Literature Based Research Dissertation Proposal

Your dissertation provides you with the opportunity to write a substantial piece of academic work on a topic of interest to you.  It is your chance to produce a work of scholarship, using the academic skills you have developed.  Regardless of topic, your dissertation will demonstrate the following skills:

  • defining and outlining a research topic
  • establishing a clear research question
  • identifying the salient issues
  • finding or generating the relevant information
  • evaluating its reliability and validity
  • weighing up the evidence on all sides of a debate
  • arriving at a well-argued conclusion
  • organising and presenting the results of your work critically, cogently, and coherently.

There are two major forms of dissertation:

  • A piece of empirical research, conducted on a topic or issue.
  • A literature-based long essay providing an analysis of a specific research question.

 

An Empirical Dissertation

This type of dissertation involves carrying out a piece of original research on a small scale. It entails planning a research study, collecting and analysing primary data, and presenting the results in a systematic way.

The Key Stages in Producing an Empirical Study

1. Identify a research topic within the scope of the project

2. Refine the project title and formulate your own research question. This will be by:

  • reading on the topic to see what aspects have been researched;
  • your observation of details of the topic in any work experience;
  • reflections on this experience;
  • and discussions with tutors and fellow students.

3. Determine the best research format so as to better understand the area/issue in question. This will be formed by:

  • research methodologies and research methods that others have tried. This will be discovered by reading in the substantive area and focusing on how others have researched the topic;
  • the nature of your topic area and what research methods are possible.

 

4. Formulate a research proposal within the scope of the project

5. Identify and select the location(s) where you will conduct the research, and your target group(s).

6. Consider carefully alternative groups/places you could approach in case permission is denied. Start at this stage to avoid panicking and making inappropriate choices.

7. Seek permission to access the places and groups.

8. Develop research tools and test these.

9. Further reading.

10. Refine your research tools.

11. Collect and analyse your data.

12. Review earlier reading and evaluate other research and conceptualisations in light of the data you have gathered.

13. Throughout the process, record the research progress and critical points in a research diary. This can be quite brief, but will be valuable when you write up your work.

14. As the writing process gets underway, you will need to:

  • draft outlines, synopses and chapters of the dissertation & discuss these with your supervisor and others;
  • discuss your findings and developing concepts with your supervisor and others;
  • work with the supervisor‟s and others‟ feedback to develop and refine the draft.

Empirical Dissertation Sample. Click Here

 

A-Library Based Dissertation

A library-based dissertation is probably best distinguished from an empirical study by regarding it as a piece of scholarship in which the work of others is placed under close scrutiny, rather than the gathering of new, primary data directly from observation or measurement. The data of a library-based study is the work of others. However, it is potentially highly valuable and important work, especially if you wish to conduct an in-depth study of an area and review the implications for your own professional concerns.

It is not the simply the describing of work that has been carried out in an area, although this will be part of the task. Library-based studies must contain research questions that are as carefully developed as any other type of study. The work can then be placed in a defined context and a critical judgment of the work can be made regarding its value, quality and contribution to theory and practical application. You also must consider the research methods used by the original researchers and evaluate these. You may also make judgments about the validity of the results in the context of your own professional practice.

The Key Stages in a Library-Based Study

1. Identify a research topic within the scope of the project.

2. Refine the project title and formulate your own research question. As with all dissertations you must have a clear question for which you wish to find answers. This will form the basis of the contract with your supervisor.

3. Clearly identify, discuss and clarify the key concepts being investigated. To do this you must read on your topic, advised initially by your supervisor.

4. Formulate a research proposal within the scope of the project. This may take several days.

5. Review the evidence available. This will include:

  • constructing sets of criteria against which to judge the materials reviewed. (at this point you should discuss your criteria with your supervisor);
  • a detailed literature review of the relevant books and journal articles. Note that this can also include other relevant materials, e.g. company or government reports, market research, newspaper articles, etc.

6. Sum up. This may be an overall analysis of statistical studies or some other analysis of the total evidence available.

7. Discuss how the literature survey answers the questions that you are exploring. Weigh up the pros and cons.

8. Make recommendations for further research studies, or draw out implications for practice.

 

It is important that a study sort adds additional material to the data that is being discussed, such as providing a summary of the weight of evidence for and against a particular position or theory, identifying key gaps in knowledge, or providing a new perspective from which to view an issue.  A  library based study can provide an excellent opportunity to consider how research done in a range of contexts relates to your own eventual work context.

Library Based Dissertation Sample Click Here

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Proposal presents students with a chance of finding out if their research aims and objectives are valid and if the methods they are planning to use are suitable and feasible.  The purpose for writing dissertation proposal is to get it approved by your supervisor to be able to start the actual research.

The Proposal needs to be able to communicate the following three critical points to the supervisor:

  1. You already did your homework in terms of reading a large amount of relevant secondary data in your research area;
  2. The research will eliminate a gap in the literature
  3. There is a need for this research from practical point of view as well

Total wordcount requirement for a Research Proposal can range between 1500 – 4000 words. The proposal can be prepared in the following format:

1. Title Page

2. Introduction. This part is a brief introduction to the research area with some background information. Some universities require proposal abstract or summary to be included as well. Please refer to the Dissertation Handbook provided by your university.

3. Statement of the Problem. Research problem needs to be explained in a detailed manner in at least 2-3 pages.

4. Aims and Objectives. These need to comply with SMART principle where the acronym stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound.

5. Justification for the Topic. These can relate to the elimination of gap in the literature, practical benefits of the research, and its contribution to your long-term career objectives. Ideally, the proposed research has to make some practical contributions as well.

6. Research Background. Some universities require a brief research background to be included in dissertation proposal. Here, you can briefly discuss the most noteworthy contributions to the research area. No need for detailed critical analysis at this stage.

7. Scope of the Research and its Limitations. It is important to make it clear what specific issues are going to be explored during the research process, as well as, what issues will be left out.

8. Preliminary Literature Review. Definitions of main terms, explanation of search strategy for the literature, brief outline of the most relevant models and theoretical frameworks need to be included in this part.

9. Methodology. This part includes explanations of methods of data collection and analysis. Moreover, proposal methodology needs to address research philosophy, research approach, its design and sampling issues.

10. Ethical Aspects of the Study. You have to explain how you are going to address issues of ethics related to the study. In studies that involve primary data collection ethical issues can be addressed by including the following statements in your proposal, and staying true to these statements

a) Respondents are going to participate in the survey voluntarily;

b) Questionnaire/Interview/Focus group questions are not going to contain offensive, discriminatory, or other unacceptable language;

c) Privacy and anonymity of sample group members are going to be maintained ;

d) The works of other authors that are going to be used in any part of the proposed study are going to be acknowledged with the use of Harvard/APA/Vancouver referencing system according to the Dissertation Handbook;

e) The author will attempt to maintain high levels of objectivity in discussions and analyses throughout the research.

In studies that do not involve primary data collection, on the other hand, ethical issues are going to be limited to the points d) and e) above.

11. Research schedule. Gantt-Chart is one of the most effective, yet simple tools to illustrate research schedule. Table below represents a sample Gantt-Chart that can be used to complete a dissertation. Alternatively, you can use simple tasks lists, network diagrams or advanced dashboard software.

12. References. Appropriate referencing is critically important when writing dissertation proposal the same way as it is important for the final draft of the work.

My e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dissertation in Business Studies: a step by step assistance offers practical assistance to complete a dissertation with minimum or no stress. The e-book covers all stages of writing a dissertation starting from the selection to the research area to submitting the completed version of the work within the deadline.

John Dudovskiy

 

 

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