Wie in meinem letzten Blogeintrag angekündigt, habe ich Ausschnitte aus einem Interview mit Dr. Bobby Mackie, Professor für „Research Methods for Business and Management“ an der UWS, zusammengetragen, der wichtige Tipps und Informationen bezüglich der Recherchemethoden und Herangehensweisen für die Masterarbeit gibt. Das Interview habe ich per Video aufgezeichnet und transkribiert, für alle, die ein wenig Schwierigkeiten haben den schottischen Dialekt zu verstehen.
How important is the module „Research Methods for Business and Management“ concerning the preparation for the Master´s thesis?
I think it is an essential underpinning for the Master´s thesis. It creates the opportunity to receive an advance of the focus of the Master´s thesis, how you might like to go about it. It raises an awareness of alternatives in which you can conduct a piece of research. At the end of this particular module you should be in a position to focus on the reality of your own chosen Master´s thesis topic and you should be able to identify how you will do the Master´s thesis – which research methods, which sources of information you will use in order to write the Master´s thesis.
What should students consider regarding the choice of the right research methods and techniques?
It depends on the topic and your interest on the area of focus. Students in the past have gone both for very quantitative and qualitative of research methods. Although, if I was to judge over the years that I have taught this module, the majority of students will look at qualitative research methods and will look at potential areas such as small-scale survey and a limited number of semi-structured research Interviews.
What differentiates the research methods for Bachelor´s theses and the research methods for Master´s theses?
I do not think the research methods module in itself is different. Both, on Bachelor´s and Master´s level, it is about introducing you to a „menu“ of options, how you can conduct research. I don´t see the module as any more difficult at postgraduate level (Master level) than at undergraduate level (Bachelor level). The difficulty arises in relation to the thesis versus an undergraduate project. It is the next stage, which is the more demanding and pitched at a postgraduate level.
It is about enabling you to conduct a piece of research. It needs not necessarily to be for a thesis. That is the benefit, in life, in work; many of the decisions have to be evident-based. What we are doing in this module is introducing you to ways of gathering evidence. Clearly in a short term that evidence approach will be used for purposes of the thesis. But in your subsequent career, it will be used to prepare management reports to investigate topics from yourself. It is a life skill.
What should students consider regarding the choice of the topic for the Master´s thesis?
Two things I think are important. One is that the topic is of interest to you as an individual – it stimulates you, you want to find out more about it. The second element is access to information. Sometimes students come up with a great idea that they are very interested in, but there is insufficient data available for them to gather and to interpret. So, you got to think about that – does it interest me, is there information out there, that I can access? And that takes into account things like the ability to interview people, the access to people and organisations. Those two are the key factors.
Do you have and advice for students regarding the entire research process?
My advice is to make sure that the time limits are achieved. I have been doing this job for 35 years and students continuously schedule inappropriately. If you are disciplined from start to finish, if you have a project plan and you meet the milestones you will deliver the Master´s thesis on time. Create a plan and stick to it. Far too many students leave data collection until it is almost too late and then the thesis is rushed and the quality suffers as a consequence.
What elements would you consider constitute an excellent Master´s thesis?
What I like to see, and this is a personal view, is that the student´s go beyond what their have been taught. There is clearly an activity, with which the students seek to develop their knowledge beyond their lecture situation. The student do not just get back to the academic member of staff, and what the academic member of staff has given them. And also, what I would like to see, particularly in business and management, is a contemporary sensitivity. That this topic is alive – things that are happening today in the business and management world. The Masters thesis should ensure that the students are up to date. And it will help the students when it comes to the development of their career. To be selected for an interview, to be able to talk about contemporary issues.