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Research Methodology

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Objective : a) To guide a student in preparing his/her synopsis b) Scheduling of research c) Types of research data needed


This is an important note; you are encouraged to read it thoroughly.

The purpose of offering the UOW students the Research Methodology lesson is to help students to complete their dissertation. It addresses many of the concerns that students have, and provides answers to many of the frequently asked questions about the final year dissertation.

The main objective of the dissertation is to provide an opportunity for students to undertake a major academic piece of work. It also enables students to investigate an area of business, which interest them, in a detailed rigorous way.

When students start their dissertation they need to make clear in what academic subject area they intend to work. As your degree is Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Business Administration majoring in Marketing, you are excepted to look from the marketing perspective. Example, the development of a new product at ICI could be investigated from a marketing perspective, looking at branding issues.

The final dissertation must be of an appropriate standard for a University of Wales Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Business Administration (Marketing) Degree .To achieve this :

a) the aims of the investigation should be clearly specified
b) the investigation should review, assess and draw on relevant previous research ;
c) the investigation should use appropriate research methods
d) the results, conclusions and any recommendations should be supported by appropriate evidence and arguments
e) the dissertation should be clearly written and presented , and should not exceed 12,000 words ( excluding appendices )

Guide to the process of developing a final year dissertation

Area of interest

Literature review to include Theoretical development; Industrial situation Concepts; conflicting results; applied problem Limitations etc

Research questions ( hypotheses/ propositions )

Research design to include methodology

compare findings with previous studies collection of data

analysis of data

Presentation of findings What conclusions can be drawn based upon a through analysis Of the applied problem against a blackcloth of previous literature

Selecting an Area of Interest

Dissertation requires motivation; you will be judged by what you put into the dissertation. The evidence for this will come from the quality and range of the information you present ; e.g. from “secondary source “ such as journals in the fields ,reports, books and websites ; and from “primary resources” such as your own interviews and surveys .It is important to choose a title or subject area about which you can obtain adequate and reliable information.

Finding a Topic

The choice of the topic can be relatively easy task. It goes without saying if you choose to study a topic which interest you, then you are likely to be enthusiastic and well motivated. However there are several important points to realise

i) The proposal dissertation must be analytical rather than purely descriptive or narrative. For instance , a dissertation that describes the operations of an organisation such as NTUC Fairprice is inappropriate, but a dissertation, which examines the impact of loyalty cards on the performance of NTUC, would be acceptable.

ii) The dissertation of your choice must use parts of your course content particularly in the analysis of the material that you have obtained.

iii) When deciding on a dissertation title or area ,discuss it with a member of the staff or supervisor who lectures in that subject, and seek advice about turning your idea into a proper proposal.


Notes for the completion of your proposal form .

As well as your name, the academic subject area involved and the working title of your dissertation, the proposal should include the following types of information:-

a) Whether your dissertation will be “library based “, i.e. reliant on published sources of information obtainable through libraries, the internet etc ; or “investigation-based”, i.e. you plan to collect some original data or information to test out particular ideas or theories.

b) Whether you plan to use your industrial placement experience as the basis for part of your dissertation.

c) The way in which you expect to collect the information for your dissertation

d) The nature of any specific theories in the subject area which you plan to use and apply; and a list of relevant texts you expect to consult

The Role of Supervisor

It is absolutely vital that you make and maintain contact with your supervisor once he/she has been allocated to supervise your dissertation . Most students have fairly broad idea about their chosen topic and the initial discussions with your supervisor will help you focus your ideas into “manageable dissertation “. Think of your supervisor as a sport coach and yourself as a contestant .You are to compete in the sports event, while your coach will do her/his best to guide you towards success. If you do not turn up on time , do not undertake sufficient preparation or start with a hangover then you are unlikely to succeed. If, however, you plan, prepare and give your best, you will have a good chance of collecting a medal for your achievement.

At this stage you are likely to receive advice on the general approach to undertaking your research, suitable research methods and possible sources of information you have not yet explore yourself. You will also be asked to provide your supervisor with a structure and an approximate time frame for your research work. The purpose of your initial meetings with your supervisor is to “get you into the right track” and give you some clear objectives.

