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Author: Shobhit Malik

Foundation of Your Research Project: Common Research Design Flaws to Avoid

Foundation of Your Research Project: Common Research Design Flaws to Avoid

The research design is the central organizing feature of a research study. It specifies the decision-making processes, conceptual structure, and methods of analysis used to address the central research problem of your study. A research design is the most important part of your study. You must make sure to select the best design for your study. The purpose of designing a research study or experiment is to make it possible to answer key questions about the topic at hand. If a research design is not selected properly, you run the risk of making mistakes because there are different types of mistakes associated with each type of design. This article has the list of common flaws within research designs and how they can be avoided.

To understand how the research design is affected by various influences that can produce certain flaws in the study, we must first explore the elements of research design that are prone to errors. 

The Common Design Flaws

Ill-defined Research Problem: This the starting point of most research and a comprehensive research design consists of a clear research problem that sets the framework for the development of research questions which can enable the researcher to address the problem that will be pursued in the research. This will also have an impact on the type of research design that you will be choosing, making it an essential step. 

Invalid Theoretical Framework: The theoretical framework is the structure that can hold or support a theory of a research study. The theoretical framework introduces and describes the theory which explains why the research problem under study exists. Lack of a logical hypothesis will render the research design useless because it cannot be tested and provide universal results leaving your research flawed. 

Lack of Specificity: A concise and clear research design provides a strong structure to your research. Most aspects of the research design are vulnerable to generalization and this should be prevented with in-depth yet precise and definite terms that describe the process of study in a conclusive form. 

Issues with Literature Review: In any research design, the link between past research and your present study is a necessity to be explored. The literature review is not to be a mere summary or narration of the past research but should specifically establish a relationship between what has been studied and what your research will improve upon. This identification of the research gap can only be accomplished with a comprehensive literature review which also addresses how your research will either fill that existing gap or challenge a finding or assumption that is faulty from previous research. 

Flaws in Methodology: The research design should fundamentally explore in detail the tools and methods for data collection and how the collected data will be analyzed in the research. The approach to this is largely guided by the quantitative or qualitative or mixed method of research that the researcher has employed. However, if your research does not utilize the best tools, most current and accepted survey methods and provide clear justification to why a certain method has been chosen and how it will affect the quality of data. The research design can also be affected by the quality of the instruments and techniques used to collect the data. 

Statistical Inaccuracies:The quality of your quantitative study is heavily influenced by the statistical quality of your research work. The research has to be scientifically accurate and proper statistical methods have to be employed while analyzing the data. The research design will be flawed if there is a failure to describe how you have organized the raw data for analysis, including the selected methods of statistical analysis that you will be using to analyze the data to derive meaningful interpretations and key trends or patterns found within the data. 

Ethical Problems: The research design should clearly indicate how your study will address and redress any risk for your participants while you are gathering data, especially for qualitative research. This description should also entail how while trying to minimize the risk the quality of data gathered will not be impacted and how the research problem can be successfully addressed while maintaining the validity and objectivity of your study.

Proximity sampling: Your research can be heavily impacted by biases in sampling. Proximity sampling is a common sampling error that affects the quality of your research design. This error occurs when researchers choose members merely based on proximity and don’t consider whether they represent the entire population or not and this is merely based on convenience and ease of access because of geographical proximity, availability at a given time, or willingness to participate in the research.

Provincialism of scope: refers to designing a narrowly applied scope, geographical area, sampling, or method of analysis that is narrowly defined, restricting the relevance of your results. This brings a huge implication to your research considering that the results obtained cannot be generalized or transferred to a different setting which could bring about a question of relevance of the research in wider scope. 

There are various other flaws that can impact your research design from unavoidable aspects such as research study limitations and lack of experience and lack of funding or resources but the above mentioned ones can be vastly avoided by researchers when designing their research to protect the validity of your research. 

Exploring the most popular types of literature reviews in business studies

Exploring the most popular types of literature reviews in business studies

Thesis writing, although is an arduous and time-consuming task, is definitely an important aspect in a PhD journey. This is because a thesis demonstrates the understanding and involvement of the scholar in the specific research.

A widely accepted layout of a thesis consists of chapters such as introduction, methodology, data analysis, results, conclusion, reference list, etc. Although every section is important in a thesis, the most significant among them is the literature review chapter. However, not all scholars are aware of the importance of this chapter.

Majority of the time, scholars consider performing and writing a literature review chapter as a formality. I.e, they simply figure out & list studies vaguely relevant to their study. But in reality, literature review is more than merely listing the studies. It is a standalone investigation of how you a scholar developed the specific idea and provides background against which the study is performed.

