Skip to main contentDissertation proposals & writing dissertationsThis book takes you through all the elements needed for a successful dissertation proposal and dissertation. The book explains the sections required for both proposal and dissertation, and offers helpful downloadable templates to assist with the presentation.

Site:Table of contentsGetting Started Writing both your dissertation proposal and your dissertation will utilise the skills you have developed throughout your course.

Many of these, such as Research, Critical Thinking and Referencing, have been covered elsewhere in the [email protected] Implemented and to set a time schedule so that the thesis could be Before writing the thesis proposal, a student should have already taken most of coursework Provide a sound theoretical framework of your study based on comprehensive..

This book will cover:writing and organising your dissertationpresenting your proposal and dissertation to the required specifications for submission. One useful book is Your Undergraduate Dissertation - The Esssential Guide for Success by Nicholas Walliman.

Chapter 6 goes through all the sections of a proposal and what's involved. TitleYou need a working title to focus on throughout your research.

It may be that you will improve on the wording later but make sure the title you begin with means something. Remember:Future employers may ask about the topic of your dissertation.

It might be worth thinking to the future in order to come up with something that will gain their interest. Which of the following would gain your interest if you were the manager of a web-based sales company?"Intranets and their use in advertising""Using Intranets to build a knowledge management system""How recent developments in Intranet technology can be used improve sales performance.

"IntroductionSet your ideas into a theoretical/academic context. Your statement should:Explain why you think this is worth investigatingDescribe the nature and purpose of your researchIndicate what you hope to achieve.

Remember:Some lecturers prefer students to weave their literature review into the introduction; others prefer it to be kept separate. If you are unable to complete your statement then you are not yet ready to begin.

Aims and objectivesWhat is the difference between an aim and an objective in an academic context?AimAims are statements of intent, written in broad terms. Aims set out what you hope to achieve at the end of the project.

ObjectiveA goal or a step on the way to meeting the aim; how you will achieve it. Objectives use specific statements which define measurable outcomes.

For example: what steps will you take to achieve the desired outcome?Objectives should be S. :Measureable –you will know when you have reached your goalAchievable – Don’t attempt too much.

A less ambitious but completed objective is better than an over-ambitious one that you cannot possible achieve. Realistic – do you have the necessary resources to achieve the objective? For example: time, money, skills, etc?Time constrained – determine when each stage needs to be completed.

Is there time in your schedule to allow for unexpected delays?Remember:Strong verbs:Weak verbs:How many aims or objectives should there be?There are no fixed number of aims or objectives.

How to write a research proposal

You will be required to produce sufficient objectives to be able to measure progress towards meeting the aim/s A research proposal is intended to convince others that you have a Provide the context and set the stage for your research question in such a way as to show Demonstrates your understanding of the theoretical and research issues related .

Remember:Objectives describe ExampleAim: To investigate the relationship between tectonic-plate movement and the gravitational effect of the alignment of the major planets.

Objectives:Data sets will be extracted from the known historical record of tectonic-plate movementData sets will be extracted from astronomical tables detailing the various alignments of the major planets covering the same period as data from the geological record. The data from both sets will be synthesised to establish if correlation points exist between major geological events and planetary alignments.

Methodologyexplain what methods you intend to use when researching and developing your report. It is important to explain what research methods you used to collect your info. Do not include your questionnaires, interview transcripts, etc.

Discuss with your project supervisor the extent and level of detail required; original research will obviously require a more detailed description than a project based solely on secondary research.

Example of a methodology statementThe following sample statements are intended to give a flavour of the approach one could take but they are not to be assumed to represent a complete methodology. Literature surveySecondary data will be reviewed initially through the university library using a range of information sources such as the OPAC system, academic and commercial abstracts, bibliographic databases, and Internet search engines.

To aid the search, a table of key terms will be constructed and the sources located will be correlated with this. A secondary cross-reference table will be developed so that data can be viewed from different perspectives.

Data collection and samplingTo test current practice against the historical record an on-line survey will be conducted to gather primary source data from companies currently engaged in the export of goods related to heavy engineering projects. The survey will collect quantitative data on the range of goods requiring an end-user licence.

A systematic yet random sample of companies will be drawn from members of the British Business Register. Data analysisAs the number of companies, engaged in the defined activity, has yet to be established the data analysis method has not yet been decided.

However, it is anticipated that a commercial spreadsheet package such as MS Excel would be suitable, although more sophisticated analysis software such as SPSS is available within the university’s IT centre should this be required. Remember:If someone else chooses to carry out the same or a very similar type of study, they should be able to understand and copy your methods from your descriptions.

