2009 Section Page
Aims and Objectives
1. Different approaches to research 6
2. Research Strategies 6-8
2.3 Case study
3. The Purpose of Research 8-9
4. Reliability and Validity 9-10
5. The Research Process 10-12
5.1 The planning stage
6. Selecting a Topic 12-15
7. Literature Review 15-16
8. Setting Aims and Objectives 17
9. Sources and Types of Data 17-18
9.1 Primary Data
9.2 Secondary Data
10. Sampling 18-19
10.1 Probability sampling
10.2 Non-probability sampling
11. Data Collection 20-24
12. Data Analysis 24-25
12.1 Quantitative data
12.2 Qualitative data
13. Writing Up 26-32
13.1 Practical aspects of writing
13.2 Dissertation/Final Project layout
13.3 Final document submission
List of figures and tables
Figure 5.1 The Research Process 11
Figure 6.1 The Process of Topic Selection 14
Figure 11.1 A systematic approach to data collection 20
Appendix 1 Structure of the dissertation/final project 33
Appendix 2 Dissertation brief and criteria 34
One of the requirements of your course is to carry out research and write a dissertation/final project. This process requires you to undertake a review of existing material, and contact organisations and individuals in order to collect primary data which you will then need to analyse and evaluate. The data you collect will be turned into valuable information on organisations and individuals, and the dissertation/final project you produce will play a major part in deciding your final classification of degree.
What is a dissertation/final project?
A very useful definition is that it is ‘a well-structured and convincing account of a study, the resolution of a problem, or the outcome of an experiment’.How are you going to accomplish this complex process?
First you need to study and understand the basic ideas underpinning the research process and the methods for collecting and analysing data. You also need to know how to present your data in a meaningful way. This guide is intended to supplement the formal methodology sessions which are run in the summer term of your second year.
To help you through the dissertation/final project process, which is a self-directed piece of work, you will be allocated a Supervisor with whom you should meet on a regular basis to review progress. Details of the role and responsibilities of both your and your Supervisor have been posted on Blackboard.#p#分页标题#e#
Aims and Objectives
The aims of the sessions and this guide are:
- to introduce the various research approaches that can be used
- to introduce you to each of the methods of data collection and analysis
- to offer advice on managing the process
- to identify the house style required for the final document
The main objective of this guide is to help you build up your research competence as there are various ways of collecting and manipulating data. The main approaches used in business related areas are a) surveys and b) case studies. This guide is designed to introduce you to the various methods of data collection, concentrating on observation, interviews and questionnaires as these are the most commonly used by marketing and advertising students carrying out final year research.
Upon completion of the taught sessions you should be able to:
- describe the main features of the three main styles of research i.e. ethnography, experiments and surveys, and discuss their strengths and weaknesses in the context of undergraduate research
- identify whether your research is exploratory, descriptive or explanatory
- describe the main characteristics of qualitative and quantitative research
- discuss the benefits of using a multi-method approach to research
- outline the research process and its various stages
- produce a research plan designed to collect information relevant to a
specific research problem and be able to justify the decision taken at
- describe the main types and sources of primary and secondary data
- identify the main methods of data collection and analysis, and discuss their applicability to different types of research problem
- plan your research ensuring that data gathered are both reliable and valid
- describe the main features of the various types of sampling (probability, non-probability) and their relevance to different data collection situations
- outline the main features of observation and identify the various methods of recording data
- describe the main features of the research interview and discuss its strengths and weaknesses as a means of data collection
- outline the main considerations when designing an interview schedule
- identify relevant methods of data capture for an interview situation
- describe the main features of the questionnaire and discuss its strengths and weaknesses as a means of data collection
- identify the different approaches to using questionnaires in research
- design items for inclusion in a questionnaire
- discuss the use of a case study and outline the benefits and disadvantages of this approach
1. Different approaches to research
Positivism - taking a scientific approach to research based on existing theory by following five steps:
- deduce hypothesis from theory
- operationalise the concept#p#分页标题#e#
- test the hypothesis
- examine results of research
- refine/modify theory in light of the findings
It can be seen that taking this approach the next logical step would be to go back and work through the sequence again. In this way theory is continually tested to ensure that views formulated in the past are still valid
e.g. Darwin’s theory of evolution turned the scientific and theological world upside down at the time of its publication, but is now accepted as the foundation for continuing scientific research.
Phenomenology – researchers try to make some social sense out of what they observe to understand what it is that is happening, and also why it is happening. An important issue with this approach is that it sets the research in a social context.
Deductive research uses existing theory to design the approach you take to collecting and analysing qualitative data, and is used to produce explanations or descriptions of what you find. Inductive research, on the other hand, builds up theory from the data gathered and is useful for an exploratory survey where you want to draw general conclusions.
2. Research strategies
In his book on research Robson (1993) identifies three main research strategies – experiment, survey and case study.
Experiments differ from the other approaches in two ways:
- they are primarily designed to determine cause and effect relationships
- in an experiment we try to control the circumstances and variables surrounding our area of interest and the data we want to collect
In the experimental approach there is tight control of events by working within a framework in which we:
- define theoretical hypothesis
- select samples from a known population
- allocate samples to different conditions
- introduce ‘planned change’ in one or more of the variables
- measure on a small number of variables
- control other variables
An example could be the impact of an advertising campaign and the perception of students about what it is saying by asking one group of students to recall the advertisements without prompts and showing examples to another.
Surveys are the most popular approach used for gathering data in organisational research as a major source of data is ‘people’. The use of questionnaires helps us to gather a large amount of data in a standardised format from many people in an economical way, and enables us to make comparisons across groups and individuals.
This method requires a sample of respondents to reply to a number of fixed questions under comparable conditions. The sample is representative of a defined population so that generalisations can be made from results.
The control you have over the research process using this approach comes from the time spent designing and piloting the questionnaire to ensure that you are gathering the data you want.#p#分页标题#e#
The different approaches to administering questionnaires will be discussed in more detail later.
