The Dissertation Manuscript must include the following materials and sections, in the sequence indicated below
Good practice advice
The title page should follow the specific format.
The title should be academic For example: The Role of the Finance in the Development of SMEs: Opportunities and Barriers in the UK Whilst there are good and less good journals and good and less good articles, consider how your title compares in terms of conveying information and ‘gravitas’ to those titles that you have read in your literature review.
Try to be very specific regarding what you are examining in your study and state this in your title. You can include specific characteristics or a specific context that relate to your study. These can be a country-region e.g. UK, a type of companies e.g. SMEs, a group of individuals e.g. students etc.
The abstract should not exceed 250 words. Single space the text. Researchers and students who may in the future consult your work will invariably use just the abstract to determine whether or not it covers their own area of interest. The abstract is not an introduction to the dissertation. Rather, it is a summary of the dissertation, so you should pay sufficient attention to outlining your results / findings.
Probably the penultimate task –when you doubtless never wish to see your dissertation ever again but the second thing that you reader will see.
It is customary that the dissertation carry an acknowledgement of assistance, supervision or collaboration given by companies, other agencies and individuals.
Customary but not compulsory … your chance to briefly thank whoever you want to … if anyone. Please bear in mind professional courtesy here.
Table of Contents
The table of contents contains the headings and subheadings of the chapters and sections of the dissertation, with the numbers of the pages on which these chapters and sections begin. The title page and abstract are not entered in the table of contents and therefore the first item to be listed would be the preface. The minimum content of the table of contents should be the preface, each chapter or main division title, each appendix and the references. All headings should correspond exactly in wording, arrangement, punctuation and capitalisation with the headings as they appear in the body of the written project.
List of Tables (if any) List of Figures (if any) List of other types of material: maps, photos, etc. (if any) List of Abbreviations(if any)
If the dissertation contains charts, figures, maps, tables, photographs or other types of material, each series of these should be listed separately on the page immediately following the table of contents. Each list should follow the format of the table of contents. The number of the item is given at the left-hand margin of the page under the appropriate column heading entitled ‘charts’, ‘figures’, ‘maps’, ‘tables’, or ‘photographs’. The number is followed by the title of the item, given exactly as it appears in the body of the thesis tables, figures etc. and should be numbered accordingly to their chapter and position in that chapter. Thus, figure 2.10 is the tenth figure in chapter two. Abbreviations are a shorter form of a word or a phrase. The list of Abbreviations should be presented in alphabetical order and look like… SMEs Small and Medium Enterprises TPB Theory of Planned Behaviour
DO NOT use pictures / cartoons / logos unless they relate to the research. e.g. if you are referring to the company image reference to the logo would be acceptable as would a few illustrations of CD covers etc. (though do not make it too many, you could put them into the appendices.) Avoid using colour as far as possible. If you are using graphs try and make sure that they work in Black and white or grey tone. If you are using illustrations colour may be essential but do keep them to a minimum. Make sure that all Abbreviations used in the manuscript appear in the List. Make sure that the first time that you want to write something about e.g. the Theory of Planned Behaviour you present the full phrase in the manuscript and afterwards using the abbreviation TPB. This will save words and would improve the flow of the manuscript.
General Instructions The dissertation begins with the first page of the first chapter. Each chapter should represent an important division of the project. Special care should be given to dividing the text into paragraphs and the use of subheadings to help the reader.Good dissertations have chapters arranged like paving stones that allow the reader to move smoothly through the work. Each chapter should have a title identifying the subject contained therein, and it should begin on a new page. The chapters are identified by Arabic numerals e.g. 1, 2, 3 etc. and the sub-chapters as specified 1.1, 1.2, etc.Start each new chapter on a new page. The full reference to this work is then given in the references/bibliography chapter at the end of the dissertation or the chapters. Place the page number in your footer – centred or right side. Clearly label any table, chart, diagram etc. that you use in your dissertation using the convention of chapter number followed by table/figure etc. For example, table number 4 in chapter 3, will appear as ‘Table 3.4’, and follow the table number with the heading for the exhibit. For example: Table 3.4 R & D Expenditure as a Percent of Sales All diagrams, figures and tables used in the text that are not derived from your own work must be referenced.
