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What is a dissertation?
A dissertation is an extended piece of written work, submitted for a higher degree, such as a PhD. Your dissertation typically marks an important and exciting stage in your learning process. Usually divided into chapters, this challenging academic paper contains a scientifically detailed examination of your subject matter, with evidence to prove your theory or findings. Your dissertation will also serve as an academic achievement that you can put on your CV and professional resume.
How to choose the appropriate topic?
Focus: you must have a clearly define area/topic to investigate.
Examples of vague topics:
- Marketing (far too vague, this topic needs to be narrowed down).
- Advertising (far too broad a spectrum, this topic needs to be narrowed down).
- The marketing strategies of British Fortune 500 companies (this topic pinpoints a section within marketing but is still a bit vague).
- Is E-commerce the future of business (this topic clearly defines an advertising topic to explore but is still a bit vague).
Example of a focused, concrete topic:
When choosing a topic, select a general topic and expand upon it until there is quantifiable depth to work with. For example: the impact of advertising on consumers. Determine an industry or sector to focus on. Decide which/how many companies to focus your research on. The culminating, well-developed dissertation topic: The Impact of Advertising on Consumers: A Comparative Study of Customer Satisfaction at Tesco and Sainsbury’s.
Things to consider when selecting a topic
- Are you genuinely interested in the topic?
- Do you have expertise, knowledge, educational background, or experience within the field of the selected topic?
- Will your topic provide a large enough interest to populate the necessary research materials needed to successfully complete the dissertation?
- Do you have the resources to completed said research?
- Will this topic allow you to meet your deadline?
Your topic should be well defined but manageable. Select an original topic, or approach a common topic form an entirely new perspective.
Resources to generate ideas
- Read everything: newspapers, journals, periodical, academic sources.
- Use media: watch television, news programs, Trouble at the top, etc.
- Have a chat with someone within the field you have chosen to research. Pick their brain to begin your own initial brainstorming.
- Review the Thesis Collection within your library.
- Affords a better understanding of the subject area, helping you to identify/clarify the topic of focus.
- Helps to determine the scope of what is already known and remains unclear.
- Provides an analytical framework for analysing your research findings.
A good review should be relevant, specific and critical
A poor one reads like the content page of a text
Be sure to distinguish between academic articles and journalistic articles:
- Academic articles are often scholarly reviewed, and contain theories, research, analysis, etc. (e.g. Journal of Marketing Management).
- Journalistic articles may contain facts, data, opinions, etc. They are not scholarly reviewed articles (e.g. Marketing Weekly, FT).
Do I have to complete the primary research? No, however a dissertation based on secondary research only is far more difficult to accomplish. It helps to clearly define your specific research needs. What types of data do you need to prove your thesis? Do you require a research question or a survey question?
What research designs do you require?
- Survey methods, sampling/ sample size, and questionnaire design.
- Appropriate and justified.