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How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation

Tom Clark, Liam Foster, and Alan Bryman

08 October 2019

ISBN: 9780198811060

416 pages

In Stock

Price: £27.99

Straight-talking, motivational, and easy-to-navigate: a reassuring and practical guide to doing an undergraduate social research project or dissertation.



For final-year social science undergraduates, 'How to do your Social Research Project or Dissertation' is the most student-led guide to confidently navigate the research process. It shares real student and supervisor experiences to help motivate you; provides advice for efficient time management; and tracks your progress through focused checklists.

  • A straight-talking approach, and an easy-to-navigate structure, makes this book ideal for busy final-year social science undergraduates looking for focused and efficient guidance on completing their dissertation or research project
  • The only book to include tips from real supervisors in the 'Working with your supervisor' feature, to help you get the most of your supervisor meetings, as well as advice from other students going through the process with the 'I wish I'd known...' feature, to help you avoid making the same mistakes!
  • Focuses on practical advice to prepare you for the realities of doing a research project: the book tells you what you need to know, what you need to think about, and what you need to do
  • Also available as an e-book with functionality, navigation features, and links that offer extra learning support

About the Author(s)

Tom Clark, Lecturer in Research Methods, The University of Sheffield, Liam Foster, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy & Social Work, The University of Sheffield, and Alan Bryman, Professor of Organizational and Social Research, Formerly of The University of Leicester

Dr Tom Clark is a Lecturer in Research Methods at the University of Sheffield, UK. He is interested in all aspects of method and methodology, particularly with respect to learning and teaching. His other interests have variously focussed on the sociology of evil, student experiences of higher education, and football fandom. Tom's work has been published in a wide variety of journals, including, Sociology, Qualitative Research, Social Policy and Administration, Teaching in Higher Education, the Journal of Education and Work, and Qualitative Social Work.

Dr Liam Foster is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work at the University of Sheffield, UK, who specializes in pensions and theories of ageing. Liam also has a longstanding interest in methods and has published widely in this area, including Beginning Statistics for Social Scientists (with Sir Ian Diamond and Dr Julie Jefferies). He has been an invited speaker at the Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions, the European Parliament in Brussels, the House of Lords and the UN in New York, as a world leading expert on ageing. Liam is a member of the UK Social Policy Association Executive Committee. He is also the Managing Editor of Social Policy and Society.

Alan Bryman was Professor of Organizational and Social Research at the University of Leicester from 2005 to 2017. Prior to this he was Professor of Social Research at Loughborough University for thirty-one years. His main research interests were in leadership, especially in higher education, research methods (particularly mixed methods research), and the 'Disneyization' and 'McDonaldization' of modern society. Alan was also the author of the bestselling textbook Social Research Methods (Oxford University Press, 2015) as well as contributing to a range of leading journals: he was an extraordinarily well-cited and internationally renowned social scientist.

Table of Contents

    2:The research process
    3:Getting started
    4:Developing a research idea
    5:Conducting a literature search
    6:Reviewing the literature
    7:Building your project
    9:Writing a research proposal
    11:Collecting quantitative data
    12:Collecting qualitative data
    13:Analyzing quantitative data
    14:Analyzing qualitative data
    15:Working with documents
    16:Evaluating your project
    17:Writing up your research


"Something I wish I had when I started my dissertation! I liked that the first chapter emphasized why social research is so important and why it is necessary - I found this quite motivating as it highlights something that is quite easy to forget when in the middle of the project. Furthermore, I like that each chapter has a specific topic and objective. Although some of the information is already in my module handbook, it is really useful to have a book like this that has everything in one place and makes it easy to find answers to any questions students might be having. Overall I think it will be a very helpful book to future students." - Vilde Bye Dale, Student of Modern History and Politics, University of Essex

"The tone is very positive and encouraging, which makes the project seem as a less daunting task - which is great!" - Megan Robinson, Student of Criminological and Forensic Psychology, University of Bolton

"I wish I had this book ready at the start of my dissertation. I usually just rely on the module handbook, but I have realized from reading the first few chapters of this book that it has so much more useful and relevant advice to offer which would have been very useful during the writing of my bachelors dissertation. The style of writing is appropriate as it is relaxed, engaging, informative, and easy to understand for students who would like as little stress as possible during this time." - Ashley Neat, Student of International Relations, University of Groningen

