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Research brief: Meaning, Components, Importance & Ways to Prepare

June 12, 2023 | By Hitesh Bhasin | Filed Under: Marketing

Have you ever faced a situation where a researcher has not exactly given the results that you require? Have you ever discussed research as what you want precisely and been disappointed to find that there is a disparity in your expectation and the outcomes? This is because of a failure in communication , that is particular an insufficient brief.

This is where we exactly wish to discuss research brief.

A research brief is a statement that comes from the sponsor, who sets the objectives and background. This is to enable the researcher to plan the research and conduct an appropriate study on it. Research Brief can be as good as a market research study and is very important to a researcher.

It provides good insight and influences on the choice of methodology to be adopted in the research. It also provides an objective to which the project links itself.

It is a short and non-technical summary of a discussion paper that is purely intended for decision-makers with a concentration on the paper’s policy-relevant findings.

Table of Contents

Components of a Research Brief

Some sponsors deliver the brief orally by developing many detail points at the time of initial discussion with the researcher. On the other hand, the brief can also be completely thought through and committed to a paper.

This is very important when many research agencies need to submit proposals. Whether the research brief is oral or written, it should pay attention to the following points:

  • Problem Background – This is a short record of the events which has actually led to the study. This provides an insight into the researcher a better viewpoint and understanding of the objective of the project.
  • Problem Description – The researcher requires details in depth to perform the research. When the scope of the research is described properly, the research process gets easier. It becomes helpful for the sponsor to monitor the progress of the research.
  • Market Analysis – The researcher needs to know the geographical areas of the research. Hence this should be part of the research brief.
  • Objective Statement – The object of the researcher should be put statement. The researcher should gather the details from the sponsor and then provide a view of what has to be achieved.
  • Time and Budget – The research brief should mention the time and budget constraints of the research.

Importance of Research Brief

Importance of Research Brief

Now, why is research brief important? It is like the way you set a foundation for a building; research brief provides a strong foundation for the research process.

Writing a research brief is important to the success of any market research project. However, it can be difficult to craft the perfect brief that meets the necessity of both the client and the researcher but eventually leads to the desired outcomes.

It helps a researcher to identify a problem to be researched, the exact background of the problem, the required details to address the problem, time and budget constraints within which the research is supposed to be designed.

Example of Research Brief

Keeping the above points in mind, let us take a small example of the way to write a market research brief.

To write a market research brief, it clarifies the research requirement and also makes sure that the ideas are well articulated. It helps to write a better research proposal , conduct user research, and achieve the desired outcome.

Background:

Describe the problem that is required to solve. Include applicable background and the challenge during the research.

Business and Project Objectives:

Explain the business objectives. For example: to increase sales /profit. Try to be specific as you can.

Also, describe the purpose of research and the expected outcomes. What is the decision that you require to make?

Market Objectives:

Market research objective typically follows from the above two objectives. Hence you will need to summarise the aim and information of the research. This will help to mention the questions required for answering.

Stakeholders:

Here, you will need to consider the participant who will sign-off and act on the research outcomes listed.

Research Methods, scope, sample, and guidelines:

Here, you will explain what is required. This will help you to focus on what is important and also have a piece of knowledge of the research investment. Here, more focus is given on the scope of the work and type of research . The inputs and the sample are also analyzed.

Research outcomes:

Here, you will require to define the delivery part of the research.

Ways to prepare Research Brief

Ways to prepare Research Brief

Having discussed the basic of research brief, the following points will give you a brief idea of the ways to prepare yourself to write an effective research brief.

  • Start with a summary of the current situation. Also, define in clear words as what you are already aware of. It would be more useful if you could include more details on your thought about the responsibility for the project on you and the research agency.
  • After a summary, set up the business and research objectives . For business objectives, you need to mention the overall strategy and what is the importance of the current research. For research objectives, list the issues and topics that are likely to discover. List the problems to solve. Based on the research agency design, define clearly the business and research objectives. Having a clear objective will help you to assess the quality and also focus on the research agency’s report.
  • Next, you may suggest about the ways about data collection . You can decide on a suitable research methodology that you think will be best fit the project.
  • List what the outcomes of the project and the deliverables are. Like for example, you might just want to advise on survey design . For this, statistically robust data would be ideal. Or sometimes, you might write a full report with data, interpretation, recommendations, etc. Whatever it is, be clear as what is required. Suggest a timetable and mention the deadline to receive proposals and other deliverables.

Research Brief Template

Research Brief Template

Given below the template for research brief:

Research Brief: Project Name

#1 background.

In this area, give the background of the research brief.

#2 Business objectives

In this area, define the business objectives. Ideally, for a better understanding and readability, it would be good if the points are bulleted.

#3 Marketing objectives

In this area, type your marketing objectives. In case you have any other kind of objectives apart from marketing, you could change the section title.

In this area, define the research target here. Here, name all the target groups that will be a part of the research and the reason for it. Capture any other applicable details of the target group .

In this area, mention the Budget information. Mentioning a range of budget is fine. Also, indicate an upper limit in case you have any.

In this area, mention the timeline of the research. The approximate time as when this work would be over. Also, when can you provide the final analysis?

#6 Deliverables

In this area, mention the report requirements. For example, whether a detail report is required or just a presentation.

#7 Contact information

In this area, mention the contact information for questions or clarification. It could be Client company name or Individual name, title, e-mail id, phone number, and mailing address.

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About Hitesh Bhasin

Hitesh Bhasin is the CEO of Marketing91 and has over a decade of experience in the marketing field. He is an accomplished author of thousands of insightful articles, including in-depth analyses of brands and companies. Holding an MBA in Marketing, Hitesh manages several offline ventures, where he applies all the concepts of Marketing that he writes about.

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Quick reference.

A short paper where data and statistics are used to explain things. Typically research briefs are not very in-depth but only give an overall view or impression of the deeper survey. See market researchs.

From:   research brief   in  A Dictionary of Marketing »

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How to write an effective research brief

Whether you’re launching a simple survey or planning a large-scale project the quality of your brief will hugely impact on the value you get from the research. While it can take a little time and effort creating a research brief, it will undoubtedly be time well spent – getting you better results and return on your investment and saving you valuable resources on further clarification. At best, a poor brief will be a time drain on you and your team. At worst, the findings will fail to meet your objectives, costing you time and money.

We’ve seen a lot of research briefs over the years. Some of which have been well thought through and clear, helping us prepare a detailed proposal and deliver an effective project and subsequent results. And others which have been not so good, lacking clarity or detail.

Using this experience, we’ve put together a ‘how to’ guide on writing an effective research brief, to help you ensure success on your next project.

1. Preparation is key

As with any project, before you start it’s crucial you think through what you want and need to deliver. Here are some things you should consider:

  • Why are you conducting the research? What exactly are you looking to understand?
  • Who are you looking to understand better? Who do you need to speak to answer your research questions?
  • Who are your internal stakeholders? Have you discussed the project needs with the people in your organisation who will use the findings or who are invested in the research?
  • How will the findings be used?
  • When do you need the findings?
  • Have you agreed a budget with either your procurement team, or the relevant person in your organisation?

2. Be clear on your objectives

This is one of the most important parts of your brief to convey to the reader what you want out of the project and ensure you get results which deliver.

Projects should have around three or four overarching aims which set out what the project ultimately wants to achieve.

These might be things like:

  • Assess the impact of……
  • Examine views of…..
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of….

In addition to project objectives, you should also include the key questions you want the research to answer. These should support you in meeting the aims of the research.

