Tips to write a thesis
1. Research model 4
1.1. Your question / idea / problem / topic 4
1.2. Methods 4
1.3. Theory 4
1.4. Results 4
1.5. Discussion, conclusion, recommendations 4
2. Find a question / an idea / a problem you want to know more about. The deductive approach: From
general to specific 5
2.1. Do research on topics you find interesting 5
2.1.1. Possibilities to get inspired 5
2.1.2. Tips to do research on the Internet, for example on google.com 5
2.2. Evaluate results of your research 6
2.3. Choose a topic / question /idea / problem you find particularly interesting 6
2.4. Describe reasons for the question / problem you want to work on 8
2.4.1. Internal reasons 8
2.4.2. External reasons 8
3. Describe how relevant the idea / problem / topic is for whom 10
3.1. How relevant is this idea / problem / topic for you? 10
3.2. How relevant is this idea / problem / topic for users / customers of your work? 10
3.3. Who are the primary customers of your thesis – and what do they need? 11
4. Define your research question 12
4.1. Define a narrow research question 12
4.2. Formulate a scientific research question 13
4.3. Define the title of your thesis 14
5. Find out which methods to use to do your research 15
5.1. What is a scientific method? 15
5.2. Differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods 16
5.3. Advantages and disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative methods 17
5.3.1. Advantages of quantitative and qualitative methods 17
5.3.2. Disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative methods 18
5.4. Possibilities to combine quantitative and qualitative methods 19
5.4.1. Preliminary model 19
5.4.2. Generalization model 19
5.4.3. Consolidation model 20
5.4.4. Triangulation model 20
5.4.5. Advantages and disadvantages combining quantitative and qualitative methods 21
6. Search for theories 22
6.1. Find about 3 theories 22
6.2. Present advantages and disadvantages of each theory 22
6.3. Compare the theories and choose the one you want to primarily use 22
6.4. Present the current state of research 22
6.5. Websites to use for searching on the Internet 22
6.6. Check that literature is scientific 23
7. Quantitative method: Survey 24
7.1. Define what you want to know 24
7.2. Choose people to send your survey to 24
7.3. Develop survey questions 24
7.4. Develop answering possibilities 25
7.5. Pretest your survey with a small sample 25
7.6. Communicate your purpose to people answering the survey 25
7.6. Analyze responses to your survey 25
8. Qualitative method: Interviews 26
8.1. Decide on the kind of interview you want to do 26
8.2. Formulate questions to ask interviewees 26
8.2.1. Formulate open questions 26
8.2.2. Formulate concrete questions 27
8.3. Select interviewees 27
8.4. Define length of each interview 27
8.5. Decide on a neutral place for the interview 27
8.6. Plan how you want to communicate during the interview 27
8.6.1. At the start of the interview, communicate your research question to the interviewee 27
8.6.2. Make it clear for the interviewee that you act in the role as interviewer / researcher 27
8.6.3. Ask questions in a non-authoritarian way 28
8.6.4. When asking questions, adapt culturally to the interviewee 28
8.6.5. Listen to what the interviewee is saying 28
8.6.6. React neutrally and as an outsider to answers by the interviewee 28
8.6.7. Make observations during the interview 28
8.6.8. At the end of the interview, ask the interviewee if he/she would like to add anything 28
8.6.9. At the end of the interview, give and receive feedback to / from the interviewee 29
8.7. Transcribe interviews 29
8.7.1. Example of transcription 29
8.7.2. Methods to transcribe interviews 29
8.7.3. Advantages and disadvantages of transcribing interviews 30
8.8. Make categories to analyze interviews 31
8.8.1. Example of category 31
8.8.2. Categories derived according to frequence of words 31
8.8.3. Categories derived according to importance of quotes by interviewees 32
8.8.4. Categories are derived by looking within interview vs. looking across interviews 32
8.8.5. Criteria when defining categories 32
8.9. Contrast opinions of interviewees and explain why opinions are different 32
9. Qualitative method: Observations 33
9.1. What is observed? 33
9.1.1. What happened? What did not happen? 33
9.1.2. Which people were there? Who were involved? 33
9.1.3. Who did what? How did they do it? 33
9.1.4. Who said what? How did they say it? 33
9.1.5. How was the non-verbal communication of the people involved? 33
9.2. Where are observations done? 34
9.2.1. Observations on the Internet 34
9.2.2. Observations in a physical room 34
9.2.3. Observations in a public place 34
9.3. Who is observed? 34
9.3.1. Observation of yourself 34
9.3.2. Observation of others 34
9.4. How are observations done? 34
9.4.1. Participating vs. not-participating observation 34
9.4.2. Structured vs. unstructured observation 35
9.4.3. Open vs. closed observation 35
9.5. When are observations done? 35
9.6. Why are observations done? 35
10. Qualitative method: Delphi method 36
11. Other qualitative methods. Focus on creativity 37
11.1. Brainstorming – the classic method 37
11.2. Brainstorming – the nominal method 37
11.3. Brainstorming – the SCAMPER method 37
11.4. Brainstorming – the Disney method 37
11.5. Six thinking hats 37
11.6. Creativity methods 37
12. Results 38
12.1. Present the results 38
12.2. Reflect critically on the results 38
12.1. Document objectivity 38
12.2. Document reliability 38
