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Dissertation Research

19 October 2017 1 comment

When seeking to complete a dissertation in the area of Accounting & Finance, a key consideration is ‘Research Feasibility’. This can be summarised by the statement:

 

Can I obtain the data I require, in a timely manner, to successfully complete my research?

 

A typical one year MSc course would allocate 3 months at the end, to complete the disseration. The gathering of company financial quantitative data, (from sources such as: Thomson Reuters Datastream, S&P Capital IQ, Bloomberg Professional, Compustat via WRDS: Wharton Research Data Service) is fundamental to the success of the research.

 

What can go wrong?

 

  1. Data is not available:  It is not contained within the databases the university subscribes to. The years required are not covered. The student is off-campus and the data is only accessible on-campus (as is the case for Datastream and Bloomberg Professional).
  2. Research Proposal:  This may be too ambitious. For example, a student reads an accounting/finance journal article and decides to try to replicate all or part of the research contained within the article. This can be problematic, as the academic probably spent two or more years completing the research – greater than the time available for an MSc dissertation.
  3. Topic:  The choice of topic can be influenced by a desire to work in a particular area of finance. Unfortunately, this may lead to the key difficulty when conducting research – Data is Not Available.

Data is the foundation on which any analysis is based. Where this is difficult to obtain, time pressures may result, leading to the possibility of failure to submit the dissertation on time.

Whilst it could be argued that the difficulties experienced by students in working on their dissertation are part of the research process, as a Librarian, my approach is different: how can I be most helpful, in assisting the student to successfully complete their research?

 

Helpful Suggestions

 

  1. Pilot Project: Essentially this means establishing the best source – there could be more than one available. Also, how to search the source productively. Also, whether all the years of data required are covered.
  2. Seek Guidance:  This follows directly from point one above. It may be that the most efficient method (shortest time to collect what is required) is not known to the student. Guidance from a Librarian can demonstrate the best source and search method, drawing on years of experience in supporting student dissertation research.
  3. Explore Resources:  With so many sources available to students, the difficulty is often one of familiarity – knowing which databases are available and how they can be accessed. A Library web site is a good place to start. The example below is the subject guide for ‘Business and Management’, at the University of Manchester.

 

Database Guide

Business & Management Guide

 

One of the sections is  for ‘Specialist financial databases’. These are useful for dissertation research:

 

Financial Databases

Specialist Databases

 

Summary

 

Making the best use of resources by seeking guidance from Librarians and planning ahead (pilot study) can help to ensure a dissertation is successfully completed. The key factor being, the ability to secure data, on which to base any analysis.

 

Previous related post, in the Library Research Plus blog:

Research Feasibility [18 February 2015]

 

 

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