There will be a series of assignments throughout the semester. They are not just “busy work” to occupy your time or to produce reading material for me. The purpose of all the assignments, including the exams are first, to give you feedback on your learning and how well it is progressing. The second reason is to facilitate learning by doing; and the third, to give you additional incentives and motivation to keep on top of your learning. I have prepared detail rubrics for each assignment that explains my expectations. When you are working on any assignment, you should keep those in mind. They are accessible from the menu under the selection “Rubrics“.
There will be three exams given on the indicated dates. I will announce the coverage of each at least one week in advance as they may vary from the anticipated coverage shown below. They are all objective exams with multiple-choice and problems as needed. Each exam after the first one will include 20% material from the previous coverage.
Time table for exams
- 15 September 2011, first quarterly exam (approximately chapters 1-4)
- 13 October 2011, midterm exam (approximately chapters 5-8)
- 17 November 2011, comprehensive exam (approximately chapters 9-16)
The research project assigned for this course will provide an opportunity for groups of students to design, carry out, and report findings of a survey research study in a marketing related field.
The project teams will consist of 3-5 students. In selecting a topic for research, keep in mind that a variety of organizations practice marketing, e.g., profit and nonprofit, small and large.
When you select your topic, write a one page proposal so that I know what your group will be doing and that the topic is a manageable one for one semester. There is a sample research proposal in the book that you may guide you in writing yours. Remember, all written assignments are subject to the writing standards explained in the “On Writing” section of this site.
All the members will receive the same grade for the team project. “Freeloaders” can survive only if the team
allows it to happen. Do not complain at the end of the semester that a member of the team did not do his or her part. Let me know at the beginning of such tendencies, let us seek a satisfactory solution for all.
The purpose of the project
The team research project is an opportunity for you to experience what is involved in conducting a marketing research study. The main purpose of the research project is learning. Depending on the topic selected, your results may have limitations in real world terms. This does not mean that substantive errors
in your design or execution are acceptable.
Topic selection tips
In selecting a topic use the following as a general guideline
- Your research will help a marketing manager in making a marketing decision. Therefore, make the decision situation a part of your proposal explicitly. You need, in other words, a marketing decision at the root of your research.
- Avoid sensitive topics that may require special care and expertise in research design.
- Topics that require respondents to have extensive knowledge on obscure subjects are more difficult to conduct than those that are more familiar to the respondents.
- Avoid niche products since finding information and interviewing qualified respondents will be difficult.
- Topics that deal with existing customers and their behavior are easier than working with potential customers.
Rules of the game
On the dates shown in the time table, groups will turn in type written assignments (read the writing standards elsewhere on this site). These will provide the skeleton of the project. Bear in mind that I will grade the final report on its content and its presentation. Avoid typographical errors and grammatical mistakes. I will keep the graded report, you should make copies for your files if you wish to keep it. If you have a research sponsor, make sure that they receive a copy of your report. When submitting your completed research report, you must also turn in the following:
- Your original research proposal with my comments
- Interim reports with my comments
- The set of completed survey questionnaires
- Your SPSS data file on a diskette
If you have a sponsor, they may ask for your questionnaires and data files.
Under no circumstance you should give your completed questionnaires, names or addresses of people you have interviewed or other material that may reveal the identity of your subjects to your sponsor.
Your sponsor may have given you a mailing list or other similar information. You must not share this information with anybody outside the scope of the project and return all such material back to your sponsor at the completion of your study.
These are serious ethical issues in research and you must respect and observe the codes of ethics of conducting research.
You should read now those chapters related to the proposal and the report ahead of schedule and familiarize yourself with the related issues.
At the end of the semester, each group will make an oral presentation of their project and their findings. This will count toward class participation portion of your grade. Your client is welcome to the session when you present the findings.
The research proposal
You will write a research proposal to your client. Based on this proposal, your research team will receive the client’s approval (and mine too) to start the project. The research proposal typically addresses the following:
- Background information and the marketing decision that needs additional and specific information. This provides the context of your research. Make sure to state it clearly in your proposal. You may not conduct research to see “what’s out there”.
