Guide To Writing Masters’ Project Paper
Master students at Open University Malaysia are required to write a project paper or a case as partial fulfillment for the award of the degree. This handbook is intended to guide the students in the preparation and writing of the project and the case study.Students are expected to write a well-articulated paper in chapter formatthat meets the standard set by the Centre for Graduate Studies (CGS), Open University Malaysia.
CSG recognizes a good project paper/case as the one which:
¡demonstrates the student’s understanding of his/ her research problem, strategy to seek solutions to the problems through appropriate Use of data collection methods and analytical techniques, and ability to interpret and relate the results to the objective(s) of his/her study.
¡Attempts to search for explanations to the problems and meaning of the concepts through a comprehensive and critical review of the relevant literature from scholarly books and journals.
¡Constitutes a clean piece of work, well edited and thoroughly checked [or grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, sentence construction, report formats and others. Proper citations of authors in the text and bibliographies should be observed according to the writing style guide of CGS.
¡Demonstrates the student’s ability to present ideas, explanations and results in a smoothand logical flow from the beginning to the end of the chapter. Overall coherence of the report should be maintained through appropriate explanatory linkages between the chapters.
2. THE ORGANIZATION OF THE PROJECT PAPER!
A typical project paper will consist of chapters sequentially arranged in the following order. However, there may be variations depending on specific areas of research and/ or request from the student or supervisors concerned. The organization for a case study report is also quite different from the project paper report (See Appendix n. Students are advised to discuss with their supervisors the organization of their project report before commencing on the writing process.
i. Chapter One sets the direction for the study by introducing the issues,research questions/problems, current state of knowledge in terms of conceptual, theoretical development and research in the area, research gaps and others.Generally,the chaptercontains thefollowing subsections:
a. Background of the Study
In this section,thestudent should introduce the major variablesof his/ her study and relate them to previous research and theory.To do this successfully the student needs tolook [or studies or articles published as currently as possibleso that whatever isdiscussed or reviewed is not something out-of-date or even irrelevant.Even if a major variable is not included in the study, the student should mention this fact, to indicate that he/she is aware of the problem. The background discussion will highlight thecurrent state of knowledge and possible gaps in thearea.Hence this section will indicate the researcher’s intention and reasons for undertaking this research.For applied research studies, the backgroundsection will discuss and highlight the management problems ororganizationalsituations that warrant this study.
b. Research Problem(s).
The background discussion will lead to statements of the problems.which will be addressed by thisresearch.. Problem statements can be presented LDthe form of research questions.In the problem statements, the student should highlight the variables ofconcern and the type of relationships between them.The subjectsof the studyor thetarget group should also be mentioned.
c. Objectives of the Study
Theobjectives ofthe study should bestatedclearly.This is important because the results and achievements of the study will be evaluated based on these stated objectives.The objectives of the study must be linked to the issues and problemsstated in(b).
d. Significanceof the Study
Aresearch work isjustified if itcan contribute something totheory building and practice in itsfieldaswell as policy development in the area.Hence the student should be ableto highlight thesignificance of his/herstudy based on these considerations.
e. Definition of Terms
All variablesused in the studyshould be operationally defined so that we know the bases upon which the research was carried out.The student should state clearly thesources of these definitionsif these were taken from somewhere else,or explained how these were developed if these were developed byhim/herself.
f.Limitations ofthe Study
In this section,the limitations andconstraintsofthe research should behighlight Some common limitation faced by researchers are, for example,limitations due to small samplesize,measuring instruments,or generalizabilityof the results. (Some writers prefer 10 discuss limitationsof the studyat the end of the research report, that is, atthe end of Chapter Five:Discussion Chapter.Students should discuss with their respective supervisors about this).
ii. Chapter Two: Literature Review
The main purpose of Chapter Two is to critically review thepublished workin the area of study which the student is undertaking. In doing to, the student will have to look at the concepts, theoretical development andempiricaland non empirical studies done to explain the phenomenon of interest. The result of the review would indicate the current state of knowledge in the area in terms of itsbreadth and depth of research,the strengths and weaknesses ofpreviousresearch and the knowledge gap which needs further explanation and study. Although the literature review for a master’s project is not expected to be ascomprehensivelyand exhaustively as for the Doctoral thesis, it should howeverprovide the reader with a picture of the state of knowledge and of major questionsin the subjectarea being investigated.The review should be on the factorsor variables which are directly and indirectly related to his/her research topic.
