Dissertation Structure

Dissertation Structure

School of Business and Law
University Of East London
MK7227 – Postgraduate Dissertation- Assessment Guide
Summary
This is individual work.Research proposal: 1,500 words (formative) | |
Word count: 14,000 words(excluding abstract, appendices and reference list, and the work can be 10% over or under this word limit) | |
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Learning Outcomes Evidenced by this project:
1. Explain the economic, cultural, institutional and political context of the research undertaken.
2. Articulate and justify the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the research undertaken.
3. Identify issues concerning the conduct of research undertaken such as ethics and data protection.
4. Structure a research proposal.
5. Review literature critically.
6. Identify appropriate theoretical frameworks.
7. Evaluate alternative perspectives in undertaking research.
8. Devise and apply appropriate methods for data collection and analysis.
9. Identify the theoretical, methodological and practical implications arising from research findings.
10. Write research findings for diverse audiences and contexts.
11. Choose a researchable topic.
12. Apply digital technologies in research.
13. Devise a timetable and manage time to completion.
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Submission procedure:
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The submission of the dissertation will be 100% electronic. Students must submit their work through the Turnitin link for Assessmenton Moodle.
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Return of feedback and marked work:
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Feedback on electronic assessments will be provided on Grademark directly to the student. Students can also make an appointment with the Module Leader or Tutor (or during dedicated Student Hours) to receive oral feedback on their submission.
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Introduction
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This is a capstone project of MSc and MBAprogrammes at the School of Business and Law, and requires students to conduct an independent research project under the supervision of an academic member of staff. The dissertation project is a 14,000 word independent research project which accounts for 60 credits of an MSc or MBA Programme (33.3% of the final postgraduate degree classification). The dissertation takes one semester to complete full-time, two semesters to complete part-time and submission takes place in January (Semester A), May (Semester B) and September (Semester C).
Students who fail the dissertation at the first attempt must re-submit their dissertation at the next available opportunity for a capped mark of 50% (the traditional time for re-submission of coursework is August, however students should inquire as to when their re-submission is due with their supervisor to confirm what the next available opportunity is). Students who fail the dissertation on the first attempt are entitled to only one remedial hour with their supervisor to discuss the reason for their failure, they are not entitled to another full set of supervision.
Students who fail the dissertation on the second attempt must pay (please check with your Programme Leader to confirm the exact cost) to re-take the module with a new topic and full supervision, their work will still be capped at 50%. Should a student fail on the third submission, they will have one more remedial hour with their supervisor and must submit at the next available opportunity.
To enable students to develop the requisite research skills for the dissertation, the School of Business and Law runs weekly Research Planning sessions which cover the research process, research methods and qualitative and quantitative forms of data analysis. While these sessions are not compulsory, attendance is recorded and the correlation between good results and attendance is well established within our school.
The first stage of the MK7227 Dissertation Module is the submission of a dissertation proposal. The dissertation proposal is a 1,500 word (maximum) outline of the topic you intend to research for your dissertation. While the proposal is formative (non-assessed), it is very important in matching your research topic to an appropriate supervisor, and students are advised to read the key literature in the chosen topic and devise a cogent research proposal. Advice on the structure and submission of a dissertation proposal is provided in Appendix 1 of the MK7227 Module Handbook.
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Details of the task
Dissertations at the School of Business and Law retain a similar structure, irrespective of the MSc or MBA Programme the student is registered for. Students are required to produce a dissertation that contains six chapters – Introduction, Literature Review, Research Methodology (Interviews/Questionnaires/Case Study, etc.), Data Analysis, Conclusions and Recommendations.
Students must evaluate the literature on their chosen topic, formulate a valid research question and objectives, design an appropriate research methodology, collect relevant primary and/or secondary data, analyse the findings and develop cogent conclusions and recommendations on the basis of their analysis. The following is a brief outline of the approximate length and contents of each section and chapter.
Title
The Title of a dissertation is important, however it is expected to evolve with the research process. Students can choose a provisional title for their dissertation proposal, and use a working title for their dissertation as they conduct their research. The title should as much as possible encapsulate the topic and approach taken to the research.
Abstract
The Abstract is typically 250 words long, and is not included in the 14,000 word count for the dissertation. It should provide the reader with an overview of the focus of the dissertation, the theory incorporated into the project, the methodological approach and data collection, key findings and conclusions and recommendations of the project. The abstract should not contain academic references, and is intended to provide a short summary for the reader of the work. Students should invest time into this section, as it’s often the very first paragraph an examiner will read.
Acknowledgements
An Acknowledgements page is optional, but some students like to use this opportunity to thank their family, friends, colleagues, sponsor and supervisor for support during their studies. Students should not feel compelled to include this section however. The acknowledgements section is not included in the overall word count for the dissertation.
