Welcome to this unit of study. This Unit Guide provides important information and should be kept as a reference to assist with your studies. This Guide includes information about your reading and resources, independent learning, class activities and assessment tasks. It is recommended that you read this Guide carefully: you will be expected to manage your learning as you work towards successful study.
Detailed information and learning resources for this unit have also been provided on the Unit website on WebCT/VU Collaborate which can be reached via the Student Portal at vu.edu.au/student-tools/myvu-student-portal
It is important that you access your Unit website regularly.
Please also refer to information provided on the Student Portal that supports studying at VU.
Acknowledgement of Country
We respectfully acknowledge and recognise the traditional owners, their Elders past and present, their descendants and kin as the custodians of this land.
Acknowledgement of Country 2
Introduction to the unit 3
Key staff 3
Required reading 4
Indicative schedule for this unit 5
Assessment details 6-9
Introduction to the unit
Unit Title: Business Research Methods
Unit Code: BMO6630 Year: 2015 Semester/Dates: One Credit Points:
Other details: This is a foundation unit for Masters courses in the College of Business.
Unit co-ordinator Name: Associate Professor Leonie Lockstone-Binney
Location: FP, A536
Contact number: 9919 5361
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leonie will take classes on Weeks
1, 2, 9, 10, 11 & 12 Campus:
Days and times:
City Flinders Monday 10-1pm FS901
Thursday 1-4pm FS1107
Teaching team Professor John Zeleznikow
Contact number: 9919 1837, 0432154217
Contact email: email@example.com
John will take classes on Weeks 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8
The purpose of the unit of study is to provide students with a firm foundation from which they can undertake a research problem. For the duration of the semester guidance will be given to students for the identification of a research problem. Instruction will be provided which will enable students to perform effective literature reviews. Students will be presented with various models of methodology and assist with designing an appropriate method for their research. Students will be trained in the analysis and presentation of results, exposition of processes and methods used and conclusions drawn.
Mode of delivery
Face-to-face & online
On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:
1. review, analyse and critique discipline-based knowledge in businesses and organisations to identify and interrogate complex problems and develop a broad perspective of discipline-related research undertakings, both in general and more specifically research within one or more sub-disciplines;
2. critically review basic research construction and evaluation and demonstrate discipline-appropriate application of research terminology;
3. justify the use of research methodologies as relevant to particular examples of social and business research investigations;
4. conceptually map the research process, identifying researchable problems and developing a defensible conceptual framework for research;
5. conduct critical reviews of research output;
6. discriminate or develop theories relevant to the applicability and limitations of experimental, survey and case study research;
Learning and teaching strategies
This Unit will be delivered as a 3 hour workshop per week and blended learning sessions focusing on specialised discipline specific research techniques and/or methods. Students are expected to read extensively the academic literature and to synthesise and critique models and research methods to assist them in the preparation of assessment tasks.
In addition to discipline knowledge, skills and their application, the study of this unit is intended to contribute to students developing the capabilities needed to be:
1. Adaptable and capable 21st century citizens who can communicate effectively, work collaboratively, think critically and solve complex problems.
• A) Identifying, anticipating and solving problems ranging from simple to important, complex and unpredictable problems.
• B) Accessing, evaluating and analysing information
• C) Effective communication using known and yet to be developed tools in many contexts.
2. Confident, creative lifelong learners who can use their understanding of themselves and others to achieve their goals in work and learning.
• B) Understanding how to initiate and develop new ideas
• C) Planning and organising self and others
• D) Decision making
Students will receive structured feedback on their experience of the above VU Graduate Capabilities within this unit of study.
