How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

ISBN : 9780198811060

Tom Clark; Liam Foster; Alan Bryman
384 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Oct 2019
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  • A straight-talking approach, and an easy-to-navigate structure, makes this book ideal for busy final-year social science undergraduates looking for focused and efficient guidance on completing their dissertation or research project.
  • The only book to include tips from real supervisors in the 'Working with your supervisor' feature, to help you get the most of your supervisor meetings, as well as advice from other students going through the process with the 'I wish I'd known...' feature, to help you avoid making the same mistakes!
  • Focuses on practical advice to prepare you for the realities of doing a research project: the book tells you what you need to know, what you need to think about, and what you need to do.

How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation provides a straight-talking, easy-to-navigate, and reassuring guide to support final-year social science undergraduates. Uniquely shaped by real social science undergraduates from a range of institutions, the book includes their advice to help you through with what can be a daunting, but rewarding stage of your degree. From the look and feel of the book, to the development of the chapter content and the advice it provides, students have been involved at every stage of the book's development to ensure it is focused on what's important to you.

Expert advice from real supervisors across the subject disciplines in the 'Working with your supervisor' feature also helps you to make the most of research supervision, and learn from the experience of real researchers in your chosen field. By providing anecdotes, words of wisdom, scenarios, or simply reminders, hints, and tips on how best to prepare for meetings, and communicate effectively, How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation is the most complete guide to facilitate the student-supervisor working relationship.

Dedicated chapters cover all the typical stages of a research project or dissertation in the social sciences, while their carefully constructed structure allows you to quickly and efficiently navigate the content. Throughout the book, you'll focus on three key questions: 'What do I need to know?', 'What do I need to think about?' and 'What do I need to do?'. In so doing, each chapter gives you a clear and direct checklist of actions as you progress through your dissertation or research project, keeping you organized, motivated, and confident.
The book's online resources include a wealth of free-to-access materials, including:
· Author-led videos for each chapter of the book focussing on key areas of social research including supervision, thinking up research questions and ethical challenges in social research among others. 
· Student videos focussing on key issues in undertaking a research project or dissertation and how these have been overcome. 
· 'Finding your Way' research pitfalls and how to avoid them. 
· General dissertation template. 
· Good and bad examples of various research tools: questionnaires, interview questions, observation plans.
· Good and bad examples of extracts from literature reviews. 
· Downloadable research checklist. 
· Further reading/research suggestions, broken down by chapter. 
· A list of links to online time-management tools. 
· Research plan templates. 
· Links to freely available datasets. 
· Tips on increasing your sample size. 
· SPSS/NVIVO links/resources. 
· Interactive activity to help narrow down research topics.
· Mind-mapping tool.
· Interactive editing exercise to practise writing-up, and making efficient use of word count.


1: Introduction
2: The research process
3: Getting started
4: Developing a research idea
5: Conducting a literature search
6: Reviewing the literature
7: Building your project
8: Ethics
9: Writing a research proposal
10: Sampling: which and how many people do I need?
11: Collecting quantitative data
12: Collecting qualitative data
13: Analyzing quantitative data
14: Analyzing qualitative data
15: Working with documents
16: Evaluating your project
17: Writing up your research

About the author: 

Dr Tom Clark is a Lecturer in Research Methods at the University of Sheffield, UK. He is interested in all aspects of method and methodology, particularly with respect to learning and teaching. His other interests have variously focussed on the sociology of evil, student experiences of higher education, and football fandom. Tom's work has been published in a wide variety of journals, including, Sociology, Qualitative Research, Social Policy and Administration, Teaching in Higher Education, the Journal of Education and Work, and Qualitative Social Work.

Dr Liam Foster is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Sheffield, UK, who specializes in pensions and theories of ageing. Liam also has a longstanding interest in methods and has published widely in this area, including Beginning Statistics for Social Scientists (with Sir Ian Diamond and Dr Julie Jefferies). He has been an invited speaker at the Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions, the European Parliament in Brussels, the House of Lords and the UN in New York, as a world leading expert on ageing. Liam is a member of the UK Social Policy Association Executive Committee. He is also the Managing Editor of Social Policy and Society.

