Are we witnessing descularization of the UK ?
Are we witnessing descularization of the UK ?
Your aim here should be to review as wide a range of literature as possible in the time you have available, identifying the main issues and the most important writers and studies. In doing this you should seek to develop an understanding of the scope of the topic and, importantly, to identify gaps in the literature and what this means for the general direction of the current debate. This should ideally link up to an account of how you would outline what you see as limitations in current knowledge and research.
Discussion, both in the workshops and in tutorials, of how you expect the pieces of your jigsaw to fit together is vital at this stage. Remember too, to make use of specialist academic staff within the School of Health and Social Sciences. If, as a Sociology student you want to do something that bridges disciplines such as Psychology, Social Policy or Criminology, it might help to speak to staff working in those subject areas.
The essential point here is how you intend to carry out your research. This will, of course, be discussed in the workshops and tutorials, but basic decisions should be made very early in your project. The paradox of research is that, to carry it out successfully, you need to know quite a lot about what you are investigating!
‘Methodology’ is not simply an account of what methods you are using. It is probably best to think of it as a process with three to four stages. Yes, you need to state what methods you are going to use, but you also need to explain why you are adopting this approach and be clear about why you have chosen this method rather than any other. Do not become over anxious about this and remember that no method is perfect. Also do not be shy about discussing the limitations and possible drawbacks of using certain research methods: all research methods have their limitations and drawbacks. The important thing here is that you develop a critical (and reflexive) account of your approach to your project and are able and confident about discussing both positive and negative effects of taking a particular kind of approach.
The next stage is, be clear about whether you are going to do mainly primary or secondary research. It is often thought that the difference between them is that primary research involves fieldwork. By this definition, secondary research relies on existing sources of published information. This is true, but only up to a point. A primary source could be unpublished documents in an archive, statistics, published reports or newspapers.
The difference between primary and secondary research/sources depends on the extent to which the information has been used, processed, discussed or debated by commentators, academics or other writers. The less it has been used or processed, the closer it is to being primary. Note, however, that when you use oral testimony for the first time or results from a survey you have carried out yourself, you can safely describe it as primary.
Presenting your work :
You should design your work with a clear structure. Your argument should be easy to follow, and you should be clear in making your points and building up your argument. It is essential to edit your work and cut anything that does not make a clear contribution to the overall argument. But remember also that it is perfectly all right to express doubts or point out gaps in your evidence where it might be insufficient. Once again, you will find that to sustain your argument throughout your dissertation is tougher than writing (say) 2 x 3,500 word essays on different topics. Your research questions, therefore, need to be clearly articulated and kept in mind throughout the process of completing your dissertation. If you start writing early, you will give yourself enough time to build up a momentum.
This is an academic piece of work and therefore needs to be written and presented accordingly. This includes:
• Ensuring that you remain within the word limit.
• Checking that all sources are properly referenced and a full bibliography of all
• Situating your work within a clear sociological framework and approach.
• Demonstrating an ability to apply theory to practice when interpreting your findings or critically assessing the work and ideas of other research work and findings.
• Including a signed Ethical Approval Form.
• If carrying out a small research project working with others, including an approved Risk Assessment Form, a copy of any questionnaire being used, and a copy of the Participants Information Sheet.
• Setting out the dissertation in `book form’: with title page; abstract, acknowledgments; contents page (for example chapter headings with page numbers); list of figures/tables; list of abbreviations which are used frequently; main body of the dissertation (with new chapters always beginning on a new page and clear levels of headings); bibliography; appendices.
• An abstract not exceeding 200 words in length. This will include the terms of reference of the dissertation, the methodology adopted and a brief statement of the results and conclusions.
• A dissertation which is typed/word processed on A4 paper with 1.5 spacing . All pages should be clearly numbered.
• All diagrams and tables are titled and the sources used in compiling them are acknowledged.
Footnotes and referencing
You should only use footnotes to include brief details that would otherwise interrupt the flow of your text. Acknowledgement of the work of others that you have used must appear in the text itself.
• You must always provide a reference for any direct quotation or for any
specialised information you use.
• Failure to cite your sources may result in an accusation of plagiarism. From the
very beginning of your work, therefore, you need to keep full records of authors,
titles (including journals/periodicals), publisher, date and page reference.
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