Last Friday, the Kenan Scholars program kicked off the first event of its 2021 Research Workshop series. Titled Generating Business Research Questions and Topics and led by Nancy Lovas of the Entrepreneurship and Business Library, the workshop gave students a thorough introduction to the world of business research.
Ms. Lovas opened the workshop with a question: What does business research mean to you?
Students described research as an investigation, exploration, and a method of problem solving. Ms. Lovas expanded on the broad umbrella of business research and how its interdisciplinary nature leaves a lot of interesting topics to dive into.
Ms. Lovas then introduced the structure of the workshop as 4 categories: research as a process, research topics, background information, and keywords/databases.
However, she didn’t just lecture the students and run through a PowerPoint, rather she introduced the idea of making the presentation with the students right in the moment. She gave access to the presentation to all the students and allowed them to give her suggestions as she constructed the slideshow.
The students, engaged with this process, explored how to start a research project. They made points about the implications of bias, quality of data, and resources available being determining factors of the research process.
Next, Ms. Lovas walked the students through the structure of the process, which is as follows:
1. Picking a topic
2. Coming up with a question
3. Creating a timeline/plan
4. Finding data
5. Performing analysis
6. Synthesizing that information
7. Getting feedback
8. Drafting and presenting the research
Students then deliberated on the differences between a research question and a research topic, and the importance of specificity and testability. A research question specifies who, what, when, and where while a topic is more of a border umbrella of data. Ms. Lovas stressed the importance of background information when formulating a question from a topic, as your own natural curiosity and observations of the topic is essential to the development of a quantifiable question.
Students then went into breakout rooms and did a concept map activity to pick a research topic, generate arguments, and finally boil down to a research question.
One example students came up with during the activity was “How has the development of social shopping on Instagram impacted the online shopping patterns of college students in the COVID-19 pandemic?”
Ms. Lovas wrapped up the workshop by introducing students to various databases available for research and best practices for finding data. She walked students through the importance of keywords and how to use them when searching through databases when developing research questions.
After learning the foundations for successful business research, the students are ready to embark on their projects. What a great introduction to the world of business research!