Professor's publication guiding student projects on many campuses

James Molinari with his new bookA manual with roots in James Molinari’s SUNY Oswego classes is appearing in courses around the country, including at prestigious business institutions like the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Published this year and available for classroom use this fall, the Oswego professor’s “Marketing Research Project Manual” aims to be a resource and guide for students in marketing research classes.

“Everybody who teaches a marketing research course requires students to do a project,” Molinari said. “The problem has been that students are planning a project while they’re taking a course.” Since students learn as they develop the projects, any initial missteps may hamper work later in the semester, he said.

“This is really a step-by-step approach,” Molinari noted. “Each step of the way, it’s giving them a lot of details, a lot of questions.”

In his own classes, he asks the students to complete a problem or two and then meets with them. “Over the years, the same questions repeated themselves over and over” when students began working on their research projects, he said. “Rather than students getting frustrated over and over, I wanted to help them answer the questions.”

Molinari explained that he designed a manual specifically for his marketing research class, but happened to be talking a representative for McGraw-Hill, one of the largest textbook publishers, who thought it could prove useful for business programs at other colleges.

“They liked the idea of where this fit,” Molinari said, so he prepared a more generalized version with universal applications. He aimed to produce something small and inexpensive for student budgets, emphasizing everyday language instead of too much jargon and organized to provide answers quickly.

The manual addresses such key aspects as choosing a topic, establishing research objectives, learning methodology, designing questionnaires, sampling populations, analyzing basic data and writing reports. Along the way, Molinari said, the manual tries to anticipate common questions while providing both context and concepts.

He tested its effectiveness in his Marketing 375 classes last fall and spring, and found student feedback positive in how helpful the text was. Students even provided input on the book’s cover design, he said.

While graduates will not necessarily go into market research, many will find themselves in roles where they have to purchase someone else’s studies. “This will help them understand what’s involved in a good market research study, so they can understand what they may be buying,” he noted.

Having students participate in such projects not only teaches techniques, but also provides experience working in groups, which is how marketing teams function in business, he said.

Published by McGraw-Hill, “Marketing Research Project Manual” sells for $27.19.

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(Posted: Oct 19, 2005)