Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a good dissertation?

Good dissertations :

Are usually based on a tightly focused research question, with clear aims and objectives;

Use a wide range of sources;

Review the literature critically, that is, with comments made about the strength and value of the contributions, their validity, reliability, relevance and application to the theoretical frameworks for the research problem or issue;

Describe and justify the methodologies selected;

Demonstrate thoughtful and insightful planning, coherence between aims and methods, and consideration of issues such as sampling, access, validity, subjectivity and ethics;

Explain and justify the data collection and analysis process to demonstrate an audit trail that links data collection and analysis to the research problem and to the findings;

Present findings in a focused and structured way;

Present the discussion of findings with independent analytical and evaluative thinking, demonstrating a clear match between objectives and achievements;

Create links between the findings and the theoretical frameworks of the literature;

Identify possible implications of the results for industry and areas for further research;

Reflect on the limitations of the study, including the research process;

Are written as concise, logically structured, critically analytical and evaluative argument;

Resemble a well argued academic research paper and not a management report;

Include accurate citation, acknowledgments of citations and an accurate reference list;

Are presented in a well structured format that is clear to follow and fluently written;

Pay attention to spelling, grammar and punctuation.

A tightly focused, in depth investigation, carried out carefully and to a high standard, is much more desirable than one that is too broad which can only be treated superficially.

Should tutors notes be referenced?

All work used in your assessment should be referenced. This will include your tutor’s notes and handouts, in paper or web format.

Do I have to source information that I have gathered from a website?

Yes, it is very important that you source everything, including websites. If there is no author for the website, make sure that you reference it according to the standard Harvard guidelines.

What about referencing in my oral presentation?

In any oral presentations that you give, you must provide a full list of references. You should ensure there are full references on your PowerPoint presentation; handouts and you should have a reference list that you can distribute to your audience.

What about referencing a piece of work that no longer has copyright?

All work most be referenced regardless of whether is has copyright or not.

What if I want to quote directly from an author as I would never be able to write like that?!

You have two options with this:

Highlight the sentence or two that you want to quote and copy them into the relevant section of your assessment. However, you must clearly show the source and use the correct citation style i.e. Harvard. Be careful though; make sure your assignment does not end up reading like a list of quotations.

After reading the article, chapter, or website, try to put those ideas that you admire into your own words. This will demonstrate to your tutors that you really understood the ideas. Don’t worry if the idea isn’t as succinct as the original. The more you practice the better your skills will become.

What about sourcing well-known facts?

Well known facts do not need to be referenced as they are generally accepted and do not need to be sourced. However, facts that are not widely known or not widely accepted throughout the academic community must be acknowledged.

Should I paraphrase or use direct quotations?

Paraphrasing allows you to elaborate on theories, ideas and viewpoints in your own words which shows more of a sound understanding on what has been stated and enables you to develop your own arguments and ideas. Using direct quotations excessively takes up too much of your word count and shows limited explanation, which is confusing to the reader.

Why is citing and referencing so imperative?

If you write a research paper and you did not reference and cite sources within the text then you are guilty of academic theft (plagiarism). Referencing allows you to give credit to other people’s work, ideas, opinions, viewpoint, facts etc. If you pass other people’s ideas off as your own, it results in severe consequences. Referencing is also helpful in allowing the reader to retrieve the original source and it demonstrates to the reader the number and variety of different sources used to support your arguments.

How do I reference when there is no publication date?

There are times where a publication date is not available and it’s out with your control. Therefore, you can use the term (no date) in brackets. This verifies to the reader that there was no date available and you did not simply forget to incorporate this into the reference.

What is the difference between a reference list and a bibliography?

You will need to produce a reference list and bibliography independently at the end of your research paper. The reference list reveals all the sources/evidence that was consulted and referenced throughout your paper to support your arguments, etc. The bibliography is a list of sources that you have studied to gain an understanding of the topic prior to writing your paper, but have not referred to them in the text.