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Dissertations 1 introduction (pre-2003 compatible)

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Dissertations 1 introduction (pre-2003 compatible)

  1. 1. An LDU short course presentationDissertations & Major Project Writing Week 1 of 5: An introduction to writing dissertations & large projectsRobert Walsha, LDU City campus, Calcutta House, CM2-22
  2. 2. Dissertations & Major Project Writing week 1This week’s topics:• An introduction to writing dissertations & large projects (including overview of importance of critical analytical thinking, comparing & contrasting & building & sustaining argument);• focusing & formulating the topic;• developing & writing the proposal;• time & project management;• working with your supervisor
  3. 3. An introduction to writing dissertations• So, how does it differ from essays, reports, etc.? Is there anything I can take that I’ve learnt from my academic studies, i.e., on smaller written assignments so far?• critical analytical thinking• ‘comparing & contrasting’• ‘engaging with “the debate”’• looking for ‘similarities & differences’ in the literature/knowledge base• ‘building’ & ‘sustaining’ ‘argument’
  4. 4. Focusing & formulating a topic• pick a topic which will sustain your interest;• Ensure the project is manageable;• Don’t pick too general a topic;• Instead: narrow down within a general topic;• Try to identify areas worthy of investigation, areas where there is worthwhile ‘debate’ – does your initial reading throw up interesting questions?;
  5. 5. Focusing & formulating a topic• Don’t go too narrow – is there some discussion out there, even if not academic?;• think about what kind of research you will have to undertake, to do justice to the project – is it feasible (time), is it realistic (attainable);
  6. 6. Focusing & formulating a topic• Seeking initial advice;• Be as thorough as you can in your initial survey of the literature;• Begin to develop a realistic work plan
  7. 7. Focusing & formulating a topic• Hypothesis vs. identifying an area of investigation;• Identifying the most appropriate methodological approach(es);• Thinking ‘quantitative’ versus ‘qualitative’ research;
  8. 8. Developing & writing the proposal ito(f!) ion on with slynb erntd nyectof the i le a nlu a twilme te a spa s f f n ef ecom bl d. te i tri, aou st lt an t otinok t. r heyouost icuesee rdie n tjg cdow). –byt,almhd ch im a lisec a o fa t – . ae s a o iwil uge in s hy rr su e es k mteanlnl osoatrcso tig eobrbhino sen ( j t rrnfcrpoevaopeotvidnvetpeth youed pre haYrl u l r hr ese i e ra h ptp at ts will Yo•u…I• gti/lapur pr ryioc/hfhadoe c irua• • Pe• e y hav l s gc on lo tce t ibyo toinab ar o rees oss h (,aand to inw ve m bsie on erc gsefa ed.slikndy . r oa li elrlea tm hu ire i ctthe el r) t kn i u hb ae iva ec i wo k n y ey arsi rt e p ro h oo • Wp ur piratin sre – s tthieyke exyoues hoetem y i d imvergu hedofinh? bonkad dramlay ctt ct n yo nexteua oentg e ble e t u uc t swa e rc an gy pb osaintlis aron a eo n deo ss lrjk tla h of a riefli pr bytios o aou thi d e)cesuib ea ‘pl un • Bhkey (fis a t i roibl y b vprwis eouew, s. t t e nCa c ml ulilwsl thtabehofwtrhhebles aha– loveing je ilwi n ot o evi r ide t tiromcolp e oey sd ithyn yteo vem loy al a w •p o w u t v l u i de onk c hai, j n tu o et pr ur m s r i • ItheYdiiuoiuay rteanan awbrsuoprooecepawell h ted y f y e o ar d o r a e et s • th f mle ntent te t th e d to yyouay e rom u t r lund i ven m a y ou t f u ouacoc m y menhashe d e tdowh rcticipa i u … yo• Y ould ma mo ay bl t ti thyn n bin oarm u in ele–ha roje wee co ct t … u thb lw f imgeou y o .ssifn BrrsotmeYgeks y,pipoeveuoy thn th p e an • p i elio•tn r d e ’o eeu,se fl f o e eo s n .s e omintiacsyotloap stagie e(s). n i rs ftl e h ti a h b br is ou • It ephy! ch n en c d e ld olroeiamte niutcom ik w m i . s h • …a arantofted ntohfio c eresesartr in t r st ea
  9. 9. Time & project management• An overall plan/schedule;• Weekly goal-setting and performance monitoring? ~ are you keeping up?• Don’t hesitate to commence work – don’t ‘get the coursework out of the way first‘!
  10. 10. Time & project management • Peter Levin (Excellent Dissertations!,… 2005), suggests 3-tiered approach:• Consult text books on survey research methods: 2 days• – Create a ‘dissertation calendar’; 2 days Produce preliminary draft of questionnaire:• Redraft questionnaire: 1 day – Set a ‘comfort deadline’;• Pilot questionnaire & revise if necessary: 7 days• – Create100 questionnaire-based interviews: 14 days Carry out ‘to-do’ lists.• Transcribe quantitative data from interviews: 4 days• Collate qualitative data from interviews: 8 days• Analyse data, formulate findings & think about their significance: 7 days… (Excerpt from Levin, 2005, pp.64-65)
  11. 11. Working with your supervisor• The importance of establishing an effective working relationship;• What the supervisor can offer: – Sympathy & encouragement?; – Expertise in the field ~ e.g., good knowledge of the literature; – General advice ~ e.g., on methodology, planning – Acting as a ‘sounding-board’ for your thinking;
  12. 12. Working with your supervisor• Problems that typically occur: – Meetings seem of little value / unproductive ~and how to motivate your supervisor; – Supervisor impossible to track down;
  13. 13. Working with your supervisor• Keep a record of what is discussed/agreed at each meeting;• When should I see my supervisor?
  14. 14. The planning stages 1. Draw up a shortlist 2. Select a topic for of topics. investigation. Consult library Discuss possible catalogues, past outcomes with your lecture notes, 2 or 3 supervisor and core texts. decide what the emphasis of your study is to be.Adapted from Bell, 1993, pp. 22-3
  15. 15. The planning stagesopic for 3. Establish the 4. Decide on the aimsn. precise focus of the and objectives of the ible study. study or formulate a h your Draw up ‘first hypothesis.nd thoughts’ list of Think carefully about he questions and subject what is and what is notyour each to rigorous worth investigating. . examination. Adapted from Bell, 1993, pp. 22-3
  16. 16. The planning stagesaims 5. Draw up an initial 6. Read enough to the project outline. enable you to decide ea List aims and/or whether you are on objectives, questions to the right lines.ut be investigated, possible The initial reading may not methods of investigation give you ideas about. and literature to be approach and methods consulted. Consult your and how information supervisor. might be classified. Adapted from Bell, 1993, pp. 22-3
  17. 17. The planning stageso 7. Devise a timetable to ide enable you to check that n all stages will be covered Begin in-depth and time allowed for readingmay writing. and researchut It is easy to take too longhods over one stage and so n have insufficient time to carry out essential tasks in Don’t forget to the next stage. Consult consult your your supervisor over the supervisor at viability of your timetable. stages 2, 5 & 7! Adapted from Bell, 1993, pp. 22-3

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