—Research Methods and dissertation: Spring 2017

—Research Methods and dissertation:
Spring 2017

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—What Is Research?

—Research refers to the generation of knowledge

—Research is something that people undertake in order to find out things in a systematic way, thereby increasing their knowledge (Saunders et al., 2012)

—What Do We Mean by “Find Out Things”?

—Finding out things means you should have a clear purpose or set of things  that you want to find out such as the answer to a question or number of questions or a test of the validity of an assumption you made (Saunders et al., 2012)

—To do research, you have to have a clear aim

—What Do We Mean by “Systematic Way”?

Systematic way means research is based on logical relationships and not just personal beliefs (Saunders et al., 2012)

Thus, in your research you need to explain:

1.The methods used to collect the data

2.Why the results obtained are meaningful

3.Any limitations associated with them

4.You also need to use evidence from credible sources & not biased sources

—Why Research Matters?

Research generates knowledge

—Think about people. Don’t they deserve a better life?

—Think about the current knowledge. Does it require an update?

—Think about the problems in the world around you. Is there a solution?

—Thus, Research Can:

—Lead to more developments

—Expand our knowledge

—Discover knew knowledge

—Propose solution to problems

—Have an impact on practice/industry

Nature of Business Research

—Business research is conducted to find out things about the business & management world

—Thus, business & management research needs to engage with both the world of theory & world of practice (Saunders et al., 2009)


—Business research not only needs to provide findings that advance knowledge and understanding, it also needs to address business issues and practical managerial problems

—The purpose of business research is to develop valid knowledge to support organisational problem solving in the field


—Types of Business Research





—Basic/pure research

—Expand knowledge of processes of business & management

—Results in universal principles

—Findings is important to society in general

—Applied research

—Improve understanding of particular business problem

—Results in solution to problem

—Findings of practical relevance  & value to managers in organisations


—In small groups discuss what you think are the attributes and qualities of a top researcher

—Report back to the group



—Nile information

Module Guide

Ethical guidelines – discuss with your supervisor and complete the ethics form before you collect data


Good project guides


Workshop materials updated each week in advance of classes

Extensive core materials



—Many texts to consult – see module guide

—Core text is:

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A, (2012) Business Research Methods, ed 6, Pearson

Free e-book available on bookshelf on NILE


—The course timeline

—The course timeline


—The dissertation format

—15-18 500 words

—Use 12 point font – Verdana if possible

—Use 1.5 point spacing

—Use at least 1.5cm margins top and bottom and each side

—Fully referenced using Harvard System

—Submit electronically only via Nile by 6th October 2017

—You do not need to submit a bound paper copy


What is a dissertation and what do I need to do?

—What does a dissertation look like?

—Classic Structure:



3.Literature review/conceptual framework




7.Conclusion and Recommendations



—The dissertation – introduction

—Highlights key debates, problem statement, key academic debates

—Spell out topic and context

—Research Aims and Objectives

—Why research is important and exciting

—Tentative research questions (focused)

—Other background material to topic and context


—The dissertation- introduction


◦Concise– don’t waste words on this section

◦Sets the tone and will be read in detail

◦Clear – reader MUST know easily what: the objectives are; what the research questions are; what the problem/theme is and WHY it is important to research

Signposts – tell the reader what will be in the dissertation and how it will be structured

—The dissertation- Literature Review

—Sections – do not just produce one lump of text!!

—Must be critical – evaluate not repeat the literature

—Based around themes not texts

—Sections must flow logically usually from the universal to the specific

—MUST track back to your objectives and illuminate your research questions – the gaps in the literature  – which you will now address in your own study

—The dissertation- Methodology

—Identify your own research philosophy

—Outline and justify your chosen research design

—Describe and justify what you did

◦Data collection

◦Data analysis

—Identify any ethical or practical constraints and state how they were managed


—You must refer to published work on methodology here


—The dissertation- Methodology


◦Not factual – don’t give a lecture on research philosophies etc.

◦Be argumentative: argue the case for your chosen method, why you have a particular philosophical position, approach etc..

◦Cross reference other authors and their methods

—The dissertation- Findings

—Summarise your findings using tables, text boxes, graphs, series of indicative quotations etc.

—Organise it in a way that address your research questions in a logical way

—The facts don’t speak for themselves

◦Under each table/section/quotation you MUST include an explanatory paragraph

—Use exceptions – flag only the items of importance in your work – these will be discussed in the next chapter


—Often an easy chapter!

—The dissertation- discussion

—Here you:

◦Discuss your own findings in comparison to the literature review

◦What did you find out that is the same; different; surprising; amplifying etc.?

