Academic journal article Business: Theory and Practice

A Pilot Study: Vital Methodological Issues

Academic journal article Business: Theory and Practice

A Pilot Study: Vital Methodological Issues

Article excerpt

Introduction

A pilot study represents a cornerstone of a good research design. In fact, a pilot study is an essential initial step in a research and this applies to all types of research studies. The term of pilot study, however, is defined as "a small-scale test of the methods and procedures to be used on a large scale ..." (Porta 2008). On the other hand, there is little published guidance with respect to the sample size required for pilot studies. The study of Billingham et al. (2013) mentioned that even though all studies should have a sample size justification, some kinds of studies do not need to have a sample size calculation. Their studies, however, concluded that a formal sample size calculation for pilot studies may not be appropriate. Generally, 10-20% of the main sample size is a reasonable number for conducting a pilot study (Baker 1994).

Mainly, the importance of the pilot study lies in improving the quality and the efficiency of the main study. Put another way, a pilot study can be used to reveal some logistics issues before embarking the main study, which pilot study results can inform feasibility and identify modifications needed in the main study. There are also other reasons to conduct a pilot study, for example but not limited to, checking the words and statements of the used scales, refining the scales items, developing scales items and research plan, and collecting preliminary data are indeed some examples for conducting a pilot study. In this regard, even though conducting a pilot study provides us with limited information comparison with the main study and does not guarantee success in the latter, but it does increase the likelihood. A one thing the researchers should pay attention that a pilot study is not a hypothesis testing study. Leon et al. (2011), however, mentioned that the main purpose of conducting a pilot study is examining the feasibility of the intended approach the researchers will use in the main study. Generally, a pilot study can be used as a small version of a full-scale study or trial run in preparation for a main study (Polit et al. 2001). It can also be used to check out a particular research instrument.

However, the present work believes that addressing a pilot study is an interesting and important topic amongst the researchers. Furthermore, many researchers disregard conducting a pilot study since it includes quantitative methodological issues (i.e., Back-Translation, Missing Data, Normality, and Reliability) which need long time to look at deeply, especially, for the researchers who are not well-established in research methods. Therefore, many of those researchers consider looking at such issues as obstacle itself and may be overwhelming and time-consuming, so they disregard conducting such issues of the pilot study and move to conduct the main study indifferent to the importance of pilot study. The present work, however, believes that discarding such issues will give misleading results, so it strongly recommends that the researchers had better deal with such issues before investing a lot of time, money, and effort in the main study. In fact, the present work believes that conducting a pilot study first will help the researchers to not sticking with the results they cannot change, and to manage then the main study more flexibility.

On the other hand, such of methodological issues are barely addressed together in a one work, especially, for researches which use survey as the main tool to collect data (e.g., Social, Business, Management, and behavioural researches). Therefore, the present work aims to address the most important methodological issues together and trying hard to give the researchers, especially for those who are not well-established in research method and thirsty for such issues, the best recommended practices when conducting a pilot study and before conducting the main one. It is also aims to provide those researchers applicable insights a view to reduce the loss of suffered by research community when such issues remain unpublished in a one work. …

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