For example, if the project aim is to assess the impact of an intervention, your research questions might include:

  • Who did the intervention target?
  • What did the project deliver?
  • What elements were successful, and why?
  • What were the main enablers and barriers?

3. Remember your audience

Research agencies or organisations who will be responding to your brief might not know anything about your business. So, make sure you include enough background information in your brief to enable them to understand your needs and deliver effectively. And avoid use of jargon or acronyms which could lead to errors or confusion.

4. Structure your research brief

Before you start to populate your brief it’s worth considering all the information and sections you need to include, to structure your thinking and ensure you don’t miss anything important.

This might include some, or all, of the following:

  • Background info
  • Introduction
  • Aims and objectives
  • Research Question(s)
  • Issues / Risks
  • Methodology
  • Timing and Outputs
  • Project Management

5. Make it thorough, yet succinct

While it’s crucial to include all the relevant information to enable bidders to respond effectively, no one wants to read reams and reams of information. To avoid the key information getting lost in the details use annexes to add supplementary information which could be useful.

6. Consider how prescriptive you want to be on the methodology

The extent to which you want to specify the methodology will depend on the project you aim to deliver. There are benefits and risks to being overly prescriptive or offering free reign. If you outline in precise detail how you want the research to be conducted, you will hamper any original ideas from those invited to tender and might limit the impact on the research. Whereas, if you’re less prescriptive, allowing room for creativity, you risk not getting the project or results you want, or receiving proposals on a scale which you can’t resource.

Generally, it is useful to allow those invited to tender some scope to develop the methodology they propose to use. Exceptions might be where previous work has to be very precisely replicated or some other very precise commitment about the nature of findings has been given to stakeholders.

7. Define your timelines

As a minimum, you need to include when you want the project to start and end. But you should also include the timetable for procurement. When planning this, don’t underestimate the time and resource needed to run a procurement exercise. Make sure your evaluators are available when you need them and have enough time blocked out in their diary.

You’ll likely also want to include milestones for when you expect outputs to be delivered, such as deadlines for a draft report (providing opportunity for review and feedback) and the final report; allowing sufficient time between the two to enable your stakeholders to consult, for you to feedback and for the contractor to revise the report.

8. Set expectations on cost

You will most likely have budgetary constraints, with a figure for what you are prepared to spend. To save you and your bidders time, and to set realistic expectations, you should include an indication within your brief. This will prevent you receiving proposals which are way out of the ballpark; enable bidders to plan a project which delivers on (or at least close to) budget; and will prevent any nasty surprises, further down the line.

By following these tips you’ll be well on your way to creating an effective research brief which delivers on time and on budget.

If you’d like more guidance download our “step-by-step” guide, which includes a template and information for what to include in each section to ensure success.

Download the guide now.

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brief

How to structure a good research brief

Like many other things in life, you get out of a research project what you put into it.  The time you spend at the beginning of a project, thinking about exactly what you want to get from the research, is crucial and will reap you rewards when the end results are delivered.

A written research brief is a great tool to give the researcher/ agency a clear understanding of what is required from them during the research and what you hope to achieve from it. When writing a brief, there is quite a straightforward structure you can use to help shape your thinking...

Provide sufficient background information on your organisation and the context surrounding the proposed research project.

2. The ‘why’ before ‘how’

Include an understanding of ‘ why ’ the research is needed and what are the results going to be used for. This is one of the most important elements of a research brief. Planning ‘how’ the research is going to be conducted should not be thought about until the ‘why’ is delivered and fully understood. (The ‘why’ will often even shape the ‘how’!)

3. Research objectives

Research objectives are absolutely key as they provide the foundations of an effective research project . Take the time to think about  exactly what you want to learn from the research and display this through clear, well thought-out  research objectives. This will then result in a sound, actionable piece of research for your organisation.

4. Target audience

Give as much information as possible on the types of people you want to include within the research as well as any supporting information you may have about these people. For example , the definition of any target groups, their preferred size, geographical distribution etc.

5. Budget and timings

It may feel uncomfortable at first but sharing your budget for research in the briefing document can save a lot of time and effort by ensuring that the researcher/ agency crafts a realistic approach to the project. Alongside this, knowing the timings for when the results are required may also have an impact on the method for the research so these should again be outlined in the initial brief. 

6. Any other competitors (if applicable)

Ensure you let the researcher/ agency know if the project is being submitted to more than one competitor and, if so, how many they will be competing with. The Market Research Society recommends approaching no more than three or four agencies for quotations * . In addition, all of the researchers/ agencies should be treated equally, given the same information and their proposals for the project should not be shared with one another.

Following this devised framework will offer you a solid foundation for a successful research brief, ensuring you get what you need from the research and it provides you with as much benefit as possible.

* https://www.theidm.com/getmedia/3ed22d44-5d6a-4624-8db2-b9c42aeb99dc/C-2-1.pdf  

https://www.esomar.org/uploads/public/knowledge-and-standards/codes-and-guidelines/ESOMAR_Code-and-Guidelines_HowToCommissionResearch.pdf

http://the-sra.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/commissioning.pdf

This entry was posted in B2B , Market research , B2C , tagged Market Research and posted on August 30, 2018

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Research Method

Home » Research Summary – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Research Summary – Structure, Examples and Writing Guide

Table of Contents

Research Summary

Research Summary

Definition:

A research summary is a brief and concise overview of a research project or study that highlights its key findings, main points, and conclusions. It typically includes a description of the research problem, the research methods used, the results obtained, and the implications or significance of the findings. It is often used as a tool to quickly communicate the main findings of a study to other researchers, stakeholders, or decision-makers.

Structure of Research Summary

The Structure of a Research Summary typically include:

  • Introduction : This section provides a brief background of the research problem or question, explains the purpose of the study, and outlines the research objectives.
  • Methodology : This section explains the research design, methods, and procedures used to conduct the study. It describes the sample size, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.
  • Results : This section presents the main findings of the study, including statistical analysis if applicable. It may include tables, charts, or graphs to visually represent the data.
  • Discussion : This section interprets the results and explains their implications. It discusses the significance of the findings, compares them to previous research, and identifies any limitations or future directions for research.
  • Conclusion : This section summarizes the main points of the research and provides a conclusion based on the findings. It may also suggest implications for future research or practical applications of the results.
  • References : This section lists the sources cited in the research summary, following the appropriate citation style.

How to Write Research Summary

Here are the steps you can follow to write a research summary:

  • Read the research article or study thoroughly: To write a summary, you must understand the research article or study you are summarizing. Therefore, read the article or study carefully to understand its purpose, research design, methodology, results, and conclusions.
  • Identify the main points : Once you have read the research article or study, identify the main points, key findings, and research question. You can highlight or take notes of the essential points and findings to use as a reference when writing your summary.
  • Write the introduction: Start your summary by introducing the research problem, research question, and purpose of the study. Briefly explain why the research is important and its significance.
  • Summarize the methodology : In this section, summarize the research design, methods, and procedures used to conduct the study. Explain the sample size, data collection methods, and data analysis techniques.
  • Present the results: Summarize the main findings of the study. Use tables, charts, or graphs to visually represent the data if necessary.
  • Interpret the results: In this section, interpret the results and explain their implications. Discuss the significance of the findings, compare them to previous research, and identify any limitations or future directions for research.
  • Conclude the summary : Summarize the main points of the research and provide a conclusion based on the findings. Suggest implications for future research or practical applications of the results.
  • Revise and edit : Once you have written the summary, revise and edit it to ensure that it is clear, concise, and free of errors. Make sure that your summary accurately represents the research article or study.
  • Add references: Include a list of references cited in the research summary, following the appropriate citation style.

