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Postgraduate Study & Research Methods COMM50 Planning the Dissertation.

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Presentation on theme: "Postgraduate Study & Research Methods COMM50 Planning the Dissertation."— Presentation transcript:

1 Postgraduate Study & Research Methods COMM50 Planning the Dissertation

2 What is a MSc Dissertation? Culmination of masters level study Student led A substantial piece of individual work 60 Masters credits ≈ 600 hours of study Standard Dissertation Academic investigation Development of artefact / product Research Dissertation Hypothesis-led Production of research findings

3 What does a Dissertation involve? Applying a range of methods and understanding gained from the taught part of your studies A deep, concentrated literature review of the chosen subject specialism Demonstrating a high-level of knowledge in computer networks Exhibiting technical and/or research skills Showing originality

4 Submission Stages Final dissertation proposal Refined after iterations ~ 4 to 6 pages / 1000 words Academic paper / Interim report Detail progress, work done so far, early results, what else is to be done, timing,…. Submission of final Dissertation Your complete piece of work Defines questions, methods & answers 15,000 – 20,000 words (guide)

5 Selecting a Dissertation topic Tutor proposed topic Defined topics / investigations Student proposed topic Must be suitably challenging Can be resourced & supervised Start early You should have an idea of your topic now A topic of interest is key Enjoy it – you have to live with it!

6 MSc Dissertation Proposal First steps of the dissertation research Part of the research cycle Previous workYour work You review the literature to establish what has been done before by others You look for an opportunity to make a contribution You identify research approach You conduct your research You report your results You relate your findings to what has been done before * Diagram from Dr. Hazel Hall, Napier University

7 Purpose of the Proposal To clarify your ideas to convince yourself that it’s worthwhile To present your ideas for approval to convince someone else that it’s worthwhile The process may be iterative the first version is not the last discuss with a prospective supervisor maybe consider two ideas at first Every proposal must be approved

8 Structure of the Proposal Some variation is acceptable, but roughly: Title Requested supervisor(s) Introduction Research question/hypothesis Methods Ethical issues Timetable Resources required References

9 Style of the Proposal Formal … of course (academic piece of writing) … but readable supervisors are not quite like journal referees – they will be interested but not necessarily experts in that particular field so be sure to introduce and explain any concepts that aren’t obvious

10 Title Enough to be descriptive but not overlong one or two lines Example bad: “Network Security” good: “The Effects of Internet Security Threats on the Financial Services Industry” bad: “An Investigation into … which considers … and … then … attempts to discover … which … suggests that … in conclusion”

11 Requested supervisor Staff proposed topic or your own topic idea? Staff expertise plays large role Discuss ideas with staff However, logistics may not allow everyone to be allocated their requested supervisor

12 Introduction Describe the Problem, Issue or Topic recent/relevant background and brief literature review put your proposed work in context use good references Explain the value of your proposed work why is it worthwhile? Explain why your proposed work is timely why now? up to two pages

13 Research Question/Hypothesis This is the core of dissertation work The dissertation provides answers & responses Narrow scope of question to reduce ambiguity in your work & answers (Formally) state the purpose of the proposed work use aims and/or hypotheses one paragraph … … or bullet points

14 Methods One or two pages How will your work address the research question/hypothesis? design issues data gathering sampling techniques tools and equipment development evaluation and testing

15 Ethical Issues up to one page consider the impact of the study & methods specific issues may include: security privacy research methodology user involvement & testing

16 Timetable Guide to progression of dissertation one chart/table broken down into weeks identify milestones/checkpoints Gantt chart Careful planning essential Make sure you stick to the timetable Be realistic!

17 Resources Needed Show that you understand the requirements of your work things you need but may not have Where appropriate, estimate costs of equipment Identify where experience will come from proposed supervisor things your supervisor can’t provide … who else?

18 References IEEE or Harvard simple as that!

19 Further reading Hart, C. (2004), Doing Your Masters Dissertation (Essential Study Skills), SAGE Publications Ltd. Madsen, D.L. (2005), Researching Information Systems and Computing, SAGE Publications Ltd. Oates, B.J. (1991), Successful Dissertations and Theses: A Guide to Graduate Student Research from Proposal to Completion, 2nd Edition, Jossey Bass Wiley. Cottrell, S. (2005), Critical Thinking Skills: Developing Effective Analysis and Argument, Palgrave Macmillan.

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