This article illustrates a sample personal reflection of the author upon the learning experience and presents critical analysis of the development of the author as a researcher and scholar as a result of conducting this study. The content of the article is divided into three main themes: the development of secondary research skills, the development of primary research skills, improvement of time-management skills, increasing the level of self-confidence.
The Development of Secondary Research Skills
The author had some basic secondary research skills before engaging in this research; however those skills were greatly improved as a result of conducting the current study.
The 21st century has been characterised as the information age, and in this age companies can obtain competitive advantage through analysing information about various aspects of the marketplace, as well as, information related to internal and external factors affecting the company. However, dealing with information from such a perspective requires secondary research skills. Therefore it can be said that the secondary research skills gained by the author during the course of conducting this research will contribute immensely to his career progression in the near future.
Specifically, the author gained competency in the following two directions of secondary research:
First, prioritising the secondary data. Nowadays a large amount of data is available regarding any business or other subjects in various secondary data sources including books, journals, magazines, newspapers, internet etc. The current research experience has taught the author that it is not physically possible to analyse all the available data related to the research question for obvious reasons.
Accordingly, during the literature review stage of the research the author had learned to prioritise the secondary data related to the research questions according to a set of important criteria such as the authority and credentials of the author, date of publication, the credentials of publisher etc.
For instance, a vast amount of secondary data related to the CSR issues in general, and range of CSR activities engaged by telecommunication companies in particular have been found initially found as a result of literature review. However, as a result of prioritising of work according to above mentioned criteria only the most substantial contributions to the research area, such as the works of Hill et al (2003), Kotler and Lee (2005), Henriques (2007), Blowfield and Murray (2008), Boeger (2008), Mallin (2009), Oliver (2010), and Horrigan (2010) have been discussed in the literature review chapter of the work.
The skills of prioritising the secondary data according to the criteria provided above, that the researcher has acquired, offers a range of substantial benefits such as time-saving and increasing the level of validity of secondary research findings.
Second, the critical analysis of secondary data. Another great contribution of the research experience to the level of competency of the author as a researcher relates to the formation of critical mindset towards the secondary data. It has to be acknowledged that prior to engagement in this research the author was prone to accept most of the viewpoints formulated in books as facts, reasoning that if an individual has published a book, he or she must have a deep knowledge in the topic discussed within the book. However, the current research experience has caused this viewpoint to be changed. Moreover, the author of this paper was able to identify a range of shortcomings associated with some works discussed in literature review.
For example, some aspects of the works of Hill et al (2003), Cowe (2004) and Swartz (2011) have been criticised in the literature review by the author and shortcomings associated with their viewpoints and ideas have been highlighted.
The critical mindset acquired by the author in terms of analysing secondary data will prove to be highly beneficial in his future professional life, because the author will be equipped with necessary skills in order to identify the shortcomings associated with secondary data and offer inputs for improving the contents of materials.
Acquiring Primary Research Skills
The author has acquired valuable primary research skills during the course of conducting this study. It was an unprecedented experience, where the author has been engaged in a research of such a scale that involved primary data collection and analysis in an individual manner. The most popular qualitative and quantitative research methods have been learned during the study and the author had a practical experience of conducting a general survey through administering questionnaires.
Although the primary data has been obtained by the use of questionnaire primary data collection method only, the author has analysed advantages and disadvantages of alternative primary data collection methods as well such as interviews, focus groups, observations etc, and thus obtained in-depth knowledge about these data collection methods.
The importance of sampling in general and the choice of the most suitable sampling method in particular have been also appreciated by the author and the author has gained an in-depth knowledge about sampling through critically analysing the most popular sampling methods.
Engagement in primary data collection and analysis has made the biggest contribution to the development of the author as a researcher and scholar. The positive role of dissertation supervisor needs to be stressed in here, who offered valuable and practical advises to deal with the issues that arose at different stages of the research, particularly in the stage of dealing with methodology issues.
In today’s highly competitive marketplace the importance of market intelligence is greater than ever before. Now, being equipped with primary research knowledge and skills the author is able to create competitive advantages for businesses through acquiring valuable primary information about various aspects of the business, as well as, factors affecting the business, that can be used in strategy formulation.
Improvement of Time-Management Skills
On personal and professional levels the author has also greatly benefited from the research experience through improving his time-management skills. Specifically, the research process required extensive preparation and planning for each stage of the study and each stage of the study had to be conducted in an organised manner form time perspectives.
Initially the author faced challenges in terms of ensuring the progress of the study according to the timetable. These challenges mainly arose at literature review stage of the research. Namely, the author had initially underestimated the duration of time required for literature review and was constantly behind the schedule in terms of the number of literature reviewed. The issue has been dealt with through re-adjusting the time-plan for the study, as well as, increasing the level of personal discipline in terms of following set plan.
Specifically, all the unnecessary activities were avoided during the research process, and daily plans have been set in order to do a specific proportion of the study every day. At the same time, provisions for occasional days off study have been ensured within the plan in order to avoid being pressurised and burnout which could negatively affected the study.
In general, the research experience has contributed to the improvement of time-management skills which provides considerable benefits for the author in personal, as well as, professional levels.
Increasing the Level of Self-Confidence
The level of self-confidence of the author has increased significantly as a result of conducting this research. This was mainly achieved through overcoming insecurity and communicating with primary data sources – members of the sampling group in a confident manner.
At the initial point of the research the author was a bit hesitant with a choice of primary data collection method because it involved approaching unfamiliar people in the street and offering them to participate in the survey. It needs to be acknowledged that the author had been approached in the streets many times with the offers of participating in various surveys and the author had declined most of the offers of such nature. As such, the prospect of being refused by the perspective members of the sampling group was negatively affecting the level of self-confidence of the author before the primary data collection process.
However, as a result of tremendous efforts which included spending many hours for preparations for primary data collection, as well as, thanks to the encouragement given by tutor, friends and relatives the author was able to overcome sense of insecurity and conduct the survey in a confident manner. Moreover, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the level of communication skills of the author has also been greatly enhanced as a result of conducting the survey for the research.
It is beyond any doubts that the author will greatly benefit from the increased level of self-confidence in the future as an individual, as a researcher and as a business manager as well. In a highly competitive marketplace of today businesses can not survive without strong and effective leadership. And business managers have to possess a high level of self-confidence and communications skills in order to be able to communicate their vision to for the business to all the stakeholders of the company. In this way it can be said that being engaged in the study has contributed to the leadership skills of the author in indirect way as well.