Standard Format for a Thesis Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: Literature Review Chapter 3: Research Methods Chapter 4: Findings & Discussions Chapter 5: Conclusions, Limitations & Future ResearchNote:Refer to the PhD format to be discussed in theclass
Research Writing (publication) Introduction- summary of the whole paper Literature review (including conceptual & theoretical frameworks) Problem statement Research question Research objectives Research Hypotheses Research methods (including research design) –population, operationalization of research, instruments, reliability, validity, procedures for data analysis) Research Findings & Discussions-highlights new discovery Conclusions, limitations & future research
Where to start?
Step 1: Establish the Need for Research:Why are you interested toundertake the research?Is there a specific issue or problemyou try to solve?
Step 2: Define the Problem (problem statement) This is the most important step Determine the issue/problem Problems may be either specific or general. Problems stem from gaps between what is supposed to happen and what did happen and gaps between what did happen and what could be happening. What are the consequences/implications of the problem(s)? If the problem is incorrectly defined, all else is wasted effort.
The problem statement describes the central issue of the paper and persuades the reader to continue reading the paper. Formulating a strong, clear problem statement often represents the first step in research.
How to Develop a ProblemStatementStep 1: Describe the issue.For example, if you are studying theeffectiveness of audit committee inprotecting the interest of shareholders,briefly describe the current corporategovernance (fraud)/corporate crimeenvironment and statistics of fraud(internationally and nationally)
Step 2: Clarify why the issue is important.Using the same topic as an example, explaininginformation about the current corporate governance(fraud) environment and statistics of corporate crimecould clarify why effective audit committee couldcontribute to safeguarding of shareholder interests. Ingeneral, consider issues that affect a large population,have serious impacts on a population/company/nationor extend or challenge existing knowledge. Forexample, studying the effectiveness of auditcommittee in protecting the interests of company’sshareholders is more important than ever due to severallarge corporate scandals(ENRON/WORLDCOM/SATYAM/BARRING BANK).Really need to make sure the reader understands whythe issue matters
Step 3: Explain your proposed methodologyExplain how you will conduct or synthesizeresearch (research operationalization).Include or clarify which variables you willstudy and how you will measure them. Forexample, an article about corporate fraudmight include tracking the frequency ofcorporate crime etc.
Step 5: Sum up your research project in aconcise question that mentions theindependent variable (the factor you change)and the dependent variable (the effect you willmeasure).For example: “How effective is the auditcommittee in protecting the interests of thecompany’s shareholders?This question can often serve as your title aswell.
Example of Problem Statement 1More people are seeking for diagnostic procedures. In order to provideexcellent patient care at a minimal cost, ABC Hospital needs diagnosticprocedures that are safe, efficient, and accurate. In addition, theprocedures should not be overly painful for the patient. Currently, thehospitals main diagnostic tools are CAT scans and spinal taps. However,the CAT scan fails to make clear diagnoses 60% of the time. When theCAT scan fails, doctors must resort to the spinal taps. While the spinaltabs are accurate, this procedure is very painful and sometimesdangerous for the patient. If ABC Hospital continues to do the twoprocedures, they will not only be wasting time and money (resources),which jeopardizes their overall efficiency and earning potential. Anundue suffering could lead patients to choose another hospital withmore advanced facilities. Given this, a new diagnostic technique,nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) may surpass the CAT scan inaccuracy and reduce the need to resort to the spinal tabs. Hence, thereis an urgent need to research the feasibility of establishing an NMR lab atABC hospital. This research will investigate the accuracy, efficiency, andsafety of NMR as well as implementation issues.
Example of Problem Statement 2 In pursuit of socio-economic growth, the Malaysian government has established a number of large government-linked companies (GLCs) since the 1970s especially after the announcement of the New Economic Policy (NEP). Although over the years the growth of GLCs has been phenomenal in terms of investment, production, revenue and range of activities and they constitute a significant part of the economic structure of the nation (Putrajaya Committee on GLC High Performance, 2005), however, based on several reports and publications concerning GLCs by PCG in 2005 and 2006 respectively and a recent study on state-owned enterprises in Malaysia (Entebang, Puah & Abu Mansor, 2006) reveal that most GLCs have not performed well. In view of the present performance of GLCs and their strategic role in nation building (Putrajaya Committee on GLC High Performance, 2006), GLCs need to be more entrepreneurial. In fact, scholars have consistently found that the practice of corporate entrepreneurship and the application of strategic entrepreneurial orientation in established organisations appear to enhance organisational performance. Therefore, this research seeks to investigate the extent to which EO affects CE performance in GLCs and how this relationship will be influenced by internal and external organisational factors.
