What have we got so far?
First, I might have to explain where I got the idea of researching PAYD. I stumbled on the subject when talking to people I thought could be helpful in giving me ideas about a subject. I guess there’s nothing more to say about that, because the choice is highly individual.
Well, the idea is there, and I have been fortunate enough to establish contacts with some people involved in the field. I hope to be able to interview some of them in the near future. At this point I have to make some decisions on how to go about:
- What kind of research do I want to do? Is it prospective, retrospective, experimental, descriptional? Qualitative? Quantitative?
- What theory is available on the subject? I will need theory on how to assess environmental impacts of market based measures targeting mobility. Moreover, I will need data and sources to substantiate every link in the reasoning chain set up in the previous blog contribution. For the question on the creation of corporate value, I will need theory on company decision-making.
- How to go about collecting data? Literature sources? Data from Past, ongoing and future tests? What about the validity, reliability of the data?
- Is there a plan B? What if the data I look for are classified, unreliable or otherwise less than ideal? Is there a way to assess the effect that the imperfection of the data can have on the validity of my conclusions?
First, I want to broaden my sources. I have planned a visit to the University Library next Wednesday, in order to look for books on, most of all, company decision making, preferably seen from an environmental point of view (a field I know relatively little about). And before doing that, I will comb out a dozen links about PAYD collected in my Favorites, and ‘snowball them’ (ie, to go through the lists of links and sources provided on the sites of my favorite URLs, to check them, to go through their list of references, and so forth).
I have also created two spreadsheets: one with all available data on all relevant contacts, and another with all the data on all the sources that could be needed to make an adequate source reference in my report (name of writer, title, publisher, place of publishing, year, that sort of thing).
Both are quite empty now, but I hope they will be filled as the work on my project progresses.
I have even made a few business cards to dole out to potential contacts. Frivolous? Well, it can’t hurt.
The first goal is to put together a research proposal (onderzoeksvoorstel) that is good enough to be approved by the exam committee, that is: a credible proposal that contains the following things: a provisional problem-description, a theoretical framework, a provisional set-up of the report, a ‘plan of attack’ and a time schedule.
The theoretical framework is bothering me most. I really hope I can make progress on that at least when I get to searching books in the library…