- Research objectives, how will research improve the quality of the decision to be made? You will need to specify what decision questions your research must address so that the managers can make a better marketing decision. See the example in the book and in the printable presentation slides. Also keep in mind a very important point: In order to establish your research objectives, you need to conduct some level of exploratory research and have several meetings with your client.
So, start working on your proposal sooner than tomorrow! Find a client as quickly as possible and engage them in this dialog to conduct your exploratory research (read the book to find out what it is).
- You also need to specify, in order to meet your stated research objectives what information needs to be generated and what data collection methods should be used. In other words, “what research objectives are you trying to answer?”
- Do not confuse survey questions with research objectives. Research objectives are answered by analyzing the survey questions, and for each research objective you may use many questions in your survey. Collectively, they will provide the answers to your research objectives.
- Sample design, sample size and selection method. Early in the semester you may not be equipped to determine the sample size properly. However, you should read ahead those chapters pertaining to these issues and have a tentative method of handling them.
- Research methodology. This is an easy one since, as a matter of course requirement, you will use survey research.
- A time table for the study including completion dates for major parts of your research. Remember that not all phases are sequential, some may follow parallel tracks. The due dates of various sections of your research could be used as a guideline.
- Cost estimates, no matter how small it may be. Your client may or may not be able to cover the cost but they may be able to do things to lower your cost, like photocopying the questionnaires for you.
Also, take a look at the slides that outline the subject and give an abbreviated example of a hypothetical research proposal.
The research report
At the completion of the study you will produce a research report. This will be a business report and should use a suitable style. Remember that your client has hired you as a professional and your report should convey the same image.
Read the chapter in the book regarding the presentation of research findings, and do it now. Besides explaining the structure of a written research report, the chapter also offers examples. All writing in this course must conform to the writing standards explained in the “On Writing” section of this Web site.
The research project timetable
Each section of the report is due in class as shown in the time table below. Any section not turned in on time will result in a 5% penalty on the total research project grade unless I make that portion an optional part of your assignment explicitly. This requirement stresses the time table rather than complete work and there is no grade for turning them in. It gives me a chance to review your work and comment on it before you complete your project. Know that I do not sugarcoat my comments and tell you the way I see your work. Keep these interim reports since you will turn them in with the completed project (see above) and if you do not turn in these parts you will lose points on your semester project.
In order to maintain the project work on time, the following parts will be due on indicated dates. They will serve as landmarks telling you how much of the project you should finish by each date. Keep in mind that some parts may be due before we cover the related material in class. Read ahead, consider what needs to be done and use your best judgment in completing those parts. You can change them if necessary.
Last three to four weeks of the semester will be extremely hectic. There will be labs and workshops where you will do the actual work and write the final report when the lab usage gets very heavy for everyone. You need to allow extra time to spend in the lab as necessary. Of course, I will be available
to assist you during those weeks if you need my help.
Time table for the research project
- Research proposals due, 22 September 2011
- Progress report to include introduction and research design, 20 October 2011
- Data sources
- Collection methods
- Information needs, operationalized variables, metrics, questionnaire draft, survey vehicle
- Sample size considerations
- Sampling design, how the sample elements will be selected
- Written report, 1 December 2011
- Oral presentations, 6, 8 December 2011
The critical, and probably the most difficult segment in this time table is the design phase. You need to address the issues that may not have been covered in class yet. Do not panic as your first reaction as the due date approaches. There are several things you should do in preparation for this phase.
- Focus on what you are going to measure and the units of measure you will use. For instance, if you are studying issues related to customer satisfaction you need to break it down to measurable components. Ask “what are the characteristics of a satisfied customer?” and try to get a grip on the dimensions. These may include factors such as the price, durability, reliability, promptness of service, and so on. Now you have a better understanding of the issues. Next, decide from whom or what you will take these measurements, who are the “customers” whose satisfaction you are studying. By going through these simple steps you have already answered some of the design issues.
- You should not wait for me to cover the material in class before you use it in your research. Read ahead and try to learn what you need and include that in your research design. I may suggest corrections to it but that is why you are doing this exercise anyway.
- Use me as a resource. I will be happy to meet with your group and discuss these issues and ask some pointed questions that may make you see what the answers may be.