It remains for us to consider several parts of the report. Last time we studied introduction and thoroughly examined it. Now it is up to the next part.
Detailed research materials – its method, results, and limitations – are included in the main part of the report. One of the most difficult parts is a presentation of the details of the method. The author is on the horns of a dilemma at this stage. It is necessary to provide enough information to give readers the opportunity to appreciate the research project, the data collection methods used, the sampling procedure and analytical techniques, but, at the same time, not to make them bored and overburdened with excessive detail. Technical jargon, which is often a good way to discuss complex ideas in a short form, should not be used in the report, because many people of the audience for whom the report is intended will simply not understand it.
Readers should be informed about what the type of the project is: whether an exploratory, a descriptive, or a causally conditioned one. They also need to know why this particular project has been chosen and what its merits in relation to the issue under consideration are. In addition, readers should find out whether the results are based on secondary or primary data. If on primary data, are they obtained through observation or interrogation? If the survey was used, then the questionnaires were filled by the respondents in the presence of a methodologist, or the post or telephone was used for this purpose? It should also be noted why this or other method has been chosen. What are its tangible advantages over the alternative schemes? The answer to this question may imply a brief discussion of the apparent weaknesses of the other data collection schemes under consideration.
The definition of a sample is a technical topic, and an author usually cannot hope to express all the nuances of the sample design within the main part of the report but should approach this issue selectively. As a must, he or she must answer the following questions:
- How was the general totality determined? What were the geographical and age limits, sex restrictions and others?
- What selective units were used? Were they business organizations or business executives? Were they household units or individuals within the household? Why were these particular selective units chosen?
- How was the list of sample units generated? Did this lead to the appearance of some flaws? Why was this method used?
- Were there any difficulties with a particular design of the sampling elements?
- Was there any question of possibility or impossibility of following the sampling plan? Why? How was the choice actually made? How big was the sample? Why did you decide in favour of this volume?
With respect to the sample, the readers, in essence, need to understand at least three things: what was done, how it was done, and why it was done this way and not otherwise? If your marketing paper has the answers to these questions, then this is already a certain achievement.
When discussing the methods of research, there is not much to say, because the results themselves say what and how was done. However, often, before proceeding to a detailed description of the results, it is appropriate to discuss the method used in general terms.
In the section describing the results, you place what has been discovered in the process of the research in a sufficiently detailed form, often using verifying tables and figures. This section provides space for describing the bulk of the reporting materials. Here, the results need to be considered in terms of the specific problems, and they should be presented in a certain logical structure.
Presentation of the results in tables and figures can be widely used. If the tables included in the additional materials can be complex, detailed, and related to a number of problems, then those that are included in the main part of the report should be just summary data on this information. Each such table should be addressed to only one problem and be specially constructed, so as to emphasize this problem to the maximum extent.
Like tables, drawings should address only one secondary problem. In addition, they must be carefully selected from the standpoint of the kind of information that can be presented by them.
It is important to emphasize that the study is not "flawless" since any research can be flawless only within certain limits. A researcher knows that the boundaries of his or her efforts exist, and the nature of these boundaries should not be concealed from a reader. Sometimes researchers fear that a frank confession of the existence of research boundaries can sway an opinion of a reader about the quality of research work.
But it often turns out to be just the opposite. If some restrictions are not stated, and readers discover them by themselves, they may have a doubt about the report as a whole, as a result of which one can expect more skepticism or a critical attitude than it could be with an explicit indication of restrictions. The statement of their existence also gives the author an opportunity to discuss whether these restrictions could lead to a bias in the results, and to how significant that would be. Their non-inclusion and subsequent detection prompt the readers to draw their own conclusions in this respect.
Conclusions and Recommendations
In this section, you show the evidence of the conclusions step by step and formulate them in more detail than in the short review. Here, an opinion must be presented for each subject of the study or problem.
When developing recommendations, researchers need to focus on the appropriateness of the information collected. They should interpret this information in the sense of what it can mean for business. One of the best ways to achieve this goal is to offer specific recommendations and directions of action together with specifying reasonable justifications for precisely these actions based on the results obtained. Although not all managers listen to the recommendations of researchers, many of them want to receive them, so a researcher must have them ready to offer and provide adequate support at short notice.
Here we include the materials that are too complex, detailed, special or not absolutely necessary in the main text of the report. For example, it can be a copy of a survey questionnaire or an observation registration form used to collect data. It may also include maps used in the sampling as well as any detailed calculations performed to support the determination of the sample size and development of its plan.
This section can include detailed calculations of verification statistics, and often detailed tables, with the help of which survey tables were included in the main part of the report. You should understand that only the most technically competent and interested reader will read this section. Therefore, you should not post any materials there if their absence in the main part can lead to gaps in the presentation of the study materials as a whole.
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