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Procedural Steps << Dissertation Writing Guide

The details of our procedural requirements for Dissertation Writing are fully outlined below (simply click on each heading). Please ensure that you are completely familiar with these requirements and refer to them regularly whilst working with us.

If there are any questions you may have that are not answered here, then please contact the office on 020 7118 0808 or email work@ivoryresearch.com for clarification.

Dissertation offer

Ivory Research will send you a dissertation offer. The offer will include a number of key pieces of information that you will need to familiarise yourself with immediately.

  1. The subject name may be very general and therefore you must ensure that you will actually be able to cover the topic that the client has requested before accepting the work.
  2. Check your timetable. The deadline provided is likely to be the final deadline, therefore there will be an additional two deadlines in the order (for the outline and the first half) – make sure you can meet all of the deadlines.
  3. The dissertations will vary between undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The postgraduate dissertations are a lot more complex and will require a substantially larger amount of research, so it is imperative that you make sure you can meet the client’s expectations before accepting the work.
  4. At this stage it is important to ask the client all of the necessary questions. Clients do not always provide you with all the information that you will need, which often results in amendment requests at a later date. These are some questions you should ask yourself:
    • Have they provided their preferences for the methodology? i.e. primary research or secondary data analysis?
    • Do you know which research tools they want to used i.e. interviews, questionnaires, etc.
    • Do they need to include information from their lectures?
    • Have they specified which data collection method they would like to be used?
    • Will the client be willing to collect primary data themselves?
    • Ensure you have the appropriate tools for data analysis (i.e. Excel, SPSS, Eviews etc)
    • Have they provided their dissertation handbook?
    • Do they have any comments already received from the tutor?
    • Do you know of any additional information that they want you to include?
    • Has the client provided their proposal?
    • Do you have a full list of what chapters need to be included in the final work?

This is your opportunity to clarify everything before accepting an offer.

Please note that a dissertation is a significant undertaking, both in terms of time between deadlines and workload, especially if primary research is involved.

It is your responsibility to back up your work regularly. A dissertation is a massive undertaking and so you must take care to protect your files.

Lost work due to computer error is not an excuse for missing deadlines. Simply emailing the document to yourself at the end of the day will allow you to keep it backed up and secure.

Accepting the offer

Once you have clarified the client’s needs and requests, you can accept the offer if you feel confident that you will be able to meet the client’s requirements. Send an email to Ivory Research, confirming your order and verification of all the deadlines will be sent back to you.

Make a note of all of the deadlines. Furthermore, ensure that you know whether the client is paying in instalments and which grade they have ordered.

Topics for the client

In some cases the client will not provide the topic. To secure the order you may need to send a number of topics to the client before proceeding. Please send three topics for them to choose from.

Sometimes the client’s topic is simply not strong enough to get the required grade. In order to avoid any issues in the future, provide the client with another topic (which relates to their original request) and explain why it will be better. It may be a good idea to give the client some time to clarify the new topic with their tutor. It is in everyone’s interest to ensure that the client does well.

Dissertation Outline

To ensure you fully understand the client’s requirements and to use your time to maximum effect, you will need to provide the client with an outline of the proposed dissertation (500-1000 words). The outline must include a small literature review, aims, objectives and the chosen methodology. You can download a sample outline here.

The methodology is the most important part of the dissertation (for most subjects). In turn, the research method should be outlined very clearly as this will need to be approved by the tutor before proceeding.

Before writing the methodology, ensure you will be able to do it well. If you are using secondary data, make sure you can get hold of it as not everything is free.

If you are using primary research, clarify with the client who will be collecting it and who will be writing the questions/questionnaire. If the client is collecting their own data, then ensure that they will send the information back to you in time for the respective deadlines. This can become a lengthy process if the questions need to be approved before results can be gathered, so contact us if you are worried about the deadlines and we will consult the client.

It is also important to outline how you are planning to analyse the data. For example, are you going to use Excel, SPSS or Eviews? Please ensure you have the appropriate software for the requirements, and that the number/style of graphs and tables is agreed upon.

References

Before you start writing, check which style of referencing the client has ordered, and ask if there is confusion. The most common system is Harvard (we offer two options for the client on our order form, Harvard (page numbers – Direct Quotes only) and Harvard (page numbers – All Sources); however, there are many others referencing styles also such as APA, Footnotes, Oxford etc.

Here is a link to a Referencing Guide we have created.