For example:you may have too much material to cover so you will need to put some limits in place on the projectyou may not be able to conduct some research due to constraints imposed by time, cost or availability of materials. The literature survey will be as thorough as possible and will be complete by the time the dissertation is written up in full. However, one key area will require a number of visits to the British Library as some materials are not available on inter-library loan.

This section will be researched over the summer break as time permits. Whilst it is hoped to conduct some primary research in the USA during the summer of 2010, current restrictions on visa applications is causing some concern.

Should the USA research prove impossible to achieve, secondary research will be extended in order to provide an alternative means of analysis Writing both your dissertation proposal and your dissertation will utilise the skills you have Critical Thinking and Referencing, have been covered elsewhere in the [email protected] Set your ideas into a theoretical/academic context..

Whilst every endeavour will be made to present a global perspective, many original documents are written in languages other than English.

Obtaining technical translation of these documents may prove difficult due to financial constraints. Electronic translation software is not sufficiently advanced as to guarantee reliable results with this type of material and will not be employed.

ResourcesExample:The university’s library and IT facilities should prove adequate for the majority of the research and analysis required by this study. However, graphical representation of some of the data may require the use of specialist software such as Pro-graph, which is not currently available in university’s IT suite.

This will not affect publication of the results, however, as this service is provided locally by a commercial printing facility. TimetableBelow is a proposed timetable for your dissertation.

Your schedule should be designed to fit in with the university timetable/academic year and should take account of any deadlines set by your department. It should also be sufficiently detailed for your supervisor to identify any areas of weakness in order to provide you with appropriate guidance:Academic calendar week no.

This is a formatted Word document that you can overwrite with your report content. In the template above, simply delete sections which you are not required to write or move sections within the document by cutting and pasting.

Remember:When submitting any written work via turnitin you need to add an electronic cover sheet to your assignment. You can get a copy of this from your Unit page, or visit Successful Online Submission.

To see examples of past dissertations from Solent University students, please visit the archive below. Cover pageAll dissertations and theses submitted at Southampton Solent University must be bound and have an official cover page.

Notice that the cover page has a 'window' in it (a rectangular hole). Make sure that your title page has the required information positioned correctly so that it shows through the hole.

Figure 1: Example cover pageIn the template above, the title page is formatted correctly. Notice that the template title page shows through the picture of the cover.

Remember:Give yourself plenty of time to get your printing and binding done. Lots of other people will be submitting around the same time, so the printers are likely to be busier than usual.

AcknowledgementsThe acknowledgments is a paragraph which thanks everyone who has helped you whilst you have been researching and writing your may be your supervisor or any other academic staff who have provided guidance and support; other students or colleagues that you've collaborated with; interviewees; librarians; external bodies who have given you assistance. Not every dissertation/thesis has one but it is a good idea, if you are clear about who you should thank - don't just include one because you feel you ought to.

Do check previous students' papers in the library and talk to your supervisor about whether to include one. Figure 3: Example Acknowledgements page (from Solent Electronic Archive).

Remember:Acknowledgements usually come on the first page after the title page although some people put it after the abstract Our research generates discoveries, many of which have profound social, an introduction to the proposal, identifying the subject for research in terms of theoretical the potential to design a research study to address a specific set of issues..

AbstractThe Abstract is a summarised version of your complete paper. A reader could get the main ideas from just the abstract, or use the abstract to decide whether to read the rest of the paper.

Every dissertation/thesis does have an Abstract although it may be called a 'summary'. Remember to:Briefly outline the results and the conclusions you have reached.

Figure 4: Example abstract page (from Solent Electronic Archive). Remember:Contents pageA dissertation or a thesis is an extended piece of writing.

To help your reader find information easily, you must include a Contents page. Figure 5: Example contents pageUsually, the Contents page will come after the Acknowledgements and Abstract, and before the List of figures (if you have one) and the Introduction.

Notice that everything leading up to the Introduction does not have to be numbered here. If you do number the pages, the numbering would be in Roman numerals.

Remember:Be very careful when making your final draft that all of the page numbers given in the Contents are correct. List of figures or illustrationsYou will need to include a List of figures, a List of illustrations or even both if your dissertation has the following items:tables or chartsThis page should:list the name of each figure or illustration, included in the body of your dissertation or thesis.

It should give the number of the page that it appears on. give a descriptive title (not 'Figure 1', 'Table 1' etc.

Figure 6: Example of a list of tables/figures pageRemember: You do not need to give reference details here.

Include these in a citation next to the figure itself and in your Reference List or Bibliography. what's the difference?If you are doing a design or fine arts subject, it is likely that you will include photographs, drawings, paintings or illustrations in your dissertations. These would normally be included in your List of illustrations.

