ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
AIM Research

Learning to Think like an Expert Management Researcher

Welcome to AIM’s online learning resource. It is intended for postgraduate and research students, and also for academics just starting out on a career in the management field. The website is designed to support you with developing your critical frame of mind. A constructively critical way of thinking is characteristic of expert researchers, who have gradually built-up their critical thinking capability as a product of their accumulating research experience. Acquiring this capability can be a slow process if it just occurs incidentally: a side-effect of being a student or an academic. But you can accelerate your learning as you go along by consciously developing your ability to think critically and to make informed decisions in your research.

Key aspects of studying management are to design and obtain support for carrying out an investigation, to find things out and then to demonstrate what has been found and why it is significant. This kind of work follows the ‘logic of enquiry’, or detective-work. Developing a research proposal and finding things out involves asking well-informed questions and designing literature-based and empirical investigations to answer them. Demonstrating what has been found out typically includes writing an account that will convince other people (as with your assignments, dissertation, thesis, or academic articles for publication). Expert researchers have learned the habit of following the logic of enquiry by applying their critical frame of mind. This resource is intended to help you to develop your habit of thinking like an expert.

You can do this here in two ways. First, you can visit the link at the top of this page - Introduction. - to learn more about the approach to detective-work reflected in other sections of the resource. The introduction offers you both an ‘advance organizer’, or mental framework, and self-assessment exercises to support your learning.

Second, you can go to the Key Topics link and choose one of these topics to study by clinking on its link. Each key topic contains a series of learning activities focused on common tasks that postgraduate and research students, and also academics, are expected to undertake. These activities include information for raising your awareness and reflective exercises and ideas for integrating your learning into your academic work. You can click on Additional Resources for some suggested further reading. We hope you find the key topics interesting and useful.

Whether you are a student or academic interested in your own learning, or an academic who is interested in using the materials in your teaching of postgraduate or research students, you may wish to visit the Using this Resource link for ideas and information on how you may make effective use of the materials for your purpose.