How to Write a Business Dissertation
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This assignment focuses what steps are necessary to prepare and write a business dissertation that is both academic and informative about the subject matter being researched.
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There are many ‘how to do research guides’ available to support preparing a business dissertation. However, unless preliminary groundwork is presented in a formal and coherent research proposal these guides, are of no use. The primary objective to a business dissertation is simple; its supports at best a rationale of a subject that has not been explored at that particular angle previously. Specifically informing and enhancing academic opinion.
The proposal for a business dissertation is the first stage of many, in that it is this informative document that will assist both in choosing or appointing a research supervisor and moreover, ensuring that the research hypothesis is focused enough to support coherent research. This crucial stage if not followed carefully will loose the researcher valuable time and effort.
Once the supervisor and the academic board who will assess the final business dissertation accept the coherent proposal, the researcher can commence their work. Each institution will have its own guidance for preparing, time period and manner in which research business dissertations are prepared and presented. But in most cases it will start with a proposal document that contains a realistic timetable.
The proposal for a research business dissertation will be the guiding document for the work to follow a careful and constructive pattern. The most important outset decision for the researcher will be the methodology. This can depending on the length of the business dissertation, be either, qualitative, quantitative or a mix of both.
Consideration of each method will depend upon the subject matter. If one is to consider primary and secondary documentary research then the dissertation will follow a qualitative method. If questionnaires, or some format of numerical data gathering is used this would be quantitative. If both were to be used, they would be analytically balanced.
Most researchers would commence with a review of current academic and professional literature, using in the main, journals, conference papers and academic texts. This will afford the researcher a depth of current academic thinking that will inform their own dissertation findings and if possible add to, or change current academic opinions. It is crucial at this interesting stage to ensure that sound referencing is maintained. Card indexes, computerised listing of the works considered is essential for the write up stage. In fact, starting the bibliography early is a sound decision, as this is often the area that may researchers find difficult when left to the very end. Moreover, keeping a ‘research trail’ is a good idea, especially if you are working on a business dissertation exceeding 10,000 word or more.
Once a researcher has a clarified focus from a seriously academic perspective of the body of knowledge current on the topic of research, they can then formulate or at least in part modify the research hypothesis, before starting on the gathering of their own findings. This will also help focus research questions and close down avenues in the research that are too wide. The supervisor at this stage will be able to guide the researcher in areas that may be not as clearly focused. It is a good idea to write a first draft of the dissertation literature review at this stage to add to the focus for the ensuing research stage.
The research stage of a business dissertation is as previously stated dependent on the choice of methodology. This should be decided at the outset through the dialogue with the supervisor. The findings stage enables the researcher to consider the hypothesis again, which by this stage, has been carefully honed by the literature review. This stage is in itself time consuming, depending on the choice of methodology. The time consuming preparation of a questionnaire, interviewing subjects, case study observation etc; can be the most taxing part of the whole dissertation research process. But, in the main the most enjoyable, as the researcher is finally ‘doing research’ which will have some bearing on future opinions.
Once the research stage is completed and an initial draft of this chapter is presented for clearance by the supervisor, any amendment made, the business dissertation can be put together. This is the most time consuming part of the whole process. It is not unusual to present at least three drafts of each chapter, and the style and layout will often depend upon the academic institution that is to assess its contents. There is often a tighter frequency of meetings with the supervisor, and this is why during the proposal stage, the choice of supervisor is crucial, because they will be both advocate and critic, and whose opinions will count in presenting a coherently prepared analytical business dissertation that will stand the test of academic rigour.
The three main chapters that need to be written, drafted and re-drafted are: the literature review, methodology and research findings, which if using a quantitative approach will need to contain any formulas and figurative findings. These chapters should coherently link, and also contain short summaries of their contents. From these three chapters, the conclusion, introduction and synopsis can be written. Oddly, many good researchers prepare the introduction as the last chapter! Notwithstanding this, deciding what if any, appendices are added to the business dissertation is also important, these should not be ‘documents for documents sake’, but, in the main, be explicitly relevant, for example: a copy of a questionnaire, case study or quantitative tables etc.
The final section being the all important bibliography, if the researcher has maintained a database of bibliographical information, or better still, wrote this section as they have been working on the whole research process, time has been saved. Thereby, to go through the whole dissertation checking off each reference with the bibliography, will be an easy task, thereby ensuring that they have complied with the referencing protocols (Harvard, APA etc) of their assessing institution and moreover the research trail of the dissertation is clear.
The final business dissertation should be a clearly presented, professionally referenced document that has coherently answered the research hypothesis presented in the original research proposal. Often, researchers do move away from the proposal that is often overlooked as an essential part of the assessing criteria. Therefore, ensuring throughout the dissertation process one is focused and continually returning to this guiding document is essential, which any supportive and competent academic supervisor will continually ‘drill’ into their research students. The end product being both a written business dissertation and a well rounded and better informed academic researcher.
COTRELL; S, (2003) The Study Skills Handbook; Palgrave MacMillan; Hampshire.
EDWARDS; A, & TALBOT; R (1994) The Hard Pressed Researcher; Longmann; Essex.
NORTHEDGE; A (1990) The Good Study Guide; OU; Milton Keynes.
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