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How to Decide on a Dissertation Topic?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I decided to get a little ahead of myself and start focusing on my dissertation...I know I could enjoy the time off but when I work 40+ hour weeks, a head start could do me numerous favours in the future!

So...my main question is; how did you guys choose your dissertation topic???

I am doing a degree in Business and my placement/career is in HR...my main area of interest is anything Psychology related so I like to combine the two, which has meant I have considered the following broad topics:

- Leadership
- Change
- Emotional Intelligence (Although I have covered this before when I got to do a similar but much smaller project)

I did also consider doing something around Absenteeism as this was a project I actively owned at work and had success with...

Also, do you have to base your research on a specific company?

Any ideas/suggestions/tips would be welcome..!

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Firstly, whatever you choose should be something that really interests you. As one of my lecturers put it "this dissertation will be your life". One thing which impacted my decision (rightly or wrongly) was knowing who the potential supervisors were - some work very differently to me and I knew I couldn't handle a project leader who thought it was okay to reduce students to tears repeatedly. I felt it was important that my dissertation links to further degrees and what I want in a career because I want to be able to use whatever I learn a few years down the line and not have it shoved to the dusty bits in my brain.

    In terms of research, mine is education based, so I will be in one school and collecting data from that one local authority. It comes down to whether you want to go really really zoomed in on the topic or do a comparison across the board. Both have pros and cons.

    :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    ella! wrote: »
    One thing which impacted my decision (rightly or wrongly) was knowing who the potential supervisors were

    I had a choice between a research, consultancy or reflective practioner project and chose research on the basis that the project supervisor is the same lecturer who marked my last research study and liked that I focused on a psychological element (EI)!

    I agree with it being something im interested in which is why i want to do something psychology based.

    My current idea which is completely random is the generational issues in the workplace??
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Hi WhiteLillies :wave:

    It's great that you're thinking ahead. I really agree with Ella:
    ella! wrote: »
    Firstly, whatever you choose should be something that really interests you.

    Dissertations are about undertaking a large piece of work independently, so it's really important to choose something that genuinely interests you - it will really help you to keep motivated while you're working on it. It sounds like you've already got some really good thoughts about what you'd find interesting.

    It might be really helpful to get in touch with your tutor or director of studies if you've got one? Mine was certainly great for bouncing ideas off. And they'll definitely be able to answer your more specific questions about whether it can be based just on one company and the like.

    Hope you find the perfect topic!
    Will.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    My current idea which is completely random is the generational issues in the workplace??

    Like Will said, bouncing ideas off lecturers/supervisors is helpful. I'm sat here refraining from saying "eeewww EI!" ;) they will be able to give you an idea about whether it's a topic which has been done to death or something which provides the foundation for a good project.

    When I submitted my proposal and ethics form, I was told that my final piece wouldn't be the same as the original idea; it's already changed but is still under the same topic area and I'm expecting it to change a lot more as I learn and research more.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Haha! EI did get very demanding towards the end!

    My only concern is I don't get face to face contact so until I go back in Sept I dont know how it will work in terms of discussing ideas, etc. Its nice to get a head start though as I know it will get demanding!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Personally I chose what I was most passionate about within my field and went with that - which is how I ended up doing a huge thesis (20k+ words including appendices) on industrial music and subculture. You will get the best results on something you are passionate about.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    My only concern is I don't get face to face contact so until I go back in Sept I dont know how it will work in terms of discussing ideas, etc.

    You're with the OU, yes? Email will work just as well when bashing out ideas, in some ways it will be better because you'll have it all written down and won't forget stuff. There will be some form of support put in place for dissertation students, even if it's as simple as emailing lecturers at all hours of the day and annoying the hell out of them!

    We've totally got this dissertation stuff ;)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Its not the OU but its a similar set up...

    That sounds good!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Is there any way you can contact students in the year above you, such as Facebook or university pages, to talk about how they managed without face to face input?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I will have a browse on Facebook to see who/what I can find...thanks for the suggestion :)
  • plugitinplugitin Noob Posts: 2,197 The Mix Regular
    With both my undergrad and post grad dissertations I chose topics I was interested in. For my undergrad dissertation I studied ways the german automobile industry had been reacting to the financial crisis - mainly because I had done my placement in that sector and I knew stuff about it already. After deciding this, it's useful to brainstorm any topics you might be interested in doing, then think about the viability of them. For example, for absenteeism would you need to collect primary data, e.g. conduct surveys, or would it be based solely on literature? Would access be an issue?
    It could be useful, if you do something on business, to limit it to your sector, or workplace and use that as a case study to compare with wider literature.

    What ella! says about supervisors is also important - I tried (and failed!) to pick my supervisor by knowing which topic each of them would take - but even then it ended up better than I thought.

    It is really important to do something you're interested in - otherwise it makes completion difficult. And that's probably the most important bit.

    Oh, and a tip: clear research objectives and making sure you answer them is a really strong approach to doing well!
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You could also use your headstart and topic generation to do a bit of research into other research material in your chosen field - I've known people to have to change topic because their area didn't have enough literature or data in it to produce enough of a dissertation. You could do a bit of research under your proposed headings and see what else is out there - and what key things it sparks off?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks for the advice guys :)

    In terms of absenteeism, its probably the one area that I am pretty confident with in terms of primary research. I have already obtained a lot of information from tracking our progress with absence levels so in addition to that, all I would need to do is conduct a survey with a sample of our colleagues in store to complete my primary research. As I was the one who implemented the new process and coached/trained everyone on the process, its something I know in depth.

    On the other hand, absenteeism isn't necessarily a hot topic that I'm interested in so I don't know how I would approach it. I had considered looking at leadership and change and then using the absenteeism as a case study within that? As that did involve changing the attitudes of the management team to get them to engage with the new initiatives? But then I don't know if that means I'm broadening my dissertation into two topics rather than the one?

    I like the idea of Generational Issues in the Workplace...I like the psychological aspects to it....but again, I don't know what focus that would have? I guess I could look at job satisfaction, motivation, etc and what impact this has for an employer when considering reward packages....

    Dissertations are such hard work and I'm only currently looking at possible areas of research!
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