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DISSERTATION CONTENT AND STRUCTURE:
Although you are free to structure your dissertation how you choose, you may find it easier to include all the material necessary by using the following structure. Inevitably you will need to make decisions as to what to include in which section, if in doubt, devote your best critical material to those sections that carry the most of the mark weighting. (The dissertation will be assessed on the weighted criteria listed at the end of this description)
The dissertation should include the following elements:
Table of contents:
An outline of the entire dissertation in list form, setting out the sequence of the sections with page numbers. It is conventional to number the preliminary pages (abstract, table of contents) with lower case Roman numerals (i.e. (i), (ii), (iii) etc.) and the main text pages (starting with the first chapter) in Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3 etc.) as shown below:
List of Tables i
List of Figures ii
List of Abbreviations iii
CHAPTER 1 (Title) 1
1.1 (First section heading)
1.2 (Second etc.)
1.3 (Third etc.)
List of tables and figures:
A table is a presentation of data in tabular form; a figure is a diagrammatic representation of data or other material such as graphs, photographs, images or maps. Tables and Figures should be numbered consecutively according to chapter (e.g.: Table 1.3 is the third table in Chapter 1, and Figure 4.2 is the second figure in Chapter 4). Each should be separately listed with page numbers.
List of abbreviations:
Abbreviations should be used sparingly, and those that are not self-evident or in common use should be explained where they first appear in each chapter by giving the full expression and the abbreviation in brackets, e.g. ‘gross domestic product (GDP)’. Abbreviations not in common use should appear at the beginning of the dissertation.
Useful rules for abbreviations:
No full stops in abbreviations consisting of initial capital letters, UK, US (adjective), EEC, OECD, BBC, UN. Note: ‘United Kingdom’ and ‘United States’ should be spelt out when used as nouns;
No full stops after abbreviations ending with last letter of word abbreviated, Dr Mr Mrs St; Full stops to be used in abbreviations consisting of phrases or single words, e.g., i.e., cet. par., op. cit., et al., p., pp., vol., No.
Introduction and/or definition of research problem:
The introduction should set out the purpose and scope of the dissertation, clearly explaining what it is about, how it is structured, but more importantly, why the research is necessary and to whom. You need to ensure that the academic and applied rationale is well explained and justified. An academic rationale should answer the questions “Why don’t we know this already? Why is more study on this topic needed?” and an applied rationale should demonstrate the relevance of the topic to contemporary business environments. The section should end with the main aim and objectives of your study.
Literature review (this may be more than one chapter):
This section gives an overview of the context and background to the research problem. It builds on your problem definition and aims and objectives and so is an expansion of the concise arguments you make there. It is probably the section that will give you most scope to show off the wide range of sources you have consulted. Although based on existing literature, you should still present your material critically.
This section evaluates and justifies the research methodology that will be used to obtain the data to answer the research questions. It states the research problem, discusses the operationalisation of hypotheses (where relevant), discusses the research instrument used, the method of collecting the data – including sampling, the analysis of the data and the validity and reliability of data. It should contain enough detail to allow someone else to repeat your study.
You should present your data in an appropriate form, which may include tables, graphs or in the case of qualitative data, verbatim quotes. Select the format that best suits your data, and do not present your data in more than one form. Ensure that the text around your presented data pulls out the key findings, rather than repeats what is already given. A table/figure should never be presented without supporting text. Tables and figures should be clearly and consistently labelled either above or below, and the reader should be able to understand the table/figure from the title without referring to the text for explanations. Units of measurement, the year to which the data refer, geographical area covered, and sources should be clearly stated. The labels in the text and in the lists should correspond exactly.
Critical analysis and discussion:
It can be hard to know which section to discuss your results – this or the preceding one – and you may decide to combine these two sections into one or more chapters based on theme, depending on your topic and your supervisor’s views. However, what is vital is that your Dissertation contains sufficient analytical discussion in addition to the more descriptive ‘scene setting’ material of the literature review sections, and presentation of results. It is here that you will compare and contrast your findings with those already reported in the literature.
Here you need to answer the “So what?” question. What significance do your research findings have? For whom? Why? and How? In this chapter you link the research problem with literature review and findings, stating what you can conclude based on the work conducted. Based on your conclusions you should comment on managerial implications, the limitations of the research, suggest further work and better ways to resolve the problem.
Full list of references used in the dissertation:
You should provide correctly formatted bibliographic details for every citation included in the dissertation. Do not include material which is not referred to in your text.
Often misused and misunderstood, an appendix should only be used to include supplementary (but non-essential) material which, if included, would disrupt the flow of the text. Appendices are not marked so do not include any vital information, e.g.: results of analysis, in one if you want the content to be considered as part of the assessment. Appendices do not contribute to the overall word length.
The following do not count in the total words specified with the order (i.e. 9900 words):
Supporting text pages (table of contents, bibliography, references).
Tables, graphs, legends, annotations or illustrative material.
Footnotes and Appendices.
the Dissertation should be, any way, no more than 15,000 words,
* About Footnotes: use footnotes only when absolutely necessary – e.g.: when you want to signal an important but tangential issue that would otherwise interrupt the flow of text. As overuse of footnotes is poor practice and will be reflected in marks awarded. So avoid large amount of important material in footnotes, or tables or appendices.
* About Headings and subsections: Please number your chapters and subsections including meaningful subject headings. This helps your reader to follow the flow of your argument and find important information quickly and should correspond to the list in your table of contents.
* About Tables, figures and images: All tables, figures and images must be numbered consecutively within each chapter, and have a self-explanatory title. Do not use clip art or any other form of decorative image unless it is essential to the analysis you are undertaking, e.g.: a screen shot to illustrate a specific feature of an organisation’s website.
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