The following sections should be included in your report.
Title: This should be precise and direct. You should avoid ambiguity but keep it as short as possible. Asking a question can sometimes work well. You want to give the reader insight into your results to make them want to read it.
Abstract: This section is an overview of the entire report. It should be written in continuous text and describe what you did, why you did it, what you found and what it means. There is no need to include statistical notation. Ideally no more than 500 words.
Declaration: This should state that the work is your own.
Acknowledgements: It is good practice to acknowledge those who have helped you in your Dissertation.
List of Figures and Tables:
List of Abbreviations:
Introduction: Introduce the reader to the key problem and/or issues to be explored in this dissertation.
Literature review: You should review the related literature and provide a rationale for your own study. This will not necessarily include every study reported in a particular area but should be a selective account of all major studies. Be thorough in your research (e.g., use Discovery, Google scholar) or you may miss essential studies. If there has been nothing reported recently in this area, then say so.
Method: The method section should describe the process of how you conducted this research in enough depth that would allow replication, if necessary. It should comprise a number of subsections, which are described below:
Overall Aim of the Study: Identify the key aim(s) of this study in a sentence or two.
Objectives of the Study: Bullet points of what you need to achieve to succeed in your aims
Design: Quantitative or qualitative? Survey or secondary data approach?
Participants or Sample: How many did you people did you sample, how did you decide who to select, where did you find them, how old were they what was the gender composition, etc.
Apparatus/materials: Include a concise description of all questionnaires used and refer reader to view appropriate documents in appendix (i.e., black copy of questionnaire). This should include details of the response format(s), the scoring scheme, and how items were averaged. If you are developing your own questionnaires, then provide the rationale for doing so. It is not enough to simply refer the reader to an appendix: most materials require some explanation. Do not include lengthy questionnaires in this section but provide example items.
Ethics: Briefly cover all the ethical issues that were considered/addressed throughout your project, Refer the reader any other relevant documentation in the appendix, i.e. black copy of informed consent sheet if relevant.
Analysis: What did you do with the data and why?
Results: Present the results from your analysis of data. Avoid discussing the implications of the results here or comparing results to past literature (you should do this in the discussion instead).
Tip: if your statement needs a reference, it should go in the discussion section, not the results section.
For quantitative results:
This section should be written in full sentences with a clear and logical progression through the stages of analysis from raw data to statistical output. Make sure you explain your results. Just a sentence to explain this is sufficient.
Illustrate, if appropriate, to show an interesting interaction. Don’t forget to label all tables and figures using legends and titles. Avoid overwhelming the reader with masses of figures. Most projects/experiments will produce one interesting finding – focus on this.
When it comes to illustrating your findings, you may find the following basic guidelines useful:
1. Refer to all illustrations as Figures (not graphs etc.)
2. Use title and figure numbers. Do not begin as “a graph to show …..”
3. Label all axes
4. Provide legends where appropriate
5. Do not repeat information in figures and tables
6. Use figures sparingly – they are only good if they show something interesting
For qualitative results:
Present results from qualitative analysis. Begin with an opening paragraph summarising key results. Then use subheadings to identify themes. Each theme should be described and appropriate quotes from your data should be used to support each theme.
Discussion: Summarise the main findings. Do not repeat statistical output, but restate in full sentences. Interpret the analysis with reference to current and historical literature. Did your analysis support your original predictions? Why do you think this is? The following subsections should also be included;
Limitations: Reflect on the limitations of this study, i.e. small sample. What would you do differently?
Implications: What are the practical (i.e. training recommendations, changes to policy and procedures) and theoretical (recommendations for future research) implications of this study?
Conclusion: You should also include a ‘Conclusion’ subheading at the end of your discussion what summarises your thesis as a whole, the ‘So what?’ should be in here – what is the important message of your thesis.
References: Get the format right. Use the Harvard referencing style described in Pears & Shields (2016) Cite Them Right (Palgrave Study Skills). London: Palgrave [https://www.waterstones.com/book/cite-them-right/richard-pears/graham-shields/9781137585042]
Appendices: Include a pro-forma (i.e., blank) copy of the measures used (e.g., your questionnaire with scoring), any SPSS output or excel tables. Do not include ethics forms in appendix.
· Try to avoid personal pronouns such as ‘I’. You are describing something that has already happened so write in the past tense.
· There should be sufficient information contained in your report for somebody else to repeat it without difficulty.
Are the UK’s current Fraud Prevention strategies fit for purpose?
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