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Chapter

Cover How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

1. Introduction  

This introductory chapter begins with a discussion of the definition of a dissertation. It then sets out the ways in which the present volume can help students with their dissertation, i.e. how to move from a focus on the theory of research methods to the process of actually undertaking research. Throughout, the book provides a number of features that help students to deal with the challenges of writing a dissertation, and suggests how they might overcome them. These features draw directly on the experiences of students who have undertaken a dissertation, and the expertise of dissertation supervisors from different disciplines. The chapter then goes on to explain how this book is organized followed by an overview of the subsequent chapters.

Chapter

Cover How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

17. Writing Up  

After going through the process of planning, designing, and carrying out research, the student needs to write up the project. Writing is an extremely important part of the research process as a poorly written dissertation will constrain the student’s ability to communicate findings and limit the final mark he or she can achieve. This chapter discusses the basic elements of writing a dissertation and introduces the structures, forms, and styles that are commonly used to create one. Emphasizing the importance of developing an argument to connect the pieces of the dissertation together, it takes each element of the dissertation in turn and demonstrates how it is ‘built’.

Chapter

Cover Political Research

14. Textual Analysis*  

This chapter discusses the principles of textual analysis as a means of gathering information and evidence in political research. Textual analysis has generated strong interest as a research method not only in Politics and International Relations, but also throughout the social sciences. In political research, two forms of textual analysis have become particularly prominent: discourse analysis and content analysis. The chapter examines discourse analysis and content analysis and explains the use of documents, archival sources, and historical writing as data. It considers the distinction between discourse analysis and content analysis, as well as the differences between qualitative and quantitative content analysis. It also describes the procedures that are involved in both quantitative and qualitative content analysis.