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Understanding Research Methods in Business

Improve your research skills to effectively identify a problem, scope your research, analyse data, and present your findings.

Group of business people working on a table with print out charts, data and computer in the office.

Discover the research process from start to finish

On this four-week course from Sentinel|9, you will explore the principles that underpin good business research. Once you have completed this course, you will understand the entire research process from problem definition through to project conception and finally, publication of the research outcomes.

Learn how to effectively scope and plan your research

This course will introduce you to a range of research processes that will help to inform your choice of research problem, research methodology, research methods, and data analysis.

You’ll start by examining how to define your research problem and build a search strategy to hone your initial scoping research so you don’t get overwhelmed with too many sources and too much information.

Explore quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method research approaches

There are many reasons to conduct either quantitative or qualitative research, with each providing relevant answers to specific types of questions. That’s why a mixed method research approach is often used for business research to benefit from both types of research method.

This course will guide you through the different approaches to these types of research, such as correlation research, questionnaires, and interviews. You’ll then examine the uses, advantages, and limitations of mixed method research.

Develop tools for effective data collection and analysis

During the final week of this course, you’ll delve into the data collection tools that you can use for research, and how to ensure that you collect the highest quality data. Finally, you’ll look at the different theories and techniques to effectively analyse your data and present your findings.


  • Week 1

    Applied project and research methods in business

    • Course welcome

      Find out who you're learning with, what's happening in the course, how you'll be assessed and take time to meet your fellow learners.

    • Introduction to research

      In this activity you will be introduced to research methods in business and explore the reasons for conducting and publishing research.

    • Defining a research problem and scoping the research

      In this activity you will explore problem-identification and how to developing clear, straightforward problem statements. You will also explore how to scope research by looking at what research was done in the past.

    • End of Week 1 wrap up

      This week we explored defining a research problem and scoping the research. We also had an introduction to research. Next week you will be exploring quantitative and qualitative research methods.

  • Week 2

    Quantitative and qualitative research approaches

    • Weekly welcome

      This week you explore how to write a purpose statement. You also explore qualitative and quantitative research approaches.

    • Writing a purpose statement and research questions

      In this activity you explore the process of writing a purpose statement and research questions.

    • Quantitative research approaches

      In this activity you explore quantitative research methods when dealing with numerical or measurable data.

    • Qualitative research approaches

      In this activity you will explore qualitative research approaches and how it aims to answer questions about why things happen in a particular way.

    • End of Week 2 wrap up

      A review of what's been covered and looking forward to next week

  • Week 3

    Mixed method approaches, ethical considerations and writing methodology

    • Weekly welcome

      This week you explore mixed methods research approaches and ethical considerations when conducting research. You also look at writing the methodology section of the research paper.

    • Mixed method research approaches

      In this activity you explore mixed method research approaches that include aspects of both quantitative and qualitative research.

    • Ethical considerations

      In this activity you explore the ethical considerations when conducting research.

    • Writing a methodology

      In this activity you explore how to write a methodology section of a research paper to explain how the data was collected and analysed.

    • End of Week 3 wrap up

      In Week 3, you explored mixed methods in research and also covered ethical considerations. The week concluded with exploring how to write a methodology.

  • Week 4

    Data collection tools, qualitative and quantitative data analysis and writing the final paper

    • Weekly welcome

      This week you will explore data collection tools, data analysis and writing the final research paper.

    • Developing data collection tools

      In this activity you explore data collection tools that are used in all forms of research.

    • Qualitative and quantitative data analysis

      In this activity you will explore how to conduct analysis of qualitative and quantitative data.

    • Writing the final paper

      In this activity you explore how to write the discussion section of the research paper and present the results from the analysis.

    • End of course wrap up

      It's the end of the course. Look back at what you've covered and consider what to do next.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Apply the principles underpinning the business research process and make informed decisions about how to undertake research in a given circumstance.
  • Explore the key challenges faced by people when undertaking research in a business context and be able to identify and employ techniques for managing these challenges.
  • Assess a problem, undertake efficient desk research and write a problem statement.
  • Develop research using at least one qualitative or quantitative research technique to collect and analyse data.
  • Present and defend your opinions by preparing a research report suitable for submission to a practitioner journal or presentation to business executives.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in improving their research skills. It will be especially useful for business professionals and line managers looking to conduct effective business research.

Who developed the course?


Sentinel|9 is an education content provider. They provide university-level content independently to offer a different pace of learning for individuals and institutions. They have a dynamic content library and Learning Management System (LMS) which is suitable for online, blended and face-to-face delivery.


FutureLearn is a leading social learning platform and has been providing high quality online courses for learners around the world over the last ten years.

What's included?

This is a premium course. These courses are designed for professionals from specific industries looking to learn with a smaller group of like-minded individuals.

  • Unlimited access to this course
  • Includes any articles, videos, peer reviews and quizzes
  • Tests to validate your learning
  • Certificate of Achievement to prove your success when you're eligible
  • Download and print your Certificate of Achievement anytime

Still want to know more? Check out our FAQs

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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