Some of the added advantages of performing a literature review are:

  • Demonstrates understanding –  This chapter exhibits a scholar’s understanding of the chosen subject. It identifies, summarises and critically evaluates previous researches that are relevant to the current work.
  • Justifies the research – Literature review plays a key role in setting up the research question and justifying the study. This is so because evaluating previous studies enables a scholar to identify the existing gaps in the literature which can then be filled with the present study.
  • Setting up a theoretical framework – Literature review can be regarded as a foundation of a study. This is because the rest of the work will be built upon the concepts/ideas of the existing research. Formulate a theoretical framework comprising of the concepts or theories on which the present study is based upon and against which its results will be judged.
  • Narrow downs the research focus – Collecting sources, evaluating and synthesising them will enable a scholar to place the relevance of the study in the larger context of the previous research on the same topic. Performing a literature review will let a scholar compare and find out how his/her research is different from other research.
  • Avoids plagiarism – During the compilation of the review, one can figure out the research that was already conducted on the same topic. This lets a scholar tailor his/her research in a unique way and avoid rehashing with the existing research.

Different domain demands a specific type of literature review. While medical literature review includes cohort study, lab studies, case control studies, etc. social science include systematic review and manu more. Although there are various types of literature reviews, today, the most popular kinds of literature review used in business studies are:

  1. Narrative literature review – This kind of literature review not just summarises the body of the literature and critiques the literature but also identifies the gap in the body of knowledge and draws conclusions about the chosen topic. However, to perform this type of review, one requires a focused research topic. While performing this type of literature is strenuous, penning down is easier said than done. Hence it is wise to take help from writers offering PhD thesis writing services.
  2. Integrative literature review – This type of literature review synthesises the secondary sources/data and critiques the research topic in an integrated manner. This results in the development of novel frameworks and perspectives on the research topic. If a research does not include primary data collection & data analysis, then integrative literature review must be used.
  3. Argumentative literature review –  As the name implies, argumentative literature review evaluates literature selectively either to support or refute an argument ( imbedded assumption or philosophical problem). However, incorporating argumentative literature review within the thesis is not as easy as pie. One must avoid using terms that hurt readers sentiment or has the potential to create a controversy. This is when the professional assistance comes into the picture. If you need any help in penning down an argumentative review take help from the writers providing thesis writers in India.
  4. Theoretical literature review – This form of literature review focuses on set of theory that is relevant to an issue, theory, concept, or phenomena. Theoretical literature reviews establishes a relationship between the existing theories and assists in developing a new hypothesis to be tested.

At the beginning of a literature review chapter, one must mention the kind of literature review that has been chosen and the reason behind selecting the same. If you need any help in crafting a literature review section, consider taking help from PhD writers in India.

Books for PhD that You Must Know

Books for PhD that You Must Know

You must know how to write, how to research, how to give presentations, and how to defend your thesis. There are several PhD books that claim to be effective to help you in PhD, but the question is which ones are worth buying? Here is a list of some books that can mend more than 90% problems during PhD.

Academic Writing Books

Academic writing seems gruelling to most PhD scholars. This is because most of them are not English native speakers. They want to write in native style tone, but the language barrier obstructs them. Your writing is extremely crucial to have your thesis approved. Your research committee will analyze whether you’re able to convey your message by organizing the information or not. Before taking a dive into writing, you should consult some books. For instance,

  1. The Chicago Manual of Style – This is an American English style guide. The latest edition prescribes the writing and citation style that is most popular in publishing. You will learn everything from manuscript writing, editing, and proofreading to grammar, punctuation, spelling, words treatment, sentence-structure, and abbreviation rules.
  2. How to Write a Better Thesis by Paul Gruba – The third edition of this book can help you comprehend a well-written style. It emphasizes on common structural problems and the ways to overcome them. This book will help you develop a direct and conversational tone.
  3. The Literature Review  Six Steps to Success by Lawrence A. Machi – This books talks about six steps – choosing a topic, searching the literature, review the literature, developing arguments, criticizing the previous research, and writing the literature review.
  4. Writing Your Thesis/Dissertation in 15 Minutes a Day by Joan Bolker – Most PhD scholars seek advice when it comes to thesis writing. This book introduces you pleasurable methods that would evoke your interest in writing. You will be enlightened to some strategies that would promote productivity.