Although books can be used asreferences, it is preferablethatstudents use asmuch of thereferences as possible from the journals which are well recognized and known in the area. Because the literature review indicatesthe current state of knowledge in the area,the references used should be as current or most up-to date as possible.
iii. Chapter Three: Research Methodology
Chapter threewill describe insufficientdetail how thestudy will be carried out in order to collect thedata to test thehypotheses oranswer the research questions. The method of the studyshould be described clearly so that it can bereplicated by other researchers.
Although thespecifics of themethod ofstudy will bedifferent from one researchtopic toanotherorfrom quantitative research to qualitative research, the main purposeof the chapter is the same for all- to describe how the study will be carriedout in order to meet the objective (s)of the study.Generally the chapter willconsist of the followingsubheadings:
· research design
· study population and sampling procedure
· operational definition
· data collection procedures
· scale reliabilities
· tests for normalities, linearities,and factor analyses-where relevant.
· data analysis
Forqualitative studies, the detailsteps may be different, but the overall expectation of a clear and complete description of study population, instrumentation, data collection andanalysisis the same as thestudies.
Thestudent should explain why particular research designs, sampling procedures or analytical techniques were employed. Any deficiencies in a particular method employed should also be mentioned.
iv. Chapter Four: Data Analysis and Results
The data obtained from research will be analysed and presented in this chapter.The results of analyses can be presented in tables and graphs and accompaniedwith texts, highlighting the trends, tendencies and differences.
Typically for quantitative studiesin social sciences,the chapter starts with data about the respondents or subjects characteristics (in tabular and/or graphical forms), and descriptive statistics of the variables used in the study (e.g.means, standard deviations,range etc).
The major section of the chapter should present results of hypotheses testing using various statistical techniques such as correlation, multiple regression, factoranalyses and other appropriate techniquesas mentioned in Chapter (iii). It is preferable to organize the results according to the subheadings basedon the b hypotheses beingtested. However if the studyis not predictive in nature, the subheadings canbe arranged according to the relationships of the variables under investigation.
v. Chapter Five: Discussion
Normally the chapter starts with the restatement of the problems, the hypotheses or the relationships of the variables depending on whether thestudy is exploratory or predictive in nature.If for example [he study involves hypothesistesting,then it should be highlightedwhether the results supported or notsupported the hypotheses.
The results achieved should then be discussed in termsof the current state of knowledge in the area.Do the results support or notsupport any previous studies done, and give explanations why these are so. Any weaknessesin the methodology, data collection or analytical techniquesusedshould be highlighted, and suggest possible alternatives or approaches thatmaybemore appropriate to overcome the weaknesses.
vi. Chapter Six: Summary and Conclusion
This chapter starts with brief restatements of essential findings. If thereare many specific findings the student may organize these findings into different sections, and an overall summary of the findings. Students must complete their report with conclusions. While the findings state facts, conclusions state the researcher’s inferences drawn from the findings. Other aspect which may be”included in this chapter is recommendation for future action.If it is academic research, recommendation is usually for future research action that may help broaden understanding of the subject.For applied research, the recommendation is for managerial actions, which the researcher may suggest several actionable alternatives that may help inmanagerial decision making.
vii. List of References
Ail books and articles referred10or cited in the text should be listed in the List of References. Similarly all quotations must be acknowledged. Students must followthe convention statedin this handout for writing citation and references in the text and in the List of References.Make sure all citations and references made in the text are listed in the List of References and those listed inthe List of references are actually found in the text.
3. CONTENTS OF PROJECT PAPER
Contents of the project paper should be arranged in the following order. However,this is only a guide as project papersdifferin termsof the contents, headings and subheadings. Studentsshould consult and get agreements of their supervisors when finalizing the arrangements and contentsoftheir project paper.
With Roman Numerals
Dedication – optional
Table of Contents
List of tables
List of figures/illustrations
Lest of Abbreviations/Notations/Glossary
Of Terms (if any)
With Arabic Numerals
1.1 Background of the study.
1. 2 Problem Statements
1..3 Research Objectives.
