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Faculty of Economics, Management And AccountancyUniversity of Malta MBA Dissertation Guidelines

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Faculty of Economics, Management And AccountancyUniversity of Malta MBA Dissertation Guidelines2As part of the degree formation you are expected topresent a dissertation project. This booklet containsdetails of expected practice with respect to the completionof the MBA dissertation. Clearly general guidelines suchas these may not cover all circumstances. Particularemphasis and minor adjustments may be necessary inindividual cases.It is thus imperative that you consult your tutors forspecific advice and guidance on matters pertaining to thedesign and content of your study and of course, thereporting of it.Nadia TheumaJune 20013CONTENTSPART 1: The MBA Dissertation ……………………………..… 4PART 2: Structuring the Research Proposal ……………………….. 6PART 3: Notes on Specific Aspects of the Dissertation …………… 7PART 4: Some Other Considerations …………………………….… 10PART 5: Sources for Further Reading ………………………………. 12AppendicesAppendix 1 Prototype of Title Page ………………………….….. 134PART 1: THE MBA DISSERTATION1.1 General Framework of the DissertationThe following outline is indicative of the overall structure of a dissertation. Clearly it will have to beadapted to the particular study you have carried out.SECTION PAGETitle PageAbstractStatement of AuthenticityAcknowledgementsTable of ContentsList of TablesList of FiguresCHAPTER 1 IntroductionCHAPTER 2 Literature ReviewCHAPTER 3 MethodologyCHAPTER 4 Presentation of DataCHAPTER 5 Analysis of DataCHAPTER 6 Discussion and Interpretation of FindingsCHAPTER 7 Conclusions, Implications and RecommendationsReferencesAppendices1.2 Word LengthThe total length of the dissertation is 20,000-25,000 words. This length is exclusive of title and contentspage, figures, tables, appendices and references.1.3 PlagiarismPlagiarism, that is, the willful representation of an other person’s work, without the acknowledgement orthe deliberate and unacknowledged incorporation in a student’s work of material derived from the work(published or otherwise) of another, is UNACCEPTABLE and will incur the penalty of outright failure.1.4 Planning Your WorkYou are advised to begin working on your dissertation immediately. The lectures in Research Methods heldduring the first term of your course are useful in helping you to plan background material and to chooseyour methodology.You should see your supervisor on a regular basis – at least once every two weeks in the beginning. It isalso advisable to start writing as soon as possible. Do not worry if you feel that your material is not goodenough, almost all early material is weak at the beginning. Starting to write at an early stage will enable5your supervisor to see what direction you are taking, where your weaknesses are and give you constructiveadvice and you will gain confidence from this feedback.1.5 The Role of Your Supervisor1. Discuss possible directions for the study and advise on aims and objectives2. Suggest some general areas of research for consideration and where possible, any examples ofcurrent research relevant to the topic.3. Be available for regular meetings4. Examine written work and provide constructive criticism. It is not the responsibility of thesupervisor to correct spelling mistakes, etc. other than to point out these are present: nor is it theduty of the supervisor to organise the presentation content of the work, although advice may beprovided if enough work has been submitted.5. Make student aware of inadequate progress or any other facts which could impede the completionof a successful piece of work.6. Mark the dissertation, confer with the examiner and submit the agreed mark to the Chairman ofthe Dissertation Board.1.6 Your Responsibilities1. It is your responsibility to make appointments on a regularbasis. If you difficulty in arranging appointments you mustcontact the Research Methods Course Co-Ordinator or the Headof Department.2. Provide written work for your supervisor to comment on;maintain your own progress.3. Where possible, submit your written work in advance of yourappointment in order that your supervisor has time to offer youconstructive criticism.4. Comply with the regulations as detailed in this handbook.6PART 2: STRUCTURE OF THE RESEARCH PROPOSAL2.1 IntroductionAlthough there is no single way of structuring a project or dissertation proposal the following structureidentifies the areas which should be addressed within the proposal. If all of these areas are considered aspart of the proposal then the actual research project should be more coherent and your research should bemore productive.The areas to consider in the research proposal:The research question / problem /topic / hypothesisIntroduction and rationale for researchResearch ObjectivesResearch Methods2.2. The Research ProposalThe areas covered in the research proposal are expanded below.Title Page· Proposed Title· Name of Student· Course· Supervisor’s NameThe Research Question / Problem / Topic or Hypothesis· identify your area of research keeping it broad enough to embrace existing literature but· sufficiently narrow to allow a detailed investigation· the area identified could form a working titleIntroduction and Rationale for Research· explain why you think this is a valid research topic· what will the research contribute to the field?Research Aim and Objectives· the aim of the dissertation should indicate what you wish to achieve· the objectives are a list of goals which must be completed in order to