2.3 Case study
This is an approach to explore both the situation and existing theory to determine whether the accepted connections are still relevant. This can be done by gathering details about a single case, or a number of cases to help answer the question ‘why’ as well as ‘what and how’. (Robson, 1993) Methods of data collection can include interviews, observation, questionnaires and documentary analysis.
In addition to these we can consider ethnography as a fourth approach to research.
Ethnographic research consists of observation and aims to ‘learn’ about the subjects of that observation. The historical background of this approach is from social anthropology which set out to study firsthand the culture of societies which had not been influenced by outside factors e.g. in Africa and the Pacific. The fieldwork method of study was developed by these anthropologists to observe individuals in their natural habitat and required that they learnt their language and spent sufficient time with them to overcome the effects of their being ‘outsiders’.
If you intend doing research inside a company often you find that a discussion of this approach is relevant as in addition to simply identifying what is going on, you need to try and understand events and be able to explain why they occur. Parts of the Hawthorne studies by Elton Mayo are examples of this ethnographic approach.
3. The purpose of research
At the start of any research you have to decide exactly what you are doing. To help focus we generally consider research to fall into three categories:
3.1 Exploratory research sets out to identify what is actually going on and to question existing theory and accepted explanations. Very often you will have an element of exploration in your research as you define the purpose and focus your research question down. Being flexible this approach enables you to focus down from a broad area of interest to a specific issue as you progress through the research process. Often you find that an area you wanted to concentrate upon does not offer enough for your dissertation/final project and you need to refocus, all is not lost as you can review the other elements you have covered and follow another route.
3.2 Descriptive research forms part of many dissertations/final projects but is not enough on its own as you are expected to do something with the data you collect in terms of analysing and evaluating it. The descriptive phase is very valuable in that it helps you produce a clear picture of the area of interest before you start collecting data.
3.3 Explanatory research sets out to identify causal relationships between variables.
A multi-method approach enables you to vary your research approach to fit the purpose of the different stages e.g. by gathering general data from interviewing to identify the key issues you will then incorporate into your questionnaire. Secondary sources can also be included, for example you could use questions from an existing questionnaire if they are relevant to your own research. It is essential to ensure that you make appropriate reference to the source and also discuss any strengths or limitations.#p#分页标题#e#
Triangulation of results enables you to check the data gathered by one technique with that obtained by another.
All approaches have inherent strengths and weaknesses, so the greater variety you use the smaller the ‘method effect’ (i.e. the error due to the research approach chosen) upon your findings. This means you will be reducing potential problems which could arise from using a single method. For example, after you observe students’ use of the library within the LCC you could then follow this with a self-completion questionnaire to obtain more detailed data from the individual students.
4. Reliability and Validity
4.1 Reliability in results will be achieved if the piece of research is repeatable either by the same researcher at a different time, or by another researcher on other occasions. There are two things that threaten reliability, ‘error’ and ‘bias’, and each of these can come from the subject or the researcher.
Subject error – can occur if you run your questionnaires at a particularly busy time in the term. Students may be tired and not really concentrate on the question asked, or be able to recall a particular advertisement. A way to avoid this is to choose a less stressed time to survey the students.
Subject bias – occurs when the students give you the answer they think you want to hear. If it is a potentially sensitive area of questioning you can reduce this effect by ensuring the data collected is anonymous and assuring the subjects of confidentiality.
Observer error – can occur if there is more than one researcher involved and questions are asked differently, for example by putting different emphasis on certain words. This can be reduced by using a standardised question sheet and response format.
Observer bias – comes from the researcher interpreting things differently to the way in which they were intended, e.g. a raised voice may be interpreted as threatening in one culture but not in another.
4.2 Validity asks whether the data we gather is really about what we think, e.g. is there a causal relationship between the amount of time you spend in the library and the grades you achieve on your course?
Concerns about validity fall into four main categories:
External validity – is it possible to generalise your research findings to other settings? e.g. is it possible to generalise from research undertaken in the Marketing School to other schools within LCC?
Content validity – do the questions in our questionnaire ask what we think they are asking? Are we asking students whether they go to the library or use the library? Gathering data on what they actually do in the library would be more relevant that simply asking if they go there.
Construct validity – do the questions fit into the area of interest in the mind of the student being surveyed? e.g. we are looking at ‘library use’.
Face validity – do the questions ‘look’ as if they are asking about library use?#p#分页标题#e#
Validity can be threatened by a number of things including ‘history’, ‘testing’ or ‘maturation’ (Robson, 1993).
History - If we are monitoring the library and find that there has been an increase in students coming in and borrowing books we need to ensure that there are no other factors which might have caused this increase such as the announcement of extended opening hours, or the imminent deadline for assignments.
Testing – If a reason given for the monitoring is that the college is thinking of reducing opening hours it may be that students have rallied around to ensure that use is high during this time so that the results show high usage.
Maturation – If the research is carried out over a long period of time it is very likely that there will be other reasons causing the students to use the college library, e.g. perhaps the local libraries have reduced their academic book stocks or have started charging for inter-library loans and students are therefore using the college library instead.
5. The Research Process
Keep a research log/diary from day one and make sure you note down things such as ideas you have had etc…, as at a later date they may become important. It is also essential that you keep details of the books you have read and any notes taken. It is dreadful to find yourself at the writing up stage and unable to locate the source of an important reference – it has happened to more than one person we know!
The key issues which dictate what you do and how you do it include:
- the purpose of your research (setting aims and objectives)
- the choice of research design
- methods of measurement
- data collection techniques
- sampling techniques
- data analysis
- writing up conclusions and recommendations (which link back to your purpose)
The timescale for the dissertation/final project process will have been handed out in class. These seven steps from Gill and Johnson (1997) will help you manage it:
- Identify the broad area
- Select topic
- Decide approach
- Formulate plan
- Collect information
- Analyse data
- Present findings
If you do not give enough thought and time to the first four steps then you will find that you have difficulties completing the research as you have a poor focus on what it is you are doing.
