Research Proposal

Research Proposal - The Research Proposal The research...

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Unformatted text preview: The Research Proposal The research proposal is a very important document because it performs a number of functions: o It contains an outline of the steps of the project and will serve as a valuable reference. 0 It reflects your thinking about the topic and the decisions you have made about the most appropriate research methods. o It provides a checkpoint for comparing your goals and objectives with those of the client. 0 Once agreed to, it represents a "contract" between you and the client regarding the work to be performed. As such, a research proposal always includes a statement explaining the purpose of the study (research objectives) or a definition of the problem. It systematically outlines the particular research methodology and details the procedures that will be followed during each stage of the research process. Normally a schedule of costs and deadlines will be included in the research proposal. Proposals vary dramatically in length. When the client and the researcher have a complete verbal understanding of the project, the proposal may be as short as a page or two, providing little more than a brief description of the project and time and cost estimate. On the other hand, a proposal may be over a hundred of pages in length (e.g., proposals to perform work for governmental organizations) fully describing the background and qualifications of the research company and providing great detail about the design of the project. The length of the preposal usually depends upon its purpose. If the client is confident in the researcher and is not choosing among bidders, a document that briefly describes what is to be done may be sufficient. On the other hand, in a bidding situation, the client may use the document as a primary tool in the evaluation of suppliers. in this case, it should include a complete discussion that supports the design decisions that have been made (or in your case, allows me to evaluate the quality of your reasoning). Preparation of a research proposal forces the researcher to critically think through each stage of the research process. Vague plans, abstract ideas, and broad—sweeping generalizations about problems or procedures must become concrete and precise statements about specific events. What information will be obtained and what research procedures will be implemented have to be clearly Specified so others may understand their exact implications. All ambiguities about why and how the research will be conducted must be clarified before the proposal is complete. Because the proposal is a clearly outlined plan submitted to management for acceptance or rejection, it initially performs a communication function; it serves as a mechanism that allows managers to evaluate the details of the proposed research design and determine if alterations are necessary. The proposal helps managers decide if the proper information will be obtained and if the proposed research will accomplish what is desired. If the marketing problem has not been adequately translated onto a set of specific research objectives and research design, the client's assessment of the proposal will help ensure that the researchers revise the proposal to meet the client’s information needs. The proposal needs to communicate exactly what information will be obtained, where it will be obtained, and how it will be obtained. For this reason, proposals must be explicit about sample selection, measurement, fieldwork, and so on. For instance, most survey proposals will include a copy of the proposed questionnaire, at bare minimum some sample questions, to ensure that managers and researchers agree on the information to be obtained and how questions should be worded. In business one often hears the adage "Don't say it, write it." This is wise advice for the researcher who is proposing a research project to management. Misstatements and faulty communication may occur if the parties rely only on each individual‘s memory of what occurred at ta planning meeting. Writing the research design in a proposal format, Specifying exactly what will be done, creates a record to which everyone can refer and eliminates many problems that might arise after the research has been conducted. Finding out after the fact (after the research) that information related to a particular variable was omitted or that the sample size was too small for a particular subgroup is less likely to occur with written preposals. Further, as a statement of agreement between the marketing executives and researchers, the formal proposal will reduce the tendency for someone reading the results to say. "Shouldn't we have had a larger sample? " or "Why didn't you do it this way?" As a record of the researcher's obligation, the proposal also provides a standard for determining if the actual research was conducted as originally planned. An outline of a typical research proposal include: Outline of the Research Proposal 1. Background Investigation 11. Research Objectives 111. Research Methodology a. data gathering method b. sampling plan c. discussing of data gathering instrument d. data collection IV. Tabulation and Data Analysis V. Research Reporting VI. Time and Cost Estimates VII. Limitations BACKGROUND lNVESTiGATEON Client Interview. An important step in the research process involves a thorough background investigation. Many professional researchers admit that this step is often overlooked. A fundamental part of this investigation is your meeting with the client. In the proposal, you should devote a couple of paragraphs to a summary of your interpretations of this conversation. Occasionally, the researcher will discover that previous studies have been done for the client. These studies should be carefully reviewed. They may provide useful information that the researchers can use, such as questionnaires and research results. Trade Publications. Another source of valuable background material is trade publications. Several issues, perhaps those from the preceding year, should be reviewed to try to find information of use. Such review might uncover articles regarding: current and innovative marketing practices in the industry. Successful marketing strategies. These can generate ideas for future marketing plans. Industry trends and statistics on growth rate, sales, and profitability. These can serve as usequ standards of comparison with the ctient's business. The results of previous surveys of firms within the industry. It is very common for trade associations, who often sponsor the trade publication, to conduct industry studies that will provide general information of interest to its members and subscribers. Having thoroughly reviewed the materials described above, you should prepare a summary of your findings in paragraph form. RESEARCH OBJECTIVES Focus on Decisions. The most important part of your research proposal is your listing of objectives, the things you hope to accomplish with your study. Your objectives