Effect of Brexit on Domestic Trade Exports | Proposal

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Identify the Effect on the Value and Content of Domestic Trade Exports from the UK as a Result of Brexit

INTRODUCTION

The United Kingdom has been a member of the European Union (formerly known as the European Economic Community) since 1973.[1] Over the last few decades, there have been numerous agreements of the EU which the UK has been a part of. However, the story is expected to change in the future as Britain is presently preparing to exit the EU. This current development has sparked a number of debates all across the country and even beyond UK’s borders as changes are expected to occur after Brexit. The extent of such changes and how they would occur are usually the topic of discussion in newsrooms all over the UK.

The research question is a valid one because it focuses on a major aspect of the UK that has been influenced by the EU which is the trade industry, particularly international trade. Being part of the EU, Britain has been able to benefit from Free Trade Agreements of the EU, however, this is likely to change after Brexit. How exactly the changes would affect the UK’s trade industry is not clearly known and this is the overall objective of the research.

The aim of the research is to predict how Brexit would affect domestic trade exports from the UK in terms of their contents and value. In order to achieve the research objectives, good research practice would be observed, the research strategy and research method to be applied in carrying out the research would be stated. This essay would identify general good research practice, state and explain one research strategy and one research method that would be suitable for the research. It would also provide justification for the choices of strategy and method and point out the risks that may arise while using such strategy and method and how they would be minimized. The paper would conclude with a summary of the chosen strategy and method and their justification.

GOOD RESEARCH PRACTICE

While it is true that there are no expressly stated rules that researchers must follow in carrying out their research, certain practices make up good research. One important part of a research is choosing the right strategies and methods best suited for a particular research topic.[2] In choosing the research strategy and method to be used, attention will be paid to good research practice as stated in this section of this paper.

One major aspect of good research is to pay attention to research ethics. Researchers are required to carry out their research in an ethical manner and certain institutions are usually put in place to ensure compliance. Research involving human subjects usually requires prior approval from an ethical committee. Originality is another requirement for good research. The works of previous researchers should not be plagiarized. Authenticity of sources, openness and integrity are other important aspects of good research.

The above requirements have been taken into account and have been put into consideration in choosing the research strategy and research method that will be used in carrying out the research.

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RESEARCH STRATEGY AND RESEARCH METHOD

Denscombe defines a research strategy as a scheme designed to achieve the aim of a research which usually requires an overview of the whole task and a plan of action.[3] This is important because there are ethical issues involved with different research strategies and the strategy chosen would determine the approach to be taken to dealing with ethical issues.[4]

It is good practice to make certain considerations before sticking to a particular strategy; they include ethical issues, feasibility and suitability. In light of these, in my opinion, the best approach to take for the current research question is the Mixed Methods. This strategy is chosen because it is most likely to produce efficient results as it allows for triangulation which is important for the research.

Research strategy is usually confused with research method which is the process used to collect information for the purpose of achieving the research objectives.[5]  Research method has been defined as a process of identifying, gathering, storing and retrieving materials relevant to a given research topic.[6] Research methods and research strategies are sometimes viewed as the same and have been used interchangeably by some authors. However, for the purpose of this paper, they are different concepts. Research methods are either qualitative or quantitative and they include doctrinal and empirical methods. Doctrinal method would be used in carrying out a research on the given topic.

MIXED METHODS

This involves the combination of different methods in one research project.[7] This is done by mixing qualitative and quantitative research methods.[8] Qualitative research is concerned with reasons and seeks to understand concepts by questioning ‘why’ and ‘how’ while quantitative research is concerned with numerical values, it quantifies problems, usually involves measurements and data collected by way of quantitative research can be turned into statistics.[9] In carrying out this particular research, more weight would be given to qualitative data than quantitative data. This is because the research question is not one that requires an answer in form of statistics. Quantitative data would only be used to support the results form analysing the qualitative data.

Mixed methods can be used in different ways and for this research, qualitative data would be collected by way of interviews and thereafter supported with quantitative data collected using surveys. The participants would be individuals and corporate bodies who are big parts of the UK’s trade industries and have been dealing in exports for at least 10 years. Statistics show that top exports of the UK include machinery such as computer, vehicles, pharmaceuticals, gems, precious metals etc[10] and top exporting companies include British Petroleum, British American Tobacco, AstraZeneca (Pharmaceuticals) etc.[11] Persons and companies dealing in the above mentioned products including the companies mentioned are the intended participants of the interview and survey. Questions would border around how being part of the EU has helped (or otherwise) their trade and what is likely to change post Brexit, particularly relating to exports. Responses received would then be analysed to form a conclusion.

