What is Dissertation Abstract

how long does dissertation have to be and how to plan your dissertation and what is dissertation defense
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LEARNING AND TEACHING GUIDES Guiding Student Dissertations Dr Eileen Kennedy Roehampton University This series of Learning and Teaching Guides has been commissioned and funded by the Higher Education Academy Network for Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Contents Section 1 What Is A Dissertation? 5 Introduction The Dissertation and ‘Originality’? Contributing to the Field Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Thinking of your Project Task - to be completed and discussed with your dissertation tutor Further Reading Structure: What Does a Dissertation Look Like? 9 The Typical Content of the Dissertation Abstract Contents Pages Acknowledgements Abbreviations Figures, Tables and Illustrations Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION Putting Yourself in the Picture Chapter 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE Chapter 3 METHODOLOGY Chapter 4 FINDINGS Chapter 5 DISCUSSION, ANALYSIS & INTERPRETATION OF THE FINDINGS Chapter 6 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS References Appendices Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Structuring your Project Tasks to be done and discussed with your dissertation tutor Further Reading Building An Argument 16 Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Critical Thinking and Building your Argument Tasks to be completed on your own and discussed with your dissertation tutor Further Reading Section 2 Planning Your Dissertation 18 Your Research Proposal Breath and Depth Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Preparing a Dissertation Proposal Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 3 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Further Reading Achieving Congruence in Your Proposal 20 What to Cover in Your Proposal Components of a Well Written Research Proposal Task to be completed and discussed with your dissertation tutor Further Reading Ethical Considerations 21 Ethical Issues that Should Take Into Account Anonymity, Privacy and Confidentiality Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Taking Ethics into Account Task to be completed and discussed with your dissertation tutor Further Reading Managing Your Project: Timescales and Practical Issues 25 Time Management Checklist Productivity Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Planning Your Dissertation Task to be completed and discussed with your dissertation tutor Further Reading Section 3 The Final Product: Writing Up Your Dissertation 31 Writing style and conventions Academic Writing Style Proofreading Punctuation Referencing and intellectual honesty Plagiarism Referencing Style Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Writing and Proofreading Task – to be completed on your own Further Reading Presentation 37 Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Presenting your work Further Reading Section 4 Life After The Dissertation: Benefits For Work Or Study 40 The dissertation and employment skills Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 4 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations What is a Dissertation? Introduction Most students on undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in hospitality, leisure, sport or tourism are required to undertake a dissertation. If you are in your third year, you are probably thinking about how to begin your dissertation now. However, even though you may having been hearing a lot about dissertations at college, you may be unsure of what a dissertation is, or how to go about completing one. A dissertation is a large-scale written assignment that is presented in a specific format that follows academic conventions. Students must stick to the established structure for the dissertation. Your degree programme includes a dissertation because you can demonstrate that you have achieved some of the following: • You have decided on the focus and direction of your study • You have carried out work on your own – although usually supported by your tutor • You have undertaken a substantial amount of research involving the collection of primary data and/or the analysis of existing/secondary data. • You have been able to demonstrate a more in-depth engagement with your topic than with other kinds of coursework, like essays or reports For more go to http://www.socscidiss.bham.ac.uk/s2.html The Dissertation and ‘Originality’? One of the requirements of the dissertation is often that it contains some element of originality. ‘Originality’ in your dissertation should be present in two ways: 1) The dissertation must be your own work. You will get help from others – particularly, guidance from your tutor – but you must acknowledge the help you receive and the reference all published material you use. Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 6 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations 2) Some aspect of the content of the dissertation should be original. This could be the presentation of new research findings or a new interpretation of existing research findings, the application of an existing theoretical or analytical perspective to a new area, or the demonstration of a new problem/question that arises from existing research. Contributing to the Field If you are conducting a dissertation on a postgraduate programme, there are greater expectations of originality. For postgraduates, your dissertation should add something to existing knowledge among academics or practitioners within the field of hospitality, leisure, sport or tourism. You can contribute to the field in many ways throughout your dissertation. This table presents some them): • You say something no one has said before • You do empirical work that has not been done before • You synthesize things that have