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*** This is an outline guide only, it is not topic specific.

All specific questions relating to your topic


choice, literature review and chosen research methodology will need to be addressed to your
supervisor, that is me ;-) ***

Define your central “research question”


For many students the most difficult part of the thesis writing process is defining exactly
what to research. Identifying the area you wish to conduct your research in and defining
your central hypothesis will determine the structure of your thesis and define the
methodology used to reach your conclusions. The statement of your research question
and your reasons for choosing it will form your introduction chapter.

Some points to consider when choosing your thesis topic;

• The size of the topic; Is the topic wide enough to warrant in-depth investigation?
Equally important; is the topic too big. A useful initial exercise is to brainstorm. Write
down all the sub questions arising from your central question, if you have more than
five perhaps you need to consider redefining your central question to streamline
your analysis. The key is to FOCUS your research as early as possible. The
advised word count may seem daunting initially but as the research progresses it
will require skill to deliver your thesis within the assigned limit.
• Does the topic interest you; Many students choose a topic which is related to their
own work experience or which they believe will assist them in securing a job after
graduation. While this is not a bad way to choose a topic, remember, you have to
live with the subject matter for some time so it helps if you choose a topic which can
retain your interest.

Preliminary research
Having chosen your research topic your first aim will be to ascertain what other academics
have written on the subject in academic texts and journals, this will form the chapter
referred to as the LITERATURE REVIEW. The literature review chapter will seek to place
your thesis within a framework of other research. It will highlight what has been said about
your topic, what the current trends of academic thinking are in this area and where your
research fits in and expands upon previous work. The proposed literature review will form
the central part of any preliminary RESEARCH PROPOSAL you may be asked to submit
prior to approval of your research topic. The most important thing to remember during the
compilation of your literature review (and indeed throughout the information gathering
process) is to KEEP TRACK OF REFERENCES. Make note of the bibliographic details for
the material you are referencing as you go along, keep a bibliography file and make
detailed notes including the page numbers for quotes and sections which have been
paraphrased, URL address and dates for websites visited etc.

Decide on your research methodology


The research methodology will be determined by a number of factors, most importantly;
the topic you are researching (or research question you want to answer) and the time
frame you are working to. Most business theses will employ some form of quantitative
research (questionnaires, surveys or sampling) but depending on the topic you may
include some qualitative methods also. It is important to discuss the best methodological
approach in detail with your supervisor as it will be tailored specifically to the research
question you are addressing.

Present findings
After your samples, surveys and/or interviews have been conducted and fully documented
in the
methodology section you will present the results or findings of the research. This initial
presentation will be an empirical outlaying of the statistical results; documenting the
numerical data in the case of quantitative research or the interview or analytical outcomes
in the case of qualitative research. This section should include any illustrative charts or
graphs you have prepared.

Analyse findings
Having given an overview of your findings you will now present a detailed analysis. This
analysis you will examine the implications of your findings in greater depth. This includes
detailing the problems encountered in compiling the data. The focus in this section is to
illustrate what your findings mean; were there any surprising outcomes or revelations, are
there any inconsistencies or contradictions. Compare and contrast your initial expectations
with your research findings, have your expectations been met? You may detail how your
findings changed the focus of your conclusions and general perceptions of your topic.

Conclusions
Your conclusion will reconcile your research question with the research findings and
examine whether the question you addressed has been answered. Your conclusion should
also assess whether you have identified areas worthy of further study and the extent to
which the question you set out to address has yielded unexpected outcomes which can be
further researched. Your conclusions will illustrate where you feel your research project
has expanded upon previous work and you may want to highlight the practical implications
of your research in academia, business or social sectors.
Remember to allow sufficient time for PROOF READING and binding. The thesis should
ideally be completed 1 week prior to submission deadline to allow sufficient time to proof
read, edit and make any final changes before binding.