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Beauty Therapy Management (HE): Research report / Dissertation

Research help

This guide is intended to help you as you plan your research right through to your final submission.  
It covers all stages from choosing a topic, literature searching, writing your literature review, keeping track of your research.
For general help with Study Skills, click on the Study Skills tab at the top of the page.

Writing your research report / dissertation

If you know the area you are interested in, revisit some of your textbooks. Many contain case studies or discussion questions that you can use to get ideas.  For example, Mullins Hospitality Management and Organisational Behaviour includes case studies, assignment ideas and discussion questions. The most recent marketing books will look at recent trends - check the business section in the library as well - such as Dibb's Marketing which includes a Topical Insights talking point.

Use IBISWorld to discover the latest trends and future developments in the market sector that you are interested in.  IBISWorld provides information on over 400 industries, organised in broad categories such as manufacturing or retail. Find your industry (eg hairdressing and beauty treatment) and open the report.  Click on the Industry at a Glance tab to see the Executive Summary which will give you ideas on the direction the industry is going, and any trends, issues and opportunities / threats which you could use as a starting point. 

Find out what the current issues are by browsing through our magazines in the Library such as Winning Edge for marketing, or Professional Beauty.  Online, you can find very recent articles by restricting your search in Discover to very current information, or limit your results to Trade Magazines which tend to have more news and commentary.  The home page of Emerald lists the top requested articles of the week which might give you some ideas.

Internet searches are very useful to identify key topics in the news and reported in online trade magazines. Websites of key organisations such as the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology and Habia (the Standards Setting Body for the hair and beauty industries) can include recent research, statistics and the latest beauty therapy news which could give you ideas of current issues. Also see the website of various journals such as Professional Beauty

Once you've decided on a topic, you should start doing some preliminary research to get an idea of what information is available.  Think about the type of information you need - this will direct the type of search you need to do. 

For scholarly articles which apply theory to primary research, use Discover.  You will need to make decisions on how recent your research needs to be, bearing in mind that there may be older pieces of research that might still be useful.  You can also narrow by keywords, if you want to specify a company or a particular issue such as "staff training" or "social media".  You will also need to think about alternative terms - create strings of related terms such as "social media" OR "TripAdvisor" OR "reputation economy" to make sure you pick up on all the articles in your area. After running your search, click on Academic Journals in the Source Types list to restrict your search.

To find articles or commentary from the industry itself, look at trade magazines such as Travel Trade Gazette or Caterer & Hotel Keeper. Select Trade Magazines in the Source Types list. These are useful for the latest news, trends, profiles of key people in the industry, and career information.

To find industry reports, use IBISWorld to look at Industry Reports, which include detailed analysis on market sectors, including some global reports such as Global Tourism. You can also find industry reports on Business Search Interface.  Click on Industry Profiles and search in the box or browse. It's usually best to select the By Title, Subject & Description when searching.  Use terms such as Hotels to find reports such as the Hotels and Motels Industry Profile for different countries, or Cruise to find reports on the Cruise Liner industry. Reports can be looking at one country or may be global in outlook. These include lots of really useful information such as market analysis, financial data for the industry over 5 years, customer data, market segmentation, outlook with predictions for five years into the future. Some include a Five Forces Analysis, leading companies, and country data.

To find Company Profiles, go to IBISWorld and view the section on Major Companies. The report includes profiles for the main four or five companies in the industry.  From Business Search Interface, click on Company Profiles and type the name of your company in the box - for example Intercontinental Hotels PLC.   These reports include information on the products and services, top competitors, and a SWOT Analysis.

For Statistics, use IBISWorld for benchmarking your company against an industry.  National (government) statistics are available online from the ONS National Statistics pages. 

For Country Information, check Business Searching Interface.  Click on Country Reports for geographical, political, economic, corporate, & environmental information - click here to view the report for Ghana

If you are interested in a topic that is changing fast, it can be useful to set up emails or follow an organisation on Twitter to get the latest information.  Click on the 'Keeping up-to-date' tab for more information and some suggestions. 

Find 2 or 3 good articles in Discover and check them in Emerald. Emerald gives additional information such as the number of times cited and the number of times downloaded which can tell you if it is considered to be an important article. Emerald also gives a list of the references in the article, which can help you read more widely. Click on the title of the article and click on the link to References. Here you will get a full list which you can follow up if anything looks relevant.

