Skip Nav

Structure of a Library-based Dissertation

Methodologies1

❶The bibliography cites 33 sources.

how to write theoretical dissertation

You are here
Freshers homepage
Chat forums

But even if your dissertation is more empirically focused, it could still be entirely literature-based. You might choose to conduct a review of a field of work. What does the research literature in this field tell us about x? While all dissertations will include a literature review, it is possible to produce a dissertation that is entirely based on a review of the literature. If you do this, it is important to review the literature from an explicit angle and identify some themes to make the review distinctive.

You might, for example, explore empirical debates in your chosen field across different countries or time periods. Whilst it is possible for dissertations to be entirely literature-based, the most common form of dissertation takes the form of a case study.

Here the focus of attention is on a particular community, organisation or set of documents. The attraction of this kind of dissertation is that it stems from empirical curiosity but is at the same time practical. You may be interested in a wider question but a case study enables you to focus on a specific example.

A major challenge in case study dissertations is connecting your own primary research or re-analysis with the broader theoretical themes and empirical concerns of the existing literature.

Most dissertations demand either primary or secondary research. In other words, you usually have to analyse data that you have either collected yourself or data that is already available. The reason for this is that the questions dissertations usually address take the following form: Why is x happening? Why is x changing?

These questions demand primary or secondary analysis of data. Case Study 9Think hard before you decide to undertake empirical research: Secondary analysis is when you analyse data which was collected by another researcher. It allows the researcher to explore areas of interest without having to go through the process of collecting data themselves in the field. The problem with using fieldwork methods in an undergraduate dissertation, however, is that they are costly in terms of time which is relatively scarce in your final year!

You may choose, therefore, to undertake secondary research, analysing existing data. There are a range of documents that already contain research data that you can analyse. You may, for example, be interested in exploring whether gender stereotypes in the media are changing. This might entail content analysis of newspapers, magazines, video or other media over different time periods. Here you would not be collecting your own data but instead would be analysing existing documents.

If you are interested, for example, in doing historical research, you may need to visit archives. Government reports and autobiographies may also be used as data. Other documents include official statistics, datasets statistical data , and banks of interview transcripts which are all freely available to the academic community.

Increasingly, documents, databases and archives are readily accessible online. Research Methods tutors on your course will be able to advise on the availability and accessibility of such data sets. There are some advantages of doing secondary analysis, particularly if you are doing a quantitative study. You will be able to work with much larger datasets than you could have collected yourself.

This has the following advantages:. Quantitative data may also result from non-participant observations or other measurements e. Also, sometimes data that are collected through qualitative processes participant observation, interviews are coded and quantified.

Your research methods tutor can give you further information on these types of data, but here are some common quantitative data collection methods and their definitions:. A series of questions that the respondent answers on their own. Self-completion questionnaires are good for collecting data on relatively simple topics, and for gaining a general overview of an issue.

Questionnaires need to have clear questions, an easy to follow design, and not be too long. Similar to a self-completion questionnaire, except that the questions that are asked by an interviewer to the interviewee.

The same questions are read out in the same way to all respondents. There will typically be a fixed choice of answers for the respondents. Watching people and recording systematically their behaviour. Prior to the observation, an observation schedule will be produced which details what exactly the researcher should look for and how those observations should be recorded.

If you are conducting a qualitative analysis you are likely to wish to use at least some original material. This may be collected through in-depth interviews, participant observation recordings and fieldnotes, non-participant observation, or some combination of these.

Below are some data collection methods that you might want to use for your dissertation:. A way of asking questions which allows the interviewee to have more control of the interview.

A form of interviewing where there are several participants; there is an emphasis in the questioning on a tightly defined topic; the accent is on interaction within the group and the joint construction of meaning. The moderator tries to provide a relatively free rein to the discussion.

This involves studying people in naturally occurring settings. The researcher participates directly in the setting and collects data in a systematic manner.

The researcher will observe behaviour, listen to conversations, and ask questions. Spend some time looking at general books about research — they will give you an overview of the data collection methods available and help you to make the best choice for your project. Bryman would be a useful starting point. For any piece of research you conduct, be it empirically based quantitative or qualitative or library based, its methods must be justified.

