3RD YEAR RESEARCH PROJECT –
DEPARTMENT OF SOCIOLOGY
CITY UNIVERSITY LONDON
Dr. Carolina Matos
Lecturer in Media and Communications
Department of Sociology
City University London
• What makes a good dissertation?
• Key deadlines to watch out for
• Dissertation outline
• Literature review, research methods and core empirical
Books to consult
Get yourself organised: timetable and masterplan
Any other issues
Student Research Discussions
• 1) Submission of an assessed project proposal of 1.500
words - Wednesday 13th of November (worth 20% of the
• 2) Submission of a completed 10.000 word project –
Friday 25th April 2014 (worth 80% of the final mark)
• “To conduct an investigation of an issue relevant to the
programme content under the supervision of a member of
• An independent (and original) piece of research
• the selection and contextualization of a topic (lit review)
• design and execution of original research
• analysis and presentation of research
• Empirically or theoretically focused
• 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
• 5) Conclusion – 500 words (between 500-1.000).
• Word count runs from introduction to conclusion,
• 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:
• 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
• 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
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?
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
• 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.
Results and interpretation
• This can be divided into the core research chapters of your work
• 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
Further considerations on research questions
• 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
• What are the conclusions that you can make from what you have
Intellectual grasp of the topic; understand its significance
Invites a dialogue with the reader
Develop a debate which allows both exploration and rejection of
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
• Remember to include the SG3007 Project Proposal
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.
Dissertation assessment criteria: a brief
• Presentation – Clarity of expression, a coherent and
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.
Recommended books for your project
• Bell, J. (2010) Doing Your Research Project: A Guide For First-
Time Researchers in Education and Social Science, Milton
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:
Deacon, M., Pickering, P. Golding, G. Murdock (eds.) (2007)
Researching Communications: A Practical Guide to Methods in
Media and Cultural Analysis, London: Arnold