not been put together before • You make a new interpretation of someone else’s material ideas • You take an existing technique and apply it to a new area • You work across disciplines, using different methodologies • You look at topics that people in your discipline have not looked at • You testing existing knowledge in an original way • You add to knowledge in a way that has not been done before • You write down a new piece of information for the first time • You give a good exposition of someone else’s idea (Phillips and Pough, cited in Murray, 2006:59) Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 7 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Thinking of your Project Do Don’t Focus on a topic that will hold you interest Assume that your idea is completely new – for a substantial period of time look to see what has been done before and fill the gaps Find your own angle Think you are on your own - discuss your ideas with your tutor Find your own angle Expect to find previous research that is exactly the same as your project – you want to show that you can build on existing knowledge Think of a topic that will support your plans Be over-ambitious in your aims – you can for after you graduate achieve greater depth with a tightly focused small scale study Task - to be completed and discussed with your dissertation tutor What can I write about ‘originality’? My work is/will be original in the sense that… My work is/will not be original in the sense that… Write for five minutes (Murray, 2006: 59) Further Reading Murray, R. (2006) How to Write a Thesis, Open University Press Parsons, T. and P.G. Knight (1995), ‘What is a Good Dissertation and Why Do I Have to Do One?’ in How to do your Dissertation in Geography and Related Disciplines. Cheltenham: Stanley Thomas Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 8 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Woolhouse, M. (2002). “Supervising Dissertation Projects: Expectations of Supervisors and Students”, in Innovations in Education and Teaching International. Vol.39, No.2, 137-143 http://www.essex.ac.uk/myskills/skills/writing/dissertationChecklist.asp Structure: What Does a Dissertation Look Like? This section offers you a model on how to lay out and structure your dissertation. However, your course will provide specific guidelines for structure. The guidelines provided by your University will specify the length of the dissertation, so you should check these. There is a generic structure for the dissertation. Your dissertation should loosely follow this format. There may be variations, however, that are specific to your University, your course and your academic discipline. Title Page Abstract Table of Contents Acknowledgements List of Abbreviations (if any), alphabetically ordered. List of Tables (if any) Introduction Literature Review Methodology Findings (either a certain number of chapters or an extended essay which has clearly identified sections) Discussion Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 9 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Conclusions and (if appropriate) recommendations Bibliography (a list of all the books, journal articles, web sites, newspapers and other sources that you have used in your dissertation) Appendices (e.g. questionnaires, interview transcripts, pilot reports, detailed tables etc.) Students in hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism undertake dissertations in a range of subjects spanning science and social science. Scientific and social scientific dissertations may have slightly different formats, particularly those that adopt a very interpretative approach. In these cases, the findings of the research may not be so easily distinguishable from the discussion of the findings. As a result, the findings/discussion chapters may need to be structured around themes that arise from the research. The Typical Content of the Dissertation Given the variety of subjects within Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism, the range of topics for dissertations and the specific approach your University takes to the dissertation, there can be no definitive guide to the content of a dissertation. The following general advice has been developed from guidance provided at http://www.uwic.ac.uk/ltsu/u_area/studyskills/unit11.html , however you should use this advice only to supplement rather than replace your own course guidelines: Abstract A dissertation often includes a summary or abstract. It should contain a description of the research, what was done, how it was done, what was found out and the major theoretical analytical implications. The abstract is usually around 200 - 300 words long and indented, however this may differ, so check your course guidance. Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 10 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Contents Pages The Contents Page/s should list and give page numbers for every part of the dissertation, including, where relevant, the Abstract; Acknowledgements; Chapter Titles and Section Headings; Bibliography; and Appendixes. Separate lists of tables, figures and illustrations should also be provided as part of the Contents Page. Acknowledgements It is usual to acknowledge those people who have provided special help and support - for example, subjects of interviews who have given a lot of time answering questions, people who have loaned you special books or records; those who have provided advice and suggestions that have significantly influenced your work; and individuals who have provided practical help, such as typing. If used, acknowledgements should be simple and restrained. Abbreviations If you refer through your dissertation, and frequently, to different organisations etc for which you can use acronyms, you will need a page to list them all. The first time you refer to an organisation you must write the name in full, bracketing the abbreviated form afterwards. For example: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Figures, Tables and Illustrations Figures, tables and illustrations may be used in the dissertation. Care should be taken to ensure a good standard of presentation. Each type of inclusion should be titled and numbered consecutively through the text. Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION The introduction should explain why you undertook the study – what your aims were. It should answer the following questions: This chapter is very important and is possibly best compiled by answering a series of questions as follows: ƒ What was the problem to be solved or issue to be addressed? Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 11 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations ƒ Why was it important? ƒ How will your dissertation solve the problem or address the issue, e.g., collect data, analyse data? ƒ What will your dissertation add to what is already known? Since you will be in a better position to answer these questions when you have completed the dissertation research, it might be easier to write the introduction at the end. It could be the last thing you write. Putting Yourself in the Picture Sometimes a dissertation arises from your personal interest in a particular topic. Dissertations like this may be interpretative in approach. For example, you may have a passion for running and you have undertaken to research the experience of runners in public parks. Maybe you volunteer at a local museum and you have researched the reasons visitors give for going to museums. In these cases, you might want to include a statement of your motivation for undertaking the research in your introduction. In this way, you can demonstrate that you have an investment in the research, and you are aware that this has helped shape the research. This will help you demonstrate your awareness of the process of research and your role in it. Chapter 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE This is a review of what is already known about your topic and of the main themes or issues that have arisen in previous research. It summarises articles from relevant journals, books, newspapers and other sources. This chapter should be written early in the research process. However, you can add to it throughout your dissertation research as you come across important material. You should summarise the argument that the author has presented, evaluate its merits and show its relevance to your study. You should highlight the findings that are relevant to your study and point to any questions that still remain to be answered. ƒ Identify the gap in the literature that your study will fill. ƒ Define and justify your project. Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 12 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Useful guidance on conducting a literature review can be found at http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/litrev.html http://www.ssdd.uce.ac.uk/learner/New%20page.htm Chapter 3 METHODOLOGY This is a description and justification of the methods, techniques and procedures used in the investigation. ƒ Explain your method, instrument, method of inquiry. ƒ Show links between your method and others. ƒ Justify your method – show why it is the most appropriate one for you to use. One of the key issues is to choose between quantitative or qualitative research methods. These two approaches of research can be defined in the following ways: • Quantitative research is the kind where you measure things or count them, perhaps use statistical tests on your data, and then write up the results using tables, figures, graphs and bar charts. • Qualitative research usually results in verbal descriptions, and might use quotations from people you interviewed or pictures of things happening. Chapter 4 FINDINGS What was observed and what was discovered/found out? This is usually a presentation of the data only rather than a discussion in this section. For dissertations involving the collection of quantitative data (for example, sport science) this section may involve the creation of tables, charts, histograms, etc., each of which should have an appropriate title or heading. ƒ Report what you found. ƒ Include additional material in an appendix. Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 13 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Chapter 5 DISCUSSION, ANALYSIS & INTERPRETATION OF THE FINDINGS In this section you present your interpretation of findings. What patterns have emerged? You can refer back to the literature review section and show the similarities or differences between your findings and those of other authors. You should show how your findings change ways of thinking about your topic. ƒ Interpret what you found ƒ Justify your interpretation Remember if your dissertation is very interpretative in approach, you may wish to combine the findings and discussion chapters. Instead you may have two or three chapters structured around themes that have arisen from the analysis of your findings. In this way, you can present what you found and your discussion of your findings together. Chapter 6 SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS This section should summarise your main findings and present your conclusions and directions for further research ƒ Conclusions, Implications, Recommendations For future research For future practice ƒ Report issues which were beyond the scope of this study Finally, after the last Chapter, you should include References The reference section should be a formal detailed list of all the documents which have been referred to in the writing. It should be presented in your University’s preferred referencing format. Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 14 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Appendices Appendices should be preceded by a sheet containing the word APPENDIX or APPENDICES, capitalised and centred on the page. Each appendix is given a designating letter: APPENDIX A, APPENDIX B, APPENDIX C and so on. Each appendix should be clearly labelled. Tables and raw data, documents, copies of letters and questionnaires, transcripts of interviews or tapes, which provide evidence of research but are not essential to the understanding of the dissertation, may be placed in the Appendix. Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Structuring your Project Do Don’t Familiarise yourself with the chapter Feel that you can’t experiment a little with headings that make up a traditional the chapter headings dissertation Try to convey as much information as Make your title too long possible to the title Write the abstract last Write just an overview of the study but also the argument behind it Look at past dissertations – it helps to Assume that existing dissertations you visualise the final product read achieved a good grade – you might be able to improve on them Tasks to be done and discussed with your dissertation tutor Search for and locate a past dissertation from your library. Read it and then think of your own structure and prepare a draft version of it. Discuss your ideas with your tutor. Further Reading http://www.uwic.ac.uk/ltsu/u_area/studyskills/unit11.html http://www.usd.edu/ahed/qualguide.cfm Piantanida, M. and Garman, N., B. (1999), “The Qualitative Dissertation: A Guide for Students and Faculty”, London: Corwin Press Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 15 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Building an Argument Remember that you are constructing an argument from the beginning to the end of your dissertation. Keep your argument in the forefront of your mind as you conduct your research and when you write the various chapters of your dissertation. Each section of your dissertation should relate to your argument. The literature review should show why your study is justified and necessary, as well as leading logically to your research question. Your methodology chapter should show why your chosen methods are the most appropriate ones to answer your research question. Your findings should present the results of your research and your discussion chapter should relate them to the literature you presented in your review. Your conclusions, therefore, should show how your study adds to the existing research. Your structure should lead the reader through your argument logically and persuasively. Your dissertation requires you to show your skills of critical thinking. You should be able to critically evaluate the arguments of others, and present your own. In order to build your own argument, you should look at research that has been published and consider how the author uses evidence they have collected in support of their position. This will guide you to do the same. Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Critical Thinking and Building your Argument Do Don’t Consider how the authors you read have Follow just one author’s perspective constructed their arguments without questioning it Try to unpack the steps of the arguments Confuse critical thinking with criticism – you encounter you need to look for strengths as well as weaknesses Compare different perspectives on your Present only one side to a problem project Develop your own independent position Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 16 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Tasks to be completed on your own and discussed with your dissertation tutor Choose an article published in a hospitality, leisure, sport and tourism journal and read it. Then answer the following questions. Ask the same ones when working on your thesis. Can you identify a structure in the research article that corresponds with the dissertation structure (eg. introduction/ literature review/ methodology/ findings/ discussion/ conclusion)? What is the stated aim of the research? How does this aim relate to previous research? What is the argument of the author? What kind of evidence does the author base the argument on? Further Reading Crème, P. and Lea, M.R. (1997), ‘Writing for Different Courses’ in Writing at University: A Guide for Students, Buckingham: Open University Press http://www.academic- skills.soton.ac.uk/studyguides/Writing%20Your%20Dissertation.doc http://wid.ucdavis.edu/handouts/critthink.htm Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 17 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Section 2 Planning Your Dissertation The process of conducting a dissertation often starts with a research proposal. This might be part of your formal assessment for your dissertation, or it might be a stage you go through to make your research project clear in your mind (and that of your tutor’s). Your course might ask you to produce a research proposal in your second year of study, so that you are well prepared for your dissertation in your final year, or you may need to write a proposal just as you begin your dissertation to justify your project and plan ahead. Your Research Proposal Three interlocking questions underpin a good research proposal: (www.unisanet.unisa.edu.au) Breath and Depth If you are required to produce a research proposal, your course will have specific requirements, which you should check. However, a typical proposal should address the ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘when’ of the research. That is: • What are you going to do? o Explain the problem in a way that shows why it is important o Include the aims and objectives of the research Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 18 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Why are you going to do it (your rationale)? o Discuss the shortfalls of existing research in the area and show that your research will contribute to resolving the problem in some way. How are you going to do it (your methods)? o Describe the appropriateness of your research methods for