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E-Commerce, Qualitative Research Design

Paper Outline

Research methodology
Justification of the research approach

Why it is suitable for your research

Ontological, epistemological, axiological, and rhetorical assumptions that led to the methodological assumptions
Comparing the approach chosen with others
Comparing all possible research methodologies and justifying the uniqueness of the methodology chosen for the study

How this methodology will be conducted in the research process
Primary and secondary data source

Why are these sources considered?
How you will access those sources (study sites, participants etc)?
My role as a researcher in this process

Data gathering
What might be the procedure involved? What might be timeline planned?
Data analysis

Telling the story

Metaphorical analysis
Analytical method
The use of SPSS in qualitative analysis
Linking the methodology chosen to the research investigation


E-Commerce, Qualitative Research Design
Research methodology
The research methodology that will be chosen for the research proposal will be phenomenology. It refers to the narration of experiences in the perspective of first person. This methodology helps direct intentions of a research into a certain subject. As such, a certain object is discussed, to examine all aspects surrounding it. The content of the object is explored to identify the in-depth meaning. As such, all conditions surrounding an object are well explained to ensure that the reader gets a better picture of the entire process. Phenomenology has been applied in research for a long period. However, the use of phenomenology came into use in the 20th century (Woodruff, 2011). Phenomenology has to do with first hand experiences of individuals who were part of the situation. It is the research that seeks to find out the real lived experiences of individuals and the essential truths that would rather be lost in translation within secondary sources (Bryne, 2001).
Justification of the research approach
The phenomenological approach is very appropriate and effective when researching the exact feelings of certain individuals. This is because it is thorough, rigorous, and accurate. In addition, it cleats a proper between the variables to be used in this research (Lewin & Somekh, 2005). This approach seeks to uncover the real environment surrounding a certain phenomenon while trying to avoid any prior assumptions that might have been created. A company needs to know the real feelings of the stakeholders involved from an extremely basic point of view, as opposed to second hand information that might be modified and altered (Lewin & Somekh, 2005).
Why it is suitable for your research
Phenomenological approach is the most suitable approach since it gathers direct first-hand information. This is because the approach seeks to describe, in a vivid way, lived experiences without any previous assumptions about these experiences (Vilakati, 2009). This approach of research is descriptive and inductive and gathers information as it is. This is the best approach for a company whose main concern is keeping a brace with the dynamism of consumers and ensuring that it meets these needs. The company should get information that is clear and unaltered from the involved individuals. In this case, what is a better way than to go to the individuals in the field and gather every personal sentiment?
Phenomenological approach to research deals with getting down to the level of the involved stakeholders in a certain phenomenon. Going to the field to gain feedback first-hand from the individuals involved could also be used as an advertising tool. It can be used as a way of creating and spreading awareness about a certain phenomenon (Vilakati, 2009). This includes trying to get the opinions of a certain individual about an organization and creates the awareness of the existence of the organization. In this case, the individual becomes aware of things he or she did not know and creates some interest on the subject in question. Such an individual is sure to check out the phenomenon and know more about it. That is advertisement in itself. The phenomenological approach of research can thus be viewed as killing two birds with one stone for the company; getting first-hand information from the stakeholders and promoting the company. Ontological, epistemological, axiological, and rhetorical assumptions that led to the methodological assumptions
Bryman (2001) describes ontological assumptions as those that deal with the nature of individuals and the world in social contexts. These assumptions define the nature of social reality. These assumptions are independent on the surrounding environment. This means that various researchers can have different conclusions for the observations made on a certain phenomenon. In this research study, the ontological assumptions refer to the assumptions that e-commerce has been accepted by all people in the research field. As such, the researcher assumes that all respondents have accepted e-commerce as a means of exchanging products.
