AbstractThe Business Project or dissertation is a significant form of assessment in the graduate curriculum. This paper reviews the pedagogical literature on the graduate research project and,...


Abstract The Business Project or dissertation is a significant form of assessment in the graduate curriculum. This paper reviews the pedagogical literature on the graduate research project and, drawing on qualitative research with graduate Business students. The student perspective of undertaking a research project is explored. Motivations for topic choice include personal interest, career aspirations, and perceived ease of access to primary data or the literature. Introduction The graduate project is often the first major piece of independent research that a student will undertake. This paper explores graduate students’ experiences of research, focusing on issues of topic selection, access, and students’ responses to data collection problems. It utilises data collected through interviews and surveys with final year Business students. The project should be on a topic relevant to international business, international trade, international finance/investment, international marketing, or other business disciplines. It enables you to explore a topic in more depth than an assignment essay. As it is your piece of work you have to: • have an idea for an area of research • identify your research questions • decide how to undertake the research • analyze and write up the data critically A Project (dissertation) is 8,000 to 10,000 words in length, excluding references and appendices. Your dissertation should be: • A piece of small-scale research • Enjoyable to carry out • Organized into chapters and with a contents page, references and bibliography • Often, but not always, linking theory with practice There should be some empirical research in your dissertation. This may be modest in scale but first hand research will "lift" the overall quality of your dissertation and enable you to conclude, perhaps in a very qualified way, that your findings support, contradict, or modify the literature on the problem you have investigated. If there is no empirical research planned for your dissertation, talk to your supervisor about it! 1.. Notes on the format /content of the report: What follows is a typical structure a conceptual (theoretical) study research report will assume. It is necessary for the student, first to report some existing theory, to describe the methodology used, then to report what was done on the research area / topic(s) or different parts of the topic(s), and finally to present a new model or a new theory or suggestions / recommendations based on the new work. Title Page Acknowledgments Table of Contents (List of Tables and Figures) Executive Summary A concise summary of the entire dissertation. This should be limited to 2-3 pages and should include the following: c) a clear statement of the topic and purpose of the research; d) a brief description of the methodology (data collection tools and method etc) used in the research; e) an explanation of the procedures followed and the analysis used; f) summary of the results and their implications. Answers to these questions should be found in the summary: a) What did you do? b) Why did you do it? What question were you trying to answer? c) How did you do it? State methods. d) What did you learn? State major results. e) Why does it matter? Point out at least one significant implication. Chapter One: Introduction – Theory State the study area clearly and discuss its importance and significance. Put the reader in the picture by reviewing the literature and state the aim and objectives of your research. Explain all key concepts involved in the research, making sure that your explanation is readily understandable to an intelligent non-expert reader. You need to catch your readers’ interest with this chapter and persuade them that it is worth reading further. Chapter two: Literature review (a) Introduce the background and rationale for the present/this (i.e. your) study — Where did the topic/idea/need come from? Why do you think it is important? Why is it worth studying? What is already known about this? What other work has already been done on the issue? (b) State how relevant previous work/research is related to this study; (c) Provide a framework for viewing this study. Reference the literature from reputable and appropriate sources (e.g., professional journals, books, etc.) and have a minimum of five references. Chapter four Conclusions: Indicate the theoretical and practical implications of your work. State if your work suggests any interesting further avenues for investigation and if there are ways in which your work could be improved by future workers? Usually longer than the Executive Summary, but reasonably short. As with the introduction, it is a good idea to ask someone who is not a specialist to read this section and to comment. 4.1 Major Findings Reflects on the results of analyses in nontechnical terms. 4.2 Implications of the Findings. Explain why you think your work, or some aspect of it, is valuable. Discuss the significance of your study in a general context. (The dissertation expands from a narrow focus on this study itself to a broader focus on how this study fits into the world of research.) 4.3 Limitations of the Study and Suggestions for Further Work. Be self-critical and realistically modest about what you have achieved, claiming your own strengths and acknowledging weaknesses. Consider where more research is needed and what new problems arise as a result of your work, and present some suggestions for possible future research which would be sensible based on the results of your investigation. END CHAPTERS References List here all and only the references which appear in the text of your dissertation. Appendices Include here any text as supporting documentation for your dissertation. 