Research Projects

Characteristics of Research Projects

Types of Research Projects

All students need to conduct research under the direction of a faculty advisor and prepare an extended written report that follows formal standards of research. All research projects must be based on real data, be accurate and clear and include completely all sources of quotations, citations and the use of other materials. There are three types of Research Projects: Master Thesis, Independent Final Report and Internship-based Case Study. These research project types epitomize distinct research purposes, use different methods and must satisfy formal requirements. The alternative research projects offer the opportunity for students to pursue a variety of research topics and methods of inquiry. They allow students to conduct academic research as well as to respond to recent developments in corporate or market behavior and the international economy without narrow formal restrictions. All research projects must abide to principles and standards of research at universities. The three research project types differ in their degree of abstraction, generalization and practical applicability, though all require at least 200 self-study hours to complete outside of the Seminar attendance.

The Master’s Thesis

A master’s thesis is an original scholarly research project that is narrowly focused on an abstract topic or theoretical argument linked to a real world problem in business and addressing a gap in understanding of a business situation.

Thesis students will respond to a debate in the management or economic literature and will bring new evidence or arguments to bear upon the topic. The thesis topic is a scholarly issue anchored in or linked to an academic strand of literature and originating from the discussion in the seminar with the advisor. The student must show familiarity with previous work in the field. The thesis typically conceptualizes the research issue, offers a higher degree of abstraction by presenting a model or theoretical argument that is or can be generalized from the particular research object or location. It does not need to address a practical business problem but is applied to a for-profit or non-profit business context or governmental regulation of a business or industry. The written thesis follows the traditional structure of academic inquiry, comprising various chapters in which a research gap in literature identified, clear and comparatively narrow research objectives are set, a review of previous literature is provided, a scholarly methodology applied, empirical results are presented and critically discussed and consequences for business and governments are derived.

A master thesis is especially but not exclusively recommended for students who are interested in pursuing further research, for instance in a doctoral program or as a researcher in a public agency. As a rule of thumb, a master’s thesis should be publishable or form the empirical basis for an article in a scientific journal.

The Independent Final Report

The independent report is a scholarly research project in which a novel or broad subject is explored in a rather descriptive approach. An independent report can be primarily a bibliographic essay, an exhaustive survey of literature on a broad topic and a descriptive assessment of primary or secondary data.

It offers an opportunity to pursue a more practical research objective that lacks a theoretical foundation or generalizable conceptualization and instead is more location-specific, for or instance industry- or country-specific than a thesis. The topic must be timely and of high current relevance for an industry or policy maker. Compared to the thesis it is more exploratory or evaluative than causal and confirmatory. The independent report allows for a more flexible structure and inquiry. It might connect ideas and fields in a novel way and consist of descriptive primary or secondary data. One strength of an independent report is that it allows for a broader or more detailed assessment of previous research including grey and non-scholarly literature or secondary data. It may predominantly consist of a critical assessment of literature or a meta study that identifies and appraises previous research and qualitative and qualitative evidence about a novel research question. An independent report should eventually come up with practical recommendations but also show a passway to the identification of a model or theoretical applicability of the topic.

The Internship based Case Study

Students are able to choose an internship as the basis for their final project. The internship-based case follows an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within its real-life context. That is, the internship-based case project must be academic and related to concepts students have worked with in the courses but the discussion of the project results will be drawn primarily on the company-specific insights and practical learning experiences from the internship. The difference to the above thesis and report option is the degree of specificity of the research; the internship-based case is basically an application of concepts or theory in real life at a particular company. It follows an in-depth approach and can incorporate different issues in a company in order to demonstrate the complexity and interrelatedness of a subject. The internship report must be written as a case study of the company in which the internship has been conducted. The report does not need to follow the formal structure of a thesis but need to relate each part into an organized account. The account can be primarily illustrative in its content and does not need to be generalizable for other contexts. It may include statistics about the industry, the market and competitors of the company and it may present quantitative primary data such as surveys. Students are required to critically assess the issues raised in the company and provide practical recommendations.

Students are recommended to follow the guidelines provided in the document below when writing their Research Project.
Guidelines for the Format of the Research Projects (Word)

Requirements for the Internship-based Case Study

Students who have chosen the Internship-based Case Study option are required to complete an internship of at least 100 hours at a company or institution they choose. The internship program is designed to ensure that students assess the applicability of the concepts, theories they have learnt at the university, gather practical experiences and develop practical skills in dealing with actual situations. Depending on their interests, students may focus on any of the functional areas of management. Students who plan to avail the opportunities of internship, must develop skills in action research methods and case writing.