12.3. Document validity 39
13. Conclusion and recommendations 40
14. Quotation / citation / referencing / list of references / bibliography 41
14.1. When should you quote / make references / make citations 41
14.2. How should citations / quotations / references be made in the text using APA style? 41
14.2.1. Basic citation styles 41
14.2.2. Citing Twitter in the text 42
14.2.3. Citing YouTube in the text 42
14.2.4. Citing figures, including images, from a webpage 42
14.3. How should citations / quotations / references be made in the text using MLA style? 42
14.4. How should citations / quotations / references be made in the text using Chicago / Turabian style?
14.5. How should citations / quotations / references be made in the text using Harvard style? 43
14.6. What should you mention in the list of references / bibliography? 43
14.6.1. Blogs / online articles 43
14.6.2. Twitter post 43
14.6.2. Websites 43
14.6.3. e-books, for example kindle book 43
14.6.4. Print books 44
15. Appendices 45
15.1. Appendices for all types of reports 45
15.2. Additional appendices for reports using quantitative methods 45
15.3. Additional appendices for reports using qualitative methods 45
1. Research model
1.1. Your question / idea / problem / topic
Define the question / idea / problem you want to know more
about / find solutions to.
Argue for the relevance for users / customers of your work.
Formulate a precise research question.
Describe methods you want to use to develop knowledge about /
further explore the idea / problem / topic.
Search for theories about the topic.
Describe results of your research.
1.5. Discussion, conclusion, recommendations
Recommend actions to be taken.
2. Find a question / an idea / a problem you want to know more about.
The deductive approach: From general to specific
2.1. Do research on topics you find interesting
2.1.1. Possibilities to get inspired
Do research, for example by using various social media.1
Communicate with people.
Participate at events you find interesting.
Think and develop questions.
Do other things through which you learn well.3
2.1.2. Tips to do research on the Internet, for example on google.com
Search text Explanation
Searches only pdf files containing the search word.
Word1 AND Word2 Searches files in which both word1 and word2 are mentioned.
Word1 OR Word2
Searches files in which either word1 or word2 are mentioned.
Word1 NOT Word2
Searches files in which word1 is mentioned, and also texts in
which word1 and word2 are mentioned.
Searches words close to word1
Searches words that are connected to word1.
Searches only results ending with .ch
Searches only results with velocity in title.
Defines the word “change”.
control + F
A search box appears on the page. In the search box, type what
you want to search for on the page to find the information
2.2. Evaluate results of your research
Websites used to do research:
Results Evaluation of results
Link to relevant blog posting.
Number and quality of sources used to write posting.
Number and quality of comments to blog posting.
Number of links to blog posting.
Quality of sources on which link to blog posting is
2.3. Choose a topic / question /idea / problem you find particularly interesting
What idea / problem do you have?
What makes you curious?
What interests you the most?
What problem do your customers and/or
How would you describe your idea?
Which example do you have that explains
the problem well?
How did the idea / problem you have get
into your head? Which events led to the
How did you become interested in this idea
When did you first start thinking about this
idea / problem?
When did you read / hear / see something
that inspired you to study this idea /
problem in more detail?
Where did you first start thinking about this
idea / problem?
Where did you read / hear / see something
that inspired you to study this idea /
problem in more detail?
What happened? What did you observe /
hear / see?
Who played a role to get you started
thinking about this idea / this problem?
A colleague at work?
A family member?
An author of an article?
What did the people do to get your started
thinking about this idea / problem?
Why did you start thinking about this idea /
Why is it important for you to explore this
idea further / to find solutions to this
How important is this for the future of the
people you care a lot about? Why?
How convinced are you that you can make
this idea happen / that you can solve this
What, in particular, makes you convinced?
To what extent can you make this the major
focus of your life? How?
To what extent does the idea fit your
What will change when you have developed
this idea / solved this problem?
What information do you need to know
2.4. Describe reasons for the question / problem you want to work on
2.4.1. Internal reasons
Competencies of people working for the company
Processes of the company
Methods used by the company
Materials used by the company
Technologies that the company uses
2.4.2. External reasons
Political changes in the external environment
Economic changes in the external environment
Technological changes in the external environment
Demographic and cultural changes in the external
Legal changes in the external environment
3. Describe how relevant the idea / problem / topic is for whom
3.1. How relevant is this idea / problem / topic for you?
Why does this idea / topic /
problem really matter for
How important is this idea /
problem for the future of the
people you care about?