The process starts with a proposal of research ideas. The exact number of stages varies but will always include formulating and clarifying the topic, reviewing the literature, choosing a method, collecting and analysing data and writing up. The following model has been developed by drawing on references from a range of research methodology texts. (Bell 1993; Gill and Johnson 1997; Robson 1997; Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2000; Sharp and Howard 1996)
Figure 5.1 The Research Process (Hirst 2000)
5.1 The planning stage – producing your research outline
This is the initial stage of your research where you need to describe in sufficient detail what you are setting out to do and how you intend doing it. It is also important to flag up any issues of concern you might have about what you are intending to do. This is showing that you are being realistic and if you should need to modify your work as you progress you can build your discussion of this into the final document.
A key word for the planning stage is ‘flexibility’ as it is essential that you avoid committing yourself to something that cannot be modified should it be necessary. You will probably rewrite this many times before making a final decision. This is a normal part of the research process and a good thing to do as it helps clarify your thinking. You do, however, need to produce an action plan for the research and it is useful to identify milestones for undertaking and completing the various elements of the research. This should ensure that you give yourself time at the end of the process to review and revise the work. This is an essential part of your research and is to help you organise your ideas, formalise the process with your supervisor and undertake a preliminary review of existing literature. This is also a part of the individual learning process through which you will reflect on what you want to achieve.
The five points against which this outline will be reviewed are:
a) Proposal for Dissertation/Final Project Title, together with a 500-word outline of planned content
b) Evidence of initial literature searches, showing that industry information and academic material are available to make the topic feasible
c) Industrial or academic contacts have been made, demonstrating that necessary information from these sources can probably be obtained
d) Likely problems and solutions, showing that the student has thought through potential difficulties, and identified ways of circumventing them
e) Action plan for completion against the timetable set out for the relevant course mode, including each of the necessary stages (and time for Supervisor to review work)
6. Selecting a topic
Three major factors to consider when you choose your research topic are:
- what can you realistically achieve in the time available
- can you maintain your interest in the topic
- are data sources reasonably accessible
The first is obvious, you have a deadline that must be adhered to so you must ensure that what you set out to do is realistic and can be completed in the time available.
The second may be self-evident, but the experience of most people who have undertaken research for a first degree is that it is very difficult to motivate yourself if your interest has waned. It is suggested that you set parameters within which you will work, e.g. by researching within your chosen pathway area or even using a previous assignment topic as the foundation for the work. Investigate the completed dissertations/final projects in the library to see if there are any ideas there. Alternatively you could have very clear ideas of the course you want your career to take and decide to undertake a piece of research which doubles up as preparation for your move into the working world.#p#分页标题#e#
The third is where you have to find the balance between secondary sources of published work (surveys, case studies etc) and your own assessment, together with your supervisor, of you conducting primary research. These three elements will strongly influence the content and structure of your research plan.
To help you here is a useful model adapted from The Management of a Student Research Project (Ed 2) by Sharp and Howard (1996)
Figure 6.1 The process of topic selection
It is essential to focus as quickly as possible, something which can prove difficult if you have either too much information or not enough at the outset. The more you read around the subject the more opportunity you will see, but do not panic if this leads to you increasing your ideas and not being able to decide. It is common to find that the subject of your research is constantly refined and the objectives firmed up as you go through the research process. What is essential is that you take a systematic approach to your research from day one so that if you need to refocus you can see how you got to your present situation and what went before.
Once you have agreed the broad area of study with your supervisor you can then use this model to focus down or your research area. As you have limited access to your supervisor you need to ensure that you book your sessions with them in order to manage the process within the timescale. You can benefit from their experience at this stage as they can advise whether your ideas are realistic and appropriate.
Another issue you need to consider is that of access to your chosen population/sample. Often companies are reluctant to give information to students, other than in the form of publicity materials etc… which will not necessarily focus on your area of interest. Many students who choose to do research in their place of work find that they are well supported and even encouraged to complete the study and then share their findings with the company.
A third issue is the availability of literature about your chosen subject. If you are looking at a relatively new topic such as the effectiveness of marketing on the internet it is likely that little will be published on the subject. You will, however, be able to look at existing marketing theory, for example, to consider whether it is applicable to this new medium.
Finally, you cannot begin without being honest and realistic about your own skills for gathering, analysing and interpreting data, and your ability to manage the process and write up your work in an appropriate format. If you can identify with these things then we are ready to move on to the research proper.
7. Literature Review
In addition to reviewing the literature to help you decide on your topic a large part of the completed dissertation/final project will be dedicated to an in-depth review of published materials relating to your subject area. Another important element of the dissertation/final project is the methodology section which will also require you to undertake a review of academic sources in order that you can justify your choice of research method and discuss it in some detail.#p#分页标题#e#
There are a number of ways to manage this but the key is to keep sufficiently detailed notes to enable you to return to a text, journal article etc… should you need to do so. It is during the initial review of literature that you will decide to follow a certain route and abandon another. If in a few weeks time you find that the route you have chosen is not feasible then you can return to your literature and consider the options you left at that previous stage, avoiding the horrible situation of having to start from scratch all over again!
It is also possible to identify successful models in current use and examine them in light of your own research question. Often one text will refer to an earlier work and you need to note this so that, should you need to, you can go back to that earlier item and review it. This way you are keeping track of the route you have followed through the literature. One good way to keep these records is to use index cards (either on the computer or manually) so that you can go through them and find your source. By setting up a list of key words you can start to organise your material immediately.
Other useful sources are company documents, government White Papers, the trade press, magazines and journals, quality newspapers and of course the internet. There are several good examples of how to map the process in Sharp and Howard (1996) using flow charts to show how you progress through the literature.
The School style uses the Harvard System for presentation of the bibliography.
It may seem a bit premature to start to put your bibliography together but begin immediately by setting up a file to collect all the details as you go – it saves hours of stress and upset at the writing up stage. If you start with two sections (1) a list of general books, articles etc… and (2) references which give details of the specific items you have used in your research then you will have fewer problems during the research in finding the source document should you need to do so. For your own records it is also useful to keep a note of where you found the item, particularly useful if you are using more than one library, and the shelf reference so that you can find it again should you need to do so.
Quotes should be recorded in full and details of the page number logged in your record. In this way if you have used only part of a quote you can go back to check context etc… if you need to.
