What is secondary data and where is located?

Secondary data is usually defined in opposition to primary data. The latter is directly obtained from first-hand sources by mean of questionnaire, observation, focus group or in-depth interviews, while the former refers to data collected by someone other than the user. In other words, data that has already been collected for some other purpose. Yet, such data may be very useful for your own research purpose.

A review of the literature accounts for many varieties of classification for secondary data (Bryman 1989, Dale et al. 1988; Robson, 202). Suffice it to mention Kervin classification (1992) who distinguish between raw data and compiled data. Regarding the former one, there has been little if any processing, while the latter one has received some form of selection or summarizing. Among the first type of secondary data it is worth mentioning those coming from organizations´ databases, organizations´ websites or newspaper, among other. Second type, compiled data, refers to for instance, government publications, books, journals or industry statistic and reports, among others.

There would be a third type of secondary data that is in between both raw and compiled, they were collected via survey strategy. For instance, census of population, continuous and regular surveys such as government family spending, labor market trends, employee attitude surveys, etc.; and last but not least, ad hoc surveys, i.e. those non-regular basis survey made by some organization.

Where is secondary data located? Your public or university library is still a great place to find relevant data for any project, especially with regard to books or encyclopedias. But the truth is that in the so called Internet society, a lot of worthy material is usually available via Internet or, at least, the references to such material. The use of key words may sometimes be enough to come across relevant secondary data via the most common search engine. However, the breadth of information on the net may be unmanageable or, what is worse, you may waste a lot of time on the always difficult task of discriminating between what is a bogus or a true research

In this case it is highly recommendable to do customized searches via specific sources. Below are three kinds of sources that may help you on that venture:

1. Public statistical providers. Identify the main provider of statistical information, which is usually dependent on the government. Bureau of the Census of US or Central Statistical Office in the case of Poland. Find here a list of National Statistical Offices web-sites. The you have other international statistic offices such as Eurostat, where you will find social and economic indicators from all over the European Union members; as well as worldwide organizations such as OECD.Stat which includes data and metadata for OECD countries and selected non-member economies; or United Nations Statistic.

2. Specialized search engines. To use these you need to define your general subject area prior to your search. For instance, such database as Econlit count with their own search engine that focus only on economics and management publications, or The Financial Times Historical Archive in case of financial studies. Although the access to some of them may be for a fee, note that your own institution or University could perfectly be a subscriber. It is also worth mentioning Google Scholar. Its use is also becoming quite common within academia. It is not specialized in any particular subject, but discriminate efficiently among academics and non-academics publications. Finally, social networks are also shifting the way secondary data and review of literature is understood. Academia.edu is probably one of the most known and worldwide used academic networks. Counting with its own search engine, you can find not only relevant publications but also other scholars and professionals working on your topic.

3. Organizations related to your research topic. Finally, note that ample and relevant information may be obtained from organizations related to your research topic. Imaging your research focuses intellectual property issues. Visiting World Intellectual Property Organization is a must for you. The same would happen with the World Health Organization if you address health related issues. Equally when the focus is on a specific industry. Every industry normally counts with its own national and/or international organization. Euromines for minig, World Tourism Organization for the touristic industry. Should you happen to be interested on working rights, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) website and, concretly, its global index report is an interesting source for you. Note that your topic, especially when is very specific, may not have any organization related. It may be due to two main reasons that should make you think over. First, your topic is not enough relevant and then you should consider another one. Second, your topic refers to a very new phenomenon and the interest lays on its emerging nature (Exploratory approach would be the most convenient for you)

Reference list

Bryman, A. (2004). Research methods and organization studies (Vol. 20). Routledge.

Dale, A., Arber, S., & Procter, M. (1988). Doing secondary analysis (pp. 15-18). London: Unwin Hyman.

Kervin, J. B. (1992). Methods for business research. HarperCollinsPublishers.

Robson, C. (2002). Real world research: A resource for social scientists and practitioner-researchers (Vol. 2). Oxford: Blackwell.

Saunders, Mark NK, et al. Research Methods For Business Students, 5/e. Pearson Education India, 2011.

