Research Methods for Technology Dissertations

Research Methods for Technology Dissertations


SECURITY Related Topics around Payment Card or Smart Card

Learning Outcomes

This assessment is designed to demonstrate a student’s completion of the following Learning Outcomes:

  • Synthesize aims and objectives;
  • Critically evaluate relevant academic literature;
  • Critically review appropriate research or development methodologies;
  • Produce a detailed project plan for a dissertation.
Assessment Requirements

You must produce a 4000-word research proposal that describes your intended area of dissertation study. Your proposal should have the following five sections:

  1. Introduction

The introduction should explain the background of the issue you are studying. You should seek to explain the motivation of the project (why the project is important) and outline the definitions and foundations of your chosen subject.

  • Aim (s), Objectives and Research Question(s)

In this section you specify the aim of the dissertation and the related objectives. You may also include research questions to further define the aim of your study. (1000 words for Introduction and Aims & Objectives, Research Questions)

  • Literature review

You should provide a review of the key literature in the field. Your literature review should be approximately 2000 words and should have a critical narrative. The literature review should consider the important issues in your field of study and should examine existing academic evidence relevant to your research aim.

  • Methodology

The methodology section should provide a clear research strategy for your study. You should specify your

 research approach,


 timescale and

data collection methods.

You should also consider the design of any research materials needed e.g. questionnaires, interviews, and observation. Your methodology should be approximately 1000 words in length.

  • Gantt Chart

You should provide a detailed Gantt Chart that breaks your dissertation down into component parts with estimated completion times.

A Comprehensive Submission.

The aims and objectives are focussed, achievable and appropriate for Masters level dissertation.

The literature review is focussed appropriately, heavily cited and has a critical narrative.

The methodology is systematically explained with appropriate selection and justification of techniques.

The Gantt chart breaks the dissertation down into appropriate sub tasks with realistic completion times and identifies parallel tasks.

Examples of Research Topics

  1. Emotion and Website/ service Design

This project is interested in exploring the role of emotion in the experience of a website. The student will first need to explore what is meant by the concept of ‘emotion’ and then identify the characteristics of ‘emotion’ in terms of Human Computer Interaction. The aim of the project is to investigate how one might measure user’s emotion whilst interacting with a website/service.

  • Aesthetics and eLearning

This project will explore the role of aesthetics in enhancing online learning. In detail, it will explore if/how the use of aesthetics in learning design can positively affect the learning experience and learning process. For example, the student could explore the affective charge of graphics and the impact these have on the learning experience.

  • Aesthetics and security/privacy online

This project will explore the cross between field Aesthetic Computing and human computer interaction security. It will explore how one might enhance online security/ privacy through the application of aesthetics. For example, how one can build an application/system that will support safe interactions.


Aim and objectives

The aim of this research is to study and evaluate the effectiveness of using a software tool in discovering duplicated spreadsheet (spreadsheet cloning)


  • Review and critique the literature in topics related to spreadsheet errors and classification, spreadsheet engineering, software and data cloning algorithms
  • Review algorithms related to data cloning, and then choose a base algorithm to build upon
  • Build a software tool which applies the selected algorithm
  • Conduct intensive tests via the tool, and record results
  • Statistically analyse the test results an reflect on them
  • Compare results with findings of other researchers
  • Conclude and suggest further enhancements in the future

Research Questions

As a result, this research will try to answer the following research questions:

RQ1: How can spreadsheet cloning help business professionals?

RQ2: To what extent cloning exists within spreadsheet repository?

RQ3: How effective and efficient can a software tool be in discovering duplication among spreadsheet files?

Dissertation Tips and Links to Advice

Dissertation Format Guidelines

The broad format for your dissertation is as follows:

  1. Title page and declaration (please see example below);
  2. Abstract;
  3. Acknowledgements;
  4. Table of contents;
  5. List of tables (if appropriate);
  6. List of figures (if appropriate);
  7. Introduction.

Then comes the main body of the dissertation, and this is followed by the conclusions/future work, the bibliography and possibly a glossary, a list of abbreviations, and one or more appendices.

Other requirements:

  • References/bibliography: All references/citations have to be Harvard style (e.g. see: and
  • Final ethics approval: this must be included in your appendix, with your ethics approval number (note: you must have addressed all of the issues identified by Hilary to go from “approved to principle” to “fully approved“).
  • Font size: 12pt black for main body text, smaller size can be used for footnotes and labels (as required); please use an appropriate readable font e.g. Arial, Times New Roman, Calibri, Helvetica, etc.
  • Line spacing: single-line spacing.
  • Margins: minimum 2.5cm margins.
  • Page numbering: all main body pages starting from the Introduction should use Arabic number; before this it should use Roman numbering. Page numbers should be centred at the bottom of the page.
  • Headers and footers: there should be no running headers or footers (note that footers are not the same as footnotes).
  • Figures and tables: all figures and tables should be appropriately numbered (in the relevant chapter/section) and referred to in the main body.


Identify an idea:

a) Explore existing ideas

i. Preliminary

ii. Look for recommendations


1) Reading

a. Online resources

b. Magazines

c. Library

2) Academic staff

3) Previous work by other students (Library)

4) Industry

b) Mind maps

c) Brainstorming

d) Delphi

2. Develop aims, objectives and research questions

3. Carry out the literature review (proposal)

a. Identify search keywords

b. Identify target publishers


ii. IEEE

iii. ACM

iv. Science Direct

v. Springer

vi. Wiley

c. Download the most relevant papers and their references

d. Preliminary reading (full, selection) and note taking

e. Evaluating and selecting

f. Reading (full, selection) and note taking (bibliographic details, summary of contents, supplementary information)

g. Analysing and synthesising (themes building, conclusions, etc.)

h. Reporting

4. Identify:

a. Research philosophy

b. Theory develop

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