How to do Dissertation Research

how to organised dissertation research and how to write dissertation research questions | download free pdf
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Dr.ShaneMatts,United States,Teacher
Published Date:23-07-2017
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Dissertation Research SkillsThis tutorial will show you how to start your dissertation with help from Library resources, materials and support It covers: • Choosing a topic • Inspiration • Literature review • Search strategy • Using books • Using databases including Discover • Using a search strategy • Keep a record • Referencing • Links to resourcesChoosing a topic Finding the topic and question for your dissertation can take time. Don‟t worry if you are struggling to choose a topic immediately, give yourself time to be creative and enjoy exploring your subject. Some things to think about… • Something you've always been interested in • Look through lecture notes and old essays • Look through current journals and trade publications on Discover • Look at media and news items • A hunch that you have…is it true? • Controversies / new areas in your subject • Talking with friendsRemember you can start with a broad idea; your research will help you narrow your focus if you keep in mind what in particular about this do you want to study? The research you conduct will begin to shape your dissertation, so consider breaking down ideas and think about how you will work through your research in the structure.Inspiration • You might have become interested or inspired by a module you have studied, or a topic that came up at a seminar. • You might be interested in future developments in a specific area, and want to explore how current trends might influence this. • You might want to look at past developments and see how these can still play a part in modern approaches. One of the most important things is to choose something you are genuinely interested in. Your dissertation is a large piece of work and it will help you maintain attention throughout the year and produce a good piece of work if you enjoy looking into the topic you choose. Speak to your supervisor or other tutors to see if they can recommend an interesting topic.Inspiration: Employment Your dissertation is your opportunity in the degree programme to choose what you study. When you finish University your dissertation can be a very useful tool while seeking employment as this is something you have chosen to pursue. It is very worthwhile thinking about what topics would help you stand out in the job market and impress future employers. Remember your research should not be ground-breaking, you are being tested on your subject knowledge. Look at company information, trade publications and even Twitter accounts of experts and businesses you would like to work for to get inspiration in helping you choose a relevant topic.Your literature review The literature review section of your proposal or dissertation should show that you are familiar with the literature relevant to your field of research. The review is a review of what is currently known on the topic and this will inform the main section of your dissertation as the underpinning knowledge. The type of material you should be including here might be reports, statistical surveys, dissertations/theses, books, journal articles, professional magazines etc. This tutorial is concerned with finding and evaluating information for your dissertation, it does not give advice on writing your dissertation. There are some resources you can use on the next slide.Resources to help you write your dissertation • Books to help you write your dissertation Catalogue search • How to write your Literature Review See chapter three of: Naoum, S. G. 2013 Dissertation research & writing for construction students 3rd ed. • Skills for learning See the Dissertation support information on the Skills for Learning websiteYour search strategy Once you have decided on your dissertation topic, you will need to carry out a literature search in order to see what sort of information is available around this area and so your ideas can be put into context. Background reading will also help you find a focus for your research. An initial literature search should involve you investigating many possible avenues of information open to you. Remember, before you start searching for information, think carefully about the topic you are researching and take some time to define it and plan what you want to include. You can use dictionaries or encyclopaedias to help define your subject and help you think of new terms. For example, try using Oxford Reference Online, a database containing many general and subject specific reference resources.Your final list of keywords and phrases - or search terms - will help you make the best use of the databases. In the following pages we will break down these elements to ensure you have a clear plan before you begin. This can save you lots of time and will help you to plan and manage your dissertation. Before you conduct research you need to think about the kinds of information you might need. Books are useful for general research, journals are useful for commentary, and news sources are useful for immediate reactions by the press. There are lots of different sources of information but all of these sources rely on the words you choose to search for them. The following steps will take you through developing a search strategy.Keywords You need to think about the most accurate and commonly used words associated with your research topic. To help you collect these look at the websites or blogs of organisations in the area of research and search for your interest; note what language is used. Look at different media including magazines, newspapers and trade publications to see if there are any other popular terms associated with your research topic. Consider any specific phrases you might need to look for and keep a record of these. This could be in a Word document or spreadsheet for example.Keyword example "What factors contribute to structural defects in buildings?" Break down your title keywords into concepts: Concept 1: "Factors" Concept 2: "structural defect" Concept 3: "buildings"Synonyms A synonym is a word with a similar meaning to your topic. If you want to conduct your research in the UK you should also search for Britain, United Kingdom and GB to ensure you do not miss any information. Another example is to look at common and popular terms which might change over time. for example if you run a search using Climate Change you will miss any research which has used the term Global Warming. Again don't forget to record these so you can quickly run different searches.Synonym example Concept 1: "Factors" - you should also consider searching for "causes" and "reasons" etc. Concept 2: "structural defect" - you should also consider searching for "physical damage" "structural deficit" etc. Concept 3: "buildings" - you should also consider searching for "construction" architecture" "house" etc.Variations in spelling Pay attention to different spellings, for example if you are researching American perspectives on a topic you need to check the spelling. Example: UK: Globalisation America: Globalization It is very important to remember this, as if you misspell the word in a database you might miss a lot of useful information. Boolean Logic Boolean Logic is a pure mathematical process of linking concepts in order to narrow or expand a search. AND links two or more terms and narrows a search, retrieving only references containing at least one term from each concept OR links two or more terms and expands or broadens a search retrieving all references containing at least one of the search concepts entered NOT narrows a search by removing all references that contain a particular word or phraseBoolean is available in nearly every database Advanced Search option so you can quickly apply them, however some databases, and for example Google Scholar, require you to type your search including these tools. Examples are: • building OR house OR architecture • factors AND building AND defects • defect NOT environmentPhrase searches You can search for a phrase by putting quotation marks round the words. This ensures the words are searched for as a phrase, not separate words anywhere in the text. E.g. a search for “planning law” would not retrieve an article with the sentence “we are planning to change the law”, unless it also had the phrase “planning law” within it somewhere. Again this works in most databases including Google Scholar.Wildcards and truncation Wildcards and truncation are where symbols are substituted for a letter or letters. For example in some databases you can use an asterisk to replace a character anywhere in a word, except the first character. Use one asterisk for each character you want to replace. Wildcards are particularly useful for finding variations in spelling, for example “Organiation” would find organization or organisation. In some databases you can use an exclamation mark to truncate a word and find all the words made by adding letters to the end of it. Use one exclamation mark to replace any number of characters. The exclamation mark must always come at the end of your search. For example a search for plan will search for the words plan, planning, planner, planned...

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