How to teach research methods to marketing students?

Why do students dislike research methods modules and what to do about it?” is a title of our forthcoming book chapter (Edward Elgar Publishing). My colleague Dr Rita Massaro and I describe a number of challenges lecturers face when teaching research methods and data analysis to marketing students. The chapter presents an eclectic collection of our own ideas and experiences that we wanted to share with professors who design and teach research methods courses. It is forthcoming in 2021, and below we present a very brief summary of our recommendations.


What are our top 3 tips on how to prepare and deliver effective research methods modules? Here they are:

  1. Take your time. Take your time to prepare the syllabus for the module, to prepare content of lectures and seminars, to link lectures, seminar activities and assessments together. Preparation is key and time is needed to carefully design what you will be delivering.
  2. Less is more. Depending on how much time is available for preparation and delivery of the course, we recommend delivering less but at a slower pace and in greater detail. It is more effective to focus on one or two research methods in depth so students come out of the course knowing fewer methods but being more proficient in it (and thus being able to demonstrate this detailed knowledge during interviews), rather than knowing many methods but only very superficially.
  3. Use practical examples. Good and bad ones. Whatever research method or data analysis appraoch you are teaching, put it in context. If you are teaching about experiments, use the classroom setting to run your own marketing experiment, design stimuli (we found that advertising testing works well for such exercises), prepare the instrument, expose experimental and control group to the stimuli, collect responses and analyse data. Using examples really works and helps students understand where research skills can be used in a ‘practical’ setting.

We would also like to recommend a number of textbooks that we found useful in teaching research methods.

Recommended reading

Belk, R. W. (Ed.). (2006), Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing. Edward Elgar Publishing.

Bergstrom, C. T., & West, J. D. (2020), Calling Bullshit: the Art of Skepticism in a Data-driven World. Random House.

Corti, L., Van den Eynden, V., Bishop, L., & Woollard, M. (2019), Managing and Sharing Research Data.

A Guide to Good Practice. SAGE Publications Limited.

Field, A. (2013), Discovering Statistics Using IBM SPSS Statistics. SAGE Publications Limited.

Hall, R. (2020), Mixing Methods in Social Research: Qualitative, Quantitative and Combined Methods. SAGE Publications Limited.

Spiegelhalter, D. (2019), The Art of Statistics: Learning from Data. Penguin UK.

Wilson, A. (2018), Marketing Research. Macmillan International Higher Education.

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