Understanding Business and Management Research

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Understanding Business and
Management Research
Virtual Seminar
Assignment Guidance 2021
Vers 1.3 09/02/2021
● This assignment guide is based on the personal
experience of the tutors
● As well as the numerous questions students ask
about the assignment
● As a result the guide is regularly being changed,
improved updated
● Please keep checking back as you complete your
● This version (1.3) has been amended to make clear
when we are referring to the Assignment Brief.
The assignment and this guide (1)
● It is important that you download the assignment (the
Assignment Brief) from Wiseflow or Blackboard and study it
● The Assignment Brief may change to reflect new conditions
relating to the impact of Covid-19 on the university
● The Assignment Brief details what is expected of you
● Study it, study this guide, and contact your seminar
tutor if there is anything that is not clear
● This guide is based on the Assignment Brief
● It tries to explain what is meant
● Anything in parentheses “like this” is a direct quote from
the Assignment Brief
The assignment and this guide (2)
● This guide is just that – advice
● Base your work on the Assignment Brief on
● A lot of what is in this guide is just
● eg. we give indicative word counts for each section:
you can write more or less as long as your final total
is not more than 2000 words.
● Where the assignment says “typically” or “normally” it
means you can make your own choices
The assignment and this guide (3)
● The Assignment Brief has a marking grid which
shows you how marks will be allocated
– Check your work against this template
– Your mark and feedback will be based on these
● At the moment the assignment is due at 12 noon on
26 April 2021.
This guide examines all the key elements of the
assignment, as well as instructions on how to present
your work.
It approaches the assignment in this way:
● The written instructions, and what they mean
● The review: what and how
● Recommended structure
● Sources for your assignment
● Marks
● Format and presentation
● Resources available to you
The assignment
● Submission April 26
– This date may change, so please keep checking
Blackboard and Wiseflow.
Coronavirus crisis
– The March exam/test has been canceled
– Assessment for this module is now 100% based on
the assignment
– This is a critical analysis of the literature
• It is not a full literature review
Choice of topic
● Should be in the field of study of your MSc
● Eg a topic in accounting, marketing, HRM
● Ideally something you propose to study for your
● Because you can use this review (2000 words) as the
basis of your dissertation literature review (5000
● Although you can choose another topic
● Maybe something you did for an assignment in
another module
Reviewing what (1)?
● “Significant literature review”
– Not just a summary of a few articles
● “Underpinning methodologies adopted in previous
– The philosophical positions – positivist, realist,
social constructionist? Inductive or deductive?
● “Research method(s) adopted in previous research”
– The practical tools and techniques used
– Try to ensure you review articles that use qualitative
research AND ones that use quantitative
– Interviews, surveys, action research, etc.
Reviewing what (2)?
● “Range of viewpoints and perspectives”
● On what points do the authors agree?
● Where do they disagree?
● The most important word to use is “however”
● “Critical analysis”
● Not just what is said, but what is meant
● “Knowledge and understanding”
● Show you understand what has been done and why
● “Evaluate theoretical and technical aspects”
● Distinguish between methodologies and methods
● In particular qualitative and quantitative
Other instructions
● “Demonstrate both breadth and depth of
– Show you appreciate the importance of each of the
individual articles
– As well as their importance overall in the subject
area or field of study
● “Explain,discuss and evaluate the methodologies
applied in the reviewed literature.”
– The philosophical positions adopted: why were they
chosen, how were they used?
– Did they achieve the research objectives?
– What alternatives might have worked better?
Recommended structure:
(a) Executive summary
● This should be very short
– Maybe just 50-100 words
● Summarize your assignment
– in a way that a reader can rapidly learn what it
is about
– without having to read the whole thing
Recommended structure:
(b) Introduction
● Should be short
– Maybe 100-150 words
● Describe
– The area of study (eg. eCommerce and SMEs)
– Why this area is important
– How you are going to review the literature
– What the main issues are
Recommended structure:
(c) literature review
● Should be the main bulk of the assignment
– Maybe 1000 – 1500 words
● Look at the whole field generally
– The main themes, the main authors
– Any gaps you see in the research
● Focus on 3-4 journal articles in detail
– Contrast and compare methodologies, etc.
– In particular qualitative vs quantitative.
– You don’t have the word count to review