2. LITERATURE REVIEW
3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 Research Design
.3.2 Study Population.
3..2.1 Sampling Procedures
3.3 Research Instrument
4. DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
6. SUMMARY AND CONCULUSION
(Contents arrangement for case writing is shown in Appendix 1)
4. GENERAL FORMAT FOR WRITING PROJECT PAPER AND CASE
a. Writing and Printing Format
The language of the project paper/case is ether standard American or British English. The use of a language must be consistent throughout the project paper/case. Mixing of British and American English is not allowed. The project paper/ case must be written in the third person.
i. Typing –typing should be done on a word processor, with printing done on a letter quality or a laser printer. Word processor soft wares such as Microsoft Word or Word perfect can be used. For tables and calculations Microsoft Excel and lotus 123 may be used.
IJ. Typeface and Font Size-the entire text, including headings and page numbers must be produced with the same font or type face. The font size should be 12 point and should not be scripted or italicized except for scientific names and terms in a different language. Bold print may be used for headings.Footnotes and text in tables canbeill 10 point font size. The font styles can be in Times New Roman or Arial.
iii. Margins- The left margin should be at least 35mm and the right, top and bottom margins are at least 30 mm.
iv. Spacing-the project paper/ case should be typed on one side of the page and doubled-spaced throughout. Spacing between two paragraphs in the text should be set at 4 spaces. Single spacing will be used for the following purposes only:
·Explanatory footnotes (if absolutely necessary).
·Quotations longer than 3 lines set in a block.
·References and bibliographies (except between entries)
·Long headings or subheadings
·Long captions to tables, figures or plates
·Appendices such as questionnaires and letters.
v.Pagination-all pages should be numbered centrally or right flushed at the bottom margin. Page numbers should appear by themselves and should not be placed in brackets, hyphenated or accompanied by other decorative devices. Only the original word-processed copy of the project paper/ case or its good and clean photocopies will be accepted. When a page consisting of Figures or Tables needs to be inserted, it may be numbered with a lower case letter (e.g. 5a if inserted between pages 5 and 6).
vi. Paper-white paper (80 gm) or paper of equivalent quality with A4 size (210 mm x 297 mm) should be used.
Vii. Heading-chapter number and heading should be centered and written in bold, upper case letters with 16 point font size. Subheadings should be aligned to the left margin and written with14Ipoint font size, upper case and lower case letters.
An abstract of the project paper/ case is required in English and Bahasa Malaysia. The abstract should not exceed more than 200 words. It is a summary of all the important elements of the project paper/ case such as the research problem, method, results, implications and conclusions. It should be written in one paragraph. The abstract should be written in past tense to describe processes or activities already done by the researcher, and present tense to describe conclusions and implications based on the study.
c. Text Citations
Ideas, words, findings, figures and others which are taken indirectly or indirectly from the others must be duly acknowledged by the writer. To acknowledge others works In the text, students must following certain conventions. The following examples illustrate some of the conventions when making citations in the text.
i. Writing the author’s name(s).
Western or English name, use only the surname (or the family name) in the text.
For example: John Smith, use Smith. ,. .
Malay and Chinese names: Use the whole name or the first name for the Malay and family name for the Chinese. – ,
Example: Mohd. Ali Bin Kassim, use Mohd. Ali.
Lee Ah Hua, use Lee.
For Single Author
When the author is a part of the formal structure of the sentence the citation is as follows:
Franklin (1998) pointed out that, universities as providers of Management education have both provider’s opportunities and critical responsibilities to…..
According to Denison (1990), culture refers to underlying values, benefits and principles that serve as….. ‘
When the author of the source is not part of the formal structure of the sentence t e citation is as follows; ,
As the average inter-item correlation is low, Cronbach,s alpha will be low. As the average inter-Item correlation increases, Cronbach’s alpha increases as well (Santos, 1999).
(Note the way of the author and year are written for each condition or situation.)
For Multiple Authors
Similar style is used for multiple authors, but with theuse of “and” and “&”as follows:
· Mallak and Kustedt (1996) introduce their model of participative management…
· It reflects the enforcement of rules, conformity, and attention to technical matters (Denison & Spretzer,1991).