Bryman, A., & Bell, E. (2011). Business research methods (3th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Indicative schedule for this unit
Week Topics and Activities
1 Introduction to the research process Chapters 1,2, 3
2 Research ethics Chapter 5
3 Critically reviewing the literature –
Session with library staff in the lecture theatre Chapter 4
4 Critically reviewing the literature –
Session on use of Endnote software with library staff Chapter 4 Assignment 1 –
5 Quantitative business research
• Questionnaire design Chapters 6, 9
6 Quantitative business research
• Measurement scales
• Attitude measurement Chapter 10 Assignment 1 – Abstract due
EASTER BREAK (6/4-10/4)
7 Sampling and fieldwork Chapter 7
8 Quantitative business research
• Data collection
• Data analysis & reporting Chapters 9, 14
9 Quantitative business research
• Pilot Testing – Assignment questionnaires
Qualitative business research
• Focus groups, in-depth interviews, phenomenology & observation Chapters 16, 18, 19 Assignment 2 –
Part A due
10 Qualitative business research
• Analysis & Reporting Chapter 22
11 Secondary data analysis Chapter 13
12 Subject review & exam preparation Assignment 2 –
Part B due
Assessment Assessment Tasks: Descriptions Learning Outcomes
Graduate Capabilities Weighting (%)
Assessment Criteria Due date
1 Literature Review:
• Article collection
• Structured abstract LOs 1, 2 & 5
Grad caps 1 a), b) & c) 30%
See page 7
2 – Part A Questionnaire development LOs 1, 3, 4 & 6
Grad caps 1 a), b) c) & 2 b), c) & d) 20% See page 8 Week 9
2 – Part B Questionnaire piloting & administration 20% See page 9 Week 12
3 Exam LOs 1, 3
Grad caps b) 30% See page 9 Exam period
Assessment 1 – Articles, 5%, due Week 4 and Abstract, 25%, due Week 6
Undertake a literature review on a theoretical concept/construct of your choosing that has real world management implications (e.g., customer satisfaction, organisational commitment, etc.). Research the field to find the seminal article (the first article to propose the theory) relating to the concept and three other more recent articles (2010 onwards), one of which must apply a quantitative research design, another a qualitative design and the third, a mixed method (qualitative and quantitative) design. Please note that all articles must be full papers (e.g., not research notes, book reviews) sourced from refereed academic journals. Please submit hard copies of your selected papers in class during Week 4 for your lecturer to review and approve. This will count towards 5% of your grade for this assessment.
Once you have sourced the articles in question, review them and write an 800-1,000 word structured abstract, which draws upon all the articles you have reviewed, using the following headings:
• Brief summary of the theory and progression in the field (i.e., how has the theory developed since first proposed?)
• Common themes/findings across the four articles.
• Different themes/findings across the four articles.
• Study limitations and how these differ across the various study designs (quantitative, qualitative).
• Future research directions proposed in the articles.
Submit your structured abstract through the Assessment Dropbox on VU Collaborate (excluding the assignment cover sheet) and the hard copies (with assignment cover sheet) to the Victoria Graduate School of Business mailbox on City Flinders Level 10 by 5pm Friday 3rd April 2015 (end of Week 6).
Assessment 2 – Part A, 20%, due Week 9
In pairs, design a questionnaire to address the following management problem.
An advertising agency wants to win the pitch for the ALDI’s advertising account in Australia. The discount shopping chain, which opened its first Australian store in January 2001, now has over 300 stores operating across New South Wales, ACT, Queensland and Victoria (ALDI, 2015). In many cases, it sells brands not familiar to Australians and takes a no frills approach to the shopping experience (e.g., customers bring their own bags or pay a surcharge for a plastic bag in store). The Regional Head of Strategic Planning of the advertising agency has decided to commission research to get a better understanding of customers shopping behaviours, motivations and perceptions of the ALDI shopping experience compared to its rival competitors Coles and Woolworths.
Devise a questionnaire with a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 20 questions to gather data to address the management problem. Use a mix of open and closed question formats. One of your questionnaire items must employ a replicable scale – a scale that has previously been tested in the academic literature relating to shopping behaviours and found to be reliable and valid. Ensure your questionnaire has a brief introduction to inform respondents as to the purpose of the research.
In Week 9 submit your questionnaire, which forms Part A of Assessment 2, through Assessment Dropbox on VU Collaborate (excluding the assignment cover sheet) and the hard copy (with assignment cover sheet) to the Victoria Graduate School of Business mailbox on City Flinders Level 10 by 5pm Friday 1st May 2015 (end of Week 9). In addition, in pairs write a brief 500-800 word report explaining the structure of the questionnaire and the steps your group took in designing it to address the management problem.
Assessment 2 – Part B, 20%, due Week 12
In Week 9, in pairs, pilot test your questionnaire in class with another group. Based on the feedback from the pilot test, you will revise your questionnaire as a pair to address the feedback. Once the questionnaire is finalised as a pair administer it to four people by way of a convenience sampling technique. These people may be family, friends or work colleagues; however, they must all be over 18 years old and have shopped at ALDI within the last six months. You can administer the questionnaire face-to-face, by telephone or online. All respondents will be asked to sign that their completion of the questionnaire is authentic to verify the fieldwork component of the assignment has been properly completed.
Once the fieldwork has been completed, in your pair write a 1,500 word reflective report detailing:
• Your reasons for selecting the particular method of survey administration used? What were the advantages and disadvantages of using this method?
• Was the administration procedure a success i.e., did respondents understand the questions (look confused or ask questions)? was there missing data (i.e., skipped questions)? on average, how long it take for respondents to complete the survey?
• What suggestions would you make for improving the administration procedure used?
• What, if any changes, would you make to the questionnaire before administering it to a larger group of respondents?
