Final Year Project studying What next ?
Final Year Projects
Final Year Projects: Getting Started
Final Year Projects: Literature Review
Final Year Projects:What next?
Final Year Projects:References
Final Year Projects:Sources of Advice
Final Year Projects:Time Management
Final Year Projects:Surveys
Final Year Projects:Frequently Asked Questions
Final Year Projects:Final Presentation
Final Year Projects:Contact

Once the literature review chapter has been written, you are ready to tackle the main body of the final year project and you may wish to consider the following issues.

You explain why and how you intend to conduct your investigation. For many final year projects, this will consist of 'desk research' perhaps complemented by some empirical work such as a small scale survey involving questionnaires and/or interview, a case study, observations etc.

If you do undertook an empirical investigation, you will need at a later point in the survey to discuss more technical methodological issues such as your methods of sampling, choice of sampling frame, piloting, rationale for the collection of data and so on. Some projects e.g. in science, psychology may consist largely of the examination of your own survey or experimental data.

Re-state the question
Remember that the whole of your project should be an extended answer to a question rather than the discussion of an area). For example, a question such as 'does e-marketing offer competitive advantage' is more focused than 'current trends in e-marketing' Good final year projects are likely to be those that show a good 'dialogue' with the material rather than just a summary of available data. Also be very wary of attempting to prove a hypothesis whatever advice some texts may give you! The eminent industrialist and author, Geoffrey Vickers, in trying to make sense of 40 years of experience in the world of human affairs was always cogently critical of those who blithely try to apply the methods of natural science to social phenomena. (However, the use of statistical hypothesis testing is another matter and is indeed a way in which a final year project can distinguish itself. This should be left to the appropriate chapter in which you are analysing the data you have collected yourself).

Detailed presentation and evaluation of evidence
The evidence ('facts and figures') that you have collected as a result of your searches should be presented and evaluated at this point. Remember that 'facts and figures' do not necessarily 'speak for themselves' and have to be interpreted. Nonetheless, the more powerful final year projects are those in which a case is built by a rigorous examination of the data. It may well be that some of the evidence does not directly support either a case 'for' or 'against' the question that you are asking. This is not unusual but your academic skill will lie in the way in which you use and evaluate and evaluate the evidence to answer your central research question.

Use of secondary and documentary sources
Historians have well developed skills in establishing the 'provenance' of a document and it is worth taking a leaf out of their book at this stage. For example, it is worth considering the authorship and the context in which any particular document is written. For example, a government report is likely to carry more weight than that of a pressure group advocating a change in the law! (This does not make the government report 'right' and the pressure group data 'suspect' - just use your judgment as a lawyer would to evaluate the quality of evidence you have collected). One of the problems with material gathered over the internet, for example, is that it could be written by anybody and has not necessarily been subject to the quality control procedures (such as refereeing) of a typical academic journal article.

Logical skills
It is possible to exercise your logical skills in thinking about evidence, even in cases when you cannot find or collect any such evidence! For example, you could argue that a final answer to the question whether 'e-marketing offers competitive advantage' would lie in presenting data that shows the decreasing profitability and/or viability of companies that do not engage in e-marketing
and such data might be impossible to find or collect in the context of a student final year project. Nonetheless, you will gain academic credit for observing that this is the data that you would need in order to present a definitive answer to the question.

Dividing material into chapters
This substantive point of your project is likely to form Chapters 3 and 4 (assuming that Chapter 1 is an Introduction and Chapter 2 is a Literature Review)

Be prepared to organise your material into reasonably coherent chapters rather than a multitude of sections. The second or last of these chapters may well be an examination of the most recently published data or theories that bear upon your question.

Make your chapters 'flow' well from one to the next
Your project should appear logically well-connected so that you are taking the reader 'by the hand' and taking them from one stage of the argument to the next. For example, you might have been examining the literature base at quite a general level and then wish to turn to more specific material or to recent developments in a subsequent chapter. Be particularly careful to ensure that any survey work you do appears 'well connected' with the rest of your work and is derived from, and contributes to, the issues you have raised in the preceding chapters. A common failing of survey work is for it appear as an 'add-on' which is not well integrated into the rest of the project.

Golden threads
By 'golden threads' we mean the issues or questions that you have set for yourself at the start of your project and keep occurring throughout the project to 'tie it all together' Keeping a list of your 'golden threads' or recurring issues by your side as you write is a good way of ensuring that your chapters flow logically,e.g. by addressing a question at one level (e.g. in the literature) and then at another (recent developments, local case study, your own survey)

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