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Why qualitative research? (Case study and solution)

The qualitative approach within the market research industry is of increasing importance. Why this approach is required in many occasions?

Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, sh...

Tempranillo varietal wine bottle and glass, showing colour Shot with Nikon D70s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CASE STUDY¹. Imaging your company want to export Spanish wine to Poland. In this country, it is well known that either beer or vodka are more popular drink than wine, but nothing is clear about the Polish delight in wine, and even less in Spanish wine. For this reason, the company has contacted a market research agency and they plan to develop a telephone survey of a Polish population representative sample. Results show that just 10% of population drinks more than one glass of wine a month, instead of the 20% in other eastern European countries. Also, results show that the consumption of wine is less common in the group between 25 and 35 years old. The researcher seems to have a clear marketing strategy.

But something important is still up in the air. How to address this population? A qualitative approach has complemented the quantitative data by mean a number of focus groups in Warsaw. The idea of the research is gathering at least eight people between 25 and 35 years old that do not consume wine usually and another group of eight people at the same age who consume wine at least once a month. Questions as “habits of alcohol consumption in general”, “willingness to increase wine consumption”, “reasons to not consume” were asked. Below you can see some of the sentences that were listened to in the discussions:

“…I do not drink wine because I never know what kind of wine goes with each food…”

“…I have a feeling that wine is more for old people, and I feel young…”

“I do prefer to support Polish industry of vodka and beer”

“…yeah! and also for high standard of living people, I feel that beer is more…how to say…more akin to my people”

“…bottles information are not translated into polish so I do not even know where this wine is from”

“…I get drunk too fast! beer is more kind of easy-going…”

“…I really like wine but all my friends prefer beer so… I don´t want to be a weirdo when go to a party…”

QUESTION: WHAT MAKES THE QUALITATIVE APPROACH DIFFERENT FROM QUANTITATIVE ONE?

________________________________________________________________________________________

Solution

The quantitative approach is very important to quantify the reality. The representative percentage of wine-consumers in Poland or the frequency of consuming is unobtainable but by mean questionnaire or statistics. Ad hoc questionnaire may help us also to understand opinions and attitudes of people toward your product by mean opinion scales as well as including some open-ended questions.

However, three factors make this approach inappropriate when investigator sought a more detailed opinion:

1. Time: especially in phone questionnaires, the interviewees feel generally in hurry either by the surveyor or by him/herself. On the contrary, the more calm and tranquil atmosphere provided by qualitative methods as interview or focus group, encourages a major commitment and engagement.

2. Interaction: while the interaction in quantitative methods in occasions does not even exist or is limited to a phone conversation, in the qualitative one, the number of interaction increases exponentially, allowing at the same time a major capacity to adjust questions and improvising new ones as the interviews progress. In the case of the focus group, the interaction is produced also among the members of the group which represent a great advantage of this technique, since many of the most profound opinions we have are just seen clearly by ourselves after discussing with others.

3. Depth of the analysis: quantitative approach usually deals with countable behaviors or resources: number of wine bottles sold in Poland last year, number of wine glass per week, etc. it hardly allow researcher gets know about emotions, values and beliefs. Making use of the iceberg metaphor, focus group, interview, but also the analysis of comments in forums or just graffiti in a wall expresses better than nothing our deepest view of the world.

Finally: critical reflection for a organization manager: What values do your brand transmit? Is your organization media strategy connected efficiently with your buyers? What is more, is your organization media strategy connected with your potential market?  Just when a company reach to understand its target´s deepest and detailed opinions, values and beliefs, the marketing and communication strategies implemented may cause a truly impact on the sales.

References

Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited.
Martínez, P., & Rodríguez, P. M. (2008). Cualitativa-mente. ESIC Editorial.
Silverman, D. (2011). Interpreting qualitative data. Sage Publications Limited.
1 This case is not real, although some of the sentences were taken from real cases

Qualitative methods for market research. The subject.

