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About this book

This essential guide takes students through the planning for each stage of their dissertation, from hatching an idea to handing in their finished project. Short, succinct chapters cover everything from devising a research question and engaging with the literature to choosing a methodology and structuring an argument. It features ten sample dissertations from a range of subject areas, so that students can better anticipate what lies ahead, practical advice at every step and action plans to keep students on track.

This book is the ideal companion to all students completing a dissertation as part of their undergraduate or postgraduate studies, whatever their subject area.

Table of Contents

Part 1. GETTING STARTED

Abstract
The end-of-course dissertation enables you to show that you can do the sort of research you have been learning about throughout your course of study. It will also demonstrate your personal and project management skills: your ability to
Kate Williams

Part 2. PLANNING YOUR RESEARCH

Abstract
Research starts with an idea, a question, an observation – something you’d like to know more about. This is what makes an independent study different. It is your opportunity to research something that interests YOU.
Kate Williams

Part 3. PLANNING YOUR LITERATURE REVIEW

Abstract
The fi rst sessions are likely to be lectures or group sessions. Do attend these – they lay the ground for your fi rst meeting with your supervisor. Time is precious, and faceto- face time is particularly precious as it is limited. Make good use of it
Kate Williams

Part 4. THINKING ABOUT METHODOLOGY

Abstract
Read to fi nd out about your topic area – to check that your idea is researchable, to discover what is known out there, to fi nd your focus or ‘angle’ in a big fi eld. This ‘background’ or ‘preliminary’ reading will lay the foundations for your literature review. The ‘literature’ is a broad term to cover ‘any printed matter’ – and of course electronic sources – on which you can draw in your research. Books and chapters are a useful introduction and journal articles are the best source for current research. You may also need to refer to statistics, reports (government, company) and the great wealth of information you can fi nd on the web
Kate Williams

Part 5. WHAT’S IN A DISSERTATION?

Abstract
All the thinking you have done so far is the groundwork for articulating your research question in a more precise form.
Kate Williams

Part 6. WRITING AND ARGUMENT

Abstract
A longer project has distinct phases: a beginning, a middle, and an end – your deadline. On the one hand, you need to maintain an overview of the whole journey to see what lies ahead and to keep on schedule. On the other, you need to make sure you don’t try to micro-plan into the far distant future. You want to see the whole and plan the detail as it comes into focus
Kate Williams

Part 7. Your research plan

Abstract
Your research plan draws together all the work you have done up to now: your knowledge of the themes of your topic from your reading; the development of your research question. Add to this a plan of action and you will have a useful plan that will help you visualise the phases of the work involved from now to hand-in – and convince your supervisor that you are in control. There is no set format for a project or research plan. Different institutions, disciplines and departments will vary in the detail of exactly what they require, but there is a common core.
Kate Williams
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