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Dissertations

Dissertation Question Time Videos These videos are extracts from a Dissertation Question Time where students submitted questions about their dissertation/project to a panel of postgraduate students, academic staff and an academic skills adviser. You can watch all 12 videos or select the video most appropriate to your needs. If you have any feedback or comments, please email ask@brunel.ac.uk 1. Introduction to the panel 2. What makes a good topic and how can I focus it to make it more manageable? 3. When should I choose my title? 4. How can I be original when my subject is already well-researched? 5. How should I structure and write my literature review? 6. Where can I get more advice on quantitative or qualitative research? 7. What is an appropriate style and structure for the dissertation? 8. How flexible are word counts? 9. How much feedback will I get from my supervisor? 10. Can you give me an Example of critical thinking and how we can demonstrate this? (1/2) 10. Can you give me an Example of critical thinking and how we can demonstrate this? (2/2) 11. What advice can you offer about academic writing during the dissertation? 12. How can I get the best marks in my dissertation? Dissertation Advice Posters We asked academic staff at Brunel about dissertation writing and designed posters based on their advice. Click on the thumbnails for a larger view. Do you have any tips about the dissertation that would help other students? Submit a tip via email or on our u-Link discussion board. There will be prizes for the best entries.

ASK, Brunel University Library, 2010

What makes a good dissertation topic?

Examiners may read numerous dissertations as part of their daily work and something a little out of the ordinary would grab their interest. Carry out a thorough search of your field during the early stages and look for gaps you could plug. Thinking laterally may help. Dr Michael Allen School of Sport and Education

Keep it simple, everything ends up being more complex than you think at the outset. Dr Cherry Kilbride School of Health Sciences and Social Care

A clear research question (not too general so that an aim cannot be achieved and not too narrow a focus so that it is without wider interest), written and presented to the highest standards Dr Edwin J Routledge Institute for the Environment

The acid test is whether this is something that will engage and interest you for the next few months. If you find it boring, so will your reader. Dr Sarah Niblock School of Arts

It is obvious when someone is doing a topic that means something to them it moves away from just an assignment that has to be done, to something they really want to investigate. It needs to be a burning question (rather than a slowly simmering one). Think about what is hot now and choose something topical and pertinent. Dr Meriel Norris School of Health Sciences and Social Care

www.brunel.ac.uk/library/ask ask@brunel.ac.uk

How do I get the best marks in my dissertation?


Read the guidelinesread them againand again, then make sure you are doing them all. Be clear, concise and be engaging in your writing. Catching the eye and interest of the marker is the key to selling your story. Dr Meriel Norris School of Health Sciences and Social Care

One of the best pieces of advice I have for dissertation writing comes from one of the Harry Potter books, where Albus Dumbledore says to Harry that it's not what he does that's important, but the decisions he makes. I see a dissertation as an account of decisions that have been made in research - explaining why you did what you did makes it a dissertation. Dr Wendy Bryant School of Health Sciences and Social Care

Cut out the excess fat; if it doesn't answer your research question, it doesn't belong in the dissertation! Dr Emmanuel Voyiakis School of Law

A C grade dissertation shows understanding of core theoretical concepts , whereas a B grade grounds these concepts and terms in a concrete example. What makes a dissertation an A is the ability to provide a nuanced and well-evidenced argument. It is also that indefinable X-factor! Dr Melissa Cole School of Information Systems, Computing and Mathematics

Nurture the relationship with your supervisor. This can mean the difference between pass and fail .
Dr Michael Allen School of Sport and Education

www.brunel.ac.uk/library/ask ask@brunel.ac.uk

ASK, Brunel University Library, 2010

Where can I find more help and ideas?


Online
Learn Higher Open University Study Skills Analyse This: Quantative and Qualitative Data Birmingham University, Dissertation Companion www.learnhigher.ac.uk openlearn.open.ac.uk www.learnhigher.ac.uk/analysethis/index.html www.socscidiss.bham.ac.uk/s1.html

Print
Judith Bell (2005) Doing Your Research Project. Maidenhead: OUP. Kjell Erik Rudestam (2001) Surviving your Dissertation. London: Sage. There are also several subject specific guides for dissertation writing. Do a catalogue search for dissertations and browse for your subject area. Workshops Check u-Link and online for details of upcoming ASK workshops on all aspects of dissertation writing.
www.brunel.ac.uk/library/ask ask@brunel.ac.uk

ASK, Brunel University Library, 2010