Purpose of the Assessment
The purpose of this assignment is to enable learners to develop advanced-level independent research and critical problem-solving skills within a business context.
Learners will develop knowledge of, proficiency in, and application of a range of management research methodologies including qualitative and quantitative research methods resulting in proposals/ recommendations.
In the current international economic environment, entrepreneurs and managers are frequently required to undertake business planning, project and consultancy work in addition to their core responsibilities. Frequently, these projects are focused upon investigating new business opportunities or potential strategic changes in order to create, retain and extend competitive position.
The assessment task is to produce a 7500 words (±10%) research project report based on an independent research, which investigates a business/organisational or management problem, issue or challenge, applies appropriate research techniques and analysis, and consequently informs the development of a business plan and/ or results in recommendations for change.
Where the submission exceeds the stipulated word limit by more than 10%, the submission will only be marked up to and including the additional 10%. Anything over this will not be included in the final grade for the assessment item. Abstracts, bibliographies, reference lists, appendices and footnotes are excluded from any word limit requirements.
Where a submission is notably under the word limit, the full submission will be marked on the extent to which the requirements of the assessment brief have been met.
Projects should be submitted with the UoN Faculty of Business & Law Ethics Form which has been signed by your project supervisor. The blank Ethics Form, sample Participant Information and Consent Forms/ Templates are available at the end of this assignment brief. Please see NILE for additional guidance about appendices.
Your primary research should be undertaken under cover of an authorised Ethics Application that must include all supporting documentation (eg research instrument, participant information sheet, informed consent form). If you do not include your approved Ethics Form in your submission, 10% of your final grade will be deducted. If you do not have Ethics Approval for your research, your submission will be an automatic AG (fail).
Primary Data Sets
All students should be prepared to present their primary data sets to support their submission.
The University and Module Team reserve the right to request access to primary data sets at any time.
SUGGESTED FORMAT FOR THE PROJECT REPORT
TITLE/ COVER PAGE
The following details should be stated on your title page:
• The title of your project
• Student name and number
• Full Name & affiliation of Supervisor
Your cover page should also include the University Logo and your Faculty of study
This is a summary of your report and should not be more than one page.
Essentially your Abstract is a summary (NOT an outline) of the different sections of the proposal or report – for example a summary of the research topic describing the project, in terms of some background information, your project aim, your methodology, main outcomes and recommendations from your research.
Thank any people that have assisted/contributed to your project.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Provide a list of the sections of your project report with page numbers.
Provide a list of the figures and tables presented in your project report, if applicable.
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
• What is the setting/ context for your research project?
• What is your project about?
• What are the aim and objectives of your research project?
• What is/ are your research question(s)
• Describe how your project will assist the organization that is under study, if relevant and applicable.
• Describe the consultation process you have undertaken with the organization, if applicable.
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
What are the key concepts and theories that provide some background or platform for your research project? Discussing these entails a thorough review of relevant studies related to your research. Make sure you consult a wide range of relevant literature/ studies. Ensure this is a critical review – not just descriptive or an annotated bibliography. All sources should be correctly attributed using the Harvard Referencing format.
CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY
• What methodology did you adopt and why?
• What is the principle or philosophy that guides & shapes your research project and why (example Positivist, interpretivist; inductive/deductive, etc.)?
• Who is your target audience or your research sample and why?
• What methods did you employ for collecting data and why?
• How did you ensure adequate ethical procedure?
• What are your hypotheses, if applicable?
• How did you analyse your data (analytical and statistical procedures employed) and why?
CHAPTER 4: RESULTS/ FINDINGS
• Provide clear and logical presentation of the findings or results of your research, sighting corresponding examples/ instances from your collected/ generated data
o These might include tables, graphs or other diagrams
• Ensure your results correspond with your stated research objectives/ research questions, or hypotheses (if applicable)
• You might want to consider integrating this section with Chapter 5 (below) or it can be a standalone Chapter.
CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION AND EVALUATION
• Provide an analytical/ critical discussion of your findings/ results aimed at addressing your research objectives or answering your stated research question(s)/ hypotheses.
o Refer to any diagrams, questionnaire results, graphs, etc. discussed/ presented in the Results/ Findings Chapter
• What are the implications of your findings?
• How do your findings link with existing research?
CHAPTER 6: CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
• What do your findings show?
• What were the limitations of your project?
• What recommendations would you make on the basis of your findings/ results?
• Do you think your recommendations are innovative or entrepreneurial? Present your arguments such that they demonstrate how and why you think your recommendations are innovative or entrepreneurial.
