FOREWORD - overview of the Dissertation 'Capstone' Module

In definitional terms, a dissertation is a 'capstone' is commonly defined as "A crowning achievement; a culmination" (Wordnet). A capstone module (which is often described variously as a dissertation / thesis / research project / final project etc.) is found across most subject areas in most Universities in most EU Member States, as an integral part of first-cycle (Bachelor degree) and second-cycle (Master degree) qualifications, e.g. Silbergh has noted that, "More or less regardless of the educational system, at an advanced level of your studies you will be faced with the prospect of writing a dissertation for the first time" (Silbergh, 2001).

The capstone module acts as an integrative and culminating module and is central to the student being able to demonstrate the high-level skills and knowledge required to earn a degree-level qualification.

INTRODUCTION - overview of this booklet

Given the context for the Dissertation Capstone Module Project noted above, its main aim is undertake an in-depth investigation of a substantial issue or problem associated with International Business. To do this candidates will be required to draw on appropriate theories and methods in order to complete this largely self-managed project leading to an extensive piece of written work.

A general note on doing your dissertation

Dissertations take time, they are hard work, and they form a key element of programme assessment, moreover, your capstone project will be challenging and rewarding but will require you to work in a way that is both self-disciplined and intellectually demanding.

Most dissertations will be based upon the taught modules from your programme of study and draw on the academic knowledge and past experiences of others in your chosen field. As you develop your dissertation you will need to conduct a review of the literature in your chosen field and then choose to investigate in detail some of its specific themes, before collecting appropriate information and data and seeking to analyse and apply this to your chosen problem, having regard to the literature and to your own project aims. This process will not only require you to work in a way that is rigorous, but will also require you to be creative, to solve problems (both practical and intellectual) and develop your own approach to the management of your dissertation. Whatever types of problem you address in your capstone dissertation, the process of investigation is not likely to be easy.

Doing a dissertation will be challenging for you; however you will learn a tremendous amount while working on it. Completed dissertation capstone projects do not just materialise and, as it will represent a key element of your final degree award, do not underestimate its importance - as well as representing an advanced opportunity to demonstrate what you have learned throughout your studies the capstone module can also provide evidence to potential employers of your areas of competence and can form a basis for the potential development of future specialisms and expertise, whether in the workplace or through further study.

Overview of this booklet

Following on from this introduction, this booklet is structured as follows:

  • An overview of the general aims that are common to all dissertations and capstone modules;
  • A review of key issues associated with the supervision of dissertations;
  • An outline of the key criteria that will be used to assess your dissertation;
  • Some thoughts on how your dissertation relates to employability in a globalising world economy;
  • References and appendices.

International Business Dissertation: a General Context

International Business Research Methods and Your Topic

The International Research Methods module running over both Semester A and Semester B have been designed to encourage development of an appropriate topic for research. However, it is natural that his will be subject to refinement as you take the project forward with your supervisor.

The topic you choose must:

  • include issues and problems that are relevant to your programme of study;
  • relate to a theoretical base that you have knowledge of;
  • be restricted in scope to allow you to develop depth in your work;
  • be manageable in the timescale available to you.

As noted above, the chosen topic area must allow you to develop an analysis in depth. If you are finding it difficult to develop your thinking, the following are a few examples of how to identify a suitable problem to address in your dissertation:

& draw on themes and topics that you have explored in your studies so far;

& consult the literature and read widely;

& review past research for new areas to examine;

& ask lecturers and/or people in outside bodies for advice;

& brainstorm with classmates, listing as many ideas as possible.

THE SPECIFIC FRAMEWORK FOR YOUR Disseration

Specific issues that you must have regard to in relation to the specifics of undertaking your dissertation are as listed below.

MODULE AIM

Following from initial comment about the core purpose of the International Business dissertation:

· It provides the opportunity to deal analytically and creatively with complex issues through the application of appropriate techniques allowing an investigation into business and management issues.

· This requires a detailed awareness of a range of organisational data, research sources and appropriate methodologies. The execution and presentation of the dissertation will demonstrate self-direction, problem solving and high-level written communication skills.

MODULE LEARNING OUTCOMES

Learning outcomes reflect the academic rationale for a module and the intended achievement by students successful in the module in terms of knowledge, understanding and skills. Students successfully completing this module should be able to:

  • Investigate an appropriate research problem, having regard to existing scholarship;
  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of Knowledge about a critical awareness of competing perspectives on International Business;
  • Evaluate and apply appropriate research methods to meet the specified aim of the dissertation;
  • Demonstrate advanced skills in undertaking data analysis in relation to their international problem;
  • Present intellectually robust and evidence-based conclusions and recommendations.

TOPIC CHOICE AND APPROVAL

You are required to select a subject area and draw from it a dissertation title, aims and objectives. This is one of the most difficult phases of your research and one, which needs great consideration. The dissertation supervisor will be of assistance and the research proposal you developed earlier in the International Business Research Methods module (Sem A & B) will also help to clarify your thoughts.

The topic area you finally pursue must:

J include issues and problems that are specific to International Business

J relate to themes draw from the programme's modules

J be restricted in scope to allow you to develop depth, and carry out primary research

J be manageable in the time scale available to you.

In addition the issues you choose to base a dissertation on MUST:

  1. have a solid basis in the academic and research literature
  2. involve the collection and analysis of primary data

Normally, your dissertation will examine the issues outlined in the proposal developed for the International Business Research Methods module. This proposal will subsequently be refined by the student taking into account feedback provided on the marked proposal and the supervisor's expertise in the topic of investigation. The supervisor is responsible for the approval of the refined proposal, which will form the basis for the intended dissertation.

CONFIDENTIALITY

You may need to explain to potential contributors that all data gathered will be treated confidentially. If any dissertation collaborating organisation has provided confidential information, the dissertation may remain confidential. Check out the necessary procedures with your Academic supervisor.

