In the case of in-depth interviews, in particular, greater disclosure and self-expression often take place during the interview process. Since in-depth interviews tend to be more personal in nature, you need to be able to address any ethical concerns that research participants may have. For example, greater disclosure may require: (a) a stricter adherence to data protection and participant confidentiality; (b) greater transparency by you, the researcher, when it comes to letting the research participant know how you have interpreted what they have said; and (c) specific permissions from participants to report quotations and other personally identifiable information and/or facts.
Just as excellent writing enhances a solid piece of scholarship, weak writing undermines otherwise excellent ideas and research.
It is your responsibility to produce professional-quality work, and it is your advisor's responsibility to prevent unacceptable work from advancing.
As the faculty who participated in the study concurred, faculty advisors should provide the guidance necessary to ensure that the dissertation meets professional standards.
Moreover, a dissertation does not repeat the details of critical thinkingand analysis found in published sources; it uses the results as fact andrefers the reader to the source for further details.
The question should not simply copy questions asked in other final year modules, or modules previously undertaken. It shows your own imagination and your ability to construct and develop research issues. And it needs to give sufficient scope to develop into a dissertation.
This is the case whether your dissertation involves experimental or non-experimental research. In the case of non-experimental research, this can often mean that instead of having to submit an Ethics Proposal to an Ethics Committee, you may only have to convince your supervisor that you have addressed any potential ethical challenges you expect to face. This will save you time. However, if you are conducting experimental research, especially involving human subjects, there is a greater likelihood that you will need to submit an Ethics Proposal to an Ethics Committee, which can slow down the research process. Despite this, the pre-planned and procedural nature of quantitative research designs does make it easier to understand what ethical challenges you may face, which avoids potential ethical issues arising during the research process that may affect the way you can analyse and present your data.
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In the same way that you make judgments about the scholarship of others, your advisor and committee members make holistic judgments about the quality of their students' dissertations.
However, your faculty advisors also read student work with another purpose: They read to teach.
It’s not an easy task formulating a research question. Here one student talks about the difficulties she had:
I knew what I wanted to write about but I couldn’t get a question to match. My original question was too vague and unanswerable. In terms of tightening it up, I knew I wanted to link disability to employment. I tried to get a question from that but it was a descriptive question that I ended up scrapping on the advice of the supervisor, he told me it wasn’t any good as a question.
(Todd, Bannister and Clegg, 2004, p340)
This student did eventually come up with a workable question and went on to complete her dissertation. She was not afraid to call on the support of her supervisor and was willing to listen to his advice as to what would and wouldn’t work.
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If you are using a mixed methods research design, you will need to take into account the ethical challenges inherent in quantitative and qualitative research designs. After all, you will be using both qualitative and quantitative research methods. To some extent, this may put a greater burden on your dissertation, slowing down the research process, especially if you need to conduct a qualitative research phase (e.g., interviews) before you can settle on the appropriate type of quantitative research phase (e.g., experimental or non-experimental).
So far, we have considered a number of issues relevant to developing an appropriate research methodology for your dissertation. The chart below should help you to synthesise your thinking to date. Work through each of the boxes but be prepared to revisit this at different stages of the dissertation.
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