How to plan a Dissertation
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How to plan a Dissertation



This presentation describes on the various steps that should be taken in planning a dissertation

This presentation describes on the various steps that should be taken in planning a dissertation



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    How to plan a Dissertation How to plan a Dissertation Presentation Transcript

      How to plan a dissertation
      Dr. T. Balasubramanian M.S. D.L.O.
    • Introduction
      All PG degree course students must write a dissertation
      It trains the student on research methodology and thesis writing
      It also trains the student to critically review a thesis material
      A dissertation is an inquiry into some aspect of physical, natural or social world
      Before attempting to write a dissertation a student should assume that his / her work will be subjected to public scrutiny
      Conclusions if any should be based on meticulous analysis of the results
      Bear in mind
      Dissertation is only one of the hurdles in the pursuit of your course
      You have been selected to undergo this course because we consider you to be a passing material
      Non submission of dissertation should be considered to be worse than exam failure as this would reflect badly on the reputation of your faculty
      Dissertation is a compromise between what is desirable and what is possible
      You need to maintain the delicate balance between academics / clinical duties / dissertation / family
    • Thinking process
      • Be incisive with your thinking
      • Always write down ideas in your log book
      • Don’t be excessively influenced by other’s research
      • Be realistic with your goal setting
      • Set feasible time lines
      • A preliminary study will help to clarify your research
    • Types of students
      Young energetic & enthusiastic
      Old and mature
      Problems faced by these two groups are vastly different
      In medicine the divide between these two groups is more evident
      Problems faced by older students
      They are seniors & hence more egoistic
      They find it difficult to adjust with youngsters
      They are more mature & hence can handle problems in a better way
      Wisdom & motivation always comes with age
      Assessing oneself
      Are you motivated and committed ?
      Can you cope with the demands of the course and family ?
      Is your reading & writing skills up to the mark ?
      How to you respond to deadlines ?
      Do you like to work alone ?
    • Planning & scheduling
      What is the exact date of submission ?
      Are there any intermediate dead lines to meet ?
      What is the nature of support available ?
      Library facilities (Play a vital role).
      Review of previous year’s student dissertation
      Choosing a subject
      Always start with a detailed title and plan of work
      Choose a topic in which you are really interested in
      Choose a topic in which the institution has the facilities and expertise to handle
      Feasibility of the title should also be assessed. Don’t take more than what you can chew
      Always choose from a list of titles with the help of your faculty
    • Points to ponder
      • Is it possible to complete the project on time?
      • Can you afford the expenditure?
      • Can you find the relevant literature?
      • Will the topic be relevant till the project is completed?
      • What type of support your college can provide you with?
      • Get your topic vetted by the ethical committee before beginning it.
      Ethical issues
      The participants in the research project should not be harmed either physically, mentally, or socially.
      Children , elderly, and physically challenged should not be exploited and hence should be excluded from the study parameters
      No physical / environmental damage should be caused by your research project
      Anonymity and privacy of the participant should be protected
      Nothing should be done in the name of research that could bring disrepute to your institution
    • Getting the proposal ready
      Always read other proposals
      Always prepare a comprehensive literature review
      Photocopy all relevant materials
      Add first three chapters of dissertation to the proposal
      Include a title for your project
    • Realistic planning
      Allot time for illness
      Allot time for family problems
      Take into account holidays
      Give allowance for computer failures
      Take into account typing / binding manuscript delays
      Be prepared for rejection of manuscript
      Computing skills
      Friendliness with word processors / typing skills will save time and money
      If not skilled always allocate 10 extra days / money for typing jobs
      Always keep backups of your work
      Keep your completed work in a cd rom so that printouts can be taken whenever necessary.
    • Time allocation
      Introduction – 5%
      Review of literature – 35%
      Research methodology – 10%
      Data collection – 20%
      Analysis – 15%
      Conclusions – 10%
      Bibliography – 5%
    • Gross blue print
      What do you want to know?
      How are you going to find the answers?
      What are you going to do with the answers?