Referencing in the body of the text is easiest if you put the name of the author and date in brackets after the item e.g. (Yin, 1981). The full details of the book or journal article will then appear in the bibliography at the end of the dissertation/final project.
When recording items from the internet you need to note the date you accessed the site and the full address of all material so that should you need it the details are to hand. If the details are available it is also suggested that you show when the site was last updated. If you are adept at using the net you will flow painlessly from one site to another but beware, you need to keep track of how you got there in case you need to return! Make a point of bookmarking every site you stop on so that you have a record of the links between them. Also note which search engine you used as often the same keywords will start a different route and this can be very disconcerting.#p#分页标题#e#
It is also useful to print off the subject tree so that you can see what the options were before you moved on.
8. Setting Aims and Objectives
When setting objectives it is necessary to consider whether the purpose of the research is to describe or explain the area of investigating. This will generate a series of research questions or hypotheses http://www.ukthesis.org/Thesis_Tips/Proposal/which will be used to drive the process forward and give the framework to ‘measure’ the results. The objectives will be operationalising the research by setting out what you are doing and what you hope to achieve. These will be returned to throughout the dissertation/final project as you link what you do back to your initial plans, and forward through the research process to the final outcome in your conclusions and recommendations.
9. Sources and Types of Data
9.1 Primary Data is collected by the researcher using methods such as questionnaires, interviews and observation.
9.2 Someone else has collected secondary data and you refer to it and use it in your research. This can be collected from books, journals, company documentation, Mintel reports etc… Often you will find material during the literature review that can be included as secondary data. If for example you are looking at consumer purchasing patterns for a particular shampoo with the hypothesis that such purchases are stimulated by the use of media personalities in advertising, you could use financial information from the companies annual report showing an increase in sales over a certain period and discuss this in light of the advertising campaigns being run at that time to test your hypothesis.
The choice of data source will depend upon the purpose of your research, and also the access you have to primary sources. One issue with using secondary data is that of validity, if the data was collected for one purpose and you use it for another it is essential to make reference to this fact to show that you understand any shortcomings of the conclusions drawn. In addition if you have not collected the data yourself you have had no control over the sample, or the methods of collecting and recording the data. Always check if you can the methods used for sampling, data collection and the date of the survey.
9.3 Quantitative data can be classified in two ways, by attributing a value on a numerical scale to each item and quantifying it, or by category or rank order which give no measurement details.
Quantifiable data have a measured numerical value, the number of years a student has been studying at LCC is classified as continuous data. Discrete data would include individual assignment grades.
Categorical data by comparison falls into two groups – placing students into course categories would produce descriptive (nominal) data, whilst ranked (ordinal) data would show their position amongst the students on the course, often by using the discrete data of the assignment grades to do so without showing what those grades are.#p#分页标题#e#
9.4 Qualitative data is usually gathered for research which is exploratory in nature, and based upon small samples, to gain an understanding into the area of interest. The data collected can describe the respondents’ feelings, attitudes, behaviour, values, motivation or perception towards your subject matter. For example you could find out what the students think of the library in terms of quiet study areas, seating and book stocks in an attitude survey. Another way in which qualitative data can be used is to describe causal relationships between variables such as the number of students who stay and study in the library and the seating available.
Qualitative data can be collected using direct methods in surveys such as interviews and focus groups to gather the respondents’ views. This semi- or unstructured approach requires you to have a very sharp focus on what your research is about so that you can identify the relevant comments. Methods used to analyse the data include conversation analysis and content analysis which enable you to identify ‘patterns’ in the data.
Research can also take an indirect approach where the purpose of the study is not disclosed. A common method uses projective techniques such as showing the respondent an image and asking them to describe what they see. Questions about association or completion can be used to guide them after their initial response to ensure you stay focused.
The first stage in sampling is to choose the target population that you intend to investigate. It would be impossible to survey the entire student population of LCC for your dissertation/final project so you need to consider how to get a representative view from a smaller number of students. To do this you need to consider whether you take a probability sample or a non-probability sample.
There is no set rule about how many cases you need to include but a good rule of thumb is 30 (Economist, 1993) for each category as this provides you with a large enough sample to be able to break it down into smaller sub-samples if required, and also to perform statistical analysis.
10.1 Probability sampling requires you to use a sampling frame from which you can draw a random sample for your research. We could work with a sampling frame in the form of the full listing of students attending LCC. Remember, however, that if the list is incomplete then the sample you draw may not be representative of the whole population. The sample size needs to be large enough to provide data which you can analyse and draw generalisations from, obviously the larger it is the more accurate your data. As you have neither the time nor the resources to investigate every student we would use a random quota.
You need to collect enough data which can be analysed using the methods you have chosen and which will produce meaningful results. As we have several different Schools within the college if you are wanting to generalise the findings to the whole College you would have to ensure that you have sampled from every School. To do this the most common approach would be to take a Simple Random Sample from each School list, perhaps making the profile more accurate by proportionate sampling so that the bigger the School the more students you survey.#p#分页标题#e#
A Stratified Sample would be drawn if you decided to group the students by School and course and then draw a random sample from each. By doing this you will be able to make statements which are more representative of those strata but not necessarily of the whole population.
A Cluster Sample is slightly different in that we could choose to sample students at the E&C site who are on three particular courses. Data would be collected from all the students on those courses but this data would be less representative of the whole population than that collected using the previous methods.
10.2 A quota is the usual method of non-probability sampling used in
research and is particularly useful in the pilot stage to test the questions etc… Having collected the student lists you would decide to sample a given number from each course/year and set out to interview that number of students. This is the most common sampling technique used in market research where companies want to gather information about certain consumer groups. The researchers interview individuals who fit the criteria of their brief, every wondered why you are not stopped in the street when everyone else seems to be?
A purposive sample is drawn when you use your judgement to decide who you will ask to participate in the research – if you are looking to get information about the use students make of the library you might decide to speak to one group of students you often see there, and another group who you know go there less often. This way you will be getting data from two ends of the continuum of library use.
We often find ourselves working with a self-selecting sample, such as your friends and colleagues who offer to be interviewed for your research because they have a view they would like to express.