After providing in the previous two posts a brief definition of both terms “qualitative method” and “market research“, we are in a position to clarify what Qualitative methods of market research subject is about (see about for further details on this blog). The main objective of the subject is learning how to collect text (and images) information systematically in order to understand the relation between buyers and sellers of a specific product or service that occurs or might occur in the future in a part of the worldMore specifically, the subject will aim the managing of the below qualitative research techniques (as well as its respective emerging online variant)

  1. In-depth Interviews
  2. Narratives
  3. Focus groups
  4. Verbal data
  5. Participant observation and ethnography
  6. Visual data: photography, film and video

Furthermore, a number of secondary objectives must be pointed out. Apart from the collection of information itself, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of the research process as a whole. In other words, you as researcher may manage the above techniques but it would be pointless if you are not aware of a number of steps that all researchers must bear in mind when developing a research project and that forms what is called “research process”. This process, that will be addressed in future posts, goes from the mere formulation of the research question to the final presentation of the results.

Finally, ethics of research, origin and history of market research as well a brief theoretical approaches overview complement the secondary objectives of this subject.

Below you can find the main references taken to the production of the material for the subject´s content.

Flick, U. (2009). An introduction to qualitative research. Sage Publications Limited.

Gummesson, E. (1999). Qualitative methods in management research. Sage Publications, Incorporated.

Ibáñez, J. (1979). Más allá de la sociología: El Grupo de Discusión: teoría y crítica. Siglo XXI de España Editores.

Lewis, Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009.

Martínez, P., & Rodríguez, P. M. (2008). Cualitativa-mente. ESIC Editorial.

Mella, O. (1998). Naturaleza y orientaciones teórico-metodológicas de la investigación cualitativa. Santiago: CIDE, 51.

Silverman, D. (2011). Interpreting qualitative data. Sage Publications Limited.

Writing style. Qualitative evaluation of research proposals. Part 2

Following the index provided in the previous post for a qualitative evaluation of the research proposals performed by the students of the subject Research methods from Faculty of Management and EconomicsGdansk University of Technology (Poland); the current post will focus the point related to writing style.

Four requirements of a good writing emerge from the difference between the two cases you can see below. First of all read carefully both cases and try to find the differences.

CASE 1

Luxury international is defined as “a beyond people’s survival and development needs of the range, with unique, rare, exotic features such as consumer goods, also known as non-necessities. Define in economics. Luxury is the ratio between the highest value and quality products. From another point of view, the luxury is an intangible value and tangible value of the ratio between the highest products. Consumption of luxury goods is an advance consumer behavior. The luxury the word itself has no derogatory. China is one of the largest marketing in the global luxury goods consumption. In 2010, Chinese consumers bought $ 10.7 billion of luxury goods, accounting for a quarter of the global consumer products market.

CASE 2

China is one of the largest marketing in the global luxury goods consumption. In 2010, Chinese consumers bought $ 10.7 billion of luxury goods, accounting for a quarter of the global consumer products market.

For this reason, the study of luxury goods demands has become more popular in China. Some authors suggest that the demand is higher because the GDP has grown considerably over last years. On the contrary, other authors suggest that what has really increased is the social inequality. In other words, the rich people are more and more rich and the poor ones more and more poor.

First of all, what is exactly a luxury good? It may be defined in three different ways:

Luxury product may be defined in three different ways:

1. In terms of personal need: luxury goods are also known as non-necessities and people demand for being unique, exotic or having a especial characteristic.

2. In economic terms: is a good for which demand increases more than proportionally as income rises, and is a contrast to a “necessity good“. Luxury goods are often synonymous with superior goods.

2. In socioeconomic terms: luxury goods have a superior status due to their design, quality, durability or performance that is remarkably superior to the comparable substitutes.

