The MGS Blog

Monday, January 17, 2022

Research based Term Paper


1. Goal - Scope

Researching a single country, state, or region; the working title will be:
Understanding the relationship between the local and global digital economy and its social impact in [country/region].


2. Deliverables: Term-paper plus video presentation

Term-paper: Paper May Not Exceed Ten Pages Including References.
1-page Personal Learning Reflection included as an appendix.
Appendices are not included in the page count limit.
Video presentation: The video presentation can give a concise overview of the subject matter and impact of your term-paper in a short video format (4-minute duration).
You are expected to create your own original narration and/or spoken audio content, similarly you should utilise as much of your own visual/graphical material as possible. You can of course utilise various elements sourced elsewhere (subject to licence) as background or linking pieces, e.g. diagrams, music etc. if needed as content or for artistic balance. Grade deduction if the presentation/video has text-to-speech narration or uses 'canned animation.'
While not being graded separately from the term-paper, no presentation video results in losing half the available mark for the research project.

3. Starting the research project...

  • Interpret the working title? 
  • Phrase the statement as a question and consider how to answer the question.
  • Write a short literature review to critique aspects of the history, situation, processes etc of a particular sourcing context. 
Can you find primary/secondary economic/social data in the following broad categories?
  • a) Services Sector in general but particularly ICT, ITO and BPO activity (any/all if possible) within the country over time. (aggregate data). For some countries you may only be able to gather aggregate services import/export data and that is fine. The limitation won't be your fault. However you will discover that some countries do provide detailed breakdowns at the level of BPO, ITO, ICT as services or product exports or both (refer to the examples of the previous student projects for inspiration).
  • b) The relative measures of social good and humanitarian values (your choice, e.g. educational attainment, educational participation, unemployment rates etc.), within the country over time. (aggregate data). The measures of societal impact should be relevant to your country's case context; for example it is probably not relevant to consider life expectancy in a mature developed country like the UK, however employment/unemployment, educational attainment etc. is likely to be highly relevant.
  • Impact Sourcing: You may consider expanding your research, perhaps contact actors in the field, conduct interviews or other modes for gathering empirical data. More involved research questioning would depend on the kind of access you gain and the types of evidence you find. Extending your scope might include some or all of the following:
    • What (if any) actual social enterprises (or businesses with an overriding social mission) are there and how are they doing? Social enterprises of most interest (although you might relax the criteria just to get evidence) in this instance would be those in which locals provide service/products -- ideally digital and or digitally mediated -- to distant clients.
    •  Researching the wider financial welfare effect of having any kind of local business, even the effects of individuals, sole traders' business activity through involvement in microsourcing for example. The welfare effect is the economics term for eventual outcomes of profit accumulation. It assumes profits will filter back into the economy, may also be construed negatively, that social costs of unethical business may be carried by the wider community.
  • There may be evidence of impact in terms of what might be called social capital, civic community activity etc. This could be the kind of social cohesion that Robert Putnam talks about.
  • Find trustworthy accessible primary and secondary data sources addressing questions like:
    • What portion of the country/region activity is traded globally? 
    • How is/are globally traded services activity measured? 
    • Is ICT sector evident in traded services measures in this country/region? 
    • Has the level of educational attainment changed over time? 
    • Can you track digital industry and entrepreneurial activity over time?
    • Is activity in local digital-rich industries increasing?
    • Can you find primary/secondary data on educational participation, attainment etc. and workplace activity, participation, salary growth etc.? 
    • Is FDI (foreign direct investment) data available?
    • Is FDI related to digital-entrepreneurial activity? 
    • Is FDI associated with educational attainment? 

4. General points on writing...

This term paper is written in an academic style, presenting background reading, research methods, research, analysis, theorising etc.
You must use the scientific conference template for the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS). Choose between either the LaTeX or Word template - copies of both are available on Google Drive, links below.
Most important! Please ensure that any direct use of 3rd party material (particularly internal documentation) is presented within quotation marks or boxed or otherwise marked in some way and with the appropriate citation/identification.

