Topography the Primary Responsibility of Term Paper

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Primary Research Approach Qualitative vs. Quantitative?

Characteristics, Benefits and Problems

Mail survey


Low cost

Poor response rate possibility

Possibility of incomplete answers

Responses are pre-coded and must be simple so people can understand them which means, sometimes that the quality of information provided is lower than from other methods

Telephone survey


Cost effective method of achieving strong sample which allows for generalizations to be made

Responses are pre-coded and certain groups might not have access to the telephone, so they may be excluded from the sample

It is difficult to ask sensitive questions over the telephone

Works well with employers

Face-to-face survey


Can include both open questions as pre-coded

Can achieve robust sample allowing generalizations if sufficient numbers are surveyed

Expensive and time-consuming to administrator

Ideal for gathering sensitive information or exploring complicated issues

In-depth interview


Loaded and detailed information can be gathered

Interviewers are allowed more flexibility

Answers to open questions can be difficult and time-consuming to analyze

Expensive and time-consuming to the business manager

Focus group

Qualitative group discussion with around 8-12 people

Usually lasts between 1 and 3 hours

Capitalizes on interaction between participants

Participants are not representative of wider population which does not allow for generalization

Useful for gathering sensitive data

Requires careful and unbiased analysis

Case study


Researcher gains understanding of a specific person's experience through an in-depth interview

Provides good quotations and rich data

Can bring alive other research, such as survey data

Findings cannot be generalized to a wider population


Ferguson, George, A (1967). Statistical Analysis in Psychology and Education. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Ohlson, E.L. (1998). Best Fit Practices in Research. Chicago: ACTS Testing Lab.

Kerlinger, Fred (1964) Foundations of Behavioral Research. New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, Inc.

Secondary Research.

Oftentimes a research investigator has conducted exploratory research with respect to a certain product, service, or policy issue but is not yet prepared to undertake the rigors of conducting primary research. In the interim the individual might possibly opt to conduct what is called secondary research. Secondary research is absent of all hands-on involvement with samples, real objects, lab, and all other materials required for primary research (Hinds, Vogel, & Clarke-Steffen 1997). Secondary research is making use of information and data all ready collected by other research investigators and is generally used as supportive material for new primary research (Ohlson, 1998). There are times, however, when there is a need to support the implementation of a new business policy, business practice, or business plan and secondary research information is all that is needed. One must keep in mind that secondary research does not mean relying on information that is undocumented, loosely defined or outdated. When using secondary research to support a business endeavor the person must make sure that the data being review and utilized is topic appropriate, timely, content accurate, and authoritative. The secondary research process in business operations adhere to the following principles (Procter, 1993):

Identify the key problem or issue facing the department or company.

Set objectives with respect to what is to be accomplished by garnering secondary research data.

Obtain background information on the issue or problem being investigated wherein support is needed.

Locate the necessary research information.

Be prepared to use outside source interviews to back-up research information found.

Synthesize and organize the data procured.

Present the findings in a well written research report.

Always keep in mind that secondary research and secondary research data does not take the place of primary research investigative practices and whenever possible primary research should be conducted over that of secondary research. Keep in mind as well that secondary research should not stand as a "second class research citizen" as often times what happens is that from reviewing the research work of other new ideas come forward and new insights are often gained relative to current problems and situations.


Hinds, P.S., Vogel, R.J., Clarke-Steffen, L. (1997) 'The possibilities and pitfalls of doing a secondary analysis of a qualitative data set', Qualitative Health Research, vol. 7(3): 408-24.

Ohlson, E.L. (1998). Best Fit Practices in Research. Chicago: ACTS Testing Lab.

Procter, M. (1993). Analysing Other Researchers' Data' in Gilbert, N. (Ed.) Researching

Social Life. London: Sage

Ad Hoc Research.

The Latin term ad hoc literally means "created for this purpose." Ad hoc research is an investigative endeavor wherein a 'solution' has been tailored for a single purpose. In other words, one has developed a solution and applies the solution to a single problem to determine if changes result. Ad hoc research relies heavily on secondary research findings but not always. Sometimes solutions are new untested ideas that are applied to specific situation to see if they work. Oftentimes these solutions have not been tested and lack scientific authority. In the business domain ad hoc research is for a specific purpose, case, or situation at hand and for no other (Hague, 1996). An excellent example of ad hoc research in business would be in finding a solution to market an old product to an entirely different consumer segment that originally intended. Another example would be to find new uses for an old product or finding new uses for a product that most consumers throw away. The latter example is oftentimes the case wherein products no longer of value in one country find a new value in another country.


Hague, Paul N…[continue]

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