Emerald also has a brilliant feature of linking your article to any new articles that cite it. Click on the link Cited By to see more recent articles. You may not be able to link to them directly, but you can use the A-Z journals list to see if we have access to them. This lists all the journals you have access to with the links to access them online.  It is also worth running your search in Google Scholar to find related articles. 

However, as your research will focus on a very specialised area, you may find that not all information is available in the library. If you find an article on Google Scholar first check if it is available in the library. Find the name of the journal that the article is published in. Go to our A-Z list of journal titles and type in the journal name. If we do have that journal you will see a link that you can click on to browse the volumes.   

If you can't find the journal, or if you find a book mentioned on a website or Amazon, you may be able to order it on Inter-Library Loan. Click on our Moodle ILL page hereand fill in the form.

A literature review is a survey of all the significant research that has been published on your topic.  You can use it to identify current issues or problems that you would like to research further, and show that you understand the background to your topic.  It is also useful to read how other researchers have carried out their research - how they gathered primary research, their methods of analysis, any problems they encountered - as well as what their findings were. You can see how theories have been applied to real life situations, and perhaps decide to use similar methodologies or approaches in your own research. 

Remember that you are not expected to read everything that has ever been published on your topic.  Read selectively, and only discuss the research that directly applies to your topic or that contributes to your understanding.  You may want to narrow your research by:

  • Date:  does the article report on recent research?  You may decide to focus on articles that have been published in the last 5 years, unless there are older key texts in your field
  • Recommended texts: has the article or author been mentioned by your supervisor, or has it been cited by other authors in their own research (check if an article has been cited by using Google Scholar or Emerald)
  • Relevance:  does the article match more than one of your keywords?
  • Location: do you want to only read research published in the UK?
  • Authority: you should ensure that you review mainly at scholarly information rather than websites or news articles. 

You will not have time to read every article that you find in a database search fully to select which articles to review.  Get used to scanning articles or reading just the abstract to decide if it is relevant.

Finally, remember that a Literature Review is not a summary of every article.  Once you have selected the best articles for your review, read through them carefully and identify the sections that are relevant. When you are writing your review, use sub-headings to identify themes, and use the sections of the articles you have identified as evidence in your discussion - noting where authors agree or disagree on a topic, where findings differ, and linking them to form an argument. There is a good discussion on how to write a literature review in the books listed below which include examples and ideas to organise your approach. 

There are many tools to help you organise your work.  You can save references in Word which can be easily imported as citations or into bibliographies. You can create profiles in Discover, EBSCO databases and Emerald to save items to view later, and export citations.  If you have a large number of articles, websites and book records to keep track of, we recommend you start using referencing software.  Using something like Menderley will allow you to create your own online library, where you can store and manage everything you want to keep in one place, saving you time.  Referencing software allows you to:

  • Collect, store and manage references in folders
  • Manage via a web account which is accessible via any device linked to the Internet
  • Easily cite references and create bibliographies in a range of reference styles
  • Link directly to the full-text or PDF of the document. 
  • Add personal notes or highlight text

Read the guide below for more information and guides on setting up Referencing management software. 


Which Referencing Management Tool?


There are many tools to help you organise your work.  You can save references in Word which can be easily imported as citations or into bibliographies. You can create profiles in Discover to save items to view later, and export citations (this will include Emerald references).  If you have a large number of articles, websites and book records to keep track of, we recommend you start using referencing software.  Using something like Menderley will allow you to create your own online library, where you can store and manage everything you want to keep in one place, saving you time.  Referencing software allows you to:

  • Collect, store and manage references in folders
  • Manage via a web account which is accessible via any device linked to the Internet
  • Easily cite references and create bibliographies in a range of reference styles
  • Link directly to the full-text or PDF of the document. 
  • Add personal notes or highlight text

Some referencing management tools also have social networking features. 

Which referencing management tool is best for you?  The chart below may answer some of your questions, or click on the tabs for more detailed information and guides. 

Name of Software Use this for Notes
Microsoft Word - References tool                                                   Adding citations and references to your Word document as you write. Add details of the publication using a simple form with source types such as Book, Journal Article and Website. Select the output style (eg.Harvard). Can also generate bibliographies.  Good for shorter assignments and encourages you to keep track of all your references.                                      
Discover and Emerald folders Saving articles to folders which can then be easily accessed at any time. Create hierarchical folders to organise articles by module and topic. Provides a Cite feature so you can copy and paste references in the correct format.  Citations can be exported into Menderley or Zotero.  Good for easily retrieving articles which are available from Discover.
Menderley Adding documents that you have saved on your computer using drag-and-drop, or install the web importer to directly import from the web.  Organise articles into folders.  Menderley saves PDF versions where available so you can have an online library. You can also save directly to Menderley from Emerald.  Saves PDFs and offers a number of social features.