Table of Contents
A Table of Contents is absolutely essential for the dissertation, and is used by examiners to navigate the various sections of the project. A Table of Contents can be quite simply added using Microsoft Word®, and students should familiarise themselves with how to use this function. There are also some excellent tutorials available on Youtube for students who wish to develop their skills in this area. The Table of Contents is not included in the overall word count for the dissertation.
Introduction
The Introduction chapter should be 1,500 words in length approximately. It sets the scene for the entire thesis, and introduces the topic. In this chapter, the student should outline the focus of the project, and the origins of the research question. If possible, the student should frame the professional/industry context for the inquiry, and provide some industry insights in the form of media commentary and/or statistical facts.
In this chapter, the student introduces the research question and objectives/hypotheses, and provides rationale and justification for them. Students should ensure that their research question is phrased as a question (i.e. a sentence expressed in such a way as to elicit information), the research objectives are relevant to the research question and phrased in appropriate Masters Level language (EG:“To critically evaluate…”, “To investigate…”, “To determine…” etc.).In this chapter, students should also introduce the structure of the thesis and provide readers with an overview of the contents of each chapter.
Critical Literature Review
The Critical Literature Review should be 3,500 words in length approximately. It is the chapter in which students’ critically evaluate academic scholarship on their chosen topic. The student should read the literature on their topic, form key headings for the literature review and critically evaluate previous research on the topic. In the context of a literature review, “critical” means that the student is intellectually engaged with the key debates in the literature on the topic in question. Students conduct the literature review to understand the academic conversation on a particular topic or subject and determine what the expert perspective is. There may well be a divergence of opinion on a subject, or that different aspects of the subject have been previously explored, the goal of the literature review is to evaluate the current body of knowledge and formulate an academically relevant research question from this review. Students should try, wherever possible, to identify gaps in the current body of knowledge and ways in which they could contribute to the discourse on a particular topic. For students engaging in quantitative research, it is useful to refer to hypotheses formulated during the research process in the Critical Literature Review, so examiners can see a clear link between the hypotheses and the extant literature.
Research Methodology
The Research Methodology should be 2,500 words in length approximately. In this chapter, the student should re-state the research question and objectives/hypotheses for the benefit of the reader, having completed the literature review the focus of the research project should be made clear.
The student should then explain the paradigm the research approach is located in and the research philosophy guiding the inquiry. The nature of the research question will determine the paradigm the project will be located within, and the philosophy which will underpin the ontological and epistemological assumptions of the research approach. Generally, research will be either located in the positivist or interpretivist paradigm (although other paradigmatic positions, such as Pragmatism or Critical Theory, are possible), and the research methods used in the inquiry will depend upon the research paradigm the work is located within. Students should explain the research methods used and provide rationale and justification for the research design of the study. They should explain how they have collected their data, and the sampling strategy they adopted for the work. Students should also explain how they have conducted their analysis and interpretation of the data they have generated during the inquiry, and the ways they have ensured the trustworthiness, reliability and validity of their data and analysis. In this chapter, students should also discuss the limitations of their research, and any challenges they may have encountered in the research process (access to interviewees, survey response rates, etc.).
Students can use a single methodology (EG: Questionnaires/Depth Interviews), or use multiple data collection approaches as part of either a case study or mixed methods study. Primary and/or secondary data collection approaches are acceptable for the dissertation project. Students are often unsure as to how much primary data they should collect for an MSc or MBA dissertation project. Students are advised to collect a minimum of 8 hours of qualitative data (for a qualitative study), 100 questionnaires (for a quantitative study), or whatever appropriate balance for a mixed methods study. The nature of the topic and the methodology must also be considered in how much data the student will collect, and consultation with the supervisor is vital prior to the data collection phase of the project. Students collecting secondary data as part of a Case Study or other secondary data project should agree an appropriate level of data collection with their supervisors.
Data Analysis
The Data Analysis chapter should be 4,500 words in length approximately. This chapter accounts for 35% of the marks, and is a vitally important chapter for the dissertation. In this chapter, the student must analyse the data collected and identify key patterns from the analysis. These can take the form of overarching themes (in qualitative research), hypothesis testing (in quantitative research), or key tabulations from secondary quantitative data using SPSS or other statistical software. Students should read their data with their research question and objectives in mind, and ensure that the analysis adequately helps to address the overall aims of the research project. In this chapter, students should also compare and contrast their findings with previous studies for consistency, and evaluate the significance of their findings. It is also useful if students formulate a clear thesis (argument) from their analysis of the data collected in this chapter.
