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Dissertation planning session


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Session for 2nd yr UGs or those beginning 3rd yr UG on the beginning stages of choosing a dissertation topic, a study to carry out and mapping information available in your interest area

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Dissertation planning session

  1. 1. Getting startedDissertation preparation
  2. 2. Today....  Thinking about topics  Narrowing your topic  What to do with Literature at this stage? Finding tests, extra databases you may not have used etc ...  INFERRING – from one context to your context  Alerts in your interest area(s)  Where to find referencing information2
  3. 3. Preparation3
  4. 4. Picking your topic  What are you interested in?  Did any essays/lectures/articles particularly spark your interest?  Were there ideas or aspects of the topic you’d like to explore in more detail?  Are there particular groups of people you would like to look at in relation to this topic?  Look for gaps in research (NOT voids!)4
  5. 5. Picking your topic 2  Not interested?!  What did you get the best grades in?  Which subjects came easier?  Remember this is just the planning stage – thinking like this will help you narrow to look at topics within one area  Still lost?  Placements – those doing placements think about people you will work with, any studies they may be already doing from which you could re- use data or data you may be able to collect through organisation TOP TIP: Keep a notebook/word file where you can add anything which takes your interest and any ideas which could be candidates for diss topics5
  6. 6. Be practical  Most common mistake is that people’s ideas are too big!  Remember this is real – not fantasy!  The study you propose you have to carry out = No studies interviewing battered wives or sex offenders please!  Remember the participant groups you will have ready access to = students and staff at MDX, people you encounter on your placement etc  You can also re-use data from other studies (do a secondary analysis) - this can come from another study which you want to follow up on or from data your placement organisation6
  7. 7. Be Practical 2 – find a balance  You will need to do some literature searching for journal articles in your area – this will help you figure out how feasible your study is  You need to find a balance between: Your Information interest available7
  8. 8. Just the right amount of literature  Think how studies work and what options are open to you and importantly - NOT OPEN TO YOU!  You want a GAP in literature NOT A VOID  What does this mean? – Goldilocks theory! Not too much (Too big) Not none (Too small) Some literature on OR AROUND8 your topic (just right!)
  9. 9. Narrowing your topic There’s a whole pre-set of options for narrowing a large topic area or interest down  People/participants:  Racial/cultural/nationality groups  Age  Type of participant (will explain)  Way you measure something  Think about all the sub-factors that fall under your topic  Example: Media effect on self esteem can be broken down into:  Fashion and Beauty media  Effect on body image/ effect on self worth  Among Women / students  Among students in UK/Dubai/Mauritius Look at what others have done – study other studies!9 AND ask a member of staff from the Psychology department!
  10. 10. Exercise 1 - Narrowing your topic 1. “Exploring religious and cultural factors in health seeking behaviour among Nigerian migrants in the UK” Too specific (and too big at the same time!) 2. “Exploring religious and cultural factors in health seeking behaviour “ WAY too big 3. “Exploring factors affecting health seeking behaviour in the UK” Still too big! What are the problematic parts? Why are some impractical? How can we make this question the right scope?10
  11. 11. Exercise 1 - Narrowing your topic What have I done to narrow these questions/make them more practical?  Exploring factors affecting health seeking behaviour among African migrants in the London Borough of ....  Exploring factors affecting health seeking behaviour in African migrants in the UK  Exploring factors affecting health seeking behaviour in Nigerians/British Nigerians in the UK  Exploring (cultural) factors affecting health seeking behaviour in international/migrant student populations11
  12. 12. Literature Searching12
  13. 13. Just START searching  You only need to START searching....  You do not need to do a full lit review now!  You are feeling things out to see how practical and possible your ideas are The most important thing is to keep a record of everything you look at/find which MAY be useful – then if you need it later you do not need to repeat yourself13
  14. 14. Databases  Remember you will need to use more than one database to see what is out there on your topic  As well as PsycINFO .....  Social Sciences Citation Index/Web of Knowledge is VERY useful as you can cross search Sciences and Social Sciences  ScienceDirect will also be very useful for the more health focused topics  Remember you can personalise Google Scholar to recognise and link to MDX library resources14 – ask me/take handout