· The legitimacy Models (Miles & Cameron, 1982 Zammuto,1982 considers organizational effectiveness it terms of contextual measure…
(Note (1) semi colon separates the two source of information, and (2) the sources are arranged in alphabetical order)
When many authors are found in one source, use (et al.) for second time citation. For example:
· Moh’d. Ali, Lee, Smith and Bradner (1990) found that..(First time citation).
· Mohd. Ali. Et al (1983) found that… (Second citation and onwards).
The knowledge obtained through this process must be retained (Mohd. Ali et al., 1983)
Same Authors over several works and Several Years
Several studies by the same author in one year are referred to by the writer , then citation is as follows:
· (Mohd. Ali (1990a,1990b,1990c)
Several studies by the same author over several years are referred to by the writer, then citation is as follows:
· Mohd. Ali (1990, 1991, 1993)
When the citation is not taken directly from the source
Ridlev and Mendoza developed a model based on interre1ilted organizational processes which was used primarily as a tool for management consultants as cited by Rojas, 2000)
(Cite only the study that you have read in the Reference List-in this case it is Rojas (2000)).
i. When short quotations (less than 40 words) are taken from the source, these can be incorporated in the text but enclosed by double quotation marks marks. Example:
According to Emory (1985, p. 115), even when the research design is ideal, “there is always a question about whether the results are true.”
ii. When long quotations arc taken from a source (more than 40 words), display the quotations in a free-standing block of typewritten lines but without the quotation marks. Start the quotation block on a new line, indented five spaces from the left margin. Type double-spaced lines.Ifthe quotation takes more than one paragraph, then start the new sentence of the new paragraph indented five spaces from the new left margin.
(Note: (i). Materials quoted must follow the wording, spelling, and interior punctuation of tile original source, even if the source is incorrect. Student’s must make sure to check the typed copy with the original source to ensure no discrepancy exists
(ii). for quotations, write the authors’ names, year and page number of the source.)
Example of a long quotation:
In summarizing the research finding on the roles of ISO consultants, Salleh Yahya (2003) stales that:
In the old of ISO 9000 quality assurance systems, consultants often acts as knowledge brokers who transfer their codified knowledge of ISO 9000 technical requirements and implementation, which is learnt through the precise ISO 9000 codebook, to the clients organization. They also function as informs or advisers of best practices and ‘know-how’ in ISO implementation to their clients (p.162).
e. List of References (or Bibliography)
All references cited in tile text must be listed in the List of References or Bibliography. The listing must be ordered in the alphabetical order based on the name of the author that appeared in the citation. Writing of references in the Bibliography must follow the style outlined in the following’ examples.
(ii) Example of references to periodicals
(Take note of how the authors’ and journal’s names are arranged, and also how the journal’s volume and page numbers are written. Spaces between words should also be noted)
Single author, journal article
Ichniowski, C. (1986). The effects of grievance activity on productivity. IndustrialandLabor Relations Review, 40, 75-89.
Salleh Yahya. (2003). the role of ISO 9001: 2000 consultants. IIUM Journal Economics and Management, 11(2), 143-165.
Evans, D. L. (1987).
More than one author, Journal article
Kinner, L. & Sutherland, M (2000). Determinants of organizational commitment amongst knowledge workers. South African Journal of Business Management, 31(3), 106/112.
Kinicki, A.J., & Carson, K.P. & Bohlander ,G.W. (1992). Relationship between an organization’s actual human resource efforts and employee attitudes. Group and Organization Management,17,135-152.
Moh’d. Ali Hassan (Year, Month, 7 Date). Title, Name of Newspaper.
Chapter in a book
Salancik, G.R. (1977). Commitment and the control of organizational behavior and belief. In B.M. Staw & G.R. Salal1cik (Eds.), New Directions in Organizational Behavior (pp. I-54). Chicago: St. Clair Press.
Choudhury, M.A. (1996). Why cannot neoclassicism explain resource allocation and development in the Islamic political economy? In Ahmed, E. (ed.), Role of Private and Public Sectorsin Economic Development in an Islamic Perspective (pp. 17-44). Herndon, VA: international Institute of Islamic Thought.