Example of Research Summary

Here is an example of a research summary:

Title: The Effects of Yoga on Mental Health: A Meta-Analysis

Introduction: This meta-analysis examines the effects of yoga on mental health. The study aimed to investigate whether yoga practice can improve mental health outcomes such as anxiety, depression, stress, and quality of life.

Methodology : The study analyzed data from 14 randomized controlled trials that investigated the effects of yoga on mental health outcomes. The sample included a total of 862 participants. The yoga interventions varied in length and frequency, ranging from four to twelve weeks, with sessions lasting from 45 to 90 minutes.

Results : The meta-analysis found that yoga practice significantly improved mental health outcomes. Participants who practiced yoga showed a significant reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as stress levels. Quality of life also improved in those who practiced yoga.

Discussion : The findings of this study suggest that yoga can be an effective intervention for improving mental health outcomes. The study supports the growing body of evidence that suggests that yoga can have a positive impact on mental health. Limitations of the study include the variability of the yoga interventions, which may affect the generalizability of the findings.

Conclusion : Overall, the findings of this meta-analysis support the use of yoga as an effective intervention for improving mental health outcomes. Further research is needed to determine the optimal length and frequency of yoga interventions for different populations.

References :

  • Cramer, H., Lauche, R., Langhorst, J., Dobos, G., & Berger, B. (2013). Yoga for depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Depression and anxiety, 30(11), 1068-1083.
  • Khalsa, S. B. (2004). Yoga as a therapeutic intervention: a bibliometric analysis of published research studies. Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology, 48(3), 269-285.
  • Ross, A., & Thomas, S. (2010). The health benefits of yoga and exercise: a review of comparison studies. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(1), 3-12.

Purpose of Research Summary

The purpose of a research summary is to provide a brief overview of a research project or study, including its main points, findings, and conclusions. The summary allows readers to quickly understand the essential aspects of the research without having to read the entire article or study.

Research summaries serve several purposes, including:

  • Facilitating comprehension: A research summary allows readers to quickly understand the main points and findings of a research project or study without having to read the entire article or study. This makes it easier for readers to comprehend the research and its significance.
  • Communicating research findings: Research summaries are often used to communicate research findings to a wider audience, such as policymakers, practitioners, or the general public. The summary presents the essential aspects of the research in a clear and concise manner, making it easier for non-experts to understand.
  • Supporting decision-making: Research summaries can be used to support decision-making processes by providing a summary of the research evidence on a particular topic. This information can be used by policymakers or practitioners to make informed decisions about interventions, programs, or policies.
  • Saving time: Research summaries save time for researchers, practitioners, policymakers, and other stakeholders who need to review multiple research studies. Rather than having to read the entire article or study, they can quickly review the summary to determine whether the research is relevant to their needs.

Characteristics of Research Summary

The following are some of the key characteristics of a research summary:

  • Concise : A research summary should be brief and to the point, providing a clear and concise overview of the main points of the research.
  • Objective : A research summary should be written in an objective tone, presenting the research findings without bias or personal opinion.
  • Comprehensive : A research summary should cover all the essential aspects of the research, including the research question, methodology, results, and conclusions.
  • Accurate : A research summary should accurately reflect the key findings and conclusions of the research.
  • Clear and well-organized: A research summary should be easy to read and understand, with a clear structure and logical flow.
  • Relevant : A research summary should focus on the most important and relevant aspects of the research, highlighting the key findings and their implications.
  • Audience-specific: A research summary should be tailored to the intended audience, using language and terminology that is appropriate and accessible to the reader.
  • Citations : A research summary should include citations to the original research articles or studies, allowing readers to access the full text of the research if desired.

When to write Research Summary

Here are some situations when it may be appropriate to write a research summary:

  • Proposal stage: A research summary can be included in a research proposal to provide a brief overview of the research aims, objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes.
  • Conference presentation: A research summary can be prepared for a conference presentation to summarize the main findings of a study or research project.
  • Journal submission: Many academic journals require authors to submit a research summary along with their research article or study. The summary provides a brief overview of the study’s main points, findings, and conclusions and helps readers quickly understand the research.
  • Funding application: A research summary can be included in a funding application to provide a brief summary of the research aims, objectives, and expected outcomes.
  • Policy brief: A research summary can be prepared as a policy brief to communicate research findings to policymakers or stakeholders in a concise and accessible manner.

Advantages of Research Summary

Research summaries offer several advantages, including:

  • Time-saving: A research summary saves time for readers who need to understand the key findings and conclusions of a research project quickly. Rather than reading the entire research article or study, readers can quickly review the summary to determine whether the research is relevant to their needs.
  • Clarity and accessibility: A research summary provides a clear and accessible overview of the research project’s main points, making it easier for readers to understand the research without having to be experts in the field.
  • Improved comprehension: A research summary helps readers comprehend the research by providing a brief and focused overview of the key findings and conclusions, making it easier to understand the research and its significance.
  • Enhanced communication: Research summaries can be used to communicate research findings to a wider audience, such as policymakers, practitioners, or the general public, in a concise and accessible manner.
  • Facilitated decision-making: Research summaries can support decision-making processes by providing a summary of the research evidence on a particular topic. Policymakers or practitioners can use this information to make informed decisions about interventions, programs, or policies.
  • Increased dissemination: Research summaries can be easily shared and disseminated, allowing research findings to reach a wider audience.

Limitations of Research Summary

Limitations of the Research Summary are as follows:

  • Limited scope: Research summaries provide a brief overview of the research project’s main points, findings, and conclusions, which can be limiting. They may not include all the details, nuances, and complexities of the research that readers may need to fully understand the study’s implications.
  • Risk of oversimplification: Research summaries can be oversimplified, reducing the complexity of the research and potentially distorting the findings or conclusions.
  • Lack of context: Research summaries may not provide sufficient context to fully understand the research findings, such as the research background, methodology, or limitations. This may lead to misunderstandings or misinterpretations of the research.
  • Possible bias: Research summaries may be biased if they selectively emphasize certain findings or conclusions over others, potentially distorting the overall picture of the research.
  • Format limitations: Research summaries may be constrained by the format or length requirements, making it challenging to fully convey the research’s main points, findings, and conclusions.
  • Accessibility: Research summaries may not be accessible to all readers, particularly those with limited literacy skills, visual impairments, or language barriers.

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  • Home > Publications > The Art Of The Market Research Brief

The Art Of The Market Research Brief

research brief definition

Have you ever told a researcher exactly what you want and been surprised and annoyed to find that what you got was neither what you asked for nor given to you when you wanted it? You know you were right. The other party is equally adamant that they did what was demanded. There has been a failure in communication: in particular an inadequate brief.

A research brief is a statement from the sponsor setting out the objectives and background to the case in sufficient detail to enable the researcher to plan an appropriate study. As a general rule a market research study is only as good as the brief. The brief is important to the researcher: it educates and influences the choice of method. It gives the objective to which the project is geared.

The brief is no less important for the researcher working in-house than for the agency. Research carried out by company personnel is frequently treated less stringently than when there is a price tag. The in-house researcher does, however, have the benefit of close and constant access to other internal staff who can fill in on background and product details. Though the brief is less formal, it may well be (and should be) as thorough as any delivered to an agency,

The research brief should be a dialogue. It is expected that the sponsor has thought through the problem and set objectives for the study, though these may be modified as the briefing session develops. Nor are briefs irrevocable. Information discovered during the research program may alter the complexion of the problem and prompt a change in direction. Progress reporting is therefore a vital part of every study.

