Dissertation 9000 word – Structure & Format
The cover page should state the title, student name and ID number, and the date of submission (month, year).
The following format is recommended, though exceptionally your supervisor may suggest an alternative format:
- Abstract (brief paragraph)
- Contents & Page numbers
- List of figures and tables (if required)
- Literature review
- Findings and Discussion
- Recommendations (if appropriate)
- Appendices (additional graphs and materials linked to the main report)
- Brief overview of key chapters
Here you should provide a clear rationale for the research. You should introduce the issues and debates within the area – calling on textbook sources but also key peer reviewed literature.
You should give a brief introduction to the case study (if you have one), identify your Research Question and Objectives and a brief overview of the chapters that follow.
This purpose of this chapter is to identify:
- What is already known about the area?
- What concepts and theories are relevant?
- What research methods and strategies have been used in this area?
- Are there any controversies?
- Are there any inconsistencies in findings?
- Are there any unanswered questions?
Your review also has a number of other purposes:
- To help you to refine your research question(s) and objectives further.
- To highlight research possibilities that have been overlooked in research to date.
- To discover explicit recommendations for further research. These can provide you with a justification for your own research question(s) and objectives.
- To help you to avoid simply repeating work that has been done already.
- As a rule of thumb, at least 80% of the sources used in this chapter should come from peer-reviewed literature.
Your research design is the general plan of how you will go about answering your research question(s).
It will specify the sources from which you intend to collect data, how you propose to collect and analyse these, discuss ethical issues and the constraints you will inevitably encounter.
Findings and Discussion
The purpose of this chapter is to report the facts your research discovered, to interpret these results and relate the findings to the original research goals and objectives. The implications of the research should also be discussed here.
Conclusions and Recommendations
In summing up the work you should:
- Demonstrate that you have answered the research question(s).
- Demonstrate that you have met the research objectives.
- Consider your findings in relation to the existing literature.
- Reflect on any implications for future research / or practice based recommendations for industry / sector
- Your Recommendations should be insightful and show clearly how your work leads to them
Bibliography and Referencing
You MUST use the Harvard system for all referencing. Your Bibliography will include sources which have informed your thinking but which you have not referenced within the report. ALL sources cited within the report will need to be listed here, alphabetically, by author.
Every appendix must have a reference in the main body and the reader directed to the relevant appendix at the appropriate place in the text.
However, appendices should only contain additional information. All relevant information must be included in the main body.
Students must accept ownership of their own work. Academic integrity is fundamental to creating a good project. In order to maintain academic integrity, all material used throughout the project MUST be fully referenced.
Keep all research evidence such as completed questionnaires, transcripts, recorded interviews and focus groups, photos etc in a safe place until you receive a final mark. The University may ask you to produce evidence of research.
Plagiarism is representing another person’s work as being your own, or the use of another person’s work without acknowledgement, e.g. by:
- Importing work from another person’s work without using quotation marks and identifying the source;
- Making a copy of all or part of another person’s work and presenting it as your own by failing to disclose the source;
- Making extensive use of another person’s work, either by summarising or paraphrasing the work merely by changing a few words or altering the order in which the material is presented, without acknowledgement of the source;
- The use of ideas of another person without acknowledgement of the source, or the presentation of work as your own which substantially comprises the ideas of another person.
Other academic misconduct includes:
- Falsification of data;
- Duplication of assessed work without acknowledging previous submission;
- Allowing/helping another to copy or paraphrase your work without acknowledgement;
- Breach of professional confidentiality;
As an underlying principle, there must be a sense of openness and transparency when conducting research. Researchers have the responsibility to:
- Use the information or data collected only for the purpose intended, and are under an obligation to prevent its misuse;
- Recognise that they must not influence the opinion or behaviour of participants, though, in some instances, their presence may well influence the participants’ response;
- Ensure that bias is minimised; and
- Alert potential users of the research about any limitations of validity and reliability of the research methodology.
Awareness and sensitivity
Any research involving human subjects should be explained, as comprehensively as possible, to all concerned. Researchers must take into account the nature and the degree of sensitivity relating to the specific area under investigation. The following elements should be fully communicated:
- The nature and purpose of the research
- How information or data is collected, stored and analysed
- Assurance given in relation to identity, anonymity and confidentiality, as appropriate, ensuring that guarantees are fulfilled
- Individuals must have the right to refuse participation or withdraw their responses
- Research using under 18s will be undertaken only under exceptional circumstances. Any such proposal would need to be discussed with your supervisor.
Do’s and don’ts
Do discuss and explain clearly the work with supervisors.
Do inform participants of the purpose and method of the investigation.
Do obtain permission, consent or approval before the start of the investigation if the research takes place in a work environment.
Do assure confidentiality or ensure acceptability from the participants for disclosure of information or data obtained.
Do ensure consideration and respect for others.
Do be aware of responsibilities to the University, organisation, industry, Profession and the general public.
Do seek advice from the supervisor when constructing questionnaires
Do make sure there is security of information or data, where appropriate
Do ensure that any assurances given are honoured.
Do create a good impression by behaving ethically
Do always recognise sources of information.
Don’t cause unnecessary emotional stress, embarrassment or annoyance to participants.
Don’t ask potentially offensive or intrusive questions especially in relation to sexuality, race or religion.
High ethical standards must be maintained at all times as the integrity of researchers and the image of the university is at stake. If ever in doubt, always ask.