    • Possible aims of a dissertation
      To develop a theory
      To verify a hypothesis
      To evaluate critically a practice
      To increase the understanding of a topic
      If possible to recommend policies
    • Importance of Hypothesis
      Forms a kernel in most of the dissertations
      Usually it is based on observation a premise actually
      Effort should be made either to prove / disprove it
      It is possible to do a dissertation without a hypothesis (very rare)
    • Which one is a valid hypothesis
      Asphyxia is the common cause of cerebral palsy
      Hybrid animals liver longer than pure bred ones
      Consuming too much sugar predisposes to DM
    • Types of basic research
      • Positivist work – concerned only with observable / objective facts
      • Interpretive / subjective work – Uses explanation & interpretation
      • Overlap technique – includes both these styles in varying amounts
    • Check list
      • Checked & understood the general requirements
      • Have you chosen / refined / focused the subject
      • Feasibility
      • Selection of a tentative title
      • Arrived at a time schedule
      • Discussion with peers / tutors
    • Don’ts
      Develop fondness for any particular page you have written
      Hesitate to edit your work ruthlessly
      Hesitate to consider your initial work as a draft
      Hesitate to spend sometime at least every week to keep your motivation going
    • Task plan
    • Dissertation proposal
      Draft title (can be changed later if necessary)
      Aim of the research
      Style / technique
      Theoretical basis for the study (include references if any)
    • When to start writing?
      The best time to start writing a chapter is as soon as material collection is ready.
      Each chapter should be read / reread corrections made.
      Written material and corrections should be meticulously catalogued
      This is the time for you to use your typing skills if you possess one
      A typed manuscript is easier to read and edit
    • Time table
      Reading / note taking / planning / writing introduction – 3 months
      Writing review of literature – 2 months
      Writing of research methodology – 1 month
      Carrying out work / recording findings – 1 month
      Data analysis – 1 month
      Preparing conclusions / Bibliography – 1 month
      Typing / proof reading / corrections / binding – 1 month
      Grace time – 2 months
    • Titles likely to be rejected
      Study of JNA – Too broad & vague
      Survey of ASOM – Vague & nonspecific
      Study of interesting cases – Not dissertation at all
      Study of discharging ear – Too vague to pursue
    • Data analysis
      Checked for reliability – Would the same procedure / experiment if carried out again produce the same result
      Generalizability – How can your work be used by general public / others
    • Variables
      Beware of variables – This could easily invalidate your dissertation
      All true variables should be identified and documented otherwise the whole research project would have no validity
      One important variable while you are researching for occurrence of domestic fires would be the level of family stress
    • Role of variables in experimental research
      Two variables can be distinguished in purely experimental research – Independent variable & dependent variable
      Independent variables are manipulated by the researcher
      Dependent variables are those variables that occur as a result of the manipulation by the researcher
    • Dissertation some conventions
      Use white A4 paper for dissertation typing
      All main texts to be typed in double space
      Single spacing can be used for quotations
      Use plain standard fonts
      Margins – 1.5 inches in the left and 1 inch on other sides
    • Types of research projects
      Action research
      Experimental methods
      Ethnographic research
      Case studies
      Historical research
      Correlational research
      Evaluative research
    • Action research
      Also known as participatory research
      The researcher tackles a real problem, intervenes, makes changes and monitors results
      Subjects participate and implement the changes
      “Real life problem solving”
      This research methodology will be carefully scrutinized by the ethical committee
    • Surveys
      Attempts to gather information from a group
      It may reveal unsuspected facts / May reinforce known facts
      Information can be gathered through a questionnaire, interviews
      Questionnaire design is vital for a good survey
      Results may be invalidated by poor sampling / lack of cooperation from the participant community
      Participants may hesitate sharing personal data / may lie
    • Experimental method
      Commonly used in physical sciences
      Can be used to test / refute a theory (Hypothesis)
      Data measurements should be made with extreme precision
      Ethical issues should be addressed before setting up an experiment
      Any experiment should have two groups a study group and a control group
      Beware of Hawthrone effect – behavior of a subject alters if he / she knows about participation in an experiment
    • Ethnographic research
      This is a qualitative & descriptive research style
      The study group is integrated into the society and the researcher studies the behavior & customs of that group
      This is really time consuming & hence may not be advisable for a dissertation style
    • Case studies
      Commonest approach used
      Frequently abused also
      May be qualitative / quantitative
      Always resist the temptation to formulate universal theory out of trivia
    • Historical research
      Acceptability of this method must be checked