How convinced are you that
you can make this happen?
What, in particular, makes
To what extent can you
make this the major focus of
your work / life? How?
To what extent does the
idea fit your values?
3.2. How relevant is this idea / problem / topic for users / customers of your work?
See, for example, https://books.google.com/ngrams
3.3. Who are the primary customers of your thesis – and what do they need?
If you do not have a particular intended audience in mind or if you think that
your research is for everybody, your writing easily becomes too general.5
Customer of thesis Need
Customers of the company
Wants a cheaper product that better satisfies his / her needs.
Business partners /
Business practitioners are interested in your results and their
practical implications, not on how your came up with the results.
Researchers Academic audience is interested in how theory is involved and
linked to your research.
Coach / consultant / advisor
Interested in all aspects – including your activity during the
process, i.e. how much you continuously
communicate with others.
reflect / think.
try things out / experiment.
The media is most often interested in the news, i.e. what new,
exciting, and surprising things you can say about some business-related
Interest in working on an idea of your own that could lead
to an operation / company / business.
Interest in increasing your market value.
Keeping users / customers of your work in mind makes it easier to decide how much information
to include and what to leave out.6 In this regard, it may also be helpful for you to approach what
you write with the 20:80 principle in mind. For example, try to focus on the 20% of your content
that is really useful for 80% of the users / readers / customers of your thesis.7
Some things to discover about your readers / users / customers8:
Who are they?
What do they know – and what do they not know?
Why do they care about your problem? What do they really want to know?
What question will your readers be likely to ask?9
5 Eriksson, Päivi & Kovalainen, Anne: Qualitative Methods in Business Research, p. 280-281.
9 Booth, Wayne C. et. al.: The Craft of Research, p. 173-174.
4. Define your research question
4.1. Define a narrow research question
Content Examples of strategy focus:
Purpose and values.
Customers and customer needs.
Products and services.
Distribution and communication channels.
How you organize.
How customers pay for the work you do.
A team of people.
A department of a company.
A division of a company.
A part of a city.
A cluster of cities / a region.
The last 2 years.
The next 2 years.
4.2. Formulate a scientific research question
A research question is scientific when the question
is clear and specific.10
can be answered in a concrete, operational way.
can be documented.
is appropriate / suitable.
is payable, i.e. it can be answered with moderate financial means.
is interesting / motivating for the researcher.11
is useful, i.e. the question is important.
is usable, for example for a company.
Your research question is your lighthouse. It is what guides you. You might need to revise the
question several times as you move along. When your research question changes, your destination
4.3. Define the title of your thesis
In titling their work, qualitative researchers often use imagination and creativity. It is quite typical
to combine a vivid phrase or a question followed by a more descriptive subtitle. Try to select a title
for your work that will encourage the readers to want to read it and let them know in advance
what it is about. Sometimes, using a quote from your interviews or field notes can be a clever way
to generate interest. Nevertheless, the title of your work should somehow reflect the idea or the
contents of your study, and be “readable” throughout different cultures, audiences and even age
As you work on defining the title of your thesis, use, for example,
Make sure that the title of the thesis is congruent with the research question.
13 Eriksson, Päivi & Kovalainen, Anne: Qualitative Methods in Business Research, p. 282.
5. Find out which methods to use to do your research
5.1. What is a scientific method?
Scientists let reality speak for itself.
Science builds on previous knowledge, what has been found out.
Arguments are logical.
You have a plan for how you work.
The work is published.
Various sources prove the results of the work, for example through reviews / feedback.
What is communicated is common sense.
5.2. Differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods
Quantitative research Qualitative research
The goal is to explain by classifying features
and to count them them.
Focus is on validating / testing / proving
The goal is to understand by having a complete,
Focus is on developing new theories.
From general principle to specific conclusion.
From specific examples to general conclusion /
Researcher knows clearly in advance what
he/she is looking for.
All aspects of the study is carefully designed
before data is collected – thereby making the
approach relatively static.
Researcher may only know roughly in advance
what he/she is looking for.
The design emerges as the study unfolds –
thereby making the approach dynamic /
Examples of methods are surveys and
Examples of methods are observations and
Seeks precise measurement.
Data is in the form of numbers and statistics.
Seeks to know what individuals think.
Data is in the form of words, pictures, and/or
Quantitative data is more efficient but may
miss contextual data.
Qualitative data is more rich, time consuming,
and less able to be generalized.
Atteslander, Peter: Methoden der empirischen Sozialforschung, Seite 200.
5.3. Advantages and disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative methods
5.3.1. Advantages of quantitative and qualitative methods
Advantages - quantitative methods Advantages – qualitative methods
Larger objectivity and comparability of results.
