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DBS Library Getting Good Grades Series

Thesis planning, research and design

*** This is an outline guide only, it is not topic specific. All specific questions relating to your topic choice, literature review and chosen research methodology will need to be addressed to your supervisor. Please ensure you have read assessment guidelines for thesis submission in your course handbook ***

Define your central “research question” For many students the most difficult part of the thesis writing process is defining exactly what to research. Identifying the area you wish to conduct your research in and defining your central hypothesis will determine the structure of your thesis and define the methodology used to reach your conclusions. The statement of your research question and your reasons for choosing it will form your introduction chapter. Some points to consider when choosing your thesis topic; •The size of the topic; Is the topic wide enough to warrant in-depth investigation? Equally important; is the topic too big. A useful initial exercise is to brainstorm. Write down all the sub questions arising from your central question, if you have more than five perhaps you need to consider redefining your central question to streamline your analysis. The key is to FOCUS your research as early as possible. The advised word count may seem daunting initially but as the research progresses it will require skill to deliver your thesis within the assigned limit. •Does the topic interest you; Many students choose a topic which is related to their own work experience or which they believe will assist them in securing a job after graduation. While this is not a bad way to choose a topic, remember, you have to live with the subject matter for some time so it helps if you choose a topic which can retain your interest.

Preliminary research Having chosen your research topic your first aim will be to ascertain what other academics have written on the subject in academic texts and journals, this will form the chapter referred to as the LITERATURE REVIEW. The literature review chapter will seek to place your thesis within a framework of other research. It will highlight what has been said about your topic, what the current trends of academic thinking are in this area and where your research fits in and expands upon previous work. The proposed literature review will form the central part of any preliminary RESEARCH PROPOSAL you may be asked to submit prior to approval of your research topic. The most important thing to remember during the compilation of your literature review (and indeed throughout the information gathering process) is to KEEP TRACK OF REFERENCES. Make note of the bibliographic details for the material you are referencing as you go along, keep a bibliography file and make detailed notes including the page numbers for quotes and sections which have been paraphrased, URL address and dates for websites visited etc.

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Decide on your research methodology The research methodology will be determined by a number of factors, most importantly; the topic you are researching (or research question you want to answer) and the time frame you are working to. Most business theses will employ some form of quantitative research (questionnaires, surveys or sampling) but depending on the topic you may include some qualitative methods also. It is important to discuss the best methodological approach in detail with your supervisor as it will be tailored specifically to the research question you are addressing.

Present findings After your samples, surveys and/or interviews have been conducted and fully documented in the methodology section you will present the results or findings of the research. This initial presentation will be an empirical outlaying of the statistical results; documenting the numerical data in the case of quantitative research or the interview or analytical outcomes in the case of qualitative research. This section should include any illustrative charts or graphs you have prepared.

Analyse findings Having given an overview of your findings you will now present a detailed analysis. This analysis you will examine the implications of your findings in greater depth. This includes detailing the problems encountered in compiling the data. The focus in this section is to illustrate what your findings mean; were there any surprising outcomes or revelations, are there any inconsistencies or contradictions. Compare and contrast your initial expectations with your research findings, have your expectations been met? You may detail how your findings changed the focus of your conclusions and general perceptions of your topic.

Conclusions Your conclusion will reconcile your research question with the research findings and examine whether the question you addressed has been answered. Your conclusion should also assess whether you have identified areas worthy of further study and the extent to which the question you set out to address has yielded unexpected outcomes which can be further researched. Your conclusions will illustrate where you feel your research project has expanded upon previous work and you may want to highlight the practical implications of your research in academia, business or social sectors. Remember to allow sufficient time for PROOF READING and binding. The thesis should ideally be completed 1 week prior to submission deadline to allow sufficient time to proof read, edit and make any final changes before binding.

Dublin Business School Library http://library.dbs.ie 13/14 Aungier Street | Dublin 2 | Phone: 01-417 7572 19/22 Dame Street | Dublin 2 | Phone 01-417 8745 Email: library@dbs.ie


Thesis planning, research and design