What A Research Brief Should Contain

Some sponsors prefer to deliver their brief orally, developing points of detail during the initial discussion with the researcher. Alternatively the brief may be fully thought through and committed to paper. This can be especially important when a number of research agencies are invited to submit proposals. A written brief provides a standard which is the same for all contestants.

Whether written or oral, the research sponsor should pay regard to a number of subjects which constitute a good brief:

  • A background to the problem: this may be a short chronicle of the events which have led up to and precipitated the study. It gives the researcher a perspective and a better understanding of why the project is to be commissioned.
  • A description of the product (or service) which is to be researched: the researcher needs as much detail as possible. The greater the understanding of the features benefits, construction and uses of the product (or services), the more closely it will be tailored. It can be helpful for the sponsor to state which products are included as well as those which are not. Technical data sheets and product literature are a big help.
  • A description of the markets to be researched: the researcher must know which geographical territories the study will cover and whether or not it will be limited to certain end user markets.
  • A statement of the objectives: the sponsor may feel inhibited by limited knowledge of the market research process. The responsibility then lies with the researcher to interpret the brief and give a view on what can be achieved.
  • Timing and budget constraints: the researcher should be told of constraints if they exist. A limited budget is an obvious example.

The sponsor may also be able to suggest, within the brief, a research method though usually this is left for the researcher to propose. Finally there may be special aspects of the study which the sponsor needs to mention in the brief. These could cover a wish to remain anonymous, reporting requirements and progress meetings.

It is always helpful for a researcher to see the product or service that is being studied, if practicable. A visit around the plant or to a customer to see the product in use can provide that important “feel” which researchers get from direct contact.

The Role Of The Researcher

Frequently management know that they face a problem but identifying what it is, its cause and the research solution are left to the researcher. With no formal brief the researcher must dig out the necessary background data himself.

Below is a checklist of questions which could be used by the researcher to draw out the background to design a research program.

Checklist to guide a researcher when taking a brief:

  • How long has the company been established?
  • How long has it concentrated on its present product range?
  • What was the company’s product range originally, and 10, 20, 30 years ago?
  • Has the company always been sited in its present location?
  • What factors have influenced its location?

Company Background

  • What is the principal business of the company? What are its subsidiary activities?
  • What is its total turnover – (a) UK (b) exports?
  • Describe any holding companies/subsidiary companies
  • How many employees are there at the establishment?

Product Details

  • What are the important products (or services) in the range (by size, capacity, shape, material, etc)?
  • What proportion of the total turnover does each of the above groups account for?
  • To what extent are the products standard/custom built?
  • What proportion of an assembled product is made in-house or bought out?
  • How important are spares in terms of revenue v profit?
  • Are any of the products built under licence?
  • What are the prices for each of the important products (are these prices trade or retail)?
  • How do prices compare with those of the competition?
  • Is there a published price list?
  • What is the discount policy?
  • What power does the salesman have to alter prices?
  • How price-sensitive is the product?

Sales Force

  • Number of representatives
  • Are they a general or a specialized sales force – in what way are they specialized?
  • How many calls a day do they make?
  • Does the salesforce bring back orders or are they sent in independently?
  • What are the major user markets for the products?
  • What proportion of total sales are to each of these markets?
  • Are any markets known for the product where the company currently does not/cannot sell?
  • Which markets are believed to offer the greatest scope for expansion of sales?

Decision Makers

  • Who are the key decision makers who specify and buy this type of product? What roles do they play?
  • What do decision makers look for from suppliers? PROBE price, quality, delivery, sales service?

Competition

  • Who are the most important competitors? Where are they based?
  • What is their rank order/market share?
  • What are each company’s (including the client’s) perceived strengths and weaknesses?
  • To what extent do competitors rely upon this market for their turnover and profit?
  • Where does the product fit against the competition in its quality?
  • What are the special features of its quality?
  • Where is it weak on quality?
  • How long will the product last?
  • When it finally fails, why will it do so?
  • What is the current delivery period?
  • What is the competition’s delivery?
  • What is the ideal delivery?

Distribution

  • How is the product distributed?
  • What proportion goes direct/indirect? What is the policy which leads to this split (eg size of account – OEM v replacement etc)?
  • What are distributors’ margins?
  • What other products do distributors sell?
  • Do distributors actively sell or just take orders?
  • (a) used by the company?
  • (b) not used by the company?
  • How big is the promotional budget?
  • (b) exhibitions
  • (e) direct mail
  • (f) web sites?
  • Which media are used? Which are most successful?
  • What proportion of sales leads come from promotion? How many? What is their quality?
  • Which exhibitions are attended? What is their perceived value?
  • What opportunities exist for e-commerce?
  • Full details of names (initials as well) of persons present at briefing; date of briefing; address of company; address to which proposals should be sent
  • How many copies of the proposal are required – to be sent separately or en bloc?

Preparing The Research Proposal

Having received the brief the researcher, whether in-house or from an agency, must submit a written proposal to the sponsor which states an appreciation of the problem, the objectives, the research method and the timing. If an agency is preparing the proposal, a statement of cost must be given. An in-house job may omit this but many managers still like to see an estimate as a benchmark to compare with other surveys and as a perspective which they can use to relate to the size of any decision which may be taken.

If the proposal is accepted it becomes the contract between researcher and sponsor. The nature of business to business market research is such that it is seldom possible to know in advance whether the objectives or research method will remain fixed. Invariably slight modifications need to be made. These should always be documented and copied to all parties so they can react to them and in the event of any later argument, refer back to whatever was agreed.

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research brief definition

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Definition of research

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Definition of research  (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

intransitive verb

  • disquisition
  • examination
  • exploration
  • inquisition
  • investigation
  • delve (into)
  • inquire (into)
  • investigate
  • look (into)

Examples of research in a Sentence

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'research.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Middle French recerche , from recercher to go about seeking, from Old French recerchier , from re- + cerchier, sercher to search — more at search

1577, in the meaning defined at sense 3

1588, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Phrases Containing research

  • marketing research
  • market research
  • research park

research and development

  • translational research
  • operations research
  • oppo research

Dictionary Entries Near research

Cite this entry.

“Research.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/research. Accessed 4 Jan. 2024.

Kids Definition

Kids definition of research.

Kids Definition of research  (Entry 2 of 2)

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Nglish: Translation of research for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of research for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about research

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What is Research? Definition, Types, Methods and Process

By Nick Jain

Published on: July 25, 2023

What is Research

Table of Contents

Types of Research Methods

Research process: how to conduct research, top 10 best practices for conducting research in 2023, what is research.

Research is defined as a meticulous and systematic inquiry process designed to explore and unravel specific subjects or issues with precision. This methodical approach encompasses the thorough collection, rigorous analysis, and insightful interpretation of information, aiming to delve deep into the nuances of a chosen field of study. By adhering to established research methodologies, investigators can draw meaningful conclusions, fostering a profound understanding that contributes significantly to the existing knowledge base. This dedication to systematic inquiry serves as the bedrock of progress, steering advancements across sciences, technology, social sciences, and diverse disciplines. Through the dissemination of meticulously gathered insights, scholars not only inspire collaboration and innovation but also catalyze positive societal change.