Results are quantifiable / measurable
Possibility to establish statistical correlations.
Large sample possible
Possibility to examine a large sample – and
thereby acquire representative results.
The large sample means that a high external
validity can be obtained.
Relatively time efficient
Due to, for example, the possibility of
distributing surveys efficiently, costs can be
kept down low.
Because focus is decided by the individual
participant, the participant will decide what
he/she finds most relevant to focus on.
Because there are no specifications that the
individual participants must obey to,
information from individual participants may
contain more truths and be more complete
regarding the subjective views of the individual
Due to the openness of the method, new facts
can be discovered, and a larger depth in the
questioning of participants can be obtained.
The method is fit to the object of investigation.
Due to personal interaction, it is possible for the
researcher to further explore assumptions,
reasons, and other background information.
High degree of validity
Due to the not predetermined questioning
process, a high validity can be obtained.
5.3.2. Disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative methods
Disadvantages – quantitative methods Disadvantages – qualitative methods
Lack of flexibility
By standardizing the research situation, for
example by predetermined questions,
flexibility is constrained. No individualization is
No individual follow-up questioning of
responses by respondents
Participants are not asked further questions
that go more into depth to find out reasons for
Limited quantitative data
Using qualitative data, no quantitative data can
Compared with quantitative methods, results
derived from qualitative methods are more
Relatively time consuming
Doing interviews / workshops / brainstormings
etc. and analyzing results take up more time as
Relatively high competency demands of the
Results are dependent on how competent the
researcher is in asking questions.
5.4. Possibilities to combine quantitative and qualitative methods
5.4.1. Preliminary model
Step # 1
This is a classic version of quantitatively oriented approach. The idea is to limit the qualitative
analysis steps on the stage of hypothesis generation in a preliminary study.
Step # 2
In the following phase, the hypotheses are examined quantitatively. If, for example, open sample
interviews are conducted in order to create categories for a more structured interview guide,
following this model makes sense.14
5.4.2. Generalization model
Step # 1
A qualitative study is done, and results are evaluated / interpreted / analyzed.
Step # 2
With quantitative means, generalizations are made.15
If, for example, results of a field research project or a case analysis project are collected and
subjected to a representative study of the broader review, one follows this model.
5.4.3. Consolidation model
Step # 1
A quantitative study is done.
Step # 2
Using qualitative analysis, results of the quantitative study are continued. That way, results can be
better interpreted. Through case studies in correlations, for example, a possible causality can be
interpreted. Quantitative results can be explored further in this way.16
5.4.4. Triangulation model
The most complex interweaving of qualitative and quantitative analysis steps in a process analysis.
Here, a question is approached with different methods from multiple angles. It's not about
determining which analysis approach provides the more correct results. The results should rather
support each other, the intersection of the individual results is the end result.17
5.4.5. Advantages and disadvantages combining quantitative and qualitative methods
By including qualitative analysis strategies, quantitative research gains openness to the object and
therefore also moves closer to everyday life. Preconceived concepts – hypotheses – are, to a
stronger degree, questioned. The connection with the subject of the investigation is maintained
throughout the research process.
Qualitatively oriented research projects gain transparency and methodological rigor by combining
with quantitative methods. The instrumental-technical nature of research strategies is strongly
emphasized. Thus, research is more intersubjectively comprehensible and verifiable. Qualitative
research also gains generalizability by including quantitative analysis steps.18
6. Search for theories
6.1. Find about 3 theories
Search for about 3 theoretical approaches using which you can look at your research question
from different angles.
6.2. Present advantages and disadvantages of each theory
6.3. Compare the theories and choose the one you want to primarily use
Compare advantages and disadvantages of each theory.
“An evaluative and critical analysis of the literature includes comparing and contrasting
the perspectives, viewpoints, and arguments that other researchers have taken on
your research topic and your research question.”19
Choose which theory you want to primarily use – and argue for your decision.
6.4. Present the current state of research
Sources Key points
Book 1 Present the 2 most important sentences in the book.
Article 1 Present the 2 most important sentences in the article.
6.5. Websites to use for searching on the Internet
19 Eriksson, Païvi & Kovalainen, Anne: Qualitative Methods in Business Research, p. 47.
6.6. Check that literature is scientific
To what extent does the claim
fit with the way the world
To what extent does the
claimant provide proof /
evidence of the claim?
To what extent are personal
beliefs driving the claim?
Have the claims in the source
been verified by somebody else?
Has anyone tried to disprove the
7. Quantitative method: Survey
7.1. Define what you want to know
Try to be focused when defining what you want to know. The more focused you are, the more
useful the answers of people, who answer your survey, will be.20
7.2. Choose people to send your survey to
To get accurate results, narrow your focus of your target audience.
Gender: Do you want to focus on males or females?