Arranging the internship

Students shall locate the internship destination on their own and submit a plan of their activities to their supervisor. The supervisor shall review the student's plan to determine whether the location is appropriate as an intern destination. In general, APU will not provide support in arranging internships (internship destination, visa, permission from the company, etc).

Supervision

The APU supervisor will be the principal supervisor of the student. The student will submit a plan of the type of activities s/he plans to complete while in internship. Supervisors will assess the feasibility of the plan and advise the students accordingly. Students should also have a secondary supervisor. Students should choose one or more people from the internship host company to act as a supervisor during their internship and should ask that supervisor to submit a performance evaluation to their APU supervisor regarding the students's activities during the internship. The performance evaluation may be taken into account when grading seminars.

Length of the internship

Students should spend a total of 100 hours in the company or institution they intern at.
Students should inform the University of the internship destination, duration, etc. before they start their internship.

Required Documents

Using the designated form, students should inform the University of the internship destination, duration, etc. and should submit their plan for research activities while on internship approved by both the APU and company supervisors before they start their internship. After completing the internship, students should submit 2) "Internship Supervisor Report on the Intern's Performance", 3) "Internship Performance Rubrics" and 4) "Record of Internship Attendance". See the Internship-related Application Forms below for details.

All students considering conducting an internship should also carefully read the information in the file linked below.

IMPORTANT: Points to Keep in Mind when Arranging Your Internship (PDF)

Internship-related Application Forms

Submission of Research Projects Summary

All students in their final must submit a notice approved by their supervisor for the type of Research Project they are writing. The notice should be submitted together with the Research Project Summary. The appropriate form may be found at the link below.

Spring Semester Fall Semester
Summary Submission April 25 October 20
Submission Location Academic Office
Note:
If the deadline falls on a weekend or a holiday, or a day when the office is closed, the deadline will move to the immediately preceding working day.

Research Project Summary Form

Research Project Submission Deadline

GSM students in their last semester must submit their Research Project according to the submission schedule below. Research Projects must be submitted in person to the Academic Office and all notification results must also be received in person.

Spring Semester Fall Semester
Summary Submission April 25 October 20
Research Project Submission May 31 November 30
Notification of the Examination Results June 25 December 20
Resubmission after Revision July 15 January 15
Notification of the Final Results July 31 January 31
Note:
If the deadline falls on a weekend or a holiday, or a day when the office is closed, the deadline will move to the immediately preceding working day.

Examination Flow for the GSM Research Projects (PDF)

Notes:
1. All Research Projects must be submitted by 16:30. Any papers submitted after this time will not be accepted.
2. If the deadline falls on a weekend or a holiday or a day when the office is closed, the deadline will move to the immediately preceding working day.
3. Research Projects must be submitted as instructed by the Academic Office. E-mailed / posted documents will not be accepted.

Requirements for the Examination of Research Projects

Research Projects Examination Criteria

Research Projects are evaluated based on the criteria listed in the rubrics linked below. These criteria are also outlined in the "Procedures for Research Projects in the Graduate School of Management under the AY 2014 Curriculum" available in the similarly entitled section below.

Evaluation Rubrics

GSM Master’s Thesis Evaluation Rubrics
GSM Independent Final Report Evaluation Rubrics
GSM Internship-based Case Study Evaluation Rubrics

Interpretation of Turnitin Similarity Reports

We expect that all students follow strictly the standards against plagiarism of APU. An absolute maximum value of 20% is set for the similarity index of Turnitin similarity reports to give the students additional guidance in avoiding plagiarism. However, this maximum value is a necessary but not always a sufficient condition. It is still possible that your supervisor or the Research Projects Committee identifies unacceptable cases of plagiarism within your Research Project even if the similarity index is below 20%.

The details are as follows:

  1. All Research Projects must be carefully checked for plagiarism and citation issues using Turnitin. Supervisors will also check the similarity reports and provide further guidance in case there are any issues.
  2. The similarity index of Research Projects submitted to the Academic Office must not exceed 20%. Research Projects submitted to the Academic Office with a similarity index of above 20% will not be accepted and will be treated as a plagiarism attempt to be further investigated in detail.
  3. Supervisors can demand changes to the Research Project even if the Turnitin similarity index is below 20%.

