Approaches for Research Dissertations

Qualitative or Quantitative?

Approaches for all research, whether qualitative or quantitative, requires interpretation and contextualization by the researcher. Narrative statements or a series of figures will not give the answer to the research question or statement (hypothesis) by themselves.

Therefore it is important to choose a research approach (or approaches) that will give the correct ‘type’ of data to answer your research question.

A number of approaches are available when gathering data, but these don’t have to be used in isolation. For instance a focus group can elicit viewpoints which may need exploring further will a larger research cohort using a closed question survey. For this reason, it is important to plan your approach thoroughly before you start, to ensure your research question can be answered and to let your respondees know what is expected of them.

Don’t forget that whichever research method is chosen, it needs to have a robust ethics form that has been approved before contacting participants and starting to gather data.

Approaches that can be used:

Focus groups

This is where a group of people discuss a particular problem, facilitated by the researcher. The group interaction and the sharing of ideas not only means that rich and meaningful data can be pulled out from the focus group but also during the course of the focus groups, ideas can be co-constructed between participants which can be used to further the depth of research.

Structured interviews

When using structured interviews, the questions are written beforehand and are strictly adhered to regardless of the answer.

Semi-structured interviews

Whilst pre written questions are also used in semi structured interviews, this approach allows for the researcher to spontaneously build on answers given, allowing the base question to be answered but also elaborating on any areas which may impact on the research answer.

Survey

Surveys are an excellent way to reach a large number of people. This approach works if there is a clear idea of the questions that will elicit research to support the hypothesis. A mix of qualitative (open text fields) or quantitative (set questions and answers) can be used.

Case study

This approach is valuable when more in depth research is required and allows the researcher to investigate the issues in the place or time that they occur. The researcher will observe the participant and often will have follow up meetings to clarify or build on the information gained.

Narrative enquiry

This method works on the ideology that it is less important what is said, then how it is said. The story a participant will tell may not be entirely factual but it will be their perception of what happened which gives greater in sight. This approach is linked to discourse analysis methodology.

Appreciative enquiry (AI)

AI shifts the traditional focus of looking for the negative impacts of an issue and instead approaches the issue from a positive perspective.

Ethnographic

Ethnographical methodology requires the researcher to embed themselves in the participatory groups own setting, for a sustained time in order to observe, talk and learn from participants.

There are a number of branches from the ethnographic methodology:

Auto ethnographic

More than just an autobiographical account, an auto-ethnographic researcher should reflect on events and use these to uncover meanings and feelings that a purely narrative account may miss.

Visual ethnographic

Using video, photos and artefacts as the main source of research data rather than supplementing it.

Netography

Researchers using this methodology are involved and participants or ‘lurkers’ in virtual groups and communities. Ethical issues need to be carefully considered with this approach.

Soft Systems Methodology (SSM)

Instead of studying isolated issues, SSM is a holistic way of looking at and solving problems. These are often presented in mind map formats, making this a good research methodology for visual learners.

Questions to ask before choosing a research approach:

  1. Will we learn more about this topic using quantitative or qualitative approaches?
  2. Which approach will produce more useful knowledge?
  3. Which will do more good?

References

Taken from:  Cousin. Glynis, (2009) Researching Learning in Higher Education. Routledge. UK.

Research Approaches Dissertations
Research Approaches Dissertations

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Dissertation Research Proposal For University Students

Writing A Research Proposal

This collective article is designed to provide you with a realistic and relevant learning opportunity which will help prepare you for the dissertation. You are asked to prepare a research proposal similar to one that could be submitted to an ethics committee. This proposal could be linked to your proposed dissertation topic, if you have already identified one. If not, it could be associated with a current area of interest. Please see your handbook for information on writing and marking.

You are required to:

  1. Identify a research question/problem
  2. Justify the research, research design and methods
  3. Consider resources & constraints

The main objectives of research ethics committees are to protect both prospective participants in research studies and researchers. To achieve this, ethics committees need specific information regarding proposed studies to be able to make informed decisions about the ethical implications of these studies, considering the proposal from the participants’ perspective. The main ethical issues focus on the validity of the research (is the research question important and do-able?) and the welfare of the participants (what will participation involve, are there any acceptable risks, how will informed consent be sought, how will confidentiality be respected?). Therefore, these issues need to be addressed in your proposal.

Identifying a Research Question/Problem

Your research question should be both:

  • Useful (extending knowledge relevant to health care that might contribute to changes in practice)
  • Do-able (feasible given resource constraints)

This can be achieved by identifying a practice related problem, considering complaints, policy initiatives and service delivery changes, or by reading articles in journals.

Justify the Research, Research Design and Methods

What is the current state of knowledge in your topic area? Has your research question already been answered? If not, what are the typical methods used to address research questions similar to yours? What other methods might be appropriate? You will need to provide a brief critical review of relevant literature and state how your study will contribute to this field of study.

