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WRITING A DISSERTATION

A dissertation can be defined as the communication of a piece of investigative academic work which demonstrates in the context of existing knowledge both understanding and critical analytical thinking of an original kind.

 

Communication

The work is clear and accurate, concise and relevant

Grammar and spelling are correct

Style of writing is lively and concise

Investigative

Work must find something relevant

Research must have aims and objectives to give the work focus

Academic

Work must have an academic underpinning appropriate to your degree

All information provided should be supported with facts and figures and accurately sourced.

Context of Existing Knowledge

A research work is not an isolated investigation

It must relate to the existing knowledge in the subject area

Understanding

Work should develop and demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the subject

Critical

Question everything

Identify trends, provide evidence

Seriously  examine assumptions and ideas that have emerged

Analytical

Do not accept anything on face value

Compare one thing with another

Consider advantages, disadvantages and implications

Draw your own conclusions

Original

Dissertation must be your own work

It must represent your own thinking, investigation and presentation

Quote from the work of others provided the source is fully acknowledged, but do not fall into the trap of copying or plagiarizing other people’s work

 

 

A RESEARCH PROPOSAL

 

A research proposal presents a problem, discusses related research efforts, outlines the data needed for solving the problem, and shows the design that will be used to gather and analyze the data.

 
A research proposal includes the following:   
 

§         Proposed Project Title – usually a single sentence title that clearly explains to the reader what the dissertation is going to be about.

§         Research Objectives – includes a set of objectives (usually 3 to 4) that clearly describes the aims of the research study.

§         Problem Statement – what exactly is the problem, which is being analyzed through the research study.

§         Literature Review – existing knowledge, related to the subject matter of the research study, that is already published in books, magazines, journals, on websites etc.

§         Research Design – what will be the broad research methodology or approach for collecting data, both primary and secondary, for your research

§         Resources Required – the physical, financial, human resources that will be required to carry out the research study.

§         Form Of Presentation – the way in which the completed dissertation will be structured and presented for final submission.

§         Business/Management Implications Of The Study – how does your research study help businesses and/or the industry that you have analyzed through your research? Any there any implications for the business.

§         Limitations Of The Research – are there any geographical, scope, time, financial, or other limitations that you might encounter in doing your research.

§         Bibliography – sources used for gathering the information to prepare your research proposal.

 

WRITING A GOOD RESEARCH PROPOSAL

 
A good research proposal clearly answers the following questions:
 
 
§         Does the proposal offer a focused research question?
 
§         Where a number of aims are stated, is the primary question clearly specified?
 
§         Does the proposal convey evidence that the methodological issues raised by the research
      question have been thought through?.
 
§         Does the student appreciate what kind of data will be required? Is the proposed methodology justified?
 
§         Does the proposal indicate a familiarity with the appropriate theoretical concepts needed to underpin the project?
 
§         Is discussion of the theoretical concepts supported by reference to the appropriate literature?
 
§         Does the proposal include an appropriate preliminary structure?
 
§         Is there an appreciation of the business issues inherent in the proposal?

 

BASIC STRUCTURE OF THE DISSERTATION

Appropriate length of report should be around 10,000 words. Your dissertation should include tables, charts and figures.

Work must be printed out on numbered pages, bound and presented in a smart, well-designed cover.

Typing should be on only one side of the pages in double or one-and-a-half line spacing

The font should be 12 in ‘Times New Roman’ or similar typeface such as ‘Arial’

A wide left margin is necessary to allow for binding (minimum 3 cms) with sufficient margins (minimum 2.5 cms) at the top, bottom and right hand side of each page.

Two copies of the dissertation should be submitted.

 

DRAFT STRUCTURE

 

In the beginning of your work itself, draw up a draft structure of your work and examine it critically before determining the final structure of your dissertation.

The draft structure should include chapter headings, areas that you intend to cover, and a brief outline of the contents of each chapter

Discuss the draft structure with your supervisor

Draft structure gives you a plan to work on, but it may change as your work progresses.

