When submitting work for assessment, students should be aware of the LSBF guidance and regulations concerning plagiarism. All submissions should be your own, original work.
A dissertation ‘…is a display of your ability to identify a topic, justify that topic, write clear aims and objectives which are interrelated, search and review the relevant literature, design data collection tools, apply those tools, manage the data collection and make sense of it. Make valid conclusions and possibly recommendations’ (Hart, 2007).
A dissertation ‘…is a display of your ability to identify a topic, justify that topic, write clear aims and objectives which are interrelated, search and review the relevant literature, design data collection tools, apply those tools, manage the data collection and make sense of it. Make valid conclusions and possibly recommendations’ (Hart, 2007).
Structure of Dissertation
|Title page||This should have your dissertation title, your name, your student number, title of degree and the date.|
|Acknowledgements||It is usual but not compulsory to thank those who have been of particular help to you in completing the dissertation.|
|Abstract||This is a short section (maximum one page), which concisely summarises the whole of the dissertation; the main aim of the research, the findings of the Literature Review, the research methodology adopted, the findings of your primary research and the conclusions made. It should be written in the past tense.|
|Contents Page||This should be written on a separate page and should show chapter/section headings and page numbers. It should include all appendices and be followed by separate lists of tables and figures if appropriate.|
|Introduction||Your introduction should contain your topic clearly stated and defined, the reason why it is of interest to you, a clear overall purpose and definitions of all special and general terms. This chapter should also end with a clear research question or questions, a list of objectives and a hypothesis or hypotheses if needed.|
|Literature Review||This chapter should demonstrate that you have conducted a thorough and critical investigation of relevant sources, outlining, comparing and discussing key ideas, explanations, concepts, models and theories. You should present these ideas in a systematic, well-structured and logical sequence. You will be expected to use prominent and up-to-date books and academic journals. This chapter should end with a statement of the gap in current knowledge which your research aims to fill.|
|Methodology||This chapter describes and assesses the approach you have taken to the data collection process (research philosophy, research strategy, method(s), validity etc.) For each research question or hypothesis and objectives you should have a method for achieving it, making sure that you offer clear rationales for the decisions that you have made. You should explicitly describe your chosen method(s) and any sampling techniques used. It is also important to give a brief assessment of other potential relevant data collection methods and why you discounted them. Do not describe all data collection methods. There should be a critique of the success, or otherwise, of your method(s). Explain the appropriateness of the data analysis techniques that you have selected. You must also discuss validity, reliability and generalisability.|
|Findings/Results||In this chapter the data generated should be reported as completely and neutrally as is possible such that the reader can assess it easily. This is where you will include such tables and graphs that will illustrate your findings. This chapter will also contain verbatim quotes from interviewees, or sections of narrative account that illustrate periods of unstructured observation. The purpose of this chapter is to present the facts. It is not appropriate in this chapter to begin to offer opinions on the facts.|
|Analysis/Discussion of Findings||You should present your analysis clearly and logically and it should be relevant to your research aim, research question(s), hypothesis (es) and objectives. Make sure that you relate the findings of your primary research to your Literature Review. You can do this by comparison: discussing similarities and particularly differences. If you think your findings have confirmed some literature findings, say so and say why. If you think your findings are at variance with the literature, say so and say why.|
|Conclusions/Recommendations||State the main conclusions of your dissertation. State explicitly how and to what extent you have met your aims and objectives / answered your research question(s) / proved your hypothesis (es) whichever is appropriate. Your conclusions should follow logically from your findings and not contain any new material. Recommendations can be made if appropriate.|
|Appendices, illustrations etc||Any necessary information should be here, for example, sampled questionnaires, topic guides, etc. Each appendix should be lettered (A, B, C etc.) and should consist of detailed information that is interesting but not essential to the main thrust of your findings section.|
|References||Full references to every source used, presented in the format of the Harvard System of Referencing.|
Presentation of the Dissertation
The dissertation should conform to the following standards:
The length of the dissertation should be between 15,000 and 20,000 words (chapters 1 to 6, from introduction chapter to conclusions chapter)
The word count should be written on your feedback sheet.