In the pursuit of knowledge, researchers embark on a journey of discovery, seeking to unravel the complexities of the world around us. By formulating clear research questions, researchers set the course for their investigations, carefully crafting methodologies to gather relevant data. Whether employing quantitative surveys or qualitative interviews, data collection lies at the heart of every research endeavor. Once the data is collected, researchers meticulously analyze it, employing statistical tools or thematic analysis to identify patterns and draw meaningful insights. These insights, often supported by empirical evidence, contribute to the collective pool of knowledge, enriching our understanding of various phenomena and guiding decision-making processes across diverse fields. Through research, we continually refine our understanding of the universe, laying the foundation for innovation and progress that shape the future.

Research embodies the spirit of curiosity and the pursuit of truth. Here are the key characteristics of research:

  • Systematic Approach: Research follows a well-structured and organized approach, with clearly defined steps and methodologies. It is conducted in a systematic manner to ensure that data is collected, analyzed, and interpreted in a logical and coherent way.
  • Objective and Unbiased: Research is objective and strives to be free from bias or personal opinions. Researchers aim to gather data and draw conclusions based on evidence rather than preconceived notions or beliefs.
  • Empirical Evidence: Research relies on empirical evidence obtained through observations, experiments, surveys, or other data collection methods. This evidence serves as the foundation for drawing conclusions and making informed decisions.
  • Clear Research Question or Problem: Every research study begins with a specific research question or problem that the researcher aims to address. This question provides focus and direction to the entire research process.
  • Replicability: Good research should be replicable, meaning that other researchers should be able to conduct a similar study and obtain similar results when following the same methods.
  • Transparency and Ethics: Research should be conducted with transparency, and researchers should adhere to ethical guidelines and principles. This includes obtaining informed consent from participants, ensuring confidentiality, and avoiding any harm to participants or the environment.
  • Generalizability: Researchers often aim for their findings to be generalizable to a broader population or context. This means that the results of the study can be applied beyond the specific sample or situation studied.
  • Logical and Critical Thinking: Research involves critical thinking to analyze and interpret data, identify patterns, and draw meaningful conclusions. Logical reasoning is essential in formulating hypotheses and designing the study.
  • Contribution to Knowledge: The primary purpose of research is to contribute to the existing body of knowledge in a particular field. Researchers aim to expand understanding, challenge existing theories, or propose new ideas.
  • Peer Review and Publication: Research findings are typically subject to peer review by experts in the field before being published in academic journals or presented at conferences. This process ensures the quality and validity of the research.
  • Iterative Process: Research is often an iterative process, with findings from one study leading to new questions and further research. It is a continuous cycle of discovery and refinement.
  • Practical Application: While some research is theoretical in nature, much of it aims to have practical applications and real-world implications. It can inform policy decisions, improve practices, or address societal challenges.

These key characteristics collectively define research as a rigorous and valuable endeavor that drives progress, knowledge, and innovation in various disciplines.

Types of Research Methods

Research methods refer to the specific approaches and techniques used to collect and analyze data in a research study. There are various types of research methods, and researchers often choose the most appropriate method based on their research question, the nature of the data they want to collect, and the resources available to them. Some common types of research methods include:

1. Quantitative Research: Quantitative research methods focus on collecting and analyzing quantifiable data to draw conclusions. The key methods for conducting quantitative research are:

Surveys- Conducting structured questionnaires or interviews with a large number of participants to gather numerical data.

Experiments-Manipulating variables in a controlled environment to establish cause-and-effect relationships.

Observational Studies- Systematically observing and recording behaviors or phenomena without intervention.

Secondary Data Analysis- Analyzing existing datasets and records to draw new insights or conclusions.

2. Qualitative Research: Qualitative research employs a range of information-gathering methods that are non-numerical, and are instead intellectual in order to provide in-depth insights into the research topic. The key methods are:

Interviews- Conducting in-depth, semi-structured, or unstructured interviews to gain a deeper understanding of participants’ perspectives.

Focus Groups- Group discussions with selected participants to explore their attitudes, beliefs, and experiences on a specific topic.

Ethnography- Immersing in a particular culture or community to observe and understand their behaviors, customs, and beliefs.

Case Studies- In-depth examination of a single individual, group, organization, or event to gain comprehensive insights.

3. Mixed-Methods Research: Combining both quantitative and qualitative research methods in a single study to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the research question.

4. Cross-Sectional Studies: Gathering data from a sample of a population at a specific point in time to understand relationships or differences between variables.

5. Longitudinal Studies: Following a group of participants over an extended period to examine changes and developments over time.

6. Action Research: Collaboratively working with stakeholders to identify and implement solutions to practical problems in real-world settings.

7. Case-Control Studies: Comparing individuals with a particular outcome (cases) to those without the outcome (controls) to identify potential causes or risk factors.

8. Descriptive Research: Describing and summarizing characteristics, behaviors, or patterns without manipulating variables.

9. Correlational Research: Examining the relationship between two or more variables without inferring causation.

10. Grounded Theory: An approach to developing theory based on systematically gathering and analyzing data, allowing the theory to emerge from the data.

11. Surveys and Questionnaires: Administering structured sets of questions to a sample population to gather specific information.

12. Meta-Analysis: A statistical technique that combines the results of multiple studies on the same topic to draw more robust conclusions.

Researchers often choose a research method or a combination of methods that best aligns with their research objectives, resources, and the nature of the data they aim to collect. Each research method has its strengths and limitations, and the choice of method can significantly impact the findings and conclusions of a study.

Learn more: What is Research Design?

Conducting research involves a systematic and organized process that follows specific steps to ensure the collection of reliable and meaningful data. The research process typically consists of the following steps:

Step 1. Identify the Research Topic

Choose a research topic that interests you and aligns with your expertise and resources. Develop clear and focused research questions that you want to answer through your study.

Step 2. Review Existing Research

Conduct a thorough literature review to identify what research has already been done on your chosen topic. This will help you understand the current state of knowledge, identify gaps in the literature, and refine your research questions.

Step 3. Design the Research Methodology

Determine the appropriate research methodology that suits your research questions. Decide whether your study will be qualitative , quantitative , or a mix of both (mixed methods). Also, choose the data collection methods, such as surveys, interviews, experiments, observations, etc.

Step 4. Select the Sample and Participants

If your study involves human participants, decide on the sample size and selection criteria. Obtain ethical approval, if required, and ensure that participants’ rights and privacy are protected throughout the research process.

Step 5. Information Collection

Collect information and data based on your chosen research methodology. Qualitative research has more intellectual information, while quantitative research results are more data-oriented. Ensure that your data collection process is standardized and consistent to maintain the validity of the results.

Step 6. Data Analysis

Analyze the data you have collected using appropriate statistical or qualitative research methods . The type of analysis will depend on the nature of your data and research questions.

Step 7. Interpretation of Results

Interpret the findings of your data analysis. Relate the results to your research questions and consider how they contribute to the existing knowledge in the field.

Step 8. Draw Conclusions

Based on your interpretation of the results, draw meaningful conclusions that answer your research questions. Discuss the implications of your findings and how they align with the existing literature.

Step 9. Discuss Limitations

Acknowledge and discuss any limitations of your study. Addressing limitations demonstrates the validity and reliability of your research.

Step 10. Make Recommendations

If applicable, provide recommendations based on your research findings. These recommendations can be for future research, policy changes, or practical applications.

Step 11. Write the Research Report

Prepare a comprehensive research report detailing all aspects of your study, including the introduction, methodology, results, discussion, conclusion, and references.

Step 12. Peer Review and Revision

If you intend to publish your research, submit your report to peer-reviewed journals. Revise your research report based on the feedback received from reviewers.

Make sure to share your research findings with the broader community through conferences, seminars, or other appropriate channels, this will help contribute to the collective knowledge in your field of study.

