How to Find Good Dissertation Topics for Masters or MBA

Examples of Masters and MBA Dissertations can be found here.

Introduction
Doing a Master-level dissertation is a major challenge. However, the topics or titles used to write a good dissertation can prove to be a difficult task for students, especially full-time students who need to manage studying, exams and dissertation work. They need to plan well beforehand by thinking of the topic for their dissertation during their first semester. This is because at the end of the first semester, Master-level students will be required to submit their initial proposals. They then have to undertake their research work during the second semester (Tedd 2006, pp. 570-581).

Tips for Finding Good Dissertation Titles or Topics for Master or MBA Level
The following notes aim to provide Master-level students with the useful tips and hints that they need to develop to be able to outline good dissertation topics or titles. Students should keep these tips in mind when formulating dissertation topics before they begin to plan their research works. The useful tips are as follows:

  • Students should ensure that they discuss topics and titles for their dissertation with their tutors, as a working relationship between tutors and students is very important. Tutors can help by giving guidance on forming, outlining and revising dissertation topics in order to produce the most interesting titles (Cassidy 2006, pp. 170-177).
  • Dissertation topics should be based in the real world of your study fields. For example, MBA students should develop dissertation topics based on the fields of business and management practice (Brown 2006, pp. 209-221).
  • Topics must be based on your areas of interest and not on those of your tutor. This is because you are the person who will have to carry out the research and so it is imperative that you feel comfortable and have confidence in your chosen topics and titles (Chivers 2006, pp. 330-348).
  • It is useful for a student to be knowledgeable about his or her topic. A student should try to research a topic that would be helpful for his/her prospective career. For example, those wishing to work within gambling marketing management could choose a topic based around the current issues of gambling management of the new casino that will be opened in Manchester (BBC News 2007).
  • Students must ensure that their chosen dissertation topics and titles are up to date. This is because new knowledge, information, research and studies are being added to the academic world all the time (Dong et al. 2006, pp. 496-516). As a result, good dissertation topics must be up to date in order to catch up with the ever-changing world. For example, 10 years ago it may have been interesting to research the advantages and disadvantages of credit cards. But be aware that nowadays such topics may be too old to base your dissertation on - although there is a new chapter in the plastic cards saga with the introduction of pre-paid credit cards. You could narrow your dissertation topic by concentrating on the pros and cons of these pre-paid credit cards. An example of the dissertation topic is "Pre-paid credit cards: An expensive way to spend" (BBC News 2006). However, topics should not be overly narrowed down as students may risk not finding sufficient resources.
  • Do not consider dissertation topics which are too difficult for you to research. Most students tend to base their dissertation topics or titles on the area or areas that are most interesting, but are not actually in their interests. This is because most students think that difficult topics will be rewarded with good marks (Vezzosi 2006, pp. 286-301). If you are currently considering such an idea then go back and read the dissertation guidelines which are normally given to you by your tutors. All of the guidelines indicate that research topics or titles must have critical approaches (Waytowich et al. 2006, pp. 195-208). Do not be tempted to bite off more than you can chew as it might ultimately prove to be more harmful than helpful.
  • A great starting point for developing good and interesting dissertation topics is to begin thinking about issues that you have discussed and learned during your programme so far. Think about the particular content areas or subjects that you have studied within your modules and especially those that really help trigger ideas that might help throw some light on the research questions and topics that you are attempting to formulate (Lichtenthal et al. 2006, pp. 414-421).
  • Students can also try re-reading one or two selected text books and papers. Revising previously acquired knowledge, information and ideas can help students to think of some good and interesting dissertation topics and titles. The information students gain from reading or re-reading can also give them the ideas about whether theirs is a good topic or not. Students will be able to gauge for themselves whether they can easily obtain relevant information to support their research works if they decide to take up that particular topic (Flavian & Gurrea 2006, pp. 231-247).
  • Good ideas also come from sources other than textbooks and what you have learned in classes. Some useful sources of information that can help students to generate ideas for developing good dissertation topics include the Academy of Management Review, the Journal of International Business Studies, the Journal of Management Studies, the Journal of Marketing, the Strategic Management Journal and other current articles within specific journals, for new areas of research that are being developed (Breshline & McMenemy 2006, pp. 414-428). These journals are available in both digital and print versions within numerous UK libraries. Students can also subscribe in order to access these journals from home (Patra 2006, pp. 820-831). Emerald is one of the recommended journal websites.
  • The type of dissertation topics and research titles that students develop will be influenced by additional factors such as current assignments, coursework and the relevant workload (Morris 2006, pp. 116-126). Realistically, the context in which students carry out the research work is limited by the time and resources available. In addition, it has been suggested that for Master- or MBA-level students, evaluation research titles are often the best and easiest options for students to undertake. This involves looking at some systems and practices that already exist and making recommendations as to how they might be changed or improved. Most of the time, the recommendation section in the last chapter of relevant research within a student's interests, can give them flashes of ideas for developing good and interesting dissertation topics (Gildersleeves 2006, pp. 73-88).
  • Whichever topic and approach the Master-level students decide to undertake, it is important to seek advice and gain some opinions and ideas from experienced tutors. Usually tutors have been allocated to each student because they have similar interests or have experience of similar research topics. However, the students should be prepared to use their own judgement and make decisions accordingly as the dissertation topic will be focusing on your research works (Chivers 2006, pp. 330-348). If your tutor does not agree with your ideas or your selection of topics then it is your job to convince them, with reasonable and logical evidence and explanation. This is because the main reason for asking students to undertake dissertations or research works is to see whether or not students can think and carry out research critically. The most important thing is to apply what you have learned during your programme to your dissertation topics and research works (Glynn 2006, pp. 387-399).
  • For example, use the Google search engine to look for professors in your university. Search for lecturers who have past research experience in similar fields to your chosen studies. Enquire if they have participated in conferences on your topics.
  • There are two types of research methods - primary and secondary. Secondary source is a quick and low-cost way of obtaining data. Less effort is expended and less time is taken. Also, sometimes it is more accurate than primary data. Some information can be obtained only from secondary. Primary data is obtained to help solve the problem at hand. The major methods of primary data collection include focus groups, individual in-depth interviews, questionnaires, protocol analysis, project methods, action research, and Delphi research (Schmidt and Hollensen 2006, pp. 89-110). Consult business research books. A highly recommended book is "Marketing Research: An International Approach" by Marcus J. Schmidt and Svend Hollensen.. It is also necessary to get advice on research method selection from a supervisor. For example, a student who wants to give out questionnaires may feel uncomfortable with figures and the SPSS analysis program. A supervisor may be able to discuss their available options.

