ECONOMIC & SOCIAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
Key Topics
Productive reading
Writing effectively
Arguing convincingly
Mapping your field
Literature reviewing
Reviewing the literature systematically
Developing proposals
Key topics
 

The key topics complement each other as means of helping you to develop your expert thinking capability. Of course, there are many more things you need to learn how to do in developing your expertise as a management researcher. But the topics here are ‘key’ because they are so fundamental to all that you do. They address core research tasks of selective reading, critical engagement with others’ arguments, reviewing multiple texts, and writing to present your own convincing argument about what you have learned (including the special case of developing a research proposal). These core tasks inform the more specialised tasks entailed in doing empirical and theoretical research. They also flow from those specialised tasks. Once your research has been conducted you must develop a convincing account for others about what you have done, what you have found out, and why it matters. 

You can tackle the key topics in any order, but we suggest you follow the sequence of learning activities inside any key topic that you decide to explore. The initial activities are introductory, and the later activities build on ideas presented in the earlier ones. For many learning activities there is a downloadable form which you can complete and retain for future reference. While each key topic is designed to be self-contained as an area for you to study, they all link together. As you work through the learning activities in any topic, it is worth reflecting on the implications of what you have learned for the other key topics. Try consciously to make connections between reading productively and critically, reviewing others’ writing, and developing your own ability to write for assessment by other critical readers.

The complementary key topics cover the core research tasks of:   

  • Productive reading – working out what to read and developing efficient reading habits
  • Writing effectively – working out what your target audience is looking for and meeting their expectation
  • Arguing convincingly – working out what claims you want to make and how to warrant these claims being accepted by backing them with adequate evidence of some kind
  • Mapping your field - working out how to locate your research and define its contribution
  • Literature reviewing – working out what range of texts to review, evaluating their quality, summarising what is claimed across multiple texts, and evaluating the authors’ arguments
  • Reviewing the literature systematically - working out how to search, select, appraise and synthesise texts by following a rigorous system and how to communicate what you have done.
  • Developing proposals – building up an argument in a proposal to a funding agency that will convince the assessors and reviewers that your proposed research is worth funding