Remember that conducting research is a dynamic process, and you may need to revisit and refine various steps as you progress. Good research requires attention to detail, critical thinking, and adherence to ethical principles to ensure the quality and validity of the study.

Learn more: What is Primary Market Research?

Best Practices for Conducting Research

Best practices for conducting research remain rooted in the principles of rigor, transparency, and ethical considerations. Here are the essential best practices to follow when conducting research in 2023:

1. Research Design and Methodology

  • Carefully select and justify the research design and methodology that aligns with your research questions and objectives.
  • Ensure that the chosen methods are appropriate for the data you intend to collect and the type of analysis you plan to perform.
  • Clearly document the research design and methodology to enhance the reproducibility and transparency of your study.

2. Ethical Considerations

  • Obtain approval from relevant research ethics committees or institutional review boards, especially when involving human participants or sensitive data.
  • Prioritize the protection of participants’ rights, privacy, and confidentiality throughout the research process.
  • Provide informed consent to participants, ensuring they understand the study’s purpose, risks, and benefits.

3. Data Collection

  • Ensure the reliability and validity of data collection instruments, such as surveys or interview protocols.
  • Conduct pilot studies or pretests to identify and address any potential issues with data collection procedures.

4. Data Management and Analysis

  • Implement robust data management practices to maintain the integrity and security of research data.
  • Transparently document data analysis procedures, including software and statistical methods used.
  • Use appropriate statistical techniques to analyze the data and avoid data manipulation or cherry-picking results.

5. Transparency and Open Science

  • Embrace open science practices, such as pre-registration of research protocols and sharing data and code openly whenever possible.
  • Clearly report all aspects of your research, including methods, results, and limitations, to enhance the reproducibility of your study.

6. Bias and Confounders

  • Be aware of potential biases in the research process and take steps to minimize them.
  • Consider and address potential confounding variables that could affect the validity of your results.

7. Peer Review

  • Seek peer review from experts in your field before publishing or presenting your research findings.
  • Be receptive to feedback and address any concerns raised by reviewers to improve the quality of your study.

8. Replicability and Generalizability

  • Strive to make your research findings replicable, allowing other researchers to validate your results independently.
  • Clearly state the limitations of your study and the extent to which the findings can be generalized to other populations or contexts.

9. Acknowledging Funding and Conflicts of Interest

  • Disclose any funding sources and potential conflicts of interest that may influence your research or its outcomes.

10. Dissemination and Communication

  • Effectively communicate your research findings to both academic and non-academic audiences using clear and accessible language.
  • Share your research through reputable and open-access platforms to maximize its impact and reach.

By adhering to these best practices, researchers can ensure the integrity and value of their work, contributing to the advancement of knowledge and promoting trust in the research community.

Learn more: What is Consumer Research?

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research brief definition

Home Market Research

What is Research: Definition, Methods, Types & Examples

What is Research

The search for knowledge is closely linked to the object of study; that is, to the reconstruction of the facts that will provide an explanation to an observed event and that at first sight can be considered as a problem. It is very human to seek answers and satisfy our curiosity. Let’s talk about research.

Content Index

What is Research?

What are the characteristics of research.

  • Comparative analysis chart

Qualitative methods

Quantitative methods, 8 tips for conducting accurate research.

Research is the careful consideration of study regarding a particular concern or research problem using scientific methods. According to the American sociologist Earl Robert Babbie, “research is a systematic inquiry to describe, explain, predict, and control the observed phenomenon. It involves inductive and deductive methods.”

Inductive methods analyze an observed event, while deductive methods verify the observed event. Inductive approaches are associated with qualitative research , and deductive methods are more commonly associated with quantitative analysis .

Research is conducted with a purpose to:

  • Identify potential and new customers
  • Understand existing customers
  • Set pragmatic goals
  • Develop productive market strategies
  • Address business challenges
  • Put together a business expansion plan
  • Identify new business opportunities
  • Good research follows a systematic approach to capture accurate data. Researchers need to practice ethics and a code of conduct while making observations or drawing conclusions.
  • The analysis is based on logical reasoning and involves both inductive and deductive methods.
  • Real-time data and knowledge is derived from actual observations in natural settings.
  • There is an in-depth analysis of all data collected so that there are no anomalies associated with it.
  • It creates a path for generating new questions. Existing data helps create more research opportunities.
  • It is analytical and uses all the available data so that there is no ambiguity in inference.
  • Accuracy is one of the most critical aspects of research. The information must be accurate and correct. For example, laboratories provide a controlled environment to collect data. Accuracy is measured in the instruments used, the calibrations of instruments or tools, and the experiment’s final result.

What is the purpose of research?

There are three main purposes:

  • Exploratory: As the name suggests, researchers conduct exploratory studies to explore a group of questions. The answers and analytics may not offer a conclusion to the perceived problem. It is undertaken to handle new problem areas that haven’t been explored before. This exploratory data analysis process lays the foundation for more conclusive data collection and analysis.

LEARN ABOUT: Descriptive Analysis

  • Descriptive: It focuses on expanding knowledge on current issues through a process of data collection. Descriptive research describe the behavior of a sample population. Only one variable is required to conduct the study. The three primary purposes of descriptive studies are describing, explaining, and validating the findings. For example, a study conducted to know if top-level management leaders in the 21st century possess the moral right to receive a considerable sum of money from the company profit.

LEARN ABOUT: Best Data Collection Tools

  • Explanatory: Causal research or explanatory research is conducted to understand the impact of specific changes in existing standard procedures. Running experiments is the most popular form. For example, a study that is conducted to understand the effect of rebranding on customer loyalty.

Here is a comparative analysis chart for a better understanding:

It begins by asking the right questions and choosing an appropriate method to investigate the problem. After collecting answers to your questions, you can analyze the findings or observations to draw reasonable conclusions.

When it comes to customers and market studies, the more thorough your questions, the better the analysis. You get essential insights into brand perception and product needs by thoroughly collecting customer data through surveys and questionnaires . You can use this data to make smart decisions about your marketing strategies to position your business effectively.

To make sense of your study and get insights faster, it helps to use a research repository as a single source of truth in your organization and manage your research data in one centralized data repository .

Types of research methods and Examples

what is research

Research methods are broadly classified as Qualitative and Quantitative .

Both methods have distinctive properties and data collection methods.

Qualitative research is a method that collects data using conversational methods, usually open-ended questions . The responses collected are essentially non-numerical. This method helps a researcher understand what participants think and why they think in a particular way.

Types of qualitative methods include:

  • One-to-one Interview
  • Focus Groups
  • Ethnographic studies
  • Text Analysis

Quantitative methods deal with numbers and measurable forms . It uses a systematic way of investigating events or data. It answers questions to justify relationships with measurable variables to either explain, predict, or control a phenomenon.

Types of quantitative methods include:

  • Survey research
  • Descriptive research
  • Correlational research

LEARN MORE: Descriptive Research vs Correlational Research

Remember, it is only valuable and useful when it is valid, accurate, and reliable. Incorrect results can lead to customer churn and a decrease in sales.

It is essential to ensure that your data is:

  • Valid – founded, logical, rigorous, and impartial.
  • Accurate – free of errors and including required details.
  • Reliable – other people who investigate in the same way can produce similar results.
  • Timely – current and collected within an appropriate time frame.
  • Complete – includes all the data you need to support your business decisions.