_____________________________

What makes the second case more understandable is:

  1. Shorter sentences. One of the most common handicaps of an undergraduate research proposal is the length of the sentences. Whenever you use a very long sentences, composed by two, three or four sentences connected with no dot (.) or comma (,) but using such links as “which”, “that”, “therefore”, the complexity may make the sentence non understandable. On the contrary, if you construct several sentences, with a basic structure: subject (the research) + verb (aims) + Object (Luxury goods consumers behavior´s study) and supporting yourself with dots and commas the reader will be very grateful.
  2. Shorter paragraphs. Related with the previous one, a too long paragraph may turn out to make too complex the content. You must administrate the number of paragraphs in a way that each one provides a different argument.
  3. Using of connectors. Despite every paragraph must have their own argument, the truth is that all of them must be somehow connected. To do so we can also support our writing by mean connectors such as “for this reason”, “apart from”, “assuming this idea”, “first of all”, “secondly”, “finally”, etc. I will make the writing more understandable and easy for the reader.
  4. Using of list. Whenever you are enumerating a number of items, provide a list of them separately. It will give your writing more “oxygen” and let the reader visualize clearer the main points.
  5. Removal of too complex vocabulary. Try to avoid too complex words. Many people, especially undergraduate, tend to think that using very sophisticated words is a synonymous of major understanding. Far from reality, if you overuse this kind of words you will just make your writing pedantic and ununderstandable.
  6. Use of further explanations. But let´s be honest, sometimes we cannot avoid the use of complex words, simply because we really need them to explain what we want to explain. In this case, do not hesitate to use further explanations, i.e. explaining the same with different words. You construct a subsequent sentence starting by “in other words”, “in other terms”.

What roles do your values play?

English: ASHS science values

English: ASHS science values (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A value is an idea what people share about what is good or bad, desireble or undesireble. Values are reflected in apparantly trivial everyday behaviors. The sociologist Robin M. Williams, Jr. (1970) identified fifteen fundamental values (in reference to american society

  1. achievement and success
  2. activity and work
  3. humanitarianism
  4. efficiency and practicality
  5. progress
  6. material confort
  7. equality
  8. freedom
  9. resignation
  10. rationality and science
  11. nationalism and patriotism
  12. democracy
  13. individuality
  14. racial and ethnic superiority

Of course, there may be many more and some of the mentioned values may be not share in all the countries and also, it may change over time.

A “resources” or positivist researcher will probably sustain that our personal value should not affect the process of research and for this reasons you must be completly out of this process and that doing in-depth interviews the results are not credible. On the contrary, a “feeling” or interpretativist researcher would argue that unavoidably we demostrate our values at all stages. After all, choicing one topic rather than another, suggests that you think one of the topics is more important. For example, having such values as humanitarianism it wouldnt be rare if your research focus a nonprofit organization.

Your choice of philosofical approach is a reflection of your values, as is your choice of data collection techniques. For example, to conduct a study where you place great importance on data collected through interview work suggests that you value personal interaction with your respondents more highly than their views expressed through an anonymous questionnaire.

Heron suggests the possibility of writing your own statement of personal values in relation to the topic you are studying. The statement of values may be of use both to you as researcher and those parties with whom you have contact in your research. The use to you would be a result of your “being honest with yourself” about quite what your values are. This would heighten your awareness of value judgements you are making in drawing conclusions form your data. These value judgements may lead to the drawing of conclusions which may be different from those drawn by researchers with other values.

References

Williams, Robin Murphy. American society: A sociological interpretation. New York: Knopf, 1970.
Craig J. Calhoun, Donald Light, Suzanne Infeld Keller. Sociology. McGraw-Hill, 2000.
Lewis, Philip, Mark NK Saunders, and Adrian Thornhill. Research methods for business students. Pearson, 2009.

Integrating your research’s idea within its discipline

Try to classify your research idea first into its discipline (Management or related ones), then its branch (let´s say human resources) and finally the precise aspect or sub-branch in which you are interested. Let´s say recruitment. This process was termed as “working up and narrowing down” by Jankowicz (2005:34-6) The Russian dolls illustrate it very well. Every doll is supposed to fit into the following bigger one as well as your idea into a more general area of knowledge. In this metaphor your idea is going to be the smallest one.

This process is crucial for three different reasons:

1. As a way to find a research idea. Perhaps you don´t have even any research idea, but at least you know that you have more preference for, let´s say economic discipline, so that you start reading some general journal on economics. Among all branches you identify within economics you find microeconomic the most interesting and, more specifically, unemployment. Your idea of research could well be “Unemployment in Europe”, here your idea goes!