 

DISSERTATION FORMAT  

On the cover of your dissertation the following information should be provided:

 

The title of the dissertation

Your name

The name of your center or college

The name of the course or award for which you are presenting the dissertation

The date of submission

Any suitable graphical design

 

The first page inside the cover includes:

 The title of the dissertation and your name

 

The second page:

Acknowledgements page

 

The third page:

Abstract of the dissertation: approximately 300 words. An abstract is a summary of the aims and scope of the work, when and how it was carried out, results and conclusions emerging from the work.

 

The fourth page:

Contents page – showing the title of the different sections of the dissertation

 

The fifth page:

List of tables and figures and the numbers of the pages on which they occur

 

The sixth page:

Main chapters or sections will start from this page onwards

 

 

THE DISSERTATION CHAPTERS

 

Total Word Limit : 10,000 – 12,000 Words

 

Chapter One

 

Introduction

 

Length : 1000 – 1500 words

 

This is the first chapter of the dissertation which introduces the subject matter to the reader. This chapter includes various subheadings which are as follows:

 

1.1  Introductory aspects of the study (introduce your topic in a very general manner)

1.2  Background information about the topic (check the background information / problem statement written in the proposal)

1.3  Research question (check your research proposal)

1.4  Research objectives (check your research proposal)

1.5  Hypothesis (if any – check your research proposal)

1.6  Brief literature review (check your research proposal)

1.7  Research design (check your research proposal)

1.8  Research methodology (check your research proposal)

1.9  Business implications of the study (check your research proposal)

1.10          Form of presentation (check your research proposal)

 

References (books and other sources that you have used to write the contents of ONLY the first chapter. This section should begin on a new page)

 

 

 

Chapter  Two

 

Literature Review

 

Length : 3000 – 3500 words

 

In this chapter, students have to write information collected from the various sources that are relevant to the current study. It should include prior work done by other researchers that has been published in books, magazines, journals, newspapers, internet and other sources.

 

What is required is not the mere compilation of different information gathered through various sources, but the comparing and contrasting of the current study with what has been done earlier and elsewhere. The idea behind doing so is to ensure that the content is analytical and not mere descriptive.


Do include figures, diagrams, models, tables etc.that are related to the study.

 

Ensure that your literature review includes a variety of sources and not merely limited to only one or two types of sources.

 

References (all sources that you have used to write the contents of ONLY this chapter. This section should begin on a new page)

 

 

Chapter Three

 

Research Methodology

 

Length : 2000 – 2500 words

 

This chapter “details” the entire process by which the data has been gathered for the research. It includes the following:

 

3.1 Introduction: introduce what is methodology ( a general introduction of the chapter – 1 or 2 paragraphs in length

3.2 Statement of the problem (check your research proposal)

3.3 Rationale for investigating the topic – Justification (check your research proposal)

3.4 Scope of the study (what areas of investigation, geographical location etc does your research cover) (check your research proposal)

3.5 Research aims / objectives (check your research proposal)

3.6 Hypothesis – if any (check your research proposal)

3.7 Research methodology

            3.7.1 Inductive methodology – define, state whether used or not, why or why not?

            3.7.2 Deductive methodology – define, state whether used or not, why or why not?

3.8 Research design

            3.8.1 Exploratory research – define, state whether used or not, why or why not?

            3.8.2 Descriptive research – define, state whether used or not, why or why not?

            3.8.3 Causal research – define, state whether used or not, why or why not?

3.9 Data Collection methods

            3.9.1 Secondary research – the various books, magazines, journals, website, etc that

you have referred to gather information

            3.9.2 Primary research – explain the term, describe what tools you have used for

gathering primary research and how did you go about collecting the data

3.10 Sampling methods – describe what method of sampling you used and why?

3.10.1 Population and sampling frame

3.10.2 Sample size – what is the size of your sample

3.10.3 Probability and non probability sampling – state which one you are using and

why

3.11 Research Instruments – (questionnaire, interviews etc used and the questions asked and

why?)