GCU retain the right to require modifications to be made by the student and to require further bound copies to be submitted.

RESEARCH ETHICS ON HUMAN PARTICIPANTS

When planning any type of research involving human participants, it is the policy of Glasgow Caledonian University that staff and students should take account of ethical issues. Ethical scrutiny ensures that the individual rights of all research participants are given full consideration and that these rights are taken into account in a consistent manner according to agreed principles. Further, it acts as a safeguard for researchers who may occasionally face complaints from research participants. Finally, formal ethical scrutiny is a useful learning experience, which helps students engage in ethically sound practice whilst conducting research.

Students are cautioned that any investigation that involves human participants (such as employees of the case subject organisation) regardless of the data collection tools used, requires a serious consideration of the ethical domain. Such consideration should be reflected in the design and execution of the selected data collection tools and in the treatment of the data collected. Some issues that require attention include: the level of stress or anxiety that may be experienced by participants, the level of detail provided by the researcher concerning the study and the implications for the respective participants, the use of a consent form and the option for participants to decline involvement in the study, the opportunity for participants to withdraw at a later stage in the study, adherence to the Data Protection Acts, confidentiality and anonymity.

Students are further cautioned that when the intended investigation warrants a much deeper and more formal consideration of the ethical domain, the matter must be brought to the attention of the respective supervisor. Depending on the nature and scope of the study, in certain instances either internal (Glasgow Caledonian University Ethics Committee) or both internal and external ethical approval may be required prior to the commencement of the intended study.

Please see APPENDIX 4 for further details.

FUNDING

Please note that all expenses incurred in researching, producing, printing and binding your dissertation are your own responsibility.

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS DISSERTATION: SUPERVISION & OUTPUTS

This section focuses on both the supervision process for and the output requirements from the dissertation. Supervision involves providing academic guidance and support to students as they progress through the various stages of their project, with supervisors acting as a sounding board for ideas and commenting upon them. Supervision, "the most advanced level of teaching in the education system" (Connell, cited in Morrison et al 2007), is a fundamental component of a student's learning journey in such dissertation capstone projects. Supervision occurs in a relational context between supervisor and the student, with the supervisor supporting the largely autonomous learning of the student. Thus, supervision constitutes a partnership between the supervisor and the student, based on the professionalism, integrity and respect that is vital for effective learning, governed by an implicit or explicit contract, which operates throughout the supervision process (as represented in Figure 1 below).

Student - supervisor contract

A precursor to the 'contract', which as noted above can either be implicit or written, is for there to be a clear proposal in existence that explains the scope of the intended work, summarising the topic and focus of the dissertation project, the intended aim (or hypothesis), the approach / methods to be adopted and the value of intended output(s) from the project. The topic proposal, however generated, must come first as it will form the basis upon which the student - supervisor contract is discussed, refined and agreed. When finalising the student - supervisor contract particular attention will be paid to clarifying:

  1. the expectations of both parties as regards the supervision relationship;
  2. their respective roles and responsibilities;
  3. project details and work schedules;
  4. specific institutional / programme policies for the management of dissertations (e.g. the management of relationships with any external organisations);
  5. output criteria and requirements.

Expectation refinement

Expectation refinement is a process involving all relevant parties. In the case of a proposal by a student or an academic, discussion takes place between the student and academic supervisor. The 'contract' may be formal or informal, depending on local requirements but, regardless of its nature, it will normally address issues of topic definition and interpretation, the scope of the planned work, progress requirements and milestones and further details as appropriate including the management of supervisory processes, individual tasks and responsibilities, support for the student and availability of supervision, availability of resources, action plans, expected outputs and deadlines.

Roles and responsibilities

Given that autonomous learning is a key feature of the International Business Disseratation, the responsibility for learning is borne largely by the student, with the supervisor in a supportive role.

Output criteria

The output from the International Business Dissertation will be formal submission of 12,000 - 15,000 words. In addition, within the written thesis there are again diverse options: theory-supported empirical research; secondary source, review-based studies; and, conceptual or theory-based research.

Project conduct & progress

The agreed 'contract' will help guide the dissertation project to successful completion through: awareness of individual responsibilities; detailed understanding of the project remit and challenges; regular evidence-based discussions of student work; timely submission of required material by the student; and, timely feedback by the supervisor. In addition, supervisors are responsible for helping the student to comply with the applicable institutional regulations.

Project output finalisation

The finalisation of the output is a critical stage in the overall process and requires a high level of commitment and timely effort from all parties. The supervisor is required to review the penultimate draft, provide relevant feedback and caution the student if any element of the stipulated output requirements has not been addressed. The student is responsible for taking on board the final feedback received and amending the work accordingly for final submission. It is NOT permitted for the student to submit a final dissertation that has not previously been reviewed by the supervisor. There must be evidence of the student developing the text following the supervisors directions.

Assessment preparation

Given the multitude of potential dissertation outputs, varied arrangements may be required for assessments, which may include viva voce and student presentation to a team of internal and external assessors.

Advance notification of such requirement to the relevant parties should be provided by the supervisor in reasonable time.

Assessment and feedback

The staff concerned should ensure a fair and just assessment of the student. All submitted materials should be available for scrutiny and be assessed. Once any defence of the work is complete, the relevant parties (e.g. supervisor and mentor) should discuss with the student the performance on the output(s) and their defence of it. The aim of this feedback is to assist the student to draw lessons from and reflect on the learning gained through the process of the dissertation and link such insight into future learning and development needs (feed-forward).

The end of the contract

The student-supervisor contract concludes upon the successful completion of the dissertation, following the assessment, feedback and feed-forward stages.

