How to plan a Dissertation


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

How to plan a Dissertation

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