Age: Do you want to ask only people who are older than 70?21
7.3. Develop survey questions
Each survey question should
contain simple words.
be formulated shortly / briefly.
be neutrally formulated.
only focus on 1 issue / fact.
not provoke any particular answer.
Not be hypothetical such as “suppose that…”
Not contain any double negation such as “she is not untalented.”
Not ask too much of the respondent.22
The shorter and to the point your survey is, the more people will be willing to complete the
survey. Therefore, keep it simple. Find out which questions are more important than others and
cut out the least important questions.23
22 Atteslander, Peter: Methoden der empirischen Sozialforschung, Seite 146.
7.4. Develop answering possibilities
5: Strongly agree.
3: Neither agree nor disagree.
1: Strongly disagree.
7.5. Pretest your survey with a small sample
Ask, for example, a few friends to answer your survey and to give you feedback on to what extent the
questions, you have written, make sense and flow naturally.24 Ask for feedback.25
7.6. Communicate your purpose to people answering the survey
Communicate clearly to people, who answer the survey, why they are being surveyed. Explain why the
survey is relevant to your work.26
7.6. Analyze responses to your survey
8. Qualitative method: Interviews
8.1. Decide on the kind of interview you want to do
The interview as a research instrument is to be understood as a planned approach with scientific
objective, in which the subject is to be led through a series of specific questions that encourage
the respondent to respond.27
Interview type Inputs
The interviewee decides, to a very high degree, how the
Examples of open questions that the interviewer could ask:
“What do you think company x should stop doing, start doing,
and continue doing?”
Semi structured interview
A list of questions is prepared by the interviewer before each
The interviewer prepares in which order he/she want to ask
The interviewer adapts to what the interviewee says, for
example by asking follow up questions to answers by the
Highly structured interview
A list of questions is prepared by the interviewer before each
The interviewer prepares in which order he/she want to ask
During the interview, the interviewer does not deviate from
the formulation of questions or from the order that he/she
has planned to ask questions.
8.2. Formulate questions to ask interviewees
8.2.1. Formulate open questions
The open question contains no fixed answer categories. The respondent may formulate his or her
answer completely independently, and the interviewer has the task to record the statements of
the respondent as accurately as possible. 28
Open questions help to discover, for example, uncertainty and misunderstandings. They can also
promote contact and strengthen interest in the interview, because they come close to an everyday
27 Scheuchs (1973:70 f); Diekmann, Andreas: Empirische Sozialforschung, p. 375.
28 Atteslander, Peter: Methoden der empirischen Sozialforschung, p. 136.
conversation situation. The respondent feels that he or she is taken seriously in his own judgment.
For this reason, not least well-informed people who have an own opinion prefer open questions.
Regarding research strategy, open questions are - above all – suited in the planning stage to
explore the problem and capture the relevant response categories.29
8.2.2. Formulate concrete questions
Try to get reactions on details of certain situations that the interviewee has experienced.30
8.3. Select interviewees
Names of people you want to interview Arguments for why you want to interview a person
8.4. Define length of each interview
Consider how long time you want an interview to last.
8.5. Decide on a neutral place for the interview
Interview via skype.
Interview in a neutral office location.
8.6. Plan how you want to communicate during the interview
8.6.1. At the start of the interview, communicate your research question to the
8.6.2. Make it clear for the interviewee that you act in the role as interviewer /
It is relevant to analyse and reflect on your role and your overall relationship with the participants
as your research progresses and at the end of the process. One reason for the importance of
reflexivity is that every role entails different power relationships between you and the
participants, and this affects your study and its results in one way or another.31
29 Atteslander, Peter: Methoden der empirischen Sozialforschung, Seite 138-139.
30 Diekmann, Andreas: Empirische Sozialforschung, S. 447.
31 Eriksson & Kovalainen: „Qualitative Methods in Business Research“, Seite 59.
8.6.3. Ask questions in a non-authoritarian way
To not influence the interviewee requires you to use a non-authoritarian interview style. The hope
is that new, unexpected things are expressed.32
8.6.4. When asking questions, adapt culturally to the interviewee
The art of asking questions in interviews should be adapted to the particular culture in which the
interview is done.33
8.6.5. Listen to what the interviewee is saying
8.6.6. React neutrally and as an outsider to answers by the interviewee
An interview technique is understood as neutral when the reactions to the answers of the
interviewee are interpreted neither positively nor negatively.34
When the topic and the environment are very familiar to you, another piece of advice that
the more experienced researchers give is to try to develop a way to look at it in a more
unusual manner, or as an outsider. For example, if you are a young female employee in the
company that you are studying, try to look at the company from the point of view of an
older male employee. Or, when you have been working in the customer service function and
you are doing a study on “how teamwork is performed in customer service”, try to look at
things from the customer point of view.35
8.6.7. Make observations during the interview
Document what you observe during the interview – including what the interviewee is doing with
