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How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation (1st edn)

Tom Clark, Liam Foster, and Alan Bryman
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date: 07 December 2023

p. 29115. Working with Documentslocked

p. 29115. Working with Documentslocked

  • Tom Clark, Tom ClarkLecturer in Research Methods, The University of Sheffield
  • Liam FosterLiam FosterSenior Lecturer in Social Policy & Social Work, The University of Sheffield
  •  and Alan BrymanAlan BrymanProfessor of Organizational and Social Research, Formerly of The University of Leicester


Although much of the data used in social science dissertation projects is produced by interviews, surveys, and participant observation, there are other forms of data that can be used for the purposes of social science. This chapter explores some of this ‘documentary’ data and how to use it for the purposes of research. Documentary forms of data have some significant advantages that make them particularly useful for student research projects. This does not mean that they are without problems, but the chapter provides a practical guide for those who are prepared to look beyond familiar horizons. It makes the case for using documents; explores what can be included under the broad heading of documents; and introduces both quantitative and qualitative content analysis as a means to analyse documents.

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