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: Quantitative Methods

Collecting data: Quantitative methods


Collecting data: the variety of methods of collection

Primary and secondary sources:

  • Primary data – you collect yourself
  • Secondary data – you use data collected by someone else


  • Using secondary sources
  • Doing your own surveys


  • Random
  • Nth number
  • Stratified
  • Convenience

Administering surveys by post and phone: the effects on the sample The general problem of bias

Research instruments: the questionnaire:

  • Setting questions
  • Re-using questions from other sources
  • Design: physical appearance

Tally sheets: unobtrusive data collection

This chapter focuses on quantitative methods. The larger part of the chapter deals with surveys, including using secondary sources as well as conducting your own surveys. There is a discussion about how different mechanisms for administering surveys such as by post or phone will affect the sample and findings. Following this, we move on to designing questionnaires, including ...

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