Project Process Diagram The Proposal Home Page

Writing a Thesis - Managing the Process: Product and Project

Every piece of research must have a product. The product may be a report, or it might be a much more physical thing such as a half scale concept vehicle design. It is often found that students who have a very physical product such as computer software, describe the product and its development very well. They also frequently fail to realise that while this might be the sole interest of the client, the final thesis or dissertation, from an academic viewpoint, needs to cover the management of the research project. On the other hand there are students who have undertaken a much more theoretical research project, and fail to see the product. All research must have an end result serving a purpose, and providing a potential benefit for a person group or enterprise of some sort. Even the most theoretical of research such as that into astronomy still needs a product e.g. a report of the new evidence that helps to substantiate a theory about the origins of the universe. In each case it is necessary to understand the relationship between the product, and the research project and its management. An understanding of this relationship will help the researcher to produce a final report that has more academic value. Figure 1. below illustrates the relationship that has to exist between the management of the research project and the development of the product.

Illustration of relationship between 
product development and project

Fig 1. Diagrammatic view of the relationship between a research project and the product

The Proposal: The Thesis Statement

Any research product starts with the proposal (or Thesis statement). A proposal covers the topic definition, its aim and the objectives. In order to properly define the topic with a suitable focus the essential research rationale will have been determined. The rationale will in turn help to define the methods and data collection instruments that will be needed.
The product development will involve a build cycle with the same essential features whatever the actual nature of the product. In some form the essential data upon which the research thesis is built will need to be collected. This data may experimental or gleaned from a review of academic literature. The data in turn will need some form of analysis which will inform the nature of the result. The analysis could be statistical in nature, or a comparison of two case studies, but without analysis the research has no purpose. Once the analysis is complete and a review of the analysis has led to some form of conclusion, a product is possible. As noted the product may be in the form of a client report. Note however that the research report or dissertation is separate from and will cover more than the product or client report. If the product is physical in nature the terms data collection and analysis will be seen as a requirement definition with subsequent design and analysis. Throughout the product development cycle there will be a project management process that will interact with the development process.

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