It is your responsibility to write the actual dissertation and to conduct the necessary research. Your supervisor’s role is essentially supportive and strictly advisory. Once you have started on the dissertation your supervisor is there to offer further advice and constructive criticism of your work progress .You can also turn to your supervisor’s duty to case the progress of your research. You should also attempt to find your own solutions to research problems before you call for help.

Misconduct in research


Plagiarism is not a “gentleman’s crime “. It is a serious offence against the University’s regulations and will lead to grave consequences which can include the expulsion from the University without a degree being awarded .Your supervisor and the second marker will undertake every effort to uncover any act of plagiarism in association with your dissertation.

The most common forms of plagiarism are :

• direct copying of textural material • the use of other people’s data with acknowledgement • the use of ideas from other researchers without adequate attribution

Falsification of Evidence

Similarly unacceptable misconduct in research include the falsification of fabrication of data results.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list . What is important is that misconduct in research will not pay and is not worth taking the risk.


a)Title Page

The precise title of the dissertation is to be types on the cover and on the first page inside the binding. Below this comes your name, the title of the degree for which the dissertation is submitted and the year of presentation.

b)Statement of originality

On the second page the following statement should be type in the centre of the page


I hereby declare that this work has not been accepted in whole or part for any degree and that it is not being submitted in candidature for any other degree. I also declare that it is the result of any own investigations and my indebtedness is indicated in the bibliography and elsewhere in the text.



c) Acknowledgement (if any)

d) Abstract An abstract of about 100-150 words should be given

e) Content list This should list all the contents of the dissertation and their page numbers as well as the number and title of each chapter and the number of the page beginning each chapter.

f) List of tables and figures (if any )

g) Key to abbreviation (if any)

h) Preface This is optional. If a preface is used it should contain a brief statement about the ideas and concerns of the dissertation and a general introduction to the topic areas and the contribution of the dissertation to the understanding of the problems addressed in the discussion to follow. You may prefer to establish these points in the introductory chapter.

i) Chapter Structure

I) Introductory chapter

This chapter will spell out the main issues addressed in the dissertation and might, for example ,establish the context of the dissertation and provide some background to the issues examined. This may take the form of a statement of a hypothesis ,or of problem, and a general discussion of the methodology and procedures used in the study as well as the sequence in which these are discussed in subsequent chapter.

ii) Substantive chapters

Each major issue should be presented in separate chapters and should be clearly supported by relevant literature, reference and other evidence as appropriate. Details of the reference system are given below. Each chapter should begin on a new page and the chapter heading should be concise and descriptive of the contents of the chapter.

iii) Summary and conclusions

The final chapter will summarize and the entire study and state the conclusions reached and there implications as well as any recommendations which may come out of the dissertation. As this often the focal point of the dissertation you are advised to give this chapter particular attention.

j) Notes

You may wish to refer the reader to brief explanatory notes in order to avoid breaking the continuity of the main text. These should be numbered consecutively and grouped at the end of each chapter. The indicative numbers should be Arabic numeral, either enclosed in brackets or raised half a space.

k) References

i) Citation When citing the work of other writers the text you are required only to refer to the author and the date of publication. If an author has more than one publication referred to in the same year these are differentiated by the use of the letters. A,b,c…. after the date. These correspond to the listing in the bibliography.

ii) Direct reference

“ ……… It has been argued Crouch (1984) that industrial conflict is an endemic feature of society….. “
In this case the reader will simply refer to Crouch’s listing in the references for further details. iii) Indirect references

“…….. Many writers have argues that the corporate reports are an exercise in communication ( Smith and Taffler,1984 ; Parker ,1982; Haggie, 1984 )…..”

iv) Direct quotation

When direct quotation is used in the text then the passage quote is immediately followed by a reference to the author, the date of publication and the page in the original text

“…..” Within the framework of Theory X the ability to provide or withhold economic rewards is the prime means by which management exercise authority in industry “ ( MacGregor, 1960, pg 91…..”

v) Secondary references and quotation

This is when you wish to refer to, or quote ,the work of an author whom you have read only in the secondary texts. In this case you must attribute the reference or quotation to the text that you have read. For example :

“….. as Mullins (1985) has pointed out, Mc Gregor’s argument is based on several assumptions on the nature of management….. “