Epistemological assumptions deal with the ways in which knowledge is acquired (Bryman, 2001). It seeks to gain information on findings by investigating the phenomenon closely. These assumptions emphasizes on the social world and not on the scientific facts provided on the phenomenon in question. The researcher tends to overlook the scientific facts about the subject matter and seeks to delve deeper into the issue with a social perspective. Therefore, this means that the results usually are subjective (Kuliah, 2008). In the research study, epistemological assumption indicates that people acquire knowledge about e-commerce through social media, adverts and others.
In axiological assumptions, there is the exclusion of values. Axiology views values as a cause to the clouding of the researcher’s view to reality (Williams, 1998). This places a considerable emphasis on the social nature of qualitative research that does not depend on existing facts, but seeks to dig deeper to find the real aspects of the phenomenon in question. The axiological assumptions provide that the research is conducted to get the qualitative aspects of e commerce.
The rhetorical assumptions are concerned with the persuasion and argumentation. This assumption seeks to overlook the aspects of science, logic, reason, evidence and methods and concentrate more on opinion, persuasion, rhetoric and ornamentation. It is the total separation of the rhetoric from the logic (Bryman, 2001). The rhetorical assumptions in this survey provide that there is a difference in perception of both men and women on the e-commerce processes applied.
The ontological, epistemological, axiological and rhetorical assumptions all have one thing in common; they go beyond what is already stated. These assumptions seek to delve deeper into the social nature of a given phenomenon while not allowing the existing scientific facts about the same phenomenon affect their judgment. As such, the hypothesis of this research will be provided, and the assumptions developed to ensure that the objectives are obtained. The main hypothesis provides that men and women perceives e-commerce differently. Several assumptions will be developed to support the objectives of the study.
The methodological assumptions deal with the methods used in the collection of data during a research. Methodological assumptions are determined by different aspects including the nature of the research, whether it is scientific or social. Scientific research is based on evidence, logic and reason while the social research is characterized by a more subtle edge of opinion, rhetoric and persuasion. In the case of sampled organizations, it is a social research that seeks to find the reaction of the stakeholders of the companies concerning various issues. Therefore, all the other assumptions contribute to the selection of the suitable methodological assumptions to be used in the research.
Comparing the approach chosen with others
The best qualitative methodology to use in the case of the sampled organizations would be the interview and questionnaires. The questionnaires will be passed to the participants as the researcher guides them through the questions. Since most of the Organizations consumers access their services online and since they are distributed all over the world, online questionnaires will also be posted on the company’s website or at individual accounts. The online questionnaires should be composed so as to be used friendly and confidential at the same time. The questionnaires will capture quantitative and qualitative data. The qualitative data will have to be converted into quantitative data by the use of scales. A comparison of questionnaires and interviews shows that interviews will collect a lot of information because it will apply face-to-face communication with the respondents. However, the interviews will take a lot of time to conduct compared to questionnaires. This shows that the interviews will have to be minimised to reduce the time spent to collect data. On the other hand, questionnaires cannot capture all the information required in the analysis of the variables found in this research. This shows that questionnaires cannot be relied upon entirely because the information captured is not adequate to conduct the research (Babbie, 2010).
Another probable methodology that can be used is the participative observation. This is where the researcher participates in the everyday lives of the target group s/he wishes to get information from and make conclusions about the areas under research. In comparison, interview allows the interviewees to express exactly how they feel (Boeree, 2005). Observation is not sufficient to collect the required data since it is difficult to tell feelings and opinions just by observing. It is also very time consuming to rely on observation. It is easy to get information on someone’s opinion directly from the individuals concerned. Collecting data via observation can also be misleading. A researcher can misinterpret an individual’s actions and behaviour, unlike in questionnaires where the data is analysed through answers provided by the interviewee.


Data collection is direct
The data is collected directly from the respondents
Data has to be collected via the researcher’s eyes. This shows that it the data collect is direct

Easy and fast to administer
It takes time to conduct interview with all the respondents
Slow to undertake and time consuming.

Follow up is required to collect filled questionnaires.
No follow up is done because information is collected at the spot. The interviews are recorded, and there is no need
No follow up needed after collection of data.

Easy to interpret collected data.

