This guide addresses the task of planning and conducting a small research project, such as for an undergraduate or masters’ level dissertation.It aims to help you develop a clear sense of direction early on in the project, and to support you in organising, planning, and monitoring your project.
Is this something that you are prepared and able to do?
If the practical considerations associated with your research ideas are unrealistic, you need to consider whether you are willing to modify or reconsider your project.
This is a much better research problem as it establishes an argument (existence of public transport may have some influence on new housing development). You will be investigating a complex subject (public transport in Scotland), but will be focusing on only one aspect of it (possible influence on new housing development).
However, it is still quite general and could be improved by further focus. You will make this large subject manageable by focusing on a limited period of time (1990 onwards), and limited sources.
Provided they feel that they know enough about the subject to supervise it, and provided that it can be interpreted as falling within the broad fields of your degree subject, academic staff are generally open to suggestions.
You should think realistically about the practical implications of your choice, in terms of: For example, a project on coal mining in the North East of England may require you to visit Newcastle’s Record Office, or to interview coal miners from the region.It should build on the thinking that you have done in defining your research problem; on the discussions that you have had with your supervisor; and on early reading that you have done on the topic.A comprehensive research proposal will make you think through exactly what it is that you are going to do, and will help you when you start to write up the project.If, for example, you are unsure about the limitations of your methodology you should talk to your supervisor and read a bit more about that methodology before you start.A dissertation is an extended project that asks you to manage your time and undertake a variety of tasks.This sets out your research field but does not frame a research problem because it is too general.You do not have time to study everything about a topic, so you should focus on an aspect that you are interested in.The companion guide Writing a dissertation focuses on the preparation of the written report or thesis.A dissertation is a particular kind of academic task.A research proposal is a more detailed description of the project you are going to undertake.Some departments require you to submit a research proposal as part of the assessment of your dissertation, but it is worth preparing one even if it is not a formal requirement of your course.