Presentation Skills Books

OK, your writing task is done; now is the time to present your work in front of a research committee. This is the moment when you are extremely nervous. Before introducing presentation skills books, let me tell you something.

When I appeared before jury, I was on edge. My hands were literally shivering. My heart was pounding inside my chest. My legs were numb. I took sometime to placate myself. I took a deep breath and relaxed before starting the presentation.

This is a very common experience that many PhD scholars go through. You should prepare yourself completely for your project presentation. You shouldn’t forget that good presentation skills can help you score a better grade, and people will embrace your discoveries. To enhance your presentation skills, you should read the following books.

  1. The Craft of Scientific Presentation: Critical Steps to Succeed and Critical Errors to Avoid by Michael Alley – This book illustrates the examples of scientific presentations. It talks about the persuasive ways to engage your audience and encourage them to adopt some course of action. You will learn effective ways to communicate information. You will also explore how to give computer-based presentations and slideshows.
  2. A Handbook of Public Speaking for Scientists and Engineers by Peter Kenny – This book helps scientists and engineers improve their communication skills to present technical data and cases to a research committee. It provides the most effective techniques to put forth your ideas.
  3. The Visual Display of Quantitative Information by Edward R. Tufte – Graphs, charts, and tables are some of the ways to display quantitative information, but many PhD scholars fail to present graphical and tabular information in a correct manner. This book illustrates the examples of the best and worst presentation of graphical information. You will explore how to depict quantitative information in an understandable manner.
  4. Even a Geek can Speak by Joey Asher – This book talks about the ways to present complex ideas in a simpler form that connects listeners to you. A good presentation is one that audience twigs a message more explicitly. You will explore ways to present even technical information in simple forms.

General Advice Books

PhD scholars also face some other issues like lack of productivity and motivation. You should read the following books to increase your productivity and stay motivated.

  1. The Craft of research by Joseph M. Williams – This book provides an overview upon the ways to select a topic, conduct a research, and writing a thesis.
  2. The Unwritten Rules of PhD Research by Gordon Rugg – This book has been published to give you a general advice on how to twig what supervisors actually mean by good referencing, good design, report, and defense statements. It involves critical thinking, research models, and research skills.
  3. How to Survive Your PhD by Jason Karp – Getting your PhD is not an easy task. You might come across several unexpected events during your doctorate programme. This book will help you stay motivated by tackling every part of your PhD.
  4. The Smart Way to Your PhD by Dora Frakes – Are you feeling like being thrown in deep end? If yes, you’re not alone. Many PhD scholars find it arduous to complete research work, and most of them give up. However, no need to relinquish, you can find various smart techniques to complete your PhD in this book.

So which book are you going to consult?

Literature Review vs. Systematic Review

Literature Review vs. Systematic Review

The literature existing for a specific topic can be summarized in either a systematic review or literature review. So, both these topics are easily confused, until one delves into the dynamics of both these systems. Even though they are used to fulfil a similar requirement, a literature review is significantly different from a systematic review.

A literature review involves the qualitative summarization of a topic, typically using informal or subjective methods to collate and interpret data. On the other hand, a systematic review involves high-level study of the primary research using a focused approach toward identification, selection, synthesis, and appraisal of all relevant questions involved in the research. From the definition itself, it is evident that the latter review format is more comprehensive as compared to the former.

Both these review systems are inherently different and require specific requirements for their appropriate use. Inappropriate use of either of them can defeat the purpose of the review system.

A systematic review system is appropriate in cases when a focused question requires a pertinent answer. This system is primarily used to remove any bias from the review. Such a review system can be used to answer a clearly defined clinical question. The components of a systematic review include a pre-specified eligibility criterion, systematic search strategy, assessment of the findings’ validity, interpretation and presentation of the results, and a reference list. The number of authors needs to be three or more. An average time required to complete a systematic review is 18 months, on average. The timeline usually goes into months and sometimes, into years. From the above, it is understandable that a thorough knowledge of the topic is required, and a comprehensive statistical analysis of the resources is needed to be done. Such a review system supports the techniques of evidence-based practice.

On the other hand, a literature review is fairly basic in comparison to a systematic review. It is basically a qualitative summary of evidences on a particular topic using informal/subjective methods of collation of data. It can be used to provide a summary or overview of a particular topic; the topic can be generic in nature or a specific query. The principal components of this review system are introduction, methods, discussion, conclusion, and bibliography. The number of authors can be one, or even more. Since it is not comprehensive in nature as compared to a systematic review, the timeline required to finish this review ranges in weeks to months. A comprehensive understanding of the topic under review is not required.

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