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Main body of dissertation – including methodology, findings and discussion and summary (7000 words)
5.1 Methodology – Secondary Data Only
This section will explore why the research question(s) were chosen – why is this an important subject for discussion?
You should also demonstrate your understanding of the process of carrying out a scoping literature review (this will also help you to demonstrate that you have adopted a well-organised and methodical approach to your dissertation).
There should be a description of the search strategies you have employed, including the databases you accessed, and how you have researched online to find suitable sources for the literature review.
Here you need to break down your research questions to identify the key words and phrases that you used to structure your literature search. This will demonstrate that you adopted sound search techniques, based on your understanding of how the construction of the questions will help you to formulate evidence-based recommendations for practice and thereby answer your main research question that is posed by the dissertation’s title.
This section is where you should reflect on the philosophical approach to research, and the assumptions made by researchers that shape the ways that research is undertaken. Here you need to show understanding of methodological approaches such as interpretivism, positivism, grounded theory etc.
5.2 Background to the subject matter/problem/issue
Here is where you start to look at the subject in more depth. Firstly, what is your justification for the choice of subject matter? Is there a historical context to the issue, and what are the social/legislative/policy contexts that underpin the issue? Are there any key concepts or theories that underpin your chosen topic? These should be discussed so the reader can see the context of your subject.
This will help you to discuss and justify the main themes that the literature will explore, and to explain the exclusion/inclusion criteria that you applied when searching for appropriate literature to review.
5.3 Literature review/findings
This is the main part of your dissertation – a critical examination of the evidence that you found within the literature, organised by the themes and perspectives you identified in the previous section. This requires you to collate all the evidence you gathered, summarise the main ideas and arguments, and report the most important findings from the literature.
There should be both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the literature, including statistical data appropriate to the subject matter.
Consider how the ideas put forward by the authors whose work you have reviewed have addressed the issue or problem you are researching. How has the academic community answered the questions you have posed in your dissertation?
You need to use your knowledge and understanding of your sources to synthesise the resulting data: this means you need to compare and contrast authors’ findings in order to identify the contradictions as well as the similarities between ideas that have emerged from your review of the literature. In this way you will be demonstrating your ability to use critical argument to bring together your evidence to present the reader with well rounded, well-argued and supported exploration of the subject matter, as revealed by the many sources you have reviewed.
Your literature review should reflect back to the methodology and make solid links to your research questions. This will help you to demonstrate your familiarity with the key research methods adopted by the researchers and how these have produced their findings, relating this back to each of your chosen themes.
Has the literature review reflected any potential moral or ethical issues related to your subject matter?
How have the research methodologies adopted by the researchers whose work you have reviewed contributed to the academic community’s understanding of the topic? If the sources you have accessed are related to actions taken to address a problem or issue, have these worked? How have they impacted on the issue or problem itself? What is the current situation?
Having explored all the themes and/or separate research questions separately, how can you bring them together now so that you can discuss the issue as a whole?
Here is where you review the outcome of your literature review and produce a summary that links directly back to your research questions. The summary reminds the reader of the main points of the literature review and provides a bridge to your conclusion.