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Coventry University The Business School Masters Dissertation Guidelines M99BSS 2011

Dr. Gerry Urwin & Jody Holland

Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________

1. Introduction These guidelines are intended to inform you of:

What is expected of you Support from your supervisor The dissertation format Research ethics Confidentiality Dissertation length Submitting your dissertation Assessment Marking

These guidelines tend to use the terms project and dissertation interchangeably. This reflects common usage although strictly the dissertation is the written document that is based on the research whilst the project is the task of carrying out the research. 2. Our Expectations 2.1 Masters Dissertations are Original Originality means different things to different people. Is a second case study reporting a different instance, but using identical methods to the first, original? When does originality become triviality? Is another dissertation on merger between FE colleges or NHS Trusts original? The answer must lie in what the student brings to the dissertation. Originality is a highly relative concept. The application of a very familiar management model in a new context could make a good masters dissertation (for example, application of TQM in a primary school), particularly if some of the lessons are generalised. Perhaps the only workable definition of originality in the context of masters dissertations is that there should be evidence that the student has added something new and of value (to avoid the triviality issue) to the discussions of the issue tackled by the dissertation.


Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ It is expected that wherever possible a masters dissertation will involve primary research. Primary research is a good way of achieving originality. It can be more difficult to show originality through the use of secondary data alone. 2.2 Dissertations are Professional Documents It is important to you, and us, that your final project report looks the part and is presented in a professional manner. The following requirements must be adhered to in the format of the final dissertation. The dissertation should be around 12,000 words in length. Content excluded from the word count is given in Section 7. The maximum word count is 13,200. This should amount to around 50-60 pages, depending on illustrations and layout. The dissertation should be word-processed in English on single sided white A4 paper.
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The binding should be of a fixed type so that leaves cannot be removed or replaced. The front and rear boards should have sufficient rigidity to support the weight of the work when standing upright. The outside front board should bear the title of the work in at least 24pt type. The name and the initials of the candidate, the qualification and the year of submission should also be shown on the front board. The template can be downloaded from the University website (see appendices). The lettering should be in silver. Two copies of the dissertation should be presented for assessment in a permanent and legible form; either in typescript or print. Where copies are produced by any photocopying processes, these must be of a permanent nature. The font should be Arial and the minimum font size for the body of the text 12 point. One-and-a-half spacing must be used, with a margin of 30mm on the lefthandside for binding. Pages should be numbered consecutively through the main text, including photographs and/or diagrams which are included as whole pages. The title page should give the following information (i) (ii) (iii) The full title of the dissertation The full name of the author The legend A project submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the Coventry University ..







References and quotations should be correctly cited using the CU Harvard method . Diagrams, tables and pictures should be appropriately labelled.


10. The dissertation must also be submitted through Turnitin. No mark will be awarded to work not submitted through Turnitin.


Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ The Teaching Resources Unit (located on the ground floor of the Lanchester Library) provides a binding service for projects at very competitive prices. Their staff know the rules and you will not have to do anything but simply hand in the copies and pay for the work to be done. 2.3 The Individual Nature of a Masters Project The award of a Masters Degree indicates that you have completed a substantial piece of professional and individual work on a management subject at a high level. This does not mean that you cannot seek help on your project. It does, however, mean that where the work of others is employed this should be clearly acknowledged. For example, you may have had help from the Maths Centre in undertaking a particular form of statistical analysis of the data: if so this should be clearly stated. There is nothing wrong in getting help, after all the acquisition, management and deployment of resources (including people) is a key management skill. However the major intellectual contribution and the bulk of the work must be your own. 3. You and Your Project Tutor The role of the Project Tutor The Project Tutor offers strategic guidance to the student during their programme of study. The Project Tutor will act as a guide and ensure that the student is made aware of the quality of their work and progress (or lack of it). The Project Tutor will give formative feedback and be responsible for the first marking of the dissertation. Support may be offered in a number of ways: for example, face-to-face meetings, telephone and electronic correspondence. A key to the success of any programme lies in the relationship between the student and the Project Tutor. Regular contact with and feedback from the Project Tutor will be a major factor in ensuring successful completion of studies. For this reason, a clearly defined timetable for student-tutor meetings should be agreed together with an agreed schedule for the submission of draft work. This timetable may need to be revised as the research project proceeds. The student should follow these simple guidelines to ensure they get the most from each meeting with their Project Tutor:

