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PhD Research Methodology

PhD Research Methodology

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Published by jeffwooller
How to write a PhD thesis
How to write a PhD thesis

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Published by: jeffwooller on Nov 24, 2010
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05/10/2013

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PhD thesis guidelines for use by students of theIrish University Business School www.iubs.co.uk 
What is a PhD thesis?
A PhD thesis brings together the layout of a report with the characteristics of an essay. With a PhDthesis, you are not given a title or subject area. You, the researcher must decide on these and it isimportant that the subject area is not the subject of a previous PhD. The thesis supervisor shouldagree with both the title and the subject area.
How should I decide what subject area to examine?
We suggest that you consider the following factors:a) In what topics are you interested? b) What do you intend to do after your degree?c) What work experience have you had?d) What are your time constraints and resource limitations?e) In which areas are you best able to obtain original data?
What rules should I know about?
It should be a minimum of 70,000 words.It should be written in Times New Roman with 1.5 spacing.It should clear a grammar checker set for English(UK) and to check for style as well as grammar.It should follow our detailed ‘Style’ document, which you should request before you commencewriting.It should be in report format and 1.5 line spacing with 25 mm margins.It is strongly recommended that you work on the ‘grandfather, father, son’ saving technique to avoidloss of your work in progress. Keeping copies in a different location is highly recommended
What is a literature review
According to Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org
 
): “A literature review is a body of text that aims toreview the critical points of current knowledge including substantive findings as well as theoreticaland methodological contributions to a particular topic. Literature reviews aresecondary sources, and
 
as such, do not report any new or original experimental work.Most often associated with academic-oriented literature, such astheses,a literature review usually precedes a research proposal and results section. Its ultimate goal is to bring the reader up to datewith current literature on a topic and forms the basis for another goal, such as future research thatmay be needed in the area.A well-structured literature review is characterized by alogicalflow of ideas; current and relevantreferences with consistent, appropriatereferencing style; proper use of terminology; and an unbiased and comprehensive view of the previous research on the topic.”You will be using a literature review as a basis for further investigation, while addressing practicalissues, which are reliant on the collection of primary data in order to resolve these problems. It is this primary data, which is of paramount importance in a PhD and it is important that the literature searchis not given too much emphasis. Not more than 10% of the total number of words should be givenover to the literature review.
How do I go about starting my literature review
?
Start with a few key words, which can be used to search databases. You need to focus heavily onacademic writings as you need to deal with the subject in an analytical, interpretative or evaluativemanner rather than just getting facts.Record the literature you have reviewed to prevent delays when compiling your bibliography. Youneed full bibliographic details of all works. (You should know how to produce a bibliography, and agood referencing procedure. There are many good references to this on the internet).
Formulation of hypothesis
Before embarking on the research project, a hypothesis is formulated. A hypothesis is a predictionused as a basis for the study. It is important that you do not make assumptions as to the truth or falsity of the hypothesis before you commence with the research. A hypothesis can be stated in twoways:The 'null' hypothesis (abbreviated to Ho)
 
The ‘a
lternative' or 'experimental'
hypothesisThe null hypothesis states that there will be 'no difference' or 'no significant difference' between onevariable and another (hence the term ‘null’). The alternative hypothesis assumes that one variablemay have an affect on another.Let us say for example that we wish to examine the link between job satisfaction and performance -we may state the alternative hypothesis as:‘Job satisfaction leads to good performance’ or ‘Low levels of job satisfaction lead to poor  performance’.The null hypothesis would therefore be:‘Job
 
satisfaction has no effect on performance’.
Research methodology
There are various methods of investigation, which can be used when undertaking research work. Theknack is to
 
ensure you
 
choose the most appropriate and effective methods to suit your study. Noteveryone's methodologies will be the same. This is something, which needs to be tailored to your  particular research area.The methodologies are too numerous to acknowledge in great depth; additional reading is alwaysrecommended. Four popular methods, which are examined below are: interview, observation,questionnaire/survey and experimental method (used mainly in social science for 'before and after'comparisons).Always pilot your chosen method - you should test it through a pilot survey, which will allow you to practice your research skills before undertaking a large study. You will be able to refine the way youword questions, interviewing technique and data recording methods. When piloting questionnaires -ask your initial sample what difficulties they had completing the questionnaire and alter itaccordingly.
Observational study

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