• On reflection, what were the key lessons you learnt from the survey administration process?
In Week 12 submit your report and a copy of the revised questionnaire, which forms Part B of Assessment 2, through the Assessment Dropbox on VU Collaborate (excluding the assignment cover sheet) and the hard copy (with assignment cover sheet) to the Victoria Graduate School of Business mailbox on City Flinders Level 10 by 5pm Friday 22nd May 2015 (end of Week 12).
Assessment 3 - Exam – 30%, held in University exam period
Ensure that all assessments are submitted with the completed assignment cover sheets as appropriate.
Scholarly writing, plagiarism and copyright
An academic course of study requires students to source information in a number of different formats including factual information, data and analysis, reasoned arguments and the insights of others. Part of what it means to be a ‘scholar’ is to engage with the work of others, for example, to extend or refine one’s own ideas, critique the work of others, or test and extend theories. However, remember to give credit where credit is due, that is, acknowledging the work of others in your own work by using the correct referencing system. Failure to acknowledge other people’s work appropriately may be regarded as plagiarism or academic misconduct. VU deals with plagiarism according to the Academic Honesty and Preventing Plagiarism policy (http://wcf.vu.edu.au/governancepolicy/PDF/POA040915000.PDF)
Copyright law gives the owner of text, photos, pictures, films and recordings the rights to control reproduction, publication, communication, performance and adaptation of their work. All students and staff of Victoria University are bound by the requirements of the Copyright Act (1968) when using third party copyright material in the course of their research and study.
For information on copyright entitlements and responsibilities for study and research please see:
Referencing requirements within this unit
The referencing convention that is applicable to this unit is APA Style Guide version 6.
Academic writing and referencing guidelines:
Two VU online support sites on academic writing and appropriate referencing are:
Extensions, Alternative Examinations and Special Consideration
If you are not able to submit your work by the submission date or able to attend the final examination, and there are grounds (medical, personal hardship, extenuating circumstances, etc.) for not attending the examination or submitting your work on time, or for your performance being impaired, you may submit an online application for an extension, an alternative exam or for special consideration. You can find information and forms for Special Consideration, Alternative Examinations and Supplementary Examinations at http://www.vu.edu.au/student-life/exams-results/special-consideration-supplementary-exams. You may need to contact a student counsellor to assist you with this process. For further information please see vu.edu.au/student-life/getting-help/counselling
Supplementary Assessment may be available to students who have marginally failed a task, have not demonstrated competency for a unit, or who were successful in a claim for special consideration. If you wish to be considered for Supplementary Assessment you should refer to the policy http://wcf.vu.edu.au/GovernancePolicy/PDF/POA090212002.PDF
Forms are available at vu.edu.au/student-tools/student-forms
The student assessment policy is available at http://wcf.vu.edu.au/GovernancePolicy/PDF/POA090212002.PDF
Student Complaints Resolution
Victoria University has a Student Complaints Resolution policy to guide you through the steps you can take to resolve issues related to your time at the University. If your issue relates to your study, the first step is to raise it directly with the relevant academic staff. You also have the option to make a confidential appointment with a Student Advocate if you are unsure how to approach the situation. For more information go to vu.edu.au/student-life/getting-help/student-complaints-resolution
Succeeding at Victoria University
As a university of opportunity, Victoria University is committed to providing all students with the opportunity to succeed in their studies. If you require any support during the semester you are advised to speak to your unit co-ordinator, course co-ordinator or class teacher. There is also additional support and guidance for students.
At VU we have a range of support, development and guidance and opportunities for you outside the classroom as part of your learning experience. The portal (vu.edu.au/student-tools/myvu-student-portal) provides detailed information on a range of student services (outlined in Table C below) with which you will find helpful.
• General student support services
• Services for international students
• Services for students with disabilities and/or medical conditions
• The Library
• Academic Support and Development
• Student life and student associations • Course structures
• Calendars and timetables
• Student email
• Assignment cover sheets and forms
• Students’ rights and responsibilities
• Social networking at VU
• Student complaints
• Student advocacy
Providing feedback: Student Evaluation System (SES)
Your feedback on your experiences within this unit is important, because it assists VU to improve the learning experience of units and courses for future students.
You are encouraged to provide informal feedback directly to your unit and course co-ordinators. The University also collects your anonymous feedback systematically through the Student Evaluation Survey (SES), the name for the two combined student evaluation instruments: the Student Evaluation of Unit (SEU) and the Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET). Students are asked to complete the SEU and SET near the end of each unit. SEU and SET results are anonymous, and are not made available to the teaching staff in the unit until after the University has released your final grades.
Unit Guide Version Number: Version 1
Last Validation Date: February 20th 2015