—The dissertation- discussion


◦Critical, comparative and reflective.

◦Reflect upon your own results and the view from your literature.

◦How do your findings contrast with the literature?

◦Don’t just restate what you and the literature tells us.

—The project – Conclusion


—Give yourself the time and space to do it properly

—It is not just an after thought it will be read more closely than other sections so it needs to be GOOD!

—Basically distil your discussion points into a verdict that satisfactorily answers all your research questions

◦Don’t just restate findings


◦Confident, synthesizing and authoritative

In-depth: don’t just write a paragraph!

— The dissertation- Recommendations

—Flexibility required here:

◦On the basis of what you have found out what would be your suggestions for:

–Future research and why?

–Corporates and why?

–Wider stakeholders?

–For a managerial style dissertation it is possible to outline a management agenda for a corporate


◦Bold, explanatory and confident

◦Less critical than other sections



—“Classic Academic” V Managerial Projects

—Classic Academic

—Literature likely to be mostly academic journals etc.

—Aims do not have to be overly applied/pragmatic in nature, e.g., could be exploratory in nature

—Primary data does not have to come from corporates etc.


—Literature must still be composed of largely academic sources but more professional journals/sources etc. can be sourced

—Likely to be highly applied and possibly pragmatic in nature.

—Primary data likely to come from specific corporates

—A management agenda likely to be produced in the recommendations



  • Start thinking about your research early on;
  • Chose a topic that YOU are interested in; choose a topic where you have a chance of collecting some primary data; and choose a topic that is linked to YOUR career aspirations.
  • Chose the title carefully – this is important for the non-readers, not the university – your next job /career could depend on it.
  • Devise some specific research questions;
  • Decide on a research strategy (quantitative or qualitative? Decide on a research design
  • Use the literature review to find out what’s been done, what’s missing and then link this to the data collection – otherwise what’s the point of it ?
  • Keep a research diary;


  • See your supervisor regularly, and listen to their advice;
  • Create a timetable to avoid last minute panics;
  • Conduct a thorough literature search, and keep updating;
  • Make a note of bibliographic references as you go along;
  • Prepare for your research by negotiating access, doing a pilot study, getting ethical approval, etc.;
  • Choose an appropriate sampling technique;
  • Make sure that participants are aware of their ethical rights and give informed consent;
  • Be aware of the interaction dynamics involved in face-to-face interviewing (or any research design that involves direct contact with participants) – how might a lack of rapport affect the validity of the data?;
  • Be a sensitive and reflexive researcher: think about the ethics and politics of social research;


  • Keep focused on your research questions;
  • Refer your findings back to the original objectives
  • Allow plenty of time for transcription;
  • Store your data in a safe place to which only you have access (and keep back up copies of documents etc.);
  • Start analysing your data as soon as you collect them;
  • Familiarize yourself with technical equipment and computer packages if you intend to use them;
  • Start writing drafts of your project report early, and show them to your supervisor;
  • Balance the report structure (length) between sections and ask “is the literature review appropriate to data collection?”
  • Conclusions need to show where the objectives have been satisfied
  • Structure your written report by including all the relevant sections;
  • Be realistic and honest about the limitations of your methodology;


—Leave it all to the last minute;

—Expect everything to go to plan;

—Ignore your supervisor’s advice (or neglect to see them) (see FAQ11)

—Rely on vague, unfocused research questions;

—Overestimate how much time and money you have (or forget your deadlines!);

—Assume there is no existing literature about your topic;

—Expect a high response rate for a survey / questionnaire;

—Forget to keep a record of what you did and when;

—Neglect to follow the professional code of ethics for your discipline (see Chapter 6);

—Proceed with your research without having negotiated access and gained ethical approval (if necessary);


—Get diverted by irrelevant questions or peripheral issues when collecting data (unless you are doing completely open-ended, inductive research);

—Put your own safety at risk when conducting research ‘in the field’;

—Store your data in a place to which other people have access;

—Underestimate how long it takes to transcribe interview or focus group data;

—Assume that you have to collect all of your data before beginning to analyse them;

—Believe that you have to use a computer package to analyse your data;

—Ignore your institution’s requirements about submitting coursework (word length, format, presentation, etc.);

—Use an ‘unconventional’ style of analysis and/or writing (e.g. postmodernist) without consulting your supervisor;

—Use sexist, racist or disablist language in your written work

—Think you can write a good dissertation the night before your deadline;

—Forget to acknowledge the help of your research participants, supervisor, funding body, and anyone else who supported you.