THE SPECIFIC FRAMEWORK FOR YOUR DISSERTATION MODULE

Specific issues that you must have regard to in relation to the specifics of undertaking your capstone project in your institution are as listed below.

CONTACTS

For academic guidance on your dissertation please in the first instance contact your supervisor or the dissertation coordinator, Mr John Penlington.

GENERAL MODULE DETAILS

EXPECTATIONS REGARDING YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES

The responsibility for learning in this module is borne largely by the student. Successful completion of the module requires significant initiative and effort on the part of the student to be proactive and:

q Plan and organise proposed work

q Engage in extensive and relevant wider reading

q Initiate meetings and discussions with the appointed supervisor

q Engage in considerable contemplation, evaluation, synthesis and organisation of the information and /or evidence gathered

q Demonstrate maturity of thought, originality of ideas and contextual sensitivity

q Manage time effectively

DISSERTATION ORGANISATION AND MANAGEMENT

Managing your task to maximise the quality of the analysis, while staying within your available time and resources, is an important part of the research. Practical analysis is about professional realism, rather than idealistic perfection.

You will find that tasks can be divided into two types, the predictable and the unpredictable. The basic idea is to plan your work around the predictable tasks but leave a degree of slack to cope with that unpredictable mishap, or new development. Often we find it difficult to cope with huge amounts of information, or massive all-in-one tasks. An effective way of dealing with any task is to break the task into component parts and achieve each part separately to a specific target. These sub, or lesser tasks can be scheduled and rescheduled, worked on independently or simultaneously.

Other important elements to consider in managing and organising research dissertations are:

(i) Support systems

While doing research can be a lonely life it is essential that you establish who is responsible for various elements of your data collection and analysis process. These people are not going to do the dissertation for you but they will assist you. Find out who your subject librarian is, who your supervisor is, where computer facilities are available and who to seek assistance from in terms of equipment, software, printing materials etc.

It is essential you build informal links with other researchers to share problems and even bounce ideas off each other. While your dissertation will be unique, you should try to interact with various elements of the support systems to present your idea in a logical and professional manner.

(ii) Technology

As you may expect, technology plays a key role in the gathering, processing, and presenting of research data.

In terms of data collection the technology you have at your disposal is essentially Refworks, on line searches, CD-ROM - ABI inform, FAME, newspaper archives, etc., and the telephone. Many of these services are available in the library - see GCU home page and library sources. Contact the Library for tips on industry/company analysis.

To process information, computers are a must. Remember, there are many computer facilities in the University. A useful tip here is to decide on a computer software package and stick with it all the way through the dissertation. This allows you to write up as you go along and prevents compatibility problems in later research stages. In a similar manner, it is advisable to use software packages that allow easy printing. You will have access to University printers where available. It is your responsibility to produce, print, copy, and bind the dissertation. Remember this takes time; do not leave it to the last minute.

(iii) Time management

It is highly advisable to produce a time - target schedule in agreement with your supervisor, stating what is to be achieved and by when. Plan well ahead, build in some slack, but avoid duplicating or irrelevant tasks.

(iv) Filing systems

Create a filing system. In this system record everything - meetings, ideas, dissertation developments, data, models used etc. Organisation is the key, avoid time wasting. An effective and efficient filing system will allow you to identify how your dissertation has developed and expose key elements of your learning process.

(v) Abstracting

If you read an article, abstract it. This will save time in the later stages of your research when you have to find where quotes or references came from. In effect it saves you having to re-read articles unnecessarily. Why make extra work for yourself!

DATA COLLECTION

Data collection is of key importance to your research dissertation, its findings, and the resulting discussion. Weak or poor forms of data make results worthless no matter how well presented or analysed. Ideally, you must seek to balance your data sources to obtain the most relevant, reliable, accessible, and rigorous sources.

The basic sources of information available are as follows:

(i) Library: (Books, journals, CD-ROM, reports, etc.)

These are obvious sources of materials, but it is important not to lose yourself in a vast library search. Libraries are very seductive places, and all too often people pop into the library, and emerge several hours later with a glazed expression and a two-month reading list.

BE SELECTIVE in your reading, use your subject librarian to the full, and remember there is a plethora of libraries in Edinburgh and Glasgow you can use. See GCU Home Page.

(ii) Company Documents:

You are unlikely to get a hold of company documents through public sources unless the company is a PLC, in which case company accounts and reports will be available. If you are working in collaboration with a company on your dissertation they are likely to supply you with information which may be classified. REMEMBER all company information should be treated with great care as it is highly confidential. ALWAYS consult your supervisor as to the nature of such information.

(iii) Primary Research - Questionnaires, Interviews, Discussions:

The most common source of primary research data is the interview or questionnaire. If you plan to undertake formal surveys either by interview or questionnaire, remember that they raise many problems of design, sampling and analysis, as well as taking a considerable amount of time to do justice to. Read the literature on research methods and take advice before you begin. Also think how you will handle the data i.e. what statistics software package will you use? If you do this at the start it will save a lot of heartache later!

DISSERTATION PRESENTATION

The dissertation should include a signed declaration by the student confirming the originality of the work on a separate page following the title page as detailed below

"This dissertation is my own original work and has not been submitted elsewhere in fulfilment of the requirements of this or any other award"

Signature

Students are advised to retain all the data and materials relating to their dissertation until after they have graduated.

It is pointless spending hours gathering, and analysing data if it is not presented in a logical and understandable manner. The main body of the research should be approximately 15,000 words in length.

You may wish to structure the dissertation as follows: (remember this is only a suggestion. Structure your work in the way that best develops your analysis)

Title Page (SEE APPENDIX 2)

- University

- department in which work was conducted

- title of dissertation

- full name of author

- qualification/ programme title

- year of submission

Table of Contents

List of Tables, graphs, figures etc.