Reference to Entire Books
Armstrong, M. (1992). A Handbook of Personnel .Management Practice. Lendon: Kogan Page Ltd.
Emory, C. W, (1985). Business Research methods (3rd.). Illinois: Richard D. Irwin.
Proceedings of Meetings and Symposia
Manjula, 1.(2004),Knowledge management in organizations: An essential journey. Proceedings of 2nd NationalHRMConference: Gearing Human resources. Towards New Dynamism (pp. 88-93). Pulau Pinang: Penerbit University Utara} Malaysia.
Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation and Master’s Theses
Evans, D.L. (1987). Human resource planning practice in Southern California Hospitals. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, united states International university.
Mohammad Nairn Ahmad (1999). Anteseden komilmen kepada organisasi. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Uuiversiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
Roberts,G.E.(1994). Acceptance of performance appraisal.Retrieved September 24, 2003 from http:// www.ignoumcids.ac.in/ignou’crl/articles/TIR /5952.html
Elangovan, AR.,&Karakowslcy, L.(1999). The role of trainee and environmental factors intransfer of training:An exploratory framework.
Leadership&Organization Development Journal, 20(5), pp.268-275. Retrieved September 3,2003 from http://www.emerald-library.com
f. Tables and Figures
Titles of the tables and figures must be written at the top left hand side. Number all tables and figures with Arabic numerals in the order in which chapters the tables and figures appear, for example, Table 3.1, Table 3.2, or figure 4.1 and Figure 4.2. The contents of the tables and figures must be written using front of size 10 and single spaced. The source(s) of data must be written at the bottom left of the table and figure.
G. Physical Appearance of the Project Paper
(i) Cover Page
Must be written using upper case letters and font size of 16. The specifications are shown in the following illustration. (Appendix 11)
(ii)Title Page-follow Appendix III.
(iii)Declaration Page-follow Appendix IV.
(v) Preparing Spine of the Project Paper-follow Appendix V
Appendix I – TABLE CONTENT FOR CASE STUDY REPORT
LIST OF TABLES
LIST OF FIGURES
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS/NATATIONS/GLOSSARY
PART 1 – CASE TEXT
1.2Background of Company ABC
1.4Major activities of Company ABC
2. FUCTIONAL AREAS OD COMPANY ABC
2.2Human Resource Management
2.2.1 Management Stuff
2.2.2 Production Stuff
3. INDUSTRY AND COMPETITIVE ENVIRONMENT
PART 2 – CASE ANALYSIS AND SOLUTION
4. PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION
5. CASE ANALYSIS
APPENDIX II (COVER OF PROJECT PAPER/CASE)
FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANIZATIONAL
COMMITMENT: A STUDY OF EMPLOYEES IN
KNWLEDGE – INTENSIVE ORGANIZATIONS
ABDULLA SUDIN JANTAN
OPEN UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA
APPENDIX III-TITLE PAGE
FACTORS INFLUENCING ORGANIZATIONAL
COMMITMENT: A STUDY OF EMPLOYEES IN
KNWLEDGE – INTENSIVE ORGANIZATIONS
(Times new Roman,16,Bold,Center)
ABDULLA SUDIN JANTAN
(Times new Roman,14,center)
Project Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Master of Business Administration (or other master degree programs)
Open University Malaysia
(Year of Submission)
(Times New Roman,12,Centred)
APPENDIX IV – DECLARATION PAGE
(Times New Roman,16,bold,centred)
Name : ????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Metric. Number : ????????????????????????????????????????????????????
I hereby declare that this project paper is the result of my own work, except for quotations and summaries which have been duty acknowledged.
APPENDIX V – SPAINE OF THE PROJECT PAPER REBORT
ABDULLAH SUDIN JANTIN MBA 2009 OUM
5. STEPS IN PROJECT PAPER WRITING PROCESS (AS A GUIDE ONLY)
2.Think of a topicof interest (or relevanttoyour work situation).Forcase writing, thinkof an organizational problem thatyouoryourorganizationis facing.Try to understandthistopic or problembyreading about it in books or journals.This process canbestarted as early as possible,preferablywhen thestudent is doinghis/her research methodologycourse.
