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The Book

Skill Sheets is a practical resource for understanding and developing core skills that all university students need to obtain. In a very concise manner, this book shows how these skills are related and how one can develop and work with many skills simultaneously. With these skills to hand, students are able to maintain a better focus on the content of their course. Developed and at RSM Erasmus University, it has been thoroughly tested over many years by both students and professors, and improved accordingly.


Rob van Tulder, Professor of International Business-Society Management, Erasmus University Rotterdam/Rotterdam School of Management. He holds a PhD degree (cum laude) in social sciences from the University of Amsterdam. Published in particular on the following topics: European Business, Multinationals, high-tech industries, Corporate Social Responsibility, the global car industry, issues of standardisation, network strategies, smaller industrial countries (welfare states) and European Community/Union policies.

How to purchase

The book – Skill Sheets – An Integrated Approach to Research, Study and Management - (2018, ISBN 9789043033503) can be ordered directly online by clicking one of the following links depending your country of origin:

Dutch Dutch buyers

International buyers International buyers

Principles of Good Research

As a researcher, you should always take the following eight basic rules of good research into account.

1. Dare to build upon the research of others

Many research questions have been addressed before. And most social science problems are very complex. Each individual researcher is, in a way, an intellectual ‘dwarf’. In the early stages of a small research project, get an overview of the most relevant approaches. Very often there are good textbooks that can give you this overview in a few hours.

2. Dare to make motivated choices

Research is a choice process. You have to dare to make choices, otherwise nothing will come of your research. The worst thing you can do, besides not daring to make choices, is not specifying choices. The choices you have to make and specify include: the problem, the research aim, the level of analysis, theories used, methodologies applied, stakeholder perspective taken into account, sources searched for and audience you intend to address.

3. Always define the most important concepts

Words and concepts can have many meanings. The dictionary definition of a concept is often inappropriate for research, because the dictionary is too general, and frequently gives definitions based on circular reasoning. Use definitions from the relevant literature, and explain your choice of a particular definition if more than one definition exists. Make the definition operational, i.e. understandable and open to testing. Always consider the context in which a definition is introduced.

4. Explain flaws in the research yourself

If you explain the choices that you have made, you should also make clear the flaws in the research design that you have chosen. Include this information in your conclusion. Do not leave this for the readers to discover by themselves. Not explaining the flaws of your design lessens your personal credibility as a researcher, and the value of your research. If you come to the conclusion that you have chosen an inappropriate methodology, it does not necessarily mean that you have to begin your research again. To conclude that a particular research methodology is not useful can also be an important result of your research effort.

5. Make a clear distinction between analytical and normative judgment

A limited research project can only lead to limited conclusions. Always specify the conditions under which you think your research results hold true. Avoid the inclination of many researchers to come to prescription on the basis of weak or very limited description of empirical phenomena. Conclusions can only be based on the results of the research. Speculating on the basis of your research results could be valuable and interesting, but can only be done after the conclusions, and should be explicitly stated as such.

6. Strive for the highest possible integrity

Every researcher should be aware of the ease with which data and figures can be manipulated. You frequently make use of data collected by others, for instance, often at high levels of aggregation. So you should adopt a high level of integrity when assembling qualitative and quantitative data. Likewise, always take into account the possibility that data and arguments have been manipulated by others.

7. Be critical

Good research is critical research. A good researcher is not afraid to ask tough questions. Never stop asking the ‘why’ question. A skilled researcher should be capable of expressing doubt, and asking ‘why’ questions without annoying the recipient of the research question.

8. Good research is disciplined and realistic

Research is not easy. You may hope to be inspired by the aims you set for yourself. But always keep in mind one final ‘rule of thumb’, which is applicable to most research projects; ‘good research is the result of 80% perspiration and 20% inspiration’.

Skill Sheets research

The sixteen Skill Sheets about research address real-life, practical questions and problems that you may face in your academic career. Each Skill Sheet provides you with advice and guidance on a specific area, and gives you tips to improve your writing skills.

'An Integrated Approach to Research, Study and Management'