3.12 Research approach – the exact way in which the survey was conducted – email,

telephone – how exactly )

3.13 Data Analysis and Interpretation – (one or two paragraphs explaining how the raw data collected was analyzed, what statistical tools were used – percentages, charts, graphs, mean values, ranks etc)

3.14 Limitations of the study

 

References (books and other sources that you have used to write the contents of ONLY this chapter. This section should begin on a new page)

 

 

Chapter Four

 

Data Analysis and Interpretation

 

Length: 3000– 3500 words

 

This chapter includes the findings gathered from the results of the primary research. Each of the question in the questionnaire has to be analyzed through the use of:

 

  1. Tables
  2. Graphs

 

Make sure to include the real and percentage values for each of the responses in your table. Further a separate graph should be included for each question. You may also combine a few questions and analyze the responses through a single graph for further (in addition to the individual graphs)  detailed analysis.

 

References (books and other sources that you have used to write the contents of ONLY this chapter. This section should begin on a new page)

 

 

Chapter Five

 

Conclusion and Recommendation

 

Length: 1000 – 1500 words

 

The last chapter of the dissertation summarizes the overall findings of the research work carried out and more importantly states the implications of the findings. It is very important to ensure that the conclusion must be out of what evidence you have gathered and not mere statements out of the blue. Care should be taken not to introduce any new concepts in this chapter as this chapter primarily summarizes your dissertation and the conclusions arising from your analysis. 

 

Students should make sure that a separate topic i.e Recommendations should be included in this chapter. Suggestions for future research may also be included as the last part of this chapter.

 

References (books and other sources that you have used to write the contents of ONLY this chapter. This section should begin on a new page)

 

 

Bibliography

 

A full fledged bibliography must be included at the end of the dissertation. This should be classified under different categories i.e. books, magazines, journals, websites etc. Further the classification should be in an alphabetical order of the author’s surname. Your bibliography should include at least 30 to 50 sources.

The Text must be clearly referenced by using either the Harvard or Footnote style of referencing. In order to avoid being charged with plagiarism you must make sure that you use a proper referencing in your text and also provide an adequate and systematic bibliography at the end. Any idea, definition, statement, data, diagram, model etc that you take from some outside source should be properly acknowledged. There is no harm in using such information. You are more than welcome to use information from various sources but they MUST be properly acknowledged !! Various aspects and types of referencing both in the text and in the bibliography have been explained in complete detail below.

 

Referencing

 

Referencing in the text

 

The Harvard system uses the author's name and date of publication to identify cited documents within the text.

 

·        For example: It has been shown that…(Saunders, 1993) 

·        When referring generally to work by different authors on the subject, place the authors in alphabetical order: (Baker, 1991; Lewis, 1992; Thornill, 1983). 

·        When referring to dual authors: (Saunders and Cooper, 1993). 

·        When there are more than two authors: (Bryce et al., 1995). 

·        For corporate authors, for instance a company report: (Hanson Trust plc, 1990). 

·        For publications with no obvious author, for example the Employment Gazette: (Employment Gazette, 1998). 

·        When referring to different publications by the same author then the works should be ordered by date in ascending order: (Lewis, 1987, 1991). 

·        To differentiate between publications by the same author in the same year use a, b, c etc.: (Forster, 1991a). Make sure that this is consistent throughout the research project and corresponds with the bibliography. 

·        To reference an author referred to by another author where the original publication has not been read: (Granovetter, 1974, cited by Saunders, 1993). In this case the author who cites and the original document's author both should appear in the bibliography. 

·        Only use author's initials to differentiate between authors with the same surname. 

·        Quotations should be placed in inverted commas and the page number given, for example: the Harvard method of referencing provides a simple way of coping with the main text and also bibliographies (Bell, 1993:28)

 

Bibliography

 

In the bibliography the referenced publications are listed alphabetically by author's name and all author's surnames and initials are listed in full. If there is more than one work by the same author, these are listed chronologically. Also remember that you should use numbered bullets to list the various sources. 

 

·        An example of a reference to a book would be:

Saunders, M N K  and Cooper , S.A. (1993) Understanding Business Statistics, London , DP Publications.

 

·        A reference to a book other than the first edition would be:

Morris, C. (1996) Quantitative Approaches to Business Studies (3rd edn), London , Pitman Publishing.

