With this I am now at the halfway stage of my PhD research work at the Warwick Business School, University of Warwick.
I am actually quite relieved because the first stage is actually the toughest. It took me quite some time to get here because getting the questionnaire right the first time is crucial. A lot of people rush trough their questionnaire development phase of their research and suffer the consequences later.
The first step in starting a research is to have a broad idea of which area you want to research in. For me it was a no-brainer - I wanted to do something related to blogs. However, as I have a marketing background and I am in the business school, I was interested in the marketing aspect of blogs. More specifically on the consumer behaviour related to blog.
Carried out an extensive review of literature and found out that very little research has been carried out on blogs and even less on the marketing aspect of blogs. This was both good and bad news for me. Good because almost anything I do will be new contribution but bad because I had negligible literature to base my research on.
If you are new to research, the first thing you should be aware of is that review of previous literature is absolutely essential. This would allow you to identify the gaps and your potential contribution. You also need previous research to support some of your assumptions and hypotheses.
I had decided from day One that my research should be quantitative in nature and based on a survey questionnaire. Learnt that I fell under the positivist philosophy camp. Most of my friends research here are qualitative in nature. There has been an ongoing battle between the different sides on the best approach to research but I firmly believe that quantitative research is the best. This may be due to my educational background in the biological sciences.
My research looks at the consumer's perception of blogs and as I am looking at consumer attitudes, I rely a lot on several human psychology theories - as are in fact, a lot of marketing studies.
Several conceptual models with various constructs came up and went until we (myself and my supervisor) finally agreed upon one.
This was a really frustrating phase and I did wonder whether it was worth all the mental and financial cost.
These constructs are measured by various statements and are derived from previous studies published in leading marketing and psychology journals. I guess that's why we call it "re-search".
I also conducted some interviews followed by a pilot test. Based on the comments and exploratory factor analysis, I had to drop several statements used to measure the constructs and even drop one completely because I found out that it was actually had wrong measurements and was not reliable. I had taken the scale from a research conducted by some Professors in a top US University. This actually proves that experts do get it wrong sometimes.
Anyway, I am finally here and ready to enter the second stage. If you read blogs regularly, please spend a few minutes to complete my survey.