his or her arms and legs. Also document facial expressions that you observe.36
8.6.8. At the end of the interview, ask the interviewee if he/she would like to add
32 Diekmann, Andreas: Empirische Sozialforschung, S. 447.
33 Diekmann, Andreas: Empirische Sozialforschung, S. 377.
34 Diekmann, Andreas: Empirische Sozialforschung, S. 376.
35 Eriksson & Kovalainen: „Qualitative Methods in Business Research“, Seite 58.
36 Atteslander, Peter: Methoden der empirischen Sozialforschung, Seite 106.
8.6.9. At the end of the interview, give and receive feedback to / from the interviewee
8.7. Transcribe interviews
8.7.1. Example of transcription
Interviewer: Erin Anderson.
January 8th, 2014.
Media or place:
Transcriber: Erin Anderson.
Abstract / Summary
Wendy Wheeler was born in…
EA: My name is Erin Anderson and I’m here with Wendy Wheeler….
WW: You’re welcome.37
8.7.2. Methods to transcribe interviews
Transcription method # 1: Pragmatic
Usually, this transcription method is an exact reproduction of what was said.
Researchers pick their own format – depending on needs as well as time and money.
Transcription method # 2: Jefferson
The method tries to compensate for the loss of sound, pace, intonation and interaction in the
conversation, which get lost during the conversion of sound into text. This is done by adding time
references and standardized symbols into the text.
Transcription method # 3: Gisted
The idea of gisting is to create a summary transcript that captures the essence of a media file's
content without taking the same amount of time or resources as a verbatim transcript might
When transcribing interviews, change as little as possible. Accurately represent each speaker's
words, conversational quality, and speech patterns.39 In the methodology part of the thesis,
explain how you transcribed the interviews – and why.40
8.7.3. Advantages and disadvantages of transcribing interviews
Transcripts make features of the recording more transparent and accessible, enabling one to
“see” the verbal and non-verbal activities that unfold on the tape. A good transcript helps the
analyst to get a purchase on the organization of the interaction, including its fleeting and
momentary features. A transcript is not a substitute for the recording, but rather is an essential
analytical tool to be used along with the recording.41
41 http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1636/3162 And Clayman, Steven E. &
Teas Gill, Virginia (2004). Conversation analysis. In Melissa Hardy & Alan Bryman (Eds.), Handbook of data
analysis, p. 593.
8.8. Make categories to analyze interviews
8.8.1. Example of category
8.8.2. Categories derived according to frequence of words
The more times a word is interviewees by interviewees, the more relevant it is to define a
category around this word.
8.8.3. Categories derived according to importance of quotes by interviewees
Name of interviewee Important quotes by interviewees
To determine what is important, look at theories laying the theoretical foundation to the thesis.
8.8.4. Categories are derived by looking within interview vs. looking across interviews
Vertical orientation: Categories are defined by looking within interviews.
Horizontal orientation: Categories are defined by looking across interviews.
8.8.5. Criteria when defining categories
Clearly defined Each category is clearly defined.
Independent The categories in the category system are independent from one
No overlap The descriptions of each category do not overlap.
Complete The definition of each category is complete.
The total number of categories is titled category system. 42
8.9. Contrast opinions of interviewees and explain why opinions are different
42 Atteslander, Peter: Methoden der empirischen Sozialforschung, Seite 190.
9. Qualitative method: Observations
9.1. What is observed?
As business researcher, you may be interested in some specific business-related events such as
meetings between people. When studying events, you may observe one or several of the following
Who initiates the event and in what way?
What happens during the event?
Who is present? Who is involved?
What are the participants’ verbal and non-verbal reactions?
What is communicated, both verbally and non-verbally?
What are the signals that this activity is about to end?
What is communicated regarding such signals, both verbally and non-verbally?
How is this particular activity related to the other activities which are observed?
Try also turning your focus on observing “what does not happen” instead of “what happens”.43
9.1.1. What happened? What did not happen?
9.1.2. Which people were there? Who were involved?
9.1.3. Who did what? How did they do it?
9.1.4. Who said what? How did they say it?
9.1.5. How was the non-verbal communication of the people involved?
How are which people dressed?
What symbols are used by which people?
What does the body language of whom communicate?
43 Päivi Eriksson & Anne Kovalainen: Qualitative Methods as Business Research, p. 86-89.
9.2. Where are observations done?
9.2.1. Observations on the Internet
9.2.2. Observations in a physical room
9.2.3. Observations in a public place
9.3. Who is observed?
9.3.1. Observation of yourself
Self-observation refers to the observation of a person’s own behaviour, his or her own feelings
and behaviour motives.
9.3.2. Observation of others
2 problems are important to keep in mind regarding systematic observation techniques:
1. the problem of distortion due to selective perception.