Conclusion
The Conclusion chapter should be 1,000 words in length approximately. In this chapter, students should reflect upon their research question and objectives/hypotheses, and the answers they have developed from the findings of their research project. They should also consider the theoretical (do the findings challenge existing theory?) and managerial implications (what do the findings imply for practicing managers/practitioners/public sector leadersof the research project). Crucially, students must show how they have addressed the research question and objectives they originally formulated for the research project.
Recommendations
The Recommendations chapter should be 1,000 words in length approximately. It should consider what recommendations would be made on the basis of the findings of the study and the answer to the research question/objectives/hypotheses posed. Students should make recommendations for management practice, wider society (if applicable) and importantly for future research projects, which may be particularly helpful for students undertaking dissertations in future cohorts. Students should also critically reflect upon their findings and consider their implications.
Bibliography and Appendices
The Bibliography of sources should include all sources cited in the dissertation as well as all sources which helped to formulate the approach to the topic, this is not included in the overall word count. All references should be cited using “Cite Them Right”,and dissertations should all conform to this referencing standard. Footnotes and/or Endnotes can be provided if students wish to further elaborate on a particular point made in the text of the dissertation. All references cited in the Bibliography must be in alphabetical order. Students can also include an Appendices which should include a sample of the questionnaire used, interview guides, sample interview transcripts (a minimum of three), or any other secondary documentation referred to in the dissertation. Any material in the appendices in any language other than English must be translated for the benefit of the reader.
Project Instructions
Structure
You have been asked to produce a postgraduate dissertation. It should contain the following:
* Title Page, including the given title in full.
* Word count; excluding abstract, appendices and reference list
* Abstract (No more than 250 words and not included in the overall word count)
* Contents Page
* Introduction Chapter (1,000 words)
* Literature Review (3,500 words)
* Research Methodology (2,500 words)
* Data Analysis (4,500 words)
* Conclusion (1,000 words)
* Recommendations (1,000 words)
* Appendices, which should be numbered.
* Make sure you refer your reader to them as required.
Presentation
Your work should be word processed in accordance with the following:
* Font style, Lucida Sans, font size 12
* 1.5 line spacing.
* The page orientation should be ‘portrait’
* Margins on both sides of the page should be no less than 2.5 cm
* Pages must be numbered
* Your name should not appear on the script.
* Your student number must be included on every page.
Skills Advice
Pay particular attention to:
* Your introduction,
* Your conclusion,
* The use of headings and/or signpost words
* Paragraph structure
* Include any additional commentary on aspects of the dissertation in endnotes or footnotes (see Cite Them Right and Write it Right for details)
Do refer to Info skills at http://writeitright.uelconnect.org.uk/home/
andhttp://infoskills.uelconnect.org.uk/
Referencing
The university expects students to use Harvard referencing as specified in the book Cite them Right.
* Refer to http://www.uel.ac.uk/lls/support/harvard.htmfor further advice and a link to an online version of Cite them Right
* You should be careful to include citations within your work as well as a reference list at the end. All coursework must be correctly referenced.Please see the following reference for details:
Pears, R. and Shields, G. (2010) Cite them right: the essential referencing guide. 8thedn. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
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Word Count
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Your word count should not include your abstract, contents, reference list or appendices. You should provide your word count at the end of your report.
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Exceeding the word count by more than 10% will result in a penalty of 10% of your marks for your work.
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If your work is significantly shorter, then you will probably have failed to provide the level of detail required.
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Submission to Turnitin of Work Submitted for Assessment
Our policy on the use of Turnitin recognises the educational desirability that all of our students should enjoy the opportunity to self-submit their work to Turnitin (before submitting for assessment). We also recognise that Turnitin Originality Reports will sometimes assist in the identification of plagiarised work submitted for assessment.
Work that is submitted to Turnitin generates a Turnitin originality report, showing which parts of it have been reproduced from which sources. The system compares submissions to material that is to be found: on the world-wide web; in its database of previous submissions; and in its growing number of databases of published articles. You should not assume that a Turnitin originality report with a low similarity index is evidence that the piece of work concerned is free from plagiarism.
Our policy provides that a Module Leader may decide, in accordance with the policy of RDBS, that all student submissions for a particular component of assessment should be submitted to Turnitin, provided that the relevant Module Guide includes a notice to that effect.
Notice is hereby given that all submissions of reports for this Module must be submitted to Turnitin. Detailed guidance on how to submit your work to Turnitin will be made available on this Module’s Moodle site.
If you fail to submit your report to Turnitin, in accordance with the guidance on the Moodle site, you will be awarded a mark of 0 for the component.