Given your research question, what types of data will be collected to answer this (e.g. quantitative and/or qualitative)? What is the most appropriate research strategy (e.g. experiment, survey, case study, action research etc) and what methods will you use (e.g. observation, questionnaire, interviews etc)?

Resources and Constraints

What factors should you take into account?

  • Time – do you have enough to prepare, conduct, analyse and write up the study?
  • Expertise – do you have knowledge and skills in the particular topic & method(s)?
  • Participants – can you secure access to the necessary participants (e.g. patients, relatives, work colleagues) within the ethical guidelines and in the relevant time frame?
  • Financial resources – will you need to consider acquiring extra staff and/or equipment, how will you cover the costs of conducting the research (photocopying, postage, travel etc), can this be approved by your manager or do you need to secure funding?

Writing a Research Proposal

A research proposal is a detailed statement identifying what you intend to do; why; how; and with whom. It indicates your ability to conduct the study and provides an opportunity:

  • For you – to clarify your thoughts
  • For others – to examine these (importance, feasibility, ethics, funding etc)

Components of an Research Proposal

  • Title of the proposed project
  • Name of the student/researcher
  • Brief summary and problem statement
    Aims & objectives
  • Rationale/justification (why the research is important and should be conducted)
  • Brief literature review (scientific background)
  • Brief description of research design (approach, strategy, methods, analysis)
  • Ethical considerations (consent of participants, other clinicians, participant information sheet)
  • Timescale/plan
  • Any resource implications (how costs will be met, any funding required/secured)
  • Proposed outputs (dissemination, feedback to participants)

Research Proposals – Questions to Ask

Is it realistic?

  • Have I the necessary skills & time to carry it out?
  • Is it ethical?
  • Have I considered how my sample will be selected, how informed consent will be achieved, how data will be collected, stored (and destroyed) and disseminated whilst maintaining confidentiality and complying with the Data Protection Act?

Is it clear?

  • Have I used simple language & not jargon?
  • Have I explained technical terms?
  • Have I included an indication of the kinds of questions I will be asking, or observations I will be recording?

Can I anticipate any problems?

  • Have I covered each section thoroughly?
  • Are there any weaknesses?

Research Proposal
Research Proposal

In this article we have identified what is generally required of researchers when they submit proposals for ethical approval. The assignment for this module involves preparing a similar proposal.

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Trend Forecasting Steps For Analysis

Trend Forecasting Steps

Fashion forecasting is generally a career that involves focusing on upcoming trends in the fashion industry. Fashion and trend forecasting is the future determination of mood, behavior and purchasing habits of consumer at a given time of season. It does not only involve determination of markets, consumers in terms of age, their locations and income but also inquire deeply to get to know what they purchase depending on their culture, beliefs, moods as well as geographical location.  Fashion and trend forecasting is more reliant on fashion cycle and plays a significant role in introductory stage of consistent fashion cycles.

Fashion and trend forecasting involves a series of activities in each of the area it is dealing with. For example it looks at the; season, target market, consumer, colors, fabrics, silhouette, texture and usage. Therefore, comprehending fashion and trend  forecast is not only crucial in determining the success of the ultimate object of the designer but also enhances the continuous repetition of sales in future seasons as well as promoting the fashion cycles.

Unlike in the past when trend forecasting was done manually, current trend forecasting is done using technological forecasting methods although they have been criticized for reducing creativity by most designers. Most trend forecasting are determined by the forecasting method applied by the ultimate user and it is therefore crucial to determine the most appropriate method of trend forecasting in any individuals business model. Generally, any trend forecasting methods involve the following steps (Hines, 2007);

The first step is Problem definition. Although this is the hardest section of forecasting, it is the most important. This step requires keen analysis of how the forecasts will be used, who needs the forecasts as well as how the forecasting technique suits within the firm needs the forecasts. A forecaster should therefore use enough time to every individual who will take part in data collection, keeping the data as well as applying the forecast for future planning. Then gathering of information follows whereby in most cases, statistical or quantitative data and qualitative data are the ones required. Therefore, the collectors of the data should be expertise who can be able to receive the qualitative information from the respondents who are usually the customers if there is no adequate quantitative information (Wong, 2010).

The third step is preliminary analysis, also called exploratory analysis. In this step, the forecaster should consider whether or not there are consistent pattern that lead to significant trend, whether or not there is evidence of business cycles, the presence of outliers in the information that need explanation as well as the extent of relationship between variables present for analysis.

The fourth step is choosing and fitting models. The best method of trend forecasting should depend on the historical data present, the application of the forecasts as well as the extent relationship between the forecasts available and explanatory variables. Some of the methods that can be arrived at includes; exponential smoothing model, ARIMA model, vector autogression, neural networks among others (Wong, 2010).

