What is a master’s dissertation? Read once and map out before starting on your topic.
Often in the Indian context, a dissertation is the last part of your studies in a Master’s Degree. This is a good chance to demonstrate your skills.
Firstly the dissertation is a piece of independent work. Although you are assigned a supervisor/guide but it is your own work. Secondly, the dissertation should be original. This means original in terms of questions, argument, methodology etc., and no plagiarism at all. Thirdly your dissertation should be reflective. Your dissertation must be able to throw light on your findings and the research process. The problems you encountered as a researcher must be highlighted. You have to identify the limitations of your study as well.
A master’s dissertation is between 15000 to 17000 words and usually an empirical study. This means you will collect and analyze the data through observation. The data you collect could take the form of :
Questionnaires Interviews Observations Documents
If you want to go more theoretical, you can carry out a meta-analysis of your topic as you may have seen in some journals.
A traditional master’s dissertation consists of 5 chapters: Introduction, Literature Review, Methodology, Results and Discussion
The aim of the introduction is to set the scene in the context of your research. This chapter describes the problem or issues you studied and it provides a logical basis for the study which means why the topic is to be explored further and who would benefit from your research such as your fellow mates, practitioners or other researchers. Moreover, it provides a formal statement of the research aim and the research questions linked to your study.
The literature review provides fairly detailed coverage of the theoretical concepts related to your topic. Thereafter, a review of the empirical research that has examined topics similar to yours. A funneling approach to narrow down on the literature suitable to your study must be applied.
The Methodology chapter is divided into two sections. The first section critically discusses the pattern or approach you decide to use for your research. It also talks about the design you have chosen along with the assumptions associated with that design and a reason for its use. The second section provides a step-by-step guide to the methods and techniques used for collecting and analyzing the data. Here, you describe the method you use to select your participants, how you reached them, their numbers, a description of the research instruments you used to collect your information like the questionnaires or the interview schedules. There should also be a section linking your research questions to your analysis method. Lastly, this chapter comprises a discussion of the ethical issues related to your topic.
The results or findings chapter shows the analysis of your data. This chapter should be a description supported by quotes from your interview or a description supported by tables and figures containing statistical information. This chapter, depending on the style of your research sometimes contains an interpretation of the data to some extent. However, the major interpretation usually occurs in the last chapter.
The final chapter is the discussion and it contains a discussion of the major findings of your research. You must revert back to each of your research questions and link your findings to the literature which you have presented in chapter 2. You may introduce new literature if necessary, to interpret the results in the case of applied research. The last chapter also provides recommendations you wish to make to practitioners and policymakers. This chapter also put some light on the research process such as the limitations of your study and ideas for future research.