In other subjects, it is common to include all tables, charts, graphs, photographs, drawings, etc. However, if you have a great deal of information presented in tables, it may be best to have a both a List of tables and a List of figures (everything that's not a table). When labelling, number these separately (Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, Figure 2, etc.

Remember: The List of illustrations is positioned after the Contents page (on a separate page) and before the Introduction This set of guidelines is intended as a basic outline to help masters and doctoral students get started on their thesis/research essay proposals. There is a Catch-22 character to research proposals because students cannot be expected to answer all the b) Theoretical works that are pertinent to your research question..

Check what is the normal practice in your discipline. Main body - introductionThe introduction serves as an expansion of your title and is included in every dissertation.

The introduction:uses a descriptive writing stylegives a bit more detail about the problem or question you are tackling in the papermakes a very clear statement of your purpose – Why did you carry out the research? Why are you writing this dissertation?indicates the scope of your research. outlines the sections to be includedgives a very brief statement of the background to the topic.

can define any key terms which need clarfying in order to understand the content. Remember:When numbering the pages, start at 1 on the introduction.

Main body - literature surveyA Literature Surveyis positioned after the introduction and before the methodologydescribes the existing and established theory and research in your report area. can show where you are filling a perceived gap in the existing theory or knowledgecan propose something that goes against or is controversial to existing ideas. accurately references all sources mentioned and gives a full citation in the Reference List.

Remember:The Literature Survey is not in every dissertation. Sometimes the literature survey can be embedded in the main body of your writing.

Check whether to include this seperately or not with your department or tutor. Main body - methodologyThe general idea is that, should someone else choose to carry out the same or a very similar type of study, they should be able to understand and copy your methods from your descriptions.

Your thesis or dissertation will involve a large body of research so it is important to explain what research methods you used to collect your information. The Methodology:is positioned after the introduction (and Literature survey if one is included)explains the methods used in researching and developing your report.

Remember:Main body - resultsuses a descriptive writing approach in an objective and factual way. is positioned after the Introduction (Literature survey and Methodology if these included), directly before the Discussion section.

describes everything discovered through your research. gives all of the results, but only the results of your research activities.

can include tables, graphs or illustrations here to make it easier for the reader to understand the data. Remember:Main body - discussionis positioned after the Results section.

interprets your own understanding of what the results of your research show. contextualises your ideas in relation to other theories and with other similar research, particularly in reference to the works mentioned in your literature survey. Remember:All of this discussion must be framed within the purpose you stated in your title and introduction.

Do not draw out your conclusions here, but open up the discussion of possibilities.

Theory the proposal's theoretical section occupies a critical, but

If the dissertation provides information on an area for which future decisions will need to be made, then you should include recommendations on what decisions to make 24 Jan 2010 - Is your research relevant to research/practice/theory in your field? as the study period gets longer, you need to make sure that you keep in A skill that helps in curtailing the reading is: knowing where to set boundaries. For..

The recommendations:is positioned after the Conclusionmust be cross referenced to the part of the paper that gives evidence for them.

each recommendation should be numbered separately. Main body - conclusionuses an evaluative and possibly argumentative approach. Consider the following questions:What, in your conclusion, did your research show in relation to your aims?Did you meet your aims, go beyond them, or in fact fail to reach your aims?Did you prove your own hypothesis or disprove it?Remember:Do not go back to a longwinded explanation of your results but instead give a brief and clear statement of what these results show. Reference List/BibliographySome dissertations have a reference list, some have a bibliography, some have both.

Ask your supervisor, and look at past papers in your subject to find out which one to use. Figure 7: Example references pageA Reference list:gives the detailed references for all source materials used in your paper.

includes anything quoted, paraphrased or referred to that was written or stated by someone other than yourself . A Bibliography:gives the detailed references for all source materials you have read.

lists anything looked at in your researchTip:AppendicesAn appendix normally includes research related material that does not fit easily or suitably in the body of the paper:survey questionnairesinterview transcriptssupplementary data which adds useful information or insight but is not essential to the understanding of the paperAn Appendix:is numbered and titled Figure 8: Example appendices pageRemember: For each Appendix, start on a new page. What a dissertation should look likeThe following pages give you advice on:how to format and present a title pagenumbering sections and figuresWatch this short video for a student's perspective:Remember:The advice on this site is general.

Always check the specific requirements of your School or department. Ask if they can provide you with dissertation writing guidelines.

To see examples of past dissertations from Solent University students, please visit the archive below. Title pageAs your dissertation is a larger piece of writing you should have a title page.

Your School should provide you with a standard Solent University dissertation cover. This has a rectangular hole or ‘window’ through which it should be possible to read the following details from the title page:The award for which the project is submittedThe academic year of submissionThe name of the authorThe title of the workPosition the window carefully in the centre of the page.