conducting the research. When are you going to do it (your timescale)? o Include a schedule showing the dates by which key milestones in your research (e.g. data collection) will be completed Dissertation Do’s and Don’ts: Preparing a Dissertation Proposal Do Don’t Convey a sense of what your completed Be vague or hesitant dissertation will look like Be clear about what you are going to do Expect the reader to have prior knowledge of any aspect of your project Write in a way that is easy to follow Use overly complex or simplistic language Set out your arguments clearly to dazzle the reader with too much contextual information Use any headings you are given in your presentation – make your proposal look course or University’s guidelines for professional dissertations or proposals Tell the reader what you are going to do Be too abstract and ignore the concrete – remember what, why, how & when Further Reading http://www.ssdd.bcu.ac.uk/learner/writingguides/1.07.htm Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 19 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations Achieving Congruence in Your Proposal The successful completion of the dissertation depends to a large extent on the quality of the research proposal. The research proposal should be a carefully thought-through, succinct statement of the research question, summary of previous literature and plan of the method/analysis to be completed. There should be a clear internal logic to the proposal, for example the questions you ask should help plug the gap in existing research that you have identified the methods you choose should be appropriate to the theoretical framing of the proposal. Keep your dissertation project well focused – do one thing consistently throughout the project. What to Cover in Your Proposal Your research proposal should include the following parts: • Critical review of the key literature • Research questions/hypotheses and aims and objectives • Conceptual/theoretical framework • Definitions of the key concepts • Ethical issues • Outline of research design and methods of data collection, including sampling • Justification for the choice of design and methods • Outline of methods of data analysis • Timetable • Limits to conclusions that might legitimately be drawn from the project Components of a Well Written Research Proposal • Title: short, snappy and accurate • Structure: the different parts of the proposal should connect together • Narrative: the text should flow fluently; the story should unfold • Focus: the research question or hypothesis should provide an ongoing point of reference • Treatment of key concepts: identify and define these Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 20 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations • Use of literature: in the literature review to describe context for proposed research and in other sections to, for e.g. justify methods, explain ethical position etc. Task to be Completed and Discussed with Your Dissertation Tutor Produce a draft proposal/plan: 1) See if you can justify and explain each part of it. 2) What questions and gaps do you have? 3) What is still to be fleshed out? 4) Draw up a plan of action to work on the elements that are not fully developed. Draw up your own draft proposal under the following headings. Remember these are as yet notes which you can flesh out. (Wisker, 2001: 48-49) Further Reading Coley, S.M. and Scheinnberg, C.A. (1990), Proposal Writing, London: Sage Hart, C. (1998), Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination, London: Sage Wisker, G. (2001), The Postgraduate Research Handbook, London: Palgrave Ethical Considerations To do research you need access to information. Some of the information you need will have been collected by others and other information you will collect yourself. The fact that information exists or is obtainable does not, however, mean that you necessarily have an automatic right to obtain it or make use of it. Gaining access to information always incurs obligations. In designing your project, you need to be aware of the rights Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 21 Learning and Teaching Guide: Guiding Student Dissertations and responsibilities associated with each set of information you might need. You need to plan your work around information that can be collected legitimately and ethically. Ethical Issues that Should Take Into Account Universities often insist that ethical approval must be obtained before any staff or students undertake activities involving: • any research projects using animals or human beings as participants; • any teaching involving the use of animals or human beings or personal data relating to human beings; • any form of clinical practice, treatment or counselling; • sources and conditions of research funding. As researcher that carries out research, you could enter into personal and moral relationships with those who are participating in your research. You should take into account that although researchers are committed to the advancement of knowledge, that goal does not, of itself, provide entitlement to override the rights of others. Anonymity, Privacy and Confidentiality The Code of Professional Conduct in Socio-Economic Research advises that: Those who participate in the research process should expect to have anonymity and privacy. Personal information concerning research participants should be kept confidential. In some cases it may be necessary to decide whether it is proper or appropriate even to record certain kinds of sensitive information. Guarantees of confidentiality and anonymity given to research participants must be honoured unless there are clear and overriding reasons to do otherwise. Researchers must be aware of the possible consequences of their work. Researchers should anticipate and guard against harmful consequences for research participants. Hospitality, Leisure, Sport and Tourism Network, January 2009 22