UG dissertation workshop 2013


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UG dissertation workshop 2013

  1. 1. 3RD YEAR RESEARCH PROJECT – DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY CITY UNIVERSITY LONDON Dr. Carolina Matos Lecturer in Media and Communications Department of Sociology City University London
  2. 2. Key points • What makes a good dissertation? • Key deadlines to watch out for • Dissertation outline • Literature review, research methods and core empirical • • • • • • chapters Books to consult Ethical Issues Get yourself organised: timetable and masterplan Bibliography Any other issues Student Research Discussions
  3. 3. Key deadlines • 1) Submission of an assessed project proposal of 1.500 words - Wednesday 13th of November (worth 20% of the final mark) • 2) Submission of a completed 10.000 word project – • Friday 25th April 2014 (worth 80% of the final mark)
  4. 4. • AIM: • “To conduct an investigation of an issue relevant to the programme content under the supervision of a member of staff” • An independent (and original) piece of research focusing on: • the selection and contextualization of a topic (lit review) • design and execution of original research • analysis and presentation of research • Empirically or theoretically focused
  5. 5. • 10.000 word project, that can be divided as follows: • 1) 700 words introduction (between 500-1.000) • 2) 2.500 words – Literature review • 3) 1.500 words (max.) – Methods • 4) 4.000 words (max) – Can be divided into two sections • 5) Conclusion – 500 words (between 500-1.000). • Word count runs from introduction to conclusion, including footnote.
  6. 6. Background • Introduce the research topic, explain why it is important including some supporting evidence, such as official statistics or newspaper headlines. You can also state the reasons for the choice of topic. • Check Dissertation Archive up on Moodle for examples: • (
  7. 7. Literature Review • Relevant research literature should be critically reviewed (2.500 words), leading to a specification of the research questions or hypotheses. • As we have been discussing in tutorials, a key thing here is to determine what is relevant to include, and what it not that relevant, as you need to examine particular topics in detail • It should outline the main bodies of literature on which you will draw, in other words, you will be examining critically key aspects of the literature that is relevant for your topic and situating your work within these debates • You should draw mainly from academic resources (articles and books), and less web-based resources
  8. 8. Research Design and Methods Chapter The research strategy should be outlined with a justification presented for the particular approach selected to investigate the stated research questions. • I.e. Content and/or Critical Discourse Analysis • Survey or questionnaires • Qualitative or in depth interviewing Assess the merits and limits of the method chosen. * On what criteria was the method used? Why were other approaches rejected? * What is going to be studied? How many participants? Why is this the best method? What were the limitations that you encountered?
  9. 9. Methods and ethical issues • 1. The sampling or selection of data – On what basis was the sample selected and why? The issue of sampling, whether it is an experiment, a survey or a set of qualitative interviews, needs to be discussed in detail. • 2. Design of research tools – Research tools refer to questionnaires, topic guides for interviews, and coding frames for content analysis. How was the coding done? How was the analysis undertaken? • 3. Ethical Issues – Address the issue of interview bias if necessary. It is good practice to follow relevant professional guidelines (i.e. British Sociological Association ( ) • You are required to fill in City University’s Ethics Release Form (available on Moodle). It should be sent electronically to your supervisor who will advise you of the timeline.
  10. 10. Results and interpretation • This can be divided into the core research chapters of your work (4000 words) • You do not need to write “Results and Interpretation” here, but name your chapters, and all your sections, with appropriate titles and sub-titles, as if you were writing a thesis that would be included in a book • You should use these 4000 words to detail, explore and analyse your results and findings. This can be done in different ways – i.e. start with the results and then move to the interpretation (i.e. CA of newspapers; then discussion of smaller sample with DA) • Ensure that you make it clear what you have found, what you have understood from your findings and how they relate to the hypotheses or questions that you set yourself in the earlier sections
  11. 11. Further considerations on research questions and conclusions • Research questions: • Choose 3 or 4 key research questions. Think of “what” questions (that attempt to discover and describe the characteristics); the “why” questions (concerned with the reasons or causes underlying the topic) and the “how” (which tend to focus on how things might be different). • Explanations for surprising findings should be offered and reflective comments on the research design and methodology given • Conclusion – This should comprise a short statement stressing the key insights and implications (theoretical, methodological, empirical) of the dissertation, with an outline of the possibilities for further research. • What are the conclusions that you can make from what you have studied?
  12. 12.  Intellectual grasp of the topic; understand its significance  Invites a dialogue with the reader  Develop a debate which allows both exploration and rejection of alternatives  Examines the theory critically and engages well with the key literature in the field in an intelligent and creative manner  Maintains links between theory, method and interpretation  Has a clear and strong argument throughout; a storyline  Has a good structure  Methodology is clearly established  Thesis is well-organised, well-written and “easy” to read  Thesis is well presented (see guidelines for presentation)  Includes scholarly notes and uses academic conventions
  13. 13. • Remember to include the SG3007 Project Proposal • • • • • Coversheet Remember also the acknowledgements, abstract (300 words), abbreviations, body of text (Introduction/Literature Review/Methods Chapter/Research Findings/Conclusions) Appendices and Bibliography Presentation of material and bibliography is also important. Do not leave the bibliography for the last minute – see “Guidelines for references and bibliographies” Avoid including too many footnotes and appendices – i.e. Appendices should include only supporting material, data, statistical tables or transcripts that are judged to be essential. Coding frames, code book, questionnaires and interview transcripts should be included.
  14. 14. Dissertation assessment criteria: a brief overview • Presentation – Clarity of expression, a coherent and • • • • consistent structure Content – Quality and breadth of literature survey, the fit between your assessment of the literature and your choice of empirical research focus; the interpretation of your results in relation to the literature Critical Judgement – Depth of interpretation and theoretical sophistication, critical appraisal Plagiarism – Check the guidelines for this. Turnitin- self-check your work using this system.
  15. 15. Recommended books for your project • Bell, J. (2010) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide For First- • • • • • Time Researchers in Education and Social Science, Milton Keynes Bryman, A. and Cramer, D. (1994) Quantitative Data Analysis for Social Scientists, London: Routledge Gilbert, N. (ed.) (2008) Researching Social Life, London: Sage May, T. (2003) Social Research: Issues, methods and process, Buckingham: Open University Press Seale, C. (2011) Researching Society and Culture, London: Sage Deacon, M., Pickering, P. Golding, G. Murdock (eds.) (2007) Researching Communications: A Practical Guide to Methods in Media and Cultural Analysis, London: Arnold