MSI supports research with the potential for application by managers as well as more basic or exploratory work. No one approach or methodology is favored over another as long as the form is appropriate to the objectives of the research. Studies may be conceptual or empirical and may involve literature reviews, comparative studies, field or laboratory experiments, model building, or theory development. We encourage cross-disciplinary work building on theories, research results, and methods from disciplines of relevance to marketing. MSI and its member companies strongly endorse using actual consumers, customers, and executives rather than student subjects in research projects.
Central to MSI’s research program is the belief that academics and practitioners can mutually benefit from interacting throughout the process of planning, conducting, and reporting research. Research proposals and reports may undergo review by representatives from corporate sponsors as well as academic experts, and some projects receive business cooperation. When projects are completed, researchers often present their results at MSI meetings, where they can discuss their work with MSI member company executives and other academics.
Eligibility and Types of Support
Academic researchers (faculty members, or doctoral students working collaboratively with faculty advisors) can apply for financial and/or nonfinancial support for research projects. As detailed below, financial support is given in the form of standard grants or competition prizes and awards. Nonfinancial support can take the form of access to data, contacts with executives, or access to interview or study sites within firms.
Most MSI grants are made to cover researchers’ out-of-pocket costs for data collection, respondent fees, research assistants, and similar expenses. Generally, these grants are in the $3,000 to $20,000 range. Note that MSI does not provide salary replacement for the principal researcher(s), funds for the purchase of equipment or software, university overhead, tuition, or funds for travel to non-MSI conferences.
Requests for larger sums may sometimes be funded, typically with additional financial support from corporations. These larger projects usually involve substantial interaction between the researchers and the sponsoring corporations. The process of raising corporate support may take several months and often involves meeting with potential sponsors. MSI has also, from time to time, cooperated with other associations or institutes to support large-scale projects.
MSI can on occasion provide useful nonfinancial support to participating researchers. Examples include: (1) access to data, (2) advice and ideas from member company managers, and (3) in exceptionally strong cases, assistance in arranging for interview or study sites inside major corporations. The exact nature of this support varies widely from project to project and requires that the research provides clear benefits to member companies.
Submitting Research Proposals
MSI accepts both full research proposals and pre-proposals. If there is any question about MSI’s interest in the topic or the proposed methodology, a pre-proposal should be the first step in applying for MSI support. In such cases, researchers are also encouraged to contact MSI’s Research Director, Rizley@msi.org, for clarification. There is generally no need for a pre-proposal if the topic and the methodology are not unusual or out of the ordinary. The pre-proposal itself is a letter that outlines the topics to be studied and the researchers’ preliminary research questions and approach. It is intended to elicit MSI’s reaction to the topic and research concept before the researcher invests substantial time in writing a full proposal. Nevertheless, the more complete the thinking in the pre-proposal, the more likely it is to receive encouragement and constructive comments.
There is no required standard format for full proposals, although clarity and brevity are appreciated. In addition to a cover letter, submissions should include:
The main body of the proposal should probably be no more than 25 double-spaced pages in length. Please feel free to include any additional materials that might be useful to the reviewers in appendices (for example, drafts of research materials, questionnaires, more detailed explanations of statistical analysis, and/or modeling plans, lengthy literature review, description of datasets to be used, etc.).
MSI operates on a monthly review cycle, and proposals may be submitted at any time. Please send proposals to Rizley@msi.org.
Regardless of the level or type of support requested, the primary criterion for accepting proposals is quality.
Proposals are initially screened by a review committee that meets monthly, composed of the MSI research and executive directors, academic research associates, and professional staff. On occasion, proposals may be sent for further review to academics who have a special expertise in the field or to appropriate member company executives. Reviews typically take about four weeks from submission to decision. Researchers may be asked to revise and resubmit proposals.
Proposals are judged in terms of: (1) potential contribution to practice and thought, (2) originality and intellectual appeal of the proposed research, (3) quality of conceptual development, (4) appropriateness of the methodology for the research, (5) feasibility of the research, (6) fit of the proposed topic with MSI funding priorities, and (7) qualifications of the researchers for the project.
Researchers who seek the cooperation of MSI member companies must submit proposals and go through the same review process as those applying for financial aid. In order to limit the demands on member company executives, only those of exceptional merit are approved.
When a proposal is accepted, MSI prepares a letter of agreement that outlines the responsibilities of both the researchers and MSI. Researchers agree to submit a brief written progress report at the halfway point and a final working paper describing the results of the research cast in managerial terms. Working papers should be submitted to MSI well before submission to refereed journals. Having a working paper distributed by MSI in no way precludes publication in a refereed scholarly journal. Typically, versions of papers appearing in the MSI series are published in journals one to two years later.
At the conclusion of a project, MSI may on occasion arrange for findings to be presented at conferences with other researchers and interested practitioners.