How do your findings compare to other research studies which have looked at similar things?

Your report should tell a story (but in the 3rd person) so it should have a central theme or message that it is trying to sell. It should have a beginning, a middle and an end (with signposts at the end of each chapter to navigate the reader to the next) and every single sentence in the thesis should be directly relevant to the main theme or message.

The structure of your final submission should be:

Title Page (relatively brief and specific)

Abstract/Executive Summary (‘overview’ – maximum 100 words)
Write in past tense
Less than one side of A4 (approximately 100 words)
A CONCISE summary of the following (one or two sentences on each):
Rationale and aim of programme of study
Methodology
Findings of Analysis
Interpretation of those findings
Conclusions and recommendations
Written in clear paragraphs, no bullet points

List of Figures and Tables (both are included within the text and each type has its own independent consecutive numbering throughout)

Contents Page (list of chapters/page numbers)

Introduction (the background/ overall aim and specific objectives)
The purpose/structure of the introduction is:
To provide a general introduction to the area of research and the theoretical background
Introduce the organisational context/background
Define key terms.
To provide a clear rationale for why the research was required (this should draw from both theoretical/research limitations in the literature and from the organisational context)
The length of the introduction is typically around 1 side of A4. The introduction should finish off with the Aim of the research and the explicit objectives. These should flow clearly from the rationale you have provided in the introduction. You do not need research questions but you can use them if they help you.

Literature Review (definitions of main topic, identification of ‘key’ authors, themes, previous research, etc.)

Purpose: To provide a systematic critical evaluation of the research and literature that is DIRECTLY RELEVANT TO YOUR OBJECTIVES. It is NOT an essay that describes every thing you have ever read about the vague subject you are looking at.
Structure may vary depending on what you are looking at and whether one of your objectives will be met within the review
Start with a paragraph or two that introduces the reader to the area of research
Quickly move onto discussing key theoretical frameworks relevant to your topic area. Describe them concisely AND THEN EVALUATE each.
This discussion should provide a clear rationale for the specific framework(s) YOU are using.
You should make it clear why you have chosen particular frameworks by discussing their strengths and relevance. But you must also demonstrate you are aware of weaknesses AND be clear about how you have dealt with those/why they are not too important
A key component of a literature review is to critically review RESEARCH and literature that is directly relevant to each of your objectives in turn. You need to describe and evaluate what has been done by other people so as to provide a context for your study and findings (in the discussion section you will go on to talk about what you have found in relation to these other studies).
There is a temptation to describe what has been written in text books. DO NOT!
DO place more emphasis on RESEARCH (what did they do, what did they find, what did they conclude, what were the limitations of that research?)
The key is to evaluate throughout. Question what others have written and be sure to point out the limitations of the research you discuss.
You can assume that the markers have a certain level of knowledge so you don’t have to go into basics. However, you must not make statements or present points WITHOUT evidence. ALWAYS provide evidence (in the form of research findings along with a correct citation)

Research Design/Methodology (Research strategy/design; Participants; Methods). The purpose of the methodology section is to provide readers with a clear, concise description of what you did so that the study can be replicated by someone else. You also need to provide a sound rationale for WHY the study was designed and conducted the way it was, whilst being clear how you built in as much reliability and validity to the design and methods as possible.
The purpose of the methodology section is NOT to describe every research method known to man or to witter on about research onions. Focus on what YOU did and why. Remember to write in the 3rd person AND in the past tense

The structure of the methodology section is a series of subsections in the following order:
Research Philosophy – One or two paragraphs outlining:
whether you took a positivist, realist or a phenomenological approach and WHY you decided on that approach
DO NOT waffle on and on about all the options available. Simply state what philosophy was adopted and why (sometimes it is appropriate to point out you did not choose another option because …..)

Research Design/Strategy – Briefly state the overall research design e.g. Case study / experiment/ quasi-experiment / survey etc
Cross-sectional/longitudinal
Exploratory/explanatory
And remember to explain WHY the study was designed in that way
Again, do not waste your time going on at length about all the other options available (you should NOT put in figures pertaining to the research onion!). Briefly state what YOU did and why you did that as opposed to something else. Remember this all has to be written in the 3rd person

Methods (data collection) – Written in past tense and third person
What data collection methods did you use and why?
Make sure you concisely state how data to answer each objective was collected if different objectives required different data collection methods
You must be clear about how each variable was assessed since constructs like psychological contract, well being and commitment would all require different scales – which scales were selected and why?
Append Interview transcripts and questionnaires and refer to them in the text (e.g. See Appendix 1)
Questionnaires:
Be sure to state where your questionnaire was derived from and why you used that particular scale. Or, how it was constructed – where have all the items come from? Why did you use those items and not some from another questionnaire? What reliability and validity figures does it have? Did you pilot it and what did you find? Provide examples of the questions asked and describe the response scales.
Interview schedules:
State whether it was structured/semi-structured/unstructured (and why)
How it was constructed (e.g. based on focus group/other research etc)

Participants – Who? (and why?)
How many?
Gender breakdowns?
Age breakdowns?
Job breakdowns?
How sampled (and why)?

