STRUCTURE, DESIGN AND LAYOUT OF DISSERTATION

The dissertation report will normally have the following parts:

  1. Cover Page
  2. Title Page
  3. Acknowledgements
  4. Abstract
  5. Contents Page
  6. Introduction
  7. Literature Review
  8. Research objectives/hypotheses
  9. Methodology and data collection
  10. Results/Findings
  11. Evaluation of Results
  12. Conclusions
  13. Recommendations
  14. References
  15. Appendices

[This order is generally agreed but the terminology varies by report style.]

Personal Learning Statement

 

NOTES ON EACH PART

Cover Page

You will need 2 sets for submission of which one may be returned to you after the official results from Registry.  You will need to use the spiral binding.

 

Title Page

This should be centred on the page with the main title in upper case. Any longer sub-title should be in lower case. Put your student number to the bottom right. [The reports should be anonymous].

 

Acknowledgements

These are not essential but can be useful for recording organisational help.

 

Abstract

This is a brief statement of what the dissertation contains. It should have a statement of what you set out to do, what you did, what you concluded and what you recommended.  Busy managers often only read the title and abstract of a report so it is a key part of your work. You cannot write the abstract until all the work is finished.

 

Contents page

This should be your table of contents showing the section titles and the subsections (indented) against page numbers. As in the text, the former can be underlined and in bold.

 

Introduction

Briefly give a background to your dissertation, why the topic is of importance and why it is of interest to you. Make a clear statement of your headline research question or hypothesis or argument and the type of research methodology you propose to carry out. 

 

Allow approximately 300-500 words for this section.

 

Literature review

Write a review of the main body of published work. This acts to set out your project in the context of existing knowledge. It is therefore your main evidence of secondary research effort. It should show how much theory you go into and from where your research questions or hypotheses were developed. 

 

Look for gaps in the knowledge which your research may fill, or you may wish to replicate or amend someone else’s research for the purposes of comparison. The Literature review provides a critical insight, especially to a new reader, into current thinking around your topic of interest.  You need to demonstrate a broad range of references majoring on academic articles (journals). These sources may also be supported by textbooks, web references, newspapers and professional magazines. 

 

Allow approximately 3000 words for this section.

 

Research objectives or hypotheses

First indicate your overall or headline research objective.  Then indicate a series of (perhaps 5/6) specific objectives. These objectives or hypotheses will focus on the detail behind the headline question.  They will also constitute the conceptual focus for a questionnaire or interview guide. 

 

Allow approximately 500 words for this section.

 

Methodology

This section should provide sufficient detail about the methodology or methodologies you employed for an outsider to replicate the study exactly.  You need to justify the methodology you use by demonstrating the particular benefits of qualitative or quantitative approaches in the context of your research objectives or hypotheses.  If you used triangulation, report it and state the rationale for using it.  You should also report on the characteristics of the research respondents in the case of qualitative research e.g. job position, years in service for example, also stating why these are important to providing information which address your research questions/hypotheses.  If you use quantitative research, state the type of sampling you used e.g. convenience, cluster quota for example and again provide your rationale.  Remember random sampling means statistically defined sampling which may be beyond your resources.  Also provide detail on which data analysis package you used.

 

 Allow approximately 500 words.

 

Findings

For qualitative research, you need to report on the content analysis of your transcripts, pulling out the key themes and sometimes including quotations from your interviewees.  However, ensure the quotations don’t rule the roost!  Your findings will address your research objectives and perhaps also include some emerging areas that developed out of your interviews. 

 

For quantitative research, ensure your findings reflect the objectives/hypotheses also.  The data needs to be presented clearly with a title to each table/chart and then a small amount of commentary for non-numerical readers! 

 

If you use comparative statistics e.g. chi-square, t-tests or ANOVA, ensure you state the level of significance, normally 0.05.

 

Allow approximately 2500 words for this section.

 

Evaluation of results

Interpret the data critically. Link your findings to the literature review and also to the research objectives/hypotheses you set yourself at the beginning of the study.  To what extent have you provided some answers to your questions, how generalizable are the answers to other organisations and what are the implications for business practice?  Be self-critical about any shortcomings you may have about your chosen methodology e.g. sampling, breadth and depth of findings, validity and reliability issues. 

 

Allow 1500 words for this section.

 

Conclusion

What do your findings lead you to conclude?  Summarise the key points of your research and demonstrate how they addressed the research objectives/hypotheses.  If appropriate, suggest further research in the area but avoid introducing new material as this would be a new finding.

 

 Allow 500 words for this section.

 

Recommendations

Try to keep recommendations separate from conclusions. Whilst the conclusions are driven by your findings, the recommendations may reflect your own opinions on for instance what the organisation should do next or how the findings should be embedded in organisational practice.

 

 Allow 500 words for this section.

 

References

References provide details of the reading materials you used and noted in the text of your dissertation.  A quick guide to tutors for the potential quality of a dissertation is to look first at the references to see how extensive the list is.  The list needs to be in alphabetical order and follow the Harvard system of referencing, see below:

 

Books

Fisher, C (2004) Researching and Writing a Dissertation, Harlow, FT Prentice Hall

White, B. (2000) Dissertation Skills for Business and Management Students, London: Cassell

Articles/chapters in books

Gingers, J. and T. Rodgers  (1997) ‘Ten steps to environmental excellence’, in McDonagh, P. and A. Prothero (Eds) Green Marketing, a reader, London: Dryden

Articles in academic journals

Ross, M. (2003) ‘Coping with the Atkins Diet: how chips can be dangerous’, Quarterly Review of Eating Studies 1, no 3. 315-350

Press articles

Hankinson, P. Semiotics in sports car branding: is blue the new red? Campaign, 14.9.03.  p. 4

Internet

Conditions of Service, Internet WWW page at URL: http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/support/hr/internal/conditions (accessed 08/03/05)

 

No word limitation for this section!

 

Appendices

Appendices are not always necessary. If used they should contain any material too bulky or detailed to go into the main text, for instance a copy of the questionnaire.  (But keep all the completed questionnaires as evidence in case you are asked to substantiate claims of conducting the survey).  Also use an appendix for your interview guide, transcripts, visual material used in interviews as well as copies of any correspondence to the organisation where your research investigation took place. 

 

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