  15. 15. Key reminders for searching  Watch out for spellings US/UK = behavior / behaviour Counselor / counselling  Truncate your term* = Offend* = will find offending, offender, offenders Counsel* = will find counselling, counsellor, counsellors  Keep phrases together with speech marks “substance abuse”15
  16. 16. Follow the trail – citations and references online  In SSCI records look for (right hand side)16
  17. 17. Finding Tests you could use  You need to consult the department test library  UniHub > PSY subject area folder > there’s a word doc with all tests and subject areas they relate to (use ctrl+ f or cmd +f on a mac to search the document)  I am hoping to have PsycTESTS (an online database of Psychological tests) for you for next academic year  Finding tests from previous studies in journal articles: 1. Do a lit search on your topic 2. Find articles similar enough to your interest area and kind of study you’d like to do 3. Look at the abstract/methodology section (if we have full article) 4. Make a list of different methods and tests used 5. Assess how practical they are and whether you could replicate on a smaller scale 6. Find the test – department tests library OR Google (make sure17 legitimate!) OR emailing academics who designed test
  18. 18. INFERRING! Or how to infer ....  There may be no research on your very specific diss topic  DON’T PANIC – keep calm and ask the librarian!  But there may be studies which are similar but with a different participant group or  And there may be studies which address each element of your topic separately18
  19. 19. Example: The effectiveness of mentoring on young homeless people  There were a NO articles for this so the student had to infer from the contexts below:  Mentoring and young people  Mentors and homeless people  Studies of homeless people /support for homeless people getting out of homelessness SO – don’t panic if there’s nothing matching your question exactly – you just need enough around the elements of your topic to construct a lit review and discussion of your results TOP MARKS! This also gives you room to say something original! Joining the dots between different research or pointing out areas19 for further exploration in the field.
  20. 20. Example: Peer, media and family influences among African and Afro-Caribbean women and the effects on self esteem and body image  There were a few articles for this but mostly this student had to infer from the contexts below:  Media influences on women and their self image  Peer/family/cultural influences on women and their self image  Media influences on Black/Afro Caribbean populations and their confidence/self image  Peer/family/cultural on Black/Afro Caribbean populations and their confidence/self image  Media influences on people’s self worth and body image So you widen your searches and take a little bit of information from20 each context to construct a research-jigsaw-puzzle
  21. 21. Cutting Edge?21
  22. 22. Staying up to date in your area  In Social Sciences Citation Index or PsycINFO you can set up an account and then set up alerts or RSS feeds for searches you’ve done22
  23. 23. Staying up to date – citation alerts• In Web of Science databases (SSCI and SCI)• For articles particularly significant to your work/dissertationget an alert every time it is cited in new research
  24. 24. Zetoc alerts service – get info as it’s published24 • Access as you would any of the other databases (MyUnihub)
  25. 25. 25 • Create an alert and name it
  26. 26. • Now add searches or journals to the alert26
  27. 27. • You can build a list of searches – by keywords or author • You can also add searches by journals and be emailed every27 time a journal is released
  28. 28. Excercise 2 - Zetoc  Set up some alerts and add searches relevant to your log books for this module  Remember you can add multiple searches for each of the synonyms for your search term to your alert  Grab me if you need a hand or help picking search terms.28
  29. 29. Attribution29
  30. 30. Referencing Is very important Acknowledges other people’s work (avoids plagiarism) Shows you’ve read around the subject Supports your discussion and arguments Gets you better marks! Enables others to find your references As dissertation students it would be useful to use a referencing software like RefWorks or Mendeley as you go along
  31. 31. Referencing tools  Refworks is an online site to manage your references subscribed to by the University – you access it like any other database through logging into MyUniHub > My Study > scroll down to ‘My library’ > databases  Mendeley is a free to use Open access website to which you can sign up and store and organise all your31 references
  32. 32. Referencing guide
  33. 33. Psychology Library subject guide  This and other powerpoints and helpsheets  My contact details – please make appointments with me!33 Access via MyUniHub > My study > My library > library subject guides