Issertation for Consumer Behaviour plus Decision Making with UK JJB Sports

The Challenge

You should find the Independent Studies module both challenging and interesting. The choice of topic is largely your own but you must consult your supervisor as to the feasibility and suitability of a particular topic. A topic should normally relate to one or more of the programme modules. It is easier to work at the required standard if you already have or will soon acquire an understanding of the context of the study. Often a topic will be suggested by work done at stage two or one which has particularly interested you. The dissertation should contain a degree of original work and allow you to demonstrate in depth the skills and knowledge that has been acquired elsewhere on the programme.

The dissertation will be at least 8,000 words in length (but should not exceed 12,000 words) and will count as a double stage three module and is therefore a major component for the purposes of calculating your degree classification.

Please note that you should submit a word count with your final submission for the main body of the work. You will be penalised if you go over the 12000 word limit by 10% by dropping one CAMS letter grade for example B to B-. You will be graded in this way for every 10% over the limit. Please discuss your work with your tutor in order to help you to keep to the word limit.

Your Independent Studies supervisor will guide you through the Independent Studies process which involves a number of stages, including:

” Choosing a topic and narrowing it down to a concise research question and research objectives.
” Reading for research  about your chosen topic and research methods (N.B. Reading should continue throughout all stages of the process)
” Thinking about and selecting an appropriate research design and methods
” Writing a research proposal
” Writing a preliminary literature review
” Collecting data
” Analyzing data
” Drawing conclusions and assessing their significance in relation to existing work
” Writing up your dissertation

The dissertation is an important part of the course and you are advised to devote sufficient time during your stage three to allow you to complete the dissertation on time and to a satisfactory standard. If at any time you face difficulties, contact your supervisor at the earliest possible opportunity.

Types of research and the dissertation

Research takes a number of forms. Different types of research include, for example: descriptive, exploratory, and evaluative. Research undertaken for the purposes of your dissertation will generally be  issue or  problem orientated. You will be:
1. finding out what is already known about this issue or problem by reviewing existing published work
2. employing research methods to gather your own primary data about the issue or problem
3. analysing this data and comparing your findings to what is already known
4. drawing conclusions and assessing the implications of your findings and (where appropriate) making recommendations as to how the issue/ problem may be addressed.

Choosing a Research Topic

Many students will be clear about their choice of subject area (e.g. HRM, Marketing etc.) but this will need to be narrowed down to a field (e.g. recruitment and selection) and then to an aspect (e.g. the effectiveness of interviews as a selection tool).

Students sometimes feel daunted at the prospect of selecting a topic for research. Blaxter et al (1996) offer some ways in which you can generate some ideas:

” Ask your friends, colleagues, manager, customers, tutors. Talk about your ideas...
” Look at previous research work e.g. past dissertations, journal articles etc. What are the  hot topics?
” Relate it to your interests. In the business field, what intrigues you...?
” Start from a quote, an article, a newspaper report, a letter... a debate that engages you!
” Brainstorm and/ or draw a spider diagram/ picture/ map  generate lots of ideas and then narrow these down.

Students sometimes select topics related to work experience gained during a gap year, vacations and/ or placement. Whatever the likely source of your ideas, don t underestimate the thinking time which goes into writing a dissertation. You are going to be devoting a lot of time to this topic. Investing some thinking time in choosing a topic which you are really interested in is a worthwhile investment.

Research Methods and approaches

Having decided on a research topic, the next stage in the process is to select an appropriate research design. In essence, you need to decide what data you are going to gather, from whom, from where, when and, perhaps most importantly, how? You may choose to gather qualitative and/ or quantitative data. Your research approach may take the form of action research, a case-study, an experiment or a survey. In terms of research method, you may opt to conduct document analysis, interviews, observation or and/ or questionnaires. Again, allocating thinking time to this stage is important. You should be able to defend your research design as the most appropriate or  best fit for your particular research topic and objectives, bearing in mind of course resource constraints (e.g. time, money) and practical considerations (geographical constraints for example).

Different research methods should not be seen as mutually exclusive and it is quite clearly valuable to have a variety of research methods that come to the same conclusion. However, realistically it is unlikely that a final year undergraduate dissertation would (reflecting time and resource constraints) employ more than a few research methods. Good dissertations will however demonstrate an awareness of a range of competing methodologies and their relative strengths and weaknesses. Bell (1993), Jankowicz (1995), and Saunders et al (2000) are research texts which past students have found very useful. You may find it useful to study some past dissertations to get an idea of the approaches used by previous students even though they may not be in the business area. Empirical studies published in academic journals will also help you to discover the ways in which different research methods can be applied.

The Ethics of research  a note

You should ensure that you follow established good practice as you engage in the research process. This includes gaining the  informed consent of those whom you may ask to participate in your study. In other words, ensuring that your  subjects are fully aware of what they are letting themselves in for and that they are entirely happy with the arrangements. It is good practice to protect the identity of any individuals and/ or organizations unless you have their express permission to do otherwise. You have a responsibility not to embarrass or harm those who take part in your study. The golden rule is treat your  subjects with respect, inform them fully of the purpose of your study and state clearly how and where your findings will be presented. Finally, you must not fabricate evidence but present, in good faith, that which you have gathered yourself.

Presentation is important

Comprehensive information about the technical layout of the dissertation is provided.

Principally, you are judged on the final typed and suitably bound volume of your dissertation. You should at all times pay attention to the presentation of your work, even when giving your supervisor early drafts of your dissertation. Remember that the effective communication of your work is a vital part of its success.

Due consideration should be given to your writing style and use of English. For example, be consistent in your use of tense and personal pronoun. Equally, give care to your selection and use of words. Avoid emotive and journalistic language and avoid ambiguity. Your supervisor should be particularly helpful at this stage but remember it is not her/ his role to proof read the dissertation. It is good style to be succinct and brief so as to avoid a rambling presentation that lacks natural flow and sequence