3. Communicate with the Centre forGraduateStudies (CGS).Submitashort research proposal based on the format outlined in Appendix V (Application to Conduct Research Project). CGS willassign an appropriate supervisor to the student for the project.If thestudent,byhimself/herself, hasfound a supervisor,informCGS about this.
4. CGS will officially appoint the supervisor for the student. The student will work closely with the supervisor in preparing the research proposal (Project Paper 1 Stage). The student with the consent of the supervisor will submit to the CGS his/her research proposal for approval (See Appendix VI- Research Proposal Form). The research proposal should consist of the following headings:
(I )Chapter 1 (introduction),
(ii) Chapter 2 (Literature Review)
(iii) Chapter 3 (Research Methodology)
(I v) References
5. CGS after receiving the research proposal will forward it tothe relevant dean for comments and feed back about the suitability or viability of the project. CGS will advise the student accordingly whether the study can proceed without any changes or with changes to the proposal. The changes that may be suggested here include the scope of the study, the study population and samples, research instruments and others. Please refer to Appendix VII-Research Proposal Approval Form.
6.After obtaining the approval to proceed with the research, the student can now start to do the data collection, analysis and writing the results and the rest of final report of the project paper (Project Paper 1I phase). The student should follow closely the writing guides given in this booklet in order to avoid the delay due to amendments and even the need to rewrite the project because of noncompliance with style guide of CGS.
8. After completing the final draft of the report the student isnow ready to submit it to the CGS for evaluation and examination. However, before submitting the project paper to the CGS, the student is strongly advised to take note of the following suggestions:
(i) Thoroughly check the report to ensure that spellings, grammar and sentences are correct; all references are correctly entered as per the CGS style guide; and spacing and page alignments are correctly adjusted. It is better ifthe student can ask professional editors to check for the English language matters.
(ii) Ensure that all figures, tables, data and symbols are correctly written.
(iii)Ensure that the supervisor reads and check theproject paper report to ascertain that it is in order and ready for submission.
8. Send 3 (three) copies of the final report to the CGS for evaluation and examination in temporary ring binding. The report must be accompanied with a Project Paper Submission Form (See Appendix VlII). Make sure that the supervisor signs this farm asindication that he/she has read and approved the project paper report for submission.
9.The project paper will be sent to the external examiner recommended by the deans of the respective faculties for the examination. The examiner may recommend the following outcomes:
(i). the project paper can be accepted as itis (i.e. no amendment)
(ii). the project paper can be accepted but with amendment
(iji). The project paper cannot be accepted.
10. After the project report has been passed by the examiner andaccepted by the CGSthe student can send itfor binding. Five (5) hard bound copies of the report should be submitted to the CGS.Follow the binding procedure and style as given in this handbook.
OPEN UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA
CENTRE FOR GRADUATIES STUDIES
.0/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image014.gif”>APPLICATION TO CONDUCT RESEARCH PROJECT
PART A: STUDENT’S PARTICULARS
1. Title of the project.
2. Metric. Number.
PART B: PARTICULARS ABOUT THE PROJECT
1. Title of the project.
2. Research Objectives.
3. Proposed Research Method:
(i) Research Design.
(ii) Population and Sample.
(iii) Data Collection.
(iv) Instruments to be used.
PART C: FUCULITY’S INPUTS
1. Topic chosen: Acceptable/Not acceptable:
2. Suggested supervisor for the student:
OPEN UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA
CENTRE FOR GRADUATES STUDIES
RESEARCH PROPOSAL APPROVAL FORM
Project Paper Title:
Name of Student:
Centre of Graduate Studies
Open University Malaysia
Attached are the following documents for your evaluation and approval:
(i) Chapter 1: Introduction.
(ii) Chapter 2: Literature Review.
(iii) Chapter 3: Methodology.
I have thoroughly checked my work and 1 am confident that it is free from major grammatical errors, weaknesses in sentence constructions, spelling mistakes, referencing mistakes and others. I have checked with CGS Guideline for Writing Project Papers and I am satisfied that my project paper proposal satisfies most of its requirements.
I have read the students’ research proposal and I am satisfied that it is in line with the CGS Guideline for writing project proposal It is also free from majorgrammatical errors, sentence construction weaknesses, citation and others.
Question: The impact of effective training and development on organization’s performance.