Book appointments into the Project Tutors diary in good time or agree a schedule of meetings Send an agenda of issues for discussion, together with any relevant work, before the meeting, allowing time for the tutor to read it before the meeting As a follow-up, prepare a brief action plan and send your Project Tutor a copy

Once a topic has been decided upon, the student must work closely with their Project Tutor. However, the tutor is not the author or co-author of projects; their role is limited to guiding and advising the candidate. From time to time good tutors will _________________________________________________________________

Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ challenge you. This is by no means an attempt to demean you but more to push or prod you towards a deeper understanding of the subject matter and so enhance the final outcome. Students Expectations The student can expect their Project Tutor to

Be knowledgeable in your general chosen area Be familiar with what makes an acceptable project Be supportive and helpful, but honest Read work sent to them in advance of meetings Be available when an appointment is made in advance Inform them if they will be absent from the university Be constructively critical (this criticism is aimed at helping you improve the project) Offer appropriate information and suggested reading Give up to a total of 5 hours support

5 hours will go a long way if prior to the meeting the student sends through an agenda and the work for feedback. Project Tutors Expectations The Project Tutor will expect the student to

Keep in touch with them. Follow an action plan chart Maintain a contact log (see appendices) Be independent and think for themself Prepare for supervision by having an agenda for the meeting Prepare written work regularly for discussion (tutors need something to supervise!) Take advice from other people Be honest when reporting progress


Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ Follow the advice given Be interested in the work for its own sake rather than just to get a qualification

Ultimately the student is responsible for Carrying out the research Writing up the project Presenting the project in an approved form Defending the dissertation as required

The Project Tutor will not read endless drafts of the dissertation or chapters of it. Many Project Tutors take extended holidays during the summer... the schedule of meetings and contacts should take this into account. What to do if things go wrong Occasionally things will go wrong between a student and their Project Tutor. Your first point of contact should always be to your Project Tutor by a visit, e-mail, phone or letter stating what you believe the problem to be. It is expected that these discussions will resolve the issue in the majority of cases If however the tutor does not respond within a 5 working day period (subject to them not being absent from the university) and you are unable to contact them, or if the discussions with them have not resolved the issue, then you should contact your Head of Department.

4. Dissertation Format All dissertations must contain the following (this is not meant to be a list of required chapter headings but a checklist of items which must be covered somewhere):

Front Pages Abstract or Executive Summary Background and Objectives Literature Review Methodology _________________________________________________________________

Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________

Data Collection, Presentation, Analysis and Findings Conclusions Recommendations (or Policy Implications) List of References

4.1 Front Pages This should include

Title page Students name Supervisors name Chapter headings with page numbers List of tables List of figures List of appendices Glossary

4.2 Abstract/ Executive Summary This synopsis of around 500 words calls for concentrated thought. It should state succinctly the research problem or research question being diagnosed, how the research was addressed, the findings of the research, the conclusions drawn and where appropriate, the subsequent recommendations. 4.3 Background and Objectives This should tell the reader what the project is about, so accuracy is important. Be clear what the topic is about because it is upon this that judgement is made. It should contain the essential background material, the research questions, the research aim and the research objectives 4.4 Literature Review This should contain a summary of the key literature on the topic. You should identify key authors in your chosen field, synthesise their contributions and critique their immediate relevance to your work. The links between the literature review and the research question(s) needs to be strong and clear. 4.5 Methodology/ Research Plan This states how the research was conducted. This section is often one of the weakest in dissertations. The major source of weakness is that, very often, the chosen research methods are not linked together into a research strategy linked to the work being undertaken. The research method(s) used needs to be justified in terms of the research objectives and not for its own sake, i.e. is the research method chosen appropriate, and why. 4.6 Data Collection and Analysis


Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ This is often the most substantial part of any dissertation. It contains the structured analysis of your work. It must be written carefully and logically, preferably under chapter and sub-headings to give guidance to the reader. 4.7 Conclusions These should be fairly short and, rather than a summary, be an illumination of the main lessons or points that can be elicited from your findings. Conclusions are not the same as recommendations. Conclusions should lead to recommendations. For example a conclusion of a piece of work might be that employees are confused and ill-informed about company policy. An associated recommendation would suggest ways in which communications might be improved. Note that there is not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence between conclusions and recommendations. Several conclusions might be linked to a single recommendation and vice versa. 4.8 Recommendations These should be relevant to the initial problems being investigated as well as those encountered subsequently as the dissertation progresses. Recommendations must also be feasible and above all justified by the research. Finally, the implications of implementing the recommendations must be addressed. 4.9 List of References Place all references collectively at the end of the dissertation. Include only material that has been cited. The CU Harvard style is to be used for citations and referencing. 4.10 Appendices Appendices contain additional materials that support your dissertation: charts, graphs, tables, extracts, photographs. If, however, any of these is crucial to the understanding of the main text then it should be placed where directly relevant. Be selective weight is no measure of quality. Your ethics documents need to be included amongst the appendices. 5. Research Ethics 5.1 Ethics Procedure The Faculty of Business, Environment and Society recognises the importance that research is conducted in an ethical manner. A broad view of research ethics would include the conduct of research in general, issues of risk or harm to individuals, plagiarism, confidentiality, privacy, protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), safety, honesty in reporting results and many other issues. Within the context of research the Faculty of Business, Environment and Society defines "ethics" as


Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ the processes involved in conducting research to the highest standards of moral conduct thereby protecting the rights, feelings and welfare of all those involved in the research whether directly or indirectly. The following is a list of safeguards, but this is by no means exhaustive: Research should be conducted in such a way so as not to cause harm to anyone Research should be conducted in an honest fashion, findings should be reported accurately and as fully as required so as not to mislead The input of others should be acknowledged Research subjects have a right to safeguard their integrity

Every precaution should be taken to respect the privacy of subjects if they so wish Participation in the research should not damage the subject's physical or mental well being

The research must not use the intellectual property of others without first gaining the permission of the owners Data should be treated confidentially

The primary responsibility for conducting research in an ethical manner lies with the researcher. However project supervisors also have a responsibility for ensuring that the students they supervise do not conduct their research in an unethical manner. The Faculty of Business, Environment and Society has an ethics approval procedure. This procedure must be followed and ethical approval for your research obtained before commencing data collection. The Ethics Student Handbook is available the module web on CUOnline. 5.2 Plagiarism There is sometimes a temptation for some students to pass off other peoples published work as their own and so commit plagiarism. There is difficulty in defining plagiarism closely; but if examiners find chunks of dissertations copied directly from books and journals then a prima facie case of plagiarism will be investigated. If the case is proven then it is highly likely that the dissertation will be failed. To avoid this you should remember that

It is legitimate to summarise articles and journal material provided you use your own words If you do use exact phrases, sentences or paragraphs from sources then always place them inside quotation marks, cite the author(s) and include the full reference in the References section at the end of the dissertation.


Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ Your dissertation must be your own work. Copying from any other source whatever, without acknowledgement, constitutes plagiarism. If a case of plagiarism is proved the dissertation will be awarded a mark of zero and you will automatically fail. You will not normally be allowed to submit a new project at a later date. You will be able to check your work using Turnitin on CUOnline and are required to post the final version to Turnitin. 6. Confidentiality In some cases, particularly where a dissertation is being undertaken in conjunction with a client (for example your employer), the results of the work may be confidential. This could be the case, if, for example

Commercially valuable or sensitive information is contained in the text Individuals might be identifiable