Closer to home we may even have a convenience sample if we choose the students in our class because we have access to them.
At the pilot stage a non-probability sample is acceptable but you need to refer to the fact that findings from such a sample will be less representative than those from a probability sample.
11. Data Collection
There are a variety of data collection methods including questionnaires, interviews and observation.
Figure 11.1 – A systematic approach to data collection
This model adapted from Reeves and Harper (1981) shows how to approach data collection in a systematic way and is useful as a framework for identifying the method(s) to be used.
The most common tool used in surveys is the questionnaire, whether in the form of a self-completion document where no researcher is present, or a structured interview where questions follow a given sequence and the interviewer records the responses. This method enables you to collect a large amount of data relatively quickly and cheaply. It is useful for gathering descriptive or explanatory data as the questions are standardised and responses are codified to enable analysis.#p#分页标题#e#
The way in which the questionnaire is administered will determine its design. There are two approaches; both are governed by the amount of contact between researcher and subject.
A self-administered questionnaire can be posted or delivered and collected by the researcher. Handing out your questionnaire in the library and collecting it from students as they leave without any further interaction is an example of this.
A structured interview with a subject either in person or on the telephone is considered an interviewer-administered questionnaire. The questions and response categories are designed in such a way that the subject can choose a response that is unambiguous, a good example of this is the use of a Likert Scale for attitude surveys where a range of responses is identified.
One of the difficulties in using questionnaires is to actually produce questions that ask what you want. By piloting your questionnaire you can quickly see if it is understood in the way you intend. If not you can use the feedback to refine the questions and then try again. Go back to your research aims and objectives and ensure that the questions you are asking really do match them and will produce findings that fit your purpose.
Another difficulty with self-completion is that many people simply put the questionnaire in the nearest rubbish bin as it is handed to them. A few words as you distribute them, and an indication that you are sitting at a nearby table to collect them may help you get more returned. Another useful alternative is to use e-mail questionnaires, a method which has produced excellent results recently, both in terms of speed and response rates.
The questions themselves can be open or closed, the former are much more difficult to analyse as they give the respondent a space to write whatever they feel. A suggestion would be to have mainly closed questions seeking Yes/No answers, or use a Likert scale for responses so that statistics can be drawn and trends identified from the data. A few open-ended questions at the end would give the respondent space to put their own views. These may prove useful if you have some interesting trends emerging from the tightly controlled questions which are not understandable from those questions alone.
To rank qualitative data such as variables or attributes in a survey you could use Kelly’s Repertory Grid.
A good place to start in the design of your questionnaire is to look at some that have already been used – if your research is similar to some previous research why not use the subject categories. Not only does it help you produce your own research instrument but it might be possible to make a comparison of your findings with those already existing to enhance your own piece of work. In this way you will be demonstrating not only that you can undertake your own research, but also that you are making reference to existing literature.
If the questionnaire layout is confusing then you results will be confused. If you think it is necessary have a short section at the beginning explaining exactly how you want the respondent to proceed.#p#分页标题#e#
The sequencing of the questions is important also, ensure that they flow logically through the areas of interest so that the respondent can follow the train of thought. Start with those questions which are easily answered and then move on to more complex ones in the middle of the questionnaire, ending with a few simple questions so that the respondent does not end worrying whether they answered the last question well. You need to ‘warm up’ the respondent so a few questions to gather personal details always help to break the ice. You may find that all the students in the library on a particular day fall into a narrow age band that is not representative of the student body as a whole and this has skewed you results.
A structured interview follows a similar outline; questions at the beginning should be relatively easy to answer with the more complex ones following on. Explain to the respondent how you will be recording their answers, you could show them the sheet you are recording on to explain the Likert Scale etc…
An interview is defined as ‘a purposeful discussion between two or more people’ (Kahn and Cannell, 1957) and can help you collect data which are both reliable and valid. One way to distinguish between the various types of interview is to consider the degree of structure and formality. Structured interviews have already been covered in the section on questionnaires. This section will consider semi-structured and unstructured interviews.
Semi-structured interviews are based upon a set of guidelines which set out themes and general questions. As the interview proceeds it is possible that some themes will be relevant and others not. Some questions asked may receive a negative response; if there are subsequent questions based upon a positive response then these will be left out. It may be that the interviewer has to ask more questions to clarify their understanding of an answer already given, all within the framework of the research focus.
Unstructured interviews are informal and are used to explore the research area in depth. There are no preset questions although the interviewer has a very clear idea of what the research area is and ensures that the respondent stays focused. The in-depth responses are very useful if the research is trying to determine the underlying reasons why one student uses the library and another does not. Recording these interviews can be very difficult, one useful method is to use a tape recorder and then produce a transcript after the event. Note-taking during the interview can halt the flow and reduce the quality of response if the interviewer frequently stops the respondent to check on the notes. It is possible to go back to the respondent with a copy of the transcript to check your understanding of what they said if necessary, and this type of follow-up is accepted practice.
A popular approach is to facilitate a group discussion, in a group interview or focus group, where you set the subject area and let the participants ‘talk’ amongst themselves. The objective is to identify key issues arising from this discussion. It must be said that this is an extremely difficult research method to use well as the facilitator has to balance the control of the event whilst giving the participants freedom within the discussion.#p#分页标题#e#
Many research projects can involve observation of the sample, for example you could choose to observe students in the library over a period of time to determine what the facilities are used for and the level of use. There are two main approaches, participant and structured observation, which produce either qualitative or quantitative data.
Participant observation takes place where the researcher is fully integrated into the environment, such as you would be in the College library. The level of immersion in the context can be managed and the researcher can take one of four roles during the observation.
- a complete participant does not reveal to the others that they are doing research, be careful there are ethical issues surrounding this approach.
- an observer as participant takes the role of a spectator and is able to make notes as the situation develops. Those involved understand they are being observed and their actions evaluated.
- a participant as observer is involved in the activity and everyone is aware of their role. This permits the ‘emotional involvement’ in the situation that the other roles do not, but it is possible that this might cloud the researcher’s viewpoint and the results would not be subjective.
