The research process is composed of seven phases: exploring, planning, creating, conducting, collecting, analyzing, and writing. There are 17 activities or elements associated with the various phases of research (Exhibit 3.2). Understood thoroughly, the process likely has the greatest influence on your knowledge and skill in research. The model is separated into three chapters that follow the standard process of preparing for research and conducting it (Chapters 3, 4, and 5). This chapter covered the first two phases: exploring and planning. The activities of the research process reflect tasks and decisions that all researchers must make in “doing” research from start to finish.
The exploring phase of the research process model encompasses four elements: (1) choose a business research topic, (2) state the management or academic research question, (3) formulate the investigative questions, and (4) explore data sources to refine your question and adjust its scope. The research process begins with exploring a topic, avoiding ill-defined problems, understanding how research questions differ from investigative and measurement questions, and understanding how to frame or formulate those questions. Then one refines the problem regarding its scope and uses an unstructured literature search, experience survey, focus group, or some combination of exploratory techniques to crystallize the question.
The planning phase of the model contains four elements: (1) prepare to solve ethical dilemmas, (2) complete an extensive literature review, (3) formulate hypotheses and operationalize variables, and (4) select a research design. Ethics training has the primary objective of raising the consciousness of the participants and stimulating a discussion of research ethics with fellow researchers. A formal literature review is assembled to argue the case you are making for your study and to create a comprehensive understanding of the current state of knowledge. This review uses secondary data (internally and externally sourced) to build a convincing thesis that assists you in answering the research question. Studies that use hypotheses require the formulation of those hypotheses and the operationalization of their variables. Selecting an effective design allows researchers to fulfill their objectives and answer the logical (not logistical) questions driving the study. That involves choosing from experimental and nonexperimental (quantitative, qualitative, and mixed) designs. The numerous combinations from the richness of quantitative and qualitative designs help the researcher visualize alternate perspectives of the same problem and make a decision of “best-fit” for their purposes, time, and resources.
The description of each activity directs the reader on actions to take, references to review (including URLs), and activities that will assist in the exploring and planning phases of the research process.