DISSERTATION STRUCTURE AND GUIDANCE Early Childhood Research Dissertation Total word count 7,000 plus or minus 10% Content, guidance and recommended word count 1. Title pages £ Cover page: Project title, module code and title, student number, degree programme and institution, final word count. £ Table of contents (with relevant page numbers) £ Acknowledgements: Thank those who have helped you in your research. You can refer to tutors, friends and relatives by name, but protect the identity of research participants and settings. Dedications are permitted. 2. Abstract: (Approximate word count: 175) Brief overview of the aims/research questions, participants/institutions sampled, methods employed (paradigm, approach, data collection methods), and a brief account of findings and conclusion. Key words: Identify the words or phrases that give a clear indication of the research focus. 3. Introduction (Approximate word count: 475) £ What do you want to find out (referenced to academic literature), with whom and where? £ Why did you choose this area for research (referenced to literature)? £ How/why is your proposed academic enquiry important? Briefly identify key issues and debates (referenced to literature). £ Briefly define specific terminology in relation to your research field (referenced to literature). £ Who might be a potential user of this research? £ What are the specific research questions? £ Briefly, how will you try and ensure that your research is as objective as possible? 4. Literature review (Approximate word count: 2,050): In this section you will need to: £ Present the literature reviewed as a body rather than itemised individual pieces, incorporating a thematic approach (possibly determined by your research questions). £ Interrogate literature drawn from a range of theoretical and research sources e.g. books, chapters in edited books, journal articles, policy documents, conference papers. £ Elaborate on specific terminology/definitions in relation to your research (referenced to literature). £ Engage critically with the literature by identifying and exploring, for example, (any) gaps, weaknesses, strengths, contradictions, agreements and disagreements. £ End with a paragraph that states how your research will build upon/develop/extend what is already known. £ At all times, demonstrate an awareness of how the literature identified with/engages with/responds to/influences the research questions and findings. 5. Methodology (approx word count 1300): This section will provide the rationale for the research design choices and discuss issues relating to validity and reliability and will be linked consistently to the research questions. The whole section must be supported with relevant literature on research design. £ Which research paradigm did you use positivist or interpretivist, or both? Why? £ Which sampling strategy did you use? Why? (Make sure you give a clear indication of who is involved in your research and where the research will take place) £ Which research approach/strategy (e.g. case study, ethnography, survey) did you use? Why? £ Which data collection method(s) did you use? Why? £ How do the selected data collection methods engage with the stated research paradigm and approach? £ How will reliability and validity be assured? Consider issues related to statistical analysis and/or triangulation. 6. Ethical considerations (Approximate word count: 550) This section needs to demonstrate your understanding of ethical procedures and how key ethical principles were applied in your research. Your discussion in this section must be supported with relevant literature on ethics. £ What are ethics and why are they important? What are the key ethical issues and how were they meaningfully applied in your research? £ What is informed consent? How was it gained from the various groups of participants in your research? This part of your ethics section should demonstrate understanding of the hierarchy of gatekeepers in your research. £ What is meant by confidentiality and anonymity? How was confidentiality and anonymity assured in your research? £ What did you perceive to be the possible benefits and risks of your research? £ Did your research require any element of deception? Why? £ How were power relations minimized in your research? £ Reflexivity how did your researcher identity and positioning influence the data gathering process and analysis? 7. Discussion of findings (2,050) This section is concerned with the analysis of the data you collected and needs to answer the research questions. Consider using a thematic approach to structure the analysis themes might be drawn from the literature review and/or research questions. Think about presenting your findings in different ways, but ensure that the link with your research paradigm is consistent. £ How did you sort, choose and make sense of your data? £ To what extent does the data support and/or contradict the literature on the topic? 8. Conclusions (Approximate word count: 400) £ What tentative conclusions can be drawn (if any) from the findings and analysis? £ How valid are the research evidence and findings? £ Do the findings/conclusions develop, challenge or extend existing knowledge in the academic field? £ What were the limitations (if any) of your research? What worked well and what did not? £ In hindsight, what (if anything) would now be done differently? 9. Structure, overall coherence and academic rigour £ Academic language: clarity, precision, error-free grammar, spelling and punctuation. £ Structure of the work: Discussions and arrangement of sections are coherent and logical. Sign-posting £ Rigour: Defendability of all decisions and actions. Relevance and coherence of the discussions taken as a whole. Aims and RQs meaningfully engaged with throughout 10. Referencing and presentation References: £ Wide-ranging and relevant. £ Emphasis on published academic literature. £ Conforms to Cite them Right conventions, both within your dissertation and in the reference list. Presentation £ Logical/coherent organisation of content. £ 12-point plain font (such as Arial), 1.5 line-spacing and, for example, consistency in any use of underlining, use of alpha numerical (sub)headings. Appendices £ You are not required to include any appendices (see page 19 of module guide) but may do so if you wish. Any appendices should be numbered and also listed on your contents page.