Step 3: Establish the researchquestion The research question is an organizing element for the topic under study. It focuses your investigation into a narrow topic area and guides every aspect of the research project, including the literature search, the design of the study, data collection, data analysis, interpretation of results, and even the direction of the discussion. The research question responds to the inquiry What do I want to know about by my topic? A research question can also help identify the studys methodology as qualitative or quantitative
Example of research question Given the existing internal organisational and external environmental factors in GLCs as well as the present performance of GLCs in Malaysia, the central question of the thesis is: (1) to what extent does the entrepreneurial orientation (EO) of GLCs contributes to their entrepreneurial/CE performance i.e. innovation, strategic renewal, and corporate venturing activities and, (2) the extent to which this relationship will be moderated by organisational internal and external factors.
Step 4: Establish Objectives Research objectives, when achieved, provide the information necessary to solve the problem identified in step 3. Research objectives state what the researchers must do (undertake).
Example of research objectives Based on the proposed research question of the thesis, the primary goal is to investigate the unique relationships between entrepreneurial orientation and corporate entrepreneurship performance as well as to determine the moderating impact of organisational internal and external factors on this relationship in GLCs. In particular, this research attempts:
1. to review and analyse the research on corporate entrepreneurship and its related fields as well as the theoretical approaches applicable to the study2. to conceptualise the specific elements of organisational entrepreneurial orientation, corporate entrepreneurship activities and organisational internal and external factors3. to generate a set of empirically testable hypothesis linking existing organisational factors, environmental factors, entrepreneurial orientation, and entrepreneurial activities in GLCs4. to conceptualise, determine and develop the theoretical constructs, designing the research instrument, identifying a suitable sample, designing and carrying out the data collection and developing a new conceptual framework for corporate entrepreneurship within the business environment of GLCs5. to examine and determine the extent to which EO of an organisation is associated with its entrepreneurial activities in GLCs using quantitative methods to statistically test the proposed hypotheses. This is further supplemented by the results/findings obtained from the semi-structured interview6. to assess the extent to which the internal and external organisational factors moderate the relationship between the EO and CE performance7. to present conclusions regarding the significance, reliability, and validity of the results of the study, to discuss the theoretical, empirical, and practical implications of the findings, and to present suggestions for future research
Research Hypotheses In order to achieve the proposed objectives of this research, the following hypotheses are developed for testing;H1 That EO will be positively associated with innovation performance in GLCsH2 That EO will be positively associated with strategic renewal performance in GLCsH3 That EO will be positively associated with corporate venturing performance in GLCsH4 That internal CE factors will moderate the relationship between EO and innovation performance in GLCsH5 That internal CE factors will moderate the relationship between EO and strategic renewal performance in GLCsH6 That internal CE factors will moderate the relationship between EO and corporate venturing performance in GLCsH7 That external CE factors will moderate the relationship between EO and innovation performance in GLCs.H8 That external CE factors will moderate the relationship between EO and strategic renewal performance in GLCsH9 That external CE factors will moderate the relationship between EO and corporate venturing performance in GLCs
Step 5: DetermineResearch Design Exploratory Research: collecting information in an unstructured and informal manner. Descriptive Research refers to a set of methods and procedures describing research variables. Causal Research (experiments): allows isolation of causes and effects.
Step 6: Identify InformationTypes and Sources Primary information: information collected specifically for the problem at hand Secondary information: information already collected
Step 7: Determine Methods ofAccessing Data Secondary data is relatively easy to access; primary data is more complex. Methods of accessing data vary around the globe
Step 7: Determine Methods ofAccessing Data Three main choices for primary data: Have a person ask questions Use computer-assisted or direct questioning Allow respondents to answer questions themselves without computer assistance
Step 8: Design DataCollection FormsQuestionnaire must be worded objectively, clearly, and without bias in order to communicate with respondents.
Step 9: Determine SamplePlan and Size Sample plan refers to the process used to select units from the population to be included in the sample. Gives you representativeness! Sample size refers to determining how many elements of the population should be included in the sample. Gives you accuracy!
Step 10: Collect Data Data collection is very important because, regardless of the data analysis methods used, data analysis cannot fix bad data. Nonsampling errors may occur during data collection. Data collection errors may be attributed to field workers or respondents. Researchers must know the sources of these errors and the controls to minimize them.
Step 11: Analyze Data Data analysis involves entering data into computer files, inspecting data for errors, and running tabulations and various statistical tests.
Datacleaning is a process by which raw data are checked to verify that the data have been correctly inputted from the data collection form to the computer software program.
Step 12: Prepare and Presentthe Final Research Report Thelast step is one of the most important phases of any research. Check the format used Check the reference style