should focus on information that wiil help the client make better marketing decisions. Objectives should be as specific as you can make them. A useful starting point is to try to make a list of the potential decisions that have been suggested by the background investigation. Describing Objectives. Below are exampies of some common objectives of segmentation or positioning studies: 0 To measure consumer awareness of brands in the product/service category. To determine if consumers know the differentiating characteristics of brands in the category. To determine consumer awareness of advertising and recall of copy. To measure consumer perceptions of important brand attributes in the areas of product, price, and distribution. To measure the importance that consumers place on various brand attributes in making choices in the product category. To determine present and potential media as sources for information about the brand. To measure respondent satisfaction with the performance of the various brand attributes. To measure relevant descriptive characteristics of groups defined by the attitudinal and behavioral aSpects. Some of the basic questions at this stage include: What is the purpose of the study? How much is already known? Is additional background information necessary? What is to be measured? How? Can the data be made avaitable? Should research be conducted? Can a hypothesis be formulated? OOOOOOO RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The next section of the research proposal discusses the methodology the project group will use to conduct the study. it wiil refiect a number of important decisions that the group has made. Typically, such decisions are made sequentially by evaluating the relative desirability of each of several research approaches. Below is a brief outline of some important methodological decisions: Secondary Data Primary Data Observation Experimentation Survey Telephone Personal or intercept Interview Self-Administered Questionnaire Secondary or Primary Data. The first decision that would normally be made is whether to utilize only secondary data, only primary data or a combination of both. Actually, the use of secondary data alone is not an Option for this class since the project requires the conduct of a survey. However, it will add an air of completeness to your proposal if you discuss why primary data are to be preferred in accomplishing your research objectives. Observation, Experimentation or Survey. Having chosen primary data, the next important decision involves the type of data to be employed. As with primary or secondary data, this does not represent a decision that your research group will need to make. However, for the sake of completeness, you could discuss why a survey is particularly appropriate for accomplishing your research objectives. Three major categories of primary data are observational studies, experimentation, and survey. What Type of Survey? If a survey is necessary to accomplish your client‘s objectives, the next important decision is the type of survey to be performed. Three important forms are tetephone interviewing, personal interviewing through intercept methods, and the self-administered questionnaire (either maii or sometimes handed to the respondent in an intercept fashion). Any of these approaches may be appropriate for your marketing research project. Your choice will depend upon the suitability of each method in accomplishing your objectives. Some of the basic questions at this stage inciude: What types of questions need to be answered? Are descriptive or casual findings required? What is the source of the data? Can objective answers be obtained by asking people? How quickly is the information needed? How should survey questions be worded? How should experimental manipulations be made? OOOOOOO SAMPLING PLAN Purpose of Sampling. The ultimate goal of a survey is to provide representative information about a group from which the sample was drawn. In this part of your proposal, you will define the target population and outline the procedures your are going to use to choose this sampie. As with the objectives and methodology, the development of a sampling plan represents a set of decisions made by the research designer. Often, many decisions about sample design must be made simultaneously. For instance, if the research designers want the opinions of college students in general, consideration must be given not only to specifying the population but also how a sampling of such students would be obtained. Your sample size and sampling methods may not be the same as thoso used in a commercial marketing research study. This is due to time and cost factors. Coliecting data will be a real learning experience. However, little would be gained by your investing a great amount of time into gathering data. Thus, your small sample size and the method you choose may create some inherent limitations to the ultimate usefulness of your results. Target Population. The first sampling issue involves your definition of the target population. You will use the resuits of your survey to generalize about attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of this popuiation. This is very important to keep in mind when defining the population. Looking at the question from the other direction, we might ask, " Once the resuits of the survey are in. who wiil we be able to say something about? " Populations may be defined with varying degrees of specificity. Examples of definition of a student population would include: all students all undergraduate students all full time undergraduate students all full time day undergraduate students who are not a member of a professional organization. OOOO Sampling Method. Having decided on the group of interest, you will then choose a method of gathering a sample from that population. After considering the various ways of conducting a sample, you should discuss the pros and cons of various methods that my be used in your study and explain why you have chosen a particular method. Sampling Accuracy. A final sampling issue to consider is sampling accuracy. Typically, I will require students to each conduct between twenty and thirty interviews. In a group of six students, this will result in a sample size of only 120 to 180. The sampling accuracy will be discussed more fully in class. For now, you can use the following table as a guide. The table tells you that if your sample sized were 100 and if 50 percent of the sample replied "Yes" on a yes/no question, the true value in the population is between 40.2 percent and 59.8 percent (fifty percent plus or minus 9.8 percent) with a 95 % level of confidence. Sampling Accuracy on a YeslNo Question For Various Sample Sizes (Ninety—five Percent Level of Confidence) Sample Size Sampling Accuracy (+ or w) 50 13.9% 75 11.3% 100 9.8% 120 8.9% 140 8.3% 160 7.7% 180 7.3% 200 6.9% 250 6.2% 300 5.7% 500 4.4% Some of the basic questions at this stage include: Who or what is the source of the data? Can the target population be identified? Is a sample necessary? How accurate must the sample be? is a probability sample necessary? Is a national sample necessary? How large a sample is necessary? How wilE the sample be selected? OCOOOOOO DATA COLLECTION This section of the proposal should discuss the time frame within which data gathering will take place and the responsibilities of each group member. it should also include procedures and responsibilities for tracking the progress of the work. Finally, procedures for screening questionnaires for accuracy and completeness as well as coding procedures for open-ended questions should be discussed. 