This section describes how you decided to answer the questions set in your objectives. There may be more than one way in which to achieve some of your objectives, e.g. by observation, by a structured or semi-structured interview or by a questionnaire, and therefore you would describe the selected method or methods. For other objectives there may be several ways in which you could achieve them. You may use several different research methods to achieve your different objectives and each should be justified in the dissertation..
Having selected your research method(s) and identified a sampling procedure and sampling frame, you should describe how you implemented them e.g. for a questionnaire you may initially use an unstructured interview to identify issues and to draw up a pilot questionnaire which can be refined before being used in the actual survey. Is it a postal questionnaire, a self-completion questionnaire, or another recognised method?
The concepts of validity and reliability should also be addressed in the methodology section. Validity is the degree to which a process or questionnaire really measures or predicts what it intended to measure or predict. Reliability refers to the degree to which a process or questionnaire consistently produces the same results. In order to fully understand these two important concepts you will need to consult a research methods or statistics text.
You will need to identify at this early stage the statistical techniques you will use for the analysis of the data, as this will help you to establish the amount of data you will need to collect. You should also critically evaluate your methodology, highlighting where they could have been improved, e.g. collecting more data, tightening the sampling frame, time and resource constraints etc.
Findings and Critical Analysis & Discussion
The results should be presented in a logical fashion, for example using tables and figures, as described above, to summarise and emphasise the points made. The results section should say what you find.
This section is the key section where you demonstrate your analytical skills. It is an opportunity to move beyond the data and creatively place into their context the findings that are presented in the results section in the context of the literature on the subject (Literature Review) and the real world issues surrounding the topic area. Make sure you explore the similarities and differences of your results in comparison to those of others and identify reasons underlying the differences.
Discussion can include speculation about reasons or causes, which may lie outside the present research, and perhaps about, associated ethical or political issues. It will usually demonstrate the mental processes of conceptualisation and critical analysis. The most important criteria of success in a dissertation are the quality of rational argument from results to inference, and the way this illuminates the original research question.
Students undertaking primary research MUST include discussion relevant to the context within which the research is taking place.
Synthesis, Conclusion and Recommendations
This states the major findings and is a summary of the discussion section above. The conclusions relate to your original statements of aims and objectives.
You should conclude with a list of recommendations for further research. Do not be afraid that you seem to identify more questions to be answered than there were at the beginning. It is in the nature of research work that it does not merely answer questions, but helps to identify other questions, which other researchers could ask. You should also make recommendations for practitioners to use your work to improve their practice.
In addition, you should identify and discuss the following key issues in the recommendation chapter:
– Potential implementation difficulties – likely barriers and how they might be overcome.
– The cost implications – finance and resources required.
– Timescales – what is achievable in the short, medium and long term.
– The benefits that will accrue from full or partial implementation.
‘This section is also an opportunity for you to demonstrate one of the qualities of a ‘thinking performer’: that of reflecting on their own experience and learning. This personal statement should offer a brief consideration outlining.
– What significant personal learning was achieved while conducting the study and whether there are any learning needs arising out of this?
– How you dealt with any problems or difficulties and whether these could have been avoided or alleviated.
– How it has helped you to understand the process of business research.
– What might have been done differently?
Students undertaking primary research MUST include conclusions and recommendations relevant to the organisation within which the research is taking place.
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