Recommended structure:
(d) Analysis, discussion, etc
● Analysis, discussion and evaluation of research
methodologies used, and methods employed. Maybe
500 words
● Analysis
– Key similarities and differences between your
chosen articles – philosophical and practical
– eg. 2 papers were inductive, 2 deductive
● Discussion
– Why were different approaches adopted?
● Evaluation
– Which do you believe worked better?
Recommended structure:
(e) Findings
● Findings and what you have learned from this
– A brief summary, maybe 200-300 words
● In general what have your learned about this
area of study
– eg. most studies are inductive/quantitative
– eg. most studies are out of date
– eg. there is very little written about this
– eg. most studies are based on Europe and USA
Recommended structure:
(f) references
● Use the Harvard Referencing System
● Make sure your 3-4 key articles are included
● List another 15-20 articles
– Ones you have seen, but not reviewed
– Ones that are referenced in the papers you
● Try to find recent references, 2018-2021
– If these don’t exist, discuss why
● Use the Brunel guide to Harvard referencing
● Be consistent in your referencing
Marks: Knowledge
● 25% of the marks are awarded for knowledge
● You need to demonstrate that you have read
widely in
● Business research methods
● Your chosen subject area
● You will show this by
● Citing a wide range of up-to-date sources
● Outlining the research philosophies and
techniques used by the authors you review
Marks: Understanding
● 25% of the marks are allocated to
● You need to show that you understand what
you have read
● And appreciate the context of the articles you
● As well as being able to articulate the theories
underpinning the research
Marks: Analysis
● 25% of the marks are assigned to analysis
● You need to show that you can identify all the
key arguments emerging across the articles
you review
● In particular the arguments (debates, points of
● You can give examples of these in the texts
● Analysis of concepts, methods and theory
● What are they and what do they mean?
Marks: evaluation
● 25% of the marks are awarded for evaluation
● You need to show that you are able to
● Relative strengths and weaknesses of different
research ideas, theory and concept
● You need to demonstrate, if possible
● An appreciation of your own limits in terms of
judgement and knowledge
Sources for your assignment (1)
● “Academic research books”
– More for background, rather than analysis
● “Academic empirical journal articles (CABS
ranking listed journals)”
– Ideally focus on 3-4 articles from quality journals
– https://charteredabs.org/academic-journal-guide-20
Sources for your assignment (2)
● “To support your analysis and arguments”
● Give references, not your opinions
● “Backed with appropriate academic
references and examples where necessary.”
– But bear in mind the word count
What if you can’t find journal articles?
● Think about broadening your focus
● eg. instead of SMEs in eCommerce in China, widen
to SMEs in eCommerce generally
● Find more general articles in ‘quality’ journals
● But show how more relevant/focused articles are
available in other publications
● In the analysis section discuss why there are no
relevant publications
● eg. this is a very new field/topic
● It’s better to say you couldn’t find any articles, than to
say there are no articles
● Use 12 pt. Times New Roman font
● Line spacing of 1.5
● Word limit is 2000 words maximum
– Excluding references
– Word counts less than 1800 will be penalized
● Minimum 15 academic journal article
● Harvard referencing system must be used
● Save your assignment as PDF
● Word documents and other formats will not be
● Use your student number as the file name
● eg. 1987654.pdf
● Fill out the electronic coursework coversheet
● Upload to WISEflow
Resources available to you (1)
● There are some examples of previous assignments
for you to look at on Blackboard
● These are good pieces of work, so use them to
understand what you need to do to get a good mark
● These are not templates
– In other words you can use alternative formats
– As long as you address all the points in the
assignment brief
● Do not copy or cut-and-paste any of these
– WiseFlow automatically checks your work for
Resources available to you (2)
● You will find links to useful research resources via
Brunel’s ASK programme.
– You can access this through BlackBoard (top line)
– Or you can go directly to the ASK website
– Resources include
• academic writing
• statistics, etc. including SPSS

The Brunel library has a range of resources for students
● There are many suggestions in this guide
● The assigment PDF is the formal document to refer to
● Make sure you use the latest version
● If there is anything unclear about the assignment,
please contact your seminar tutor:
● Dr Abraham Althonayan
● Dr Robin Croft (robin.croft@brunel.ac.uk)
• Dr David Sarpong (david.sarpong@brunel.ac.uk)
● Dr Cristina Stoian (cristina.stoian@brunel.ac.uk)
● Dr Asieh HosseniTabaghdehi

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