2. To take a clear direction. The “russian doll process” or “working up and narrowing down” may be reversed. It is, from the most specific one to the most general. Imaging that you have clear you research idea. For example, and continuing with the previous example, imaging that you have clear that you want to research on “Unemployment in Europe” but you haven´t even think over which branch or discipline it drops into. So you must try to identify the immediate more general brach in which unemployment is included. As you can see in the material provided unemployment fits into microeconomic and more generally into economic, which is one of the branch of management science. This process is crucial if you want your research to take a clear direction and, on top of that, to make easier the literature revision and data collection. Searching literature using the keyword “unemployment” in Google, finding relevant information is going to be as difficult as looking for a needle in a haystack. But if you identify the discipline, in our example, economic, you may do a more effective search in a journal dealing with this specific branch, for example European Economic Review. Once in the journal, you can find interesting articles and papers searching by the keyword “unemployment”.

Activity “organizing research ideas by Management branches and sub-branches” by Ester

3. To match your idea with your career goals or the field you are more interested. Finally, integrating your research idea will help you to visualize whether it matches you career goals. In other words, if you want to focus your career in the management branch of finance, you should consider find a research idea that belongs to this branch (see What is a good research) Among other reasons, making a research according to your career, will contribute greatly to your specialization, which is a more and more important factor when looking for job today. And for sure, having a publication on your field of especialty will make you different among any other candidate in a recruitment process, specially when it is published in a recognised journal.

References

Becker, H. S. (2007). Writing for social scientists: How to start and finish your thesis, book, or article University of Chicago Press.

Camino, J. R. (2011). Cómo escribir y publicar una tesis doctoral ESIC Editorial.

Lewis, P., Saunders, M. N. K., & Thornhill, A. (2009). Research methods for business students Pearson.

How to come up with a research idea

Below you will find a number of questions that may help you when generating research ideas:

1º What are your strengths and interest?. Think in previous subjects throughout your graduate. Is there any subject in which your grades have pointed out? Which one have you enjoyed most? Have you ever performed a remarkable work on a specific discipline or academic area?

2º Have you checked previous years research titles? Get inspired by previous years works. Ask your professor or supervisor for them.

3º Have you discussed your ideas with somebody? Remember how “post-it office” product was invented. The interaction with workmates was a key point. Get rid of your fears and shame and talk friends and classmates. It will be helpful to shape your idea and make it feasible. On top of that, in today´s social network society there are many professional and academic networks where you will find people willing to test your ideas.

4º Have you done a preliminary literature search? After discussing with mates, professor or in forum, you might also be suggested relevant literature. You can also have a look to some of the practitioner or academic journals such as the ones you can find in the right-side column. Look up possible books or reports in your library database. Review articles are of special interest for you since they usually contain a considered review of the state of knowledge in a particular area and suggestions of further research needs. One of them could be undertaken by you. On the other hand, books might not be up to date but by contrast offer a good overview of research that has been undertaken so far.

5º Are you up to date with media? Keeping up to date with items in the news can be a very rich source of ideas

Examples of research topics used for the second week activity in order to distinguish between applied and basic research

Brainstorming and relevance trees. It is best brainstorming with a group of people, although you can do it on your own. According to Moody (1988), you should first define your problem or sort of idea you are interested in and subsequently, ask for suggestions, relating to the problem.

RELATED POSTS

Integrating your research´s idea within its discipline

10 essentials for a good research proposal

4 crucial things to bear in mind before undertaking your own research project

How to turn your research idea into a research question

How to write my research objectives

 

Reference list

Becker, H. S. (2007). Writing for social scientists: How to start and finish your thesis, book, or article University of Chicago Press.

Camino, J. R. (2011). Cómo escribir y publicar una tesis doctoralESIC Editorial.

Castells, M. (1996). The rise of the network society (Vol. 1, No. 996, pp. 1-25). Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
Moody, Paul E. Decision making: Proven methods for better decisions. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983.

Saunders, M. N., Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2011). Research Methods For Business Students, 5/e. Pearson Education India.