Chapter 1 Introduction
Introduce the subject under investigation (include citations!!!). Provide the reasons why it is important to investigate the specific subject (include citations!!!). Present the aim of the study. Present the research objectives of the study. Present the research questions of the study. At the end include a Chapter Overview: Provide a short description of all the chapters that will follow. This will map out the work for the reader.
This chapter initially sets the general scene and afterwards provides a detailed overview of what the specific study investigates. What you need to do is to articulate your broad perspective and then sub-divide it into researchable components. Make sure that your research questions should be in accordance to your research objectives and both should be linked to your conceptual model. Do not state or introduce new information! Keep the same components-aspects-variables!
Chapter 2 Literature review
Introduction: Introduce what you will present in this chapter Main Body: A Literature review is a discussion of the academic literature by using a logical structure and is written around themes and clusters of ideas. Therefore, it might help you to use subheadings where needed. The literature review should be based on academic journal articles. Make sure the information is correctly cited. Academic textbooks are acceptable in some discipline areas but should be kept to a minimum. Non academic sources should go into other parts of the dissertation. Include tables / figures/ diagrams if relevant and make sure the source is cited. Make sure that you present your conceptual model here. In the case that you are employing a quantitative research approach, hypotheses should be also included. Summary: Summarise what have been stated in this chapter and Link it to the next chapter
A literature review does what it says – it reviews the appropriate literature – what is out there and perhaps what is not out there. You may have to adapt literature to you specific needs. Articles are your tools that help you build your argument. Notice that the research objectives and questions should be directly linked to your literature review. This means that for every research objective/question that you have you need to present the relevant theoretical background in your literature review. For example, if your research objective is to determine identify the opportunities and barriers in the venture creation context then you need to present and discuss the opportunities and barriers that previous research has identified. Your conceptual model should be linked to your literature review…and should graphically present the theory of your study. In the case that you are employing a quantitative research approach, hypotheses formulation is vital. You need to present the relationships that you expect to find in your study based on the relevant theoretical background. Hypotheses should always be based on theory. for example, if the theory indicates a positive relationship between intentions and behaviours and in your study you want to test for the applicability of this theory, then your hypothesis should be: H1: Intentions are positively related to behaviours.
Chapter 3 Methodology
Introduction: Introduce what you will present in this chapter Main Body: This section discusses and defends how you are going to methodologically approach your study. You need to include subchapters in order to organise your work. Please see sub-chapters below… Research strategy/design (Present very briefly your overall methodological approach. You may want to use a figure in order to show the reader from the beginning what you did – explanations and details will follow in the following sub-chapters) Research philosophy (Interpretivism or Positivism) Research approach (Inductive or Deductive) Research methods (Qualitative or Quantitative) Sample size and characteristics (How have you selected your sample? Provide all the info that describes your final sample whether this refers to companies, individuals or both, report the actual response rate e.g. you have distributed 200 questionnaires or asked 50 individuals to participate in your interviews but how many of them did actually participate in the study?) Data collection (Questionnaires with pilot study or Interviews/Focus groups, What type and which specific questions have been used in the questionnaire in order to measure the study variables? What type and which specific questions have been used in the interview?) Data analysis (NVivo or SPSS) Ethical Considerations (Anonymity and confidentiality) Summary: Summarise what have been stated in this chapter and Link it to the next chapter
In the methodology chapter your competence as a researcher will be examined. This is the tipping point chapter between the literature review and reporting the results. You should be prepared in this chapter to be reflective, to critique (but not to destroy) what you have done … to show that you are a competent and thinking researcher. Therefore, make sure that your research questions can be answered by the research methodology that you have chosen. For example, if your research questions are related to whether a relationship between two research variables exists (e.g. Do intentions relate to behaviours?) then you can not answer this question by implementing a qualitative research design. Instead, you need a quantitative research approach in order to check for the existence of the relationship by using the SPSS software. The Methodology chapter needs precision… For example the statement: “This study has administered 50 questionnaires.” is too vague. Enrich it with more details…For example: The questionnaire has been mailed in January 2016 to a convenience sample of customer service managers in three water utility companies in the UK. Every time that you make a statement regarding the chosen methodological approach you need to justify it. For example: Considering that this research concerns the relationship between the variables under investigation, namely intentions and behaviours, and that the aim of the study is to test the applicability of the Theory of Planned Behaviour while generalising the findings, quantitative research methods have been implemented (Saunders et. all, 2012).
