One of the great joy’s of my role as a researcher is to assist MBA students to optimise their time while delivering great research results. Other than Ph.D and some other masters degree students MBA’s have a more practical approach to research and in many cases they have a lot less time availability than academics. During the years I have seen some mistakes and best practices in the way MBA students approach their research.
Here is my disclaimer up front: The tips are meant to be practical and in no way replace your formal requirements by your institution.
1. Choose your research topic wisely - research with the correct topic can boost your career. On the other hand research with the wrong topic can make your data collection and entire research project a nightmare. Be sure if you are researching a topic that your topic’s population size is large enough. If your segment is very niche - collecting data can become a serious problem. Your research topic if relevant to your chosen career path can be the start to a specialisation. Resist the urge to choose a topic of little relevance to you but related to a pet subject or supervisors interest.
2. Identify the methodology to meet your objectives, be practical - your topic will determine your methodology. My research style is more quantitative and I tend to prefer working the numbers. Optimal response rate in the data collection for these quantitative studies become very important. You have to make sure the study is practical and that you will receive enough responses to make your study valid. If your population is small, and you are doing exploratory research. Consider using a qualitative methodology.
3. Manage your research as a project - learn from large research firms. Research is a project not unlike any other construction or design project. During some phases you should, if possible include outside suppliers. Ethically with most institutions you are allowed to outsource data collection, statistical work and proof reading/editing. You are also allowed to approach outside supervisory assistance if you feel it is required. In no way may the outside suppliers assist in the writing up of any part of your research.
4. Get it done - If you do not get it done, your research project can drag on and cause great disappointment to you. In some cases it can even cause you not to complete your studies. Running your research like a project where you set specific milestones and use outside help can truly assist in simplifying the process. Get a statistician in before data collection to assist with sample requirements. Get outside data collection services to gather your data. Ask the statistician to give you feedback on the data. Once this is done you will find analysing the learnings a lot easier.
With a little bit of planning you can reduce the stress related to your research project. Who knows maybe even make a career of it one day.
About the author:
Adriaan Buys is managing director at iFeedback. He specialises in online research methodology, academic data collection and research project management. He is currently studying towards his Ph.D in Environmental Management.