Plagiarism

Most universities in the UK check work for plagiarism. The submitted work will be analysed against everything that is available on the internet as well as all of the previous work that has been submitted to UK universities in the past. Therefore, if plagiarism is present within the work, it will be found.

If plagiarism is found, the client will fail their degree automatically. In turn, Ivory Research guarantees that they will provide the client with a 100% plagiarism free piece of work. Since this guarantee is in place, Ivory Research will not send the completed order to the client if any plagiarism is found in your work; therefore you will not get paid.

There are a number of easy ways to ensure that there is no plagiarism in your work:

  1. If you find it difficult to rephrase someone else’s sentence then just quote and reference it. However, no more that 10% of the work can be directly quoted.
  2. If you do not know a better way to phrase something, look it up in http://thesaurus.com/ as you will find a number of very good suggestions there.

Do not submit your work through “free” plagiarism checks on the internet (such as Viper). The work that you submit to the plagiarism checker will automatically belong to the company that developed the plagiarism software. These pieces of work are then sold and in turn when the university will check for plagiarism the full work will register as fully plagiarised as it will be available on the internet.

If you want to check your work for plagiarism before sending it to us you can use Copyscape or another form of plagiarism detection software which does not store the paper. You are not permitted to use Turnitin, Viper or other similar software which stores the paper. Please see the Compulsory Writing and Presentation Standards for more details.

Attachments

The client will often send attachments with their order. If there are a lot of attachments, then these will be sent to you as a downloadable link. Download these straight away; it’s the safest way forward. Check to ensure that everything you need has been sent to you. The attachments may contain their proposal, which should show you which methodology needs to be used. Furthermore, sometimes they may attach their tutor’s comments. You must bear these comments in mind when completing the work as it will enable you to understand what the tutor wants to see in the final work.

One thing you must be careful about is files with the same name. Very often, these files contain different information. You should not expect the client to be organised and it’s your job to double check all of the attachments and make sure that you are aware of the original requirements (which include the attachments).

1st half delivery

You will need to deliver approximately half of the word count of the dissertation in the literature review and methodology chapters, unless otherwise stated. You may also be required to provide the client with primary research material (such as a designed questionnaire and Excel spreadsheet for completion (see sample)) at this or a different point of writing the dissertation (if otherwise agreed).

You will also need to supply an indicative bibliography detailing the works cited in the first half

Please ensure that you deliver this part on time, in good quality, spell-checked, fully referenced and with no plagiarism, because many clients who have only paid the first instalment, will not want to pay the rest until they are completely satisfied with the first part.

Heading and Subheadings

Microsoft Word is very useful, as it can help you to organise your work very efficiently. Use “headings” and “subheadings” whilst writing the work. First of all, this will allow you to make the contents page automatically. Secondly, it looks a lot neater, making it easier to read.

Asking the client to collect data

You can ask the client to collect some or all of the data that you will need for your research and this is especially relevant for the collection of primary research. When asking for data, you must take into consideration the client’s needs and limitations. If you ask for something general, that’s exactly what you will get – general information that can not really be used in your research.

When putting a questionnaire together and asking the client to collect some of the primary data, be very specific. At this stage, you need to know what approach you will be using to complete the methodology and how you are planning to analyse the results. Therefore, start with the basics. For example when conducting primary research you may wish to ask:

  1. What date do you want the client to submit the results by?
  2. How many responses do you need them to collect?
  3. What is the criterion of people that you want the responses from?
  4. Which departments should be handled?

Other relevant questions are for you to decide. To ensure that the client collects the data quickly and sends it to you in an appropriate form for analysis, prepare a questionnaire for the client along with an Excel spreadsheet template (for quantitative data) or word document (for qualitative) results entry. Please give the client exact coding instructions, see example here. The results file you get from the client should look like the following sample Results.xls

If you have chosen primary research and the client has sent you the data then you must ensure that all of the information is present. It is very common that the client does not fill in all of the fields that you have asked them to provide. If you start on the work too late then you will not have enough time to chase the client to get more data, in turn making your analysis weaker. Therefore, always check what the client has sent you as soon as you receive the files.

Using Secondary Data

If you are searching for secondary data, arguably you are more in control. However, over the years, data availability has increased dramatically making it harder to find the right information on the internet. Furthermore, it’s very unlikely that you will find the correct breakdown once you start uploading the data. To make matters worse, good data is rarely free. You can:

  1. Ask the client to send you some downloads, for example from DataStream
  2. Or provide you with their student access to myAthens.

