Order of sections
There is a fairly standard order for presentation of your project.
Normally it should adhere to this, although minor deviations are possible e.g. a case-based project would normally contain a descriptive chapter about the organisation at an early stage in the document.
The following elements are integral to your project:
In this section there is an explanation of the background and importance of the study, the purpose of the investigation and an overview of the content/structure of the project. The introduction should lead the reader directly to the issue with which the project is concerned, and this may include a few academic references to contextualise the gaps/reasons for researching in the subject area. It should include the aims/objectives and allow a well-informed individual to understand the nature of the project. Any constraints should be clearly brought out here.
Main elements (body)
The main body of the project begins with the first page of the first chapter or section. Each chapter or section should represent an important division of the project. Special care should be given to dividing the text into paragraphs and the use of sub-headings to help the reader. The chapters are identified by Arabic numerals and the sub-sections as specified 1.5 and 1.6. Each chapter should have a title identifying the subject contained therein, and it should begin on a new page.
• Literature review
This is not only a record of all the important contributions relevant to the topic area, but an evaluation and critical comment of the work to date. The references should be largely academic and up-to-date, demonstrating your prowess at researching and selecting appropriate and relevant literature. This chapter should culminate in how this literature informs the research question(s) and is a natural lead in to the ensuing methodology and methods chapter detailing how you will collect the data to investigate your research question(s). Quotes should be restricted to include only those that are truly hard-hitting (‘killer’) or seminal ones – in most situations, paraphrasing in the text and appropriate citation makes the project easier to read. Appropriate citation conventions are essential here.
• Research approach
The underlying methodological stance should be justified here, together with the research design (e.g. survey, case studies, sampling regime etc.) and methods (e.g. interviews, questionnaires, focus groups etc) utilised in order to collect the data. Reference to research methods texts is expected. Details of the analytical tools/process (e.g. statistical analysis, template analysis etc.) should also be included. Piloting details should be included here, as well as general logistical details (e.g. when the data were collected, how questionnaires were distributed etc.). Ethical considerations must also be addressed here.
• Findings and discussion
These are the findings which relate to what you set out to do. They need to be comprehensive and presented in a suitable form such as tables, charts, statistics and illustrations, as appropriate. Tables and charts need to be constructed so that they can be understood in isolation, and students should not fall into the trap of describing in words what they have already presented graphically. Raw data (e.g. an example of a transcript, or numerical codings of data) are generally relegated to an appendix where they can be consulted by anyone wanting the original details. Illustrative data, composed of raw data which students have analysed, is included in the text.
Although the discussion may be a separate chapter, this usually means repeating yourself if you have presented the ‘factual’ findings. It is usual to critically analyse the results in the context of the literature and research aims at this point, commenting on their significance in relation to previous work in the same area. Highlighting similarities and differences in your findings with those of other authors would normally be included here.
• Conclusions, recommendations and reflections
Appropriate conclusions should be drawn from the research undertaken (and cross-referenced, as appropriate). These should invariably relate back to your aims/objectives. Recommendations should be clearly specified: these should not consist simply of a series of generalised statements but should contain details of how they might be put into effect. An element of self-reflection in your personal and professional development should be included (around 500 words). This chapter would normally conclude with some suggestions for further research may be included here.
A reference list should be used for all articles, texts, web documents etc. that are cited in your main project. The style used is the APA 6th referencing system.
The principal purpose of an appendix is to keep the text of the project from being cluttered and interrupted with supplementary, minor and illustrative materials. Appendices are completely optional and do not carry separate credit.
Problem formulation (10%)
Context and justification of the research area; development and formulation of clear aims and objectives; scope and boundaries of the research project
Literature review (20%)
Selective and critical appraisal of relevant academic and/or practitioner literature; identification of appropriate frameworks, theories and models
Research approach (20%)
Methodological perspectives and appropriate methods of data collection; awareness of strengths and limitations of the chosen methods; practical detail of research design and execution; ethical considerations
Analysis and inferences (25%)
Robust and meaningful analysis of the data; interpretation of the findings in relation to literature, frameworks and theory; appropriate arguments and inferences based on the findings
Conclusions, recommendations and reflections (20%)
Concise summary and implications for theory and practice; clear indication of how the project meets its stated aims and objectives; personal and professional reflections; potential limitations and avenues for further research
Logical, well-structured and clearly presented; appropriate and consistent referencing This is the grading scheme that is used by the assessors. Each section is awarded a grade and an overall grade is calculated automatically, based on the above weightings.