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The focus of this article will be on writing the dissertation – that is, producing the finished report.The whole project and dissertation process can cause students a lot of grief.
Most undergraduate business courses and post-graduate MBAs require students to complete a dissertation.
This is an extended piece – often structured like a report – which usually involves undertaking research or a project (this may be based your placement or previous work experience) as well as reflection on and discussion of that work.
The following is possibly the most common and assumes an academic audience. Should end with a brief summary of findings and the conclusion.
The research is likely to be deductive and quantitative, with the literature review preceding data collection. The introduction is a very important part of your dissertation and is worth getting right.
Also, note requirements as to what should go into the main body of the text – some organizations require you to put your methodology in the appendix for example.
You should also have a plan for how you do the writing, taking account of: You should start to think fairly early on how you will organize your work.This is different to applied research and the structure of your report may be able to reflect this – speak to your supervisor to confirm.If so, Dick (1993) recommends: Action research generally consist of a number of ‘plan-implement-review’ cycles.This will depend on the basis for the dissertation – research, project, work experience, whether you are exploring one issue, or several, or taking a critical overview – and we shall describe below different types of structures.If you will be carrying out some kind of research or an organization-based project, you should be able to do some of the writing – at least in draft form – before or while you are doing your field work.For each stage/major finding, clearly summarize then discuss the conclusions you have reached, your reasoning, the relevant confirming and disconfirming literature, and the implications.The inclusion of prelims and end matter is another way in which the dissertation differs from the more run of the mill piece of written work.Once you have determined the length of the dissertation, ensure that it does not remain an abstraction by calculating the number of pages involved – at 300 words per page double spaced, an 8,000 word dissertation would have around 26 pages, more with the addition of prelims and end matter, which do not come within the word count.Dissertations vary enormously in length – in the UK, some professional bodies require a piece of work of around 5,000 words (17 pages) while a higher level dissertation could be as long as 40,000 words (140 pages) although the latter would be unusual at undergraduate level.What is the scope of the research and why is it important? This will set the research problem in its conceptual framework and gives a critical perspective. What are the main lessons to be learnt from your study? What were the main problems and how did you overcome them?It should be a discussion rather than a description, and you should highlight concepts and theories which have a particular bearing on the research. What are the implications for the stakeholders concerned, and what are the possible future directions of the research?