Gather insights

What is a research - tips

  • Identify the main trends and issues, opportunities, and problems you observe. Write a sentence describing each one.
  • Keep track of the frequency with which each of the main findings appears.
  • Make a list of your findings from the most common to the least common.
  • Evaluate a list of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats identified in a SWOT analysis .
  • Prepare conclusions and recommendations about your study.
  • Act on your strategies
  • Look for gaps in the information, and consider doing additional inquiry if necessary
  • Plan to review the results and consider efficient methods to analyze and interpret results.

Review your goals before making any conclusions about your study. Remember how the process you have completed and the data you have gathered help answer your questions. Ask yourself if what your analysis revealed facilitates the identification of your conclusions and recommendations.

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A good market research brief helps agencies lead successful projects. Learn what to include and how to write a detailed brief with our template guide.

A market research brief is a client document outlining all the relevant information that a research agency needs to understand the client’s specific research needs to propose the most suitable course of action.

A clear, informed brief will ensure the market researcher can deliver the most effective research possible. It also streamlines the project by reducing the need for back and forth between your company and the researcher. A good brief will leave no confusion and provide a meaningful framework for you and the researcher, maximising the accuracy and reliability of insights collected.

Start your project faster with our market research brief template!

In this article, we’ve broken down the key components of a well-written brief, with examples. Using this template guide, you can confidently equip the researcher with the right information to deliver exemplary research for your next project.

Business Background/ Project Background

This section of the brief introduces your company to the market researcher, giving them a more informed overview of your brand, product/service, and target market. You should provide all available context to ensure you and the researcher are on the same page with the project.

Relevant information to add in this section includes: company details, company mission/vision, industry status and trends, market performance history, competitive context, any existing research.

Business Objectives/ Marketing Objectives

Your business objectives/marketing objectives should answer why you are being asked to conduct the research. The researcher should be able to grasp the existing problems/issues your company is looking to address in the research.

For example, this could involve sales, competition, customer satisfaction, or product innovation, to name a few.

Research Objectives

Research objectives address the specific questions you would like the research to cover, including what insights you wish to gain. This is where you should detail what actions your company is planning to take based on the research you are commissioning.

Your research objective is one of the most important elements of your brief, as it dictates how your study will be conducted and the quality of results.

Target Market

Who will this research focus on? This is where you should state respondents’ demographic and profiling information, along with any pre-existing segments you want to target. Be specific, but also be aware that the more restrictive the criteria are, the higher the sample cost will be. Extensive limitations are also realistically harder to meet.

For example:

  • Market: Canada
  • Sample size: 200 – 1000
  • Demographics: Household income of $150k and above a year
  • Markets: Malaysia (priority), Thailand, Singapore
  • Sample size: N=200 (Product Variant Selector) + N=500 (Conjoint)
  • Demographics: 16 – 50 years old
  • National representation: Age, gender and location
  • Target definition: Bought electronics online in the past 12 months
  • Reads on: 16 – 30-year olds vs. 31 – 50-year olds
  • Market: South America
  • Sample size: 1800
  • Target definition: Main and joint grocery buyers
  • 5 target groups: Income, urban/rural, age, family status, shopping frequency (divide each into 3 subgroups, e.g. low, medium, high).

Action Standards/ Decision Rules

Action standards outline which criteria will determine the decisions you make following research. These should detail specific numerical scores and any company benchmarks which need to be met in your research results for decision-making to go ahead. Clear and detailed action standards will allow you to make decisions faster and more confidently following research.

Nestlé’s 60/40 action standard which prioritises preference and nutrition, by aiming “to make products that achieve at least 60% consumer taste preference with the added ‘plus’ of nutritional advantage”.

Pricing is seen as credible by at least 40% of the target market.

Product has at least 50% acceptance from the target market.

Methodology

You should only include methodology if you are certain of the approach you want to take. If you do not know which methodology you should use, leave this section blank for agency recommendations.

Monadic test : Monadic testing introduces survey respondents to individual concepts, products in isolation. It is usually used in studies where independent findings for each stimulus are required, unlike in comparison testing, where several stimuli are tested side-by-side. Each product/concept is displayed and evaluated separately, providing more accurate and meaningful results for specific items.

Discrete choice modelling : Sometimes referred to as choice-based conjoint, discrete choice is a more robust technique consistent with random utility theory and has been proven to simulate customers’ actual behaviour in the marketplace. The output on relative importance of attributes and value by level is aligned to the output from conjoint analysis (partworth analysis).

Qualitative research : Qualitative forms of research focus on non-numerical and unstructured data, such as participant observation, direct observation, unstructured interviews, and case studies.

Quantitative research : Numbers and measurable forms of data make up quantitative research, focusing on ‘how many’, ‘how often’, and ‘how much’, e.g. conjoint analysis , MaxDiff , Gabor-Granger , Van Westendorp .

Deliverables

Deliverables should clearly outline project expectations – both from your company and the agency. This should cover who is responsible for everything required to undertake research, including survey inputs and outputs, materials, reporting, reviewing, and any additional requirements.

  • PowerPoint presentation
  • Crosstabs of data
  • Raw datasets
  • Excel simulator
  • Online dashboard
  • “Typing tool” for future research

Timing and Cost

Timing covers the due dates for key milestones of your research project, most importantly, for your preliminary and final reports. Cost should include your project budget, along with any potential additional costs/constraints.

Contacts and Responsibilities

This section states all stakeholders involved in the project, their role and responsibilities, and their contact details. You should ensure that these are easy to locate on your brief, for quick reference by the agency and easier communication.

Ready-to-use market research brief template with examples

Start your research project faster and get better results. Using this template, you can confidently equip the researcher with the right information to deliver exemplary research for your next project.

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Australian Survey Research

Writing a research brief

Providing a market research company with a research brief is a useful exercise in solidifying your thinking and defining what you want and need to know from your research project.

It also provides the companies you approach for services with important information that will allow them to deliver the services you need, offer you a range of approaches and methodologies and provide an accurate quote.

The following is a checklist of items that you should consider when writing your brief.

Note: Australian Survey Research Group Pty Ltd (ASR) will treat anything you include in your brief as confidential.

Background about yourself

A brief introduction to your company will help ASR understand you and your individual needs. Background could include:

  • What do you do? What is your industry sector and how do you fit into it?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How many employees/sites do you have?
  • What are your business aims/aspirations/visions/values?

Provide the context for your decision to commission research. This may be expressed as research objectives and business objectives:

  • Research objectives are what you want to know overall, e.g., to measure overall customer experience.
  • Business objectives are what you are going to do different as a result of satisfying your research objective, e.g., to improve you service offering in x, y or z areas, or improve a product offering.

Note: it is important to distinguish what you need to know from what is nice to know. A good test is to ask what you are going to do differently as a result of knowing X. If the answer is nothing, then don’t waste time and money in asking.

Target audience

Who is your target audience or participants? For example:

  • Are they businesses or consumers?
  • Are they current customers, lapsed customers or those of a competitor?
  • Are demographics relevant, such as age, gender, income, occupation, location, company size, etc?
  • How many people do you want is to contact? ( this is very important information for us )

Who do you want researched and how many interviews (sample size)? Do you want different options provided by ASR or for us to make recommendations?

Contact (list) details

Do you have a customer/stakeholder list or does ASR have to find respondents themselves? What contact details do you have:

Are these details accurate/complete? For example you may have address details for half your database and emails or telephone numbers for the other half.

Methodology

What methodology do you envisage? Do you think your objectives would best be met through qualitative or quantitative research or, perhaps, a combination? Should the research be conducted face-to-face, by telephone or even online? But don't worry if you're not sure. We can advise you. Either:

  • Tell us your preferred methodology, if any, or
  • Request us to recommend an approach and explain our recommendation.