Quotes and the References List are not included in the word count
The dissertation should be word-processed
You can use any font style available (as long as it is legible). Once you have chosen a style be consistent, do not change to another.
Font size 11 should be used. The size of chapter headings and section headings are left to your discretion but should not be unduly large.
Bolding and Italics
It is normal to bold just the headings
Italicise your quotations
Do not italicise or underline any text that you think is important
All page number should be numbered in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3 etc.)
Page 1 is the first page of the Introduction
The sections that come before the Introduction are usually numbered with small Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv etc.)
All page numbers should be at the bottom centre of the page
Margins at the binding edge must not be less than 40mm (1.5 inches) and other margins not less than 20mm (0.75 inch)
1.5 spacing should be used for all text
However, indented quotations should have single line spacing
Chapters and Section Headings
Each chapter should have a title
Section headings should be used and be numbered
The system of numbering should be consistent
Each chapter should be started on a new sheet of paper
Tables and Figures
Where tables and figures (graphs, charts and diagrams) are used they should, as far as possible, be given margins equal to or greater than a page of text
They should be displayed or pasted into the dissertation as near as possible to the relevant text.
Each one should be numbered consecutively, for example, Table 1, Figure 1, etc
All Tables and Figures should clearly state their source
Figures, words, pages, time
Practical word length: 15,000-20,000 words, excluding references, notes, appendices
Words on a page: 400 words (so, practical length of dissertation text: 40+ pages)
Writing time length at 1,000 words day on average: 15 days – but beware – some parts are tougher to write than others
Length by section varies a lot, but average
Abstract: up to a page
Introduction: 4 pages
Formulating Research Question(s), Aims and Objectives: Day 1 of Programme onwards (keep a diary)
Review of Literature: 14 pages Research Methodology: 8 pages Results and Analysis of Results: 12 pages Conclusions and Recommendations: 4 pages Review of Literature time: 4-6 weeks Fieldwork time: 4-6 weeks Writing up fieldwork time: 2 weeks
HOW to write a dissertation.
This is a practical guide to help you develop, write and complete a successful MBA dissertation.
This guide assumes that you haven’t written a dissertation before and covers all of the basics.
Using research methods textbooks is still necessary but this guide will show you each step of the process.
The basic rule is to follow the guidelines, be systematic and understand that writing a dissertation is a particular way of producing an academic piece of work, which is very different to just writing an essay. The main difference is that a dissertation is a structured, thorough argument that shows your ability to do research.
It is really like constructing a large Lego building – you need an idea (a plan) of the whole thing, then a guide to how all the bits fit together and then make sure you have all the right pieces in the right order – and bingo you then have a nice neat temple ready to go.
A flow chart of your ideas can be useful as a way of planning the structure of your dissertation.
Start by finding the topic that really interests you. Then find a supervisor who will show you the ropes.
The Cover – Titles and Titling
You can do a great deal with a title – think of how a great title catches your eye:-
War and Peace – what do you think this book is about?
The title of your dissertation should be as clear as it is possible – if you get this right you are well on the way.
“An examination of the use of Facebook in marketing campaigns for teenage clothes”
This is a good title because it tells you exactly about how, when and where the topic will be developed.
‘A study of employee performance”
This is a bad title because it could be about almost anything.
How to write your title-
- Play around with several options
- Don’t just repeat your research question – where’s the point in that?
- Be adventurous, but try and find a very specific question!
- Key words may be useful – ‘a critical evaluation’, ‘a case study’, ‘a longitudinal study’
Here are some good titles off the top of our heads:-
- Flying High? The evolution of British Airways corporate strategy 2000-2010
- Shopping Around: Credit Card Switching Behaviour in the UK 2000-2010
- Raising Our Sights – the Changing Business Model of Optician Service Provision in the UK
- Supply Chain Management in the UK Clothing Business: Next plc’s future strategy
- Charity Begins at Home – the Evolving Role of the Third Sector on UK High Streets Here are some that are not so good:-
- Corporate Social Responsibility at Tescos/BP/Shell etc.
