Coventry University The Business School Masters Dissertation Guidelines M99BSS 2011

Dr. Gerry Urwin & Jody Holland

“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. 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. Our Expectations 2. The application of a very familiar management model in a “new” context could make a good masters dissertation (for example.1 Masters Dissertations are Original “Originality” means different things to different people. application of TQM in a primary school). Is a second case study reporting a different instance. 2.Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ 1. particularly if some of the lessons are generalised. “Originality” is a highly relative concept. but using identical methods to the first. 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. _________________________________________________________________ 2 . 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.

No mark will be awarded to work not submitted through Turnitin. 1.Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ It is expected that wherever possible a masters dissertation will involve primary research. The maximum word count is 13. 2. One-and-a-half spacing must be used. depending on illustrations and layout. 7. The dissertation should be around 12.” 3. 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 …………. This should amount to around 50-60 pages. including photographs and/or diagrams which are included as whole pages. The name and the initials of the candidate. Primary research is a good way of achieving originality. The following requirements must be adhered to in the format of the final dissertation. Diagrams. The dissertation should be word-processed in English on single sided white A4 paper. References and quotations should be correctly cited using the CU Harvard method . The template can be downloaded from the University website (see appendices). that your final project report looks the part and is presented in a professional manner. The front and rear boards should have sufficient rigidity to support the weight of the work when standing upright. 10. and us. Content excluded from the word count is given in Section 7. Two copies of the dissertation should be presented for assessment in a permanent and legible form. 8.2 Dissertations are Professional Documents It is important to you. Where copies are produced by any photocopying processes. 6. either in typescript or print.000 words in length. 2. The binding should be of a fixed type so that leaves cannot be removed or replaced. Pages should be numbered consecutively through the main text. 5. The font should be Arial and the minimum font size for the body of the text 12 point.. The outside front board should bear the title of the work in at least 24pt type. with a margin of 30mm on the lefthandside for binding. 9. It can be more difficult to show originality through the use of secondary data alone. The dissertation must also be submitted through Turnitin.200. the qualification and the year of submission should also be shown on the front board. 4. these must be of a permanent nature. tables and pictures should be appropriately labelled. _________________________________________________________________ 3 . The lettering should be in silver.

There is nothing wrong in getting help. A key to the success of any programme lies in the relationship between the student and the Project Tutor. 2. management and deployment of resources (including people) is a key management skill. However. It does. From time to time good tutors will _________________________________________________________________ 4 . telephone and electronic correspondence. face-to-face meetings. prepare a brief action plan and send your Project Tutor a copy • • Once a topic has been decided upon. allowing time for the tutor to read it before the meeting As a follow-up. a clearly defined timetable for student-tutor meetings should be agreed together with an agreed schedule for the submission of draft work. For example.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. The Project Tutor will give formative feedback and be responsible for the first marking of the dissertation. Regular contact with and feedback from the Project Tutor will be a major factor in ensuring successful completion of studies. Support may be offered in a number of ways: for example. This does not mean that you cannot seek help on your project. However the major intellectual contribution and the bulk of the work must be your own. the student must work closely with their Project Tutor. before the meeting. however. after all the acquisition. together with any relevant work.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. 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. mean that where the work of others is employed this should be clearly acknowledged. 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. 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 Tutor’s diary in good time or agree a schedule of meetings Send an agenda of issues for discussion. the tutor is not the author or co-author of projects. 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). 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. their role is limited to guiding and advising the candidate. For this reason. This timetable may need to be revised as the research project proceeds. 3.

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. 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. Student’s 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. 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 • • • • _________________________________________________________________ 5 .Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ challenge you. Project Tutor’s Expectations The Project Tutor will expect the student to • • • • Keep in touch with them.

What to do if things “go wrong” Occasionally things will go wrong between a student and their Project Tutor. 4.. Your first point of contact should always be to your Project Tutor by a visit. e-mail. the schedule of meetings and contacts should take this into account. then you should contact your Head of Department.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. 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.. 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 _________________________________________________________________ 6 . phone or letter stating what you believe the problem to be. Many Project Tutors take extended holidays during the summer….

