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Why Assignment Research is Important and Valuable

How to use research to support your CIPD assignments

By Fleur Blanford

Fleur is Oakwood's Head of International Studies and works in our UK Office
More from Fleur >>

In our previous blog, 10 Top Tips for CIPD Assignments, we briefly touched on the necessity to undertake some further reading and research in order to support your assignments. This blog will help to explain this subject a little more and enable you to use research to the best effect. For students studying at CIPD Foundation Level (Level 3) it is a recommendation that some research references are included in the reports. However, at Intermediate Level (Level 5) and Advanced Level (Level 7),  this is a requirement of the CIPD.  

Researching for Assignments

The topic of research itself is huge! Books and articles and hundreds of web based sources are available to inform simply about how to do research. There is a baffling amount of research – just about research!

Research for your CIPD assignments might include reference to topic specific books, journals or articles which provide another layer to your workshop learning. The Internet of course remains the most popular way of sourcing information but this might not always be the most appropriate. More about this later.

Even following your qualification, as you progress through your career, it is most likely that you will be asked to produce reports for Senior Management or the Executive Board of your organisation. Perhaps you will be trying to make a persuasive argument for additional resources, training or other development activities. You will be expected to make a good case based on realistic, first hand data – not just your ideas and beliefs. The ability to support your arguments with dependable research will only serve to enhance your proposals. 

The four key elements of research

Primary Research –  which ‘consists of a collection of original primary data collected by the researcher’ (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primary_research). For example; surveys, focus groups, questionnaires

Secondary Research  –  (also known as desk research) involves the summary, collation and/or synthesis of existing research (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Secondary_research). For example; books, journals, web bases sources, scholarly articles.  

Qualitative Research – ‘Qualitative research is about finding out not just what people think but why they think it. It’s about getting people to talk about their opinions so you can understand their motivations and feelings’ (www.marketingdonut.co.uk) For example; surveys, focus groups

Quantitative Research – ‘The use of research techniques (such as consumer surveys) whose findings may be expressed numerically, and are amenable to mathematical manipulation’ (www.businessdictionary.com) For example; interpretation of statistics, charts, graphs, other numerical data.

Secondary research

The good news is that in most cases, for the purposes of CIPD assignment writing, it is only Secondary Research that we are interested in.

As you know, Oakwood International is first and foremost concerned that you will be able to put your new learning into immediate practice within your organisations. It is this practical ‘hands on element’ which we know is so critical to our students – so, why the necessity to include secondary research?

Put simply – it re-enforces your understanding of critical issues. Although your opinion is highly valuable, you should support this with the thoughts, interpretation of ideas, and good practice as defined by other authors. Secondary research enables you to link theory to practice and as such corroborates your judgments.

Choosing research resources

There are some key considerations when choosing which resources to use in support of your assignments. You should ask yourself is it;

Valid – does a piece of research measure what it sets out to? Are the findings actually responding to the ‘questions’?

Reliable –  how accurately would the research be replicated in a second identical piece of research? 

Credible – Does the research come from a reliable source? Who has written the piece? Has it been made up or exaggerated – a speciality of sensationalist newspapers and magazines.

Up to date – How old is the article? Facts and figures change over time and quickly become irrelevant. Are you referring to the most recent publication, article or website?

Authentic – Is the article genuine, dependable and trustworthy? 

Sufficient – is there enough material upon which to base your findings? 

It is not necessary to worry overly about these considerations for your assignments – it is worth knowing about these areas but your Workbooks and memory sticks (CIPD Level 5) contain a wealth of pre-researched sources which have taken into account all the above. It is though worth having a basic understanding of these considerations – they could be useful to you in the future.

Remember, not every part of your report needs to be supported by research. 3-5 references per assignment are quite sufficient. 

Using web-based sources

As mentioned earlier – a word of advice concerning the use of web-based sources. The most popular choice of research is, as would be expected the Internet. However, although this is a fantastic tool, do not consider it necessarily the best. There will be occasions when you find more appropriate research in good old fashioned text books, journals, magazines and even newspaper articles. 

Remember to consult your People Management Magazine, local publications such as Gulf News, Khaleej Times etc. 

Don’t forget your Oakwood International Workbook (but refer to the original source not the Workbook itself) and core course text books as well. Good referencing will include a mix of resources and demonstrate that you have considered a wide scope of articles from a range of sources. This is evidence of robust and meaningful research.

Remember that all research used must be correctly referenced. Read our next blog on referencing CIPD assignments

Find out more about our suite of Foundation, Intermediate and Advanced CIPD qualifications at our website or please call us on 04 3599 020. You can also email us for further details: info@oakwooddubai.ae