EXPLORATORY RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT
This individual assignment is worth 15% of the final grade. It is due at the beginning of class (Saturday) in Week 5. Please deliver an electronic version to the “Exploratory
Assignment Dropbox” in the Assignments link on Blackboard by the deadline. Late submissions will be penalized according to the guidelines set out in the course outline.
This report should be 5 – 6 pages in length (double spaced), excluding title page.
The purpose of this assignment is to:
1. expose students to a broad spectrum of information sources, with varied levels of credibility.
2. search for, critically examine, interpret and synthesize information from multiple sources to create an original report.
3. apply proper (APA) citation and referencing techniques.
4. collaborate with team members to organize and deliver a ‘professional’, coherent report.
Congratulations! Your research consulting firm has been retained by an industry association (ONE from the list below) to conduct a study on behalf of its corporate membership. The association would like to publish an overview of some of the key trends relevant to the industry, along with an assessment of potential opportunities and threats.
To do this, they have asked you to compile some information about two/three of its largest members (see columns 2-4). In particular, they’d like to know how these companies/brands are doing in the market, what customers and/or other important stakeholders are saying about them, and what kinds of strategic issues they are facing or are likely to face in the near future.
You will complete an in depth analysis of the two or three companies/brands associated with this industry.
NOTE: This assignment requires you to use credible sources of information, some examples are listed in point 5 below. Please DO NOT contact associations, companies or other ‘experts’ directly for their input.
Using the guidelines provided in your course materials and/or in the presentation given by the Ryerson librarian, prepare a research report for your client. Your report should include the following:
1. Cover Page + Overall Appearance – (up to 10 marks deducted if below acceptable standard) include an appropriate/informative title, client name, student + professor names, course code, section number and submission date. Ensure all sections are clearly labeled – use headings/subheadings as appropriate. Include page numbers.
Proofread for spelling/grammar errors – failure to do this will result in an
unprofessional finished product that a ‘client’ would dismiss as worthless.
2. Introduction/Background – (3 marks) Provide a concise description of the client’s situation and the ‘business problem/decision to be made’.
3. Research Objectives – (4 marks) Specify what information is required in order to address the marketing problem/decision to be made. Be clear and to the point. Use words like:
“The purpose (objectives) of this study is (are) to:
4. Research Method – (3 marks) Identify the research design to be used (be specific), the target population & sampling plan (if relevant), techniques to be used in
gathering the data, and any other details relevant to the overall study methodology.
5. Study Findings (60 marks) – Organize this section by company/brand, complete with citations and a reference list. Within each company/brand, gather and synthesize information related to the following topic areas:
Summarize the relevant information available for each company/brand using the following resources (include ‘adapted’ tables/charts, if relevant, into the body of the report – do not attach as appendices to the end of the report):
a. Databases and websites containing company information (for each company, select
at least three of the following):
b. Business and Company Resource Centre
c. Business Source Elite (Datamonitor Company Profiles, if available)
d. Global Market Information Database (GMID)
e. Mergent Online
f. Financialpost (Canadian companies only)
g. Company website
Next, find out what people/customers are saying about the company/brand:
a. Social Media (for each company, select at least two of the following):
g. Consumer Rating Sites
In addition, incorporate information from recent studies on topics that relate to the
trends/strategic issues faced by these companies in the current business environment, using the following resources:
a. Library databases containing scholarly information (incorporate at least two references from any one or more of the following):
b. ABI/Inform Global
c. Emerald Library MCB
d. Google Scholar
f. Canadian Business and Current Affairs (CBCA)
At the end of your analysis for each company/brand, summarize your findings with your personal interpretation of the key trends, opportunities and threats facing this particular company/brand.
6. Study Implications and Recommendations (5 marks) – Based on your individual findings in the previous section, summarize the overall key themes/findings in a concise way (ideally you will end up with 3-4 ‘important’ themes or findings that relate to all of the company/brands studied). For each theme/finding, discuss the “so what?” implications for this industry. Conclude this section by recommending ways for the industry as a whole to take advantage of the identified opportunities and/or deal with potential threats (e.g. perhaps in relation to improving its members’
competitiveness/customer loyalty/online presence/reputation, etc…)
7. Study Limitations and Directions for Future Research (5 marks) – Look back at the information sources you used. Which sources would you consider to be most/least credible? Which ones are considered biased vs. unbiased? Which ones are most/least up to date? Did you notice any other potential problems with the information you found? Finally, most studies conclude with not only answers but more questions. What ‘next steps’ would you recommend in terms of additional research to be conducted? (…after all, you want to keep yourself employed!)
8. References – (20 marks) Using APA format, include in-text citations throughout your report and include a references section at the end. Your references section should list in alphabetical order all sources (journals, table data, etc.) cited in the paper, including websites. For more information about APA format, refer to the Ryerson library. It may be helpful to use ‘Refworks’ to do your citations and reference list –see the Library’s website for information about how to use Refworks and scheduled training sessions.