- A Case Study of BP’s Oil Crisis in 2010
- The Causes of the Global Banking Crisis
- Delivering the 2012 Olympics on Time and in Budget
- What went wrong with the Millennium Dome? Can you see why these are not so good as titles? (Answer: They are vague, general and very hard to answer – if not impossible). Here is the world’s clearest research question- “An examination of the bio-mechanics of the human finger.” (This was a Ph.D) The world’s worst research question –“What were the causes of the global financial crisis and the sub-prime crisis and the after-effects?”
A good research question is:
- Clear and simple 2. Has a defined scope. 3. Can be answered. 4. Is achievable in the space/time of the process.
Do not start on your dissertation until you have a good research question and you understand what research is about. Planning is vital.
So: To begin your dissertation you will need-
- A topic.
- A research question. (Which is a question).
- A title.
- Some Keywords that define what your topic is (vital for the literature search)
- A general research approach (called methodology)
- A basic idea of how to conduct research (which you will be taught in research methodology).
- A plan of how to complete the research.
- Some information about the topic.
- A supervisor who will guide you through the process.
Making the Research Question, Aims and Objectives, formulating Hypotheses
What is a ‘research interest’? Here are some examples: – and notes on the difficulties.
|Investment Banking||Deeply researched; difficult to get access to because people are rich and self-important|
|SME and Entrepreneurship||Researched; difficult to get access to people because they are so busy; often country specific issues|
|Banking Crisis||Deeply researched; access problems – see investment banking above; highly complex and often country specific|
|Low Carbon Futures||Emerging research area; high degree of uncertainty|
|Corporate Finance||Deeply researched; access problems because of confidentiality issues; needs fresh perspectives|
|Financial Literacy||Very poorly understood; needs much cleverer research design; central area of public policy in most countries|
|Risk Management||Access problems; danger of case study approach; saturation point e.g. B.P.|
|Privatisation||Overlooked nowadays; good questions still to be answered around implementation and rationale; difficulties of access because politicised|
|ICT||Vast area; widely studied, poorly evaluated; beware the Cloud|
|HRM||Vast area, rightly widely researched; still interesting fringe areas such as pension provision and administration|
|CSR||Much hot air; access difficulties because corporations only tell you what you want to know|
|Tesco’s||Research at saturation point|
|FDI||Growing and important area of research; needs fresh perspectives; central area of public policy|
|Airline Business Models||Access problems leads toward quantitative research; why would you invest in an airline?|
|Hedge Funds||Horrendous access problems – by definition they are private|
|Implementation of Accounting Standards||Growing area, particularly with IFRS implementation|
|Supply Chain Management and Procurement||Growing in importance as global rebalancing continues|
|Operations Management||Means everything to everyone…|
And so on…
So transforming an interest in to a question
A research interest is a wide, vaguely defined area, expressed in a paragraph;it may lead to a question.
A good research question is narrow, tightly defined, expressed in a sentence, must lead to an answer, and is essential to answer
Good, and not so good research questions:
|Good||Not So Good|
|What role does corporate social responsibility play in a small chain of organic food cooperatives? (my best friend is a manager at one of the branches)||What role does corporate social responsibility play at Tesco’s (I have never worked there and know none of the senior directors)|
|How does a bank reward its staff without giving them bonuses? (my best friend is the manager at one branch of Handelsbankken who pride themselves on a different model of staff remuneration)||Did perverse incentives to senior staff at the UK’s 4 largest banks contribute to the banking crisis? (I have no colleagues in senior positions at the big 4 banks)|
|How well do family farmers manage cereal price volatility over the long term in the UK? (my father is a longstanding family farmer in East Anglia – a region renowned for cereal growing)||What trading positions do hedge funds adopt on soft commodities in an economic recession? (I don’t know anyone who works for a hedge fund)|
|How effective is audit in uncovering fraud in public finances in Rikstein? (My uncle is Auditor-General in Rikstein)||What is the extent of bribery, money laundering and corruption in Rikstein? (I don’t know any senior police or political figures in Rikstein)|
|How effective is bank lending to rapidly growing ICT start up firms? (I started my ICT business three years ago – it is rapidly growing)||Why are banks not lending enough to SME’s? (I have few friends – none work in banks or SME’s)|
|How effective is an annual staff survey in enhancing stakeholder engagement? (I am a senior HR manager with specialist experience in annual staff survey engagement)||How does Tesco engage so well with its workforce? (the only people I know at Tesco’s worked on the tills a couple of years ago)|
|To what extent and for what purpose does a major multinational use financial derivatives? (I work on the treasury desk at a major multinational and know the Corporate Treasurer well)||What role do complex financial derivatives play in the smooth running of the banking system? (I have just qualified with ACCA and am yet to meet a senior figure in the banking world. These derivative things are quite difficult to understand)|
|What attributes do runners look for when they buy new shoes? (I am a middle manager of the sales force for New Balance – a company that makes its shoes in the UK and does not rely on celebrity endorsement)||To what extent did accusations of child labour at Nike contribute to a fall in sales? (I do not know anyone who works for Nike)|
|How does this question relate to possible kinds of research||Good and bad reasons for adopting it.|
You get the drift, we hope. Be specific, and reflect on how you will get access to meaningful sources.
