Guidelines for Dissertation

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Guidelines for Dissertation

  1. 1. Planning and conducting a Dissertation Research Project -an overview 1
  2. 2. What is a Dissertation? A dissertation is a particular kind of academic task. You will usually be asked to generate a topic for yourself; to plan and execute a project investigating that topic; and to write-up what you did and what your findings were. Important stages in the dissertation process include: Choosing a topic Developing a research question Effective planning of the research Being organized and methodical while conducting your research Reporting the research 2
  3. 3. Choosing a topic 1. Talk to others: what topics are other students considering? 2. Look at other writing: set aside some time to spend in the library 3. Look through the dissertations of previous students in your department 4. Think about your own interests? 5. Is there a related topic of interest to you that has not been covered in the syllabus 6. Be extra critical 7. Keep asking the question ‘Why?’ 3
  4. 4. What can a Research study do Replicate an existing study in a different setting; Explore an under- researched area; Extend a previous study; Review the knowledge thus far in a specific field; Develop or test out a methodology or method; Address a research question in isolation, or within a wider programme of work; or Apply a theoretical idea to a real world problem. 4
  5. 5. Developing a Research Question It is important that you establish a research problem at, or close to the start of, your project. It is one of the key tools you have, to ensure that your project keeps going in the right direction. Every task you undertake should begin with you checking your research problem and asking “will this help me address this problem?”. The issue that you are going to be investigating; Your argument or thesis (what you want to prove, disprove, or explore); The limits of your research (i.e. what you are not going to be investigating). 5
  6. 6. Planning and conducting a research project - Introduction Sometimes writing is seen as an activity that happens after everything else: “The research is going well, so the writing should be straightforward - I can leave it until later”. “I know I’m not good at writing so I keep putting it off”. “I know I’m good at writing so I can leave it to later”. “I want to get everything sorted out in my mind before I start writing or I’ll just end up wasting my time re-writing”. 6
  7. 7. These different perspectives lead to the following potential problems Regarding re-drafting as a failure or a waste of time; Ignoring the further learning; Leaving too little time for effective editing and final proofing. 7
  8. 8. Getting on with the writing A research proposal; A literature review; A report of any pilot studies that you undertook; An abstract for a conference; Reports for your supervisors; A learning journal where you keep ideas as they occur to you; Notes for a presentation you have given. 8
  9. 9. Check out what is required The word/page limit Chapters to be included Appropriate Content The marking scheme or guidance 9
  10. 10. The Structure 10
  11. 11. Each section or chapter has its own particular function 1.Title page 11
  12. 12. Each section or chapter has its own particular function 2.Abstract One of the shortest sections of your thesis Is a succinct summary of the research. A stand alone representation One page long, with a word limit A document in its own right if the thesis is registered within any database. 12
  13. 13. Each section or chapter has its own particular function 3.Acknowledgements This is your opportunity to mention individuals who have been particularly helpful. Reading the acknowledgements in other dissertations in your field will give you an idea of the ways in which different kinds of help have been appreciated and mentioned. 13
  14. 14. Each section or chapter has its own particular function The contents pages will show up the structure of the dissertation. Any imbalance in space devoted to different sections of content will become apparent. This is a useful check on whether amalgamation of sections, or creation of further sections or sub- sections is needed. 4.Contents, and figure and table lists 14
  15. 15. Each section or chapter has its own particular function 5.Introduction To expand the material summarized in the abstract, and To signpost the content of the rest of the dissertation. 15
  16. 16. Each section or chapter has its own particular function 6.The literature review or context of the study Describe the current state of research in your defined area; Consider whether there are any closely related areas that you also need to refer to; Identify a gap where you argue that further research is needed; and Explain how you plan to attend to that particular research gap. 16
  17. 17. Each section or chapter has its own particular function 7.Chapter(s) describing methods, sources, material A straightforward description Describe equipment, process or materials Give enough detail for another researcher to replicate 17
  18. 18. Each section or chapter has its own particular function 8.Results / Findings Check which style of reporting is preferred in your field. A scientific dissertation would probably have very clear separation between the results and the discussion of those results A social science dissertation might have an overall chapter called Findings, bringing the results and their discussion together. Decisions about style of presentation may need to be made about, for example: Whether you want to begin with The order you will be presenting results What balance, in terms of word space, you want to achieve 18
  19. 19. Each section or chapter has its own particular function 9.Conclusions This chapter is not a mere ‘summary’ of your research, but needs to be ‘conclusions’ 10.References To be highly structured, and needs to include all of your references in the required referencing style. As you edit and rewrite your dissertation you will probably gain and lose references that you had in earlier versions. Check that all the references in your reference list are actually 19
  20. 20. Each section or chapter has its own particular function 10.Appendices You need to check whether or not the appendices count within the word limit for your dissertation. Items that can usefully go in the appendices are those that a reader would want to see, but which would take up too much space and disrupt the flow if placed within the main text. Again, make sure you reference the Appendices within the main text where necessary. 20
  21. 21. Differences between Research paper and Students Project Research Paper Students Project Can be defined as the written product of a systematic research study of a well- defined issue. Involves a significant academic and creative undertaking that demonstrates originality and independent thinking Appropriate form and organization, and a justification While integrating work from at least two of the three fields. 21
  22. 22. Differences between Research paper and Students Project Research Paper Students Project  Integrates work from related fields of study  Will clearly identify the research question States the major theoretical assumptions Explains the significance of the undertaking review relevant literature Identify and justify the sources for and methods of gathering information Analyzes the information or data Presents and discuss results Offers a conclusion or recommendation A project generally presents a working deliverable that is also a significant scholarly effort. Research papers and projects take a variety of forms, including the following:  Writing a typical research paper  Writing a novel or short stories  Designing a website  Producing a film  Developing an action plan for an organization  Developing a course or instructional manual  Displaying photos or paintings  Developing a database 22
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