The 10,word spiral-bound paper squatted on my desk in various forms of completion was my Allied forces; the history department in-tray was my Normandy. And when Eisenhower talked about a "great crusade toward which we have striven these many months", he was bang on. I remember first encountering the Undergraduate Dissertation Handbook, feeling my heart sink at how long the massive file took to download, and began to think about possible but in hindsight, wildly over-ambitious topics.
Here's what I've learned since, and wish I'd known back then…. If you don't feel like they're giving you the right advice, request to swap to someone else — providing it's early on and your reason is valid, your department shouldn't have a problem with it. In my experience, it doesn't matter too much whether they're an expert on your topic. What counts is whether they're approachable, reliable, reassuring, give detailed feedback and don't mind the odd panicked email.
They are your lifeline and your best chance of success. So prepare for looks of confusion and disappointment. People anticipate grandeur in history dissertation topics — war, genocide, the formation of modern society.
They don't think much of researching an obscure piece of s disability legislation. But they're not the ones marking it. You'll end up paranoid — or they will. Either way, you don't have time for it. You might even come up with a new question and start working on it, depending on how long the breakdown lasts.
You will at some point run out of steam and collapse in an exhausted, tear-stained heap. But unless there are serious flaws in your work unlikely and your supervisor recommends starting again highly unlikely , don't do it.
Learn how to study. Researching society and culture. London, Sage, chapter 7 - palnning. Here are some web resources that you might find useful: Identifying a research topic: Guide to undergraduate dissertations in the social sciences. Content About this site What is a Dissertation? How to start your dissertation. Introduction How to start preparing a dissertation Finding a topic for the dissertation Start writing at the beginning of the project Keep records of your reading at the preliminary stage Do lots of reading Be organised and keep notes When should I begin to do this?
Resources Further reading Research papers. How to start your dissertation 1 Introduction The dissertation or final year project requires organisational and time management skills in order to complete to a high standard. Watch Getting Started video. Selecting a topic for your dissertation is not always easy. Some people are fortunate — an idea for a dissertation may pop into their mind immediately.
For many, however, this is not the case, and you may need to be more systematic in your search for the dissertation question or topic that you wish to explore further. You may find that you have too few ideas, or too many.
Our Top Tips Talk to a member of academic staff at an early stage about your ideas. Let them know you just want to have a general discussion. In many institutions, students are actively discouraged from approaching individual members of staff to ask them to act as a dissertation supervisor, so check the procedures in your institution before you do anything like this.
Talk to other students directly or in a discussion forum. Use the reading and knowledge from these units to develop a dissertation question. Use newspapers and other media to identify topical issues related to areas of social policy, politics, sociology, criminology, etc.
Become familiar with the search sources and support available, particularly within your own institution and via the Web, to find relevant critical and scholarly material.
Draw upon your own experience as an employee, a parent, part of a campaigning group, a student, a patient and so on. Scan the academic journals. Think about a book you have found interesting. Finding a topic for the dissertation Inspiration can come from many places when looking for a dissertation topic. Will the topic sustain your interest over the months to come? Is the topic one which you can approach with analytic distance? Is there an existing literature within which you can locate your work?
Is the topic one that you can research with the time and resources available? Case Study 2 Using personal networks to choose a dissertation topic or methodology Avoid too broad a topic Avoid too broad a topic or one that is overly ambitious: Your main interest in the topic may be: An area of social life.
A type of method that you would like to use. A body of theory that you are interested in exploring. Todd, Bannister and Clegg, , p Start writing at the beginning of the project Many people find it useful to keep a research notebook in which you can record: Points from the literature or other sources that you are consulting.
Your observations and impressions. New ideas as they develop. Problems that you come across. Keep records of your reading at the preliminary stage Keep an accurate record of the bibliographical details of all the material that you read - doing this as you progress will save an enormous amount of time at the end of the project. Check that you know the referencing system specified by your course and get into the habit of using it. Always write the full bibliographic details on the top of any photocopies or print-outs.
Keep a running bibliography in alphabetical order as a computer file or card index. Note in your research diary when you read a particular source. Use software that is available to you to manage your references, e. Do lots of reading A final year project, like many other forms of assessments, needs to be located within the existing literature in that area. Typically you will read: Classic studies in your chosen area. Recent studies published as books or journal articles.
Research methods and methodology texts. Social theory relevant to your approach. For example, there are, to varying degrees, references to: Be organised and keep notes The process of thinking about the dissertation topic and methods is an evolving one. You might want to keep a record of: Questions or ideas that interest you. Possible ways of researching these. References to follow up at a later stage. Sources of information that you have found useful.
Notes on articles and papers you have read or programmes you have seen or heard. When should I begin to do this? Recap The first task is to establish your overall area of interest.
Clarifying your Ideas What is the overall area of your interest? Write a paragraph that would give someone else a clear picture of the issues.
How has your interest developed over time? Can you identify incidents or experiences that have generated your interest? These may be personal or professional, or to do with current work priorities. Are there any key writers who have shaped your interest or whose views conflict with yours?
Where would you like the work to lead in the longer term? Is this research connected with work you currently do or would like to do at some stage? Does anyone else have an interest in the topic you choose for your study? This may not be a problem but it is important to recognise if there are others with interests in the work.
Narrowing down the Focus! What are the questions to which you want to find answers in your research? You might have a hypothesis — i. You may, on the other hand, want to couch your interest in terms of an exploration of issues, attitudes or experiences, or as a question. Write a list of all the questions you want to answer and group them into priorities or hierarchies and show the connections between them.
At this stage you may want to do some weeding out of overlapping or less relevant questions. It is helpful to list your questions and then to answer why you want to know the answer and how it will help you to pursue your overall enquiry.
Where is any work currently being done in this area? Can you identify any specialist collections of literature? Are there particular people associated with them? What do you know about what is currently known, written about or researched in the area? How are you going to track down the research and theory to support your study?
Talk to tutors on the course to see if anyone can help. Case Study 3 Researching the voluntary sector Time management and work planning Dissertations usually have a long lead in time so it is essential that you think about the various stages of work that need to be undertaken and get into good habits early on in the process, for example with keeping records of searches undertaken, ideas that crop up and material to be sought after and incorporated.
Your will need to allow time for the following: Personal Development Planning You will probably also be involved in Personal Development Planning PDP linked to Progress Files and you may want to link your dissertation work to your PDP as you will be using a diverse range of skills to complete the dissertation and you may be able to identify how you have progressed or acquired new skills or learning.
How to Write Your Best Dissertation: Step-by-Step Guide. Discuss few alternatives of the dissertation title with your mentor before you start writing the proposal. Structure of the dissertation proposal. If you want to make the proposal convincing, its format has to be clean and easy to follow.
The major myth in writing a dissertation is that you start writing at Chapter One and write straight through. This is seldom the case. The most productive approach in writing the dissertation is often to begin writing those parts of the dissertation with which you are most comfortable.
Guide to undergraduate dissertations in the social sciences. Content. About this site; How to start your dissertation 1 A key part of success in dissertation-writing is being organised and systematic in your approach and the earlier you can adopt this, the better. How to write your dissertation it's time to knuckle down and start writing. You need not necessarily start at the beginning – in fact, introductions are often easier to write .
Choose the type, level, urgency, and length to start off. Basically, dissertation writing is the culmination of your studying. That is why you have to be extremely attentive. Here, we will do our best to give you some tips on how to create an easy-to-defend dissertation by using your time and skills in the most effective way. Writing a dissertation can be one of the hardest tasks a university student has to accomplish – but it will come to an end. You might even come up with a new question and start working on it.