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How to write a dissertation in Sociology?

A dissertation is a comprehensive piece of work usually submitted towards the academic fulfillment of undergraduate/ graduate studies. In most cases, the student undertakes extensive research on a particular topic or research question decided by himself/ herself under constant guidance of a supervisor.

Sociology is one of the very few subjects which require a student to not only apply existing theories and conduct first hand research, but also develop a new research model. Although the rules for dissertation writing in this subject are similar to any other, the concluding chapter tends to be innovative and valuable. There is a pre-defined process that every student has to follow for writing a dissertation in Sociology which can be summarized as under:

Deciding the subject

Sociology is a vast field inculcating a range of society-related subjects like Education sociology, Industrial sociology, Health sociology, Religion, Medical sociology, Criminal and Cultural sociology. The first step towards writing a dissertation in sociology is to decide one of these subjects. It is best to select one that suits your profile best i.e. your area of interest and your past experience (if any). It is also advisable to seek guidance from your supervisor regarding the subject to pursue.

Deciding the Research Question/ Topic/ Aim and Objectives

After zeroing in on the subject, the next step is to decide on the theme and research question. While considering the research question, you need to be clearly aware of the current issues/ trends in that area. Culture, Religion and Industry are some of the most dynamic fields of education. Globalization demands that you study sociology related to countries other than your own. It is advisable to correlate two or more issues/ countries in your study. Most importantly, keep your research question innovative and different.

Preparing an outline of the dissertation

In order to make sure that you don’t lose track of the research question, you must create an outline of the dissertation. The outline must address critical components like time schedule, monetary budget, chapter plan, word count, editing and proofreading requirement and sources of data. You can seek your supervisor’s advice while making the outline. Try your best to stick to the plan.

Deciding the Research Methodology of a dissertation

Soon after you decide the research questions, aim and objectives of the dissertation create a plan regarding the research methodology. Research methodology implies the types of primary and secondary research you will employ for the dissertation. It is relatively easy to gather secondary data. For primary research you will need to decide about:

  • Interview/ survey method
  • Sampling plan
  • Target profile
  • Data collection plan
  • Data analysis tools and techniques

The research plan is subjective to the nature of a dissertation. Start early: gathering primary data can be time consuming. It is best to contact the desired interviewees/ respondents well in advance. In sociology dissertations, one of the most commonly interviewed profiles is Non-profit organisations.

Gathering the secondary data

The first half of the dissertation (Introduction and Review of Literature) is almost entirely dependent on secondary data. Use information not older than 3 years. Since sociology is a societal issues subject, plenty of published journals and articles are available free of cost.

Sociology-related information is also country-specific. Hence, you may have to seek external help for gathering useful information related to foreign countries. Obtain useful journals from the regional online libraries and news websites.

Documenting and writing the dissertation

After you feel that the secondary data gathered is sufficient and informative enough to make a perfect introduction and literature review, stat writing. Edit the dissertation after every 4-5 pages.

While writing a dissertation in sociology, you must remember to make the introduction as interactive as possible. Share your ideas and beliefs, giving a logical reasoning as to why you selected the topic/ research question.

Gathering primary data for the dissertation

After completing the first phase of your dissertation, you must start gathering the primary data using the decided means. Conducting primary research in sociology dissertations is a relatively simpler process as most respondents (such as non-profit organisations, hospitals, cultural and religious hubs) are friendly.

Do not write the Research Methodology chapter of your dissertation before the actual data collection, as you may need to modify the methodology (in case you failed to collect data by the decided means).

Organisations and respondents that are participating in your study need to be reassured regarding the confidentiality and authenticity of the data. Make sure to assure them that their information is safe and will be used only for the specified purpose.

Writing phase two of your dissertation

Phase two of a dissertation consists of Research Methodology, Data Analysis and Conclusion. Here, the primary data collected should be explained theoretically and statistically. After finishing the analysis, you must give a detailed conclusion of the research. In this chapter, the aim and objectives of the dissertation should be connected to the analysis and literature review. The most critical thing about this chapter is that you need to address the research question directly.

Sociology stands out from other subject due to the vast use of sociological models, theories, paradigms and empirical research. It is advisable to use these theories to make your analysis more meaningful.

Proof-reading the dissertation

Your job does not end with finishing the writing process. After the dissertation is completed, you need to proof read it for grammatical and spelling errors which may cost you the top grade.

It is best to seek external help to proofread the dissertation.

As a last step in dissertation-writing, you must check if your research has contributed a valuable finding towards the existing body of knowledge on the topic. In sociology, every area studied and proved is an appreciated addition to the theory.

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