- a practitioner-researcher best describes the students who are undertaking research for their dissertation/final project in their place of work, they have access to the location and are often supported by their employer to do the research. Common problems encountered with this role are that either the employer wishes to determine what research is done, or they want a copy of the completed research document. The latter may require that you write two versions, one for your dissertation/final project and one that you can safely show your employer.
Collecting data can be difficult if you have not carefully prepared for observation. Simple tally counts of students entering and leaving the library will cause no problem, but how do you determine what they spend their time in the library doing? Do you try to observe all the students in the library at any one time or choose an individual and follow them around? Trying to do observation in conditions which are dynamic is problematic but with a good strategy it is possible. If, for example, your subject gets up and leaves the library what do you do?
It is best to have a category on your observation sheet, should the person return later you could pick up their sheet and continue if it is appropriate.
A major problem with observation is avoiding judgements based upon your own perceptions of what is going on, try to remain subjective and simply record what you see in the first instance, then use supporting evidence from other methods to evaluate those records.
Structured observation is most frequently seen in the systematic work-study approach where data is collected on how often events occur with no consideration of why they occur. It would be possible to incorporate such an activity into your research if, for example, you were to give a set of subjects a self-completion diary for them to monitor the time they spend in the library and the things they do when they are there. For the data to be both valid and reliable you need to set out clear instructions on how to record activities and explain any coding you may have included. One problem could be that you have not considered everything that might happen in the library and the respondent has no code to record their actions. The diaries could be issued and collected on a specified day and the data analysed to identify trends both of individuals and between students. If the purpose of the research is simply to identify use, rather than explain it then this would be an appropriate strategy.#p#分页标题#e#
A key point to remember is that the best research combines a variety of methods of data collection, so that findings can be triangulated to see if there is evidence of consistency in results from the different approaches.
12. Data Analysis
Once you have collected all your data you have to do something with it. This has to be considered right at the beginning of the research process so that you are collecting the right data in the correct format for the method you intend using for analysis. It is necessary to organise and structure the data in order to reveal ‘something’ you can then discuss in your findings.
12.1 Analysis of quantitative data can be done using a variety of statistical methods. The simplest of these is a frequency table which will show how responses are distributed amongst the categories in your questionnaire. Even the most complex analysis is now achievable using one of the statistical computer programmes available.
A correlation technique would be appropriate if the purpose of the research is to identify any patterns in relationships between variables, whilst a cluster analysis would enable you to classify data.
Description of your data can focus on the dispersion of the values or their variation from the central tendency. It is important that you understand the difference between the mode, mean and median and that you can discuss range and standard deviation in your findings.
To examine in detail the relationship between two variables you need to use a statistical analysis technique such as Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation which evaluates the strength of the relationship. Using Spearman or Chi-square you can test whether there is any significant relationship between the two variables.
A regression will show the strength of the cause and effect relationship between variables, for example do your grades increase in proportion to the time you spend in the library and the number of books you take out on loan?
The way that you present your data analysis will depend upon the technique you have used, but a bar chart or pie chart is much more attractive than a table of figures and the reader can immediately identify the most frequent response and any relationships between different variables.
12.2 Qualitative data is more difficult to analyse although the techniques applied to quantitative data can also be used. If you have collected a number of student questionnaires you could undertake a content analysis of the open question section to see if they have aired similar/different views. These will be in their own words but you will be able to identify links between, for example, positive responses and evaluate them accordingly.
The presentation of this data is based on classification and recognising relationships between them. The units you are working with could be the sentences you have taken from the questionnaire which all relate to a given topic. If you find that many sentences fit into a few categories then review them to see if there are any other words you could use to sub-divide these categories to make the results more meaningful. For example if a high proportion of students respond positively to a question about the library facilities look to see what it is they give as evidence, the book stock, environment, subject knowledge of the librarians etc… and break the analysis into smaller categories.#p#分页标题#e#
13. Writing Up
Not all dissertations/final projects take the same form and it is difficult to cover all possibilities in these guidelines. You should, therefore, use your discretion in following this guide and if you have any concerns seek advice from your supervisor.
The first piece of advice is to start writing as soon as possible, that way you are managing the process from the outset. There is no reason at all why you should not write the literature review and methodology sections as you are working through the research, and the sooner you can show your supervisor something the sooner you get some meaningful feedback from them.
13.1 Practical aspects of writing style
The dissertation/final project should be presented in the manner of a formal research report, such as is to be found in professional journals. There should, however, be more information on methods used and a fuller review of the literature. Raw data, statistics and tables which provide background material to that given in the main body of the text should be included as appendices.
Page numbers should start with either the contents page or the first page of text and should include any Appendices and the Bibliography. Numbers should be in Arabic and centred at the bottom of the page. Typing or writing should be on one side of the paper only, in 1.5 or 2 line spacing with sufficient margin on the left-hand side to allow for the binding of the document, as shown in this guide.
Quotations which are over four lines long from the work of others should be single-spaced and indented. If you make any alteration to the original statement, enclose it within square brackets [ ]; if you omit anything, show this by using three dots. Capital letters etc… should appear as in the original if your are copying something that has appeared in print elsewhere. If you wish to emphasise something that was not emphasised in the original (for instance by underlining, or using italics) you should show in the text immediately after the quote (emphasis not in original).
Titles or books, articles, films etc… when discussed as subjects in the text should either be in italics or underlined. The same applies to foreign words and phrases, although the use of these should be kept to a minimum.
When making reference to someone else’s work it is usual to put their name and the date in brackets after the statement e.g. (Robson, 1993). Avoid using footnotes and collate the reference items at the back of the completed dissertation/final project in the bibliography.
It cannot be emphasised enough that in a formal piece of written work grammar and spelling area extremely important, be consistent in the use of tenses and use the spellcheck facility. It is strongly advised that you ask someone else to read your work as often you become too close to the subject matter to see these things. Ensure that you write in the third person singular throughout, e.g. ‘the research’ not ‘my research’.#p#分页标题#e#
13.2 Dissertation/Final Project layout
The following is the usual order of elements in a dissertation/final project –
List of Tables and Figures
Main body of the Text:
Research Questions and/or Hypotheses
Results and Findings
In Appendix 1 there is a copy of this to see if you have missed any sections out as you work through the document.