You need to show in the final dissertation how you have given consideration to different methods, and why you have chosen and eliminated these. Often in early supervision meetings they ask students to justify their reasons for choosing a library-based or an empirical study.

Todd, Smith and Bannister , p This was particularly useful for one of our respondents:. With other essays you can rush them if you have to. Todd, Bannister and Clegg, , p My reasons for data collection is literature based as my research question involved sensitive subjects which would have been unsuitable for primary data collection. Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University. Todd, Bannister and Clegg, , p ….

My reasons for data collection is literature based as my research question involved sensitive subjects which would have been unsuitable for primary data collection. Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University I chose primary data because it would enable me to build skills that would be useful for postgraduate study. Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University It will involve primary data, secondary data, quantitative and qualitative research methods, lit reviews, theory and policy studies and an exploration of alternatives.

My dissertation is to be based around the experience of 'poverty', as poverty is the experience. Theories and policies are not. However, to do justice to the subject, theories and policies will be included so Iam able to demonstrate where failures in the system may exist.

Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University. Research must be conducted in a sensible and ethical manner; data must be analysed and presented in a rational manner. It is important that students do not expose themselves or others to dangers or risks when conducting research. Students need the approval of their dissertation supervisor before embarking on any type of fieldwork see the section on Research Ethics for more information.

In general, deductive research is theory-testing and inductive research is theory-generating. Often people link deductive research with quantitative experiments or surveys, and inductive research with qualitative interviews or ethnographic work. These links are not hard and fast — for instance, experimental research, designed to test a particular theory through developing a hypothesis and creating an experimental design, may use quantitative or qualitative data or a combination.

If your research starts with a theory and is driven by hypotheses that you are testing e. However much research combines deductive and inductive elements. Research design is vital to conducting a good piece of work. At the start of your research you need to set down clearly:. You and your supervisor will discuss your design and decide whether the research is 'do-able'. Your university may require you to produce a report e. Other people may have to look at the design to ascertain whether there are ethical issues that affect your research.

Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches. Researching society and culture. London, Sage Here are some references for specific methods: Interviewing for social scientists: Questionnaire Design, Interviewing and Attitude Measurement.

Identifying a research topic: A template for structured observation: Guide to undergraduate dissertations in the social sciences.

Content About this site What is a Dissertation? How to start your dissertation Help with finding literature and research Formulating the research question Methodologies. Introduction What approach should I take - qualitative or quantitative? Can my dissertation be entirely literature-based? What is case study research? What's an empirical study? What is secondary analysis?

Where do I find existing research data? Collecting you own data - primary research Will my research be inductive or deductive? What about research design? Resources Further reading Research papers. Methodologies 1 Introduction The way you approach your question will have a profound effect upon the way you construct your dissertation, so this section discusses the types of research you might undertake for your dissertation. This video clip contains comments from the following academics: What if I want to find out about social trends, or the measurable effects of particular policies?

What if I want to record people's views on an issue, and give them a 'voice'? Whether you choose qualitative or quantitative analysis will depend on several things: Your preferred philosophical approach realist, phenomenologist or constructionist. Your skills and abilities with methods of data collection if needed and analysis. The topic or issue you are interested in. How you frame your research question. Can I combine qualitative and quantitative methods?

You may be interested in doing an analysis that is primarily quantitative, looking at social trends, or policy implications. However you also want to introduce a 'human touch' by conducting one or several interviews asking what these trends mean to people or how particular individuals experience events.

After doing your quantitative analysis, you should include a chapter or section on the qualitative data you have collected. In your discussion of findings you can use the qualitative data to help you understand the patterns in the quantitative analysis.

You may be interested in doing an evaluative case study of a process or policy. You will have a particular focus — a 'case' that you are looking at. You will triangulate methods — i. You will analyse each type of data and describe this, and then write a discussion that shows how each piece of analysis contributes to the overall picture of what is going on. Download Case Study 6 Media research If you are interested, for example, in doing historical research, you may need to visit archives.

This has the following advantages: They allow you to discuss trends and social changes. The data are often collected through a random sample, which allows you to generalise to the population under consideration.