When do you need the findings by? Bear in mind internal milestones such as meetings and decision-making deadlines you may have. Timescale could include:

  • Timescale for commissioning the research and comparing quotes, the start of the research and when you want the findings by
  • Whether you want to receive top-line findings in advance of the main findings
  • Leaving time to receive a draft set of findings for you to review before receiving the final report.

Deliverables

What research findings do you expect ASR to give you and how do you want them delivered? Do you want the findings in a written report format or as a presentation? You may want to have both, or to have a meeting with an ASR person or by telephone to discuss the findings. Deliverables could include:

  • Your preferred format for the findings - for example, a report in Word or a presentation in PowerPoint, hard copy and/or webinar, etc
  • Do you want the ASR to present the findings?
  • Is there anything else you want us to provide?

Research budget

How much money do you have to spend? Not everybody feels comfortable disclosing this option and admittedly we understand how some clients feel that disclosing their budget is like giving Dracula keys to the blood bank. However, it can help to give us guidance on the available budget, even if it is only a ball-park figure. This means we can give you a realistic quote based on what you can afford. We will help you maximise your available budget and maybe advise on an approach you had not considered. Budget could include:

  • An indication of available budget; stipulate whether or not this includes GST
  • Preferred invoicing schedule.

Contact details

How should ASR get in touch with you?

  • Who should ASR contact if they have any queries regarding the brief?
  • Who should ASR send our quote or proposal to, by when and how (e.g. electronically or hard copy)?

We hope this document helps you. Good luck !

Need help? Call us or email us

We are more than happy to help you with no obligation – within reason. Murray , Tricia or David are available to provide you advice and answer any questions you might have about your project.

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  • Knowledge Base

Methodology

  • Primary Research | Definition, Types, & Examples

Primary Research | Definition, Types, & Examples

Published on January 14, 2023 by Tegan George . Revised on June 22, 2023.

Primary research is a research method that relies on direct data collection , rather than relying on data that’s already been collected by someone else. In other words, primary research is any type of research that you undertake yourself, firsthand, while using data that has already been collected is called secondary research .

Primary research is often used in qualitative research , particularly in survey methodology, questionnaires, focus groups, and various types of interviews . While quantitative primary research does exist, it’s not as common.

Table of contents

When to use primary research, types of primary research, examples of primary research, advantages and disadvantages of primary research, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions.

Primary research is any research that you conduct yourself. It can be as simple as a 2-question survey, or as in-depth as a years-long longitudinal study . The only key is that data must be collected firsthand by you.

Primary research is often used to supplement or strengthen existing secondary research. It is usually exploratory in nature, concerned with examining a research question where no preexisting knowledge exists. It is also sometimes called original research for this reason.

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Primary research can take many forms, but the most common types are:

  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • Observational studies
  • Interviews and focus groups

Surveys and questionnaires collect information about a group of people by asking them questions and analyzing the results. They are a solid choice if your research topic seeks to investigate something about the characteristics, preferences, opinions, or beliefs of a group of people.

Surveys and questionnaires can take place online, in person, or through the mail. It is best to have a combination of open-ended and closed-ended questions, and how the questions are phrased matters. Be sure to avoid leading questions, and ask any related questions in groups, starting with the most basic ones first.

Observational studies are an easy and popular way to answer a research question based purely on what you, the researcher, observes. If there are practical or ethical concerns that prevent you from conducting a traditional experiment , observational studies are often a good stopgap.

There are three types of observational studies: cross-sectional studies , cohort studies, and case-control studies. If you decide to conduct observational research, you can choose the one that’s best for you. All three are quite straightforward and easy to design—just beware of confounding variables and observer bias creeping into your analysis.

Similarly to surveys and questionnaires, interviews and focus groups also rely on asking questions to collect information about a group of people. However, how this is done is slightly different. Instead of sending your questions out into the world, interviews and focus groups involve two or more people—one of whom is you, the interviewer, who asks the questions.

There are 3 main types of interviews:

  • Structured interviews ask predetermined questions in a predetermined order.
  • Unstructured interviews are more flexible and free-flowing, proceeding based on the interviewee’s previous answers.
  • Semi-structured interviews fall in between, asking a mix of predetermined questions and off-the-cuff questions.

While interviews are a rich source of information, they can also be deceptively challenging to do well. Be careful of interviewer bias creeping into your process. This is best mitigated by avoiding double-barreled questions and paying close attention to your tone and delivery while asking questions.

Alternatively, a focus group is a group interview, led by a moderator. Focus groups can provide more nuanced interactions than individual interviews, but their small sample size means that external validity is low.

Primary research can often be quite simple to pursue yourself. Here are a few examples of different research methods you can use to explore different topics.

Primary research is a great choice for many research projects, but it has distinct advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of primary research

Advantages include:

  • The ability to conduct really tailored, thorough research, down to the “nitty-gritty” of your topic . You decide what you want to study or observe and how to go about doing that.
  • You maintain control over the quality of the data collected, and can ensure firsthand that it is objective, reliable , and valid .
  • The ensuing results are yours, for you to disseminate as you see fit. You maintain proprietary control over what you find out, allowing you to share your findings with like-minded individuals or those conducting related research that interests you for replication or discussion purposes.

Disadvantages of primary research

Disadvantages include:

  • In order to be done well, primary research can be very expensive and time consuming. If you are constrained in terms of time or funding, it can be very difficult to conduct your own high-quality primary research.
  • Primary research is often insufficient as a standalone research method, requiring secondary research to bolster it.
  • Primary research can be prone to various types of research bias . Bias can manifest on the part of the researcher as observer bias , Pygmalion effect , or demand characteristics . It can occur on the part of participants as a Hawthorne effect or social desirability bias .

If you want to know more about statistics , methodology , or research bias , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • Chi square goodness of fit test
  • Degrees of freedom
  • Null hypothesis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Control groups
  • Mixed methods research
  • Non-probability sampling
  • Quantitative research
  • Inclusion and exclusion criteria

Research bias

  • Rosenthal effect
  • Implicit bias
  • Cognitive bias
  • Selection bias
  • Negativity bias
  • Status quo bias

The 3 main types of primary research are:

Exploratory research aims to explore the main aspects of an under-researched problem, while explanatory research aims to explain the causes and consequences of a well-defined problem.

There are several methods you can use to decrease the impact of confounding variables on your research: restriction, matching, statistical control and randomization.

In restriction , you restrict your sample by only including certain subjects that have the same values of potential confounding variables.

In matching , you match each of the subjects in your treatment group with a counterpart in the comparison group. The matched subjects have the same values on any potential confounding variables, and only differ in the independent variable .

In statistical control , you include potential confounders as variables in your regression .

In randomization , you randomly assign the treatment (or independent variable) in your study to a sufficiently large number of subjects, which allows you to control for all potential confounding variables.

A questionnaire is a data collection tool or instrument, while a survey is an overarching research method that involves collecting and analyzing data from people using questionnaires.

When conducting research, collecting original data has significant advantages:

  • You can tailor data collection to your specific research aims (e.g. understanding the needs of your consumers or user testing your website)
  • You can control and standardize the process for high reliability and validity (e.g. choosing appropriate measurements and sampling methods )

However, there are also some drawbacks: data collection can be time-consuming, labor-intensive and expensive. In some cases, it’s more efficient to use secondary data that has already been collected by someone else, but the data might be less reliable.

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  3. PDF How to write a research brief

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  24. Primary Research

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