Data can be difficult to interpret since it may be biased.

Creates awareness about the company.

Rarely creates awareness of the company.

Comparing all possible research methodologies and justifying the uniqueness of the methodology chosen for the study
Other methodologies that can also be used are like a case study, where the researcher keenly studies his targets over time and makes conclusions about their behaviour. A case study involves analysing a certain organization, or individual to identify the environment surrounding the organization or individual. Even though, case studies are remarkably efficient in data collection, they tend to take up a lot of time. The sampled organizations need to make progress and capture the market. It has no time waiting studies to be made. It needs a fast research methodology that will serve the same purpose, only faster. Therefore, the questionnaires are the best option when it comes to collecting data for sampled organizations.
How this methodology will be conducted in the research process
Primary and secondary data sources will be used in the collection of data. The primary data will be collected by the use of questionnaires and interview sessions. The questionnaires will be distributed to the sampled men and women in UAE. The respondents will be given time to answer the questionnaires. The research assistants will then collect the questionnaires after two weeks. Interviews will be conducted in cases where it will not be possible to use the questionnaires.
Primary and secondary data source
Primary data source refers to information that is raw, and has not been processed. This is the first hand information provided by observers or participants during a research process. Testimonies about certain events are reported in primary sources. The facts provided in primary sources are direct evidence from observers or individuals involved in a certain event. Examples of primary data sources include letters, emails, and autobiographies among others. Primary sources are essential when information concerning a certain topic is not available. In some cases, some topics may have not been researched in the past, and this creates the need to develop information from the scratch. As such, a research is supposed to develop primary research to collect data which can be useful. It becomes easier to test the hypothesis of any research when primary data is collected (Kuiper, 2009).
Secondary source is defined as information that has already been collected and processed by other people. This information is used to identify the ideas of other researchers in a certain research topic. They provide a guide to researchers when developing their own research designs. Information from secondary sources is noteworthy because it provides a guide and helps in processing primary data. Information presented in secondary sources is usually presented somewhere else. This shows that the user of secondary source should provide adequate reference to the author of the source. Credit should be given to the author of a secondary source by referencing all external information used in a research document. Examples of primary sources are books, journals and articles from newspapers, encyclopaedia, websites and others (Stephenson & Thurman, 2007).
Why are these sources considered?
Primary and secondary sources are both exceptionally crucial in the collection of data for the organizations’ research process. Primary sources are significant because they give the researcher the real feelings and opinions of his source of information. Primary sources are an excellent source as they provide the data in its raw nature. In this case, it is easy to get the real sense of the phenomenon in question without getting it from a secondary source. In qualitative research, every case being studied is unique. Though there might similarities with a situation in the past, the uniqueness of every case is what qualitative research seeks to get. Primary resources provide data that are unique to the situation in question. The primary sources, which can be used in gathering data for the Sampled organizations, include the testimonies by the individuals that will be interviewed by the researcher.
On the other hand, secondary sources should not be overlooked altogether. They also provide particularly valuable information that might be useful to the sampled organizations. Information contained in books can be used to form sound conclusions and explain the results that will be got from the research. McCleary (2009) says that secondary sources can be used as guidelines while gathering data from primary sources. Therefore, this means that both primary and secondary sources are crucial in the research of the sampled organizations.
How you will access those sources (study sites, participants etc)?
The primary sources are easy to access because the researcher will just have to go directly to the stakeholders of the sample companies and get the data he needs from them. The researchers will seek permission from the management of the sample companies. This will give the researchers the mandate to conduct research in the premises of the companies. In addition, the researchers will liaise with management to arrange on how to get the respondents. This will help distribute the questionnaires easily. In addition, the interviews will be easily conducted after the management allows the research to be conducted in their organizations. The responses obtained will be used to conduct the survey, and the information provided by the respondents will not be used for any other purposes. This assurance will be given to respondents to avoid fear that may be as results of the respondents fearing that the information they give might be used in other activities.
Secondary sources will be accessed from libraries and book stores. Information that has been written about other companies similar to the sample companies can prove to be immensely useful in data collection for the research. The internet will be the most reliable source of secondary information because it contains up-to-date information. The researchers will conduct Google research to identify various books, journals and other online materials to get the information required in this research. Other online sources such as website information will also be obtained to provide a guide in the research. A comparison of various theories about the research topic will be compared to ensure that adequate literature has been collected to support the research.
My role as a researcher in this process
My role as a researcher will be to gather data from the necessary sources, to analyse it, process the data and present the processed information as the findings. In addition, I will coordinate the entire process of collecting primary data. This will be conducting by collaborating with other participants in the research process. In addition, I will sample the companies and individuals to participant as respondents. I will also communicate with the top management of the sampled companies to allow the collection of primary data from their organizations. In the course of performing these duties, I might come across some ethical issues. Ethics in this research process will involve conducting the exercise in the correct way possible without compromising professional requirements. For one, I might be faced with the challenges during the writing stage since I will also be using secondary sources. The issues I might face are like paraphrasing, plagiarism and quotation. These are issues that cause problems both to the researcher and the sampled organizations. So the researcher has to ensure that these issues don’t interfere with the research. Rules and regulations of writing should be followed, and policies adhered to in order to ensure everything is done right and nothing sabotages the research.