CHAPTER 7: REFERENCES
• Full details of all the sources cited in your report. These should be formatted based on the recommended Harvard Referencing System
GUIDANCE ON APPENDICES
• These should include any material which is of interest, but which is peripheral to the project, e.g. approved ethics form, sample participant information sheet & consent form, tables of results, graphs, photos, raw data from surveys and interviews, etc.
• You should try and keep any such appendices to a minimum.
This is an individual assignment. The University of Northampton policy will apply in all cases of copying, plagiarism or any other methods by which students have obtained (or attempted to obtain) an unfair advantage.
Support and guidance on assessments and academic integrity can be found from the following resources
• Learning Development: Access via NILE
If a case of academic misconduct is suspected the tutor will apply a ZZ grade in NILE.
To submit your work, please go to the ‘Submit your work’ area on the NILE site and use the PJ1- PROJECT REPORT submission point to upload your report. It is important that you submit your work to the correct module NILE site, and that your work is submitted on time. The deadline for this is 11.59pm (UK local time) on the date of submission.
The work will be subject to Turnitin anti-plagiarism detection software. Turnitin checks student work for possible textual matches against internet available resources and its own proprietary database.
N.B Work emailed directly to me will not be marked.
Late submission of work
If your report is submitted late and an extension has not been granted, the following will apply:
• Within one week of the original deadline – work will be marked and returned with full feedback, and awarded a maximum bare pass grade of C-.
• More than one week from original deadline – maximum grade achievable LG (L indicating late).
If a resit
Any work submitted late will be awarded a LG grade.
The University of Northampton’s general policy with regard to extensions is to be supportive of students who have genuine difficulties, but not against pressures of work that could have reasonably been anticipated. Please refer to Appendix I of the Post Graduate Handbook for advice on extensions.
If a resit
There are NO extensions for resits
If a student fails an assessment, or fails to submit an assessment, at the first opportunity, s/he is entitled to a second submission (resit) opportunity, although there are exceptions that are detailed in the Academic Regulations. At that resit opportunity, the maximum grade achievable is a bare pass (C-).
Feedback and Grades
Your grade and overall summary feedback will be available in Grade Centre.
For guidance on Mitigating circumstances please go to https://www.northampton.ac.uk/about-us/governance-and-management/universitypolicies-procedures-and-regulations/ where under Student Issues you will find detailed guidance on the policy as well as guidance and the form for making an application.
Please note, however, that an application to defer an assessment on the grounds of mitigating circumstances should normally be made in advance of the submission deadline or examination date.
On successful completion of the module, participants will be able to:
Subject-Specific Knowledge, Understanding & Application
a) Critically assess and apply theoretical concepts, constructs and models required to analyse business-related problems, plans and issues.
b) Evaluate and implement appropriate research methodologies to examine management and business-related issues.
c) Enact appropriate ethical standards and use suitable tools to collect quantitative and qualitative data.
d) Demonstrate the ability to link question formulation or research aim and objectives to data analyses, interpretations and implication of results.
Employability & Changemaker Skills
e) Define and express succinct and measurable targets, within business and organisational contexts.
f) Develop and demonstrate an appropriate report writing style that balances the demands of brevity, comprehension and criticality, and is appropriate for both academic submission and for corporate requirements.
Learning Outcomes addressed through this assignment No submission / no evidence Fail Pass Commended Distinction
Critically assess and apply theoretical concepts, constructs and models required to analyse business case problems, plans and issues: Literature Review (20%) (0)
Literature Review is of no academic value / nothing submitted (1-9)
The problem, challenge, or research topic is unclear or absent.
Major sections of pertinent literature are lacking. The identified themes have limited significance to the research project. (10-11)
The problem, challenge, or research topic is generally clear. There is limited demonstration of critical thinking, and analysis of existing/ relevant theories – Broadly Descriptive.
Some aspects of the literature are included, but not covered in as
much depth, or as explicit, as expected. Significance to research project is mostly evident. (12-13)
The problem, challenge, or research topic is clear, and there is some demonstration of critical thinking, and analysis of existing/ relevant theories.
Most aspects of the literature are included in sufficient depth and the relevance of certain elements is unclear. Significance to research project is evident. (14-20)
The problem, challenge, or research topic is clearly and succinctly discussed and presented with robust and clear demonstration of critical thinking, analysis and evaluation of existing/ relevant theories.
The appropriate literature is covered in depth without being redundant. Significance to the research project is unquestionable.