Please note that the sub-chapters guide is not a ‘tick the boxes’ approach. In some aspects supervisors have their own preferences and some (and indeed you) might want a diverse structure. However you must always make sure that information regarding the sub-chapters presented in the main body are included in the dissertation.
Chapter 4 Results
Introduction: Introduce what you will present in this chapter Main Body: This is the chapter where you present your Primary Data analysis. In qualitative studies, this would mean presenting the interview transcriptions (only relevant information to your research questions should be presented here – detailed transcriptions can be included in the appendix). In quantitative studies, this would mean presenting the SPSS results (only relevant information to your research questions should be presented here – full SPSS outputs can be included in the appendix). In this case, you need to indicate whether hypotheses has been accepted or rejected based on the SPSS output. Summary: Summarise what have been stated in this chapter and Link it to the next chapter
Present the findings according the research objectives/questions. Try to follow exactly the same order as in your research questions so that the reader can easily make the link between the research questions and the research findings. Appropriate statistical analysis could be used in qualitative studies (NVivo software). Appropriate statistical analysis should be used in quantitative studies (SPSS software). You may want to use tables, graphs to help the reader understand your findings.
Chapter 5 Discussion
Introduction: Introduce what you will present in this chapter Main Body: Discussion of findings relate to the literature review, your research objectives/questions and the topic being researched. Again follow exactly the same order as in your research questions and discuss the findings of your study. Include citations Summary: Summarise what have been stated in this chapter and Link it to the next chapter
Discuss what you have found in your study. Do not use numbers here…only present findings with words. In order to discuss your findings you also need to compare them with previous research. What did previous research indicate (very briefly present what has been stated in detail in the literature review regarding findings from previous research)? Are your findings in contrast with previous research or do your findings verify previous research results or do your findings extent previous research? What does this mean? For example: Quantitative studies – This study found that intentions are positively related to behaviours in the UK venture creation context which contradicts previous research (REF indicate which previous studies you are referring to by including citations) indicating that intentions do not lead to action in Greece. Qualitative studies – This study extents previous research (REF indicate which previous studies you are referring to by including citations) by providing a framework with barriers related to venture creation in the UK during times of severe financial constraints. In case that your findings are not as expected (for qualitative studies this means that results do not add something new to the theory – for quantitative studies this means that results are not in line with what the theory indicates), you may want to provide a possible explanation for this.
Chapter 6 Conclusion
A conclusion should summarise whether you have answered the research questions. Link your findings with your research questions. State why these are important both form a theoretical and practical perspective. Limitations of the dissertation may reflect on time, resources available, sample characteristics and size, measurements, data analysis, aspects that have been not included in the study and could potentially provide a more holistic perspective of the subject under investigation etc. Future research refers to your propositions/recommendation regarding what future studies should do in order to verify your findings or extend your study.
Simplest way is to repeat your research aims and objectives, or research questions and say briefly what you have found. Do not introduce new information into the conclusion! The best way is to present each limitation separately and directly link this with future research. For example: This study was based on relatively small sample. Future research based on a larger sample group is needed in order to verify the results of this study.
Appendix or appendices (if any)
The principal purpose of an appendix is to keep the text of the project from being jumbled and interrupted with supplementary, minor and illustrative materials. The text of pertinent documents, tables that present extensive data, or data of minor or ancillary importance, the text of legal decisions or laws, very lengthy quotations, excerpts from diaries, transcripts of minutes, forms of documents, copies of sample questionnaires, and the like, may be included as appendices. Each appendix should begin on a separate page. The appendix pages should continue the regular pagination of the dissertation. Appendices should be designated sequentially as Appendix A, Appendix B, etc. and they should appear in the order that they are referred to in the text. Whenever possible and appropriate, the source of the material in the appendix should be given.
The Reference section should contain only the works consulted and found relevant and thus cited by the author in the dissertation. We expect a dissertation to have quality references. It is good to use peer-reviewed journal articles in literature review. You can also use books.
Do not separate the list as books/papers etc. It is one single a-z listing.
Referencing creates an audit trail; signals your grasp of relevant literature both historic and contemporary; separates out what is yours from what is somebody else’s intellectual capital. Within the text where cites have a page number, e.g. (Tompkins, 2005 p. 205), consider using (Tompkins, 2005:205) – this looks cleaner and less cluttered. Details regarding the reference style are available at the UCLAN Library Guide
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