The last step involves the use and evaluation of the forecasting model. The success of the model can only be determined after the data for the forecast time has been present after which various methods are applied to assess the success of the model.

Research Methodologies

As earlier stated, the main data required in trend forecasting is qualitative, quantitative and mostly commonly, a combination of the two.

The quantitative research methodology start right from the bottom, where agencies and even the manufacturers either inquires directly from the customers on their purchasing preferences or the organization may record the consumers buying habit in a duration of a given time. The consumer’s response is recorded and used to determine preference for some specific garments, accessories or any other product on research, colors, and sizes among other factors of a product. Surveys through mail, customer response or phones are carried through publication as well as contracting market research organizations for manufacturers and as well as retailers.

The survey questions usually relate to life style, income, shopping habits as well as fashion preference. The customers who participate in these surveys are selected by the research company although they should suit with manufacturers or retailers requirements. Informal discussion with consumer enable researchers get information through asking questions to customers about what they would prefer to purchase, the types they prefer to purchase which is currently present as well as the change in products they require and are not available or they cannot reach. Most researchers use small scale retailers because of their contact and conversation with the customers.

Trend Forecasting Steps
Trend Forecasting Steps

The quantitative methodology entails the use of statistical data or information to determine the trend in customer demands and hence forecast on producing what the consumers purchase the most. Statistical data for fashion sector is easily obtainable without necessarily going to the field because it is available in manufacturers or retailers sales records (Hines, 2007).

From such records, the manufacturers can determine which garments, color of the product, size as well as the fashion preference of the consumer. After that, the manufacturer should be able to determine which fashion product should be produced more depending on sales experienced at each season of the year. It is valuable noting that a well-balanced combination of the qualitative and quantitative research methodologies is bound to boost the success of the model selected for trend forecasting.

Conclusion

This paper has attempted to show that the fashion industry has one main purpose; to offer desirable as well as appealing product to not only satisfy the customer needs, demands and aspire to have them but to also keep the product selling in the subsequent business cycles with a similar season. Every successful trend forecast must commence with the consumer through determination of the consumer’s needs to the market as well as the ability to make the consumer adjust the marketplace to his preferences and lifestyles. The paper has also expounded on the two critical methodologies used in forecast research i.e.  the qualitative and quantitative methodologies. It has also emphasized on the need to combine the two methods in order to attain the best results of the model of forecast selected.

References

Hines, T., & Bruce, M. (Eds.). (2007). Fashion marketing: contemporary issues. Routledge.

Wong, W. K., & Guo, Z. X. (2010). A hybrid intelligent model for medium-term sales forecasting in fashion retail supply chains using extreme learning machine and harmony search algorithm. International Journal of Production Economics, 128(2), 614-624.

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Mixed Method Research Design

The Mixed Method in Research Design

The mixed method approach to evaluating research data may be applicable to studies that are designed to gather both qualitative and quantitative information. This technique is often used in disciplines such as psychology, sociology or certain types of medicine. The continued development of these fields may depend on data that is derived from standardized scales or rating systems in addition to that gleaned from interviews, ‘focus group’ sessions and other similar tools. Therefore, the mixed method may be appropriate in a new project on a complex issue or situation that generates complex and highly individualized answers to research questions. Examples of these may include the societal impact of homelessness or the treatment of a lost or diminished sense. The data here may need to cover detailed and varied feedback (or ‘self-reports’) on the effect(s) of these target variables, as well as scores from formal quantitative tools typically used within the research community in question. One data type does not give a complete ‘picture’ of the outcome(s) without the other. Therefore, a methodology that incorporates both to analyse the data set as a whole is necessary.

The mixed method may combine and synthesize this data through a process called triangulation. This may involve the conversion of qualitative data into quantitative data. Such a form of triangulation is most applicable to data resulting from the administration of structured interviews or surveys, provided that data is sufficiently standard or homogeneous across respondents to be coded or scored effectively (i.e. without bias or other forms or statistical inadequacy). In this way, it may be converted to quantitative data, and compared or analysed in accordance with the requirements of the study design (e.g. subjected to a form of analysis such as a paired t-test). On the other hand, the qualitative data may be too individualized and/or complex to be coded. In this case, a thematic analytical technique may be used, incorporating findings such as significant differences among the quantitative data points as a theme or concept.

Mixed Method Research Design
Mixed Method Research Design

The aim of triangulation is the full integration of both data types to generate contiguous concepts or conclusions. This leads to another advantage of the mixed method: i.e. that it can address research aims that do not stem from standard null hypotheses. Questions, in other words, along the lines of ‘Does this novel treatment result in an improvement in the life quality of patients with hearing loss?’ rather than statements such as ‘This treatment improves hearing loss [in comparison to an existing alternative]’ to be confirmed or denied.

