Tools for supporting research: dissertations and theses

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Tools for supporting research: dissertations and theses

  1. 1. Postgraduate supervision at a distance: Tools to support the research and writing process Teaching and Learning Festival, Unisa, South Africa 7 Sept 2011 -------- Dr Palitha Edirisingha (BDRA) and Dr Ray Randall (Psychology) With Dr Tracy Simmons (Media & Communication) and Dr Chris Comber (Education) University of Leicester, UK.Tool 1: Dissertation proposal formTool 2: Dissertation research planning toolTool 3: Dissertation research knowledge and skills auditTool 4: Dissertation writing progress tracking and diagnostic toolTool 5: A map of essential knowledge areas and stages in a postgraduateresearch study
  2. 2. Tool 1: Dissertation Proposal Form <course / programme title> Dissertation Proposal Form Please complete this form and send it to your tutor. Deadline for Submission of Proposal [date as relevant] This must be accompanied by the Ethical Approval FormRationale for the studyPersonal professional: (Whyis this area of studyimportant/relevant to you?)Educational: (What is thenature and importance of theeducational problem/issuethat you wish to investigate?)Academic: (What is the ‘gapin the literature’ that thestudy seeks to fill?)Provisional ResearchQuestions: (normally threeor four)Key educational conceptson which your assignmentwill drawKey texts to be usedKey educationaltheories/concepts onwhich your dissertationwill draw
  3. 3. Proposed Methodology(provide brief rationale foreach choice)Methodological framework(paradigm)Methodology (e.g. casestudy, action research..etc)Sample/ParticipantsMethod(s) of data collectionProposed method(s) ofdata analysisLocation (where is the studyto take place?)A risk analysis(a list of major risks andsteps that you have taken /you will take to minimisethem *For Office Use Only*Tutor’s commentsApprovalDate: Approved by Tutor’s signature(Courtesy of Dr Chris Comber, University of Leicester, UK).
  4. 4. Tool 2 – dissertation planning document My current level of.. Stage of Under- Confi- My needs: completion standin dence What I need/need to do in order to be able to (1-5) * g*** *** move forwardCONDUCTING THE RESEARCHDissertation proposal: Develop proposal for research & receiveapprovalArrangements for research site accessSteps taken to ensure that you have access to the research siteInstrument development & piloting: Design, develop & pilotinstrumentsData collection: Collection of data through research instrumentsData preparation: Data entry (quant data) &/or transcription(interviews) etcData analysis: Analysis of quantitative &/or qualitative dataWRITING YOUR DISSERTATIONIntroduction/Background: Background, rationale, statement ofresearch problemLiterature review: Critical discussion of research literature relevantto topicResearch question(s): Main & subsidiary research questionsMethodological framework: Description/defence of chosenparadigmTheoretical/conceptual framework: Key theories/concepts whichunderpin your studyMethodology: Description & defence of chosen research approachMethod(s): Description/ defence of chosen instrumentsProcedure: Description of the way you conducted the studyValidity & Reliability/Trustworthiness: Steps taken to ensuretrustworthiness of studyEthics: Steps taken to ensure ethical researchFindings: Summary of the main findings emerging from analyses
  5. 5. Analysis: Account of the procedures adopted for analysing the dataDiscussion: Discussion of findings in relation to researchquestions(s)Discussion: Discussion of the findings in relation to literatureConclusion : Implications of study for policy, practice, furtherresearchReferences: List of references used in the textsAppendices: Collection of appendices relevant to the study* Stage of completion: Rate as: 0= I haven’t started this yet; 2= I have made a start on this; 3= I am about halfway through this; 4= I am close to completingthis; 5= I think I have finished this** Understanding: ‘I know what needs to be done’ - Rate as 1=strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree*** Confidence: ‘I have confidence in being able to do it’ - Rate as 1=strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree (Courtesy of Dr Chris Comber, University of Leicester, UK).
  6. 6. Tool 3: Dissertation research knowledge and skills audit I have I haven’t I have made I haven’t I haven’t complete finished this, a start on made a start made a d this but I feel this but on this but I start on confident that have got am now this, I I know what I stuck and worried about need want to say need some it now! help! and how to help write it Introduction and background to my research (Background to the study) Literature review (Critical discussion of research literature relevant to my topic) Research questions (Main and subsidiary research questions) Theoretical / conceptual framework (Key theories and concepts which will underpin my study) Methodological framework (The research paradigm that underpin my study, qualitative / quantitative strategies) Design / Methodology (Description and defense of chosen research approach (cross-sectional study/ survey, case study, other) Methods (data-collection instruments) Procedure (Description of the way I conducted the study) Validity, reliability, trustworthiness (Account of steps taken to ensure the above in your study) Ethics (Account of the steps taken to ensure the research followed ethical guidelines) Findings (A summary of the main findings emerging from the analyses) Analysis (Account of the procedures adopted for analysing the data) Discussion (Discussion of the findings in relation to a). my research questions, and existing research (as discussed in the literature review) Conclusions (Discussion of the implications of the study for policy, practice and further research) References (List of references used in the text) Appendices (Collection of appendices relevant to the study)(Courtesy of Dr Chris Comber, University of Leicester, UK).
  7. 7. Tool 4: Dissertation writing plan (a writing progress tracking and diagnostic tool) TIME (WEEKS /MONTHS) 1). Introduction and background to my research (Background to the study) 2). Literature review (Critical discussion of research literature relevant to my topic) Research questions (Main and subsidiary research questions) Theoretical / conceptual framework (Key theories and concepts which will underpin my study) 3). Methodological framework (The research paradigm that underpin my study, qualitative / quantitative strategies) Design / Methodology (Description and defense of chosen research approach (cross-sectional study/ survey, case study, other) Methods (data-collection instruments) Procedure (Description of the way I conducted the study) Validity, reliability, trustworthiness (Account of steps taken to ensure the above in your study) Ethics (Account of the steps taken to ensure the research followed ethical guidelines) 4). Findings (A summary of the main findings emerging from the analyses) Analysis (Account of the procedures adopted for analysing the data) 5). Discussion (Discussion of the findings in relation to a). my research questions, and existing research (as discussed in the literature review) 6). Conclusions (Discussion of the implications of the study for policy, practice and further research) 7). References (List of references used in the text) 8). Appendices (Collection of appendices relevant to the study)(Courtesy of Dr Chris Comber, University of Leicester, UK).
  8. 8. Tool 5: A map of essential knowledge areas and stages in a postgraduate research study

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