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Individual Research Design and Analysis Plan

The learning objective / purpose of this assignment is to gauge your understanding of the readings, PPTS, and class discussions. An “A” paper will utilize the terms from the books in an applied setting and exhibit an understanding of how all the methods and the process fits together in a single organizational change project. By writing down your thoughts about the entire process, you can begin to see how each of the decisions is interrelated – e.g., the research question should inform the design and sampling, and the methods and questions asked (format) affects the method of analysis (e.g., categorical data vs. Likert scales), and finally the entire process alters what you can do with the data (i.e., the recommendations you can or cannot make).

Each of you will identify a question or issue in your own organization and design a hypothetical study to diagnose the issue—including qualitative, sampling, and quantitative data collection methods that you would suggest. You will then discuss the analytical methods you could use to analyze your (hypothetical) data and provide recommendations based on your potential or hypothetical findings (i.e., you do not have to perform actual analysis here but rather you are describing fake data that you anticipate you might find). The final paper submission will include a discussion of problem/issue; research design (sampling and method); analytical methods; hypothetical findings; and recommendations.

This paper should be written as a proposal and a narrative of the alternatives that you chose (e.g., a rating and/or a sorting/ranking question; online vs. paper and pencil, etc.). Put a stake in the ground in the body of the proposal, and then use the recommendations and learnings to further discuss the pros and cons of the approaches you chose. No single study is perfect! It is ok. The limitations are an opportunity to inform your reader, and your client, of the boundary conditions.

The following is a sample outline of major sections to include in your proposal:

1. Background / Topic / Research Question

a. Company background – context that is relevant to your problem being diagnosed

b. State the *research question, *hypotheses, and why you want to study the question

i. Why it is relevant to you (i.e., what benefits would the study bring to you professionally or to your organization)?

ii. Include sub-questions (or hypotheses) that are secondary to your primary research question.

c. In the background information, focus primarily on the relevant details related to the research, not an exhaustive background of the company per se.

2. Method

a. Describe the sample (subjects in the study as well as the organization you are studying), sample size, sampling technique, and data collection method (how will you collect the data, what methods—surveys, interviews, online, paper, etc.—you will use to collect the data). Much of this is in Fink but also Salkind.

i. You may include some secondary data analysis in your plan, but also describe a primary research project – qualitative and quantitative and how they flow from one to the other.

1. If you use secondary data, it might be the first step that actually points you toward qualitative then quantitative. For example, turnover data or absenteeism might be the first step, review of exit interview data (existing secondary), and then your own qualitative interviews to seek more insights as to why they did or might leave. The survey or primary / quantitative data is usually designed based on what you hear in the qualitative.

ii. This is where you will utilize a number of notes/quotes from the textbooks. What are the pros and cons of each method you use and why are they important? Again, the disadvantages of the methods you choose can also be discussed in the conclusions / learning section, since no single study is ever perfect.

3. Analysis

a. Describe the analysis plan.

b. How would you go about analyzing the data? What types of questions would you analyze?

i. Provide a few example questions from the in-depth interviews, focus groups, and survey/questionnaire so that you can then describe the analysis methods as they relate to the types of questions you ask.

ii. Keep in mind the variety of types of questions. An entire survey of all rating question on 1-5 or 1-7 scales would limit your analysis options.

1. That is, use more than scales. Show me you understand the variety of questions you can use and why you need the variety.

c. What analysis tools or methods will you use and why? What techniques are most appropriate for particular types of questions (e.g., rating, ranking, demographics, etc.)? What type of graphic depiction of the data would be most appropriate for particular types of questions?

i. Provide some examples / visual representations of the fake data.

ii. The tricky part of the analysis and the flow of your paper is that you will need to describe how secondary and open-ended / qualitative led to quantitative survey question design. There is no right answer. It is all about how you make the paper flow.

4. Results

a. State the results of the hypothetical study.

b. What are the anticipated results from the qualitative and the quantitative? What would be sample themes?

i. How did the themes inform the survey, or, how did the secondary data inform the survey?

c. What are the implications (e.g., East Wing is more likely to be dissatisfied than West Wing)? You know this because of what statistical test described above?

d. How would you know if it was significant? (This applies to the quantitative analysis and descriptions in Salkind.)

i. Talk yourself through the book and show me you understand the textbooks. Maybe even present some sample output / descriptions of that output.

5. Recommendations

a. State your recommendations.

b. What are your recommendations and their implications? In other words, are there consequences to your recommendations?

c. How feasible are they, and do you anticipate any obstacles?

d. As always, there are tradeoffs. Why did you select certain data collection methods over others? What would be the pros and cons of each?

e. What are the limitations of your research? What will it NOT be able to answer? What would future research look like?


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