Define and express succinct and measurable targets, within business and organisational contexts: Research Objectives, and Questions (and Hypotheses, if applicable) (15%) (0)
Research objectives and questions not stated/ absent. (1-7.4)
Research objectives and questions are unclear (7.5-8.9)
The stated research objectives and question(s) are incoherent and the relationship with the business problem and/or literature review is not fully articulated. (9-10)
The research objectives and question(s) are stated and are related to the business problem and/or literature review. (11-15)
The research objectives and question(s) are clear, succinct, related to, and informed by, the business problem and literature review.
Evaluate and implement appropriate research methodologies to examine management and business-related issues: Research Methodology: Data Collection and Analyses (20%) (0)
Research design/ Methodology is non-existent/ nothing submitted (1-9)
Understanding of research methodologies is limited or absent. (10-11)
Demonstrates some understanding of design methodology. Primary research intervention lacks clarity. (12-13)
Demonstrates clear understanding of design methodology. Primary research intervention lacks complete clarity. (14-20)
Demonstrates clear and robust understanding of design methodology. Design includes clear primary research intervention.
Enact appropriate ethical standards and use suitable tools to collect quantitative and qualitative data: Ethical Procedure (10%) (0)
There is no evidence of ethical approval (1-4)
Demonstrates little adherence to appropriate ethical procedures from the University and the organisation under study (if applicable).
Fails to provide (5-5.9)
Demonstrates some adherence to appropriate ethical procedures from the University and the organisation under study (if applicable). (6-6.9)
Demonstrates clear adherence to appropriate ethical procedures from the University and the organisation under study (if applicable).
Provides approved (7-10)
Demonstrates clear adherence to appropriate ethical procedures from the University and the organisation under study (if applicable).
Provides (and clearly signposts readers to)
proof of ethical approval (example approved Ethics Form and associated documentations) Provides approved Ethics Form; samples of relevant associated documentations (example Participant Information Sheet, Consent Form, Questionnaire, etc.) are missing. Ethics Form; samples of some associated documentations (example Participant Information Sheet, Consent Form, Questionnaire, etc.) are missing. approved Ethics Form and associated documentations.
Develop and demonstrate an appropriate report writing style that balances the demands of brevity, comprehension and criticality, and is approriate for both academic submission and for corporate requirements: Structure and Content (15%) (0)
Unsatisfactory command of academic / professional conventions.
Disjointed and a general lack of clarity & coherence in presenting arguments. (1-7.4)
Poor command of academic / professional conventions appropriate to business & management context.
The work does not flow logically or smoothly. Poor and/or inappropriate use
of vocabulary and grammar (7.5-8.9)
Satisfactory command of academic / professional conventions appropriate to business & management context.
Acceptable structure and flow is demonstrated. Acceptable standard of vocabulary and grammar. (9-10)
Rigorous command of academic / professional conventions appropriate to business & management context.
Acceptable structure and flow is demonstrated. Acceptable standard of vocabulary and grammar. (11-15)
command of academic / professional conventions appropriate to business & management context.
Effective structure with a clear, logical flow.
Command of written communication, use of vocabulary and grammar
relevant to the form of the assignment.
Demonstrate the ability to link question formulation or research aim and objectives to data analyses, interpretations and implication of results: Syntheses of Arguments, Conclusions & Recommendations (20%) (0)
Concluding remarks that have no connection with research plan, findings & implications.
Recommendations are not presented (1-9)
There is limited evidence that the author tried to synthesize the information or draw a conclusion.
Largely absent or irrelevant recommendations. Limited or absent attention to the operational and financial details and viability of proposals. (10-11)
The author provides concluding remarks that show an analysis and synthesis of ideas occurred. Some of the conclusions were not supported in the body of the report.
Some relevant recommendations have been made. Reasonable attention is given to the operational and financial details and viability of proposals.
Limited evidence of innovation. (12-13)
The author provides concluding remarks that show some analyses and syntheses of ideas.
Some recommendations have been made and some attention is given to the operational and financial details and viability of proposals
There is some evidence of innovation. (14-20)
The author was able to make succinct and precise conclusions that demonstrate analyses and syntheses of ideas. Insights into the problem are remarkable.
An excellent range of specific and relevant recommendations have been provided.
Attention is given to operational and financial details and viability of proposals.
Clear evidence of innovation.
