id like the topic to be on Benetton’s controversial campaigns)
Submit a Dissertation Plan. This will include a title, a summary of the dissertation, and a source list (the start of the bibliography). Read the following advice on writing the summary. The summary will contain the principle topic, aims and research questions, rationale and method. These are explained below.
The Dissertation Plan clarifies your thoughts. It serves as a basis for tutorial comment, and launches and guides your work during the autumn semester. It demonstrates, to you and your supervisor, that your proposal is feasible (with realistic, achievable objectives) and that you have identified and considered appropriate methods. The more clearly you think through and express your aims at this stage, and plan the consequent process, the more straightforward your experience of working on your dissertation investigation will be.
It is in the nature of this kind of research process that you may occasionally unearth the unexpected; your ideas will develop and your aims may change slightly as your work progresses. The Plan is not, therefore, an immutable contract, no detail of which can be altered; it is a more adaptable definition of a programme of work than your level-5 assignment briefs were, and you may need to revise it somewhat, in discussion with your supervisor. While your research does not have to be highly original, it must demonstrate an up-to-date awareness of current knowledge, practice, research, methods and expertise. Completion of the Plan is a formal stage, through which you progress to the remainder of the module. If the Plan you initially submit is unsatisfactory, your supervisor will advise you as to how to improve it.
You should adopt the following format, in three main sections. Please follow the numbered structure below.
Provisional working title (you need not finalise the title until later) or brief statement of the general area in which you intend to work (8-15 words).
2. A short list of the principal topic(s) that concern you within the general area in 1.
3. Aims and research questions: these concern what you will investigate and do. Identify your main research aims; and set down concisely the main research question(s) you will address. If you haven’t already done so, formulate two or three questions that encapsulate, as well as you can, what you are inquiring into.
4. Rationale: a short statement (a paragraph) about why you have chosen the subject: why it is important, generally and to you personally.
5. Methods: a short explanation of how you will undertake the research for your dissertation, noting how the work you intend to do will stem from existing knowledge.
6. Materials to be included: it is expected that your submission will be largely in written (text) form, but you may include drawings, diagrams, sound or video recordings, or other materials, as appropriate. Indicate whether, at this stage, you anticipate including such additional items, and what their relationship to the main text would be.
Part 2: Source List
You will receive advice about sources, but the main responsibility for researching and producing an initial source list is yours. Whatever the main thrust of your research (e.g. scholarly study; socio-cultural inquiry; questionnaire-based study; laboratory-based investigation; psychoacoustic investigation), you will need to conduct an initial literature search and review. Although we often speak of a literature review, we are concerned here with the whole range of sources you will consult, which may include other published materials, such as recordings and images; and also people, organisations and other sources of information you may need to contact directly. Take as much care as you can with this: the further you can get by the time you submit the Plan, the better will be the basis on which your supervisor can make further suggestions and comments. You should include, as far as possible at this stage, all the sources of information on which you envisage your work will depend. This is important: it will help you avoid discovering, once you are committed to a topic, that insufficient information is available; it is one of the ways in which the Plan tests the viability of your topic.
Organise your sources under the following headings, as appropriate:
Books (including important entries in works of reference)
Other printed sources (e.g. catalogues, patents)
Material sources (e.g. instruments, electronic hardware)
Individuals, organisations and institutions
Mark with an asterisk those sources about which you know but which you have not already seen and used.
Maintain the list on disk so that you can update it, adding and deleting sources as your work progresses; save a new version each time you amend it so that no information is lost. It will aid your memory, and add greatly to the value of the Plan as a tool to be used by you and your supervisor, if you add critical comments to individual entries, as you consult them. Your working list can eventually be refined to produce the bibliography, and perhaps also the acknowledgements, of the finished dissertation.
Part 3: Time Plan
Set out how you intend to structure your use of time between the start of November and the end of the autumn semester. To allow time for thorough analysis of information and writing up by the draft submission deadline in week 21 (6 March 2015), you should have completed the basic research by the end of the autumn semester. You should in any case prepare for the Initial Submission (a 2000-word draft section of the dissertation – usually a model chapter, as agreed and planned with your supervisor – which is formatively assessed) in week 12 (19 December 2014). This allows your supervisor to comment on your work in progress, and to address any problems of organisation, style and citation. Depending on the nature of your investigation, you may already have drafted more of the text by then, but the Initial Submission is a minimum formal requirement.
Indicate which tasks need to be undertaken at the outset – such as visits to other libraries, requesting items on inter-library loan, and making arrangements to see busy people – and which will be done later. You may find it helpful to present this as a week-by-week sequence or as a flow diagram. In any case, demonstrate that you have thought the process through and have established priorities in your mind. The Time Plan necessarily stems from the first two sections of the Plan, so don’t compile it until they are well developed.