2. the problem of how to interpret observed social events.44
9.4. How are observations done?
9.4.1. Participating vs. not-participating observation
What you need to consider when doing observational research:
Try to be “invisible”, do not get involved in the dynamics of the situation.
Use all of your senses, not just your sense of vision. Record the sounds, smells and tastes (if
Record your impressions and feelings. How do you feel while observing? Were you frightened,
surprised, anxious, amused, excited? Relate what you were feeling to what you were
Record the context of the situation: place, time, participants, numbers of participants, gender
of participants, etc.
Record what you were thinking during the observation. Did the situation remind you of
something similar? Had you experienced something similar? What do you think the
participants were thinking about while you were observing?
Record all of your information in a journal. Use shorthand or abbreviations if necessary.45
44 Diekmann, Andreas: Empirische Sozialforschung, S. 458.
9.4.2. Structured vs. unstructured observation
Example of a structured observation: An observer records in Group A every second aggressive act
– and in group B every third aggressive act.
Process of investigation with structured observation technique:
1. Questions, hypotheses are developed.
2. Selection of indicators, operationalization of the variables referring to the observation
3. Construction of a structured observation protocol.
4. Sample, selection of the observation situation.
5. Pre-test, observer training, revision of the observation protocol, depending on the pre-test
6. Carrying out the main survey "field phase".
7. Data transmission and evaluation.
Structured observation is a way to avoid / face the risk of bias due to selective perception. Thus,
attempts are made to increase the objectivity and reliability of the observation.
9.4.3. Open vs. closed observation
Problem with open observation: Reactivity.
Problem with concealed observation: ethics.
9.5. When are observations done?
When literature analysis is insufficient.
When interviews are insufficient.
9.6. Why are observations done?
One distinct advantage of making observations is that it records action as it takes place, which is
different from people describing afterwards what they said or did, or what they believe they will
do or say in the future.46
Diekmann, Andreas: Empirische Sozialforschung, S. 469 ff.
Eriksson, Païvi & Kovalainen, Anne: Qualitative Methods in Business Research, p. 87-88.
46 Päivi Eriksson & Anne Kovalainen: Qualitative methods as business research, p. 86-89.
10. Qualitative method: Delphi method
In The Delphi method, results, contradictions etc. from the 1st round of questions are asked in the
following round. Everyone, who participates, must compare his own statements with those of
47 Atteslander, Peter: Methoden der empirischen Sozialforschung, Seite 133.
11. Other qualitative methods. Focus on creativity
11.1. Brainstorming – the classic method
11.2. Brainstorming – the nominal method
11.3. Brainstorming – the SCAMPER method
11.4. Brainstorming – the Disney method
11.5. Six thinking hats
11.6. Creativity methods
12.1. Present the results
What findings did you discover doing the work?
12.2. Reflect critically on the results
Reflect critically on the results / findings / discoveries of your work.
Using existing knowledge / theory / common sense, present a contrast to the new findings /
discovery. Discuss contrasts.
Discuss to what extent you as researcher / author answered the research question you defined at
12.1. Document objectivity
Objectivity is the idea that scientists, in attempting to uncover truths about the natural world,
must aspire to eliminate personal biases, a priori commitments, emotional involvement etc.48
Objectivity is when research is neutral, when personal bias has been removed meaning two
independent researchers should be able to conduct the same research and get the same
To avoid the variety in subjective interpretation of quantifying terms such as “large”, “small”,
“fast”, “slow”, “hot”, and “cold”, scientists strive, where possible, to eliminate human senses by
the use of standardized measuring tools like meter sticks, stopwatches, thermometers etc.50
12.2. Document reliability
Reliability is defined as the extent to which a questionnaire, test, observation or any measurement
procedure produces the same results every time it is done. In short, it is the stability or
consistency of scores over time or across raters.51
Reliability is often at risk when assessments are taken over time, performed by different people,
or the assessments are highly subjective.52
An important point to understand is that a measure can be perfectly reliable and yet not be valid.
Consider a bathroom scale that always weighs you as being 5 lbs. heavier than your true weight.
This scale - though invalid as it incorrectly assesses weight - is perfectly reliable as it consistently
weighs you as being 5 lbs. heavier than you truly are. 53
A research example of this phenomenon would be a questionnaire designed to assess job
satisfaction that asked questions such as, “Do you like to watch ice hockey games?”, “What do you
like to eat more, pizza or hamburgers?” and “What is your favorite movie?”. As you can readily
imagine, the responses to these questions would probably remain stable over time, thus,
demonstrating highly reliable scores. However, the questions are not valid when one is attempting
to measure job satisfaction, as the questions have nothing to do with an individual’s level of job
12.3. Document validity
Validity is the extent to which you measure, for example with a test or project, what you intend to
measure.55 A statement can be called valid, i.e. logical truth, if it is true in all its interpretations.