Acknowledgements

Abstract (Maximum 1 page)

Body of Text

- Introduction

- Chapters and sub sections (including aims, objectives and methods etc.)

- Conclusions

References

Appendices

Your dissertation will involve a significant element of primary data and the "body of text" may be structured as follows (please remember this is only indicative)

1) Introduction - Defining the research problem (10% of words or space)

This section will establish what the research problem is i.e. what it is you are researching. The section should set the scene and provide an academic rationale for the study. All key assumptions should be established and the section concluded with a clear view of what is being examined and why. The result should be an articulation of the aims and objectives of the research.

2) Literature review (25% of words or space)

This section will explore the relevant literature in the field. The emphasis of the section should be upon building a discussion of the available literature and comparing and contrasting the findings of previous work. From the literature review the researcher should draw out the key points from each author identifying points of agreement and disagreement and gaps in knowledge. It is important to demonstrate that the hypothesis or lines of inquiry that are to be pursued throughout the reminder of the dissertation are derived from the academic literature.

3) Research design and methods (10% of words or space)

This section should remind the reader of the aims and objectives of the research and highlight the research questions to be investigated. The section also provides the researcher with an opportunity to explain their overall research design and choice of research methods.

4) Implementation of the research (20% of words or space)

This section explains how the primary data for the study has been collected. Topics for discussion might include the sampling frame and research instruments e.g. the design of the questionnaire or interview schedule.

5) Presentation and analysis of data (20% of words or space)

This section has two core elements, presentation of the findings where data is presented and the analysis of the data. The latter will allow deeper discussion of key issues and concepts relative to the researchers identified research problem, e.g. what does the data suggest about the hypothesis being investigated or the research questions around which the study is organized. Data analysis lies at the heart of a strong dissertation.

6) Conclusion (15% of words or space)

This section should tie together the overall purpose of the research i.e. aims and objectives, with your findings. You must ensure that conclusions are valid and fully reflect the research data. Finally, the core points made in the dissertation can be reiterated and reflection or critique of the research approach and design can be undertaken.

References

References should be provided using the Harvard system and presented in alphabetical order. As an alternative to a reference section at the end of the document, the researcher may include references at the end of each chapter.

Appendices

Appendices are the collection of supplementary materials not presented in the core text.

Remember this is a guide, discuss with your supervisor to see what structure they recommend.

In terms of "hard" presentation of the dissertation

  • It is your responsibility to print, copy and bind the dissertation. One electronic and two hard copies of the research are required, both may be spiral bound.
  • The font choice is yours but it must be at least size 12 pt and double-spaced.
  • Only print on one side of the paper.
  • Leave a 40mm margin on the left-hand side to allow you to bind the research, with all other margins at least 20mm wide.
  • Number all pages consecutively with page numbers 10mm from the bottom edge of the page.
  • All figures and graphs should be numbered consecutively using the style 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 etc. relative to the chapter number, in this case chapter 1. (See Appendix 3)
  • All tables should be numbered with roman numerals I, II, III, IV etc. (Appx 3)
  • The "Harvard" style of referencing should be used. Please get a copy of the Citation Guide from the University library or library website. The work must be FULLY referenced.

If you are unsure as to the style or format of presentation please seek assistance from your supervisor.

FEEDBACK FROM SUPERVISOR

STOP! Think ............... have you achieved the aims and objectives you stated with? If not, what was the point of wasting the last few months? This is feedback!

Often, you become so attached to your dissertation that it is difficult to take a critical view. Keep in touch with your supervisor. The research should be such that an educated reader can understand the methods, approach, and depending upon the extent of technical language; the findings and discussion.

SUMMARY OF RESEARCH PROCESS (see Appendix 5 for more information)

The research process can therefore be summarised as:

· Select a topic area

¸ Formulate your aims and objectives, i.e. research questions

¹ Determine how you will achieve these aims and objectives & evaluate research methods

» Identify key sources of information

¼ Collect and collate all the data

½ Analyse results

¾ Discuss the relevant findings

¿ Pick out the key points that achieve the aims and objectives

À Identify areas of further study

? Acknowledge the limitations of the study

Remember - this is intended as a general guide - if in doubt - ask your supervisor.

SUPERVISION: MORE SPECIFIC COMMENT ON ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES - GCU GUIDELINES

The discussion in this section is based on the relevant Glasgow Caledonian University's guidelines.

The purpose of supervision is to provide academic guidance and support, and to act as a sounding board for, students as they progress through the various stages of this module. The Student-Supervisor relationship is based on professionalism, integrity and respect, and is vital for effective learning and successful completion of this module. The supervisor is there to assist and direct you in terms of research approach, suggested reading, alternative ideas, and general advice. The dissertation is the student's responsibility and is a means of demonstrating personal ability to complete independently a major piece of work with minimum supervision.

It is the responsibility of the student to maintain regular contact with the supervisor and thus be in a position to benefit fully from his/her experience and knowledge. It is important that the supervisor and the student have a shared understanding of the evolving dissertation, its strengths and weaknesses, areas that require further work and issues that remain outstanding. Achieving a shared sense of the dissertation's progress is no easy matter. To help bring this about the supervisor and student will jointly record meetings and their outcomes in the Supervision Meeting Summary Form. It is the student's responsibility to ensure that the form is completed and signed by both the student and the supervisor at the end of each meeting. SEE APPENDIX 1.

Supervisors are very busy people - make sure you agree a schedule of structured meeting and ensure you attend these meetings. If you have prepared a piece of work to be discussed at the meeting submit it to the supervisor a few days before the scheduled meetings to allow them to read the work and provide more thought out and constructive comments. Always keep your supervisor informed of all research developments and do not contact external institutions without the supervisor's knowledge.