If you have any questions about Turnitin, you should go to “Frequently Asked Questions” at http://www.nlearning.co.uk/faqsearch.php?sol=turnitin. If you have any further questions, please email the Head of Student Compliance and Responsibilities, Toby Grainger (t.j.grainger@uel.ac.uk).
Submission
Students should download the appropriate frontsheet for “MK7227 Coursework Component” on Moodle and upload their assessment through Turnitin. The material that you submit to Turnitin will be marked. The deadline applies so you are advised not to submit after 11.00p.m, because it could take some time for your submission to upload, and the delay could cause the work to be received after 11.59 (UK GMT). A late submission will receive a mark of 0.
Please be aware that the Turnitin site will advise you that late submissions are accepted. This is only for the purposes of allowing students who are claiming extenuation to submit their work.
Please read the material in the submission folder and make sure that you attach the feedback sheet as requested and save the document using the format for the name of the document as specified.
Assessment criteria
This assessment is weighted at 100% of the overall grade for SMM227 Dissertation. The marking scheme has six key criteria which are explained overleaf.
MK7227 Dissertation Marking Scheme
Postgraduate Dissertation
Student Number:………………………………
| Comments | Max Mark | Actual Mark |
IntroductionIdentification of a valid topic, research question and objectives framed to Masters Level standard with academic rationale developed, clear industry contextualisation of the research topic | | 10% | |
Critical Literature ReviewDepth and breadth of literature search, engagement with seminal authors and papers, evidence of a critical approach toward the scholarly literature | | 25% | |
Research MethodologyEvaluation of research philosophies and perspectives. Justification of methodological approach, sampling strategy, data analysis and reliability and validity measures as applicable | | 15% | |
Data Analysis and InterpretationEvidence of rigor in data analysis and interpretation procedures, identification of key patterns and themes in the research data, integration of academic theory into explanation of findings | | 35% | |
Conclusions and RecommendationsResearch question and objectives addressed with implications to theoretical and managerial concepts considered. Recommendations provided for theory, practice and future research | | 10% | |
Organisation, presentation and references.Well structured and ordered dissertation with correct use of grammar and syntax. In-text citation and bibliography conforming to “Cite Them Right” | | 5% | |
Total | | 100% | |
General Comments: | Agreed Mark: |
Supervisor’s Name: ……………………………………….. Signature: ………………………………
2nd Marker’s Name: ………………………………………. Signature:
Extenuating Circumstances
Extenuating Circumstances are circumstances which:
* impair your examination performance in assessment or reassessment, or
* prevent you from attending for assessment or reassessment, or
* prevent you from submitting assessed or reassessed work by the scheduled date
If you need to apply for extenuating circumstances please find the relevant information at:
www.uel.ac.uk/qa/documents/extenuatingcircumstances.doc
Re-assessment Work:
You will need to retrieve this project if any of the following occur during the semester:
* You fail to achieve 50% or more for this project
* You fail to achieve 50% for the module and you failed to achieve 50% or more for this project.
You will be expected to complete a similar piece of work for your second attempt.
Student Appeals
Students who wish to appeal against Field and Award Boards decisions can find the relevant information at:
http://www.uel.ac.uk/qa/qualityass_appeals.htm
Grading Criteria Used To Assess Work: Postgraduate Programmes
% | KNOWLEDGE | UNDERSTANDING | SKILLS | CRITICAL ANALYSIS |
70-100 | Comprehensive in depth and breadth. Current and relevant. Ability to engage with and interrogate the subject at research cutting edge. Extensive referencing | Ability to extrapolate and interrelate theory and practice. Critical understanding of research approach and research context of the subject. High level of evaluation and diagnosis | High degree of literacy and fluency of expression. High levels of competence in research skills. Demonstrates a highly contextualised ability to apply professional practice skills | High order of originally, inspiration, perception and critical though. Outstanding ability to analyse contradictions and synthesise concepts. |
60-69 | Substantial in depth and breadth. Current and relevant. Evidence of knowledge of subject at research cutting edge. Generous referencing | Ability to extrapolate and interrelate theory and practice. Substantial understanding or research skills and research context of the subject | Familiarity with research skills in the subject and demonstration of their use. Demonstrates ability to apply professional practice skills | Work demonstrates critical thought and reflects originality, often demonstrating inspiration and perception. Capability of analysing contradictions and synthesising concepts |
50-59 | Accurate, up- to- date and relevant in acceptable depth and breadth. References limited to key texts and sources | Clear grasp of concepts and ability to relates theory to practice. | Ability to communicate clearly in the relevant discipline at a professional level. Ability to construct and sustain argument. | Demonstrates an ability to analyse and synthesise independently. Some originality of thought. |

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