Important Notes:

The 20% requirement is set to give students an idea about the GSM's interpretation of the similarity index. However, the fact that a similarity index is below 20% does not necessarily mean that the Research Project contains no plagiarized material. Students should strive to avoid any kind of plagiarism at all but a lower value does not necessarily mean that there is really no plagiarism either (false positives).

Questions about how to interpret the Turnitin reports or revise the Research Project to comply with the above decision should be discussed with the supervisor.

Research Project Examination

One (1) soft copy of the Research Project must be submitted to the Academic Office for examination. The soft copy must be submitted to "Turnitin" (www.turnitin.com).
The similarity percentage of the "Turnitin" originality report must not exceed 20%. Please carefully read the "Interpretation of Turnitin Similarity Reports" section above for details.
A designated title page must be attached to the Research Project upon submission. All required information on the title page must be typed. The form is available for download from the link below. Research Project without attached title page will not be accepted under any circumstance.

Research Project Title Page (for examination)

Important Notes:

  1. Submission of hard copies of the Research Project is not required as the entire examination is conducted using the soft copy submitted to "Turnitin". Please make sure that the file includes all required sections.
  2. Announcement of examination / re-examination results are made via manaba. Details are announced prior to the result notification.
  3. Only one file can be uploaded to "Turnitin" at a time. You may resubmit as many times as you would like before the due date.
  4. Make sure that you allow yourself sufficient time to upload your file to Turnitin so that you meet the above deadline. Turnitin will automatically reject file uploads from 16:30.
  5. Please be aware that there are limits to the size of the files as well as the page numbers that can be uploaded to "Turnitin".

Examination Results

Possible results for this examination are: "Pass", "Revise and Resubmit" and "Fail". The examination results are announced on manaba and copies of the evaluation rubrics and evaluation reports from the examiners of the Research Project are also distributed.
Please carefully read the "Procedures for Research Projects in the Graduate School of Management under the AY 2014 Curriculum" available in the similarly entitled section below for details about the examination.

Research Project Revision

All students whose examination result was decided as "Revise and Resubmit" must revise their Research Project according to the examiners' recommendations and resubmit the new version for re-examination. The revised Research Projects should meet the same evaluation criteria.
The same policy for interpreting the Turnitin results applies and revised Research Projects submitted to the Academic Office with a similarity index of above 20% will not be accepted and will be treated as a plagiarism attempt to be further investigated in detail. Please carefully read "Interpretation of Turnitin Similarity Reports" section above for details about handling of Turnitin results.
Revised Research Projects will be forwarded to the original examiners for re-examination.
Revised Research Projects must include a clear summary of how examiners' comments have been addressed / have not been addressed and any other changes made.

Research Projects Re-Submission

One soft copy of the Research Project which was required to be revised must be resubmitted to the Academic Office for re-examination. The soft copy must be submitted to "Turnitin" (www.turnitin.com).

The designated title page for re-examination must be attached to the Research Project upon re-submission. All required information on the title page must be typed. Research Projects without attached title page will not be accepted under any circumstance.

Research Project Title Page (for re-examination)

Re-examination Results

Possible results for the re-examination are: "Pass" and "Fail". The re-examination results are announced on manaba and copies of the evaluation rubrics and evaluation reports from the examiners of the Research Project are also distributed.
Please carefully read the "Procedures for Research Projects in the Graduate School of Management under the AY 2014 Curriculum" available in the similarly entitled section below for details about the examination.

Procedures for the Examination of Research Projects

For information on the process of Research Projects submission and evaluation, please refer to the "AY2014 Curriculum GSM Procedures for the Examination of Research Projects" available at the following link.

AY2014 Curriculum GSM Procedures for Research Projects (revised June 2018) (English version) (PDF)
AY2014 Curriculum GSM Procedures for Research Projects (revised June 2018) (Japanese version) (PDF)

Archiving of the Research Projects

A final soft copy of all Research Projects that have received a passing grade must be submitted to the Academic Office for storage by the University. Copies of the Research Projects will be archived in the APU Library. Upon permission by the student, the final version of the Research Projects will be also uploaded onto the APU online repository R-Cube. The University does not bind Research Projects for students.

It is recommended that sample attached below is used as a front page of the finalized copy of the Research Project submitted for archiving in the APU Library.

Front Page Format

PAGETOP