To select a topic make sure it is something that you are really interested and that you know about and that you can realistically get information about.
If you are stuck get a copy of the FT and of City.am and look at all of the major currant topics- select 5 you are interested in and then think about how you would approach it. Three key things drive the decision of what your dissertation is about.
- Is it do-able? (can you actually answer the question and do the research)
- Will it be useful to you in the future? (in your career)
- Are you interested in it as a topic?
Look on the web, look at previous dissertations, look in the research methods books on the reading lists, they will all give you ideas.
Ok. I have got a topic, a title and a research question – what do I do next? Simples – you do the abstract.
Abstract What is an abstract?
It is a 200-300 word summary of the whole dissertation
What’s it for?
It is to give the examiner a clear idea of what the dissertation is attempting to do. For example –
“This dissertation is an empirical study of the implementation of firewall systems in a clothing online company and its impact on customer sales and access etc.”
A good abstract is clear and simple and tells the examiner everything they need to know.
- And the whole approach of the dissertation?
- Yes, a quick overview of the approach and structure.
At the end of the abstract you should put some keywords; these help you, and the examiner, see straightaway what the main topic is.They also are very useful for putting into search engines to find academic material on the research question.
Example – Research question is ‘Examining the Key indicators of employee motivation and performance in the financial sector in Britain, 200-2011’. Keywords: key indicators, employee motivation, financial sector, performance, Britain.Once you’ve looked at a few academic articles you will get the hang of it, as they all have keywords attached to them. Look at the abstract databases and academic journals.
Now for the introduction…
This is my friend Nihal —is that what you mean?
Well that’s not completely wrong because what the introduction is there to do is to introduce the whole background and context of the research question to the examiner.
The introductory chapter of your dissertation should include
- An overview of the dissertation problem, and it’s background and context.
- Discussion of the industry background and context if necessary.
- A brief overview of the aims and objectives and approach of your topic.
- A discussion about why your dissertation is significant and what you want to achieve.
- A description of the various dissertation chapters.
You can think of the introduction as being an extended version of the abstract that fills in a lot of the detail about what is going to happen in the dissertation.
The introduction ‘signposts’ how the dissertation will be structured – this is what makes a dissertation different to an essay or short piece of writing – it is a long, organised argument that presents in-depth research to answer a question.
- So after the introduction what do I do?
- You follow the structure given in the introduction. So next is Literature Review.
Doing the Literature review
(this section is far too often not done properly and leads to a weak dissertation) _________________________________________________________________________
- What’s this literature review, I don’t like literature I’m doing business studies.
- No it means something a bit different it’s the literature – what’s been written- about your topic.
- What does that mean?
- It means that you have to read all the academic journals and articles and books that deal with the same research question as the one you are doing.
- Oh, and how do I do that?
- Well you take the Keywords you developed with your question – the main terms that describe important elements of your topic – and search all the databases and libraries and journals for information on the topic. Easy.