Using mixed methods requires the comparison of findings from different methods and then building up a conclusion from such findings. A general argument in favour of this strategy is the fact that it allows a researcher to view a problem from different perspectives and this helps with triangulation which is known to be an attribute of good research. In relation to this particular research, this feature is helpful as data from different sources would produce a more accurate overall picture how the EU influences exports of different products from the UK.

RATIONALE FOR MIXED METHOD

The research problem in question is one that would involve speculation as it seeks to predict the future based on existing knowledge. For this reason, it is best to take an approach that makes use of data collection by different means rather than relying on only one method. This strategy is problem-driven and allows the use of whatever method works best for the specific research problem. This is very practical as it allows the collection of data by more different methods which has been the practice of researchers for years. This strategy is particularly suited for this topic as the research is not based on any known theory or on the development of any theory. Rather, it involves the exploration of ideas that would potentially be the outcome of an impending situation. The point here is that this research will explore new territory and the existing information on the impact that Brexit will have on UK’s trade industry is very speculative as it is based on the opinion of people. Due to this nature of the research, information gotten from only one source may not be very trustworthy. Therefore, it is not just an advantage but also imperative to use the mixed method.

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All research methods have their strengths and weaknesses and mixed method allows for the exploitation of strengths and limitation of weaknesses of the methods used. The methods chosen will complement each other. As has been mentioned earlier, quantitative data will be used to support the results of qualitative data obtained in carrying out the research on the given topic. Shortcomings of the method used in collecting qualitative data would be complemented by the strengths of the method of collecting quantitative data.

Another justification for choosing this strategy is that it allows for the collection of more data. The limitation that the application of a single research method would is avoided by the mixed method.[12] Being a relatively new area of study, the reality is that information out there on the topic is limited hence the need to take an approach that ensures access to more data in order to achieve good results.

Triangulation, which is the cross-verification of data obtained from different sources,[13] is best achieved with the application of mixed methods. Where more than one method is used, there is room for comparison of data from different sources. This helps in reducing bias that may exist within one particular source of information. It is also a way to make the best of information gotten from different perspectives and achieving a balance between them that is not one-sided and therefore producing efficient results. Denscombe stresses its importance in a social research and states that gives a complete picture of a situation and provides a fuller understanding.[14] Triangulation is important for the topic in question because the UK’s exports involve numerous products of different kinds and different viewpoints would exist within the industry.

POTENTIAL RISKS OF MIXED METHODS

Mixed Method is very efficient and suitable for the research topic. However, like other research strategies, it is not without its weaknesses. There are a number of risks which would be involved in applying the mixed methods. Under this section, this essay would explain some potential risks that could arise while using this strategy and how their impact would be reduced.

Firstly, some scholars argue that combining qualitative and quantitative research methods is more difficult than it sounds as both have different concerns and purposes and are not complementary.[15] The argument here is that using methods that are very different could turn out to be more problematic than advantageous and could lead to difficulties in analysis and corroboration of data. In order to avoid these problems, collection of both qualitative and quantitative data would not be done using methods that cannot work with each other. This is the reason for choosing interviews to collect qualitative data and surveys to collect quantitative data. The questions for the survey would be based on the responses to the interview. The quantitative method would only be used to validate or invalidate the results of the qualitative data. This way, results gotten would not be so different that they cannot be analysed and fused into one conclusion.

Secondly, using numerous methods always poses the risks of getting too much information which could either lead to lack of focus of the project or difficulties in analysis of such information. In order to avoid this issue, data collection would be limited to the specific issue in question and only relevant sources would be used. The participants in the research would be clearly defined to only include bodies and persons who have been trade exporters in the UK for at least 10 years and have been dealing in products which are known to be top exports of the UK.[16]

Thirdly, mixed method is more time consuming and usually more expensive than other research strategies.[17] This is because it involves double the effort of using other strategies. Triangulation of data can be a tedious process and takes efforts and skills. This time and money consuming effect of this strategy would be avoided by focus on the specific topic being research. Collection of data would be limited to how the EU affect domestic trade exports of the UK.

Furthermore, the fact that mixed method is the use of different research methods; it makes sense that the disadvantages of using the chosen methods when they are used as single methods would also apply when they are being used as part of the mixed method strategy. For the purpose of this research, the risks of interviews and survey would also apply to the current research. As empirical methods, the major risk they face is the fact that response rate is usually low. In order to make up for this, doctrinal method would also be used.