The following gives more details about what each section consists of:
Title page: This should have a balanced appearance and show:
- the title, which should be Correct - Complete - Comprehensive - Concise
- the full name of the author
- the qualification for which the dissertation/final project is being submitted
- the name of the Institution
- the name of the School or Department
- the month and year of submission
Acknowledgements: It is a courtesy to mention help given by anyone who has provided significant help or facilities during the research. If your employer, colleagues or librarian have been helpful then this is the place to say so.
Abstract: A summary of no more than two sides of A4 indicating the main points and conclusions in the order they are found in the main body of the dissertation/final project. It should also mention the method, techniques and equipment used and be in complete sentences i.e. not in note form or bullet points.
Contents Table: A list of the chapters and their main subdivisions, as well as the number of the page on which each begins. Peripheral items, such as acknowledgements, appendices and so on should also be shown. Page numbers appear on the right-hand side of the page.
List of Tables and Figures: It is usual to list tables before figures. It is helpful both for author and reader if table and figure numbers relate to the relevant part of the text. e.g. the first table in chapter three might be labelled as 3.1
Abbreviations: Any technical abbreviations or terms need to be explained when they are first used in the text. If they are repeated throughout it is useful to provide a list at the beginning.
Main Body of the Text: Although there are no rigid rules for the text a common format is –
Introduction: Introductory chapter to what the topic is and why it is of interest
Literature Review: a discussion of existing publications, mainly academic texts and journals
Research Questions and Hypotheses: Identify the gaps your literature review has revealed, or where findings are unclear or contradictory. Set out exactly what it is you are doing.
Methodology: This should include an explanation of, and justification for your research design; research objectives or hypothesis; the research methods you are using and the advantages and disadvantages of the research methods; sampling approach; limitations of your approach; and any ethical issues.#p#分页标题#e#
It is very important to explain what you did, how you did it, why you did it in that way and any limitations and ethical issues surrounding this. You also need to explain how you analysed the data. You need to demonstrate you have taken a robust approach and the data is reliability and valid.
Results and Findings: What have you found from the qualitative/quantitative research? A discussion of these findings will link them back to the questions or hypotheses you posed at the beginning. What have you learned about them through the research you have undertaken? What qualifications need to be made in light of any methodological inadequacies? What new theoretical foundations are suggested?
Conclusions: Draws the main points together in summary form and offers suggestions for future work. This is where you will refer back to your research objectives and show that you have met them. Ensure that you link back to the literature.
Using a format such as this allows you to divide the writing up into smaller, more manageable units, and makes it possible to see how all the pieces fit together.
Chapter headings should preferably be short, descriptive and to the point. It is usual to assign Arabic numerals (1,2,3 etc) to chapters and number sections as sub-sets e.g. 1.1 Illustrations, tables and figures must be clearly labelled and should also relate to their position in the text.
Appendices: Any raw data, statistical computations and other items which cannot easily be placed in the main body of the text e.g. interview guides and transcripts, examples of blank questionnaires and covering letters but not all the completed ones, data summaries, computer printouts. Include any correspondence and documentation relevant to the way in which the research progressed.
As a guide you would normally expect to include all of your interview transcripts in your appendix as evidence that you have conducted the primary research and so the markers can look at how you have analysed your data. If you would prefer not to print them all out due to their length, you could include them as electronic files on the CD and indicate in your contents page that they on the CD.
If you are doing quantitative data you would normally include your data file in Excel or SPSS on the CD. There is no need to print out the actual pages of data inputting. However, you would normally want to include the tables generated from SPSS in your appendices.
Some students will conduct interviews in a language other than English. We do not have a policy on whether you have to translate everything into English.
You have two choices, to translate them all into English and then analyse the data in English. For many people this is the ideal approach as you are working in one language throughout your project. You should in this instance discuss in your methodology the limitations of working from a translation and of course mention the advantages of taking a cross-cultural approach.#p#分页标题#e#
If you wish to translate parts of your transcript or analyse the work in the original language and then translate into English you may. As with the first approach there are pros and cons of doing this. You should discuss this with your supervisor to agree as to how you are going to analyse the data and should, in your methodology discuss the advantages and challenges of conducting, transcribing and analysing data in different languages. This will be particularly important if you are undertaking interviews in more than one language.
Bibliography: All sources (written or unwritten) which were consulted during the course of the research. This can be split into two sections; references are those sources which are actually referred to in the text; other sources contains the items of general background reading which were found to be useful in formulating your ideas during the course of the research but were not referred to directly, as well as other publications which expand or develop the ideas presented. Normally students just put in the sources they have cited from, but you have an option to include both.
It is essential throughout the dissertation/final project that you make reference in the text to any figures or tables shown. The same applies to Appendices. If there is no reference to them, take them out as they serve no purpose.
Length of your work
Your work would normally be 12,000 to 15,000 words. We would recommend that you work towards the upper end of this limit. This word count does not include words in tables, figures or their titles, references, the bibliography or quotes, however, we don’t expect students to use this as a way of disguising and over-long MA project. One of the skills when analysing qualitative data is to be able to reduce it to themes supported by short quotes, or if you are taking a quantitative approach to present it in tables and draw together your arguments succinctly.
13.3 Final document submission
Two copies of the dissertation/final project together with a copy of the text on a CD is to be submitted by the due date to the School Office. Supplementary evidence such as videos, photographs, artefacts etc must be carefully protected and clearly labelled.
Under no circumstance can an extension be given for hand-in of this piece of work. The regulations give full details of the procedure to be followed by the School in the event of late submission.
13.4 Feedback on your work
All EMCA FMP submissions are double blind marked. Your supervisor will mark one copy and your tutor will mark the second copy. In occasional circumstances, for example if agreement cannot be reached by the first and second markers, a third marker will be brought in as an independent person. The FMPs are also seen by the External Examiner who reads a sample from the whole cohort.
