Postgraduate Dissertation Template:
Explain why your research topic is current, relevant and how it relates to previous studies. What are you contributing that is new and interesting?
- Main research aim
- Paragraph explaining why the aim is current and relevant and how it relates to previous literature (use lots of references)
- Smaller research question 1
- Smaller research question that helps you answer your main aim (supported by references from academic journal articles)
- Smaller research question 2
- Smaller research question that helps you answer your main aim (supported by references from academic journal articles)
- Smaller research question 3
Section on how your dissertation is arranged (e.g. in the literature review, I discuss… In the method…. etc. you don’t need to do this part until the end).
- Literature review introduction:
o A short section describing the contents of your literature review: e.g. “In this section, theories, models and methods used in previous papers that investigate consumer attitudes to virtual reality marketing are discussed. The predominant theory was xxxx but several papers also examined the topic from the perspectives of….”
o Table of journal articles (this is always very useful to help you organise your literature review and your own thoughts). Your table could consist of the following sections: |Publication Date|Author|Short Description of Article| Theories Used|Models Used| Methods Used (e.g. interviews, surveys etc.)|
- Theories used to investigate your topic in previous journal articles
o What were are the main academic theories used in previous journal articles to discuss your research topic?
o How do each of these theories help the topic to be investigated?
o Are there any conflicts/disagreements between theories in different journal articles? e.g. does one author say that a previous theory does not help them fully understand consumer behaviour in their research area?
o Which theory (or theories) are the most useful for helping you understand your research questions and why?
- Models used to investigate your topic in previous journal articles
o What models have academics created (or previously used) to investigate your topic in previous journal articles?
o How do each of these models help the topic to be investigated?
o Are there any conflicts/disagreements between models in different journal articles? e.g. does one author say that a previous model does not help them fully understand consumer behaviour in their research area?
o Which model (or models) are the most useful for helping you understand your research questions and why?
o (OPTIONAL) could you modify a previous model (or create a new one) to help you understand your research question? – This might be a good place to introduce your hypotheses if you are doing quantitative research.
- Methods used to investigate your topic in previous journal articles
o What methods have academics created (or previously used) to investigate your topic in previous journal articles? e.g. quantitative (such as surveys, financial or panel data). qualitative (such as interviews, ethnography, or content analysis).
o How do each of these methods help the topic to be investigated?
o Are there any conflicts/disagreements between methods (or results) in different journal articles? e.g. what do the authors say they have found out using their method that is new and interesting?
o Which method is the most appropriate for answering your research question? (don’t write too much for this because you will discuss your methodology in the next section).
- Conclusion of literature review
o Summary of literature review e.g. “this section provides a summary of the theories, models and methods evaluated in the literature review, and states how each are related to my research questions.”
o Summary of your discussion for each literature review section:
- Summary of theories in previous literature
- Summary of models in previous literature
- Summary of methods in previous literature
o Summary of how what you found out in your literature review relates to each of your research questions
- How do the theories, models and methods discussed relate to your main research aim?
- How do the theories, models and methods discussed relate to your first research question?
- How do the theories, models and methods discussed relate to your second research question?
The best way to structure your methodology is to use Saunders et al.’s (2007) research onion (see image below or link here for more details: https://www.allassignmenthelp.co.uk/blog/research-onion-made-easy-to-understand-and-follow/). You should write a short section on each layer of the research onion and structure your dissertation as outlined below.
Introduction to methodology:
- Introduction describing the sections that are contained within your methodology and how they help you answer your research questions.
- Explain why you are using a positivist (generally quantitative) or Interpretivist (generally qualitative) approach to your research.
- How does a positivist or interpretivist approach help you answer your research questions?
- Why are you not using a different approach (i.e. why is a different approach not as useful for answering your research questions)?
Research strategy and choices:
- Explain why you are using a single method, survey (questionnaires) or interview strategy.
- How does a single method, survey/interview strategy help you answer your research questions?
- Why are you not using a different strategy?
- It might be useful in this section to refer to some of the studies identifies in your literature review (e.g. why did previous authors use surveys? Why did previous authors use interviews? How is your research similar or different from these previous papers?)
IMPORTANT: Add sections here explaining why you have asked each question (for interviews) or each group of questions (for surveys) including the following:
- How do your interview or survey questions relate to the journal articles (or models/theories) from your literature review?
