Text of Dr Paul McElheron www.scba.dk Researching & Writing a Dissertation
Dr Paul McElheron www.scba.dk Researching & Writing a Dissertation
Things you shouldnt say at your dissertation defence
Differences Dissertations & Assignments The Dissertation differs from Assignments: You need to demonstrate you can identify an appropriate research question You have to demonstrate you know some thing about research methods Requires a critical review of existing literature
The Dissertation at a Glance About 15,000 words (+/- 10%) Individual research into a management issue of your choice In 2 parts dissertation proposal (15% of the marks) and dissertation Graded as assignments
Covered in this session: Project proposal The dissertation process Getting started choosing a topic Research methods Writing the dissertation Referencing Workshop / any questions
What the Dissertation is NOT Not a purely work-based project Not the Last Word Not an extended essay Not Research First-Think Later Not statistics for the sake of statistics
What the Project Might be A why question that requires analysis An emphasis upon problem solving research The problem clearly defined A method of solution discovered
You Are Being Asked to Do the Following Identify & define a research question Critically review existing literature Design a piece of research Analyse, present & discuss
Project Proposal 15% of the total project mark Minimum 2000 words Project Tutors will advise on scope and feasibility
Project Proposal Framework Use the University Dissertation Proposal Pro-Forma Background and overview Statement of issue and research objectives Methodology Analysis Structure of final project Time schedule Can be submitted online
The Dissertation Process Research Question Literature Review Research Design Data Collection Data Analysis Conclusions Implications
What is a Dissertation? A major piece of work 15,000 words Chosen individually Likely to include an empirical* element Likely to be academic research A why question problem based Difficult? Knowledge based on experience & observation
Why you are asked to do a dissertation Sharpen your information gathering, critical & analytical skills Enhance your subject specific knowledge Relate academic theories to real world problems Develop transferable skills
Choosing a Topic (1) Personal interests & relevance Further your knowledge & development Of value to your organisation (possibly) Durability/substance Topic adequacy A future/immediate career orientated choice Access Feasibility Micro-politics Resources
Choosing a Topic (2) Choose something manageable Choose something interesting Choose something which doesnt overlap too much with other assessments you have submitted Discuss your choice
The topic needs to be: Interesting to you Feasible Course-related Academic Analytical
Six stage process for choosing a topic Identify broad topic & academic discipline Determine the scope Brainstorm issues, puzzles & questions Map and structure the issues Conduct a reconnaissance Frame your research question
Consider Formulating the Title as a Question Is an Academic Education the Best Preparation for a Career in the Senior Management? How Far Can Western Management Training Practices be Used to Develop the Asia-Manager?
Planning your work When do you want to have each chapter completed? How much time will you need for primary research? When must all research work be completed? How much time will you need for writing up? Will you need your dissertation bound in any way?
How Long Does it Take? Organisation of ideas is the hard bit You will find weaknesses/flaws only when you start to write up state them Allow 30% of time for writing up 4-6 months?
What is Research? Research is an Original Contribution to Knowledge Your must show two (maybe three) things: Identification of an unanswered question Evidence of analysis The Answer!
Fundamental concerns Four categories of information sought: Attitudes or what people see/understand Beliefs what people think is true, (stronger than attitudes) Behaviour or what people do Attributes or what people are Validity the degree to which we are measuring what we need to measure Reliability
Research Terminology Methods & Methodology Empirical research vs theoretical Epistomology
Epistemology what constitutes valid knowledge and how can we obtain it? Positivism social researcher as a scientist Facts not values Theory testing Phenomenology social researcher as a detective Values play a significant part Theory building
The Methodological Continuum Phenomenology Theory-Building Qualitative 5 Depth face-to-face interviews High response rates expected More analytical Positivism Theory Testing Quantitative 500 closed-ended postal questionnaires Low response rate expected More design / implementation work
Choice of Research Methods Data search Interviews Questionnaires Panels, including focus groups Observation Delphi technique
The Methodology Chapter Need to show knowledge of methodological debates Examiners look closely at this Shows what you learned about the process of research itself
Research design the University expects Awareness of different approaches Clear justification of the approach taken Description of approach, (sampling, collection, analysis & presentation Critical presentation of the methodology Demonstrates an understanding of the approach taken
Sources of Information Academic journals the gold standard Working Papers most peer reviewed Books Non-academic journals standards vary Consultancy reports use for context only Newspapers use for context only The internet
Selecting the Research Method What information is needed? How will it be collected? How accurate will it be? Will the methods get all the information? Will the information appear credible? Will the participants conform? Who will administer the methods? How can the information be analysed?
Sampling Plan Sampling unit who will be surveyed? Sample size how many shall be surveyed? Sampling procedure how should respondents be chosen?
Approaches to the main research methods UnstructuredStructured InterviewsIn-depth, openKeep to script, answer options PanelsFocus groupsDelphi QuestionnaireResearch diaryTick boxes ObservationResearch diaryObservation schedule, Activity sampling Data searchSearch enginePrimary/secondary
Interviewing Several types, arranged, intercept, structured Very versatile Can record additional observations Expensive Susceptible to interviewer bias
Questionnaires - advantages Relatively inexpensive Can reach people at long distance Avoids interviewer bias Anonymity possible Response quality may be better, (respondents may gather & consult sources)
Questionnaires - disadvantages Low response rates Difficult to develop rapport No opportunity to probe or clarify Strong tendency to give answers that are socially, desirable, make the respondent look good, please the researcher Can the respondent provide a meaningful answer? Biased response? Easy to critique
Focus Group Research A gathering of 6-10 people invited to spend a few hours with a skilled moderator to discuss a product, service, organisation or marketing entity. Start with a broad question, encourage free & easy discussion, hoping that group dynamics will reveal deep feelings and thoughts.
Focus Groups - advantages Use homogenous groups, similar needs & interests Good for ascertaining interest or acceptance Suited to motivational research, attitudes, perceptions Used as a prelude to more sophisticated techniques
Focus Groups - disadvantages Is it real research? Biased participation? Nature and direction of discussion led by the most articulate or aggressive Conclusions have to be inferred by reading the discussion Results cannot be quantified, (small sample)
Observational Research Fresh data can be gathered by observing Can obtain findings not accessible by other methods
Common errors made in Research Selective observation Inaccurate observation Over-generalisation Made-up information Ex post facto hypothesising Illogical reasoning Ego involvement in understanding Premature closure of inquiry Mystification
Delphi Technique A forecasting method A group decision