In terms of research students (as in Honors, Masters, and PhD theses), one of Michael Baker’s strong qualifications for this topic Is that he has supervised over 50 doctoral candidates to successful completion Additionally, he has been an examiner for many doctoral theses, a urinal editor, a head of department, etc. (there is not enough space here to go through his long C.V. of achievements! ). Baker Is also a frequent visitor to Australia as a visiting professor. He not only researches marketing, but also practices marketing as an author/editor of over 30 books, each with its own target audience, such as this one.
The content of the book serves to introduce students to how to do a research project, with an annotated set of Recommendations for Further Reading for pursing specific topics In more depth. The books coverage Is Indicated In its 15 chapters: 1. The Role of Research Projects in Business and Management Studies 2. Philosophical Issues and the Conduct of Research 3. Writing a Research Proposal 4. Writing a Literature Review 5. Using the Internet to Find Information 6, Selecting a Research Methodology 7. Qualitative Research Methods 8. Sampling 9. Questionnaire Design 10.
Data Collection – Interviewing 11 . Questionnaire Completion 12. Conducting Primary Research Online 13. Data Interpretation 14. Writing up and Getting Published 15. Making a Presentation It does not set out to take away from the specific requirements of your Institution: “the Golden Rule must be to get a copy of he [local] requirements and regulations. ” As Baker notes, there are many books on research methods, so what is distinctive about this book? What I think is particularly distinctive for research students are Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 14. These are not common In research methods textbooks.
The other, research methods type chapters are somewhat distinctive also in that they are targeted more to scholarly research projects as opposed to managerial applied research (what Baker calls “Academic the qualitative research methods chapter spends three pages discussing Grounded Theory, which would be unusual for a market research textbook. This is useful for the research project student. Many of our research students in Australia are surprisingly unprepared for undertaking a major research 106 Australian Marketing Journal 12 (3), 2004 thesis.
We argue in the article “Doctoral Coursework is Needed in Australia” (Albert and Gamins, 2004) that doctoral coursework with seminars that involve reading and critiquing scholarly articles (possibly with a practice research proposal as a major paper) would help doctoral students internalize as “tacit knowledge” the nature and structure of a scholarly research project. Furthermore, a doctoral level research ethos course would assist with understanding the nature and range of research methods.
Research students at all levels not benefiting from both such coursework would welcome Baker’s book as an introduction and summary of these points. Let’s look more closely at a few of the chapters, to get a feel for the book. Chapter 3 Writing a Research Proposal starts off defining “What is a ‘research project? ” in order to know what must go into a research proposal, and then lists seven basic steps in the process of developing the proposal: Formative thinking, Developing a pool of topics,
Reflection and screening, First draft proposal, Find a supervisor, Agree the proposal, and Implement. It then goes through these steps, providing advice. For example, for First draft of the proposal a seven part structure for the proposal is suggested: Title, Outline, Overview, Objectives, Research Methods, Research Plan, Bibliography. Advice follows on each part. For Find a supervisor, the classic Phillips and Pugh (1994) statement of what supervisors expect from their students, and of what students expect from their supervisor, is provided.
Chapter 4 Writing a Literature Review starts with the purposes of a literature review. Which, by the way, is not simply to summaries a thousand articles, which bores the heck out of examiners. ) The purpose is to “distinguish what has been done from what needs to be done” on your topic, and to obtain a better answer by building on the best of what is already known. Next is Citation, why and how to do it. Then Getting Started on the literature review, selecting sources, taking notes, and organizing your material.
Writing Up involves clearly addressing: description of what is known; investigation or analysis of this work; and explanation of what you believe this means. Baker recommends Hart’s 1996) book Doing a Literature Review as essential reading. Chapter 14 Writing Up and Getting Published starts with advice on Getting Started on writing a research project report. “The message is clear – start writing at the earliest opportunity. ” It then goes step by step through Outline Structure and Content. The book presents the 5 chapter structure: Introduction, The literature review, recommendations.
Baker provides advice and details on each of the 5 chapters. Here may I point out that in our region it was recognized that many research students would find useful some guidelines for when they were beginning to think about how o structure their thesis, so two guidelines were proposed in a 1998 issue of the Australian Marketing Journal. The article by Perry (1998) proposed a structure similar to the one in this book, except the second chapter is labeled “Research Issues” instead of “Literature Review’.
The article states “… Literature review is not an end in itself, but is a means to the end of identifying the worthy research issues” and identifying and building on relevant prior knowledge. Uncles (1998) proposed that rather than the thesis reading as a “murder mystery’, where the findings and inclusions are not revealed until towards the closing stages, it should read as research report presenting the main findings at an early stage (Chapter 2 Summary Findings) and then presenting the full details and Justification.
Chapter 14 continues with Baker presenting a “Checklist for Evaluating Dissertations. ” This, from the University of Togo, presents a useful set of 28 analytical questions the student can use to evaluate how good the work is in its present form, e. G. , “Was the problem clearly stated and defined? “. Assuming the content has now been successfully outlined, Baker has suggestions for Fleshing Out the Outline, such as of course be clear but also don’t be afraid to be unconventional if it communicates the point more strongly.