GENERIC GRADE CRITERIA FOR LEVEL 7
These are the criteria required to achieve each classification at Level 7 (note the meanings of the various G grades)
An outstanding Distinction A+ Work which fulfils all the criteria of the grade below, but at an exceptional standard
A very strong Distinction A Work of distinguished quality which is evidenced by an authoritative comprehensive, detailed and systematic knowledge base and understanding for specialised area of study. A key feature will be the ability to work with creativity and originality using knowledge and insights at the forefront of the area of study. There will be a confident grasp of disciplinary methodologies for the discipline/area of study which will be consistently reflected in both own research and advanced scholarship, effectively integrating advanced skills of analysis, synthesis, evaluation and application on a firm foundation of critical facility. Work will be characterised by strong technical expertise to high professional standards, and there will be sustained evidence of confident, autonomous operation and judgment in complex and unpredictable professional situations both in relation to working with others and in relation to own functioning. Self-direction, creativity, practical understanding will be combined to demonstrate the qualities expected of
an effective self critical independent learner exercising excellent measured judgment, and will be a consistent feature of work.
Distinction A- Work of very good quality which displays most but not all of the criteria for the grade above.
An outstanding merit B+ Work of highly commendable quality which clearly fulfils the criteria for the grade below, but shows a greater degree of capability in relevant advanced intellectual or specialised skills.
A very strong Merit B Work of commendable quality demonstrating a detailed and systematic knowledge base and understanding in specialised areas, informed by critical awareness of current issues, research based/theoretical insights at the forefront of the area of study. This will be supplemented by a good comprehensive understanding of disciplinary methodologies relevant to own research or advanced scholarship, which will be reflected in work which integrates skills of advanced analysis, synthesis, evaluation and application with critical awareness. There will be some evidence of originality in application of skills/knowledge, underpinned by good technical expertise which permits confident, autonomous operation in a range of complex and unpredictable professional situations. The ability to work autonomously, as a self-critical independent learner exercising good and considered judgment, will be a consistent feature of work.
A Merit B- Work of good quality which contains most, but not all of the characteristics of the grade above.
Pass C+ Work which clearly fulfils the criteria for the grade below but shows a greater degree of capability in relevant advanced intellectual or specialised skills.
A Pass C Work of capable quality which clearly demonstrates a systematic understanding of knowledge in specialised areas and a critical awareness of current issues, research based/theoretical knowledge at the forefront of the area of study, together with a sound understanding of methodologies applicable to own research or advanced scholarship. There may be limitations to the application of this knowledge and/or conceptual understanding of advanced scholarship, but there will be evidence of critical awareness in relation to analysis, synthesis, evaluation and application. The ability to exercise initiative as an independent and self critical learner in complex and unpredictable professional contexts will be demonstrated, as will threshold levels of technical expertise, although the scope of expertise may be limited.
C- Work of satisfactory quality which contains most, but not all of the characteristics of the grade above.
Fail F+ Work which indicates some evidence of a systematic, coherent and analytical engagement with key aspects of the field of study, including familiarity with current scholarship, and evidence of ability to utilise specialised skills, but which also contains significant limitations.
F Work that falls well short of the threshold standards in relation to one or more of knowledge, intellectual, subject based or key skills at this level.
F- Work of poor quality which is based on only minimal understanding, application or effort. It will offer only very limited evidence of familiarity with knowledge or skills appropriate to the field of study at this level.
AG Work submitted but academic misconduct proven and penalty given was to award AG grade
LG Work submitted but given an LG grade due to late submission
NG Work submitted but work comprises no value
G Nothing presented
Faculty of Business and Law
Postgraduate Taught Research Ethics Application Form
Title of Project
Name of Researcher
YES NO N/A
1 Will you describe the main research procedure to participants in advance, so that they are informed what to expect?
2 Will you tell participants that their participation is voluntary?
3 Will you obtain consent from participants?
4 If the research is observational, will you ask participants for their consent to being observed.
5 Will you tell participants that they may withdraw from the research at any time and for any reason?
6 With questionnaires/interviews, will you give participants the option of omitting questions they do not want to answer?
7 Will you tell participants that their data will be treated with full confidentiality and that, if published, it should not be identifiable as theirs?
If you have ticked No to any of questions 1-7, then your project is NOT low risk
8 Will your project involve deliberately misleading participants in any way?
9 Is there any realistic risk of any participants experiencing either physical or psychological distress or discomfort?
10 Will it be possible to link identities or trace information back to individual participants in any way?
11 Will the study involve discussion of sensitive topics (e.g. sexual activity, drug use, ethnicity, political behaviour, potentially illegal activities)?
12 Will financial inducements (other than reasonable expenses, compensation for time or a lottery / draw ticket) be offered to participants?
If you have ticked Yes to questions 8-12, then your project is NOT low risk
YES NO N/A
13 Does your project involve work with animals?
14 • participants fall into any of the following special groups?
• they do, please outline on page 2 how you will take account of their needs.