satisfy the aim (usually about 6)Eg. to provide a state of the art reviewto determine how a particular market operatesto establish a typologyto assess the impact of somethingResearch Methodology· choose methods which will allow you to meet each of the objectives listed above; justify your methodschosen and the disadvantages of the methods rejected· try to use a mix of methods7PART 3: SOME NOTES ON SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THEDISSERTATIONWhat follows is an attempt to provide you with some rules, and some helpful advice on an acceptablepractice. However you are still advised to consult your tutor for more specific advice in relation to yourdissertation.3.1 The AbstractAn abstract should provide an overview of your study in all its aspects. It should be around 250-300 inwords and should answer the following questions.· What does this research set out to do and why?· How did it seek to do it?· What are the general findings?· What do these suggest?· What conclusions are reached?· What are the implications of these?3.2 AcknowledgementsIn this sections you should express thanks to those who assisted you in your research. These should be keptto a minimum and include academic supervisors and people who participated in the fieldwork, any fundingbodies and probably a long-suffering spouse, friend or relative.3.3 IntroductionIn the introduction you should introduce the reader to the background of the study and the nature of theproblem being considered. It should therefore set the study in context explaining why this study isimportant, highlighting significant issues, problems and ideas. The aim and objectives should be statedclearly in this chapter.3.4 Literature ReviewIn a dissertation a student is expected to provide a critical review of the existing literature (published andunpublished) on the research area being investigated. This does not mean that you have to indicate everybook and article that has been written on the subject but any you do read should be referencedappropriately. Nevertheless your review should indicate that you have studied existing and recent work inthe field. The Harvard System (author/date) of referencing should be used. The literature review should be:· Relevant: Literature used should support your arguments relating to your research question and aimand objectives of the study. It should uphold methodology. In some cases you may need to discussliterature review and its relationship to methodology in a separate chapter.· Up-to-Date: Recent literature (not older than five years) is recommended unless you are referring toclassical works in your field of study. Sources used have to be in their majority primary sources,secondary referencing may be used.· Comprehensive: Demonstrate that you have read extensively without being overinclusive. Developyour ability to employ summary statements and to synthesize.83.5 MethodologyThe purpose of this chapter is to indicate what you actually did in your research so that your reader mayevaluate the design procedure and findings of your study. The methodology section should be wellstructured,written in concise, matter-of-fact manner and should provide answers to the following questions- What actually happened - How? - To whom- With what result? - How were problems dealt with?Approach to data?The following is an outline of the Methodology Section· Review of Data Collection Methods- Why were the data collection methods you chose the best suited to fit your research question?· Secondary Data- What secondary data was used? How does it feed into the current research?· Primary Data:- A detailed description of research conducted, design of the tool, description of fieldwork, you alsoneed to mention any specific procedures used.· Criteria for Sample Selection- Number of total sample, characteristics of sample and method of selection· Pilot Study- To whom was the study administered, what changes were made to the research tool· Methods of Analysis-- Briefly explain how you propose to analyse the data, if computer software is going to be used, adescription of the type of software has to be included.· Limitations- What were the limitations of this study and how did you overcome these limitations?3.6 Presentation and Analysis of DataIn the presentation of data you are to present the major findings of your research in a summarised form andthe details of the analyses which have been performed. The content and style depend on the nature of theresearch method chosen, but in the case of both quantitative and qualitative studies, the object is to presentthe data collected to answer the research questions.3.6.1 Presentation and Analysis of Qualitative Research1. Presentation of data is mainly descriptive and this is usually presented in a chronological order.2. Analysis of data is conducted through the identification of themes. The research tools inqualitative research include open-ended descriptions, transcripts of interviews, essays andobservations. These produce a mass of data which sometimes can be difficult to sift. A useful wayto process this data is to keep the research question(s) in mind, to read through the data a couple oftimes until particular issues or themes present themselves. These can be suggestive of a structurefor presenting the descriptive data. Useful source for this type of analysis are: Berg, B (1995) (2nd.ed.) Qualitative Research for the Social Sciences Allyn and Bacon, London and Boston; Wolcott,H. F. (1994) Transforming Qualitative Data: Description, Analysis and Interpretation. Sage:Thousand Oaks, CA.3. Evidence is usually in form of quotations from the