- But I don’t know how to do it.
- You do a search, you look in databases, library catalogues, even on Google scholar to find articles that talk about your topic.
- Give me an example…
My title is ‘ An analysis of the Key Indicators of motivation that affects employee performance in the financial sector in Britain,2000- 2010
So my Keywords are ‘employee performance’ motivation’ and the ‘financial sector’ because these are the main ideas in my research. I put these in Google scholar or any other database and I try and find articles that directly discuss this problem.
And what do you do then?
Well if you really smart you use a citation index.
What is one of them, and why would I use it?
Well it is a listing of all academic articles and then they are ranked in terms of the numbers of times they have been quoted by someone else – or the number of times they have been cited.
So what’s the point of that?
Well it reflects the general importance of the article you are quoting, which is a useful tool in thinking about your particular research problem.
Is it essential to use them?
Well it’s not essential but it’s a very good idea to find out what the most important topics of debate are.
Here’s a quote from a useful site on how to use citation indexes.
“Citation indexes track references that authors put in the bibliographies of published papers. They provide a way to search for and analyze the literature in a way not possible through simple keyword/topical searching. It also enables users to gather data on the “impact” of journals, as well as assessing particular areas of research activity and publication.” (University of Texas library website)
Where else do I find academic literature about my topic?
The other important place to look, besides the bibliographies of already published books on the subject, are abstract databases
And they are?
They are specialist academic databases that list all of the articles produced by writers that have been published in journals and conference proceedings. They give the abstract of what the article is about and links to the full thing.
So I use my keywords and find all the relevant articles, right?
When you have found the 20-30 most important articles/books about your topic in the literature review you just need tosummarize what everyone says.
- Critically evaluate it – this means to weigh up whether or not what is being argued is relevant to your research.
- Try and establish what the best research approach for your topic is, by analyzing what other academic writers on the topic have said.
- Establish if there are any ‘gaps’ in the literature – this means that they haven’t discussed the topic you are concerned with – probably not likely to happen.
The present estimate is that about 1.2 million academic articles are now written every year – so it is fairly unlikely that there is nothing written on your topic. At the end of literature review you should have an idea of the appropriate way to approach your research question. Summarize what you have discovered in the literature review.
This is the bit a lot of people have trouble with – but again it is straightforward if you think about what it is you are trying to do.
What am I trying to do?
You are trying to find the best method to approach your topic – sometimes called horses for courses.
I don’t like horses and I’ve never been riding.
It is an expression that means certain things are best in certain places, some horses run better at a course that is hilly than a flat one.
Ah, so sometimes one method of research is better than another one depending on the topic? You are already out in front on this one.
For the Masters student of business research the aim of the RM chapter is to demonstrate:-
- You understand what a research approach, or ‘method’ is and why it is appropriate to your topic.
- That the chapter is not a quasi- philosophical exercise divorced from the rest of the work.
- A grasp of the dilemmas and challenges posed by business research in general and specifically the research question and objectives you wish to address
- The various approaches that may be taken to the research question via achieving aims and objectives set down in the introductory chapter and revisited at the end of the Review of Literature chapter
- Your justification for the approaches you have taken in the research design and strategy you are proposing
The most important thing about a research methodology is that it is APPROPRIATE to the research question that you working on
How do you define ‘appropriate’ in this context?
It’s like this if the dissertation is like a car then the engine is the idea and the methodology is the gearbox – it’s what drives the vehicle along – if it’s the wrong gearbox for the engine it won’t move.
Why do some people use onions in research? Because they make you cry?
I think you are referring to the infamous ‘Research Onion’ beloved of Saunder et al.
Why it is bad?
It is overly complex.
Don’t forget you need to talk about the limitations of the study and the approaches –this shows you are aware of the problems.
What’s a research philosophy then?
It is the basic theoretical approach you take to understanding the world.
How you interpret the world and explain how it works, you might think that the world is fixed and unchanging or you might think that everything changes all the time, these views are completely opposite and represent a philosophical approach.
So why do I need a research philosophy?
To explain what sort of information and data you will collect, how you will collect it and why it is valid.