Note that you may also need to obtain satisfactory Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) clearance
YES NO N/A
a. School Children? b.
b. People with learning or communication difficulties c.
c. Patients d.
d. People in custody e.
e. People engaged in illegal activities (e.g. drug-taking) f.
Please provide full details of your project below
(if insufficient detail is provided and the precise nature of the study is not clear your supervisor will NOT approve the project and your form will be returned)
State the aim and objectives of this research:
How will participants be recruited? Who will they be (i.e. number, age, and gender?):
Details of the informed consent process (If required, use the Informed Consent and Participant Information Sheet templates provided and submit with this form):
Description of the method (please submit your research instrument (survey questionnaire, interview questions that you will be using to collect data with this form if relevant):
Where will this research be conducted?
What steps have been taken or will be taken to ensure appropriate permissions are obtained? (N.B. provide a copy of correspondence i.e. letter, emails granting you permission must be submitted with your ethics submission):
Name (Caps) Signature of Student Date:
This project has been
approved in its current form
declined and will need to be revised and resubmitted
The following required revisions are stipulated.
Module Leader: Signature Date:
University of Northampton
Faculty of Business & Law
PARTICIPANT INFORMATION SHEET TEMPLATE
**PLEASE DELETE THE SECTIONS OF THIS TEMPLATE WHICH ARE NOT RELEVANT TO YOUR STUDY**
**The title should be simple and self-explanatory to a lay person.**
**This should explain that the individual is being asked to take part in a research study. The following is an example of how this may be phrased:**
‘You are being invited to take part in a research study. Before you decide whether or not to take part, it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully’.
What is the purpose of the study?
**The background and the aim of the study should be given here.
Why have I been invited to participate?
**You should explain how the individual was chosen to take part in the study and how many other people will be asked to participate.**
Do I have to take part?
**You should explain that taking part in the research is entirely voluntary. For example, you could say: -**
‘It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part. If you do decide to take part you will be given this information sheet to keep and be asked to sign a consent form. If you decide to take part you are still free to withdraw at any time and without giving a reason’.
What will happen to me if I take part?
**You should explain your methods of data collection, including what the individual will be asked to do and how much time will be involved.** and the possible disadvantages and benefits for the participant to take part.
Will my information in this study be kept confidential?
**You should explain that all information collected about the individual will be kept strictly confidential (subject to legal limitations) and describe how confidentiality, privacy and anonymity will be ensured in the collection, storage and publication of research material.**
**If it is a condition of your research funding that the research data must be shared and stored in a repository, you must explain how the data will be stored (for example with the Economic and Social Data Service or the UK Data Archive) and explain it will be anonymised.**
What should I do if I want to take part?
**Explain exactly how the participant should ‘opt in’ for the study.**
What will happen to the results of the research study?
**You should tell the individual what will happen to the results of the research. Will they be used in your dissertation or thesis? For what degree? Will they be published? How can they obtain a copy of the published research?**
Who is organising and funding the research?
**You should explain that you are conducting the research as a student at the University of Northampton and the Faculty of Business and Law.
Who has approved this study?
**You may state that the research has been approved by the FBL Research Ethics Committee
Contact for Further Information
**You should give the individual a contact point for further information. This can be your name or that of your supervisor (if you are a student). You should add that if they have any concerns about the way in which the study has been conducted, they should contact the student’s supervisor. Please provide their contact details.
**Remember to thank the individual for taking time to read the information sheet.**
The information sheet should be dated.
University of Northampton
Faculty of Business and Law
CONSENT FORM FOR PROJECT PARTICIPANTS
Title of Project:
Dear Participant: You will be given a copy of this Consent Form to keep and refer to at any time.
Tick the appropriate column for each item if your answer is “yes” or “no”
Statement YES NO
1 I have read and understood the Participant Information Sheet and know what the research involves.
2 I. have been given the opportunity to ask questions about the project and
II. participation. III.
3 I voluntarily agree to participate in the project
4 I understand that I have the right to withdraw at any time, without having to explain my reasons for doing so.
5 The procedures regarding confidentiality have been clearly explained to me
6 I understand and agree that my participation involves taking part in the questionnaire/interviews/focus groups being audio recorded and /or video-taped.
7 The use of the data in research, publications, sharing and archiving has been explained to me.
8 I understand that the data will be kept at a specialised data centre at the University of Northampton and may be used for articles or reports as an output of this research project, but my confidentiality and anonymity will be maintained.
9 I do not want to reveal my identity in this project and in any output of this research and understand that my identity will be kept anonymous.
10 I agree to participate in this research procedure as outlined to me above