      Documentary sources should be clearly identified
      All the documents used in the research should be closely checked for veracity
      Statistical variables should be accounted for
    • Correlational research
      This research is a study of variables
      Attempt should be made to study the variables for a possible relationship without manipulating them
      Mathematical tools should be used to study the possible relationships among variables
    • Evaluative research
      This research method deals with a possible set of questions
      The work needs to be highly structured
      While attempting to answer the specific set of questions the researcher should guard against personal vagaries / variables
    • Researcher duties
      • Your title should be a legitimate one
      • Be polite / professional with contacts
      • Dress formally during field visits
      • All communications should be processed to a high standard
      • Be very formal while talking to subjects. Avoid being over chatty
      • Always offer to share the findings of your research if you find it appropriate
    • Sampling
      This is a potential mine field
      It is easier to obtain sample from physical world
      The sample size should be large enough to be significant – 1% of the size of the population studied
      Sample should be as representative as possible
      Don’t attempt to extrapolate grand theory from small sample sizes
      Sampling may be opportunistic (only sample that can be reached) / random (use computer to generate sample list)
    • Types of sampling
      Stratified sampling
      Matched sampling
      Clustered sampling
      Systemic sampling
    • Stratified sampling
      A sample layer is selected
      There is some uniformity between the samples i.e. selecting all 50 year olds for a study
      This is useful when performing finer drug trials
    • Matched samples
      In this type two groups are matched one against the other. In this type of matched sampling strict inclusion & exclusion criteria should be formulated.
      One of the said group can be a study group and the other one can be a control group. The main consideration is that both group should be alike in all respects
    • Clustered sampling
      These are groups defined by area / environment
      Random sampling can also be applied to the clusters
      Environmental disorders can be studied using clustered samples
    • Introduction
      In your introduction try answering these questions:
      What is going to be done?
      Why are you doing it?
      Who is likely to be interested in your work?
      What is the hypothesis / problem you are attempting to test?
      What is the use of performing this study?
      What is the focus / location of your study?
      Writing an introduction chapter helps you to break ice
    • Review of literature
      Should include what others have written on your topic
      Discussion on the theories used to illuminate your topic
      Literature relationship with your research questions
      Considerable time should be spent compiling this chapter
      This shows you have read widely the subject
      You acknowledge work of others here
    • Methodology
      You will have to narrate what procedure you intend to follow in your research
      A detailed discussion of the style and technique chosen for your research should be enumerated with proper justification
      The tests you intend to perform, inclusion & exclusion criteria if any, a discussion on data observation and recording should find a place under this head
    • Data analysis
      Data recording
      Interpretation of the recorded data
      A discussion on whether the collected data proves or refutes a hypothesis
    • Conclusion
      Should contain a summary of the complete work
      It should contain a discussion on the results of your study
      Recommendations if any you make after the study should be incorporated here
    • Bibliography
      This is nothing but a list of journals, reference materials, text book materials and other resources you relied on to complete your work. Don’t include references which are more than 5 years old. It is ideal to index and number them for easy reference.
    • Appendix
      Tables, master chart and additional material if any should be incorporated under this heading
    • Dissertation Log book
      • Helps you to organize your work
      • Record the material you have read pertaining to your dissertation meticulously
      • Handle each material once only. You can consult your log book repeatedly in case of doubt if the recording is meticulous
      • Record the volume number / page number of journals used as reference
      • An average dissertation should contain not less than 50 references
    • Plagiarism
      Don’t plagiarize others work
      Beware of internet resources
      Verify internet resources
      Spend time analyzing the material thrown out by your search engine
    • Questionnaire design
      It must be in simple language
      The questions should be appropriate and crisp
      Be ruthless while editing the questions
      Always relate each question on a questionnaire to your research question
      Devise a scoring system for each answer provided by the participant
      Don’t attempt to collect unnecessary personal data
      Closed end questionnaire is easy to design and administer because the answer is either a yes or no
      Questions should not be leading in nature
    • Data analysis
      Nominal scales – Yes / No scale
      Ordinal scales – Data is placed in a descending order. Number codes are given i.e. 1 (strongly agree), 5 (strongly disagree)
      Interval scales – More like ordinal scale but some points on the scale are equal
      Ratio scales – Used for measuring lengths, weights etc
      Thank you