2.Sample Dissertation Title Page: (Title —should be located towards the middle of the page) A Dissertation Presented by (first name, middle name, and last name of author) (month and year) 3. Getting started: Planning the dissertation 3.1 Questions about choosing a topic and formulating a question How do I get started? A good way to get started on your dissertation project is to read this guide and become familiar with the suggestions offered. One of the first things you might want to do is to write out your individual calendar, in which you list key dates, such as important target dates for being assigned to/finding a supervisor, finalizing your research plan, setting up concrete research plans, etc. On this calendar, you may also want to break down these larger goals into reasonable tasks to complete towards meeting those goals. For example, you could/should plan your meetings with your supervisor over the course of your work. Another good way to get started on your project is to begin meeting and talking about your ideas with your employer/sponsor, friends, your lecturers and other faculty, previous graduate students who may be knowledgeable about subjects you are considering as potential dissertation topics. How do I choose a topic? The most important consideration in deciding on a topic is to choose a topic that you find academically or personally compelling—so much so, that you are excited about immersing yourself in an investigation of some aspect of this topic for the next few months. Other considerations, such as academic importance and feasibility of the study are important, too, but these other considerations can often be resolved as you formulate your topic into a question. Ideally, as mentioned already, your topic should be within the scope of your internship training. You may already have some idea of a broad topic that is academically interesting to you and is connected to your studies and/or your work. As a general rule of thumb, however, your dissertation topic will need to be narrower than your general area of interest. So, for example, interest in an the area of “Marketing Communications” could still lead to a wide range of dissertation topics, including (for example): a historical investigation of the growth of Marketing Communications in a modern economy; technological influences on the type, character and effectiveness of Marketing Communications; a sociological approach on the effect of marketing communications on the average consumer; etc. Of course, you don’t have to plan a dissertation that fits neatly into a particular discipline. A dissertation could be interdisciplinary or employ mixed methodologies. In order to begin that “narrowing” process from general area of interest to dissertation topic, you may want to consider asking yourself the following kinds of questions: • What topics in my classes have I found the most interesting? • What kinds of disciplinary approaches have captured my attention in my coursework? • What kinds of disciplinary approaches do I think I would feel most comfortable using in my dissertation? • Are there scholarly debates I have found myself drawn to again and again? • Is there a particular problem that I have read about that I want to learn more about? • Do I have personal experiences that I want to make use of and explore in an academic way? By answering these kinds of questions, you can generate a list of potential topics that you can then discuss with advisers, faculty, and your employer. Through these discussions, you can further think about the academic importance of your potential topic, along with the feasibility of completing a project on your potential topic over the next few months. How should I explore my topic of interest? Theoretically or empirically? You can write either kind of dissertation, or even one that is a combination of the two approaches. However, it’s also important to recognize that theoretical and empirical projects are not mutually exclusive, since a good theoretical project will be tied to empirical concerns, and vice versa. If you are having trouble making this decision, you may want to think about your lecture experiences and course work—along with your interest in the different theoretical and empirical approaches you were introduced to through those classes—as a general guide to which approach you may want to take. You might also want to think about what kind of question(s) you want to ask and answer in your dissertation, since theoretical and empirical projects lead to different possibilities for inquiry. An empirical question might be: What is the effect of television advertising in shaping consumer attitudes in the automotive industry? What role does emotion play in initiating and sustaining consumer behavior? A theoretical dissertation, however, might ask what role emotion should play in initiating and sustaining consumer behavior in the automotive industry? If you are more interested in how things are, you are probably better suited for empirical work. If you are more concerned about arguing for how things should be, you are probably more theoretically inclined. Empiricists explain, while theorists justify and evaluate according to abstract sets of principles. You may also want to consider what kinds of materials interest you, since theoretical work involves deeply engaged thinking and the exploration of texts, while many empirical topics are investigated through interviews, surveys, observations, or quantitative analyses. 4. Avoiding Plagiarism (Note to Students) Attention of students is drawn to the fact that ‘plagiarism’ is considered as a serious offence in the academic world and that it may cost the student a reduction in his/her class award or in some cases even expulsion from the University. Coursework, dissertations, projects and essays submitted for assessment must be the student’s own work, unless in the case of group projects/ assignments where a joint effort is expected and is indicated as such. Therefore students should always: (i) state clearly and in the appropriate form where they found the material on which they have based their work; (ii) acknowledge the people whose concepts, experiments, or results they have extracted, developed or summarised even if these ideas have been put in their own words; and (iii) avoid excessive copying of paragraphs by another author, even when the source is acknowledged.
Jan 05, 2023

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