Procedure (might include pilot studies you conducted) If your study was complicated or included waves of data collection then it is useful to briefly describe the order in which things were done. This sub-section is most commonly seen in experiment write ups but sometimes necessary in other research

Ethical considerations – What did you do to ensure that ethical considerations were met? (e.g. consent letters, briefing letters etc)

Analysis / Results – Begin with a paragraph that details what kind of data was collected and what you then did to it (e.g. quantitative data was collected and inputted to SPSS). Then structure the rest of this section BY OBJECTIVE. Look at each objective in turn and then have a concluding paragraph that sums up how each objective has been answered.

Presenting Findings for an Objective – Quantitative data
State the objective and what analyses you have conducted in order to answer it i.e. state what the remaining sub section is going to include
Describe what the raw data looked like (e.g. likert scale data 1 to 5)
Describe what you did to the data (e.g. transformations such as summing items, what the scores could range from, what low/high scores meant etc)
Discuss the results of the descriptive statistics (mean/mode/median; SD; kurtosis and skewness if relevant; frequencies) and produce graphs and tables to illustrate WHAT YOU WRITE in the text.
State what inferential tests you ran. Describe the variables used within the analyses
State what the results of the test were using the proper scientific notation and stating clearly what the test found. Use descriptive data to help illustrate.
e.g. an independent samples t-test was run to compare male and female IQ scores. The test showed that mean male IQ was 116 (SD= 1.67) and mean female IQ was 123 (SD = 2.12) and that this difference was not significant t (357) = 1.023, p >.05.
Then be clear to state HOW this analysis actually answers your objective e.g. To answer the objective then it appears that there are no differences between males and females in IQ suggesting that differences in performance between the groups is in fact due to some other measure.
Graphs and Tables –
Must have a Table number or Figure number (for graphs and diagrams). Usually a chapter number followed by a full stop followed by the number that table comes in that chapter e.g. 3.4.
Must also have a title
Must be clearly referred to in the text where you succinctly state what the table or graph shows
ARE NOT AN ANALYSIS IN THEMSELVES
Pie charts suck.
Use the same table layout for every table you use in the whole dissertation

Presenting Findings forQualitativeAnalysis
More or less the same but sometimes analysis for qualitative data is presented by theme. If you take this approach YOU must be able to write in such a way that you link it all back to objectives.
Easier to:
State the objective
State what form the data was, where it came from, how it was gathered and what particular form of qualitative analysis has been conducted (AND WHY).
Describe how the analyses will be presented.
Present the analyses, making sure that you have ample evidence for the themes you claim to have found
Make sure you sum up with a paragraph that clearly states how your analysis actually answers the objective.

SUMMARY for results:
Unless you are highly skilled at writing and are therefore presenting by themes, the key thing you must do is analyse by objective and make sure that you have a clear statement at the end of each analysis that ANSWERS THE OBJECTIVE
Under no circumstances should you analyse your data by item (from the questionnaire) or by question (from the interview). This does not answer the objective and is very difficult to follow.
STRUCTURE BY OBJECTIVE (or by theme if you are doing qualitative analysis and have the skills to link your analysis back to the objectives at the end)

Discussion (discussion of data analysis and possible applications)
With pure quantitative data this is traditionally done in a separate chapter to the analysis/results
With qualitative data this is traditionally done in the same chapter.
Either way it should be structured either by objective or by the sequence your questions were asked (eg Q1, q1, q3 …..)
With a General Discussion at the end

So what do you discuss?
How did the findings answer the objective? Can you explain why you found what you found? (using theory, organisational context or using quirks of your research design?)
How do your findings relate to the theoretical framework(s) in place? (do they support or negate the theory?)
How do your findings compare to other research studies which have looked at similar things? (same? Different? If so why?). How do they add to the literature?
What do your findings mean within the organisational context?
What might your findings mean in the grander scheme of things?

The General Discussion might cover:

Pulling together all your findings into a coherent whole with some sort of explanation that is grounded in theory or how you designed your research.
Linking to other theories/across subject matter
Implications for theory, research, organisational context
Discussing limitations and where future research might go.
Practical applications

Conclusions and Recommendations (must be based on previous analysis and reflect literature and original objectives)
Summing up of what was found and why
Restatement of aim of research and how that has been met
Restatement of answers to each objective
What do you conclude and recommend
(Don’t bring in new material at this point)
Should lead to what you are going to recommend in the next section

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