5 Methodology/ Research Plan This states how the research was conducted. the research questions. 4.1 Front Pages This should include • • • • • • • • Title page Student’s name Supervisor’s name Chapter headings with page numbers List of tables List of figures List of appendices Glossary 4. is the research method chosen appropriate. This section is often one of the weakest in dissertations. synthesise their contributions and critique their immediate relevance to your work. very often. Presentation. Analysis and Findings Conclusions Recommendations (or Policy Implications) List of References 4. You should identify key authors in your chosen field. The major source of weakness is that. the chosen research methods are not linked together into a research strategy linked to the work being undertaken. the findings of the research. 4.3 Background and Objectives This should tell the reader what the project is about. The links between the literature review and the research question(s) needs to be strong and clear. the conclusions drawn and where appropriate.Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ • • • • Data Collection. so accuracy is important. how the research was addressed.2 Abstract/ Executive Summary This synopsis of around 500 words calls for concentrated thought. The research method(s) used needs to be justified in terms of the research objectives and not for its own sake. the subsequent recommendations. 4. It should contain the essential background material. the research aim and the research objectives 4. Be clear what the topic is about because it is upon this that judgement is made.6 Data Collection and Analysis _________________________________________________________________ 7 .4 Literature Review This should contain a summary of the key literature on the topic. i.e. and why. It should state succinctly the research problem or research question being diagnosed.

Recommendations must also be feasible and above all justified by the research. graphs. Within the context of research the Faculty of Business.8 Recommendations These should be relevant to the initial problems being investigated as well as those encountered subsequently as the dissertation progresses. 4.Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ This is often the most substantial part of any dissertation. Conclusions should lead to recommendations. tables. For example a conclusion of a piece of work might be that employees are confused and ill-informed about company policy.1 Ethics Procedure The Faculty of Business. Conclusions are not the same as recommendations. protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). issues of risk or harm to individuals. Include only material that has been cited. If. An associated recommendation would suggest ways in which communications might be improved. 4. Several conclusions might be linked to a single recommendation and vice versa. Environment and Society defines "ethics" as _________________________________________________________________ 8 . Note that there is not necessarily a one-to-one correspondence between conclusions and recommendations. be an illumination of the main lessons or points that can be elicited from your findings. confidentiality. preferably under chapter and sub-headings to give guidance to the reader. rather than a summary.9 List of References Place all references collectively at the end of the dissertation. Research Ethics 5. Be selective – weight is no measure of quality. however. Your ethics documents need to be included amongst the appendices. It contains the structured analysis of your work. It must be written carefully and logically. Environment and Society recognises the importance that research is conducted in an ethical manner. privacy.10 Appendices Appendices contain additional materials that support your dissertation: charts. honesty in reporting results and many other issues. photographs. 5. safety. The CU Harvard style is to be used for citations and referencing. Finally. the implications of implementing the recommendations must be addressed. 4. plagiarism. any of these is crucial to the understanding of the main text then it should be placed where directly relevant. A broad view of research ethics would include the conduct of research in general. 4.7 Conclusions These should be fairly short and. extracts.

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. However project supervisors also have a responsibility for ensuring that the students they supervise do not conduct their research in an unethical manner. sentences or paragraphs from sources then always place them inside quotation marks.2 Plagiarism There is sometimes a temptation for some students to pass off other people’s published work as their own and so commit plagiarism. 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. The Faculty of Business. The Ethics Student Handbook is available the module web on CUOnline. Environment and Society has an ethics approval procedure. There is difficulty in defining plagiarism closely. 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. 5. 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. The following is a list of safeguards. cite the author(s) and include the full reference in the References section at the end of the dissertation. This procedure must be followed and ethical approval for your research obtained before commencing data collection. _________________________________________________________________ 9 . but if examiners find chunks of dissertations copied directly from books and journals then a prima facie case of plagiarism will be investigated.