Data gathering
Data gathering in this research study will be done through interview with some stakeholders and the filling of questionnaires by others. The company’s management team, investors, and recording labels that an organization deals with will undergo interviews with the researcher where the feedback they provide will be recorded. The consumers will be required to fill in questionnaires that will be both physical and online since it is an international online company. These data collection methods are appropriate for Organizations because it is an online company that supplies music to consumers worldwide; hence it is not easy to get a hold of these consumers other than on the online platform. For the management, interviews will be most appropriate as it will not be a hard task to book appointments with them.
What might be the procedure involved? What might be timeline planned?
For the questionnaires, physical ones can be handed to consumers in a place where they are in plenty. This can be in areas like colleges, high school, training institutes, among others. These are the places where a lot of youth congregate and youth form the largest percentage of organizations’ consumers. Those who cannot be reached physically will be encouraged to fill in the questionnaires that will be provided online on the company’s website. In this way, the researcher will get feedback from consumers and use it. The interviews conducted on the management team will also form part of the research data.
Data analysis
As for the interviews, the researcher has to ensure he’s getting genuine information. During the interview, the researcher will ask additional questions to the individuals being interviewed. This is aimed at ensuring that they are telling the truth as most likely people tend to lie in order to paint themselves in a positive picture. All narrative data in the form of interviews, testimonials and observations by the researcher should be recorded (Powell & Renner, 2003). The recorded information will then be processed to create the resulting information. Data from the questionnaires will be processed, sorted and compiled to come up with conclusions on various issues that are critical in the research procedure.
Telling the story
The stories collected from the field will be told through writing a formal report. The report will be presented in the form of chapters. These chapters will be the introduction, review of literature from other theories, methodology, findings and conclusion. Recommendations will also be provided. After analysing the data, there will coding in order to prepare the processed information for presentation. Thematic coding will be used in this research. This is where the research captured according to the major themes within the work. .
Metaphorical analysis
Metaphorical analysis will be in play here. This is because it is the easiest way to solve any problems that may arise. This involves creating a situation in the abstract, which symbolizes the situation in the real world, then solving problems in the abstract that will reflect in the real world.
Analytical method
The most consistent analytical method to be used here would be the narrative inquiry since a metaphorical analysis is also in play. The importance of narratives in transferring knowledge is immense, and thus it is a good option. This is because the one listening is bound to memory. Apart from capturing the memory, narrative inquiry is also suitable because it can portray and capture feelings and emotion. The situation is not just passive but active. The research is a qualitative one seeking to portray the perceptions and feelings of the stakeholders of the sampled organizations concerning various issues. It has been observed that the narrative provides the inclusion of actions, the ones who acted and the effects that came as a result of these actions. Therefore, narrative inquiry will bring out these findings to the maximum.
The use of SPSS in qualitative analysis
To analyse the qualitative aspects of the research, SPSS software will be applied. The results obtained from the questionnaires and interviews will be fed into the software and run to collect the results. SPSS is software that is used to analyse data in social sciences (Punch, 2005). The abbreviation refers to the Statistical Package for Social Sciences. The aspects to analyse by SPSS are descriptive statistics, Bivariate, predicting numerical outcomes and predicting identifying groups. The results of analysis can be presented in tables or charts (Field, 2010).
Linking the methodology chosen to the research investigation
The use of phenomenology will ensure that the study gets the personal touch it requires. A research like this one that involves a company like Organizations cannot be based on scientific facts and evidence. This methodology will give the research and its findings the touch of a social nature that it needs.
The use of questionnaires for the consumers of Organizations is the most suitable methodology. This is because the company provides its services in a digital environment and serves millions of consumers worldwide. Trying to reach all these users physically to gain information from them would be impossible, expensive and unreasonable. Therefore, the questionnaires come in handy as users can fill them online and the researcher can access the data on the website. This saves on the problem of expenses and time. Conducting the collection of data would be a cumbersome process for the research. This is also an expensive process.
Questionnaires also tend to be direct. This means that consumers will not have a problem understanding them and providing short, precise answers that will not trouble the researcher trying to make out the meaning. The use of questionnaires can also be applied in the promotion of the company. Handing someone who did not know about the company a questionnaire is like handing them a flier with questions in it. It will arouse their curiosity and interest about the services provided by the company. This will guarantee a rise in the number of users.
The research methodology provides a description of the research process. The research questions are a extremely significant part of the whole research process. They guide a researcher and help him not to stray out of the goal of the research. These questions reflect in the whole research process. The questions also appear in the methodology part of the research. Since the Organizations research is supposed to use questionnaires and interviewing as the methodology process, the research questions reflect there too. These questions feature in the questionnaire that consumers are expected to fill and also the interview questions that the management will be asked. At the end of research, analysis should be conducted to make sure that every research questions were answered fully and that a sound and viable conclusion was made.

