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Dissertation Workshop 1 Essay Writing/Dissertation Planning John Solomos Department of Sociology.

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Presentation on theme: "Dissertation Workshop 1 Essay Writing/Dissertation Planning John Solomos Department of Sociology."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dissertation Workshop 1 Essay Writing/Dissertation Planning John Solomos Department of Sociology

2 Today… Issues about essay writing –Expectations –Style –Presentation Dissertation –Planning your dissertation –Choosing your topic –Preparing the review of literature and research

3 Deadlines… Essays –6 th January 2014, Term 1 –28 th April 2014, Term 2 Dissertation –1 st September 2014, Submit Dissertation

4 Writing for social science Becker, H. S. (1986). Writing for Social Scientists: How to Start and Finish Your Thesis, Book, or Article. Chicago: University of Chicago Press Becker, H. S. (1998). Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about Your Research While You're Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press

5 Writing essays Becker’s (1986) account of how to write in the social sciences highlights two interlinked processes –Talking through, discussing your ideas as you are writing; clarifying ideas before writing them down –Producing rough drafts, reworking them and clarifying what you want to say, how to express your key arguments Ability to learn how to express complex ideas without too much jargon

6 Learning processes Discussions with supervisors, fellow students, Attending conferences, going to seminars, reading other papers ‘Socialisation into the academic culture of their subdiscipline’ Adopting a specific approach, linked to supervisors or other significant scholars Adopting specific theoretical languages, turns of phase

7 Talk about your essays Important to plan, talk about your essays Write a draft outline and discuss with your lecturers Read around the topic and don’t rely too much on limited sources Work on your style of writing, have a structure for essays

8 Any questions? Do you have any questions about essays? –Expectations we have about essays –How we mark essays –Feedback on your essays

9 Preparing for your dissertation Don’t rush into it Read (what grabs your attention/makes you angry/raises more questions) Think about a topic on one of your modules that interested you Work-related issue Be flexible

10 Thinking about your dissertation Once you find a dissertation topic think about –Methods –Access –Ethics –New phenomenon What do you want to contribute by researching this topic?

11 Choose something you want to do Not too big and not too small… Answerable Feasible Go back to why a topic interests you (a good place to find questions) Read, read, read… See dissertation as a work in progress Keep a research diary

12 Some questions Does the methodology match the question? What kind of data will it produce? Is it feasible? Is it practical? Is it ethical? Do I have the necessary skills?

13 Choosing your research topic Term 2 – discuss dissertation ideas with Programme Director End of Term 2 – submit form with provisional title/topic (used as a basis for assigning appropriate supervisors) Beginning of Term 3 – students informed of their assigned supervisor Students are responsible for initiating contact with supervisors

14 Look at examples Look at past examples –Scope –Structure –Aims and objectives –Questions Selection of high-graded dissertations available to borrow

15 Work on your writing Writing and presenting drafts of your research Important to search for a writing style that suits both you and your research topic Need to write all the time, day by day as you do your dissertation, in order to improve and redefine your style to suit you

16 Use supervision Confirm preferred arrangements for communication – e-mail/office hours separately arranged appointments… Agree a timetable (e.g. meetings, handing in draft chapters etc) Clarify unavailable periods – time away? Especially busy periods? Arrange supervision sessions before the end of July

17 Some steps… Read the handbook – it has a long section specifically on the dissertations. Identify key dates –Second workshop – Monday 3 rd March 2014, 1-3pm, –Submit form stating provisional title/research area – Thursday 13 th March 2014 –Submit research ethics form –Thursday 8 th May 2014 –Submit dissertation–1 st September 2014

18 Structure of dissertation Abstract (topic, method, key findings – c.200) Introduction – why the research is important; key findings (c.1000-1500) Literature review – existing research; conceptual framework. Theoretical and empirical context (c. 3000) Methodology – what you did (and why you did it); ethical issues; connections to theoretical approach; research questions (c. 1000) Empirical chapter(s) Conclusions (c.1000) Bibliography

19 Length of dissertation 15,000 words, excluding title, abstract, bibliography, appendices, footnotes and endnotes (within reasonable use). Penalties: –1-500 words over = 3 marks deducted –501-1000 words over = 6 marks deducted –As so on in 500 word increments Thorough editing makes writing better

20 Think about Plagiarism Running out of time: –Starting too late –Poor planning Map out aims and objects on calendar Build in time for reviewing / revising –Technology –Submission deadline is the last possible time you can submit, not the only day you can submit!

21 Value your dissertation Self-directed study – what you want to do Chance to work closely with experienced researchers Develop your skills through practice Conduct a sustained piece of research Develop expertise in a particular topic Lay groundwork for further study (PhD…)

22 Next… Monday 3 rd March, Room SO.11, 1.00-3.00 Developing your topic further Theory-based dissertations Consideration of ethical dilemmas Considering PhD research Any others areas you would like us to cover….

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