Students will receive written feedback on their work and the final agreed mark. The FMP, like other units is marked against the learning outcomes that can be found in the course handbook. It is also graded in the same way as other coursework, with marks of 85% and above awarded distinction. All marks have to be ratified by the Exam Board and remain provisional until this time. The mark sheet will conform to the format used by the SCE.#p#分页标题#e#
Structure of the dissertation/final project
List of Tables and Figures
Main body of the Text:
Research Questions and/or Hypotheses
Results and Findings
Assignment Title Final Major Project
Type of Assignment A completed project and agreed outcome of a critical and evaluative report of the equivalent of 15,000 words
Plagiarism When submitting work for assessment, students should be aware of the UAL guidance and regulations in concerning plagiarism. All submissions should be your own, original work.
You must submit an electronic copy of your work through Turnitin on Blackboard. If you fail to do so your work will not be graded. Please make sure that you submit your work through Turnitin as one document only.
Harvard Referencing The Harvard Referencing System must be used. Failure to provide a reference’s section and failure to complete the student feedback sheet will result in your work being referred. The Wikipedia website must not be referenced in your work.
On successful completion of this assignment you will be able to:
• plan, design, research, and deliver a self-managed project of a complex nature
• synthesise theoretical and practical issues that have been addressed during the course
• present a rigorously researched, scholarly and contextualised outcome, related to your own practice, in an appropriate format of your own choosing
• execute a project of your own design to a high level conclusion within a specified time frame
• critically evaluate the results of your own work.
Grading Criteria Please see separate Assignment Grading Criteria 2009 sheet for this Assignment.
Through the selection and execution of an extended and complex project, this assignment offers you the ability to demonstrate your knowledge, skill and ability to apply enterprise and management theory to the successful execution of creative concepts.
Meta skills required include the ability to define issues to be addressed by the project; research skills to develop the project; analytical and evaluative skills to be demonstrated throughout the project and the ability to present findings in an appropriate and effective manner.
The specific learning objectives will be achieved in a number of ways:
• the project will offer you the opportunity to undertake a rigorous piece of work that will synthesise practical and academic issues that have been addressed during the course and are important considerations in the management of creative practice#p#分页标题#e#
• the work will need to take account of contextual issues and to draw upon appropriate theoretical concepts which could lead to appropriate enterprise and/or management solutions to a specific issue or problem
• the work should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the relationships and tensions which may occur in reconciling entrepreneurial, management and creative decisions, together with evidence of the application of appropriate knowledge and skill to achieve satisfactory results.
The intention of the final major Project is that it should reflect your own interests and to play a positive role in your professional development. For these reasons, selection of the topic is of vital importance. You have been encouraged to give thought to this on an ongoing basis as part of the development and execution of your individual journey through your postgraduate studies.
The Final Major Project is assessed through:
1) Your submission of the completed project, agreed outcome equivalent to a 15,000 word critical and evaluative report (100% contribution to the final MA award).
Preceding that there are two formative elements which support the process where you are required to:
• Submit your project title and any supporting rationale. You will receive feedback and guidance from your allocated supervisor about your project title and rationale.
• Submit an extended synopsis* at a point determined on the final major project timetable.
*Note Suggested dates to submit drafts of the Literature Review and the Research Methods chapters to your supervisor will be agreed separately. It is up to each individual student and their personal timetable, as agreed with their supervisor, to make provision for the delivery of these drafts and an extended synopsis. This will allow supervisors and their supervisees to work most appropriately to each project and the research methods chosen.
Delivery Please complete the Final Major Project and hand in TWO hard copies of your work to the School Office within their opening hours.
NB: These two documents must be bound robustly so that they can be placed in the library at a future time (if appropriate) and with the express permission of the student to ensure any confidential material has been cleared with the contributors for publication.
NB: You must also submit an electronic copy of your work (as one file) through Blackboard Turnitin before 4pm on the hand-in date.
Assignment Title Final Major Project
Type of Assignment A completed project and agreed outcome of a critical and evaluative report of the equivalent of 15,000 words
Grade Description of Achievement
85%+ An outstanding level of achievement which is exceptional in its achievement of the learning outcomes and demonstrates significant originality including:
An exceptionally well planned, designed, researched and delivered self-managed project of a complex nature.#p#分页标题#e#
The student will have demonstrated an excellent ability to synthesise theoretical and practical issues that have been addressed during the course through the selection of an appropriate topic and line of investigation.
The work will identify an excellent range of sources through the literature review and the student will have presented an appropriate chosen methodology and research methods which demonstrates a scholarly approach. The findings will be thoroughly discussed and the outcome of contextualised and related to the student’s own area of practice interest.
The student will have demonstrated an excellent level of self-reflection on the results of their work including the design, research limitations and the outcomes of the project.
The work will have been produced to an exemplary standard and in an appropriate format of the student’s own choosing.
The work will demonstrate an exceptional breadth and depth of reading beyond the well known sources for the selected field unit this will be evidenced through the accurate referencing both in the text and bibliography using the Harvard convention. The work will also be clearly communicated in an articulate manner with no grammatical errors.
70%-84% Overall a very good level of achievement deserving commendation but not distinguished by exceptional use of principles or significant originality in their application to the marking criteria.
A very well planned, designed, researched and delivered self-managed project of a complex nature.
The student will have demonstrated a very good level of ability to synthesise theoretical and practical issues that have been addressed during the course through the selection of an appropriate topic and line of investigation.
http://www.ukthesis.org/Thesis_Tips/Proposal/The work will identify a very good range of sources through the literature review and the student will have presented an appropriate chosen methodology and research methods which demonstrates a scholarly approach. The findings will be thoroughly discussed and the outcome of contextualised and related to the student’s own area of practice interest.
The student will have demonstrated a very good level of self-reflection on the results of their work including the design, research limitations and the outcomes of the project.
The work will have been produced to a very good standard and in an appropriate format of the student’s own choosing.
The work will demonstrate a breadth and depth of reading with a very good selection of material beyond the well known sources for the selected field unit this will be evidenced through the accurate referencing both in the text and bibliography using the Harvard convention. The work will also be clearly communicated in an articulate manner with no grammatical errors.
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