Supervisors are expected to warn students where there is a possibility of the student failing the dissertation, or of not realising their full potential. However, acceptance of the dissertation by the supervisor does not necessarily imply that the work has achieved a standard warranting a pass. Additionally, supervisors must avoid raising a student's expectation of a particular classification and students should not be given any indication of the mark the dissertation is likely to be awarded. Students should be aware that the final mark awarded to a piece of submitted work is subject to both internal and external moderation; external examiners are entitled to either raise or lower marks awarded by internal assessors.

Students can only be allocated a supervisor for their dissertation following the submission of their Dissertation Proposal. Students are expected to make initial contact with their respective supervisors following allocation. The purpose of which is to agree a schedule of work for completing the dissertation by the submission deadline. Normally, the dissertation's scope, rationale and review of literature will be addressed during the preparation of the proposal and the collection and analysis of primary date is guided by the dissertation supervisor.

It is important that your supervisor is made aware of any problems you may be having with the dissertation and, in particular, anything which may lead to a late submission. Extensions to dissertations can not be granted without the approval of the Acting Programme Leader, John Penlington, and will only be considered if the student produces the required evidence - even then the request for an extension may not be granted. The evidence required takes two key forms. Firstly, a medical certificate covering the period when the dissertation was being undertaken, and secondly written support from your supervisor and evidence of significant progress made. If you need further advice on this issue please speak to the programme leader, John Penlington.

What supervisors expect of their students:

q student to be independent

q student to seek advice and comment on their work from others

q to have regular meetings with supervisor

q student to be honest when reporting on progress

q student to follow advice which has been specifically requested by the student

q student to be interested in the work

q student to take ultimate responsibility for the direction and content of the project

What students should expect of their supervisors:

q to read the student's work and be familiar with it

q to be available when necessary, and within reason

q to be friendly, open, supportive

q to give students serious attention during meetings

q to be constructively critical

q to have a good knowledge of the research area and to exchange ideas freely

q to be aware of future pitfalls in the research topic

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

Where a student believes that the service provided by his/her supervisor falls short of that required by the university, the relevant procedures are outlined below.

In normal circumstances, the supervisor would be the first point of contact to discuss issues pertaining to this module. However, should you experience problems that the supervisor is unable to assist with, or that you do not want to raise with the supervisor, you should contact at the earliest opportune moment either John Penlington dissertation coordinator (and Acting Programme Leader) Students are advised to contact the Dissertation Coordinator via e-mail to arrange a mutually convenient meeting to discuss any issues concerning this module.

Grievances should be brought to the attention of the Dissertation Coordinator, John Penlington, as soon as possible. Where the student's grievance relates to the standard of supervision, no appeal against the mark awarded for the dissertation/project will be entertained unless the student has initiated the grievance procedure prior to submission of the dissertation/project.

Please note that students intending to initiate formal grievance procedures on the grounds of perceived inadequate supervisory support must produce a written statement in support of their grievance using GCU's Complaint Form. Please refer to Glasgow Caledonian University's guidelines for further detail and documentation (accessible via website).

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS DISSERATATION: ASSESSMENT GUIDANCE

Assessment is a vital, indeed the vital part of the dissertation, and it is crucial that in this area students are properly informed of the criteria against which their work will be judged, the processes that will be used for assessment and the timelines concerned, with clear stipulation of the dates and times for all key stages of the process from the delivery of the capstone product(s) by the student to examination, marking, feedback and feed-forward.

Basic standards and considerations

1. The consequences of exceeding submission deadlines for dissertations must be clearly understood by the student. Unauthorised late submission of work equals an unfair advantage over other students.

2. Plagiarism is the most serious of academic offences and is defined here as: "Deliberate and substantial unacknowledged incorporation into student work of material derived from the work (published or unpublished) of another." Plagiarism is considered a very serious offence and may also involve violation of legal regulations. The consequences of findings of plagiarism will be severe.

3. Copyright - as with plagiarism, it is essential that students have regard to copyright legislation when preparing their work for submission, especially as regards the reproduction of diagrams, charts etc. Students also need to be clear in respect of institutional arrangements as regards where the copyright in their own work is vested - is it held by them personally? by the institution? by an external collaborating organisation? or, is there some joint arrangement in place?

  • The manner in which assessor(s) are selected and deployed must be clear to the student, regardless of whether it is an internal or external assessment that is to take place and, within the specified regulations and requirements to obtain a degree, there must exist clear criteria that are shared with students and which enable the assessor(s) to differentiate between grades awarded to capstone projects.
  • Students must receive a grade and credit after the assessment of their dissertation.
  • Assessment criteria - general

    Key criteria are listed below, and remember there will also be local criteria to meet.

    In general, the assessment of the International Business Dissertation will include evaluation of:

    1. The extent to which the student is able to provide an account of knowledge acquired within the subject area that their dissertation addresses. This will involve the assessor evaluating the student's work as[1]:

    § demonstrating an adequate and relevant knowledge of literature and of methods appropriate to the subject of investigation;

    § demonstrating a wide and detailed knowledge of literature and of methods appropriate to the subject of investigation;

    § demonstrating a systematic and comparative knowledge of literature and of methods appropriate to the subject of investigation.

    2. The extent to which the student is able to evaluate the knowledge acquired in completing their disseration project. This will involve the assessor considering the student's work as having achieved:

    § a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of individual theories and methods / approaches, using a literal, systematic technique;

    § a critical, comparative discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of a range of appropriate theories and methods / approaches, using a systematic technique;

    § a critical, comparative discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of a range of appropriate theories and methods / approaches, leading to evidence of an overall synthesis of understanding.