6 Some of the basic questions at this stage include: Who wili gather the data? How long will data gathering take? How much supervision is needed? What operational procedures need to be followed? OOOO DATA ENTRY, TABULATION AND ANALYSIS This section wiil discuss how the data contained in the pencil and paper instrument will he transcribed into a machine—readable form. The methods you will use to code open-ended questions should be discussed. The procedures for data entry should also be described. This Section also includes a brief discussion of the type of computer resources required, the computer program to be used for tabulation, and the expected tabulation precedures that will be used (e. g., frequency distributions, cross—tabulations and summary statistical measures, etc.) If sophisticated analysis methods are to be employed (cg, regression analysis or perceptual mapping) the rationale for using them should be presented along with a discussion of how they will serve to accompiish the research objectives. Some of the basic questions at this stage include: Will standardized editing and coding procedures be used? How will the data be categorized? Will computer or hand tabulation be used? What is the nature of the data? What questions need to be answered? How many variables are to be investigated simultaneously? OOOOOO RESEARCH REPORT In this section, briefly describe what wilt be included in the final report, noting the types of analysis to be performed and stating that conclusions will be drawn from the data and recommendations will be made. if an oral presentation is to be made, you should mention it in this section and describe how it will differ from the written presentation. A comment on the disposition of the survey material should also be made. Sometimes, students turn the questionnaires over to me, or, perhaps, to the client. Often, however, respondents are promised anonymity in return for their participation in the study. If their identity is provided on the questionnaire (for purposes of foilow-up or some other reason), then the client should not be given access to them. Some basic questions at this stage include: 0 Who will read the report? 0 Are managerial recommendations requested? 0 How many presentations are required? 0 What will be the format of the written report? TIME AND COST ESTiIVlATES In this section of the proposal, you should establish time lines for coinpieting the various phases of the project. An interesting way to do this is with a PERT diagram or Project Schedule Chart. This ailows estimates attached to each activity. This tracing through the various paths will allow you to identify the maximum amount of time that the project should take. Although your project is to be done at little or no cost, i want you to estimate what the project would cost if the value of your time were, for example, one hundred dollars per hour for professional work and fifteen dollars per hour for actual interviewing. Some basic questions at this stage include: How much will the study cost? Is the time frame acceptable? Is outside help needed? Will this research design attain the stated research objective? When should the research be scheduled to begin? OOOOO LIMITATIONS The limitations section of the proposal (and final report) is very important. Any marketing research study will have at least some limitations and this is especially true in the case of student projects. As mentioned earlier, the design of any research project involves many decisions and each decision usually involves a trade off of a number of advantages and disadvantages. CONCLUSiON It should be clear that the research proposal is a very important document and, once it is completed, it provide a guide for the conduct of the remained of your study. Once the proposal is approved, any deviations from the proposed methodology should be agreed to by me and by your client. An additional benefit of a good research proposal will be its usefulness in writing the research report. First, for the purpose of completeness, the research report should describe the research methodology. if you adhere closeiy to the proposai, the initial sections of the final report will require only a minor rewrite of the proposal. Second, in discussing your research results, the proposal, especially its objectives, will provide an invaluable guide in constructing a useful document. DRAFT: ApriI 2, 2002 An Abbreviated Example of a Research Proposal PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH RESEARCH DESIGN SAMPLE DESIGN DATA GATHERING DATA PROCESSING AND ANALYSIS REPORT The general purpose of the study is to determine . . . In defining the limits ol‘ this study the company had identified the study areas to be addressed. A careful review of those areas led to the identification of the following specific research objectives: 1. To identify the extent to which . . . . 2. To determine . . . . . . 3. To develop an accurate profile of. . . . 4. To assess . . . . . The survey research method will be the basic research design. Each respondent will be interviewed in his or her home. The personal interviews are generally expected to East between . . . and . . . minutes, although the length will vary depending on . . . . . Some of the questions that will be aslted are: 1. Examples A survey of approximately . . . individuals located in . . . will provide the database [or this study. The sample will be seiectcd on a probability basis from . . . . . Eligible respondents will be adults, over the age of . . . The field workers of. . . consulting organization wili be utilized to conduct the interview. Standard editing and coding procedures will be utilized. Simple tabulation and cross-tabuiation will be utilized to anaiyze the data. XYZ computer package will be utilized Five copies of a written report will be prepared, and on oral presentation of the PREPARATIONfindings will be made by the . . . . at . . . convenience ofthe . . . . The report will include . . . . . BUDGET AND TIME SCHEDULE Any complete research proposal should include a schedule of how long it will take to conduct each stage of the research and a statement of itemized costs. ...
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This note was uploaded on 01/18/2012 for the course MKTG 4100 taught by Professor Armentashchian during the Spring '12 term at Kennesaw.

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Research Proposal - The Research Proposal The research...

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