You could either create a moveable text box on the page in order to do that, or use our template which has the window positioned correctly. Other information that may appear on the title page but outside of the window space may include:Southampton Solent UniversityThe name of your supervisorThe date of presentationRemember: Plan your work carefully so you have plenty of time to get these last details right.

Work backwards from your deadline and leave yourself a few days to print and bind. Everyone else will be too!Numbering sections and figuresGood academic writing is about ease of understanding.

Numbering the sections makes it easy to know where you are in the dissertation at any one time. It also means that your reader can use the contents page to find any particular part of the text they are interested in.

Numbering sections in your dissertationGive all major sections a consecutive number using Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.

2 QuestionnairesContinue to add sub-sub sections by increasing the number of decimal points Institute of International Studies' Online Dissertation Proposal Workshop: paradoxes pull the reader into the proposal and set up a situation whereby the research will have to be overly simplistic; but save your theoretical gymnastics and .

Avoid doing this excessively as you may make the structure too complicated. Numbering figures, tables and illustrations Label and format correctly any figures or tables that you use in your dissertation:Number figures and tables separatelyNumber them consecutively, using Arabic numbers (e.

) in the order that they appear in the textEach figure or table should have a titleFor example:Figure 10: Example of a tableCheck very carefully that the numbering and page numbering are all correct in your list of tables and figuresAlways provide a source for any figure or table that was not created by you, and give a full citation for the source in your reference listRemember:For example: illustrations in a design dissertation has 'figures’. If including a figure or table, refer to it in the body of your paper at the point where it appears.

the sequence of appendices should be given using capital letters of the alphabet (A, B, C, etc. list them by their letter in the contents page give each appendix a heading in the form ‘Appendix A’, ‘Appendix B’, etc. For example:Line spacingIndents or breaksSet your spacing at 12pt after a line. 5 inches) should be left free of text at the top and bottom of each page.

Section headingsThe numbering should be the same as given in your contents page. Make sure you are consistent in your numbering of headings and sub-headings.

Remember: There may be some variation in your department’s requirements. For example: some departments may want you to indent as well as leaving a line space.

Check with your supervisor or your department’s guidelines. PresentationTry and follow the presentation points below:Use white A4 paper of a reasonable thickness (not too thin and not thick like card)Single sided (print on one side of the paper only)Bind and cover your paper – plastic comb binding is the most common wayuse the standard Solent University front and back cover that has window in the front to show the assignment detailsLook at the example title page above.

It has the dissertation details in the correct place to appear through the cover window. Remember:If your dissertation is in any way different to the normal format (as, for example, some design dissertations may be), consult your supervisor for correct presentation.

BindingProfessional bindingFor advice and guidance, email the university's Print Centre at @ or visit the collection desk, on the lower floor of Mountbatten Library Start their research, even if they don't have to write a proposal at all. 1.1 Different The following checklist contains one set of general questions, and five sets of specific What is the problem, question, hypothesis, theory to be tested, etc..

Online orders including posters, dissertations and a wide range of printing, finishing and binding options can also be placed using this Canon Print Centre link.

What type of binding should you use?First of all, check the expectations of your department. How important do you view this paper you are handing in? If it’s really important, then surely it’s worth the cost of having it professionally bound.

No matter how well bound your dissertation is, the content is the most vital part. Dissertation proposals & dissertation checklistFront cover:What is required? If in doubt check with your supervisor but as a minimum you should include: Your nameHave you checked the word count?Have you checked the layout? (Does your faculty have any specific requirements e.

numbered sections/paragraphs?)Avoiding plagiarismPlagiarism is taking the words, theories, creations or ideas of another person and passing them off as your own.

deliberate – copying a passage from a book or journal or pasting something from the internet into an assignment without referencing the original source. You can also commit inadvertent plagiarism which is where you unintentionally repeat some of the information you have read in the course of your research.

You must ensure you do reference ALL material that comes from another source so question yourself as to whether you have read the information elsewhere and go back to your sources to locate the reference. Plagiarism can also result from not referencing correctly.

You must ensure you know how to reference your work using the style advised by your tutor. Watch this video to find out more about avoiding plagiarism:ConsequencesPlagiarism is a serious issue that can result in failing an assignment, failing the year or even having to leave the course.

All forms of plagiarism will be taken seriously - deliberate or not!Plagiarism is a form of academic misconduct. Southampton Solent University has clear guidelines on student academic conduct and procedures for dealing with academic misconduct.

Make sure you are familiar with these by looking at the links on this webpage:To avoid plagiarism, make sure you include references within your assignment to all sources you use and then include full details of all the sources in a reference list at the end of your work. To find out more, download the Avoiding plagiarism summary below.

Test your understanding of what plagiarism is by clicking on the links below.