Critically evaluate and analyse theories and concepts relevant to the chosen topic to be researched, in the form of a literature review
Appraise research methodologies in order to specify, design, justify and execute appropriate and effective research
The Assignment Task:
In order to complete your dissertation, you must first establish the theoretical basis for your research, which is provided by the Review of Current Thinking (Literature Review).
You will then need to develop your Research Methodology, explaining how you plan to build on your literature review, with your own primary research.
These are the purposes of this Research Plan assignment which should be structured as follows:
A working title for the dissertation that reflects its focus. This may be the principal research question that it seeks to answer.
Introduction and research purpose
This section should explain the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of your investigation. It should include the following:
• a clear statement of the issue, problem or research question(s) to be addressed in the dissertation,
• the overall purpose or goal of the research,
• a discussion of why this issue is important, within a wider organisational and business context.
It will be useful to refer to appropriate secondary sources, in justifying the importance or topical nature of your investigation.
(IMPORTANT NOTE: If, after submission of the research plan, you want to change your dissertation to consider a completely different business problem or question, you would need to complete the Change of Topic or Core Focus form on Blackboard and have it signed by your supervisor before proceeding. This is because a major change to the direction and focus of the work would require different literature and different primary research).
Review of current thinking
Here you need to explain where your investigation fits in the wider body of literature and perhaps informs a current debate in that literature. You should critically evaluate carefully selected concepts, theories and ideas which might be useful for investigating your research topic and taking it forward. You will need to discuss material from a range of relevant academic journal articles, as well as appropriate secondary research. All sources must be referenced using the Harvard system.
A key requirement here is to develop a clear argument, linking the literature to the issue, problem, or questions that you have identified in the introduction; so that we can see how your investigation is informed by current knowledge and how it might enhance that knowledge.
At the end of your review you should conclude by summarising the key ideas in the review, which will be helpful for the development of the primary research.
Note: please do not present ideas from the articles one by one, as in the proposal – you must now compare and contrast, creating an argument and discussion.
This section will explore ‘how’ you will conduct your primary research and ‘why’ you have chosen to design your research in that particular way. It needs to demonstrate how your chosen strategy and methods will help to inform the question(s), problem or issue which you identified in the introduction and it needs to build logically on findings from the literature review. You will need to take into account any constraints you might face – typically time and money.
You will need to identify clearly:
• which data you need to satisfy your research objectives
• the sampling frame – from whom will you collect this data?
• how data are to be analysed
• any special expertise you might need to acquire or develop to collect or analyse your data (e.g. software, statistical, interviewing skills)
• any access and ethical issues you are likely to encounter during your research and how these would be addressed.
and offer a full justification for the choices you have made.
For example, you can reflect on why a survey, interview or mixed method approach has been chosen and what other alternatives were considered or discarded and why.
Appropriate references should be made to the research methods literature.
Note: all International MBA students are expected to collect some primary data for their final dissertations. Dissertations purely based on literature reviews will not pass.
The Research Ethics Checklist will need to be completed and uploaded as a separate document on Blackboard, by the due date. The Research Ethics Checklist can be found in the same folder as this assignment brief. Further information about the university’s research ethics procedures is on:
The ethics form is a required document and your research plan will be considered a non-submission if it is not uploaded on Blackboard.
Primary Research Instrument
For this section of the work for your plan, you need to develop your principal research instrument e.g.
• for interviews or focus groups; a schedule of how they will be structured and the questions or themes to be explored, any visual props to be used etc.
• for surveys, a draft questionnaire
This should be placed in the Appendices of your plan and cross referenced within your Methodology section. It will not be considered part of the word count.
If you are using mixed methods, it is acceptable to include just one of your research instruments.