the public

2. Rationale for the Selection of the Project (100 words)

Why is this topic worth investigating?

I have selected this topic for two reasons. Firstly, I am very interested in the area of performance management and its impact on staff motivation. I have recently experienced the introduction of performance management to my job, as an employee. Secondly, performance management has recently been introduced to the public sector in Ireland through PMDS. It commenced in UCD in January 2008. Performance management in universities is a new development and as a result, there is little research on it in an Irish context.

3. Preparation for Literature Review

Literature /Other Research Relevant to your Proposal (150 words)

(a) What academic literature is relevant to your proposed research?

Beardwell, J. and Thompson. (2014): Human Resource Management, a contemporary Approach, 7th Edition, Prentice Hall: London

Newell, H. and Scarbrough H. (2002): HRM in context, A Case Study Approach, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire.

Peterson, T. (2007): Motivation: How to Increase Project Team Performance’, Project Management Journal, Dec2007, Vol. 38: 4, p60-69

Davenport, J. and Gardiner, P. (2015): ‘Performance Management in the Not-for-Profit Sector with Reference to the National Trust for Scotland’, Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, May, Vol. 18: 3, p303-311

(b) Have you identified other research that might inform your proposed research? (for example from professional bodies, government reports, etc.)

Department of Finance (2009): Performance Management Implementation: A review, Government Publications Office: Dublin

Economic and Social Resource Institute: Managing and Representing People at work, ESRI: Dublin