A small number of selected figures/graphs to support analysis may be included in the body text. However more extensive figures/graphs can be included in the appendix (no page count limit within reason). 

If you deem it necessary, provide only a limited number of indicative samples of original source data tables in the text. You can include more extensive tables in the appendix if needed. However unless they are a concise format, do not include full copies of large data sets in the appendix. We will assume that you have stored copies in your private working folder that could be inspected (in theory) if required.

5. Structure of a typical journal style paper - not all sections may be needed

The title and abstract should both capture the essence of the study.
Introduction / Literature (positioning)
Give a brief introduction to the literature and positioning for the study.
Research Design / Methods / Context
Outline your research design, and method.
Data / Findings
Tell the story, provide the evidence, findings, account or narrative.
Analysis / Discussion
Analysis and discussion allow you to draw out the significance of what you have discovered. This is where you can apply/trial various analytical models or produce your own interpretation of the data, in order to better understand the evidence.
Conclusions summarise the findings concisely, often in a page. This is a overall synthesis distilling your analysis and its relevance to theory and the literature.
The bibliography/reference section is crucial to get right as it is the index to prior research and literature that you have referred to previously.
Appendices (if needed)
Use appendices to provide additional detail if necessary. Usually data samples, or intermediate representations, for example a sample of the data analysis process, coding frames, stages in the coding and summary or intermediate categories from data.

6. Grading

Grading will consider the following criteria:
  1. The research project is clearly explained.
  2. Critical positioning in literature.
  3. Empirical work, data and evidence presented.
  4. Overall quality of the document as a finished product.
  5. Contributions are clear.

A brief explanation of letter grade descriptors is provided below.

Modular (letter) grades.

  • The report is suitable for submitting to conference, journal, or executive with little revision.
  • There is a compelling logic to the report that reveals clear insight and understanding of the issues.
  • Analytical techniques used are appropriate and correctly deployed.
  • The analysis is convincing, complete and enables creative insight.
  • The report is written in a clear, lucid, thoughtful and integrated manner-with complete grammatical accuracy and appropriate transitions.
  • The report is complete and covers all important topics.
  • Appropriate significance is attached to the information presented.
  • Research gathered is summarised in some way, research and analytical methods described and discussed, evidence linked to argument and conclusions.
  • The report may be suitable for submitting to conference, journal, or executive if sections are revised and improved.
  • There is a clear logic to the report that reveals insight.
  • Analytical techniques used are appropriate and correctly deployed.
  • The analysis is convincing, complete and enables clear insight.
  • The report is written in a clear, lucid, and thoughtful manner-with a high degree of grammatical accuracy.
  • The report is complete and covers all important topics.
  • Appropriate significance is attached to the information presented.
  • The report may be suitable as a discussion draft for further development or refinement.
  • There is a clear logic to the report.
  • Analytical techniques are deployed appropriately.
  • The analysis is clear and the authors draw clear, but not comprehensive conclusions for their analyses.
  • The report is written in a clear, lucid and thoughtful manner, with a good degree of grammatical accuracy.
  • The report is substantially complete, but an important aspect of the topic is not addressed.
  • The report may have used or presented some information in a way that was inappropriate. 
  • The report may be suitable as a preliminary draft but needs substantial revision in a number of areas to develop further.
  • The basic structure of the report is well organised but may need rebalancing.
  • The content of the report may be partial, incomplete or unfinished with important aspects not addressed.
  • The report used information that was substantially irrelevant, inappropriate or inappropriately deployed.
  • The report’s analysis is incomplete and authors fail to draw relevant conclusions.
  • The report may contain many errors in expression, grammar, spelling.
  • The report may appear to be preliminary, speculative, and/or substantially incomplete.
  • Whatever information provided is used inappropriately.
  • The structure of the report may be inappropriate or need substantial reorganisation and/or rebalancing.
  • There may be little analysis, evidence may not be founded, the findings may be inconclusive.
  • The report appears to frequently use information that is substantially irrelevant, inappropriate or inappropriately deployed.
  • The report may be poorly written, organised and presented.
  • Frequent errors of grammatical expression.