Dissertation writing may sound intimidating to a first-year student. But there is nothing to fear as long as you know how to conduct your dissertation research. In this article you will find out about the most effective dissertation research methods and how to apply them to your case.
What Is Dissertation Research
In order to compose a smart research dissertation, you should be aware of the ground on which you will build your dissertation. Indeed, you cannot build a strong castle on an imaginary land, and the same goes for the research.
You can start with research dissertation. What are you investigating? What are you trying to prove? What statistics you need to collect in order to scientifically conclude that you are right on the topic? The type of your dissertation defines the best methods that suit you. Ask for some advice from your professor if this might seem hard for you. But remember, everybody started somewhere, and you can succeed too.
Dissertation Research Methods
If your dissertation is a research methodology dissertation, there are a few groups of methods you can choose. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed ones are the biggest three groups to consider. The mixed group is a combination of both and should be applied to your particular type of research.
Quantitative Research Methods
You should use these methods if your research proves a theory, replies to a question, or draws a conclusion from some factual basis. For example, if you research how many descriptive words related to people there are in a novel, you may use a quantitative method. Then you can draw a conclusion that description of human characters is much more important for this particular author than description of landscapes.
The advantages of a questionnaire are the anonymity and the very fact that you can distribute it via the Internet. Even though creating a well-thought survey that calculates all possible answers for all kinds of people in advance is a really hard task, the quantitative data that you can draw from such a questionnaire will be excellent basis for your dissertation.
You can conduct these types of interviews. And the goal here is to ask the same questions to many different people at once. After recording the responses, you can analyze the data and even structure it into graphs or pie-charts to understand the percentages and draw THE conclusion on quantitative data. You could conduct a structured interview for two teams of football players, male and female, in your school to find out how many hours they train, how they perceive their coach, their success, teammates, each other, etc.
Quantitative data can be collected through mere observation. If you are a biologist, you can collect all kinds of data through the observation of your subjects. For example, to establish the necessary amount of time for your plants to grow flowers, you can observe their growth and note down the changes in your study journal. The downsize of this method is that sometimes it requires a lot of time, especially if you need to identify complicated patterns.
Analysis of Data
If you do not want to be an active researcher and study your case subjects, you can always analyze previously gathered data. In order to do this, find all the bibliography on the subject you are studying, and prepare a certain question that needs answering. The material is still unlikely to give you ready statistics or graphs with such data, but it will provide different kinds of data that you will then gather into visually pleasing pie charts, graphs, tables, helping the reader see the point you are trying to make. You can find out surprising things using that methods, juxtaposing different numbers and data. However, be careful of not falling into the logical trap of false analogy or of drawing conclusions between unrelated subjects.
Qualitative Research Methods
Qualitative research dissertation focuses on another approach to research. Instead of drawing conclusions from numbers, collected statistical data or graphs, you should focus on the qualitative aspect of the research. These methods help a researcher interpret the data, drawing on some common themes, looking into the quality of their findings, and assessing some personal cases, studies, processes that are not drawn on quantitative data. The conclusions made from such research are tentative, but that does not mean that it can be brushed off. Psychology is an example of a field of application of such methods.
The best way to gather qualitative data is to focus on the person who is the object of your study. In such case, you will collect extensive data that you can use. For example, if you are studying bilingualism in second-generation immigrants, it will help to find someone who is a second-generation immigrant and conduct an in-depth interview about this person’s experience and language skills, finding out whether they developed both languages equally or not, and so on.
If you are writing a dissertation on marketing, the focus group method can be very useful. It is a way to find out why, how, and what, but only within a particular target group. If you research what kind of commercials appeal to black women in their 40s and why, this method is ideal. You do not have to meet the target people in person. Just register on special websites that give you an opportunity to send out a questionnaire to them. However, beware that this method may be expensive.
The participant observation method allows you to study your participant’s behaviors in the natural setting. It can be anything, from a classroom, to a city, to a certain location. It can be tricky to organize, but it helps to effectively draw conclusions about the subject’s motivations, moods, behavior patterns, and so on.
This method is also qualitative and deals with the interpretation of texts. Indeed, in literature it is sometimes hard to use quantity to draw conclusions, as it is a rather subjective discipline. Through text analysis we can draw conclusions on the author’s intentions, on the historical settings, on the language patterns that reflect the subconscious of people groups.