Positivism is a theory that the world is knowable through observation and that facts can be demonstrated by deduction.
Testing things against known theories, building hypothesis and making measurements and showing facts. Generally being quantitative in approach.
Doesn’t everyone do that and agree with it?
Nope, there are people called Interpretivists who say that in effect reality is constructed in different ways by different people, so thereare multiple realities.
You are confusing me, what’s that got to do with business studies?
How you interpret what consumers think about a product may involve understanding their emotions rather than facts about how cars are built, so you are always interpreting how the world works.
So I guess that sort of philosophical approach tends to use qualitative methods because it is trying to analyze realities rather than just report on them? I couldn’t have put that better myself.
And what’s a realist? Realists take the view that things can be understood straightforwardly, just treated as existing without worrying about whether they obey fixed laws, like the positivists say, or are completely made up (relativistic) as the Interpretivistssay.
So my research philosophy is really my idea of how to understand how the world works? Precisely. And that dictates what methodology you use.
Your research approach, methodology and philosophy should all be inter-linked and be appropriate to your topic and area of study. A guide to this should come out of your literature review- because you will have looked at research that is doing similar things to your topic.
You should now have a clear plan of action
I have a horse called Research Philosophy and I have a map of where I am going, so like Napoleon I will conquer Europe – or at least write a good dissertation.
Before you go you need some idea of where you are going to get data from for your research!
I knew there was something, where do I get data from?
What sort of data you need, and where you get it from, also depends on the sort of research approach you have adopted – sometimes it’s statistics and sometimes it’s in-depth interviews with particular people.
Important places to find information.
ONS. ILO Directory of Open access journals (DOAJ) Abstract databases (like ERA etc) RBA Information site. Citation indexes. Conference proceedings (often only published on the web) BL. (or any other library catalogue) Government reports (almost always free access)
Important places to find information cont.
Joseph Rowntree Trust British Sociological Association. Google Scholar. More or Less (BBC statistics programme)
Have a research design as well – the plan of how you do all of the above
Research design is just like the diagram for assembling an IKEA wardrobe – it shows what you do, how you do it and where everything goes. Or to put it more technically it is the string of logic that links the data to be collected and the conclusions to be drawn to the initial research question.
Thereare basically four problems that research designs deal with:
- What questions to study
- What data are relevant
- What data to collect
- How to analyse that data.
This is really the plan of how the whole dissertation works and provides the structure that is central to the whole process.
A dissertation is a structured argument which deals both with how to research, what to research and the proper methodology for doing.
Where do I begin my research design?
This is often the fundamental dilemma for business research students. The simple answer is as early as possible on the whole programme, if not before. We say again, keep an ideas diary from day one of the programme. In there, repeatedly mull over what are my research interests, and how can I forge them into a sensible research question with SMART objectives. The sharper your question becomes the clearer the research tools, techniques and volumes of data to answer it become.
|Think about the types and volumes of data and other information you will need to resolve the following research
question and objectives:-
|“Question: To what extent do remittances from the Cypriot diaspora in the UK contribute to economic progress
in the home country?
|Objective 1: To quantify the frequency and size of remittances home from Cypriot diaspora in London
over the 10 years to 2010
|Objective 2: To evaluate the state of the Cypriot economy over the same period and its funding sources|
|Objective 3: Via multi factor regression analysis to establish the strength of correlation between level and
frequency of remittance and economic progress in Cyprus”
Thinking early, and along these lines may well lead you to the conclusion that the amount of data you need to collect is either not feasible, not available, or cannot be collected in the timeframe of a Masters dissertation. Finding this out early will avoid considerable amounts of grief on your part.
Will I do a questionnaire, a survey, in-depth interviews, a focus group, random sampling, complex sampling, Skype interviews, statistical analysis or simply secondary data?
So what sorts of data should you be looking for?
First of all –good data, that is information that is reliable, accurate and properly sourced – not just something off the net or out of a newspaper!
“Many people say that Mercedes are good cars” is not accurate data- it is hearsay. In research you are trying to find out what is the actually the case in a given situation, so, like a detective, you have to be suspicious of first impressions.
