Assignment 2 Instructions
Due Date: (See Study Desk or Course Specification)
Word Limit: 3,000 (+ / - 10%)
The Facebook experiment of 2014 manipulated the contents of users’ News Feeds to induce changes in their emotions (Kramer et al., 2014). Facebook had tampered with the news feeds of nearly 700,000 people, showing them an abnormally low number of either positive or negative posts. The experiment aimed to determine whether the company could alter the emotional state of its users. The experiment was designed to assess whether more positive or negative comments in a Facebook newsfeed would impact how the user updated their own page. Researchers found those shown more negative comments posted more negative comments and vice versa. This experiment was widely criticized on ethical grounds regarding informed consent and other issues related to a poor Research Design.
The Facebook Report
Kramer, A., Guillory, J., & Hancock, J 2014, Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(24), 8788–8790. Available from http://www.pnas.org/content/111/24/8788.full
A different social network (XYZ) would also like to know if they could alter the emotional state of their users. Unlike Facebook, who wanted to know if more positive or negative comments in their New Feeds would impact how the user updated their own page, XYZ would like to know if different types of smells could impact how the user updated their own page. (Digital scent technology is in its infancy now but XYZ believes that as it develops there will be more interest in online scent marketing).
You have been asked to do the research for them but they do not want to be accused of being unethical. They have asked you to do a Research Design so they can examine it before you begin your research. They do not want you to start the research until they approve the Research Design.
Ethics in Research
You must address the relevant ethical issues in your Research Design. Depending on the type of research you are designing you might discuss some of the following:
• Informed participant consent
• Voluntary participation and right of withdrawal without sanction
• Confidentiality of participants and records
• Secure storage of relevant data after completion of a research project
• Clear, coherent expression of research proposals
• Regular monitoring of research outcomes.
• Privacy and the internet
• Feedback to participants
• Protection of participants
• Respect for Intellectual Property
• Codes and Policies for Research Ethics
• Professional Conduct
• Human Subjects Protection
Research design content
Your Research Design should include the following elements:
1. A brief introduction identifying the research question and the background for your report (keep this short and to the point).
2. A short literature review or summary of secondary data from existing sources that relates to your research question (approximately 500 words). This literature review is specifically designed to provide background information on the issue (what we already know so that you can build on this knowledge); what previous research has been done in this area (what techniques and tools were used that you might also use); and what remains still unknown (the focus of this research). You should look to build on the research designs previously used in any existing studies.
3. A statement of the research question(s) and objectives for this piece of research – what is it you intend this research program to achieve and what questions it will address – keep this focused and brief.
4. A recommended research methodology justified and supported with appropriate theory (from the applied business research literature) and evidence that will best address the research question and provide answers to Company XYZ. This includes discussion about whether you are recommending a qualitative or quantitative approach (and why – justified and supported with theory), and within this what specific methods you are recommending (from the list of possible options) and why.
5. Recommendations about the most appropriate sample unit and sampling methodology (also with justification) to match the design you are recommending and in this discussion show you have identified issues related to the research ethics of this proposed research and how you will address these.
6. A discussion of the data (questions) that would need to be collected – being as specific as possible and showing evidence of an understanding of the form and level of data required to answer the research questions and how these ultimately will allow you to address the overarching research objective or question.
7. A discussion of the type and level of analysis that should be conducted with this data to address the research questions (supported with theoretical justification) and
8. A discussion about the validity and reliability elements of your proposed research plan and any limitations of the research that should be considered by Company XYZ when viewing your findings and suggestions.
9. Finally, a summary statement about how this design will address the issue that Company XYZ is interested in exploring and will provide the answers to their questions – about one or two paragraphs at most.
You DO NOT have to collect data, actually design a questionnaire or conduct any primary research for this assignment.
Format of the Assignment
This assignment is to be presented as a full formal report (including letter of transmittal, executive summary etc.) See the Communications Skills Handbook for more information if you are unsure of this format and the requirements.
Suggested Structure for Assignment 2
Letter of Transmittal
Title page (Not included in word count)
Table of Contents (Not included in word count)
List of abbreviations and/or glossary if relevant (Not included in word count)
A brief introduction identifying the research question and the background for your report (keep this short and to the point).
Statement of research question and objectives
Research Methodology and Method(s)
Sample unit and sampling methodology
Discussion about Data
Validity, Reliability, Limitations (If relevant)
Summary statement / Recommendations (If relevant)
Bibliography or Reference List - Harvard (Not included in word count)
Appendices - If applicable (Not included in word count)
Please see the Resources section in Module 5 for a list of related readings and useful links.