- How do your interview/survey questions help you address your overall project aim and smaller research questions? Remember to refer to lots of academic literature when answering this.
- A short section explaining why your research is cross sectional (i.e. you are only sampling at one point in time rather than using longitudinal data). Don’t just write that you only have a short amount of time to do the project. You could explain that you are interested in consumers attitudes towards [your area of investigations] at this particular point in time and whilst a longitudinal study may give you an interesting insight into how attitudes change over time, that is not appropriate for answering your research questions.
Data collection and analysis:
Explain in detail, the tools (e.g. computer programs), techniques (e.g. content/thematic analysis for interviews) and procedures you will use to do the following:
- Collect data for your surveys or interviews (e.g. online survey using Qualtrics, or sound recorder and semi structured interview guidelines). Why are you using these data collection methods or techniques (use lots of references from research methods textbooks. See your research methods module notes for references).
- Analyse data for your surveys or interviews (e.g. SPSS, t-tests, descriptive statistics etc. for surveys, or NVivo, thematic/content analysis for interviews). It would be really useful to look back at some of your notes from the research methods module here. You will need to explain why you are using each analysis technique and how it helps you answer your research questions.
- Explain how your research method including data collection and storage is ethical (e.g. write about the anonymisation of data to preserve privacy, how the participants were given information sheets and consent forms to explain how their data will be used, and how the data will be stored in accordance with the University of Leicester data storage policies). Remember to use references in this section too.
Summary of your methodology:
- Provide a summary of the choices you made in your methodology section.
Results and discussion:
- Introduction describing the sections that are contained within your results and discussion and how they help you answer your research questions.
- A summary of your demographics (how many people you surveyed or interviewed, their gender, age etc.). How does the demographic balance influence the accuracy and reliability of your results? How will this affect your ability to answer your research questions?
- Remember to use subtitles for each section in your results and discussion. It might be helpful to structure your results like this:
- Title for your results and discussion section
- Introduction explaining what this section focuses on (for a survey, this might be a particular dimension or variable, or for an interview this might be a theme that several of your participants talked about). This introduction should also make reference to previous literature that also discussed the dimension or theme. Also provide an explanation of why you are discussing the dimension/theme and how it is useful for answering your research questions.
- “Your results should then be presented here. This might be a table for a survey, or a quote for interviews”
- Then you should write a detailed discussion about what was found, including an interpretation using theory or a model from previous literature (with lots of references). How did your findings agree with previous literature? What did you find that was new or different? To what extent have your findings answered your research questions?
- REPEAT this for each of the sections in your results and discussion.
- Results and discussion summary
- Summary of results and discussion e.g.“this section provides a summary of the results of my interviews/survey, explains how it compares with previous academic studies and states how they are related to my research questions.”
- Summary of your discussion for each results and discussion section:
- Summary of how what you found out in your results and discussion relates to each of your research questions.
- Explanation of what you found out that was new and interesting and how it extends current literature in your area.
- Introduction describing the sections that are contained within your conclusion and how they help you answer your research questions.
- Summarise what your initial research aim was and how you investigated it (e.g. What were you trying to find out? Why were you trying to find this out? What did you do? Why is this useful? How does it address a knowledge gap in previous literature?).
- Write about how you addressed each research question e.g. “Research question 2 focused on the privacy dimensions of big data as suggested by Smith (2018). To investigate this we constructed a survey with one section which focused on privacy and found that…..”.
- Research contributions and implications. How does your research contribute to previous literature on the subject? How does it extend previous academic research? What have you found out that is new? Does it disagree with any previous research? I would expect you to have several different research contributions. You should write a section on each contribution and remember to give each section a title. Which research question did you answer with your contribution? What are the academic, managerial, and possible policy implications? Are you contributing to a particular theory? Are you contributing to consumer research, research on VR, have you created a new model?
- Limitations: What are the limitations of your research?
- DO NOT WRITE THAT YOU DID NOT HAVE ENOUGH TIME.
- These could include writing about accuracy, sample size, validity, generalisation.
- Remember to compare your study to previous studies and use lots of references.
- Future research:
- What opportunities has your research opened for future research?
- Are there any further research questions that have arisen from your study?
- If you were to do another follow up study, what kind of thing would you investigate and why? Could using a different method allow you to examine something in a different way than before? Could sampling different types of customer or users give you a different perspective on your findings? Remember to support your answer with lots of references.