Conclusion
It can be concluded that there are several things that Master-level students have to be mindful of when they are developing or outlining good and interesting dissertation topics. Students must use information and knowledge that they have learned during their studies in order to be able to form good research titles. The most important thing is to develop the dissertation topics or titles that you feel comfortable with and have confidence with as it is you who have to work on it. Get help and advice from tutors or supervisors who can give you some useful information.

References

Journal Articles
Bresline, F & McMenemy, D 2006, 'The decline in book borrowing from Britain's public libraries: a small scale Scottish study', Library Review, vol. 55, no. 7, pp. 414-428.

Brown, R 2006, 'The morning breaking aspect: experience of the MBA', Education and Training, vol. 48, no. 4, pp. 209-221.

Cassidy, S 2006, 'Learning style and student self-assessment skill', Education and Training, vol. 48, no. 2/3, pp. 170-177.

Chivers, G 2006, 'The training of university lifelong learning professionals as researchers', Journal of European Industrial Training, vol. 30, no. 5, pp. 330-348.

Dong, H; Hui, S & He, Y 2006, 'Structural analysis of chat message for topic detection', Online Information Review, vol. 30, no. 5, pp. 496-516.

Flavian, C & Gurrea, R 2006, 'The choice of digital newspapers: influence of reader goals and user experience', Internet Research, vol. 16, no. 3, pp. 231-247.

Gildersleeves, L 2006, 'Evaluating evaluation: Introducing a research project on the impact of improves your library: A self-evaluation process for school libraries', Aslib, vol. 58, no.1/2, pp. 73-88.

Glynn, L 2006, 'a critical approach for library and information research', Library Hi Tech, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 387-399.

Lichtenthal, J; Iyer, G, Busch, P & Tellefsen, T 2006, 'We are all business marketers now', Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, vol. 21, no. 7, pp. 414-421.

Morris, A 2006, 'Provision of research methods teaching in UK LIS departments', New Library World, vol. 107, no.3/4, pp. 116-126.

Patra, C 2006, 'Introducing e-journal services: an experience', The Electronic Library, vol. 24, no. 6, pp. 820-831.

Tedd, L 2006, 'Use of library and information science journals by Master's students in their dissertation: Experience at the University of Wales Aberystwyth', Aslib, vol. 58, no. 6, pp. 570-581

Vezzosi, M 2006, 'Information literacy and action research: An overview and some reflections', New Library World, vol. 107, no. 7/8, pp. 286-301.

Waytowich, V, Onwuegbuzie, A & Jiao, Q 2006, 'Characteristics of doctoral students who commit citation errors', Library Review, vol. 55, no. 3, pp. 195-208.

Worldwide Web
BBC News 2007, Manchester got Casio. Retrieved: January 30, 2007, from www.bbc.co.uk/

BBC News 2006, Pre-pay: An expensive way to spend. Retrieved: January 1, 2006, from www.bbc.co.uk/

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