Internal documentation which was not intended for public consumption is being used as research evidence Ethical considerations, such as protection of privacy, can only be met by keeping the work confidential The Faculty of BES respects the confidentiality of others. However your dissertation must be such that it can be seen by others involved in the marking process, other than your tutor: If you want your dissertation to remain confidential in whole or in part then you must provide a confidentiality agreement to the Faculty of Business, Environment and Society before submission. This should cover: The text of a confidentiality notice to be added to the front pages of the dissertation (probably as an additional page after the title page) An acceptable text could be, for example, This dissertation contains confidential material. Its contents, in whole or in part, must not be communicated to any other person other than the assessors nominated by FBES and must not be used for any other purpose than satisfying the conditions for the award of the Coventry University ................. 7. Dissertation Length Your work will be judged on its quality and not its length. However it is unlikely that a short dissertation, however insightful, will be able to deal with all the issues in sufficient depth. Your dissertation should be approximately 12,000 words in length, excluding the Front Pages, Executive Summary and List of Appendices. If you find yourself _________________________________________________________________ 10

Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ running out of space try skilful editing before resorting to putting vital material into appendices. The upper limit is 13,200 words. 8. Submitting Your Dissertation We ask postgraduate students to confirm that the dissertation is their own work. This is done on the submission form which is included in the appendix. Dissertations that are submitted without the required declaration may not be marked. There may be some students who find it impossible to meet this submission deadline for reasons beyond their control. In such cases you can ask for a deferral; if this is granted you will be able to submit at a later date. However, your work may miss the scheduled examination board and this may delay your award and graduation. If you feel you may need to ask for a deferral it is essential that you immediately contact your supervisor and the postgraduate office for guidance. Deferrals are not automatic. They are only granted in cases of illness or serious interruption to your studies beyond your control; they are only granted at the discretion of the Deferral Panel on the strength of the case being made. A form for seeking a deferral is available from the Postgraduate Reception. Exceptionally, further deferrals may be granted but you must, in any event, submit your dissertation within three years of starting your masters. After that you will be out of time and deemed to have failed. Two bound copies of the dissertation, with the ethics compliance form (and other relevant ethical forms) as an appendix, and the submission form should be handed to the Postgraduate Reception by 4pm on Monday 5th September 2011. Unless the dissertation is submitted thorough the Turnitin icon on CUOnline, it will not be marked. On request, one copy can be returned to you between the announcement of the results and Graduation Day. 9. Assessment The assessment criteria are summarised in the appendix. Use them to evaluate the quality of your dissertation. The pass mark is 40%, with 60-69% being awarded a merit and 70% and above a distinction. The indicators for each marking band are shown in the appendices. 10. Who Will Mark Your Dissertation? Your dissertation will be marked by your Project Tutor. Samples of all the dissertations submitted are moderated internally, and by the External Examiner for the programme. If you fail you will be given feedback and written comment on how your work may be improved to reach a pass standard. However, supervisors will not normally be expected to give additional guidance prior to resubmission.

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Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ The maximum mark available for resubmitted dissertations is 40%. Resubmitted dissertations will not normally be considered until the next examination board. 10. Recommended Text Bryman A & Bell E. (2007) 2nd edn. Business Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Dr. Gerry Urwin and Jody Holland (March 2011)

Coventry University Dissertation Template If you wish to acquire the Coventry University Dissertation Template then: 1. Go to the Coventry University website: 2. Choose Quick Links at the top of the page and select the Library option. This will take you to the Library homepage. 3. On the left-hand side select The Resource Shop tab. 4. Select the Binding section option. 5. Scroll down until you see the Dissertation Cover Template. Click on this and follow the instruction carefully. 6. Bring the printed front page with your dissertation to The Resource Shop and they will do the rest.

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Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________

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Log of Contact with Project Tutor

Date 1 Time Duration Purpose Actions

MASTERS DISSERTATION SUBMISSION FORM Students family name First names Student ID No Course: Tutor Dissertation Title . . . Declaration I certify that this dissertation is my own work. I have read the University regulations concerning plagiarism. I am/am not* willing to allow Coventry Business School to use my dissertation as a sample for future students. (* please delete as appropriate.) Signed Date

Please submit this form together with two bound copies of your dissertation. The ethics compliance form should be included as an appendix and the dissertation submitted through Turnitin.