Dissertation tips: research resources
(Last updated: 3 December 2018)
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Research is a major part of the process of writing your dissertation and the material it provides you with will often form the main body and critical turning points of your final dissertation structure. It is therefore extremely important to be aware of the vast variety of dissertation research resources available to the modern student and to make the best possible use of them, in order to provide yourself with top-quality research and findings to enrich your dissertation writing.
This article should inspire and inform, and aims to make you aware of the vast range of choices and dissertation research resources you have at your fingertips. Be sure to use them for an outstanding, top-class dissertation.
Libraries are the most obvious choice for most researchers, but students often fail to take advantage of their full resources. Instead of just searching in the relevant section to your subject or dissertation topic, use the library catalogue (these are now almost always electronic) to search for key terms and relevant or related ideas.
You may be surprised to find how diverse and broad the range of available materials might be, in sections you wouldn’t have dreamed of looking in.
Don’t be afraid to talk to the librarian and ask for their advice – many libraries have resources not obviously available, such as rare book rooms or rolling stacks, which may provide you with a whole new wealth of resources for your dissertation writing.
Journals are a very useful, often underrated source of research, providing pertinent information on the development of debate, critical opinion and scientific theory. The full back-catalogue of editions of many journals is now available online, and hard copies of entire journal series are held by many libraries.
Including journal research in your masters dissertation writing is a successful way to enhance the academic depth of your dissertation structure as well as showing an awareness of the critical context and setting of your work.
The web can be an invaluable resource for dissertation research but do beware of unreliable sites and unauthenticated information. Sites such as Wikipedia, for example, may sound convincing, but are written by the public and are not moderated, so it is best to avoid including research from them in your dissertation.
When using the Internet for research, always remember to keep a record of the website addresses you have visited and the date you visited them, for inclusion in your dissertation bibliography.
Past students' dissertations
A collection of these is often kept at the college or university library to allow current dissertation writers to refer to them. They can be extremely helpful when you are writing your dissertation as they provide excellent examples of dissertation structure and format and the sort of style that has been successful in the past.
Do look at a dissertation example in your subject or field to get a feel for the type of work your examiner will be looking for.
Film, tapes and interviews
When researching and writing their dissertation or masters dissertation, many students fall into the trap of considering only written resources such as books and texts that might be found in a library.
Some of the most exciting and relevant dissertation examples take research from all forms and media, from films and tapes to interviews conducted by the dissertation writers themselves with key researchers, critics, writers or theorists.
Don’t be afraid to take the lead and get interactive with your masters dissertation research.