“…… Mc Gregor’s argument has been summarised by Mullins (1985) in the following quotation :………..”

l) Presentation of reference/ bibliography/ literature citations

i) Author’s name Surname in capitals followed by initials

ii) Date of publication (year only )

iii) Title of work

If the work is a book or another single text then the title should be underlined. If it is part of another work such as a chapter in an edited book or journal then the title should be noted in single inverted commas and the source (either the book title or journal title ) should be underlined.

iv) Publisher

The name of the publisher, if appropriate , should follow the title of the cited. In the case of unpublished work, such as reports or dissertations then the details of the source of the work should be given .Where appropriate the specific page numbers of the text cited should be given.

v) Order All references should be placed in alphabetical order or irrespectively of whether it is a book or journal etc

vi) Examples :


Kaplan , R S ( 1982 ) Advanced Management Accounting , Prentice Hall.

Mock, TJ and Grove , HD (1979) Measurement Accounting and Organisational Information John Wiley

Chapters in edited books

Mc Gregor, J & Whyte , P(1982) “Financial Modelling on an in-house Mini Computer” in Bryant, JW (Ed) Financial Modelling in Corporate Management , John Wiley pp. 345-367

Journal articles

Tomassini, LA (1976) “Behaviour Research on Human Resource Accounting ; a Contingency Framework ,” Accounting, Organisation and Society. Vol 1 No . 2-3 ,pp 239-250


CBI (1975) The provision of Information to Employees: Guidances to Action, Confederation of British Industrial.

Stamp, E (1975) The Future of Accounting and Auditing Standards, International Centre for research in Accounting , University of Lancaster.

Theses and dissertations

Grive,HD (1975) , Improving their Usefulness of Accounting Measurement of Information,unpublished D.B.A dissertation , University of Southern California.


These should be included alphabetically by address, and the date on which you accessed the site should be included in the reference E.g. :

PscyNET (Online ) http;// ( Accessed : 10 October 1999)

m) Appendices

These may include tables, schedule, questionnaires, documents or long explanatory notes which have been referred to in but which, if include there, would break the continuity of the argument.
All appendices should have a title and the source should also be given if appropriate .Title of appendices should be the same as those used in the text. It is also important when preparing the dissertation to make sure that material is not included in the text, which should be placed in an appendix and vice versa.

o) Page Numbering

i) Preliminaries

Pages up to the first page of substantive text should be numbered with small roman numerials (ii,iii,iv, etc….) centred at the bottom of the page. The numbering begins with (ii) as the title page counts as the first page.

ii) Substantive text

Substantive text should be numbered consecutively in Arabic numerals (1,2,3 …etc …)

Typing and Binding

I) A single copy of the complete dissertation (ring-binded) should be delivered to Thames Consultants office by the due date. It should be printed on good quality A4 paper and be contained in an acceptable cover. Upon approval, student is expected to bind the dissertation on hardcover binding to be delivered to Thames Consultants office again.

ii) Page layout

The text should be in 12 point’s font with a 1.5 line spacing and margin of about 1” should be allowed on all sides of the papers. Where quotated material is included which is on excess of a few lines, the type should be intended above 5 spaces and typed in single spaces and the quotation marks omitted. While practice varies regarding the beginning of paragaraphs , an indentation of about five spaced produces a pleasing appearance. It is important that layout is consistent throughout the work.

iii) Chapter Headings

Chapter headings should be type in block capital about 2 “ from the top of the page.

iv) Tabulations , footnote etc

Lists of items ,tabulations, footnotes etc should be singled spaced. Spaced should be allowed above and below tabulations, diagrams etc which are integrated into the text.

v) Binding

Any kind of appropriate binder may be used of a least card quality ,provided the contents are safely contained and its appearance sufficiently pleasing. No loose papers should be included in the submitted dissertation.

Literary Quality and Editing

In addition to the quality of the content of the discussion, students are expected to achieve a high standard of presentation . The work must be effectively and neatly arranged and written lucidly in good style free from spelling and punctuation errors.

Responsibility for the finished dissertation rests entirely with the candidate and therefore every aspect (including typing ) must be carefully checked and thoroughly edited. A slipshod dissertation containing spelling, punctuation and typing errors will lose marks.…...

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