    3. The extent to which the student has been able to adopt knowledge and ideas (e.g. from academic and non-academic literature, from pre-existing evidence etc.) in shaping the design of their capstone project and in making sense of findings / analysing options. This will involve the assessor considering the student's work as:

    § embedding knowledge of a single approach in their project design to address issues and questions related to the subject matter of investigation;

    § demonstrating wider and more detailed knowledge of multiple approaches when developing their project design to address issues and questions related to the subject matter of investigation;

    § demonstrating a systematic and comparative knowledge of multiple approaches when developing their project design to address issues and questions related to the subject matter of investigation;

    § critically analysing the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches when developing their project design to address issues and questions related to the subject matter of investigation and proposing feasible solutions to these issues and questions;

    § critically analysing the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches when developing their project design, to address issues and questions related to the subject matter of investigation, building to the development of independent arguments in which the design is justified with clear reference to concepts / models / hypotheses and subsequently evaluated following the advancement of feasible solutions in a reflective fashion.

    4. The extent to which the student has been able to move from an explanation of findings / proposals to valid conclusions. This will involve the assessor considering the student's work as:

    § giving an account of their conclusions in an easily understandable way;

    § providing conclusions with reference to the existing knowledge and evidence base in a well-structured and efficient way;

    § providing conclusions with a clear explanatory (rather than descriptive) direction, building on the existing knowledge and evidence base;

    § providing conclusions which have the scope to require adaptation of the existing knowledge and evidence base and which may lead to the formulation of new concepts / models / theories.

    Assessment of the International Business Dissertation

    A Master degree can be awarded to a student who has, through their final submission:

    • demonstrated knowledge and understanding that is founded upon and extends and/or enhances that typically associated with the Bachelor's level in a manner that provides a basis or opportunity for originality in developing and/or applying ideas, typically within an academic research context;
    • been able to apply this knowledge and understanding and their problem-solving abilities in new or unfamiliar environments and within broader (often multi-disciplinary) contexts related to their field of study;
    • shown advanced knowledge of methodological issues, research approaches and methods;
    • shown advanced capabilities as regards integrating knowledge, handling complexity and formulating judgements with incomplete or limited information, include reflecting upon the social and ethical responsibilities that flow from the application of their knowledge and judgements;
    • communicated their conclusions, and the evidence base and rationale underpinning these, in a manner whereby specialist and non-specialist audiences can clearly and unambiguously comprehend them;
    • developed the learning skills to have allowed them to continue to study in a sustained manner that is largely self-directed and autonomous.

    Post-assessment

    Following-on from the conclusion of the disseration, it is important not only that students receive feedback from their supervisor but that they have an opportunity to provide feedback to the institution on their capstone project experience. This requires there to be mechanisms in place to secure feedback from the student, especially as regards: quality of supervisory support; relevance of learning to the programme of study; facilitation processes and access to / clarity of supporting guidelines; areas of strength and of weakness; and, key challenges experienced. The actual mechanisms used to gather such information will vary from institution to institution, but when collated and analysed such data can help inform the continuous improvement of the capstone module. Students are kindly requested to take full advantage of any opportunities to provide feedback for the benefit of future candidates.

    KEY DATES & ASSOCIATED ISSUES

    To secure the qualification your research must be completed, typed, bound and handed to the programme administrator, by Thursday 27, August 2009. Please note that if you do not submit at this time this will be regarded as a failed first attempt. You and your supervisor will therefore want to agree an outline timetable at an early stage. When thinking this over you may decide to work to the following indicative calendar.

    Your supervisor will continue to support you and you should submit draft chapters to him/her until the due date of 27 August, 2009. Keep in regular contact with your supervisor! Also, it is vital that provide the Programme Administrator with your current address details.

    Again! Please remember that, 'Your supervisor must have witnessed your work in progress. Failure to comply with this requirement may lead to a dissertation not being accepted. It is advisable to retain drafts and other working documents.'

    A student who is allowed to preserve his/her first attempt will be required to submit at the second diet of the dissertation module. The submission date for the second diet is 14/01/10.

    A student who fails the first attempt will have one final opportunity to submit a satisfactory thesis. Students who fail at the second diet will not be permitted a further opportunity to submit a dissertation and will not receive the MSc. As noted above the submission date for the second and final dissertation diet is 14/01/10. Please remember to make the most of the time available to you.

    Students should not attempt to use the same substantive piece of work to meet the assessment requirements of another item of coursework, dissertation or project. Prior to submission:

    þ Ensure copyright has not been broken and there is no plagiarism

    þ Respect any confidentiality requirements and ensure you complete the ethics form

    Following the Assessment Board, students can collect the second copy from the CBS Postgraduate Programmes Office.

    NUMBER OF ATTEMPTS

    Students are allowed two attempts at the dissertation. Students failing to reach the minimum standard of 50% for the dissertation on the first attempt will be required to conduct further work and resubmit their dissertation for the next Assessment Board. The submission date for the second diet is 14/01/10. Students failing the module after the second submission of their project would be deemed to have exhausted all attempts and would be required to graduate with a Postgraduate Diploma.

    NON-SUBMISSION OF THE DISSERTATION

    Failure to submit the dissertation on the stipulated due date, will result in a mark of 0% being awarded and the non-submission being treated as a first attempt.

    Students with extenuating circumstances, such as illness, which contributed to their failure to meet the submission deadline, may apply to the Assessment Board for their resubmission to be treated as a first rather than a second attempt. Such an application will require the submission of both of the following documentation:

    1 A Formal Glasgow Caledonian University "Consideration of Special Factors Form", supported by appropriate documentation such as a Medical Certificate.

    2 A statement from the student's dissertation supervisor supporting the application; confirming that regular contact with the student has been maintained and adequate progress on the project has been made.

    The application will only be considered if both of the above are submitted in time for consideration by the Assessment Board. Please note that supervisors can decline to provide supporting documentation if s(he) has reservations concerning the student's commitment to the dissertation (evidenced by limited contact and progress).