The mixed method is not, however, without disadvantages or detractors. Critics of this methodology often cite the risk of the ‘incompatibility paradox’; the probability that one data type will be inadequately analysed compared to the other. A prominent example of this risk is known as ‘pragmatism’, or the perception that researchers who use the mixed method value ‘experiential data’ (i.e. self-reports recorded from respondents) at the expense of quantitative data. The use of the mixed method may also be subject to preconceptions, judgement or other forms of observer bias that a researcher may impose on qualitative data in the course of its collection. These risks can be ameliorated, mainly through the skill and training of the individual researcher. Under these conditions, the mixed-method technique can be applied to generating full, comprehensive conclusions for non-standard research questions.

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References

Brown RA, Kennedy DP, Tucker JS, Golinelli D, Wenzel SL. Monogamy on the Street: A Mixed Methods Study of Homeless Men. Journal of Mixed Methods Research. 2013;7(4):328-346

Windsor LC. Using Concept Mapping in Community-Based Participatory Research A Mixed Methods Approach. Journal of mixed methods research. 2013;7(3):274-293

Robson C. Real World Research. 2 ed. Oxford: Blackwell; 2002

Mertens DM, Hesse-Biber S. Triangulation and Mixed Methods Research: Provocative Positions. Journal of Mixed Methods Research. 2012;6(2):75-79

Lieber E, Weisner TS. Meeting the practical challenges of mixed methods research. SAGE handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research. 2010;2:559-579

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Undergraduate Dissertation Examples

Undergraduate Dissertation Examples

Title: Working with Undergraduate Dissertation Examples. An undergraduate dissertation or thesis is a document submitted in accordance of candidature for an academic degree or professional qualification at university. The term dissertation is used in the UK to refer to a final year undergraduate project. In essence, an undergraduate dissertation presents research conducted by an author which is ultimately reviewed and graded by academic staff.

This article written on undergraduate dissertation examples provides support and guidance for personal study and to help you through the undergraduate dissertation process. It highlights some of the common questions, concerns and practical issues that undergraduate students come across when completing their dissertation or final year project. So, we aim to provide a useful overview on how best to use undergraduate dissertation examples during your academic studies.

The content provided on our website was written by students, academic and support staff who have a particular interest and experience in writing undergraduate dissertations in various fields of study. Our site has not been produced with the aim of providing a set of definitive answers for your own chosen topic of study. Instead, we offer a collection of pre-written undergraduate dissertation examples. We do not write undergraduate dissertations for students, we leave that to students themselves.

Undergraduate Dissertation Examples
Undergraduate Dissertation Examples

How to best use Undergraduate Dissertation Examples

You can make best use of pre-written undergraduate dissertation examples in various ways and at various stages of the dissertation process. For example, before you start the dissertation, you can use existing undergraduate dissertation examples to:

  • Explore what the demands and challenges of a dissertation are.
  • Raise questions that you can ask your academic supervisor about.
  • Help you think through what theme you could pursue in your dissertation.
  • Help you prepare a research question.

If you have already started your own dissertation, you can undergraduate dissertation examples to:

  • Clarify issues about specific chapters of the dissertation.
  • Focus on key aspects of the dissertation such as timelines, structure, ethical issues and marking criteria.
  • Organise the different stages of the dissertation. Remember, by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

Undergraduate Dissertation Examples

Our website has a wide selection of undergraduate dissertation examples written on a variety of subject areas. These subjects are:

  • Business Management
  • Business Strategy
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Marketing Communications
  • Branding and Advertising
  • Economic Theory
  • Finance and Accounting
  • Business Law
  • Building Studies
  • Quantity Surveying
  • Construction Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Nursing and Midwifery
  • Health Studies
  • Communication Studies
  • Media Studies

Benefits of using Undergraduate Dissertation Examples

It is safe to say that well written undergraduate dissertation examples have important factors that should be looked at in order to help you write your own research dissertation. These include the ability to be read and understood the research question you have in hand. Demonstrate the ability to capture the necessary facts so that you can successfully underpin and substantiate your research dissertation. Your research needs to be based on facts and not conjecture. You need to demonstrate the ability to follow the agreed format for writing a dissertation at your institution, it is important that you follow the guidelines outlined by your university. Students often gain a low mark in their dissertation as they used a bespoke format and structure. Most of all, you need the ability to communicate a certain message to whoever will reading your dissertation research, the dissertation must not deviate away from the research question or become uninteresting for the reader.

It is worthwhile noting that your dissertation should satisfy the rules of formal grammar because it is purely for academic purposes and will be treated as such. This is where pre-written undergraduate dissertation examples prove to be very useful indeed.

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