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In order to move quickly into the research for the major assignment, you need to think very practically about:

  • the topic area (product/target market) you want to investigate
  • the two companies you want to investigate

Talk to other students, ask your tutor and make use of tutorials.

How to decide on a topic?

Get real

As soon as you get the assignment, mentally evaluate which topics are most viable. To make sure it was possible to get info on the coffee market, I searched for the topic on Dow Jones interactive database. Plenty of articles (200+) were found. If there were not enough, I would have changed my topic.

Once you have found there are enough resources, you know you'll be OK. Don't download them all though.

Get a life

I thought I'd focus on the Consumer Services area, specifically the fast-food industry - I'm more interested in services and also I work at McDonald's. I would be able to relate the macroenvironmental forces to this, making it easier for me as I could picture examples.

Trying to relate life to work and vice versa is always good. It makes you more motivated for both.

Get lucky

Choosing the topic market was one of the hardest parts. If you made a bad decision, it would have made things very tricky.

If you start early enough, you can change your mind if need be. You can also email/call on your tutor to check it with him/her.

Making the best use of class discussion

The class discussion clarifies the purpose of the assignment

Ask as many questions as possible. Don't worry about sounding "dumb". Ask any question you can think of, no matter how silly it may sound.
The tutor would make a point of saying that some things were important for the assignment. Immediately I would make a note at the top of the page for late reference. But by Week 9, because I hadn't yet chosen an industry, I was at a little disadvantage: I couldn't ask topic-specific questions and get some input from the tutor.

What is research?

Is it:

  1. Looking up sources of information?
  2. Looking up sources of information to see which are most relevant?
  3. Looking up sources of information to see which are most relevant and skim-reading them?
  4. Looking up sources of information to see which are most relevant, skim-reading them, then identifying the most important points for your assignment?

The first three are information gathering and are thus an important component of research. "Research" covers the whole process spelled out in number 4.

Note that identifying the most important points can involve:

  • just highlighting
  • some notetaking
  • a rough plan

What does research for first-year marketing involve?

Marketing may be the first subject where you get your first real experience of what it's like to do university research.

Researching is an art which requires practice. Don't be disheartened if your mark is not as high as you'd hoped. It's a learning experience - don't leave yourself too little time to learn.

I quickly skimmed content of articles and found those most appropriate to the two areas to be discussed - macroenvironment and coffee market; and marketing mix of two companies. A very tedious task! But necessary. I read through my final chosen articles (about 15) and highlighted segments of particular interest. I found an industry report on the IBIS World database. It was 50+ pages so I used the computer to search for the word "coffee" to direct me to the important areas.

Amanda describes her searching as "tedious" and, yes, it is routine. Notice that, at each point in the process, she's exercising her judgement, making decisions, working out strategic short cuts.

The more you research and the more you read the better understanding you get

You do need to be realistic about what you will need - and use - for a 3,000 word report. It's expected that you'll cite around five sources minimum of whatever kind for your assignment.

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