A questioning approach to masters level dissertations
The following questions provide a logical structure for the dissertation:
What is the problem you are seeking to analyse and solve, at least in part? Why is it important?
How will you go about the inquiry process necessary to attain clarity of understanding? (Methodology).
• A review of a relevant literature! ?
• A research process which ennables you, for example, to understand how others see the problem!?
What are the conclusions from the literature and research which are relevant to the original problem, that is they ennable you to attain some further insights and conclusions?
How do the ideas which have been revealed relate to one another? How do they offer explanations? What conclusions and recommendations follow from your study of this problem? What are the limitations of your research and conclusions?
If you think about these questions they provide a sequence of chapters:
• Introduction to the problem and it’s context.
• Literature Review (inc a brief conclusion)
• Research and Findings (inc a brief conclusion)
• Interim conclusions: How the research qualifies /confirms/denies the literature.
• Conclusions and recommendations, including the limits of what I have done.
This gives you six chapters for 15,000 words. As much as you can realistically attain!
Above all you need to be patient with yourself. If you are then the answers will fall onto the page in a logical order from what you have. The more patient you are the more time you will create for yourself.
An alternative formulation:
It might be useful if you thought of the work as a sequence of questions:
• Why have I chosen this topic and what is it’s significance?
• How can I inquire into it within the scope and boundaries of the dissertation?
• What literature is relevant to the inquiry I am conducting and accessible?
• What methods of research are appropriate and how are they to be justified?
• How do the conclusions of the literature review and the research relate to one another?
• How will I relate ideas to ideas and ideas to evidence to create a valid explanation?
• What will be my conclusions and recommendations?
• What are the limits of the study: what is the study not inquiring into?
Assessment criteria as questions:
Have you set suitable objectives for your work: not too few or too many ?
Have you attained the objectives or explained why non-attainment has occurred?
Have you explained how you have undertaken the study ; why the literature used is appropriate and supported these explanations by reference to the literature on research?
Have you explained how the objectives have been achieved?
Is there a coherent argument through the work: that is both within and between the
Has full use been made of literature to support arguments?
Have the arguments, facts and opinions been clearly and correctly ascribed?
Is there good sentence structure with well formed paragraphs and good linking between paragraphs?
Does the work constitute a clear expression of the problem under study?
Are diagrams, figures, photographs and tables used appropriately in the context of
Is the content relevant to the topic?
Have you demonstrated understanding and insight into the issues?
Is the analysis in depth showing the use of concepts to explain practice; relating concepts to others, perceiving the implications of concepts and recognising assumptions implicit in the analysis?