Executive Summary and List of Appendices.Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ Your dissertation must be your own work.. You will be able to check your work using Turnitin on CUOnline and are required to post the final version to Turnitin.. for example.. if. excluding the Front Pages. “This dissertation contains confidential material.. 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. the results of the work may be confidential.. This could be the case. will be able to deal with all the issues in sufficient depth. in whole or in part.. Your dissertation should be approximately 12. constitutes plagiarism.. Environment and Society before submission. particularly where a dissertation is being undertaken in conjunction with a client (for example your employer). However it is unlikely that a short dissertation. If you find yourself _________________________________________________________________ 10 .. 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. However your dissertation must be such that it can be seen by others involved in the marking process. If a case of plagiarism is proved the dissertation will be awarded a mark of zero and you will automatically fail. 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 . Confidentiality In some cases. 6..... Its contents. can only be met by keeping the work confidential The Faculty of BES respects the confidentiality of others.” 7... however insightful.. without acknowledgement.. You will not normally be allowed to submit a new project at a later date. Dissertation Length Your work will be judged on its quality and not its length. Copying from any other source whatever.000 words in length. 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. such as protection of privacy.

Deferrals are not automatic. and by the External Examiner for the programme. 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.200 words. Use them to evaluate the quality of your dissertation. and the submission form should be handed to the Postgraduate Reception by 4pm on Monday 5th September 2011. if this is granted you will be able to submit at a later date. Exceptionally. Who Will Mark Your Dissertation? Your dissertation will be marked by your Project Tutor. with the ethics compliance form (and other relevant ethical forms) as an appendix. 9. Two bound copies of the dissertation. The pass mark is 40%. Submitting Your Dissertation We ask postgraduate students to confirm that the dissertation is their own work. they are only granted at the discretion of the Deferral Panel on the strength of the case being made. Dissertations that are submitted without the required declaration may not be marked. They are only granted in cases of illness or serious interruption to your studies beyond your control. Assessment The assessment criteria are summarised in the appendix. 8. _________________________________________________________________ 11 . one copy can be returned to you between the announcement of the results and Graduation Day. After that you will be out of time and deemed to have failed. However. further deferrals may be granted but you must.Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ running out of space try skilful editing before resorting to putting vital material into appendices. supervisors will not normally be expected to give additional guidance prior to resubmission. A form for seeking a deferral is available from the Postgraduate Reception. submit your dissertation within three years of starting your masters. your work may miss the scheduled examination board and this may delay your award and graduation. The upper limit is 13. with 60-69% being awarded a merit and 70% and above a distinction. 10. This is done on the submission form which is included in the appendix. There may be some students who find it impossible to meet this submission deadline for reasons beyond their control. in any event. Unless the dissertation is submitted thorough the Turnitin icon on CUOnline. On request. However. The indicators for each marking band are shown in the appendices. it will not be marked. Samples of all the dissertations submitted are moderated internally. If you fail you will be given feedback and written comment on how your work may be improved to reach a pass standard. In such cases you can ask for a deferral.

Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ The maximum mark available for resubmitted dissertations is 40%. Business Research Methods. Go to the Coventry University website: www. 3. (2007) 2nd edn. Select the Binding section option.coventry. Choose Quick Links at the top of the page and select the Library option. 4. On the left-hand side select The Resource Shop tab. 6. Oxford: Oxford University Press Dr. _________________________________________________________________ 12 . 5. This will take you to the Library homepage. Gerry Urwin and Jody Holland (March 2011) Coventry University Dissertation Template If you wish to acquire the Coventry University Dissertation Template then: 1. Resubmitted dissertations will not normally be considered until the next examination board. Bring the printed front page with your dissertation to The Resource Shop and they will do the rest. 10.ac. Recommended Text Bryman A & Bell E.uk 2. Click on this and follow the instruction carefully. Scroll down until you see the Dissertation Cover Template.

Masters Dissertation Guidelines 2011 ___________________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________________ 13 .

Log of Contact with Project Tutor Date 1 Time Duration Purpose Actions 2 3 4 5 .

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.) Signed ……………………………………………… Date ……………… Please submit this form together with two bound copies of your dissertation. ……………………………………………………………………………………. . Declaration I certify that this dissertation is my own work.MASTERS DISSERTATION SUBMISSION FORM Student’s family name First names Student ID No Course: Tutor Dissertation Title ……………………………………………………………………………………. The ethics compliance form should be included as an appendix and the dissertation submitted through Turnitin. (* please delete as appropriate.

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