Alan Bryman was Professor of Organizational and Social Research at the University of Leicester from 2005 to 2017. Prior to this he was Professor of Social Research at Loughborough University for thirty-one years. His main research interests were in leadership, especially in higher education, research methods (particularly mixed methods research), and the 'Disneyization' and 'McDonaldization' of modern society. Alan was also the author of the bestselling textbook Social Research Methods (Oxford University Press, 2015) as well as contributing to a range of leading journals: he was an extraordinarily well-cited and internationally renowned social scientist.

"Something I wish I had when I started my dissertation! I liked that the first chapter emphasized why social research is so important and why it is necessary - I found this quite motivating as it highlights something that is quite easy to forget when in the middle of the project. Furthermore, I like that each chapter has a specific topic and objective. Although some of the information is already in my module handbook, it is really useful to have a book like this that has everything in one place and makes it easy to find answers to any questions students might be having. Overall I think it will be a very helpful book to future students." - Vilde Bye Dale, Student of Modern History and Politics, University of Essex

"The tone is very positive and encouraging, which makes the project seem as a less daunting task - which is great!" - Megan Robinson, Student of Criminological and Forensic Psychology, University of Bolton

"I wish I had this book ready at the start of my dissertation. I usually just rely on the module handbook, but I have realized from reading the first few chapters of this book that it has so much more useful and relevant advice to offer which would have been very useful during the writing of my bachelors dissertation. The style of writing is appropriate as it is relaxed, engaging, informative, and easy to understand for students who would like as little stress as possible during this time." - Ashley Neat, Student of International Relations, University of Groningen

"I think the book would make an excellent resource for any student in their final year project. The chapters that I have read are very helpful, and would certainly purchase and recommend to fellow students. I think the 'Finding your Way' pointers and 'What do I need to do?' lists are very helpful. From what I have read the book would be easy to dip in and out of." - Julie Keaveney, Student of Counselling with Mentoring, Huddersfield University

"This is very insightful and would aid me greatly in my research. If I would have had it from the beginning, then I think I would feel more organized, and ready to approach my dissertation more willingly; with much more of a positive and 'can-do' attitude, rather than that of dread and anxiety." - Ellie Fitzpatrick, Student of Sociology and Criminology, University of Salford

"This is a very promising book, and I only wish it were out now. The segments sent for review have already actually helped with my dissertation!" - James Rivett, Student of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent

"This is extremely comprehensive and I should imagine is a fantastic resource for students embarking on social research. Complex ideas are expressed in straightforward and accessible ways and students are well guided through each stage of the research process." - Dr Anna Tarrant, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Lincoln

"This book is an excellent resource for undergraduate students in the social sciences who are about to start their first research project. The book introduces all the significant tips and potential pitfalls students are likely to encounter, and answers most questions I tend to be asked as supervisor. As such, it is also a very useful resource for supervisors - to direct students to, but also to give a good idea of what kind of advice might be useful to give at different stages of the process." - Dr Ingrid A. Medby, Senior Lecturer in Political Geography, Oxford Brookes University

"A down-to-earth, straightforward, reliable, accessible how-to guide which treats students as peers and demystifies the research process." - Dr Siobhan McAndrew, Lecturer in Sociology with Quantitative Research Methods, University of Bristol

"The layout, pace and language all contribute to demystifying the fear associated with such a large and daunting piece of work and the pedagogic features interspersed throughout the book act as encouraging and thought-provoking reminders that it is all going to be okay!" - Dr Mark Holton, Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Plymouth

"I think the authors do a great job of conveying useful advice respectfully not condescendingly." - Dr Michael Pugh, Lecturer in Political History, University of the West of Scotland

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