Dissertations can be the most rewarding, and for some the most stressful, part of any undergraduate degree course, providing the opportunity for students to pursue a chosen subject in some depth, developing their expertise. The dissertation offers many challenges to those seeking to do it well and this guide is the perfect book for those seeking to succeed with their dissertation.

Judith Burnett helps students to rise to this challenge, making the most of the opportunities which a dissertation offers and overcoming the obstacles to successful completion. This book takes students through the process of doing a dissertation from turning the raw ideas into a research question, designing the research project, choosing appropriate methods, developing a research proposal, planning and executing the project, working with data, writing up, and preparing the work for presentation.

Doing A Dissertation in the Social Sciences is an invaluable guide to avoiding the pitfalls and making the most of the opportunities offered by the dissertation. It ought to be compulsory reading for undergraduate students in any social science discipline.

Collecting Data: Qualitative Methods

Collecting data: Qualitative methods


The variety of qualitative techniques:

  • Interviews of various kinds
  • Observational inquiries, for example, of interaction and problem solving
  • Case studies, which explored a particular setting, situation, organisation, institution, unit, arena, network, system in-depth
  • Visual methods including the analysis of images, and tracking the production, consumption, and journey of objects through material culture
  • Ethnographies

The biographical turn

Using documents

Oral history; life history

Doing interviews

Time logs and diaries

Visual methods

This chapter focuses on mainstream qualitative techniques that are located in a framework of biographical inquiry and lived experience. Examples of good practice are suggested in each section which explore, using documents: life histories; oral history; and data collection for these by interviews. Guidance on doing both one-to-one and group interviews is provided alongside discussions about structured, semi-structured and ...

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