Recommendations in your dissertation
Your dissertation may include recommendations for a client company or organization. These recommendations relate to the issue that you have described in the introduction to your dissertation.
Based on the findings of your research, what specific solutions are possible and what measures should the client implement? In other words, what do you advise the client to do “tomorrow”?
Table of contents
- What should the recommendations look like?
- How many recommendations should you write?
- Who will read your recommendations?
- What is the difference between a conclusion and a recommendation?
- What is the difference between these recommendations and recommendations for future research?
- Checklist: Recommendations
- A separate advisory report?
Each recommendation should be explained and justified with the support of your research findings. Focus in particular on the following questions:
- How will the measure contribute to solving the problem or issue?
- Why do you believe this is the case?
Example of a supported recommendation
How can aggressive behavior be prevented in young people (aged 10-12) in district XXX?
To prevent children in the highest levels of primary schools from joining up with loitering secondary school students, it is important to organize after-school activities for children between the ages of 10 and 12 years so that their free time has the structure they need. The municipality can play a proactive role by advising associations, making funds available, and supporting youth organizations.
When should you make recommendations?
If any of your research questions were in the form of an advice question, you definitely have to provide recommendations as your client wants to know what specific actions to take.
While explanatory or descriptive research questions are not directly aimed at changing a current situation, they can also lead to practical recommendations.
What should the recommendations look like?
Recommendations should be concrete and include verbs such as care of, create, organize and develop.
You can present your recommendations in different ways. For instance, you can start with your rationale and then move on to the actual recommendation, or the other way around. The key is just to not combine the styles.
Example of an advice research question with practical recommendations
Research question (advice):
How can teachers at primary school X ensure that the social skills that contribute to maintaining peer relationships in primary school be promoted in children aged 1 to 4?
An important condition for controlling many social skills is mastering language. If children have a better command of language, they can express themselves better and will typically exhibit fewer unacceptable behaviors. Moreover, they are better able to understand their peers. Children are thus able to create more opportunities to practice social skills and develop language skills.
The investigation revealed that mastering language is an important prerequisite for mastering social skills. The advice is that the primary school should develop language development programs together with its kindergartens and nurseries with the goal of continuously expanding the language skills of children aged 1 to 4.
Example of a descriptive question research with practical recommendations
Research question (descriptive):
To what extent does any social isolation experienced affect the public confidence of citizens in the Municipality of Amsterdam?
Sample sub-question (descriptive):
How does the social isolation of Amsterdam citizens look in practice?
Based on the research results, it can be concluded that individuals’ access to the internet, degree of feeling connected to their neighborhood and age have a strong influence on how they perceive isolation.
The study has shown that older people (especially those over 65) face the greatest risk of social isolation. To prevent or combat social isolation, it is therefore recommended that more attention be paid to this target group in particular.
Based on: Lievaart, N. F. (2009). Bowling alone without public trust (Master’s dissertation). Consulted https://www.ser.nl/~/media/files/internet/educatie/
Thesis / scriptieprijs_2010 / lievaart_volledige_scriptie.ashx
How many recommendations should you write?
As a rule of thumb, try to limit yourself to between three and seven recommendations in total. If you have more, group them together.
Note that you can have multiple recommendations for each conclusion. It is also acceptable to have one recommendation that is connected to more than one conclusion.
Remember that no organisation or company has endless amounts of money and time. Your recommendations should remain within their parameters and reflect the available budget, the deadline by which the advice must be implemented and any relevant rules (such as laws and regulations).
In your dissertation, use a separate section in your introduction to outline any preconditions set by your client. This section can be omitted if your client has not defined any preconditions.
Example of a research question with preconditions
Research question (advice question):
How could the management of the common website for elementary schools in the Brabant region be made more efficient within a year?
- The solution should increase efficiency by at least 10% within one year.
- The related budget should not exceed €10,000.
- The website’s design should remain unchanged.
Who will read your recommendations?
Of course, your client will be the main consumer of your recommendations. Many stakeholders in the company or organization may be interested, including managers, staff members who have been involved in the study and anyone who may have to deal with changes related to your recommendations.
What is the difference between a conclusion and a recommendation?
A conclusion answers your research question based on the results of your investigations. In contrast, a recommendation offers concrete solutions that your client can use to set new goals for the future; any related ideas it contains must be connected to your research and be both realistic and implementable.
Make sure your recommendations concerning what your client could actually do (tomorrow) to solve its problem reflect any pre-conditions that it has set.
In the example concerning the website for Brabant’s elementary schools, the client’s conditions for the research have been clearly specified.
As noted above, remember that you can also have several recommendations related to one conclusion (or vice versa).
What is the difference between these recommendations and recommendations for future research?
The recommendations discussed in this article are aimed at your client; as explained, they should be included in a separate chapter of your dissertation and possibly in a stand-alone advisory report.
In contrast, recommendations for further research are aimed at the academic community and should only be included in the discussion section of your dissertation.
* Some programs accept this voice, while others do not. It’s therefore best to check with your supervisor before using “I” or “we.” In general, we recommend avoiding this voice apart from in the preface to your dissertation.
A separate advisory report?
Your client may want to receive a separate advisory report that presents your recommendations in a structured manner.