    MARKING

To ensure equity and consistency, dissertations are doubled marked internally. Samples are forwarded to external examiners. The marking scheme will evaluate:

· suitability and focus of the topic

.... is the topic of relevance to the programme of study, what does it contribute to an understanding of the subject area, are aims and research questions spelt out

· coherence, logic and clarity

....are the arguments presented coherent and underpinned by theoretical debate and research evidence, does the discussion build in a progressive manner and is the dissertation professionally presented

· methods and research approach

.... are the methods valid and reliable, what steps have been taken to reduce bias, are the approaches appropriate and well justified

· academic rigour, knowledge of the literature and referencing

.... do you build a discussion founded on accepted theory, discuss and counter accepted wisdom, build a balanced debate with focus on core concepts and theoretical constructs, is the dissertation fully referenced

· the investigation and appraisal of theory and data analysis

.... is there rigorous analysis of data, are findings supported, are other plausible hypotheses identified and discussed and, are the research's limitations identified

· recommendations, discussion, and conclusions

.... are there clear detailed conclusions and recommendations founded on evidence and valid discussion, are there attempts to develop and apply the findings to a wider base or discuss the dangers of attempting to do such a thing, is there reflection and critique of the research design and methods

UNDERSTANDING THE MARK AWARDED FOR THE DISSERTATION

High Pass 70% and over

Excellent analysis and synthesis of themes, issues and problems. Comprehensive knowledge of the area. Evidence of wide reading and use of appropriate examples to support exposition. Excellent presentation. Displayed comprehensive and critical analysis of the relevant theories, concepts and methods. Skilful applications. Conclusion covers all aspects of the content of the work and the strengths/weaknesses of the research design and its implementation.

Pass 60%-69%

Competence in analysis and synthesis of themes, issues and problems. Some incomplete knowledge, but generally good. Evidence of wide reading and use of appropriate examples. Good presentation. Displayed good grasp of theories, concepts and methods and has applied them appropriately. Conclusion covers analysis of objectives of the work in a solid manner and attention is given to the strengths/weaknesses of the research design and its implementation.

Pass 50%-59%

Permissible gaps in analysis and synthesis of themes, issues and problems. Incomplete knowledge in some areas. Has read around the area. Knowledge of broad generalisations but limited appreciation of depth and nuance. Incomplete grasp of theories, concepts and methods. Conclusion, not comprehensive either in terms of content or research design.

Fail Below 50%

Scant analysis and synthesis of themes, issues and problems. Little knowledge with little evidence of background reading. Reasoning poor. Little grasp of theories, concepts and methods, Conclusion offers an unsatisfactory evaluation of the study's aims and objectives, research design and findings.

ENHANCING YOUR MARKS

The marking bands are intended to reflect the degree to which the candidate demonstrates the following:

· Knowledge of the literature

· Independent thinking

· Critical analysis

· Ability to conceptualise

· Ability to synthesise

· Contextual awareness

PLAGIARISM - for further details consult University Regulations

Plagiarism is considered by Glasgow Caledonian University to be a very serious offence, which can result in severe penalties. The regulations concerning this area are complex and students are strongly advised to study the definitions and interpretations that are contained in Appendix 8 of the University Assessment Regulations. It is vital that all students, particularly those submitting dissertations, have read and understood this section of the University's Assessment Regulations.

Plagiarism is defined in the Assessment Regulations as the deliberate and substantial unacknowledged incorporation in students' work of material derived from the work (published or unpublished) of another. Essentially, to plagiarise means to steal from the writing or ideas of another. Whilst the writings and ideas of others form an important part of academic work, in particular the dissertation, the work of others however must be clearly identifiable and distinguished from the students own writings and ideas. Failure to acknowledge properly the work of others is plagiarism, whether or not you intended to represent the work as your own.

Examples of plagiarism include:

§ The use of another's material or ideas without due acknowledgment of the source.

§ Copying the work of another student with or without that student's knowledge or consent.

§ Deliberate use of commissioned material or data collected by another and passing it off as the student's own.

To avoid any possible allegation of plagiarism being made it is important to represent the writings of another person properly:

q In the case of a short section of text that is taken unchanged from another's work, the text must appear within quotation marks with an acknowledgement to the original work using the surname, year, page number convention [Example: (Hammer, 2004, p4)].

q If a large section of text is taken unchanged, the selected text must be indented from both sides and appear within quotation marks with an acknowledgement given to the original work using the surname, year, page number convention [Example: (Hammer and Champy, 1993, p40-41)].

q Where an idea, argument or work of another is paraphrased, the paraphrased version should be sufficiently removed from the original text version so that obvious copying, with only minor changes being made to the text, does not occur. An acknowledgement must also be given to the original idea, argument or work using the surname year convention [Example: (Doswell, 1995)].

q Acknowledgement should be disclosed by the inclusion of a complete and comprehensive listing of all sources cited in the text.

q The Harvard Referencing System is the recommended style for citation in the text and reference listing.

References

Blaxter, L, Hughes, C and Tight, M (2006) How to Research 3rd ed., Buckingham, Open University Press.

European Commission Directorate-General for Education and Culture (2004) European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS): Key Features. Available HTTP:

European Council (Education) (2002) Detailed Work Programme on the Follow-up of the Objectives of Education and Training Systems in Europe. Available HTTP:

European Ministers of Education (1999) The Bologna Declaration. Available HTTP:

European Union (2008) Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the Establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning. Available HTTP:

Morrison, J, Oladunjoye, G and Onyefulu, C (2007) An Assessment of Research Supervision: A Leadership Model Enhancing Current Practices in Business and Management in Journal of Education for Business, March/April, pp 212-219.

Silbergh, D (2001) Doing Dissertations in Politics: A Student Guide, London, Routledge.