The correctness of statements can be proved with quotes from, for example, interviews and/or
Internal validity encompasses whether the results of the study, for example mean difference
between treatment and control groups, are legitimate because of the way the groups were
selected, data was recorded or analysis performed. For example, a study may have poor internal
validity if testing was not performed the same way in treatment and control groups, or if
confounding variables were not accounted for in the study design or analysis.
External validity, often called “generalizability”, involves whether the results given by the study
are transferable to other groups, i.e. populations of interest. A study performed exclusively in a
particular gender, racial, or geographic sub-group, such as white females in Appalachia, may not
be applicable to Hispanic men in the northwest.
It is through proper study design and strict protocol execution that high levels of validity, both
internal and external, can be achieved. An important point to remember when discussing validity
is that without internal validity, you cannot have external validity. 57
55 http://psychology.about.com/od/researchmethods/f/validity.htm, http://www.natco1.org/research/files/Validity-
13. Conclusion and recommendations
Reflecting on the work you have done on your thesis, what do you conclude?
To what extent do your conclusions make sense?
Based on the results of your work, what ideas / suggestions / proposals do you have for the
company? What should be changed / done differently? Why?
Based on the results of your work, which concrete tasks should be done – either by employees
and/or by external people?
14. Quotation / citation / referencing / list of references / bibliography
14.1. When should you quote / make references / make citations
Citations should occur whenever you feel it is necessary.58
When the words themselves are evidence that backs up your reasons.
When the words are from an authority who backs up your claims.
When the words are strikingly original or express your key concepts so compellingly that
the quotation can frame an extended discussion.
A passage states a view that you disagree with, and to be fair you want to state it exactly.59
Booth, Wayne C. et. al.: The Craft of Research, p. 189.
14.2. How should citations / quotations / references be made in the text using APA
14.2.1. Basic citation styles
Indicate the author’s name / authors’ names and the year of the publication.
59 Booth, Wayne C. et. al.: The Craft of Research, p. 189.
14.2.2. Citing Twitter in the text
President Obama uses Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/barackobama) and Facebook
(http://www.facebook.com/barackobama) to keep citizens up to speed on his initiatives, especially
health care reform and Supreme Court nominations.60
BarackObama. (2009, July 15). Launched American Graduation Initiative to help additional 5 million
Americans graduate college by 2020: https://twitter.com/BarackObama/status/2651151366.61
14.2.3. Citing YouTube in the text
Author, A. A. [Screen name]. (year, month, day). Title of video. Retrieved from http://xxxx62
14.2.4. Citing figures, including images, from a webpage
Figure 3. Name of picture. From [Adapted from] Title of webpage, by A. A. Author and B. B. Author, year,
retrieved from http://....63
14.3. How should citations / quotations / references be made in the text using MLA
Indicate the author’s name and the page number from which the information was obtained.
14.4. How should citations / quotations / references be made in the text using
Chicago / Turabian style?
A footnote is created in the text generating a superscript number. In the corresponding footnote,
an explanation is given.
14.5. How should citations / quotations / references be made in the text using
Indicate the year, the page number, and the name of the author.
Example: (2014, page 27, B. C. O’Neil).
14.6. What should you mention in the list of references / bibliography?
14.6.1. Blogs / online articles
Campbell Brown, “Consequentialize this, “Ethics 121, no. 4 (July 2011): 752, accessed
December 1, 2012, http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/66069664
J Dean. (2008, May 7). When the self emerges: Is that me in the mirror? [Blog comment].
Retrieved from http://www.spring.org.uk/thelsttransport65
14.6.2. Twitter post
http://..... Accessed on October 7th, 2014.
14.6.3. e-books, for example kindle book
Schiraldi, G. R. (2011). The post-traumatic stress disorder sourcebook: A guide to healing, recovery,
and growth [Adobe digital editions version]66
Author, A. (date). Title of book. Retrieved from http://xxxxx67
14.6.4. Print books
Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, eds., The Founders’ Constitution (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1987) chap. 10, doc. 19, accessed October 15, 2011, http://press-pubs.
Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point: How little things can make a big difference (Boston:
Little, Brown, 2000), 64-65.68
Shotton, M.A. (1989). Computer addiction? A study of computer dependency. London,
England: Taylor and Francis.69
Be sure that your reference list exactly matches the references you use in your thesis.70
15.1. Appendices for all types of reports
List of references / Bibliography.
List of figures.
List of tables.
List of abbreviations.
15.2. Additional appendices for reports using quantitative methods
Thank you for your interest. For further inspiration and
personalized services, please feel welcome to visit
Have a great day.
15.3. Additional appendices for reports using qualitative methods
Interview guide with questions.
Documentation of interviews.