They may also allow you to make comparisons over time, as some datasets are products of longitudinal studies. Smaller, more targeted datasets may also be available. Secondary analysis has disadvantages also: You have to find out something about that purpose, as well as the methods of collection, in order to justify your use of a secondary dataset. Collecting you own data - primary research Quantitative data may also result from non-participant observations or other measurements e.

Your research methods tutor can give you further information on these types of data, but here are some common quantitative data collection methods and their definitions: Self-completion questionnaires A series of questions that the respondent answers on their own. Structured interviews Similar to a self-completion questionnaire, except that the questions that are asked by an interviewer to the interviewee.

Structured observation Watching people and recording systematically their behaviour. Below are some data collection methods that you might want to use for your dissertation: In-depth interviews A way of asking questions which allows the interviewee to have more control of the interview. Focus groups A form of interviewing where there are several participants; there is an emphasis in the questioning on a tightly defined topic; the accent is on interaction within the group and the joint construction of meaning.

Participant observation This involves studying people in naturally occurring settings. This was particularly useful for one of our respondents: Level 6 students at Sheffield Hallam University Note: Will my research be inductive or deductive? What's all this about research design? At the start of your research you need to set down clearly: Your research focus and research question.

How you propose to examine the topic: How you will access these sources of information be they people, existing datasets, biographical accounts, media articles or websites, official records. The proposed outcome of this research in your case, a dissertation and the form it will take.

A time-frame for all this. Summary Quantitative or qualitative? A quantitative approach will mean you will need substantial datasets, as well as the inclusion of tables and statistics in your final submission. This information could come from a variety of sources - remember to acknowledge them! A qualitative approach will probably mean conducting interviews or focus groups or observing behaviour.

Ask yourself if you are prepared to do this, and think about the best way of getting the answers you want from people. Will you stop people in the street? Will you conduct telephone interviews? Will you send out survey forms and hope that people return them?

Will you be a participant or non participant observer? Deductive research is theory-testing, which is often linked to datasets, surveys or quantitative analysis.

Inductive research is theory-generating, and is often linked to qualitative interviews. An empirical study could involve close analysis of statistics or some form of qualitative research. However, a theoretical study brings its own challenges, and you may be called upon to compare theories in terms of their applicability.

Once you have decided upon your approach, you can write out a research design, i. Now look a little at the research methods that you have studied. How would you best be able to collect that data? Again, consider time and feasibility of the exercise. The ability to manage your time will be directly related to your ability to control the boundaries of the study — especially if it is closely linked to your workplace.

Now that you have got so far, try to write up your research proposal as far as you can. Make sure that you identify where your proposal needs further work and, at the same time, where you will have to put your maximum effort. It may be helpful to draw a critical path so that you are clear which actions you need to take and in what sequence. You will find it helpful to plot your research questions on the chart on the next page and ensure that your plans for collecting data really answer the question as well as avoiding ethical problems.

At this stage you must be really ruthless with yourself. How viable is it? What are the threats to the study?

Student's Log In

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

In a library-based dissertation, the literature review process also identifies secondary data sources. These can be for example sources of ‘raw’ data such as government statistics, or sources of summarised and analysed data in the form of case studies.

Privacy FAQs

Literature based research methodology hasoften been referred to in many texts as: literature reviewTo some extent this is true but the problem is that as such it has blurred the understanding between literature review as a methodology in its own right and its utilisation in the process of empirical research.

About Our Ads

A 73 page paper discussing risk management and its effects on profitability in the airline industry. The paper is a dissertation proposal, providing a brief literature review; discussion of the literature review method of study; qualitative analysis; and a plan for assessment of the information gained from the literature review-based study. While all dissertations will include a literature review, it is possible to produce a dissertation that is entirely based on a review of the literature. If you do this, it is important to review the literature from an explicit angle and .

Cookie Info

This 18 page paper is a proposal, literature review and methodology with a pilot study for a dissertation looking at the impact of substance abuse, such as drug addiction or alcohol abuse, on parenting, specifically the way in which substance abuse can impair parent - child communications directly and indirectly. Literature based dissertation books pdf September 13, By Suppose i should get started on the history essay. what i nightmare, 12 paragraphs about the acts that made britain democratic.