How will I ensure anonymity in any publications?
Choosing your dissertation theme and mode of enquiry
In deciding upon the theme and mode of enquiry for your dissertation, ensure that the topic, approach, method and scope of the enquiry demonstrate attainment of the module learning outcomes. It is expected that your dissertation will enable you to formulate an informed opinion in relation to your chosen topic, in the light of contemporary knowledge, enabling you to present an informed debate concerning the nature of practice in your specialist area and recommendations for changes or improvement in the practitioner role or service currently offered.
Your dissertation will, therefore, include a sizeable section in which you: evaluate current knowledge and understanding of the topic under enquiry; the context in which the service is currently being delivered; a critical analysis of implications in relation to your current role or service; followed by your recommendations for role development and improvements in service delivery.
Important questions to ask yourself in deciding on your topic and developing your dissertation proposal may be:
• What would I like to change about my current role / service?
• Why is this issue relevant to my practice area?
• What is already known about the issue?
• Is there a gap in knowledge about the issue?
• Can the role / service be provided in a better way?
• What is the empirical / experiential basis for that suggestion?
• How feasible might any recommendations for change be?
• What would be the best mode of enquiry to test my ideas?
• Is there any potential risk or harm to participants or myself; If so, what are the potential risks and what can you do to reduce them?
• In what format will the findings be presented e.g., research report
• How will I disseminate the findings? To whom?
• Are there any data protection issues that I need to address? How will I ensure anonymity in any publications?
• What kind of obstacles am I likely to encounter?
The topic and mode of enquiry that you decide to use will depend upon a number of factors; we do urge you to be pragmatic in your topic choice so that you are confident of the dissertations feasibility. You will need to address the following questions in deciding which approach to use:
• What is the nature of the research ‘problem
• What is the scope of my enquiry?
• What kind of evidence is available to me?
• What sources of evidence do I need to access?
• Can this be obtained in a reasonable timeframe?
• What difficulties am I likely to encounter?
• Will I have sufficient evidence upon which to base my recommendations?
Some topics may need to be rejected because information sources do not exist or you envisage problems gaining ethical approval or acquiring the evidence you need in the allotted timeframe. It is much better to acknowledge this at the beginning and identify achievable objectives for your study at an early stage. Your supervisor will assist you in doing this. Beyond this, there are no formal restrictions on your choice of topic. Your preliminary review of the literature will inform you regarding both the availability of sources and rationale for the study.
Presentation of your dissertation
Because of the wide variety of dissertation styles being presented, there is no single format recommended for their structure, but you should discuss this and be guided on the appropriate allocation of chapters, sections etc., by your supervisor. Given that you are restricted to a limit of 15,000 words, it is essential to consider the balance of the dissertation and the word count allocated to each chapter or section. The following may be used as a guide, but if in doubt please discuss your planned word allocation and the division of your work into appropriate chapters and sections, with your supervisor.
The dissertation should normally be written in the third person, avoiding references to “the author.” or “the researcher.” However, for qualitative research studies it is permissible to use the first person for parts of the dissertation.
Dissertation design and development