"I think the book would make an excellent resource for any student in their final year project. The chapters that I have read are very helpful, and would certainly purchase and recommend to fellow students. I think the 'Finding your Way' pointers and 'What do I need to do?' lists are very helpful. From what I have read the book would be easy to dip in and out of." - Julie Keaveney, Student of Counselling with Mentoring, Huddersfield University

"This is very insightful and would aid me greatly in my research. If I would have had it from the beginning, then I think I would feel more organized, and ready to approach my dissertation more willingly; with much more of a positive and 'can-do' attitude, rather than that of dread and anxiety." - Ellie Fitzpatrick, Student of Sociology and Criminology, University of Salford

"This is a very promising book, and I only wish it were out now. The segments sent for review have already actually helped with my dissertation!" - James Rivett, Student of Politics and International Relations, University of Kent

"This is extremely comprehensive and I should imagine is a fantastic resource for students embarking on social research. Complex ideas are expressed in straightforward and accessible ways and students are well guided through each stage of the research process." - Dr Anna Tarrant, Reader in Sociology, University of Lincoln

"This book is an excellent resource for undergraduate students in the social sciences who are about to start their first research project. The book introduces all the significant tips and potential pitfalls students are likely to encounter, and answers most questions I tend to be asked as supervisor. As such, it is also a very useful resource for supervisors - to direct students to, but also to give a good idea of what kind of advice might be useful to give at different stages of the process." - Dr Ingrid A. Medby, Senior Lecturer in Political Geography, Oxford Brookes University

"A down-to-earth, straightforward, reliable, accessible how-to guide which treats students as peers and demystifies the research process." - Dr Siobhan McAndrew, Lecturer in Sociology with Quantitative Research Methods, University of Bristol

"The layout, pace and language all contribute to demystifying the fear associated with such a large and daunting piece of work and the pedagogic features interspersed throughout the book act as encouraging and thought-provoking reminders that it is all going to be okay!" - Dr Mark Holton, Lecturer in Human Geography, University of Plymouth

"I think the authors do a great job of conveying useful advice respectfully not condescendingly." - Dr Michael Pugh, Lecturer in Politics, University of the West of Scotland

Additional Resources

The book's online resources include a wealth of free-to-access materials, including:

Author videos - Additional advice around key challenges for each chapter, including developing a research idea, managing your time, and writing up your dissertation.

Supervision guidance Advice and tips on how to approach your supervision meetings, including tasks to help you plan for meetings and to build a productive relationship with your supervisor.

Doing academic presentations Support with planning and delivering presentations, including tips on what a dissertation presentation might include, as well as author videos showing examples of a good and bad presentations.

Dissertation templates Templates for dissertations, showing how dissertations might look different depending on which theoretical and methodological approaches you use. This includes notes on chapter content and tips on dissertation structure.

Research plan templates Templates for you to use for planning your project, including helping you to get started and complete the dissertation, and to manage your time using key milestones and recommended timescales and targets.

Guidance on developing and designing your research question - A set of questions divided into categories and designed to help you formulate ideas, develop your thinking, set your research questions, help you later on in the process to consolidate your argument and consider the contribution of your work.

Delve Even Deeper Even more Delve Deeper recommendations and research suggestions, including a list of freely available data sets, links and resources to help you understand SPSS and NVivo processes and tools, analysis tools and help for specific research methods, and guidance on using vlogs, blogs, and other public resources, as well as using social media for your research.

Bad, better, and best examples of literature reviews, questionnaires, interview questions, and observation plans Examples of each of these key elements of your project deliberately designed to demonstrate how you can improve your work, and highlighted with annotations to help you gain a deeper understanding of how best to approach these stages of your project.

Examples of research proposals Examples of research proposals for different social sciences to give you that extra support and an idea of what to expect. Here you will find tips on how to build a proposal and consider how this is useful for planning the dissertation.

What do I need to think about? and What do I need to do? checklists digital versions of the end-of-chapter checklists for you to download and use.

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