DOCTRINAL METHOD

In addition to the strategy mentioned above, a method that focuses on secondary sources would also be applied in carrying out the research, this is the doctrinal method. This method, also known as documentary research,[18] is theoretical in nature and is done by using publications such as textbooks, journals, newspapers, reports etc as the sources.[19] Doctrinal method considers what is known about a particular subject and analyses such knowledge in order to reach a particular conclusion. This method is well suited for a research on the effect of Brexit on UK’s exports because it allows the opinions and facts observed by previous writers to be considered before coming to a conclusion on the topic.

Not much has been written on the specific topic in question as it is relatively new, so the secondary sources that would be used would not focus on what writers think the impact of Brexit on UK’s exports would be. More practically, the research would focus on documents that explain how being a member of the EU has influenced UK’s trade with other countries. An understanding of how the EU has impacted on UK’s exports would go a long way in assessing what effects leaving the union would have on such exports.

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While most of the sources would be library books and articles, published interviews that may be relevant would also form part of the research. In addition, UK’s current trade agreements with the EU and other countries would not be left out. At present, UK has numerous trade agreements with the EU but only a few would be considered. Articles published on websites and blogs that discuss Britain’s economy such as the Financial Times and the British Chambers of commerce would be part of the research. Being a very topical issue, new write-ups would be published frequently and this would be taken into account in carrying out the research.

RATIONALE FOR DOCTRINAL METHOD

The major reason for the choice of this method is to complement the results and make up for the shortcomings of the strategy mentioned above. In order to not miss certain facts that may be vital, this method is suitable for the research. This is because the doctrinal method is the consideration of works of multiple researchers who have arrived at their conclusions by using different methods. In other words, doctrinal method looks at the results of different research methods and builds on them and this, more often than not, produces very efficient results.

One advantage of this method is found in its reliance on established sources.[20] Though the results of this research are meant to be predictive, the fact that this method focuses on established sources is still an advantage. This is so in that established sources are more reliable and form a solid ground for analysis. The risks of low response rate for the strategy chosen above will be complemented with this. Another reason for established sources to be seen as an advantage is that they will be referenced and therefore made accessible by any reader of the completed work who wants to find them.

This method of research helps in realizing what information has been repeatedly researched upon and established and what is still unclear.[21] This helps in giving a direction as to what aspects of the research need to be focused on and what aspect is already common knowledge. This type of information is especially important for the topic in question because it will save time and effort that may otherwise be spent on what is already established.

Another advantage of this method is that, when done properly, it expresses a topic from different points of view. Using the works of different authors who have written from different perspectives helps in preventing a one-sided conclusion. It would be very time consuming to go try to carry out empirical research to find out every single point of view out there. However, doctrinal method gives access to different viewpoints in a time-effective way.

Lastly, the availability of materials is a merit of this method. Doctrinal method is not only praised for the fact that it ensures access to lots of sources but also because those sources would usually be of different varieties. This method makes use of sources that are already in existence. The strategy chosen for the research in question poses the risks of low response rate and this feature of doctrinal method makes up for that fact. Whatever gaps that remain after applying the research strategy would be filled by information gotten from secondary sources.

POTENTIAL RISKS OF DOCTRINAL METHOD

One leading argument against doctrinal method is that it is subjective in nature.[22] While using doctrinal method, there is always the risk of relying on an author’s perspective which has been influenced by certain factor peculiar to him. This could lead to reaching a conclusion which is biased. This is a risk which is fairly common but also very avoidable. The solution here is to consult works with authors from different backgrounds and different perspectives and find a balance between opposing views. Triangulation, as explained above is a way of avoiding this risk.

Secondly, the existence of too many materials may become a problem for research as it could disrupt focus. This is also a general problem that is often faced by researchers using doctrinal method. In today’s world, the access to internet has intensified this problem. This happens because almost everything can be found online and it is easy for people to publish works on websites and blogs. This means that the materials available are published by just anybody and could include non-trustworthy materials. In order to avoid this problem, the sources that would be relied upon would be verified for authenticity and only trusted databases would be used…

The implication of using other people’s finished research work to conduct a research is that the limitations of the previous researcher would apply to the current research. Everything cannot be found in one work and relying on an author means limiting oneself to that author’s scope. While this is the case, this is easily avoided by using more than one source. As scopes and limitations of different authors will be different, using different sources helps to avoid the problem of being limited by an author’s limitations. In carrying out the research in question, only verified sources would be used.