So what is good data?
The best data is primary data.
It is first hand information collected by you in a manner that tries to be scientific – like a survey or an examination of statistical evidence produced by you. It is new, reliable data.
What if I can’t get any primary data?
Then you turn to secondary data which is already published information from other sources, like government statistics or company information- but you must explain why they are relevant and valid.
Why doesn’t everyone use primary data?
Because it can be difficult, expensive and very time consuming to collect, say you were investigating the effect of extreme cold on oil-drilling – you would need to go to the Antarctic for six months and make observations, which could be lethal and incredibly expensive. Remember Research articles that you looked at in your literature review about your topic will show you many places to get data from and suggest ways of using data.
You’ve collected the data so you go into the Main Discussion…
This is the main chunk of the dissertation. Here you discuss your research question, how it worked, what the analysis looks like, what the implications of the research process are and what the problems with the data and the outcome are.
It is where you explore in detail the question that you have posed and show a chain of reasoning that will justify the conclusions that you come to.
So you might have a phrase like this ; Therefore the general argument of this dissertation has been ……and the data collected showed that … and therefore the original research question appears to have been correct in suggesting the hypothesis that … etc.
You should try and bring together the research philosophy, the methodology and the research design to show how they all function to produce a clear, logically structured argument.
Imagine that you have to explain each and every step of the process to someone who knows nothing about dissertations – so you explain and justify each step and each kind of proof and information.
Whatever you say try and substantiate it, a dissertation is more like a legal document than a letter home.
Analysis of findings.
If I have clear findings why do I need to analyze them?
Mainly because you need to be able to show how you came to those conclusions – that’s what research is about – demonstrating not only the proof but how it was constructed.
I don’t follow that…
Well you may think that the conclusions are clear but unless you can explain how they came about then you haven’t completed the ‘explain and justify’ part of the process.
Give me an example, please?
Well if you had done a complicated survey that involved many different people from different age and income groups and they all said the same thing about using e-commerce then you would need to explain why such different people all came to the same conclusion.
Ok so I need to unpick the way the data is constructed and what it means?
Exactly, to show that you can argue for the validity of the findings you are presented.
Like the conclusion about Pigs flying- that would need some serious justifying and analysis of the findings.
This is where you state as clearly as you can exactly what it is you have discovered. Example: This dissertation has demonstrated the fact that pigs can fly, which was done by collecting primary data on instances of pigs flying and interviewing them. (see appendix a)
This may not rate as a very good conclusion because it may not be true so make sure your conclusion is based on your analysis and that it is a proper representation of the actual situation.
The conclusion should state what you have proven to be the case and why it is so. Don’t forget to refer back to your original research question – have you answered it?
Your conclusions may not be what you expected to discover so you may have to say that. Try and show why the conclusion is important and what the consequences of the findings are-these are called recommendations.
For example: Larger fences should be put around Pigs if we think they are going to fly. (Bad). Here’s a better example.
This dissertation has shown that social media are a vital sales tool in clothes retailing and therefore that new brands must develop a marketing strategy that incorporates social media.
Referencing, presentation and other bits.
You must make sure that everything that you directly quote, or refer to, in the dissertation is properly referenced. This must follow the Harvard Referencing system as specified in the LSBF guidelines.
There are plenty of guides on the net- just put in ‘Harvard Referencing.
Back up material needs to go into the appendix section.
Final hand in.
Leave yourself at least three days to complete the final version of your dissertation, proper presentation is import and binding takes time – do not leave it until the final day. Put the hand in date on your wall and aim to complete well before the deadline. If you have followed all of the steps we have outlined and talked to your supervisor then it is highly likely you will have submitted a successful dissertation.
Recommended Reading Jones, S. Van der Heijden, B. Wahba, K. How to Write Your MBA Thesis (Maastricht School of Management Series in Intercultural and Global Management) Baxter, L., Hughes, C. and Tight, M. (1996) How To Research, Buckingham: Open University Press. Bell, J. (1999) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide for First-time Researchers in Education and Social Science, 3rdedition, Buckingham: Open University Press.