References List
Babbie, E. R. (2010). The practice of social research. Belmont, Calif, Wadsworth Cengage.
Bryman, A. E. (2001). Multimethod Research. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from http://www.referenceworld.com/sage/socialscience/mmr.pdf
Bryne, M.M. (2001). Understanding Life Experiences through a Phenomenological Approach to Research. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FSL/is_4_73/ai_73308177/
Boeree, C.G. (2005). Qualitative Methods. Retrieved on 2nd from
Giovannoli, R. (1987). The Narrative Method of Inquiry. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Field, A. (2010). Discovering statistics using SAS. London: SAGE.
Kuiper, S. (2009).Contemporary business report writing. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.
Lewin, C. & Somekh, B. (2005). Research methods in the social sciences. London, SAGE Publications
McCleary, S. (2009). Different Uses of Primary and Secondary Sources. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from http://sara-mccleary.suite101.com/primary-and-secondary-sources-a115545
Punch, K. F. (2005). Introduction to social research: Quantitative and qualitative approaches. London: SAGE Publ.
Powell, E.T. & Renner, M. (2003). Analyzing Qualitative Data. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Rahmawati, Y. (2008). Epistemological, Ontological and Methodological. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from http://pendidikansains.wordpress.com/2008/04/12/epistemological-ontological-and-methodological/
Stephenson, J., & Thurman, C. (2007).Entrepreneur magazine’s ultimate small business marketing guide: 1500 great marketing tricks that will drive your business through the roof. Irvine, Calif.: Entrepreneur Press.
Vilakati, C.Z. (2009). Chapter 3: Research Design and Methodology. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Williams, E. (1998). Research and Paradigms. Retrieved on 2nd April 2012 from
Woodruff, S.D. (2011).“Phenomenology”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved March 31, 2012 from: .

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