1. Introduction (400 words)
What is your research area or problem | issue?
What are the key cognate studies in this space? Who are the key researchers?
Why is it important?
What will you cover in this proposal?
2. Background to the research (250 words)
What are the drivers (stimulus) for the study?
Why is it so important?
3. Indicative literature Review (2000 words)
What is the theoretical approach taken in this study?
What relevant previous work has been conducted to date? You will need to cite well known and authoritative material, critically reviewing the findings, implications and conclusions from previous research work. This would should be synthesised, analysed and evaluated rather than explained and described.
4. Problems identified (150 words)
What are the problems, opportunities, issues arising from other people’s research?
5. Rationale (180 words)
Who will benefit and how?
What key performance metrics are you trying to optimise (reduce lead time, improve quality, environmentally benign production, more efficient/effective processes/systems etc)
6. Scope of the Study (300 words)
What will your study cover?
What will it not cover?
7. Research methodology (550 words)
What data collection method did you use? (e.g. survey or case study analysis)
Define your research protocol incorporating sampling technique, best practice data collection methods to ensure reliability and validity etc.
What sample methods will you use?
What is the basis for selecting the sample?
Did you clearly define the subjects?
How homogeneous is the population (Industry: Medical Device industry; Size of organisation: SME, MNC; Type of organisation: Innovative organisation; Function or discipline: R+D department; level in hierarchy: product managers etc.)
What volume (exact numbers) do you need to generalise? How many interviews do you need to do before you reach saturation?
Did | will you conduct a pilot test to reduce technical error?
Did you receive approval from company for your instrument and protocol before you commenced data collection?
What is the time frame for data collection?
What did | will you do to tackle non-response bias?
What did | will you do to increase rigour? ( reflective journal for bias; respondent validation to conform reporting of responses; peer debriefing; multiple data sources for triangulation and plurality; audit of the decision trail etc.)
What best practices did | will you use to capture the data and increase rigour? (e.g. self-administered survey or phone or web or email; interview structured? recorded? template used?
How did | will you code the data (open; axial)?
How did | will you analyse the data? What tests are you going to conduct?
What are your limitations (time; cost; access etc.)
8. Significance of the research (200 words)
Why is this so important?
Who will benefit and how?
What are the implications for academia?
What are the implications for industry?
What are your overall contributions?
9. Conclusions (250 words)
What are your take home points?
Remember in a literature synthesis your role is to do three things
1. Search: who is conducting research in this space?
2. Assess: what are they saying about it?
3. Integrate: how does this relate to your study?
You need to have a very tight scope. The tighter the scope the better your work will be. It is VERY hard to write a good literature review if you tackle an area that is too broad. You won’t be able to cover all this issues and your argument will be unwieldy and impossible to follow.
You also need to provide a rationale for your work. Why is it important? What are you focusing on this area? To help with this you should try to identify problems, challenges or gaps in current knowledge. You should consider carrying on from where others stopped rather than re-invent the wheel, identify people working in the same area, and finally position your work relative to others.
Your role is not to describe but to synthesis, analyse and evaluate others work. To do this you should try to
• Clearly identify who is conducting research in the space.
• Clearly determine what research findings you are reporting on? What studies and what metrics?
• Critically analyse the material why is it important? Where is it used? Do the findings you are referring to align with others???
The structure of the main headings of the literature review is important, as these headings will be used continuously through out the dissertation. They will be used again as the structure for the main research questions and then to report on the main findings and ultimately to write up the conclusions. In other words as you start to structure your literature review headings a few main themes will emerge. To put it another way the literature review chapter is the foundation of the dissertation, so the stronger the foundation the better the chance of asking the right questions.
The chapter should commence with an Introduction, which clearly outlines the academic argument for pursuing this area of research. It is very important that your literature review has a clear logical progression in its arguments. Therefore it is important that you include link sentences that illustrate and argue why you are presenting the sections in the order that you present them. The end of the chapter must have a conclusion, which summarises the main points that have been argued throughout the literature review chapter.
Build an argument (Evidence)
Carefully read the text, looking at the evidence the author is using and the structure of the argument (e.g., whether it moves logically from point to point). Identify the range of evidence (personal opinions or observations, research, case studies, analogies, statistics, facts, quotations, etc.). Assess how the author presents and discusses alternative perspectives in relation to his/her thesis? Locate any gaps or inconsistencies in the development of the argument.
Analyze the text in relation to your question and developing thesis, and in relation to other sources you’ve been reading. If it supports your thinking, identify the assumptions/biases/perspectives influencing the writer, and how they compare to your own and those of other writers with whom this one agrees. If it is an opposing perspective, identify the assumptions/biases/perspectives influencing the writer, and how they compare to your own and those of other writers with whom this one agrees? Determine how this source contributes to your understanding or to generating new questions in your thinking?
Tips to help structure your work
Define your topic or issue. Give plenty of definitions. Who is stalking about this are? What aspects of the area do they focus on? Why are the definitions different? Which one is most appropriate to your study and why?
Identify different models and or stages in the process. Who has developed models about the topic? Are they broad or narrow? What perspective do they adopt? Are they based on a specific industry (med tech, software,) are they developed for a specific size of organisation (multinational, SME)? Who are they targeted at (managers, designers engineers or operators)? What do other researchers say about these models? Are they practical and useful, too academic, prescriptive and or descriptive?
Determine the advantages and disadvantages of the topic or issue. Determine the barriers or problems with this area. Examine the critical success factors.
Identify enabling technologies that may help to support the topic.
Try to get a good debate going here. For example, some authors look at knowledge management from a technological view (ref1, ref2, ref3) while others examine it from a social perspective (ref1, ref2, ref3).
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