Project Notes: A (brief) word about data
Oftentimes, students make the mistake of reporting their impressions, feelings, and observations in the first writing of the organizational analysis section. Along similar lines, many students also make the mistake of reporting anecdotal data (e.g., stories, lore, fable) as if they are factual.
While some students may, at first, believe this to be nothing more than professorial "nitpicking," it provides a crucial introductory lesson in understanding what organizational theory is as a social science as well as learning to write for the social sciences because one especially contested issue concerns the matter of "data." The natural (or "hard") sciences condemn the social sciences as being too "soft" about the quality of the data used to support theoretical assertions and, hence, describe the social sciences as "soft sciences."
For the purposes for which this project is concerned, there are two types of data students should concern themselves with: quantitative data and qualitative data. Depending on the assertion a student is making, one form of data might be more apropos than the other.
For example, using Exercise #1 as the focus, a student is describing the organizational context and is convinced that one of the problems in that context is "absenteeism." This student should avoid using adjectives, like "excessive," "unwarranted," and the like, because the student would then be editorializing with no factual basis to substantiate the editorial. It would be most appropriate, however, for the student to provide factual data identifying precisely what the word absenteeism denotes. Please note however: at this point, the student is not identifying absenteeism as good or bad; instead, the student is describing the context and providing a factual foundation to analyze, assess, and evaluate whether and to what degree absenteeism is (or may be) problematic.
But, let's extend this example a little further. Let's say that the context is beset with multiple personnel problems. Undoubtedly, a chart quantifying how these problems manifest themselves would be very helpful in describing the context. But, to convey the sense of the context and what it is that people are experiencing and why these problems are recurring, it might be better were this student also to gather some qualitative data providing deeper insight into the "underside" of the organization's personnel problem. The student might, for example, gather these data from transcripts of exit interviews, visits with current employees, and the like.
As a general rule, it is important to remember that, in any science and in this project, there is no place for strictly subjective data, except perhaps, to illuminate an objective (i.e., factual) point. And, no matter which type of data is used, students must reference it appropriately by using the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Associatio (2001, 5th ed.).