Research project in finance

Research project in finance: action plan

Jan 01, 2013
Generally when looking to investigate any issue in finance your direction will be turned towards categories such as financial management, investments and financial markets and institutions. Though all of these subject areas are closely connected to one another, each offers something unique to financial research as a whole. For instance, depending on your assignment requirements or preference, you may choose to investigate patterns and trends in various financial markets, study the results of particular financial investments or research management strategies of specific organizations.
When creating an action plan for your research project, the first obvious step to take is to secure a workable research topic.

Step # 1: Identify a suitable finance topic - Which area interests you?

As stated previously finance offers a few broad categories that you can use to help guide you through the topic selection process. When choosing a topic be mindful of the fact that you'll be spending a lot of time on this issue so you'll want to make sure that you pick something that interest you and that you can easily investigate. So what makes something easy to investigate? A few things to consider;
  1. accessibility of information
  2. scope of research
  3. significant relationships that are relevant and important

A finance research example

If you decide to select financial markets and institutions as a broad topic to investigate you may find yourself honing in on one specific market or industry for your project. Afterwards you may start looking at unique trends, patterns, and activities occurring within that industry. An example of this can be seen in the research article "Comparative Study of Financial Performance of Indian Steel Companies Under Globalization" available through the International Journal of Accounting and Financial Management Research. This article focuses on a specific industry (steel) and looks to analyze its performance and contribution to the countries gross domestic product by investigating the financial performance of a select group of steel companies. This is a good example of a suitable topic because it...
  1. provides a narrow subject matter which has information that is easy to obtain (the researchers selected the companies based off of their market share)
  2. defines the scope of the research; which is limited to only steel companies of India (also the market share period was only designated for a select range of 20 years)
  3. shows a significant issue to analyze as India is the world's fourth largest steel producer so studying the financial performance of its steel companies is relevant and important
Following obtaining a suitable topic, is to create a focused research question that will allow you to continue to through to the research phase of your project.

Step # 2: Create a research question

The purpose of the research question is to set a goal of examination. Now that you have a narrow topic in hand, the question is And what about it? With the research question you'll be able to pinpoint exactly what you plan to prove about this specific topic. In doing so a bit of thought needs to be invested to ensure that your wording reflects a tangible concern that can be answered in the confines of your research paper.

A research question example

If you were to create a research question based off of the topic of corporate social responsibility practices for a particular region you may decide to pose the research question; Which types of CSR practices are taking hold in America and what is their correlation to financial performance? With this research question you've identified a specific location and detailed exactly what you will be looking for (CSR practices that are taking hold) as well as an implied relationship (i.e. how they relate to a corporation's financial performance) to examine.
As with your topic a good research question should also entail one main idea that can be adequately researched using the sources that are available to you. The next step in your action plan would be to identify a specific research strategy.

Step # 3: Outline your research strategy

Developing a research strategy primarily means listing the sources that you intend to use in your research as well as recording specific keywords or synonyms that will make your research process easier and more efficient.
  1. Listing keywords and synonyms: This technique is a proven research strategy that will better permit you to explore and investigate your topic. Seeing that you will use various tools in the research process its important to know how these tools work. Much like a search engine, online and offline library catalogs as well as databases work using keywords- this means that you'll need to come up with the best possible combination of terms as well as add ons and subtractions to yield the most fruitful results in your search.
  2. Choosing the right sources: For finance topics you may find yourself spending a lot of time online reviewing available data and statistics. Looking at the steel industry topic for example, the information about market shares as well as India's place in the steel industry may all be easily accessible online (though be careful to select credible and reliable internet resources).
Other places to look for suitable information may include journals specific to finance as well as books and government archives. Popular databases such as Academic Search Complete and Business Source Premier are good places to start for articles on your topic as well as the school library for book titles and references.

An example of outlining a research strategy

Sticking to the previously mentioned topic regarding corporate social responsibility you can begin your research by identifying keywords such as; csr in North America, csr practices, social responsibility, financial performance of major corporations etc. Afterwards you may choose to (a) use these keywords in several databases, catalogs, and search engines or (b) conduct your own empirical research by creating a list of companies to evaluate their implementation of csr as well as their financial performance for a specific time period.

The next steps

Once you've identified a solid research strategy, the next steps to take would be to begin reading the material that you've collected, take detailed notes, and search for the answers to your research question. If conducting original research, as mentioned earlier, you may still need to read a few articles to provide a foundation for your research, but overall your main focus will be on conducting your experiment and evaluating and discussing the research findings.
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