The main components of a dissertation title
As we have discussed in LEARNING: What the reader learns from a dissertation title, a dissertation title should have a number of components, with each component telling the reader something about your research. Whilst there are a wide range of components that can be used in a dissertation title, you will only need to choose those that are most appropriate for your research; that is, those components that capture the essence of your research. This article describes each of these components, providing examples of titles for greater clarity.
Your area of interest and the focus of your research
All dissertation titles should include is the purpose of the research. When you think about how to explain this in a dissertation title, it may help to think about the purpose of your research in two ways: (a) your area of interest; and (b) the focus of your research.
Your area of interest is the broader theme or topic that your dissertation addresses, whilst the focus is the particular angle or aspect of that theme or topic that you are tackling. In some cases, the area of interest will be a theory (or theories) that underpin your research. In the example titles below, we illustrate the areas of interest in blue text and the focus in green text.
Barriers to Internet banking adoption: A qualitative study among corporate customers in Thailand
Problems with partnerships at work: Lessons from an Irish case study
The direct marketing-direct consumergap: Qualitative insights
Success factors for destination marketing web sites: A qualitative meta-analysis
Networking as marketing strategy: A case study of small community businesses
Mentoring women faculty: An instrumental case study of strategic collaboration
Consequences of the psychological contract for the employment relationship: A large scale survey
The dynamic nature of conflict: A longitudinal study of intragroup conflict and group performance
Sometimes an area of interest is sufficiently narrow that you do not need to distinguish between this and a particular focus within that area. Areas of interest remain in blue text.
Organisational knowledge leadership: A grounded theory approach
Organisational citizenship behaviour of contingent workers in Singapore
In other cases, you may feel that the particular focus of an area of interest is not amongst the most important aspects of your research. Since you have a limited word count for titles, perhaps you consider another component (e.g., some part of the research strategy) to be more important. As a result, you could choose to include only the area of interest in your dissertation title [see blue text].
An empirical investigation of signalling in the motion picture industry
Furthermore, you may have multiple areas of interest, which either provide greater overall focus for your dissertation title or make it impractical to also include the particular focuses for each of these. Alternately, your focus may be sufficiently narrow and recognisable that you do not need to include the broader area of interest. Either of these explanations could have been the case in the following titles. We highlight the potentialarea of interestorfocus in red text.
Business corruption, public sector corruption, and growth rate: Time series analysis using Korean data
Corporate governance, ownership and bank performance in emerging markets: Evidence from Russia and Ukraine
High-involvement work practices, turnover and productivity: Evidence from New Zealand
Business networks, corporate governance and contracting in the mutual fund industry
You may be looking at some of these examples and thinking: Why is that word (e.g., contingent workers) or that word (e.g., motion picture industry) not the focus or area of interest? If so, please read on. We use many of the same examples to illustrate the different components you may want to include in your dissertation title. Therefore, you will see why we characterise some of these words under different headings.
The outcome(s) of your research
Whether your dissertation is theoretically or empirically driven, or some combination of the two, sometimes you will also have a practical component to your dissertation; that is, you want to draw attention to particular outcomes that you feel are particularly important. It may be that these outcomes are just one aspect of your dissertation or they may be more fundamental, reflecting the way that the study was design. Take the following two example outcomes. The area of interest remains in blue text, whilst the focus remains in green text. The outcomes are highlighted in orange text.
Problems with partnerships at work: Lessons from an Irish case study
The above example focuses on the problems associated with partnerships, which is the area of interest. However, the authors also want to draw attention to the fact that the research provides lessons that can be learnt to address such problems. These lessons are the outcome. However, these lessons are clearly just one aspect of the research, since it also focuses on the problems associated with partnerships.
Implementation of Deming's style of quality management: An action research in a plastics company
The above example reflects research interested in quality management, the area of interest. Within this area of quality management, the authors focus on Deming's style of quality management. However, the authors want to draw attention to a particular outcome of the research, which is the implementation of Deming's style of quality management. The use of the word implementation highlights the practical aspect and outcome that the research attempts to achieve. The authors emphasise this further in the title by identifying the research methodology that guided the research, namely action research, which is known for its practical goals. Therefore, unlike the first example, where the outcome was just one aspect of the research, this second example highlights how to use a title to emphasise research that has a much more practical outcome.
The dissertation title is your first opportunity to let the reader know what your dissertation is about. With just a few words, the title has to highlight the purpose of the study, which can often include its context, outcomes, and important aspects of the research strategy adopted. But a poorly constructed title can also mislead the reader into thinking the study is about something it is not, confusing them from the very start.
In our articles on EXPECTATIONS and LEARNING, we explain what the reader expects and learns from your dissertation title, before setting out the major COMPONENTS that can be included in dissertation titles. Finally, since your dissertation title should follow a specific written style, which explains when to capitalise words, which words to capitalise, how to deal with quotation marks, abbreviations, numbers, and so forth, we provide some guidance in our article on STYLES.