Dissertation is the final stage in your academic coursework where you are provided with the opportunity to conduct a research project through skills and knowledge gained in your coursework. It should demonstrate that you are skilled in particular fields like identifying an area suitable for research, setting research objectives, organizing and analyzing secondary data, devising appropriate research methodology, analyzing primary data and drawing on the literature in the field, drawing conclusions and making recommendations for further research.
A dissertation is a formal document and has rules in the way it should be presented. A dissertation should consist of:
- Literature review
- Justification of the selected data for analysis
- Research methodology analysis of the data
- Conclusions and recommendations
A dissertation should be written and presented in the above mentioned format.
The subject of a dissertation should be based around a business or an applied situation recommendations for action. Programme Director or course dissertation co-ordinator will approve advice on the range of suitable topics which relate to the subject area of your degree.
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Before starting dissertation, a research proposal should be submitted and you must receive confirmation from your academic supervisor that your research proposal is approved. A deadline is also advised by your programme director before submitting a dissertation proposal.
Research proposal is the important piece of working document which turns into dissertation after a few months. Main sections of the research proposal replicate the structure of the dissertation. If used correctly, the proposal will serve as a road map throughout the dissertation process. The research proposal is the key to dissertation because, it shows that you have thought through what the main research objectives are to be, that you have identified the main sources of primary and secondary data and that you have given thought as to the research methodology. The research proposal should provide a detailed outline of the whole dissertation.
What the Research proposal should include:
- A working title
- An introduction topic
- A preliminary literature review
- The detailed research method
Writing the dissertation
The format of the title page should be adopted from the template given by the university or college.
An abstract is a brief summary of the results of the dissertation research. A good abstract can be written only after completing the full dissertation. Without reading the whole dissertation, abstract should summarize the results and allow the people to get an idea of what was accomplished through the research.
Things to include in your abstract:
- Aim and objectives
It is a brief statement signed by the student which acknowledges all the help received in writing the dissertation. Also it should assure that the dissertation is the own work of the student and should provide evidence of the findings. It should include declaration that the work complies with University regulations of plagiarism and also a statement of the word count.
This section should list the chapter headings, appendices, references and the pages on which they can be found. Figures, tables and abbreviations should be listed on a separate listing. If you know how to generate these lists using the indexing and style functions within Microsoft Word, then it will be easier to create.
The dissertation should be divided into chapters and sections appropriate to the topic and type of dissertation. The Introduction to the dissertation should address the following areas:
Background, context and place of research
Importance of the subject or issue
Key participants in the area under investigation
Clear statement of the aims and objectives
Unambiguous exposition of research aim and objectives to meet this aim
Reasons to carry out this study
Literature review should present and analyze the topic in a critical manner; thus helping the reader to a more rounded appreciation of what you have completed. Here critical doesn’t mean looking for negatives but forming an evaluation. Important thing to remember while writing a literature review is that, it should lead and justify the research objectives and questions of your dissertation.
The research methodology should be started by stating the research objectives of the project. This gives an opportunity justify to the reader the process by which the research questions were answered. These chapter on research methodology should argue, justify the decision taken in organizing the research.
Findings/ Results/ Data Analysis
This chapter should present the evidence or results of primary research undertaken. The main part of the chapter is the presentation of the date that you obtained. The data must be organized in a logical and coherent manner so that the reader can understand your thought process and interpretation.
This segment is the heart of the dissertation and must be more than descriptive. This chapter develops analytic and critical thinking on primary results and analysis with reference to theoretical arguments grounded in the literature review. To be more effective, try to highlight major differences and similarities from the literature.
In this segment, you should bring together the work of the dissertation by showing how the initial research plan has been addressed in such a way that conclusions may be formed from the evidence of the dissertation. Also for further research for colleagues who might wish to undertake research in this area in future, include a short sub section on any suggestions.
All references used in writing the dissertation should be included in a reference list/bibliography and should be compiled in alphabetical order.
Appendices can be used to provide relevant supporting evidence for reference and should be used only if necessary. Only subsidiary material should be included in appendices.
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