subjects being studied, discussions of peopleinvolved, illustrations, photographs – the variations are unlimited.4. You may find that there is evidence of difference of opinion. Include variations in opinion anddescribe poles of belief. These add richness to qualitative research.93.6.2 Presentation and Analysis of Quantitative Research1. As a preliminary to working out results, any test given must be scored, data inputted into theappropriate computer programme and additional material gained from the sample must be sortedout. This is often purely mechanical work, and it takes time but must be done accurately.2. The data presented must not be in their raw form (this is placed in the Appendices). The only timeyou would ever describe data on individual subjects is when you have done a case study.3. In this section, the task is to summarise data meaningfully, through the use of descriptive statistics.These include mean scores, medians, ranges, standard deviations, correlation coefficients.4. Visual presentation is very important in quantitative research. Graphs, tables, histograms, bargraphs are simple ways in which to present condensed data but they are also very effective.3.7 Discussion of Results and Conclusions1. This chapter should draw together all the issues of the research and link back to the aim and objectiveswhich were outlined in the Introduction and Methodology. Have the aims set at the beginning beenmet? If not, why not?2. Evaluate how your findings bear on issues or points raised in the Literature Review.3. What are the implications arising from the findings. Be careful with your generalisations and yourinterpretations. Recommendations should be based on evidence.4. Do you have suggestions for future research in this area?3.8 ReferencesFull details of all the books and journal articles cited or referenced throughout the dissertation should beincluded in this chapter. A reader should be able to identify the exact source and refer to it directly. TheHarvard method of referencing is the recommended system.3.9 AppendicesThe Appendices should include selective, supplementary material which is distracting when placed in themain body of text. Only material which is necessary for a full understanding of your study should beincluded. These include important forms, questionnaires or interview schedules, description of equipmentor settings, tables and lists of data supportive of the study.10PART 4: SOME OTHER CONSIDERATIONS4.1 Presentation Layout4.1.1 General Text: Text should be double-spaced using one side of the page onlyFont selected should be Times New RomanPrint size 12Margins at least 3.5cm on the left margin2.0 cm on the right margin3.0 cm on the top margin2.5 cm on the bottom marginPage numbers: Centered at the bottom of the pageRoman Numbers (i, ii….) should be used from thefirst page (excluding the title page) until the mainbody of the text where the Introduction commenceson page 1.Justified: Both left and rightParagraphs: No indentationStart new paragraph after two returnsIn-text emphasis: Use italics or bold typeface .4.1.2 Headings: Chapter Headings Print size 16 in bold typefaceSub-Headings Print size 14 in bold typefaceMain Chapeteheadings in block capitalsChapter headings left justified at the top of a new pageAll other headings justified and followed by a single line spaceSub-headings: Use sub-headings together with a numbering systemused in this document thus giving structure to yourwork.4.1.3 Quotations: Single line-spacingIndented left and rightJustified left and rightMust include author name, date and page number referring to the parent textMust be preceded and followed by a line space.4.1.4 Tables, Figures etc., Must be numbered according to the chapter (eg. Table 5.1 means that itis located in Chapter 5 and that it is the first table presented anddiscussed in this chapter)Must have a title at the top and key (legend) underneath114.3 BindingThree hardbound copies of the dissertation are to be handed in. The hardbound copies should have a winecover with gold lettering. It is the students\' responsibility to organize the binding and make sure that thecopies are ready before the submission date.4.2 Typing and Proof ReadingAlways proof read your copies for good grammar andpresentation before handing your work to your tutor.Special attention should b made to the final draft of yourdissertation.Be prepared for the unexpected such as hard disk failure,loss or corruption of diskettes and printer failure. Useback-up disks and always keep (updated) hard copies ofyour work in case of an emergency!12PART 5 SOURCES FOR FURTHER READINGYou will be given course work material during the Research Methods Class. However, you are stronglyencouraged to consult the following list of suggested readings. In addition, the Faculty has a number ofbooks on research methodology, which you can consult for reference. Please refer to the Course Tutor forfurther information.Blaxter L, Hughes C and Tight M. (1996) How to Research Open University PressClark, M. Riley, M., Wilkie E. and Wood, R (1998) Researching and Writing Dissertations in Hospitalityand Tourism International Thomson Business PressCryer P. (1994) The Research Student’s Guide To SuccessMiles, M.B. and Hubeman A.M. (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded SourceBook (2nd. ed. ) Thousand Oaks: Sage13Appendix 1: Prototype of Title PageTitle(Subtitle)Blob Sample (student’s name)A dissertation submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirementsof Masters in Business Administration at theFaculty of Economics, Management and AccountancyUniversity of Malta.Month Year