CONCLUSION

One of the most topical issues in the world at the moment is Brexit and the changes it would bring with it. This makes a research project on the effect on the value and content of domestic trade exports from the UK as a result of Brexit to be a valid one. This essay, however, was not focused on answering the substantive issues of the question. Rather, the purpose of this paper was to identify and justify a research strategy and a research method that would be used to carry out the research. In considering a research strategy and method, it is important to observe good research practice and to pay attention to research ethics. Putting good research practice and research ethics into consideration, the best strategy for the given topic is the Mixed Method which would be accompanied by the Doctrinal method.

In a nutshell, the mixed method is the combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods.[23] In a practical manner, this would be done by collecting qualitative data through interviews and supporting such data with quantitative data collected through survey. This was chosen as a suitable strategy because it supports the collection of data by different means, exploits strengths and limits weaknesses of the research methods used and results in the collection of more data. All these, coupled with the concept of triangulation makes mixed method suitable. While there are risks involved with using mixed methods, such as being expensive and time consuming, the advantages still outweigh the disadvantages.

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Doctrinal method was chosen in addition to mixed methods because it is the use of established sources, materials are widely available and it makes up for the weaknesses of the strategy. There are also weaknesses within this method like too much materials and being limited by the previous researcher’s scope. These risks will be reduced by relying only on authentic sources.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BOOKS

  • Aboki Y, Introduction to Legal Research Methodology 3rd ed (kaduna: Ajiba Printing Production, 2013)
  • Bryman A and Bell E, Business Research Method,3rd ed (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2011)
  • Denscombe M, The Good Research Guide for small scale social research ,6th ed (London: Open University Press 2017) 
  • Hoecke M, Methodologies of Legal Research (Oxford: Hart Publishing Ltd, 2011)

JOURNAL ARTICLE

  • JK Smith, Quantitative vs Qualitative Research: An Attempt to Clarify the Issue’  (1983) Educational Researcher

ONLINE MATERIALS

[1] Norman Shrupnel , ‘ Our Duty to Europe’ (Manchester 1 August 1961) http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/25/a-timeline-of-britains-eu-membership-in-guardian-reporting  accessed 9th December 2017

[2] Martyn Denscombe, The Good Research Guide for small scale social research projects,6th ed (London: Open University Press 2017) 4

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid pg 4

[5] Mark Hoecke ‘Methodologies of Legal Research’ (Oxford: Hart Publishing Ltd, 2011)

[6]  Yusuf Aboki ‘Introduction to Legal Research Methodology’ 3rd ed (Kaduna: Ajiba Printing Production, 2013)

[7] Denscombe (n2) 162

[8] Alan Bryman and Emma Bell, ‘Business Research Method’ 3rd ed (Oxford University Press 2011)

[9] Saul McLeod, ‘Qualitative vs Quantitative’ (Simply Psychology, 2008) https://simplypsychology.org/qualitative-quantitative.html accessed 8th December 2017.

[10] Daniel Workman, ‘United Kingdom’s Top 10 Exports’ (World’s Top Exports, 3rd August 2017) http://www.worldstopexports.com/united-kingdom-top-exports/ accessed 8th December 2017.

[11] ibid

[12] Maurice Moss, ‘The Advantages and Disadvantages of Mixed Methodology Research’ (The Pen and The Pad) < https://penandthepad.com/advantages-disadvantages-mixed-methodology-research-4263.html> accessed 8th December 2017.

[13] Denscombe (n2) 171

[14] ibid

[15] JK Smith, Quantitative vs Qualitative Research: An Attempt to Clarify the Issue’  (1983) Educational Researcher

[16] Workman (n10)

[17] Denscombe (n2) 176

[18] Monageng Mogalakwe, ‘The Documentary Research Method- Using Documentary Sources in Social Research’ (2009) 25 Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review http://muse.jhu.edu/article/262164/pdg accessed 9th December 2017

[19] Terry Hutchinson and Nigel Duncan ‘Defining and Describing What We Do: Doctrinal Legal Research’ 17 Deakin Law Review http://ojs.deakin.edu.au/index.php/dlr/article/view/70  accessed 9th December 2017

[20]Ankit Chakraborty, ‘Doctrinal Legal Research’ (Academia, 2015) http://www.academia.edu/15065282/Doctrinal_Legal_Research  accessed 9th December 2017

[21] ibid

[22] ibid

[23] Bryman and Bell (n8)

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