Please bear in mind, that although DataStream is fantastic, students do not always know how to use it. Therefore, if you are asking them to get you the data, you must specify exactly what you need (range, dates, variables etc).

Be careful with Thomson’s data. Especially with their ratio analysis, as they are not accurate. In turn, if you are forced to use it, then specify this within your methodology and reference it everywhere.

You also need to be careful with American data. Although accurate, Americans tend to break it down into sectors that are not relevant for the British market. If your secondary research requires American data, then allow twice the amount of time to collect it as it can be complex.

Client's amendments - 1st half of dissertation

You will need to allow the client 10 days to come back with any amendment requests for the first half of the dissertation. These amendments will then need to be completed within a short time span (48 hours, if otherwise not agreed).

The clients do not always provide clear instructions on exactly what it is they want amended, as feedback may come from a third party. In turn, it is your job to clarify this before starting the amendments as this will allow you to avoid any further amendments in the future. Ask the client some questions for your own clarification.

Sometimes the client may ask for something that was not originally requested. It is important to remember that our main objective is to keep the client happy to ensure that they make the second payment.

If you need more than 48 hours to complete the amendments, you will need to inform Ivory Research straight away, so that they can agree this with the client.

It is necessary to amend the paper now, than face a much larger set of requests after you deliver the second part of the dissertation.

Chasing the client

If you have requested the data be sent to you by the client, you will probably need to chase them to receive it. Start chasing at least one week in advance, any delays will hold up the second part of your work.

Starting the second half of the dissertation

Once the client pays the second instalment (if the client has chosen such a payment plan), then you will be asked to start the second half of the dissertation. Alternatively, if the client has paid in full we will advise you when to start, however please bear in mind your final deadline and chase us / the client when appropriate.

Data and Graphs

Whatever method you are using to analyse the data, make sure you send the working files to the client (i.e. raw data, excel sheets, questionnaires, analysis and any other calculations). You obviously need to include the results tables within the work, be it in the main analysis section or the appendix. However, if you do not send the working files to the client, they will ask for them later (meaning that you will need to spend more time searching for it at a later date). The rule of thumb is that you always submit data and graphs when you send the final work through.

Final dissertation delivery

You will need to complete the dissertation in full, including the full body, contents page, abstract/executive summary, references and appendices. Always spell check your work. Please click here to see a sample of a good dissertation and how it should look.

Being late

It happens to the best of us; sometimes we are late with the final delivery. However, the way you handle this is of paramount importance. The main thing to remember is to be respectful. Providing fake excuse is not acceptable and Ivory Research has heard all of them over the years. False excuses are observed to be quite disrespectful, and we expect honesty from our writers.

If you are running late then let Ivory Research know well in advance. They will try to move the deadline for you and get the client on board with the new deadline.

If you set your own deadline at least a day in advance, this may help you meet the deadline we set. This works incredibly well for your own time management skills but also makes you look very reliable with the client and with Ivory Research.

Client's amendments - 2nd half of the dissertation

You will need to allow the client 21 days to come back with amendments on the completed dissertation. These amendments will then need to be completed within a short time span (normally 48 hours if not otherwise agreed).

Client”s amendment requests are not always reasonable. If they are asking for something small, it’s best just to do it and make sure that the client is happy. However, if the client is asking for something very large, you may need to negotiate with the client.

It is very important to remember that you are likely to be more familiar with the work than the client is. In turn, if the client is asking for something that will harm their final results, then you need to point this out to them as our ultimate goal is to get the client the result that they have paid for.

Please also consider that clients often get feedback from tutors, who are trying to push their student up to the next grade. Tutor feedback will form much of the basis for amendment requests, but it may well fall outside of the original brief. If it is a minor matter, it is better for everyone if you do it quickly and without fuss, but if the client is adding significant workload let us know as soon as and we will inform the quality department who will be asked to examine the case.

If you believe that the amendments requested are outside of the original brief then the same procedures apply as outlined in the Compulsory Writing and Presentation Standards. In such cases, please compose two messages;

  • One to the Quality Department outlining exactly what in the amendments requests is outside the original brief, with as much detail as you can include. The QCO will then look this over and decide if it is indeed the case.
  • A second message to the client, which will be sent over in the case that the QCO agrees with you. Please be polite and again detail your concerns with the order, as well as a new quote to finish the work in these amendments.

Payment

You will be paid for the completed dissertation on the next invoice/payment day.