Tuning Project (2007) Tuning Educational Structures in Europe. Available HTTP:

APPENDICES

Dissertation Supervision Meeting Summary & Progress Form

Sample Dissertation Title Page

Presentation of Figures & Tables

Ethics Form

Further Reading

Contributors to Handbook

Appendix 5 INDICATIVE READING

General Texts:

Blaxter, L. Hughes,C. and Tight (2006) How to Research 3rd Edn. Buckingham: Open University

Brewerton P and Millward L (2001); Organizational Research Mathods; London; Sage Publications

Easterby-Smith M, Thorpe R and Lowe A (2002); Management Research: An Introduction; London; Sage Publications

Quinton S and Smallbone T (2006); Postgraduate Research in Business: A Critical Guide; London; Sage Publications

Riley M, Wood R C, Clark A M, Wilkie E and Szivas E (2000); Research and Writing Dissertations in Business and Management; London; Thomson Learning

Rudestam, K.E. and Newton R.R. (2000), Surviving Your Dissertation: A Comprehensive Guide to Content and Process 2nd ed., Newbury Park, Sage.

Silbergh, D.M. (2001), Doing Dissertation in Politics: A Student Guide, London, Routledge

Other Texts & Journal Articles:

Becker H S (1998); Tricks of the Trade; University of Chicago Press.

Berry R (1994); The Research Project: How to Write It; 3rd Edition; Routledge.

Booth W C (1995); The Craft of Research; University of Chicago Press.

Bryman A (1988) (Ed); Doing Research In Organisations; Routledge; London.

Burgess R G (1982); Field Research: A Source Book And Field Manual; Allen & Unwin; London.

Denzin N K (1989); The Research Act; 3rd Edition; Prentice Hall; Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Downey H K and Ireland R D (1979); Quantitative Versus Qualitative: The Case Of Environmental Assessment In Organizational Studies; Administrative Science Quarterly; Dec, v24, n4, p630-637.

Eisenhardt K (1989); Building Theory For Case Study Research; Academy Of Management Review; v14, n4, p532-550.

Gable G G (1994); Integrating Case Study And Survey Research Methods: An Example In Information Systems; European Journal Of Information Systems; v3, n2, p112-126.

Giddens A (1978); Positivism And Its Criticisms; In A History Of Sociological Analysis; Bottomore T and Nisbet R (eds); Heinemann; London.

Gill J and Johnson P (2002); Research Methods For Managers; 2nd Edition; Sage Publications Ltd, England.

Gummesson E (1988); Qualitative Methods in Management Research: Case Study Research, Participant Observation, Action Research-Action Science, and Other "Qualitative Methods" Used in Academic Research and Management Consultancy; Chartwell-Bratt; Bromley, England.

Hughes J (1980); Aspects Of Modern Sociology: The Philosophy Of Social Research; Longman Group Ltd; Essex, Great Britain.

Hussey J and Hussey R (1997); Business Research; Macmillan.

Jankowicz A D (2000); Business Research Projects for Students; Thomson.

Jick T D (1979); Mixing Qualitative And Quantitative Methods: Triangulation In Action; Administrative Science Quarterly; Dec, v24, n4; p602-611.

Marshall C and Rossman G B (1995); Designing Qualitative Research; Sage Publications Inc; California.

Mason J (1996); Qualitative Researching; Sage; London.

May T (1993); Social Research: Issues, Methods and Process; Oxford University Press.

McKenzie G, Powell J and Usher R (1997) (Eds); Understanding Social Research: Perspectives On Methodology And Practice; Falmer Press; London, Great Britain.

Mintzberg H (1979); An Emerging Strategy Of Direct Research; Administrative Science Quarterly; Dec, v24, n4; p582-589.

Morgan G and Smircich L (1980); The Case For Qualitative Research; The Academy Of Management Review; Oct, v5, n4; p491-500.

O'Dochartaigh N (2003); The Internet Research Handbook; Sage; London

Orna E and Stevens G (1995); Managing Information for Research, Oxford University Press.

Patton M Q (1990); Qualitative Evaluation And Research Methods; (Second Edition); Sage; Newbury Park CA.

Van Maanen (1979); Reclaiming Qualitative Methods For Organizational Research: A Preface; Administrative Science Quarterly; Dec, v24, n4; p520-526.

Yin R K (1981); The Case Study Crisis: Some Answers; Administrative Science Quarterly; March, v26, p58-65.

Yin R K (1994); Case Study Research: Design And Methods; 2nd Edition; Sage Publications Inc; California.

Research Topic Specific Journals:

Research at the Masters Level requires significant attention to information published in quality journals. Some examples of Quality Journals are listed below:

Academy of Management Journal

Academy of Management Review

Administrative Science Quarterly

British Journal of Management

California Management Review

Employee Relations

European Management Journal

Harvard Business Review

International Journal of Human Resource Management

International Journal of Public Sector Management

Journal of Knowledge Management

Journal of International Business Studies

Journal of Management

Journal of Management Studies

Knowledge and Process Management: The Journal of Corporate Transformation

Long Range Planning

Management Review

MIS Quarterly

Organisational Dynamics

Organizational Studies

NOTE: Many topic specific journals can also be accessed electronically via Glasgow Caledonian University's library page

http://www.learningservices.gcal.ac.uk/library/resources/database.html

USEFUL WEBSITES

Glasgow Caledonian University Citing & Referencing Guide:

http://www.gcal.ac.uk/student/coursework/referencing/index.html

Glasgow Caledonian University's Effective Learning Services Guide on Plagiarism:

http://www.gcal.ac.uk/student/coursework/writing/plagiarism.html

Please note that the required referencing system is the Harvard System.

Appendix 6 - Contributors to the development of this module handbook:

This module handbook contains text prepared by D. Silbergh, S. Sockalingham, Lynn Black and John Moxen. However, they are not responsible for any errors that it might contain.