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PPR.399 Dissertation(Optional): Introduction. Mairi Levitt, Lancaster University. Outline. Course aims Why the dissertation is important Choosing a topic Supervision Working on the dissertation. Aims. Explore a topic in depth. Use skills and knowledge gained from other modules.

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ppr 399 dissertation optional introduction

PPR.399 Dissertation(Optional): Introduction

Mairi Levitt, Lancaster University

  • Course aims
  • Why the dissertation is important
  • Choosing a topic
  • Supervision
  • Working on the dissertation

Explore a topic in depth

Use skills and knowledge gained from other modules

Experience of independent work with the advice of a mentor

why important
Why important?
  • 1. Develops important skills
    • ability to analyse in-depth and work independently
    • skills in making arguments, presenting evidence and communicating complex ideas
    • transfer these skills to work and postgraduate studies
  • 2. You can choose the topic!
    • Can focus on something that interests you (but needs also to be manageable)
    • Enables you to work with an experienced member of staff
choosing a topic
Choosing a topic

Find an area

Propose a focused topic

Propose supervisors

Best to match your interest with possible supervisors

two things to keep in mind
Two things to keep in mind

It is usually sensible to choose a topic related to something you are doing or have done

It will also be good if you can match the interests of possible supervisors

just a long essay
Just a long essay?
  • The dissertation is something more than just a ‘long essay’
  • 1. Choose a fairly focused topic and show that you can analyse issues in detail
  • 2. For some dissertations, sources might go beyond academic books, articles and web search (some do fieldwork)
  • 3. Present ideas as linked chapters

(help available from student learning support from the faculty – Joanne.wood@lancaster.ac.uk)

  • Supervisors will provide 3 hours of supervision.
    • That allows for six 30-minute meetings.
  • Your supervisor will:
    • i. help you to focus your topic and work out a more precise title;
    • ii. give you advice on your plan of research and on appropriate reading
    • iii. comment on an outline plan for the dissertation of 1500 words (max)
    • iv. be available from time to time (by appointment) for consultation and advice.
  • But your supervisor will not read or comment on the completed draft of the dissertation prior to submission
ethics in research

Ethics in Research

Department of PPR

research ethics
Research ethics
  • Take personal responsibility for conducting the research and writing up the results– ‘do no harm’
  • Obtain informed consent from all participants
  • Give particular attention to vulnerable participants
  • Ensure confidentiality and anonymity of data
  • Do not undertake research without the necessary skills
  • Write up the findings with honesty and integrity
  • Consider feedback to participants
  • Remember you are representing the university!
what might empirical research add
What might empirical research add?
  • A case study to complement your literature review
  • Expert comment (e.g. theory vs practice)
  • Filling a gap you have identified in the literature
  • Support for your conclusions
  • Originality

But: Fieldwork of any kind is not a substitute for surveying the literature and understanding the relevant theoretical ideas and concepts.

examples of empirical research
Examples of empirical research
  • One or more interviews with ‘experts’
  • Focus groups
  • Emailed questionnaire
  • Questionnaire for a specific group in one location
  • Ethnography
  • Participant observation
research with human subjects
Research with human subjects
  • A PPR ethical approval form must be completed.
  • The form must be approved by your supervisor PRIOR to any data collection.
  • If you require a letter to confirm you have received ethical approval for the project this is issued by your supervisor

See University procedures for ethical approval at http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/resources/ethics/procedures.htm [more details at meeting on 13th March See dissertation handbook page 2 and page 6].

types of dissertation
Types of dissertation
  • PPR 399 The standard one!

Two new options currently going through the approvals process so NOT in the dissertation handbook.

  • PPR 394 Dissertation with external collaboration
  • PPR 393 Dissertation with field studies

If you are interested contact the convenor Astrid Nordin for details

working on the dissertation
Working on the dissertation
  • First meeting with supervisor no later than the end of the Summer term
  • Aim to get your topic finally agreed during the Summer term
  • Work on your dissertation during the Summer vacation, if possible, and during next Michaelmas and Lent terms.
  • Dissertation must be submitted by 17th March 2014 (last Monday of Lent term).

New dissertation modules

1000 word plan to be approved by end Summer term

what to do next
What to do next...
  • Next Thursday: Using library resources (Lorna Pimperton) 7th March 2013
  • Week 9: New dissertation modules: Employability aspects (Jo Burglass, FASS enterprise officer) and Mechanics of Writing a Dissertation 13th March
  • Start thinking about a topic
  • Start thinking about a possible supervisor (check the pamphlet)
  • Return forms to Helen Caton/Christine Bennett (B.40) no later than Wed 1st May 2013