This is a very useful tool within Microsoft word and is worth getting familiar with as soon as you start writing your first assignment. 

In-text citation

Along the top of your Word document you will see tab called References (you may be familiar with using this to add footnotes).  To add an in-text citation, put your cursor at the point where you want your reference to appear. Click on References and choose Harvard.   Select Insert Citation.  Choose Add New Source. Choose the type of source that you are citing - book, journal article, web-site etc. Then fill in the details.  Once you have saved your citation, the information will be available for you to use again. 

Bibliography / Reference List

Once you have added your citations, you can create a bibliography with that information. Put the cursor where you want the bibliography to go, then select References and choose a format. Then click on Bibliography and click on Insert Bibliography.

Adding new citations

If you add new citations to your document, you can update your bibliography by right clicking anywhere in your list and selecting Update Field. 

What are folders in Discover?

When you search Discover (or any ESBCOhost database such as SocIndex or Business Source) you will notice that a small folder icon appears next to all your search results.  This icon allows you to save your results into folders which you can access any time you log into any EBSCO database.  

In Discover you also have the option to save and re-run searches, and set up search and journal alerts so you can keep researching even when you’re not logged in.

Saving items to your Folder

Start your search.  Remember you can limit your search by Date of Publication, by Source (Academic Journals, Magazines, Trade Publications, Books), and by Subject, Language, and more.


To save individual records, click on the Add to Folder image next to each record. If you have already created folders, you will be given the option to save the record in any of those folders. Otherwise, just save to My Folder. 

Viewing your folder

View your folder by either clicking on Folder View in the top right of the screen, or the My Folder icon in the top bar.  You should see a list of all the records that you have saved and you can access the full-text from here.

The My Custom feature provides the ability to create numerous folders, each on a particular topic, in which various results can be stored.  You can also create sub-folders to manage more results.  Click on the New link to the right of the My Custom link. You will see a Create New Folder Screen to enter your topic name and a description if you wish.

You can now move your results to the new folder by clicking in the box beside the title of the result, and clicking on the Move To drop down list. You will see a list of your folders displayed.

From Folder View, you can go back to your search results by clicking on the back button.

For more information on Folders, click on the Question mark next to your name in the top left of the screen.

Printing, Email and Saving Your Results.

You can Print, Email, or Save your results.  You can also export to referencing software such as Zotero and EndNote Web. If you have Mendeley Desktop on your device, you can also download to there.   Click on the icons to the right of the screen.  .

About Menderley
Before you get started, this terminology from the Menderley help site is very useful.
  • Mendeley Desktop: Mendeley Desktop is the downloaded part of the software installed onto your computer. Download Mendeley Desktop here.
  • Mendeley Web: This is the Mendeley website where you can access the web version of your library, edit your profile and search for papers, groups or people. You can also access Mendeley's social features.
  • Sync: The process of synchronizing your Mendeley data across devices.
  • Web Importer: The browser bookmarklet that lets you quickly import documents from anywhere on the web.
  • Word Citation Plugin: A plugin you can install that allows you to create and format your citations and bibliography according to your chosen style.

Starting Out

  1. Create an account at, download Desktop to your main PC or laptop and sign in.  
  2. You will see the Desktop interface - the main window is your 'library'.  From here you can drag files from your computer or add them from the File menu, create folders and organise records into different folders, and open PDF documents directly within the library.  
  3. Add the Web importer.  This will allow you to add documents from anywhere on the web.  All new documents will go directly into the Recently Added folder but you can also select a pre-existing folder if you have already created one. 
  4. Remember to sync documents to send your library to the cloud, so you can access all your content from other devices. 

The Mendeley video below is a 5 minute introduction to getting started with Mendeley Desktop.

Uploading articles from Discover

If you find an article you want to save in your Discover results, click on the Export option in the right hand column.  Click on the first option (Direct export in RIS format) and select Save.  You will see the export file download (and which will also appear in your downloads folder):  click on that and the reference will be imported into Mendeley Desktop.  Note that Mendeley doesn't need to be open but it does need to be installed on the machine that you are using. 

Uploading webpages or PDFs from the Internet - in progress

Creating citations and bibliographies - in progress

Find Related Research - in progress

Collaboration and Sharing Tools - in progress

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