 

·        A reference to a book with no obvious author would be:

Department of Trade and Industry (1992) The Single Market. Europe Open for Professions UK Implementation, London , HMSO.

 

·        A reference to a particular chapter in a book would be:

Robson, C. (1997) Real World Research, Oxford , Blackwell, Chapter 3.

 

·        A reference to a particular chapter in an edited book would be:

Craig, P.B. (1991) 'Designing and Using Mail Questionnaires', in Smith, N.C. and Dainty, P. (eds) The Management Research Handbook, London , Routledge, pp.181-89.

 

·        An example of a reference to an article in a journal (in this example volume 20, part 6) would be:

Brewster, C. and Bournois, F. (1992) 'Human Resource Management: A European Perspective', Personnel Review, 20:6, 4-13.

 

·        A reference to an article in a (trade) journal with no obvious author would be:

Local Government Chronicle (1995) ' Westminster poised for return to AMA fold', Local Government Chronicle, 5 November, 5.

 

·        A reference to an item found on the Internet would also include the fact that it was accessed online, the date of access and the full Internet address.:

Jenkins, M. and Bailey, L. (1995) 'The role of learning centre staff in supporting student learning', Journal of Learning and Teaching, 1:1, Spring (online) [cited 29 Mar 1996 ] Available from Internet

URL:http://www.chelt.ac.uk/cwis/pubs/jolt/issue 1.1/page 2.html

 

 

Appendix

 

This should include the master table, the table of raw data, blank questionnaire and any other useful information which is relevant and pertaining to your topic but not included in the main body of the dissertation. It is important to note that any item included in the appendix must be referred to in the main body of the dissertation. Further, students should also remember that the text included in the appendix will not be counted in your dissertation word limit.

 

ASSESSMENT OF THE DISSERTATION

The assessment of your dissertation is based on the following key criteria:  

Communication

Investigate work

Academic work

Context of existing knowledge

Understanding of the subject

Critical thinking

Originality

Overall presentation

 

Remember every little detail counts such as  header and footer, page numbers, neatness of the work, analytical approach, professionalism in work etc.  

 

The table below shows the kind of skills, approach and nature of work that is desirable

 

GRADE

SUBJECT

METHOD OF INVESTIGATION

COLLECTION OF INFORMATION

STRUCTURE AND ARGUMENT

PRESENTATION

 

 

A

Subject valid and interesting; purpose clearly stated and fulfilled; imaginative but not over ambitious with some degree of originally

Relevant to purpose, well planned appropriate and relevant methods of analysis, appropriate scale; well communicated method and approach well understood

Use of wide range of appropriate and well researched information sources

Clear, convincing logical, imaginative, critical, Cohesive and coherent, well integrated

Meets all specifications,  e.g. cross referencing, and is so well laid out that it is a pleasure to read

 

B

Subject valid and interesting; aims achieved; may be a little over ambitious in scope

Relevant and well planned with appropriate method but may be too large/small or inconclusive

Good coverage of relevant information

Good structure and well developed argument

Specification complied with and so presented that it is easy for the reader to follow

 

C

Subject valid but some shortcomings in awareness of purpose, fulfillment of aims or scale of projects

Is potentially relevant but poorly planned and executed

Some knowledge of relevant information, but not well used and some information missed

Adequate structure and argument

Specifications complied with, but not laid out with maximum clarity

 

D

 

Considerable confusion in purpose and aims but project nevertheless carried to coherent conclusion

Poor choice of method in addition to being poorly planned and executed

Insufficient use of relevant information

Some structure but argument often irrelevant or illogical with unsupported assertions

Specifications not always complied with, but adequate presentation

 

F

Great confusion in purpose and aims – no coherent conclusion

Inappropriate and misapplied method, approach poorly understood

Excessive use of irrelevant information and factual error, over reliance on limited quality sources

No developed argument, misunderstanding of issues involved, lacks coherence

Specification not complied with and presentation inadequate

 

 

Also check

 

Writing a Dissertation

 

  Wishing You All The Best !!!